The top stories rolling into the new season …
Kyrie may or may not play this year – the latest reason having something to with (paraphrasing) “getting the vaccine or not is about being true to yourself”, or something like that, but it’s really not possible to know for sure. He probably will play, but right now by NYC mandate he can’t play in NYC. Regardless he’s made it clear that he’ll just up-n-quit if the Nets try to trade him and KD says he’s backing his friend and won’t allow a trade. Meanwhile KD has been playing at an incredible level consistently through end of season last year, the playoffs and the Olympics. While it’s almost impossible to say who’s the best in the league going in KD has to be at least tied for first, and with Harden being just as good on any given night, a good if not great supporting cast and excellent coaching and management, the Nets are an easy pick for Eastern Conference Finals action next summer.
Giannis somehow became a better player in the finals series vs. the Suns. He wasn’t that player in the first 2 games of that series, but afterward he became perhaps the most dominant player in the playoffs that the league has ever seen. The stuff of legend. LeBron, Russell, Jordan, Kareem, Oscar, Wilt, Bird … Giannis was as good or better for at least 3 out of the final 4 games and arguably played the best game of any player ever in the final win over Phoenix. Can he sustain that improvement? It’s clear he has the drive, but will it be needed to win games and stay atop the East with an also-improved Jrue Holiday and a seemingly more assertive Kris Middleton? Bucks lost Tucker to FA, but other players stepped up for them in the playoffs and also seem improved. How good will they be this season? We’re going to find out – COVID isn’t as likely to dominate results throughout the season this year and it seems very unlikely to affect the 2022 playoffs. But the Bucks aren’t favorites to win it all going in … that billing goes to the Lakers and Nets. As if Giannis needed more motivation to get back to the finals again.
Steph Curry didn’t win MVP last year, but he could have and likely would have if the ball bounced the Warriors’ way once or twice more last year. He was phenomenal, and every bit deserving of the best player in the league status right there with the others on that short list. How good will the Warriors be when a healthy Wiseman suits up to play alongside rookies Kuminga and Moody (both will be works in progress)? Looney will continue his improving swing upward, Poole has to be the most underrated in the league. The Warriors are hungry and ready to get back to the finals, and can do just that even without Klay who’s expected back later this season.
Jokic … MVP who did it after losing weight and developing a stronger work ethic last year. How much better can he get? No one knows, but if he gets better at both ends he’s right there with the others above as best in the league. Even so, the Nuggets have holes to plug with a sort of revolving lineup with their smaller guards and wings and Murray out indefinitely with the ACL tear. They’ll need more than just MPJ and Barton coming to the rescue. Hard to see where they’ll get it early on.
Kawhi had surgery for the partial ACL tear and will be out for at least half the season, but the Clipps were a force and arguably the best team in the West before he went out in the playoffs. Even then Reggie Jackson and the rest almost got by the Suns in the playoffs. No reason to count out the Clippers and in fact maybe the best bet to come out of the West or at least right there with a handful of other teams.
LeBron has a problem this year, or maybe several of them. He may still be the best player in the league right there with KD and Steph and Giannis and Jokic and Embiid, but what does Westbrook actually do for his chances to go for another title? And beyond that all the older guys on the roster? Early on it’s very hard to see why the Lakers would be favored to win it all this year, but then … he *is* LeBron so foolish to not include him atop this list.
Embiid has a lot to prove this year. If he had played just a few more games he would likely have been named MVP. Instead Jokic was so consistent and reliable that he was the more deserving. Now Embiid gets to run it back without Ben Simmons who almost certainly won’t be part of a Sixers playoff season this time. But who will be for that matter? Jury is still out as the Sixers shore up their roster with Simmons being disruptive early on.
Are the Suns for real? No one expected them to be that good last year. CP3 is another year older, but Ayton and Booker should be in their primes. It’s almost impossible to tell how well they’ll do this year, but they should be better with their young guys all improving at both ends. Ayton especially who could be an all star this year or will at least get votes. Cam Johnson has already shown signs of being among the most consistent and reliable scorers in the league albeit on fewer shots than most others of that ilk, but is Mikal Bridges the right guy for them as their ironman yet undersized defensive wing? The Suns have lacked playmaking and size, and Bridges doesn’t help at all in those departments. It’s hard to see how he’ll be able to anchor the defense alongside Ayton with the likes of LeBron or Kawhi or George backing him down. The good news is that the Suns won’t need to worry about Giannis or KD until the finals should they get there.
The Jazz … so hard to say how good they are since Mitchell wasn’t near 100% in the playoffs last year. They showed signed of brilliance going in though, and it seemed Mitchell’s role had changed somewhat as Clarkson and Conley took over the playmaking and some of the scoring. Jazz are deep and loaded and healthy and have plenty to prove. No one will be surprised to see them atop the West again this year.
The Heat … they’re also stacked with talent and now have Kyle Lowry at the helm adding both toughness and and a winner to the composition. Will this be the year for Tyler Herro to be a consistent force? I doubt anyone will take them lightly, as they should be a top 4 defensive team that can score. A work in progress at least for the first part of the season, but a lot of reasons to be optimistic about their chances this year. Only problem: Nets, Bucks and Sixers … can the Heat somehow get past them en route to the conference finals? Can they get past the Hawks and the Celtics and the Knicks for that matter? What about the Bulls who appear to be stacked and ready for a deep playoff run if they can come together quickly.
The East looks great. At least on paper going in.
And then there’s the rest of the league where there’s simply way too much to comment on here without getting too speculative. Suffice to say there are a handful of teams that could rise to the top and few would be surprised to see it as the league is now absolutely loaded with young talent almost across the board: Zion, Morant, LaMelo, Edwards, Trae, Doncic, Tatum. And will any of the rookies help to push their teams into the playoffs? Really hard to see who and which team that might be early on, although three teams with zero expectation for success yet great potential to spoil the fun for others are the Rockets, Pistons and Thunder. That’s how deep the league is now with most teams having multiple talents able to dominate on any given night. There are only a few exceptions, but hard to see which ones early on.
214 thoughts on “
amwoods wrote …
Nice to have the Dubs go into Staples Center and get a comeback win over the Lakers. The Lakers have too big problems that they will have to overcome this season. First, their starting unit is a terrible shooting group, both from deep (8 of 28 from arc) and the FT line (5 of 13). They are huge and will have to lean into that, but that leads into the second problem. In the first half tonight, they were abusing the Warriors in the paint. But their average team age is nearly 32 years old and is over a year and a half older than any other team’s average age. In the second half tonight, they wore down and faded. They shouldn’t be playing LBJ for 37 minutes.
The Dubs shot 36% on 39 3-pt attempts against a good defensive team with a LOT of length. That percentage started poorly but increased as the game went on because the Lakers got tired. I expect to see the Dubs’ number of 3s attempted and percentage go up as they play smaller, worse defensive teams. Rondo, Bradley, and Bazemore did a good job preventing Steph from getting good shots, but Curry recognized what was going on and simply adjusted to getting good shots for his teammates. Steph ended up with his first triple-double since 2016. Poole and Bjelica both looked really good as well.
It’s fine to leave it like this.
Clippers made a game of it, but Warriors prevailed again. Curry went off for 45 points, including 8 of 13 from the arc. His last two 3s were killer, very deep shots that put the game just out of reach. However, Poole had a poor shooting night, the type of inconsistency that he will need to work to overcome. Draymond had a terrible 2-9 night at the charity stripe and suffered some minor injury to his wrist (perhaps the two are related). Iggy also slipped on a wet spot on the floor and came up a little lame, but he went to locker room, came back, and played a little more. Kerr had Iggy on the floor for 24 minutes, which is longer than I would like. Bjelica only got 16 minutes. He needed more time. The Dubs outrebounded the Clips by 15 boards. Rebounding has been a problem for them the last couple of seasons, so that is a good sign.
Tolbert and the other guy on the local show called it at the end of the 3rd Q: Iggy needed to be out there more to calm his teammates down, because Poole was playing too frantically and not converting. I was also wondering about Poole’s hastiness when watching the game with you. I like his control, speed and quickness but wasn’t sure he should have been making such ultra-fast Steph-like decisions. I thought it meant he had improved quite a bit, but based on Tolbert et al.’s comments it seems that’s not the case.
BSFYG (biggest surprise from yesterday’s games) …
Not only did Oubre start for the Hornets, but he played alongside Hayward, had as many or more minutes than anyone else, and had twice as many minutes as PJ Washington?! Unless PJ is injured that’s a big surprise for me anyhow. Bouknight didn’t play at all though.
I get the feeling Charlotte will be full of surprises like this all season long. For now I’m mainly wondering where they’ll get their rebounding and low post defense vs. bigger teams with PJ playing so few minutes.
If Morey didn’t want to trade Simmons to an Eastern team I’m guessing that will no longer restrict his thinking. Especially if he can prove to Simmons that none of the West coast teams want him – I assume that won’t be hard to do. If I’m right, then how does that change things? Where would he fit in the East if he wants to be a focal part of the offense like he’s said?
I doubt it will be any of the contenders or even playoff teams, so that leaves Pistons, Cavs, Magic, Raptors. I suppose Bulls are an option but doubt they’d offer much. I don’t include Charlotte since it looks like it’s all working well there as is, and LaMelo would just be disrupted.
I’ll scratch Pistons off the board since Cunningham and Simmons together seems too stupid. Raptors I’ll scratch as well simply because I don’t see Ujiri wanting that kind of attitude messing up the rhythm that he might feel he has. So … Cavs and Magic who I would add to the Blazers, Wolves, Kings, Rockets and OKC as likely suitors to transfer some talent to the Sixers. Kings don’t seem right as Fox needs to run the show there, and I assume that’s why nothing ever go done.
So what’s the point of all this? I don’t see how there isn’t a good option for Morey. Sixers could end up with D’Lo or McCollum or Christian Wood or some of the young talent on the Cavs or Magic as examples. It’s not what he was looking for initially but those aren’t bad options. Even if it means it takes a year for everyone to come together so what? It’s not like Embiid *needs* to win this year.
But they *do* need to figure this out now. It’s too ugly to continue down this road.
Still the most ideal solution to all this is a Kyrie for Ben swap. Although Kyrie has said he doesn’t want to be traded, if Nets inform him that they have no intention of offering a long-term deal to him after the season (he has a player option for next year), maybe he will accept it. Of course, KD calls the shots in Brooklyn, but maybe he is tired of Kyrie by this point. This might be one of the rare trades that make each team better.
I no longer see any reason a contender would want Simmons anywhere around their team. He’s shown his true colors, and I now understand him to be about himself more than the team he’s on. He apparently has this idea that he’s able to dictate what his role will be on the next team he lands on, meaning that he sees himself as the primary ball handler there … that’s got to come across as complete BS to the better teams in the league. I hadn’t realize that when I suggested Phoenix as a good landing spot. It *would* be if he wanted to win and be part of a winning org, but apparently that’s not him. He seems to want it to be all about himself. There are a few teams where that might work, but only a few and they aren’t close to being in contention.
23 mins 10-12 FG 3-3 FT 2 blks +21 23pts
porzingas is out with back issues again
horrible news for the mavs
At this point, Porzingis has played 288 out of a possible 475 games in his career. That’s just a little over 60%. Seems like injuries will ruin his career.
Don’t have a lot to say about the Dubs tonight. They shot poorly in the first half before turning it on in the second half. Poole had one of his cold games, but Lee was hot.
The Thunder, on the other hand, were impressive in the effort they put out. Clearly, they are not a good team beyond SGA, but they played hard and had a big lead at halftime. They’ve got a shit-ton of 1st round draft picks in the next 5 years. Their own pick is likely to be very high and they will be able to package picks to move up. Of their two 1st round picks this year, the Australian PG Josh Giddey started and didn’t look like anything special yet, but obviously is very green. Looked like he has some handles, but doesn’t have the reins of the offense yet, as it is pretty much the SGA show there. The other 1st round pick, SG Tre Mann, barely played, so didn’t get a sense of what he could be. The Warriors were not respecting the Thunder’s ability to shoot the 3 and the Thunder were able to take advantage of that early, but those shots stopped falling so often in the 2nd half. The theme of their season will be losing games and gaining experience to find out which young players are worth keeping. My guess is that they are hoping to win the Bronny James sweepstakes in 2 years.
Another surprising night from Oubre, at least it’s surprising to me that he appears to already have a solid role on the Hornets. Good production and another win for them …
Not a surprise but something to watch: DeRozan’s influence on the Bulls newfound winning ways. I wouldn’t be surprised to see many games like this from him.
ESPN released a long investigative report today about racism and misogyny by Suns owner Robert Sarver.
It is pretty damning. Similar allegations against Clippers owner Donald Sterling got him run out of the league. Gotta think that Adam Silver is already figuring out how to get Sarver to sell the team.
Outstanding! Will be fun to see who wants the team. I assume Barkley will try and get some people together to buy it for instance. But considering that the Suns are on the way up and the weather is nice, $$ is there and nightlife is pretty good … I expect there to be a lot of interest.
Here’s an interview with Young Glove the day after the Dubs crushed the Nets in Brooklyn. Scroll down just a little bit to see the player to hear the interview:
Great game for Biyombo tonight – his 2nd with the Suns
So the word here is that Draymond will be out for the next couple of weeks and re-evaluated then. No specific timetable for his return. He has a disc problem in his back that pinches a nerve that causes the calf pain. Hopefully, he is not out for a whole lot longer than the next two weeks.
On the bright side, after starting JTA in Green’s place during the road trip that Draymond missed, Kerr started Kuminga in his place last night. The rook had a double-double in his first start.
Now Lonzo Ball out 6-8 weeks after surgery for a small meniscus tear.
In the Lakers loss to Indiana last night, Russ Westbrook was benched for the last 4 minutes of an otherwise fairly close game. When asked about it afterwards, Frank Vogel stated that he played the players that he thought gave them the best chance to win, i.e., Russ didn’t give them the best chance to win. it further came out that Vogel had gotten approval from Lakers management to not play Russ in crunch time situations. Sounds like the Russ situation in Laker-land is getting worse.
Jeff Keller asked a couple great questions last night. He knows the warriors pretty well and appears to know exactly what they lose when Dray is out. So given that Dray is out he’s wondering why JTA isn’t getting more minutes, and by that he’s asking why Damion Lee gets as many minutes as he does. I gave him a quick answer but I’d like to know yours.
JTA played 3 minutes last night and 15 the night before. Damion Lee played 28 between those two games.
My guess is that there are two main reasons. One is the need for shooting with 3 players not playing in the back-to-back games (Porter against the Pacers and Klay and Iggy against the Rockets). Lee is a better shooter, so he got more playing time than JTA over the two games, though they got about the same amount in the Pacers game.
Secondly, the continuing emergence of Kuminga is eating into JTA’s playing time. They play essentially the same position, but Kuminga is bigger and more athletic. I like JTA, but the Dubs recognize that Kuminga has the better future, so his development is a bigger priority for them than JTA’s playing time.
My response to him was a two parter …
First same as yours: Lee’s shooting is needed.
Second, I think point one isn’t very important, because I’m in agreement with Jeff that Damion Lee isn’t good enough for this team. Even though they lose shooting they also gain everything else including the continual development of JTA who makes enough happen at both ends to justify the lack of shooting.
Both players make bad decisions, but I’ve seen JTA make up for his while Lee tends to disappear all too often IMO.
Regardless I don’t see either player being a big part of their playoffs because Kuminga and Porter and hopefully Wiseman will be playing by then.
Don’t know if you saw the Grayson Allen foul on Alex Caruso last night, but you can see it here:
Allen received a flagrant 2 foul for it and was ejected from the game. I think it is pretty close as to whether it should have been a flagrant 1 or 2 and perhaps Allen’s reputation as a dirty player cemented it as a flagrant 2. The way that Allen fouls him with his left hand and as he turns around, he swipes at Caruso with his right hand and it almost looks like he was throwing Caruso to the floor, though I think he was just trying to swipe at the ball.
Caruso took a really hard fall with his body landing on his right hand and his head bouncing off the floor. His right wrist was fractured and he will miss 6-8 weeks. I would not be surprised if Caruso also suffered a concussion on the play, though I haven’t heard anything about that. In any event, it was clearly a flagrant foul to me, but I’m not sure whether it was a 1 or a 2. I’m okay with the flagrant 2 call though.
Looks to me to be 100% avoidable and dangerous. So regardless of anything else (mainly the wind up) Allen was in complete control and should have known that the outcome of that kind of swipe could result in a bad injury.
Either way that’s not a basketball play and he should be suspended IMO.
I left out my most important thought: I really like Caruso. In some ways reminds me of Gary Payton II. Really hate to see players go down but never want to see the good guys go down. That’s a big loss for what could have been a conference finals team. Looks like that’s no longer possible with all the bad luck.
Hey A. I’ve been heads down in work-things and have missed a lot of Warriors this past several days. And all of last night’s game. I see Mitchell was out, but still would have expected a Jazz win. Your crib notes?
I didn’t see much of the last two games either. Yesterday, I was driving back from Monterey with Mom and Wallace and when we got to my place, we watched the end of the insane Bills v. Chiefs game (31 points scored AFTER the two minute warning in the 4th quarter), before turning on the Dubs game to see the last quarter. Curry was having another off shooting night. The Dubs had an 8-pt lead going into the 4th quarter, only scored 11 points in the 4th, but still managed to hold on for a 2-pt victory. They are playing great defense despite the offensive woes. Looney’s stat line really doesn’t show it, but he was a beast in the paint. Young Glove had 2 straight pick-pockets that he turned into easy lay-ups on the other end. Wiggins straight up grabbed the ball as a Jazz player shot it from above his head. I guess that’s considered a block. Defense was the only reason they won the game.
So the rumors out of Brooklyn are that Harden is unhappy with Kyrie, unhappy with Nash’s rotations, and also not happy with living in Brooklyn. He can opt out at end of season and become a free agent. If he does and the 76ers trade Simmons, would Harden rejoin Morey in Philly? I get the feeling that the Nets’ championship dreams with their big 3 are going to implode.
This is just fun to watch. Jonathan Kuminga tonight against the Mavericks.
More fun. Here is 10 minutes of Steph shots that DIDN’T count.
I only got through about 10, but get the feeling that Steph has done that more than anyone. Nash threw those up pretty often, and maybe Lillard as well, but I bet it’s Steph by far with the volume.
Here are your All-Star game starters:
East: (Front court): KD, Giannis, Embiid, (Back court) Young and DeRozan
West: (Front court): LBJ, Joker, Wiggs, (Back court) Curry and Morant
I’m a little surprised that Wiggs made it as a starter. Not because he didn’t deserve it, but surprised he got enough votes from fans, players, and media. Booker was deserving of a starter spot, but he wasn’t going to beat Curry in the back court vote and Morant is playing at an MVP level right and is the hot name. Booker and Paul should be locks to make the All-Star squad.
Although KD was the leading vote getter in the East, I’m not sure he will actually play given his current injury status, but maybe he’ll be ready to play by the time of the game. Overall, I’ve got no real qualms with who the starters are.
I’d replace Wiggs with Dray, because really … who’s the better player and who’s more important to the Warriors? and Dray has played plenty of games.
In the East I forget who I selected. Overall a shame that neither Kawhi nor Adebayo will play. Or KD.
I didn’t realize Adebayo is back. Hopefully someone will have some sense and get him a spot. And Sabonis. Harden needs a spot. Herro IMO on par with Jarrett Allen, Van Vleet LaVine. Tatum should take a step back as should Brown. Knicks haven’t performed so arguably no one repping from MSG. Not sure about Ingram o Butler or Miles Bridges or LaMelo. Has Jrue Holiday played enough? Other front court names? I know I’m missing some.
In the West it should be interesting to see how fair Monty Williams is to KAT. I’m sure Gobert and Dray are named or would be strange if they aren’t. Easy argument that Towns gets a nod over Ayton because of games played, but will Williams do that?
Paul and Booker make the cut. Of course. Booker’s re-birth could be the biggest story this year. THIS Booker and a much improved Suns’ young guns and all this height with McGee and Biyombo .. I doubt last year’s Bucks get by them. It remains to be seen what the Warriors can do about Booker and the Suns’ enormous height advantage.
Dray is not going to get an All-Star bid because he won’t be healthy by then. Warriors announced today that his injury will be reevaluated at the All-Star break. Gotta figure that West reserve locks will be: Paul, Booker, Gobert, Towns, and Doncic. AD and Westbrook are probably good bets, though AD only playing 30 games may keep him out. Other possibilities are Anthony Edwards, Dejounte Murray, Brandon Ingram, De’Aaron Fox, SGA, Ayton, Donovan Mitchell, and Christian Wood.
Ingram. I had him in the wrong conference. He won’t have a chance in the West.
The Warriors showed us a glimpse of the future tonight. No Dray obviously. No Steph, Wiggs, Iggy, Porter, or Bjelica either. It was the kids all game. Spurs had a 15-pt lead going into the 4th and the kids overcame it for a 124-120 win. It was a combination of stifling defense, great hustle and every one of them hitting key shots down the stretch. Poole had 31 pts, though he didn’t shoot well, but was attacking the paint and getting to the line where he went 9-for-9 (fun fact, he is tied for league lead in FT%, maybe the leader after tonight). D.Lee and Moody went a combined 11 for 20 from the arc and it was Moody’s hustle to get after a ball, then Lee’s quick, reflexive pass to Poole for a corner three that put the Dubs in the lead for good. Kuminga made some monster moves around the basket that were almost Greek Freak-like. Looney had a double-double by halftime. The kids even managed a 30 assist game. The fact that the kids held it together and made a huge comeback in the 4th, even against a Spurs team that isn’t very good, shows promise for the future.
Kuminga or Shawn Kemp? I take Kuminga on my squad if I had the choice.
We talked briefly about the Blazers-Clippers deal. On the Clippers end, they think it is likely that Kawhi won’t return this year, so making this deal keeps them in the playoff picture. On the Blazers end, Bledsoe’s contract is only partially guaranteed for next year, so he will come off the books. They will only have six players under contract next year, so the deal gives them salary cap and tax relief and makes them a player in the off-season free agent market. Still think the Clippers made out like bandits in this deal.
Powell was a big piece to Portland’s future, so this doesn’t match his value as they’ve advertised it to be. If they’re just trying to create cap space, for who and how many players that will need a long time to become accustomed to one another and a new coach and style of play? I don’t see how Lillard has that kind of time. And who’s to say that even if they do land talent it will be anywhere near enough to challenge the likes of Suns, Warriors and a couple other teams that are rising quickly?
The NBA has named LaMelo Ball as KD’s replacement on the All-Star team (with Tatum replacing KD as a starter) and Dejuante Murray as Draymond’s replacement. I believe KD is still picking teams with LBJ as captains.
nice choices. but herro didn’t make it, correct?
Not yet anyway.
As we suspected, the Trail Blazers rebuild is continuing. They are trading CJ McCollum (with Larry Nance, Jr. & Tony Snell) to the Pelicans for Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Didi Louzada, a 2022 protected 1st round pick and two 2nd round picks. Don’t know what the protections are on the 2022 1st round pick, but the Pelicans are currently 10th in the West about 4-5 games behind the 9th (Lakers) spot. Not sure how much the trade will help them this year.
The only question remaining for the Blazers is whether they trade Dame by the deadline or wait until the off-season when Dame is healthy to do so.
Wow. I’m not sure McCollum is “that guy” like Griffin assumes him to be. But it looks like Griffin was right about Ingram … maybe the McCollum, Ingram, Zion combo will produce. Still badly in need of a top PG though. I wonder who Griffin is considering, unless he thinks he’s all set with Graham and McCollum in the backcourt. I don’t think that’s good enough though.
Holy crap, here’s a major deal for you:
Pacers get: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, and Tristan Thompson
Kings get: Damontas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday, and a 2027 2nd round pick
Granted, the Kings were stacked in their backcourt, but that seems like a lot to pick up to get Sabonis. They now will have a starting line-up of Fox, Davion Mitchell, Barnes, Bagley/Holmes, and Sabonis. On the Pacers side, getting Haliburton instantly makes Brogdon and/or McConnell expendable. Hield replaces the recently traded LeVert at SG and their starting line-up is likely Haliburton, Hield, Craig or Duarte, Turner, and recently acquired Jarrett Allen. With Allen already in place to replace Sabonis, this looks like a good deal for the Pacers.
Pretty much all the sports websites (ESPN, Sporting News, CBS Sports, etc.) give the Pacers an “A” for this deal, while the Kings get a “C”. Basically, the Kings get a fringe superstar (Sabonis) for a potential huge superstar (Haliburton) and a good shooter (Hield).
Since when is Haliburton that good?! That’s way overselling him in my opinion.
For what it’s worth, Draymond thinks that the Pacers won the deal. He described Haliburton on his podcast this way today:
“I had heard things before about how much the Kings loved Tyrese Haliburton, and then playing against him, he’s just a winning player. He plays winning basketball, he makes guys better, you can tell how the guys respond to him that they enjoy playing with him.”
I definitely think Dray’s opinion means something, but without knowing his honest opinion of Sabonis and longer term results of the trade I’m not sure how he or anyone can state that Pacers “won the deal”.
I *absolutely* take this over Haliburton …
I didn’t know Jarrett Allen was traded! Overall I’d call this an excellent business decision on both sides. Well done by both teams, starting with Pacers who brought in a lot of talent after changing Sabonis’ outlook dramatically with the Allen pickup. By that I mean that Allen brings a very different ability and look to the Pacers almost ensuring that Sabonis will leave when the time comes, and next year is the last on his contract. The Pacers saw that Haliburton was available (great move by the Kings IMO, though I think they should have given Fox instead). And Hield. Sabonis is as good as Divac. I can see Sabonis having an excellent career in Sacramento. It’s now a team I want to watch with his rebounding, intelligence, defense and passing.
My mistake. I could have sworn that Jarrett Allen was part of the Caris LeVert deal, but my memory apparently failed me there. So Indiana has no replacement for Sabonis except more minutes for Myles Turner or playing Tristan Thompson more than they should. Neither player is the offensive player that Sabonis is, but Turner is a great defender in the paint and the best shot blocker in the league right now.
I agree Haliburton is very good, and we’ll see who makes each team better. I don’t understand why the Kings thought they needed to give up Hield though. Just seems like they could have thrown in other players to cement the deal. And trade Hield elsewhere. Clearly the Pacers value Haliburton highly enough. I think the Kings are valuing Fox too much – that seems to be an issue for them.
Bradley Beal is getting season-ending surgery (wrist I think). Don’t look for him to get dealt before the deadline on Thursday. The Wiz had been a fringe playoff contender, but figure them to finish well out of the playoffs now.
Another deal has gone down, this time a 3-team trade:
Jazz get: Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Juan Hernangomez
Trail Blazers get: Joe Ingles (out for season) and Elijah Hughes
Spurs get: Tomas Satoransky and a Utah 2nd round pick
On Portland’s end, this is simply more salary dumping. Both Ingles and Hughes are FAs at the end of the season. That being said, Alexander-Walker could have been an interesting piece for their rebuild.
For Utah, I don’t really understand this. Sure dumping Ingles who was a FA at season’s end is good, but Alexander-Walker plays the same position as Spider Mitchell. Perhaps they’ll make him an under-sized 3, but I don’t see Alexander-Walker helping much this year. Hernangomez is bench depth for the frontcourt, but won’t improve their chances of winning this year.
On the Spurs, if they don’t buy out Satoransky, which is certainly possible, he will be a FA at the end of the year unlike Hernangomez, so the deal saves them a little money and they get a 2nd round pick.
Basically, this trade was mostly about salary dumping for two of the teams and the one decent player traded is going to a team where he is blocked at his position. Nobody is really helped here.
I think Alex-Walker is improving and might be a better player than ingles ever was. I doubt he’s there yet, but I’ve heard he’s an up and comer.
It is trade deadline day and the first one on the board today is this 4-way deal:
Kings get: Donte DiVencenzo (from Bucks), and Trey Lyles and Josh Jackson (from Pistons)
Pistons get: Marvin Bagley, Jr. (from Kings)
Bucks get: Serge Ibaka (from Clippers), and two 2nd round picks (from Pistons)
Clippers get: Rodney Hood and Semi Ojele (from Bucks)
Seems to me like the Pistons gave up way too much to get Bagley. Kings did alright on their side of the deal as Bagley definitely wasn’t needed anymore with the addition of Sabonis. Bucks and Clippers ends of the deal look pretty fair.
Ibaka on the Bucks. Wow. I’m not sure the Suns or Warriors are ready for the Buck’s defense and length. Essentially going from one of the smallest very good defenders in the league (DiVincenzo) to Ibaka is a coup.
The next deal has the Raptors trading Goran Dragic and a lottery protected 2022 1st round pick to the Spurs for Thad Young, Drew Eubanks, and a 2022 2nd round pick. The Spurs are expected to buy out Dragic’s contract. I’m guessing this is a salary dump on Toronto’s part, but they are paying a heavy price for it if they finish out of the lottery this year. None of the players involved in the deal will likely contribute much this year.
As expected, the Spurs have bought out Dragic and he’s a free agent now. I wonder which contender will pick him up.
Do the Warriors even need him? Where would he fit in when Iggy and Poole do all those same sorts of things. And I’ve seen Porter play the point well also. I’m concerned he’ll end up a Buck or a Sixer though.
Warriors don’t need Dragic. If they get anyone in the buyout market, it’ll be a big man like Robin Lopez. However, I highly doubt the Dubs do anything because they would have to cut somebody to do it and it is doubtful that anyone they could sign would be better than anyone they would have to cut.
If I had to take a guess on where Dragic ends up, it would be Miami. He’s already familiar with everyone there and won’t have to learn a new system. Miami may want a better back up PG than Gabe Vincent.
I watched Coby White last night. He’s the weak link on the Bulls and Ball is injured. I think the Bulls should grab Dragic if they can. I can also see the Lakers and Nuggets having interest. And … oh! If Brooklyn doesn’t change their vaccination mandate silliness then he would fit extremely well there as a backup when needed.
I’m guessing he’ll go exactly where he wants to go. We’ll find out soon enough.
In a total salary dump, the Celtics are sending P.J. Dozier, Bol Bol, a future 2nd round pick and cash to the Magic for a future 2nd round pick. Apparently, this will drop the Celtics below the luxury tax threshhold. Both Dozier and Bol are out for the season and will be free agents at season’s end.
Actually, the Magic have already waived Dozier. He’ll have to show he’s recovered from his ACL tear in the off-season to get a deal with some team.
Here’s the blockbuster we’ve been waiting for. Nets are sending James Harden to the 76ers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two 1st round picks. This seems like a great deal for the Nets. Simmons and Drummond beef up their defense. Ben will be under no pressure to be a scorer when he can dish off to KD, Kyrie, Curry, Mills, and Harris (when he returns). Two likely late 1st round pick are icing on the cake. I don’t know if Harden turns the Sixers into a championship team. The Sixers team defense and shooting took a hit with this trade, but they were getting nothing from Simmons this year, so I guess anybody with Harden’s scoring ability is a positive for them.
We’ll see how Simmons fits in Brooklyn. His ego is about to take an even bigger hit, and it already seems fragile. He is now third fiddle at best on that team. Kyrie and Durant aren’t going to give him the ball, so it needs to be the other way around. I guess it was that way with Harden anyhow.
I love this deal for the Sixers. They lose almost nothing defensively because Simmons wasn’t going to play anyhow. Sixers are an outstanding defensive team still, albeit they need to fill in the gaps that Harden will leave. One question I have is who will play SG alongside Harden? Maxey? He’s pretty small. We’ll see what they do there to make up for Curry in that spot.
Thinking about this a bit more, Sixers have a problem with Maxey now. He won’t get as many minutes unless he plays alongside Harden, but if he does that how will they share the ball? Seems like they need to trade him too, but it’s probably too late. Would really suck for him to have him relegated to a bench role, and not good for the Sixers who fed off his defense. Hmmm.
To be clear, I think this trade is a win-win for both teams and believe I was suggesting it as the best possible alternative for both teams weeks ago. Sixers were getting nothing from Simmons, so adding a premiere scorer to the mix is nothing but good. Their bench got thinner, but rotations tighten up in the playoffs anyway. The Harden-Embiid pick and roll should be a lethal weapon.
The Nets likely knew that Harden would likely leave at the end of the season, so did good to get something for him. Simmons as a small-ball five with KD, Kyrie, Harris, and Curry around him is a great line-up and one that can do all the switching it needs to do on defense. Having KD, Kyrie, and Harden together was just too many ball-dominant players on the court, so replacing Harden with Simmons should make the offense run more smoothly and Simmons and Drummond will help patch up the Nets previous so-so defense. The two 1st round draft picks are also really good trade chips for the next off-season. Both teams are likely to be better as part of this deal and it would be something if we end up with a Nets-76ers Eastern Conference finals this year.
I think this will be an ongoing discussion, as I’m optimistic about how this improves the Nets longer term than the Sixers. That’s stating the obvious I suppose.
Simmons has been blessed, in a sense, with an opportunity to put himself alongside or maybe slightly behind Kyrie and Durant in stature. I think and almost everyone else thinks he can’t come close. He can prove all of us wrong definitively now. He seems to have the talent so I don’t ignore the possibility.
Sixers gave up Curry instead of Maxey. Morey must have more interest in Maxey to do so. And if I was Brooklyn I’d rather have Maxey as well. He may not be an all-star, but I think he has the potential to be one. But did Morey or Doc have the idea of a Maxey-Harden backcourt? That must be the idea, but the only way I think it could work is if Maxey will work his frickin ass off. Like Reggie Miller, Klay Thompson, Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Reddick et. al. Is that Maxey though? It seems that it is but he’s so small. Smaller than those other guys except Reddick (I think).
There’s a lot more to write on this trade, but for now I’ll end this with a point about the opportunity that Harden has been given which is historical. He can make it work with excellence the way Magic did with Kareem. He’s in charge of exploiting Embiid’s advantage over almost everyone else night after night. How he can keep Embiid’s FG attempts at the same or nearly the same number per game while he takes a lot of his own shots …
He won’t be able to take nearly as many shots. Harris and Maxey need to take a lot of shots, because if they don’t there’s not a good reason for giving them so many minutes.
Just to clarify, I wrote “And if I was Brooklyn I’d rather have Maxey as well. ” to mean literally this is my choice. I don’t mean that Brooklyn would choose Maxey over Curry. Curry seems like the safer bet, but I think Maxey is the better player.
Maxey is 10 years younger than Seth Curry and their stats on Philly this year were fairly similar with Maxey probably being a slightly better defender. I’m sure Brooklyn asked for Maxey instead of Curry, but Morey made the right call be refusing to do that.
The problem that Simmons had in Philly was that both he and Embiid really need to play inside. In Brooklyn, Simmons can be the inside guy dishing out to a dazzling array of shooters and be the pick and roller that goes to the hoop after setting a screen for KD or Kyrie.
Harden showed last year that he could adjust his game to fit alongside KD and Kyrie, so he can do so again to fit with Embiid. The question will be, how long will it last? He soured on the Nets pretty quickly. He’s asked out of two teams in two years. If things don’t go swimmingly in Philly, will he want out again? Harden has a history of washing out in the playoffs and Philly notoriously has harsh fans. If he comes up short in the playoffs again and fans get on him, I could see him being unhappy in Philly.
I agree with this. I think Harden will adjust immediately and get others involved and take fewer long shots than ever in his career, but will it last? If his shooters produce he’s in a perfect position to be the decision maker and can hopefully stay the course taking fewer outside shots. If not I think he’ll start jacking them up like he tends to do.
Time will tell.
Meanwhile I’ll be tracking the Kings-Pacers trade results continually.
Sabonis with an outstanding debut last night and a nice win for the Kings vs. Wolves.
Haliburton and Hield haven’t played for Indiana yet. Their first game is Fri vs. Cavs.
Strange that the Kings started Holiday at SG and Metu at center instead of Mitchell and Holmes, but at least they had Mitchell play more minutes than Holiday. Perhaps Holmes played so little because they expect to trade him.
While the Pacers lost, Haliburton had a nice debut for them. He and Hield were the only starting-caliber players in the Pacers line-up as Turner, Brogdon, and Warren were all out.
Very nice debut from the new guys. I hope the trade works out for both teams. I especially like that both Haliburton and Sabonis are now in situations that showcase them as focal pieces moreso than where they were at.
Sabonis 2-0 with his new team but less productive in an ok performance last night. Haliburton with an outstanding performance today and 16 assists!! but another loss for him and Hield with their new team.
It’s still early, but Haliburton has been so good in his first two outings with the Pacers that the obvious question for Indiana is “what to do with Brogdon?” when he returns. It seems there’s no room on the roster for Brogdon now, or rather that Pacers might as well get what they can for him in the offseason. He’s good enough for them to get another good piece that fits with the new guys and Turner.
Brogdon is expected to be back sometime soon. Possibly before March.
Post blockbuster deals:
1. Celtics get Derrick White from Spurs for Romeo Langford, Josh Richardson, and top-4 protected 2022 1st round pick. Spurs also get right to swap 1st round picks with Celtics in 2028.
2. Suns get Torrey Craig back from Pacers for Jalen Smith & future 2nd round pick. Still wondering how good this Suns team would be if they had taken Haliburton instead of Smith.
3. Hornets get Montrezl Harrell from Wizards for Ish Smith and Vernon Carey, Jr.
4. Wizards get Kristaps Porzingis from Mavs for Davis Bertans and Spencer Dinwiddie.
5. Celtics getting Daniel Theis back from Houston for Dennis Schroder, Enes Kanter, er, Freedom, and Bruno Fernando. Rockets plan to waive Kanter, er, Freedom.
6. Suns paying cash to Wizards for Aaron Holiday.
Suns did good to strengthen their bench at virtually no cost.
Celtics get a steal in White for bench players and a likely late 1st round pick.
Hornets get a steal in Harrell for an old Ish Smith and a hugely over-valued (even at Duke) Vernon Carey.
Only logic in the Porzingis deal is that things between him and Doncic were so bad, they had to get rid of him. Seems ludicrous that all they could get was Dinwiddie and Bertans, who had one good year 2 years ago, got a contract extension out of it and has been trending downhill ever since. Dallas is still a playoff team, but I could see them falling down into the play-in tournament.
Here are your All-Star teams as picked by LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Teams are listed in the order picked with LeBron having first pick among the starters and KD having the first pick among the reserves:
Team LeBron: starters (which include LeBron)
Team Durant starters (KD got an extra pick since he won’t be playing
Team LeBron reserves
Team Durant reserves:
LeBron’s team is loaded up with shooters/ball handlers. KD had his choice of Gobert or Harden with his last pick and took Gobert, claiming his team needed “size,” never mind the fact that his team already had a lot more size than LeBron’s team. LBJ cracked up with KD avoidance of Harden. I get the feeling that KD really wasn’t happy with Harden wanting to leave the Nets for Philly.
I get it.
First there’s there’s the politics: a bad look if harden is selected before certain other players.
Then there’s the personal stuff which obviously came into play with the selections.
Third, and maybe most important for LeBron, Harden never tries or fits in well in these all star games. He doesn’t help toward a win or so it would seem. He’d only be a 3-pt shooter most likely.
Overall I see a lot of likeable guys on both sides. And without Prima Donna #1 available (that would be Kyrie) the closest is Harden. Actually looking up and down the rosters the only others that are close in that regard are LeBron and KD, so yeah.
Wait. DeRozan was picked after Jokic???
No, before Jokic. The order listed is the order they were picked.
I’m having internet issues and everything I write needs to be repeated or fixed. I initially wrote “before” and then got sick of revising it. no idea what came through.
Why would DeRozan be picked BEFORE Jokic??
That’s just stupid.
If KD chose Jokic after DeRozan the lineups are likely Giannis, LeBron, Curry, DeRozan and probably Tatum vs Embiid, Jokic, Morant, Tre Young and Wiggins. OK. Maybe LeBron thought all that through. Makes sense now. Not stupid!
Don’t know if Harden suffered a new injury or he just didn’t like getting picked last in the LBJ-KD draft, but he won’t be playing in the All-Star game and has been replaced by Jarrett Allen.
Wow. Herro slighted again! Allen is certainly deserving tho.
I’m not sure what happened to Sabonis and the Kings yesterday vs. Nets. I’m not sure how he could take so few shots and grab so few rebounds in 26 minutes. Foul trouble I guess – not a good sign.
As an aside, I spotted some “interesting” vegas odds that seem to hint at a lot of misguided bettors with big $$$. In particular that so much $$ is on Giannis to win MVP and not nearly as much as you’d expect on Morant. So I’ll be watching the MVP race and maybe putting more $$ down. Currently I make out well if any of these win it: Embiid, Curry, Morant, Doncic. Doncic is a long shot of course, but the odds aren’t sensible: $10 down on him to win MVP will get you about $400 back. I’ll likely lose that $10, but it’s not THAT likely I’ll lose it.
Obviously I’m taking a chance that Jokic doesn’t repeat. My reasoning is that there are two things working against him: First, Morant is in a very similar position to Jokic as the best player of his team that is also responsible for most of their wins. But Morant is being watched more because of the excitement factor. It’s a guess, but I think that will sway some voters in his direction. Second, Jokic was thrown out of the playoffs (as it so happened) for that bone-headed swipe vs. Suns. No doubt some voters are disappointed that they voted for him after that.
And of course, Paul and Booker dilute each others’ chances to win MVP. With all these others playing so well and staying healthy, i don’t see how either one has a chance unless one of them in addition to Embiid and Morant are injured soon.
I also placed a bet that the Sixers do *not* win the Atlantic division. They’ll lose games before Harden and Embiid learn to play together, but mostly both the Raptors and Celtics are nipping at their heels. I think it’s more likely one of those teams wins the Atlantic so I put $$ on both of them.
Right now, I rate the MVP candidates in this order: 1. Embiid; 2. Morant; 3. Jokic; 4. Antetokounmpo; 5. Toss-up among DeRozan, Curry, Murray, Doncic, Booker, Young, and Garland. The MVP race this season is about as wide open as I have ever seen it this late.
pretty close to how I view it as well. if embiid doesn’t get injured in the next 5 games, and they don’t lose all those games I think he’s got it locked up. I’m not sure of that though, because Morant, Jokic and Doncic are all capable of coming up with even more spectacular performances AND wins before the season ends. Doncic in particular, as much as he’s a long long-shot today, no one will be able to ignore him as a top candidate if he wins 90% of his games after the all-star break. Of the players mentioned he’s the only one that appears to have a much weaker team, yet the Mavs are winning and have a great chance to jump up to the 4th spot in the West.
Doncic is LeBron like in that category. Jokic is as well I guess with the injuries but Dallas may have the better record by years end. They really are the best players on their teams by far, they’re clearly the reason their team wins so often, and they get all of their teammates involved. But if Embiid loses more games while everyone else goes on a tear … I think it’s a Morant and Doncic race to the finish because I don’t think Jokic will get the votes for reasons I mentioned earlier.
I want to say all the same things about Morant, but he doesn’t get all his teammates involved the way those other guys do. He’s getting there quickly though.
Yeah. It’s the tightest race and more legit candidates than ever. And of course DeRozan is playing out of his mind with the best record in the East. Hmmm … maybe I need to put a few $$ on him as well. $20 on him would get me about $600 which would net me approx $100 covering the other bets.
While I think of Giannis as out of the race, I’m not as positive about Jokic. If he wins I screwed up.
Doncic for MVP is a conundrum. Taking team record into account (and especially recently), time with the ball in his hands, overall stats, late game performance, overall team strength and health there are only two other players in Embiid and Morant that should be in competition with Doncic. And yet Doncic is way down the list of likely candidates for some reason. I don’t get it, because usually by this time of year the MVP race is about numbers, and it seems the only number that works against him is games played. But he’s at 44 while Morant and Embiid are at 46, so that’s hardly a good reason.
Meanwhile Jokic has played 52 games. His record isn’t as good as Doncic though.
Also there’s this which really should stop me from putting more $$ into the race (except to make small hedges) ..
With so many players involved, and especially with some of these late surges from DeRozan and Doncic, I don’t think the voting can be done objectively this year like it clearly was last year and the year before. A voter can easily become a bit overwhelmed by all the legitimate choices and decide they can’t go wrong by selecting a player based on sentiment. I expect DeRozan to get a lot of votes for that reason. Of course the same is true of Embiid who probably has this locked up unless he gets injured.
A nice outing tonight for both Haliburton and Hield in a loss to the Bucks.
Hield went off as we know he can. Haliburton had another impressive game with only 1 TO …
36 mins 6-12 FG 3-7 3FG 2-3 FT 4 REB 8 AST 4 ST 1 TO 17 PTS
Some Dubs news…Warriors announced that Draymond is expected to return after this weekend’s All-Star break. Also, Wiseman has been engaged in 5-on-5 contact scrimmages and reportedly has suffered no ill effects, so he’s likely getting close to game action as well. I expect the Dubs will have him play a G-League game or two first. Finally, Kuminga was added to the Rising Stars game as an injury replacement. How he was not named in the first place is puzzling.
The return of Wiseman can’t happen soon enough. The only Warrior of size to defend Jokic tonight was Looney. So the Dubs played Looney down the stretch and Denver adopted a Hack-a-Loon strategy with just under 3 minutes remaining. Of the 3 off-the-balls fouls on Looney, he only hit 2 of the 6 FTs. That helped the Nuggets get back into the game and take a lead with 14 seconds left. Then, after Steph hit a tough 2-pt shot and get fouled for a 3-pt play, Jokic got the ball and dished to Monte Morris for a winning 3-pt shot when Steph went to double the Joker. With a 2-pt lead, Steph should have stayed on Morris as the best Jokic could do was tie the game. Still, the Dubs played better in the loss than they had in other recent games.
I saw that as well. To me that was the game that put Curry out of the MVP race.
Curry has been taking himself out of the MVP race since the stretch in December when he was pressing to overtake Ray Allen on the all-time 3-pt list. His shooting has been a little off ever since and he’s averaging a career low 38% on 3-pointers and a career low 43% on overall shooting percentage. It hasn’t helped not having Draymond for the last month setting him up. I think it highly unlikely that Steph is in MVP contention this year, but his name will remain in the discussion while the Warriors have the second best record in the league.
Well aware of this. My point is that about 10 guys are actually still in the MVP race, but Curry is no longer one of them IMO because of the (very) recent losses that he alone could have prevented but didn’t.
I watched some of both the Pacers and the Kings games last night. First thing to note: Sabonis is right behind Embiid and Jokic as best big men in the game. Better than Towns, Ayton, Adebayo, Zubac. At least for now, and I don’t think it’s close. He does it all, *including* plays enough solid defense!!! – the sooner Fox realizes that a shot taking Sabonis means more Kings’ wins the sooner it will be clear that Sabonis makes more sense on the Kings than a Fox and Haliburton backcourt which would never take advantage of Haliburton’s leadership and passing abilities.
It’s pretty clear that the Pacers didn’t want Fox, but I still don’t get why the Kings needed to include Hield in the deal. I agree Haliburton is an excellent player. The assist totals are impressive as hell, as are his first performances as a leader and distributor on a brand new team. I get the Hield inclusion from a financial standpoint, but they couldn’t have included Barnes instead? Or one of several other guys on that team not named Fox? Were the Pacers really going to say “no” if Hield was not included?
That’s how badly Divac wanted Sabonis apparently. I agree with Divac’s decision to go all in on Sabonis *assuming* Fox figures this out soon and stops taking so many shots. I agree with Divac, but I also think he was a little too hasty unless there was some other team going after Sabonis with a better offer than Haliburton and Hield. I really doubt there was or that the Pacers were going to pass on Haliburton. I guess we’ll never know.
By the way, if Sabonis had stayed in the East would Silver have replaced KD with him instead of Jarrett Allen? Sabonis is absolutely a better player. I should also include Valenciunis(sp) and Vucevic in there. Sabonis is a better all around big man than these guys.
I would say that is likely. The only way Silver picks Allen over Sabonis would have been if he took Cleveland’s record into account.
Anthony Davis is expected to miss more than a month with a mid-foot sprain suffered in last night’s game. If that timeline holds, that’ll make his return for the last few weeks of the season. With the Lakers sitting in 9th place and a difficult schedule remaining, it is entirely possibly they could finish out of the playoffs entirely, though they fortunately have a 4-game lead on the 11th place team, the Pelicans.
Chris Paul has a fractured right thumb and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season. Suns have a 6 1/2 game lead for best record, so I suspect that they will be able to maintain best record even without CP3. But they better hope that he can make it back for the playoffs.
Maybe for the best. Suns will be fine even if they sink to 2 or 3, as long as he comes back.
I hope it means more touches by Bridges and in a high post or arc position. He’s looked good quickly getting a spot in the paint, almost anywhere in the paint, and shooting or dishing.
I believe Cam Payne is out so will it be Payton or Holiday?
I know no defense was being played, but Curry scoring 50 and hitting 16 (of 27) 3-pointers was ridiculous. Basically, he was hitting from everywhere. You could tell the other team was getting a little embarrassed by it, as they double-teamed him at one point and were throwing hands up and in his face on a number of those shots. Between Steph, LBJ and the Greek Freak, they had 104 points. Despite all that, Team Durant acquitted themselves well, particularly Embiid and Booker.
The Nets are waiving one former Sun, Jevon Carter, in order to sign another former Sun, Goran Dragic. This is, as you mentioned, a good fit for Brooklyn since Kyrie still can’t play at home (though I won’t be surprised to see that restriction lifted in time for the playoffs) and Simmons hasn’t taken the court yet.. Even with Dragic, I expect the Nets to play in the play-in round of the playoffs as I don’t think they will get KD back for enough time to move up to 6th place or better in the East.
Did not know this! So winning almost every game is good incentive for Simmons to get there and produce early on. I agree it seems unlikely (unless new mayor rescinds the stupid fucking vaccination rule). But yeah, without KD it’s unlikely. Especially with some very tough opponents in the East.
Watching Warriors-Blazers game. With Lillard hurt and McCollum traded, this is Anfernee Simons’ team right now and he looks like a potential superstar. I knew he was good, but he is exuding confidence and even GPII was having troubles containing him.
On the flip side, with Nurkic still hurt, Portland has no height. They were forced to start recently acquired Drew Eubanks (6’9″) at center and have no one else over 6’6″. The Warriors have been pushing the ball inside to great success and beating them on the boards, leading to a double-digit half-time lead.
Will be fun to follow Simons. Seems like he’s the real deal. Enough so that the Blazers should see what they can get for Lillard in the offseason. There should be a lot of good offers if he’s healthy.
Outstanding night for the Sixers new look. Maxey was surprisingly productive.
Looks like a 3-guard offense with Embiid and Harris. Harden and Embiid ought to create a lot of open looks from the arc for Maxey, Thybulle, and Harris.
Meanwhile last night …
Haliburton and Sabonis both with good games in losses. Hield had an outstanding game. Early still, but to me it’s looking like Sabonis for Haliburton trade is a wash, although I think Sabonis is easier to build around for the Kings future than Haliburton was alongside Fox. But Hield looks like he’s thriving with the Pacers. So far the trade looks to be in the Pacers favor, but need to see what Kings put around Sabonis in the future.
Mitchell was outstanding for the Jazz win over the Mavs with Doncic getting into foul trouble. It was still close.
Suns took the night off it seemed. I watched it and the plan seemed to be to get Craig and Cam Johnson and Ayton a lot of touches. Lots of missed shots. Poor defensive positioning. Lots of fouls. Didn’t look anything like the Suns as we’ve seen them this season.
Sabonis v Jokic again
Dragic first game with Nets
Derozan v Morant for battle of the MVP whos-closer-to-the-top-3 candidates
great stuff from J Will who I think is atop the list of most under rated players ever …
outstanding game, statline and win for Haliburton today vs. the were-surging celtics
the 2 tos are especially surprising. well done young man!
brogdon back in the lineup and the pacers played three guards but sort-of-not-really
as the average height of the three is worth noting.
Haliburton: 19.8 ppg, 10.7 apg, 4.3 rpg, 2 spg, and shooting 47.5% from 3 and 80% on FTs (6 games)
Hield: 21.7 ppg, 4.8 apg, 6.2 rpg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg, and shooting 37.5% and 87.5% on FTs from 3 (6 games)
Sabonis: 19.3 ppg, 5.7 apg, 12.7 rpg, 1 spg, 0.5 bpg, and shooting 25% from 3 and 62.5% on FTs (6 games)
I expect Sabonis’ shooting percentages will go up from this small sample, but he’s not a great shooter outside the lane. He is still a nice piece for the Kings, but I think Pacers are going to be much happier with Haliburton and Hield.
The Lakers are waiving DeAndre Jordan in order to sign PG DJ Augustin. Reportedly, the 76ers might be interested in Jordan. Not sure why. Jordan looked washed up with the Lakers and pretty much only offers some rebounding help. Maybe now that they traded Drummond, they feel like they don’t have enough back-up for Embiid, but not sure Jordan is their best bet.
there are so many stories and great games and performances happening just these past few days, it’s hard to decide what to contribute without spending an hour on all of it.
I haven’t watched much but I did see Harden and am disappointed that he doesn’t move faster if only to get in shape during the game. So lazy defensively … if he was lighter and in better condition he wouldn’t be as lazy. For a guy with an elite basketball intelligence, what is so hard about figuring out that you need to get in shape?
Regardless … Sad, but regardless Harden was a fucking maestro yesterday. Outstanding play making reminiscent of Magic. Beautiful basketball.
Doncic is also on my mind. He is unstoppable unless you get him into foul trouble. That IS possible apparently, as he actually lost a game for that reason recently:
There is one definition of MVP according to which Doncic is likely the top candidate:
Which player by time of possession is both 1. the player who is clearly the reason for most of his team’s wins. & 2. the player on a team that is among the best in their conference and wins almost every game and is still improving late in the season
Since I believe Doncic’s time of possession is greater than Jokic’s, Morant’s, Giannis’s, Curry’s I think Doncic is most deserving, but only if that was a commonly accepted definition of the MVP.
I don’t think that’s how most will vote though. Some will, but not most so I think right now it’s either Embiid or Morant with Jokic at 3rd.
Morant with a 52 pt barrage tonight
22 of 30, including 4 of 4 from the arc. Only 4 of 7 from the charity stripe though. He only shoots 75% on free throws, so that’s something he needs to improve upon, especially if he’s going to be the primary ball-handler in close playoff games. If Morant can push the Grizz past the Warriors into 2nd place in the West, these kinds of games are going to get him the MVP.
And, of course, there was this…
Morant isn’t in Curry’s class as a shooter, but like Curry, he does things on the court almost every night that make you go “WOW!”
Another very good game for Haliburton and pretty good for Hield in their win over the Magic.
Sabonis not so good in loss v Pels. I don’t think Haliburton has had a mediocre showing yet though, so early nod goes to the Pacers trade-wise. Makes me wonder if Sabonis is taking too many outside shots.
Bad loss for the Mavs in a blowout by the Knicks
look at the o fers
Ouch! 6 of 44 from the arc. That is Houston Rockets in the playoffs bad. Only 68% from the charity stripe as well and 31% overall shooting. Wonder if it was just a bad shooting night or if the Knicks played really good defense.
Sabonis got suspended a game for bumping a ref while arguing a call last night. Overall, his points, steals and blocks are down, but rebounds and assists are up since the trade. On the other side, all of Haliburton’s averages are up except for blocks being slightly down and all of Hield’s averages are up except for steals being slightly down. The Kings are 4-7 since the trade and the Pacers are 3-8. Both teams remain in 13th place in their respective divisions. Unfortunately for the Pacers, they are about 10 games out of 10th place. The Kings are only 4 games out of the 10th spot. It is going to turn out that the trade didn’t help either team this year, but I still like the Pacers’ future better.
Agreed. And am wondering why Sabonis settles for outside shots so much when he handles the ball well enough and does well around the post. Seems like he should be banging and getting to the FT line more instead of settling. He’s an average FT shooter at around 73%, but that’s good enough if he’s shooting a lot from there.
Maybe Fox needs the offseason to figure out how to work the 2 man game with Sabonis.
Warriors injury updates: Wiseman will be playing tonight and this weekend with the Santa Cruz Warriors G-League team. If all goes well, he could join the Dubs next week. Draymond is targeting next Monday’s game against the Wizards for his return, so next week could be a boon for the Warriors. Iggy is still out with his back issues and I haven’t heard anything about when he may return.
Wiseman was 7 of 13 shooting tonight for 18 pts overall with 6 rebounds and only one turnover.
Wiseman had 19 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 blocks in his 2nd game with the Santa Cruz Dubs. The Warriors have not officially announced when he will join them, but it looks like soon. Meanwhile, they have officially announced that Draymond will play tomorrow.
Excellent. I’ve been watching more games and only the good teams since I saw you last. All except for the Nuggets who I’ll watch tonight. My impression is that the teams to beat and most likely to win the championship are in this order …
1. Nets – Warriors tie
2. Suns – Bucks tie
3. Mavs – Sixers – Celtics – Heat tie
Something like that. Suns are the steady-eddies and typically that’s what you want to be if you also have scoring and the league’s best record, but this year I doubt it will matter. IMO the list of players that might consistently put up big numbers with accuracy is Booker, Curry, Klay, Durant, Kyrie, Giannis, Middleton, Embiid, Doncic, Tatum, Herro. Only Warriors, Nets and Bucks seem to be ready to go with more than one player that can volume score with efficiency. I’m assuming Kyrie can play at home when the time comes.
Again not sure about Denver. Not at all confident in the Clippers unless they get healthy FAST. Memphis will make noise but that’s likely all they’ll do. Bulls aren’t deep enough.
In any case, if the conference finals come down to Warriors-Suns and Nets-Bucks then I hope I’ve skillfully planned two weeks off from whatever I’m doing around that time.
The obvious omission from the list is the Jazz. I’ve watched them and there are problems there. Mitchell isn’t the right guy at all for that kind of role. He’s not smart enough and not productive in the ways that Tatum is. Tatum, by the way, also isn’t that smart in the basketball sense and that’s the main reason I doubt the Celtics get to the conf finals.
I probably shouldn’t leave out Atlanta but I am simply because they don’t have the experience of the other teams listed in the East. Cavs … no idea what they can do with a healthy Allen. They’re definitely the wildcard in the East. I suppose the same can be said for the Mavs in the West.
I don’t think I would put the Mavs at that 3rd level yet. Teams will take away Doncic in the playoffs and I’m not sure they have anyone who can step up enough when that happens. Other than that, those rankings look about right. Celtics are playing incredible defense right now and should eventually pass up Chicago for the 4th spot in the East, but they don’t match-up well with Embiid, Giannis, or KD.
I put Mavs there because I agree with your comments about the Celtics and other good if not great teams on paper and yet Mavs still find a way to win. Except for one very strange shooting game recently they are right there with the Nets, Suns, Warriors and I guess the Raptors?? as the toughest out in the league right now IMO.
There are a couple more reasons …
First, they have the right guy making the decisions. Even though he’s the biggest whiner probably ever in the NBA (a complete child when talking to the refs if you haven’t noticed), he makes excellent decisions similar to Dray and Curry and CP3 and Jokic. He’s turning over the ball less and there are fewer wasted possessions as there have been in the past.
Second, obviously Doncic isn’t doing it all. Since the Porzingas trade there appears to be better ball movement. Dinwiddie hit the ground running, and Brunson is thriving.
It’s not proof that Mavs are as good as I think, but until they start losing games they’ll stay the hottest team in the league. They have a tough slate of games coming up starting tomorrow vs. the Nets on ESPN.
I left out LeBron in the club of “best decision makers” going into the playoffs.
Not sure that was intentional. I guess I’m doubting he makes it to the playoffs.
I agree that Doncic is one of the best decision-makers in the game. In the playoffs, however, other teams will force the ball out of his hands and dare the rest of the team to beat them. I don’t trust Doncic’s teammates to do that yet, but maybe they will surprise me.
I’m guessing this is more or less the point I was making about teams with multiple scorers that can put up huge #s on any given night, because while I think the Mavs are able to compete with anyone because of defense, rebounding, ball movement, coaching, “chemistry” I would agree they lack a couple things: a deep bench and another guy that can light it up. I doubt Dinwiddie can be that guy. Or Brunson. Maybe Hardaway every now and then (when healthy) but you can’t rely on him for that. It’s a similar situation to the suns, except the Suns defense is much better and the scorers not-named-booker appear to be much more reliable than they were last year. That last point remains to be seen though, which is a big reason why I’d favor a healthy Nets – Warriors finals.
Something to listen to for you. Andre Iguodala now has a podcast called Point Forward that he is doing with Evan Turner. There are two episodes out so far (plus a 2-minute introduction episode). The first episode features, of course, Steph Curry, which I just listened to. Nothing ground-breaking, but definitely interesting. The second episode, which I haven’t heard yet, has Isaih Thomas. Here’s a link to it:
Draymond just entered the game after starting on the bench. He’s on a 20-minute restriction. His very first pass led to a Steph 3 and then he assisted on another Steph 3 a minute later. Dray’s first shot was also a wide open 3 that he drained. Nice start for him.
Ooof. I’m assuming you saw, either live or replay later, the Marcus Smart sequence in last night’s game against the Warriors where he injured Steph and then intentionally fouled Klay. If not, you can see them both here:
The injury to Steph was unfortunate, but I don’t think it was a dirty play on Smart’s part. He simply dived for the ball, which was successful, and Steph’s foot happened to be there. Kicking at Klay, as he flew by him after a pump fake by Klay, was correctly called a technical foul and Smart is lucky that he didn’t cause injury to Klay as well.
The net result currently is that Curry has been diagnosed with a sprained ligament in his foot, but will be going to specialists for further examination. Right now, the Warriors are hoping he can return in time for the playoffs.
After a game on Sunday against the Spurs, the Dubs head out for a 5-game southeast road trip which Curry will likely miss that includes games against the Heat, Hawks, and Grizz. When they return, they’ve got home games against the Suns and Jazz. Right now, they have a 3 1/2 game lead on the 4th place Jazz and Mavs (and 5 game lead over the 6th place Nuggets). Fortunately for the Warriors, both of those teams have a fair number of difficult games down the stretch, but it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Dubs fall further in the standings before the season is over if they don’t have Steph.
More ooof. After 3 G-league games, Wiseman has more knee swelling, so the Dubs are having to shut him down again. Looking extremely unlikely that he will be able to play for the Dubs this season.
Dubs officially announced today that they are shutting down Wiseman for the rest of this season, including the playoffs. Hopefully, he can make a full recovery from the knee issues by the beginning of next season.
Klay tonight with 0 Tos and 0 Asts in 38 minutes in a loss
Not sure why Klay isn’t playmaking more. While Poole and Dray should lead and distribute most, I’m surprised Klay did so little tonight in 38 minutes.
Klay has averaged between 2.0 and 2.9 apg every year of his career. Probably not going to develop into a playmaker at this point. I like that he seems to be attacking the basket a little more right now, but he’s always been a catch and shoot guy. I remember that 37-pt quarter he had some years ago now. The number of dribbles he took before shooting that quarter was some ridiculously low number like 11.
I’m referring to what I’ve seen him do even recently and now with Curry out. He can do more than zeros in that dept.
In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if that was Klay’s first 0 asst 0 to game in a warriors loss where he played 24 minutes or more. Those numbers are just too way off from his typical game.
I found one such game in 2016. I’m sure there weren’t many more, as by just glancing at all the game by game stats even 1 asst and 0 tos or 0 asst and 1 to is uncommon.
Exactly. It is just a statistical anomaly. For that game, the guys who Klay passed the ball to just missed their shots.
More likely he didn’t pass it, or when he did it was forced and resulted in a TO. Of course, completely different stat line when Curry and KD are playing;-)
He’s clearly more engaged as a playmaker this season, which makes it puzzling that he could go 0-0 with Steph out in a loss.
New York is today dropping its requirement that athletes be vaccinated in order to play in home games. This means, of course, that Kyrie can now play home games. Brooklyn is currently in 8th place and is 3 1/2 games behind the 6th place Cavs. Gotta figure that with just 9 gams left, it will be difficult for the Nets to get themselves out of the play-in tournament. Assuming they win their first play-in game, that would result in them playing either the Sixers or Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. Rare to see such a great match-up in the first round of the playoffs.
Even with Kyrie playing last night in Memphis though, the Nets still managed to lose to a Ja-less Grizzlies team. Nobody on the Grizz went off, it was just a solid all-around effort. On the other hand, the Nets got very little apart from KD and Kyrie. They had 16 of the Nets’ 18 assists. If the Grizz can win a game like this without Morant, maybe we have to reevaluate how far they can go in the playoffs.
Looks like things between the Pelicans and Zion continue to be sour. Shortly after reports that Zion would not play this season, Zion posted a video of himself doing a between the legs dunk, which you can see here:
Zion is up for an extension of his rookie contract this summer. Can he get a max extension having played so little? New Orleans may not want him back in order to improve their draft positioning this year. They will likely lose their own 1st round pick because it was traded away and is only protected 1-4. They get the Lakers pick from the Davis deal if it falls in the top 10, but lose it in another trade if it falls outside the top 10. They lose both if they and the Lakers end up in the playoffs as would be the case if the season ended today. Their only shot at keeping one is to end up in the lottery and get lucky. I’m guessing Zion wants to play, so he isn’t happy with the Pelicans wanting to lose.
Huge game from Booker to lead the Suns past the Nuggets in Denver. Chris Paul returned after a month’s absence and the win clinched best record in the league for the Suns. The discussion on First Take this morning was whether we are overlooking Booker as a MVP candidate (Stephen A. says yes, we are overlooking him and we shouldn’t as he just proved that he could carry the Suns without CP3 over the last month). Clinching best record in the league with 8 games left is damn good.
My take on Booker is a little more detailed than most. If the MVP was heavily weighted in favor of player performances late in the season, then yes Booker has been as good as anyone with the possible exception of Jokic. That includes Durant which really makes the point. He’s not just put up big numbers but has closed out games while defending and setting his teammates up in Paul’s absence. Mostly, and this is the detail I think few outside of Phoenix realize, he’s playing his best in his career and not by just a small margin. Prior to these past two months he’s been inconsistent since the Orlando bubble when the Suns were the only undefeated team. They were surging and that was long before Chris Paul was a glimmer in Jones’ and William’s eyes.
Considering how good he was then and how much better he looks now, it’s amazing that I can say without hesitation that Jokic is still the better player and most deserving of MVP. Regardless, Booker has won more than Giannis this year and deserves to be 3rd or 4th in the MVP vote. Curry, Doncic, DeRozan and Morant aren’t sensible choices anymore for obvious reasons.
So the Celtics briefly surged into 1st place in the East by going 24-4 since January 23rd and before last night. However, in Sunday’s game, Robert Williams went down with a torn meniscus and is out indefinitely, most certainly for the rest of the regular season and perhaps for the entire playoffs. Williams has been having a nice season and is a key part of the Celtics’ best in the league defense. Without him, the Celtics lost to the Raptors last night which dropped them to 4th place in the East giving up 115 pts (their league-leading average is 104 pts per game). That’s how close the top of the Eastern Conference is. They’ve got games left against Miami, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Memphis, so I think likely to finish no higher than 4th place.
I didn’t realize it was a meniscus. Damn. Celtic look to be a legit contender, and I’d like nothing more than to see them face and beat the Bucks in the playoffs if it comes to that. defense on defense – haven’t seen that in awhile. Williams has been a big part of that though. Ughh.
At this point, the Lakers are a half game behind the Pelicans for the 9 seed in the west and a half game ahead of the Spurs for the 10 seed. Pretty much no chance that they can get the 8 seed as they are 4 and a half games behind the Clippers for that spot. That means that IF the Lakers manage to hold on to the 10 seed or get by the Pelicans for the 9 seed, they will have to win 2 play-in games (the second one between the loser of the T-Wolves-Clippers play-in game) just to get into the playoffs and would then have to face the Suns in the first round of the playoffs. The only marginally easy game they have left is against the Thunder and the rest of their games are against Western Conference playoff teams. The Pelicans have a much easier schedule (2 games vs Portland, one against the Kings, and one against the Lakers) and the Spurs remaining games are marginally easier (two against Portland). LeBron is hurt and will miss at least tonight’s game against Dallas. Frankly, the Lakers have to be worried right now about even making the play-in games and I’d be surprised if they made it out of the play-in games.
Funny commentary I heard today suggesting that teams (starting with Grizz tomorrow) let the Spurs and Pelicans win simply so Lakers don’t make the play in. Seems doubtful, at least wrt Memphis.
Lakers got crushed by the Mavs tonight, so they may not need the help to finish outside the play-in. If season ended today, they would finish in the 11th spot as the Spurs apparently also own the tiebreaker against the Lakers.
Lakers lost to the Pelicans despite the return of LBJ and AD. They are now 3 games behind the Pelicans’ for the 9th spot with 5 to play and effectively 2 games behind the Spurs for the 10th spot. Not looking good for them.
Spurs win and Lakers lose tonight. Lakers are now 3 games out of the 10th seed with only 4 games left to play. Those 4 games are @PHO, @GSW, OKC, and @DEN. The Dubs and Nuggets are fighting for playoff seeds, so will have something to play for. Not looking good for the Lake Show.
With the Suns beating the Lakers and the Spurs beating the Nuggets, the Lakers are officially eliminated from the playoffs. Also, a byproduct of the Spurs win is that the Warriors can finish no lower than 4th place, so they will have home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
I watched the Spurs last night, summing up … meet the new spurs. same as the old spurs
With a couple huge exceptions. Little depth and no Duncan and no Kawhi:-)
But they have talent at least as good as Parker, Ginobili, Green, Bowen. They should win some games in the playoffs, but they’re so much like the Suns albeit without the depth and without Ayton I can’t see them winning more than 1 vs Suns. Good up n coming team tho.
With just a couple of weeks left in the season, I think the MVP race is coming down to Embiid and Jokic. Morant’s injury will likely keep him out of the running as he’ll probably end the season only having played in about 2/3rds of the total games and further, the Grizz have done really well without him. Steph was already out of the running before his injury and, as good as LBJ is, the MVP is not going to come from a 10th place team.
As between Jokic and Embiid, I’m giving the edge right now to Jokic. More games played, leading the league in defensive and total rebounds, player efficiency rating, offensive and total win shares, offensive, defensive, and total plus/minus, VORP, and is top ten in points, ppg, rpg, assists, apg, FG%, effective FG%, true FG%, FGs, and FTs. Embiid averages more ppg, FTs, and blocks, but is behind Jokic in pretty much everything else. Embiid is having a great season, but Jokic is having a better season and has done it without Murray for the whole season and without Porter for a good chunk of the season, while still leading the Nuggets to a virtually identical record as the 76ers. I think Jokic wins a 2nd straight MVP.
No question Jokic is more deserving with several games remaining, at least IMO. But Embiid has a lot more to do before the playoffs starting tonight vs. Giannis. It’s still possible for the Sixers to end up with best record in the East, and it’s also possible for them to end with a better record than the Nuggets. As I’ve said before there’s still some sentiment favoring Embiid, mainly because many voters considered him the better choice last year but with not enough games played. For that reason it’ll be too close to call unless Sixers lose more than just 3 games down the stretch. Considering it’s two centers way ahead of the pack, what better than to have co-MVPs again? And on that point …
Not to sound too conspiratorial, but sports betting is now so widespread and even promoted by the NBA that there’s no better ending than for bettors to clean up if those two tie. Not so good for the sportsbooks of course:-) I doubt there’s any way to rig a tie tho.
With the Bucks beating the Sixers tonight and Giannis going off for 40 pts, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Embiid “only” had 29-14-7, that won’t help Embiid’s case.
Interesting suggestion I heard this morning. Two games separate 1st through 4th place in the Eastern Conference. Either the 1st or 2nd place finisher is very likely to face the Nets in the first round of the playoffs, assuming the Nets make it out of the play-in games. So the Heat, Bucks, 76ers, and Celtics may be angling to finish 3rd or 4th so that they don’t get that Nets first round match-up. We’ll see if any of those four teams ends up sitting stars with minor injuries in their remaining few games.
With the Warriors loss to the Suns last night, the Warriors and Mavs are tied in the standings with the Mavs owning the tiebreaker. The Dubs are two games ahead of the Nuggets and two and 1/2 games ahead of the Jazz. With 5 or 6 games to go, here’s how the 3-6 seeds stack up in their remaining games.
Dallas (3rd place 48-29): @Wash, @Milw, @Det, Port, SAS
Golden State (4th place 48-29): Utah, @Sac, LAL, @SAS, @NOP
Denver (5th place 46-31): Minn, @LAL, SAS, Mem, LAL
Utah (6th place 45-31): LAL, @GSW, Mem, OKC, Pho, @Port
Utah has the toughest road with the Dubs, Grizz, and Suns still on the schedule, so I’m guessing they don’t move up. Dallas has the tough game in Milwaukee and the road game against the Wiz could be tricky, but their other remaining games are all winnable. Denver’s probably got the easiest schedule because the only potentially tough games are against Minnesota and Memphis who are both locked into their current playoff seeds and may be resting players down the stretch.
If I’m the Dubs, I don’t want Denver in the first round, so they should be fighting to get the 3rd seed so they can face the Jazz and then the winner of the 2 (Grizz) – 7 (T-Wolves or Clips) match-up. Jokic gives the Dubs all kinds of problems that they don’t have going up against Gobert. Unfortunately, I think the Dubs need to win out to get the 3rd seed as I don’t think the Mavs will lose more than 1 game. If they Dubs have to go through Denver and Phoenix in the first two rounds of the playoffs, I don’t think they get far. Warriors scheduling also doesn’t do them any favors as they have two back-to-backs in their remaining five games. Warriors haven’t been playing Klay, Porter, and Dray in both games of back-to-backs, so things are shaping up good for them.
Mavs lost to the Wiz and Nuggets lost to the T-Wolves. So temporarily, Dubs are in 3rd and Jazz are in 5th place. Dubs play the Jazz tomorrow night
I missed this from Saturday. And I’m just now catching up and seeing the boxscore from Jazz Dubs.
I’m noticing Porter rebounding like a madman.
The Dubs ended the game with a 24-4 run to win by 4. Besides Porter doing the rebounding and defense thing, Klay and Poole just went off on offense. While Wiggins’ stats don’t look like anything special, he was extremely efficient and great on defense. The game highlighted to me why the Warriors won’t be afraid of the Jazz in the playoffs. Gobert gets eaten alive by the Dubs’ guards when he gets switched onto them.
quick note that I’ve been betting on whatever matchups look to have lopsided odds, and I can make and cashout my bets in the middle of games if that makes any sense (it didn’t and still doesn’t to me) and so I’ve been following scores as they change throughout the game and two teams are surprising me …
Charlotte without Hayward is apparently still deep enough and now with a consistent Miles Bridges and dare I say it … Kelly Oubre … they look dangerous vs. almost anyone. Offensively anyhow. I haven’t looked at their games vs. the best defensive teams yet tho.
Minnesota seems to have the defense to shut down opponents’ scoring for good stretches of games. Either that or they’re just facing teams on their bad nights. Wolves have been surprising enough that they the Suns and the Bucks are the three teams I won’t bet against. I think the Suns will be fine if they open up against the wolves, but I’m not certain about Memphis.
Following from my last comment, I’ll add that Suns would much rather open vs. Wolves than the Clippers, but Suns are so solid and consistent right now it might not matter which one. Memphis on the other hand … very good team but not at all the wonderkinds they’re being made out to be by the media. If they face the Clippers I’m assuming that goes 7 games.
I agree that the Suns will be fine against either the Wolves or Clippers and, as a side note, I fully expect it to be the Wolves and Clippers as I don’t believe either the Pelicans or Spurs can win two play-in games. As for the Grizz, I think the Wolves could give them problems, but not so much the Clippers. The Grizz are so much faster than the Clippers that I don’t think the Clips will be able to keep up. The Wolves have a better chance of doing so.
I really like Kerr’s minutes distribution tonight esp Kuminga, Porter and Payton. Tho I would have expected Bjelica to play more.
Because of the back-to-back games last night and today, Klay wasn’t going to play both, so he sat last night. That allowed more minutes to be available for Kuminga, Porter, and Payton. Bjelica is a big defensive liability, so that’s why he doesn’t get many minutes. With Curry back for the playoffs, Thompson playing every game (no back-to-backs in playoffs), and Iggy’s minutes likely going up a little bit, Kuminga and Payton may find limited court time through the playoffs. Porter is the top big back-up to Looney, so he should still get 20 or so minutes a game.
Although Iggy has been a big part of small ball line-ups in the past, the new small ball line-up of Curry, Poole, Thompson, Wiggins, and Green may be the one seeing more time during these playoffs. Of course, that line-up won’t work well should the Dubs face the Suns at some point because Curry and Poole cannot guard Booker and Paul and Green/Wiggins will have a tough time with Ayton.
Its the last day of the regular season and there are only a few playoff positions still to be determined. Just positions, not spots, as the top 10 in each conference are locked in.
1. If Warriors win tonight against Pelicans, they get the #3 seed in the West. If they lose and Dallas beats the Spurs, the Mavs move up to the #3 seed.
2. If Jazz win tonight against the Blazers, they get the #5 seed in the West. If they lose and Nuggets beat the Lakers, Denver gets the #5 seed.
3. Not sure if Bucks have locked up the #2 seed in the East. They are game ahead of the Celtics and 76ers and own the tiebreaker against the 76ers. Bucks and Celtics split their season series and I’m not sure what the next tiebreaker is. Bucks playing in Cleveland tonight, so not a super easy game.
4. Celtics have the tiebreaker against the 76ers, but play in Memphis tonight, while the Sixers are home against the Pistons. Assuming Bucks end up #2, Celtics need to win or have the Sixers lose to keep the #3 seed. Sixers need to win and have the Celts lose to move up in the standings.
5. Not sure of all the possibilities involving the 7-10 seeds in the East. The Nets and Cavs are a game ahead of Atlanta and Charlotte. The Nets get the Pacers at home tonight. The Cavs and Bucks play tonight in Cleveland. The Hawks are in Houston and the Hornets are at home against the Wiz. It is possible that all 4 teams end up with identical records. I suspect the Nets will win and keep the #7 seed. If the Bucks are already assured of #2 seed, they may rest players against Cavs. If Bucks still fighting for #2 seed, Cavs are in trouble. I don’t know where the tiebreakers fall if 3 or more teams end up tied.
Time for playoff talk!
Nets taking care of business with a big first half lead. Meanwhile, apparently the Bucks were locked into the 2nd seed and are sitting a bunch of players. Thus, the Cavs have a big lead in the 3rd quarter. Looks like the Nets and Cavs will keep the 7th and 8th seeds, respectively, in the East.
So the 7-10 seeds in the East each won, so there will be no change in the standings. Nets will host Cavs in 7-8 play-in game and Hawks will host Hornets in the 9-10 game. Meanwhile, I was surprised to learn while watching the Celts game that is on right now that if the Celtics win, they will get the #2 seed. That means the Bucks rested the Freak and Middleton (and only played Holiday for 9 minutes), despite not having the #2 seed wrapped up. I wonder if the Bucks were ducking the Nets, who the #2 seed is likely to face in the first round of the playoffs. Celtics are pounding the Grizz, who are sitting Morant and Bane, so looks like they will get the #2 seed.
Although I’m confident Nets will do well in a 7 game series, I’m not sure how this play-in will go for them. I wouldn’t bet on them going 2-0. Meanwhile Atlanta will have hands full with the surging Hornets. I’ll be watching that closely as I expect the Trae-LaMelo matchup to be excellent fun if not wild.
Part of the reason I’m not very high on the Nets: they haven’t figured out how Drummond will help them IMO. I’m not sure he will unless he plays limited minutes. If they screw around trying to fit him into a bad matchup during the play-in they may see themselves down quickly given how quickly the other Eastern play-in teams can score.
Ha. “Spoke” too soon with Drummond having an excellent game today. Not sure who was boxing him out, but they weren’t very successful. In 20 minutes he went 9-9 FG, 13 REB and 2 BLK.
I’d like to see if that can carry over to the next game with the Cavs.
Not sure you can take anything from that given that the Pacers started a 6’10” rookie, Isaiah Jackson, a 6’7″ 3rd year players Oshae Brissett, neither of whom played a whole lot this year, and they had to deal with KD and Drummond. Kind of unfair to those two kids really.
Basically, every team with something to play for today won their game except for the Bucks who rested their starters to avoid the Nets. So first round of the playoffs will be:
1. Heat vs. winner of 2nd play-in game
2. Celtics vs. winner of Nets-Cavs 1st play-in game.
3. Bucks vs. Bulls
4. 76ers vs. Raptors
1. Suns vs. winner of 2nd play-in game
2. Grizzlies vs. winner of Timberwolves-Clippers 1st play-in game
3. Warriors vs. Nuggets
4. Mavericks vs. Jazz
Some early notes for the playoffs.
Luka limped off the floor last night in the 3rd quarter with what the Mavs called a left calf strain and is scheduled for an MRI today. He’s got a week to rest it, so hopefully he’s good to go when the series with the Jazz starts.
Matisse Thybulle will not be able to play in games in Toronto because he’s not fully vaccinated. Apparently he got the first shot, but never bothered to get the second one. Pretty stupid, both by him and by the Sixers for not being on top of that.
After the MRI, the Mavs confirmed the left calf strain diagnosis, but announced no timetable for when Luka might be ready to play. If they don’t have Luka for all or most of the series against the Jazz, they could be in trouble.
I’m posting this for the play that begins at the 10-second mark, but really all of Kuminga’s highlights from last night are fun to watch.
Kuminga has definitely earned some playoff time and it’ll be interesting to see how much he plays.
The league is about to be put on notice! The only Suns player that’s likely to not foul Kuminga on plays like this is Bridges, and he’s not big enough to stop him or Wiggins in the lane. Suns are going to have a hell of a time keeping the score close assuming Curry gets back.
By the way, Bridges has been showing some newfound shot-creating prowess himself. I’m not sure any team will be able to stop him with all the attention on Booker, Paul and Ayton.
Time for some award voting.
MVP: I think there is a consensus top 4, but the order is going to be different on many ballots. Frankly, I could make a good case for any of the four. I’m going this way:
1. Nikola Jokic: leader in a ton of categories, played more games than the other candidates, and did it without Murray and Porter.
2. Joel Embiid: slightly ahead of the Freak because he’s a better all-around shooter, including from 3 and FTs.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo: slightly ahead of Booker because of his defense.
4. Devin Booker: best player on best team.
Rookie of the Year: If Kuminga was playing starter’s minutes every game, he might be running away with this, but he likely won’t finish in the top 3. My ranking:
1. Scottie Barnes: he and Mobley have similar number, but Barnes is better shooter and helped make Toronto a better team.
2. Evan Mobley: best defender of the top rookies, but needs to improve shooting.
3. Cade Cunningham: good playmaker, but Pistons’ poor season likely hurts him.
DPOY: Not sure there is any favorite and I think this year might move away from the big men on defense. I rank them this way.
1. Mikal Bridges: best defensive player on best team, played all games, and consistently locks down best shooter on opposing teams. Given the importance of the 3-pt shooting, this ability makes Bridges invaluable.
2. Marcus Smart: best defensive player on best defensive team. Smart may win the award because the Celtics were the best team in the 2nd half of the season.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo – could also be Gobert here, but the Freak’s block on Embiid to beat the Sixers a week ago will be fresh in people’s minds.
Sixth Man: Is there any question who it will be? Only need to list one here.
1. Tyler Herro: is there anyone else averaging 20+ points off the bench?
Most Improved Player: Everyone says Ja Morant has this wrapped up because his ppg increased by 8 points, but he was already playing at an All-Star level and his apg actually dropped and he only played 57 games. My ranking goes this way.
1. Jordan Poole: last season, he got sent down to the G-League. This season he played at an All-Star level, led the league in FT%, is a great shooter and kept the Dubs near top of standings despite injuries to a lot of other players.
2. Darius Garland: nice increase in ppg, but his shooting (nearly as good as Poole) and playmaking that made the Cavs a playoff team for the first time since LBJ left and despite the nearly season-long injury absence of Collin Sexton.
3. Tyler Herro: has to be here as well. 3pt and FT %s up and over 20 ppg off the bench.
Coach of the Year: Monty Williams should have won last year and is expected to win this year, but I’m not sure coaching the best team in the league gets you the award when several other coaches got their teams to some remarkable places.
1. Taylor Jenkins – did anyone figure the Grizzlies to finish 2nd in the West?
2. Monty Williams – best record in the league deserves a high finish regardless of how good the talent is.
3. Erik Spoelstra – Heat were expected to be good, but not best team in the East.
As you likely heard, the Lakers fired Frank Vogel. Apparently Doc Rivers is the Vegas betting favorite. How can that be since Rivers coaches the 76ers? Seems most think that Rivers will be fired, assuming the Sixers don’t win the NBA title, so that Daryl Morey can bring in Mike D’Antoni (current Nets assistant) as head coach. I think that might be a mistake as the D’Antoni style doesn’t fit Embiid as well as it does Harden.
Beside Rivers, apparently LBJ has expressed interest in seeing Mark Jackson hired as head coach. Not sure that would improve the Lakers since their problems are a real lack of depth caused by the three huge contracts and a poor fit between Westbrook and LBJ/AD. Those problems are at the GM level and not sure Rob Pelinka can do much about it.
Yeah. I don’t see how D’Antoni helps Philly either. Harden needs to be paired with someone much more unique.
Maybe his mother or sister.
So I’ve seen/read this story a couple of times in the past few days. Apparently, KD and Harden were cool last season despite Harden coming in out of shape because KD understood that Harden was trying to get out of Houston. However, when Harden came to training camp this season in even worse shape, KD was disgusted and felt that Harden’s conditioning contributed to his lack of explosiveness and hamstring issues.. Apparently he didn’t think that Harden cared that much about winning and cared more about outside interests. For his part, Harden believed KD was being self-righteous about the conditioning issue. Here’s the Bleacher Report story on it:
Apparently the divide between the two just got worse as the season went on, leading Harden to ask for a trade and KD being okay with the team getting rid of Harden.
The latest episode of Draymond’s podcast was released today and the guest is Steph.
The whole thing is an hour and a half long, but is a really good, wide-ranging conversation.
Just a quick note that the Pels looked awesome yesterday and I’ll be very surprised if the Clippers can get past them. Not that the Clipps aren’t capable of excellent basketball, but they didn’t exactly bring it vs. the Wolves two days ago. On the other hand it looked to me as if the Pels are 100% dialed in and playoff ready. And they play excellent defense which was an enormous surprise to me especially.
Suns better hope that Zion isn’t on his way back soon. Pels with Zion could be a contender, but that obviously would mean Zion needs consistent minutes which seems very unlikely.
It was announced today that Paul George has entered into the Health & Safety protocols, so will be unavailable tonight. So looking even better for the Pelicans.
Clint Capela got injured on this play in the Cavs-Hawks game.
1. This was reviewed to see if it should be a flagrant foul by Capela and they decided it was a common foul. I don’t understand that decision at all. Capela clearly pulls down on Mobley’s shoulders causing him to fall. The announcers all seemed to think that it probably would be a flagrant, but refs ruled it wasn’t.
2. Here’s the thing that nobody talked about. Watch Mobley as he falls. It looks like he is going to fall to the side of Capela, but just after his hand reaches the floor, it appears to me like he pushes off with his left leg to launch himself into Capela’s leg. This resulted in Capela’s injury. Every time I’ve watched this, it looks very deliberate by Mobley, but the only comment by one of the announcers (I think it was Mark Jackson) was that it wasn’t dirty, Mobley was just falling. Don’t understand how they could look at it and not think it was deliberate.
In any event, Capela is out for rest of game and the teams are now trading leads at the end of the 3rd quarter.
regarding #1, I don’t know the rule but I do know that if Capela had done exactly what he did and also made an effort to keep Mobley from falling (even if he eventually fell) then it would not be a flagrant. So in this case, the only reason it would have been ruled flagrant IMO is that Capela didn’t try to prevent Mobley from falling.
regarding #2, you’re absolutely right! Mobley needs to be fined and suspended for at least one game next season.
I’ll give Breen a pass, but Mark Jackson is so consistently weak if not wrong as an announcer that I don’t understand why any GM or owner would want him as a head coach. Everyone makes mistakes but Jackson seems to be wrong or annoying or simply disagreeable so often … I don’t get what he has on everyone that keeps people from seeing him more objectively. I can say, as objectively as possible, that of all the announcers I’ve listened to Jackson is by far the most fixed in his mindset and appears least capable of seeing things from other perspectives. He’s arrogant and narrow minded.
i looked at that play from another angle (which I think is the same angle Breen and Jackson had) and I can see how they missed it in real time. but I think the league will take action. they better!
I’ll start thinking about an intro for the 2022-2023 Regular Season page, but I’m guessing you’ll have the most updated info. For instance I’m curious about the buzz out of Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto and Chicago in particular but I haven’t had time to read up on what’s happening there. I’d include OKC but losing Holmgren seems like too much of a blow to be too excited about them this year. Also, I’m forgetting what Miami changed in the offseason (anything?).
I have no clue how Charlotte or Orlando will do and am making no predictions.
I’m pretty much writing off Porland, Utah, San Antonio and Sacramento this year but if you’ve heard something that might make any of these playoff teams let me know. I’m high on Houston as a dark horse and Pels at a potential top 5 in the West regular season should Zion stay healthy.
I wouldn’t write Sacto off. With Mike Brown as head coach, Sabonis for a full season, a likely big step up from Davion Mitchell, and a rookie who looks really good in Keegan Murray, I think they’ll be in contention for a low level playoff berth. They also picked up Kevin Huerter from Atlanta in the off-season. I don’t share your optimism about Houston. I think there still a year or two away from sniffing the playoffs.
Miami is basically the same team as last season, though the big Serbian rookie, Nikola Jovic, could be an intriguing addition. I haven’t read up on most of the other teams around the league yet.
I agree Sac has the talent, but they also have Fox who doesn’t seem to understand how other players similar to him are transitioning to all the ball sharing and movement. Only Kyrie and Trae Young seem to be able to get away with it, and I suppose Luka to some extent (but that’s an MVP candidate so not exactly someone Fox should be emulating). On the other hand, let’s say that Fox figures it out by end of April. I don’t see how they even get into the play-in with this insane lineup in the West:
Shoe ins for the western playoffs:
Shoe ins for the western play-in if they don’t make it into the top 6:
I don’t consider the Lakers a shoe in for the play-in. So Kings need to fight these teams to get into the play in tourney …
I agree that the Kings look better on paper, and I think Sabonis will be an all star this year over AD and Green (not betting on it of course). But Fox will have to lead them with a whole slew of new talent, and I see some teams taking the next step faster than the Kings: Thunder and Rockets for instance. I expect both to be in the play-in with the Jazz, Spurs, Blazers and Kings looking in from the outside. We will see!
Somehow Pels were left off the list above. I guess I erased them, but Zion or not their in the play-in and probably in the playoffs above the Wolves but too much uncertainty around Zion.
Pels are on the list above with the Nuggets as a play-in shoe-in if they don’t make the top 6. I don’t have that confidence in the Pelicans simply because Zion hasn’t proved he can stay healthy. I break down the West like this:
Will be in top 6:
Could be either top 6 or play-in depending on health:
Likely in top 6, but could fall into play-in territory if one key player gets injured:
Likely in play-in, but could get into top 6 if things go right:
Likely won’t make playoffs, but could get to play-in if things go right:
Won’t make playoffs:
Got it, but I put the Pels in as a shoe in even if Zion gets hurt and is out for the entire season starting on Weds. They were awesome vs. the Suns. They’re a complete team without Zion. Outstanding defensively. Ingram should be an MVP candidate if Zion doesn’t play much this year. If Zion plays most of the season this is a top 5 team in the West IMO. They are better than the Suns and Mavs with Zion and neck and neck with them without him.
Just my opinion of course, but that’s what I saw in the playoffs vs. Suns who really didn’t deserve to get past them. Pels looked like the better team to me and that was with McCollum playing less than a full season.
Your list is also reasonable IMO. I’m guessing that the main difference between us isn’t the Pels but the Thunder. I think Giddey is an all-star and will lead them to the play-in tourney.
Where do you have the Kings though? I assume just above the Rockets and Blazers.
Yep missed the Kings, but you have the correct spot for them. I’d put them in the Lakers and Pelicans category.
Obviously Atlanta and Indiana are thoughtless omissions from my list. I should start reading up on teams in the east in particular. I really don’t know those rosters or that of Charlotte who I think will suffer. Bridges is suspended, correct?
Agree that Miami has been stagnant. They need more talent, since I think everyone is surprised that Adebayo hasn’t improved at all. That’s really strange, or it seems that way to me anyhow. Not sure what’s up there. Horford in his limited role in Boston (I assume he’s still there) is way more important to the Celtics than Adebayo is to the Heat simply because he’s consistently good while Adebayo seems to be unreliable.
The Dubs went all in today on payroll. Poole is signing a 4-year extension with $123 guaranteed and it could hit as high as $140 million with incentives. Wiggs is signing a 4-year, $109 million extension that begins next season. That seems like a pretty good deal (about $27 mil/yr) given they are paying him $33 million this season.
Gotta wonder if the Warriors were willing to go that high on Poole before the Draymond incident. Poole is still a defensive liability, so paying him $35 million a year (if incentives are reached) seems a bit high Poole and Draymond seemed all chummy at last night’s preseason game and Poole reportedly told the Warriors that he didn’t want Draymond to be suspended. Poole has also looked really good in the pick-and-roll with Wiseman in the preseason. Hopefully, we see real defensive improvement from him this season or the Dubs will continue to turn to Moody in late game situations.
I really don’t know what to think of this, but I assume Moody will be considered the more reliable and effective member of their rotation even though Poole will help them more to attain a higher seed in the west (because Poole can win games almost single handedly with huge scoring nights and great closing performances), but I’m not sure this is the way to approach the playoffs.
I think the playoff rotation should be set depending on how Kuminga and Wiseman improve defensively. If they make great strides I’m guessing that Poole no longer presents a liability even if his defense doesn’t improve. However, I have my doubts that Kuminga and Wiseman will improve enough.
I’m not sure what the plan will be for playoff success in that case. Big minutes for the starters + Moody I guess with Poole coming in periodically to give them a shot in the arm. I really hope that’s all his role will be, unless someone gets injured of course.
I like Moody and Wiggins as the Dubs ironmen this year with Green right behind them minutes wise and Curry and Klay right behind them. I wonder how it will turn out though. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Klay get more minutes than Moody just to keep his competitive rhythm going. Don’t wan to piss that guy off, so … we’ll just have to wait and see.
Of course Poole is a great backup in case either Curry or Klay have injuries.
New season post here: