I’m just going to jump right into the most important game from yesterday. Screw chronological order.
Golden State Warriors (101) vs Memphis Grizzlies (111)
- Who could have guessed Steph Curry’s temper would be the downfall of the Warriors? But, seriously, Steph needs to keep himself in check. He’s the heartbeat of the best team in basketball and an icon to a new generation of basketball fans. LeBron has never been ejected before, and Steph needs to understand that throwing his mouthguard is something he can’t do.
- Moving on to the actual game, Marc Gasol was terrific last night, putting up 34 points, 14 rebounds, and making 16 free throws. Too many turnovers (seven compared to just two assists), but if you want the formula for beating the Warriors, it’s having a dominant big.
- Outside of their ejections, Curry and Kevin Durant also had very solid games. Curry poured in 37 points and six threes, while Durant put up 29 points and 13 rebounds. While they are 1-2 right now, don’t mistake the slow start for some sort of decline.
Philadelphia 76ers (94) vs Toronto Raptors (128)
- Ben Simmons put up his third straight ten point, ten rebound, five assist game to start his career (he finished with 18, 10 and 8 last night), matching only the great Oscar Robertson’s numbers through three games. (stat per Elias Sports)
- DeMar DeRozan showcased why he’s one of the leagues best scorers despite his lack of a three-point shot, scoring 30 points in 26 minutes and getting to the free throw line 16 times. His game is super old-school, but you can’t deny the results.
- In the 55 minutes Joel Embiid is on the court, the 76ers have an above average defensive rating of 96.6. In the 89 minutes he’s been off it, the 76ers have a defensive rating of 116.7 (per Derek Bodner). I think it’s safe to say the Sixers need Joel on the court to be competitive.
Orlando Magic (114) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (93)
- The player who took the third most shots for Cleveland last night? Iman Shumpert. They’re not going to win a lot of games when that happens. Either Dwayne Wade or JR Smith has to step up.
- The Magic started DJ Augustine at point guard and he finished with 12 points and ten assists and shot 75% from three. I think we can chalk this game up as “it was just one of those nights.”
- Jae Crowder only played 18 minutes, shot the ball three times, and didn’t have a single point. Crowder is the lynchpin of Cleveland’s new small-ball lineup, so he can’t afford to have off games like this.
Indiana Pacers (108) vs Miami Heat (112)
- Without Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic really stepped up for the Heat, scoring 23 points on 69% shooting and two made threes. In the games Whiteside misses, Dragic has to be the guy, so it’s a good sign that he played well.
- Pretty solid game for Victor Oladipo, who put up 28 points, four rebounds, and five assists while shooting 50% from three. While he needs to shoot better from the field in general (10-23 on the night), I think people were overreacting a little about his poor play in OKC
- Lance Stephenson had four points on 22% shooting and more fouls and turnovers than the rest of his stats combined in 18 minutes. Unfortunately, the Lance experiment might be over at this point.
Detroit Pistons (111) vs New York Knicks (107)
- In our season preview podcast, I challenged Kristaps Porzingis to prove to me he was an elite player. The talent was always there, he just hadn’t shown me anything yet. Tonight, he had 33 points on 20 shots. That’s the kind of aggressiveness I want to see out of Porzingis.
- Tobias Harris had 31 points on 54% shooting last night. He’s the Pistons best player. Stop forcing Andre Drummond into that spot; he’s too inconsistent.
- New York Knicks point guard rotation: 32 minutes for Ramon Sessions, 15 minutes for Ron Baker, 0 minutes for the now-injured Frank Ntilikina. Have the Dennis Smith chants started in NYC yet?
San Antonio Spurs (87) vs Chicago Bulls (77)
- LaMarcus Aldridge has had two fantastic games while the Spurs are without Kawhi Leonard; he finished with 28 points on 50% shooting, grabbed ten rebounds, and blocked two shots as well. Maybe we’re finally seeing the return of the old LaMarcus.
- Man, this Chicago Bulls team is really painful to watch. I thought the Hawks would be the worst team in the league this year, but I was very mistaken. This Bulls team is flaming garbage. At least they’ll have Bagley or Doncic to show for it.
- Lauri Markkanen had 12 rebounds tonight. I can’t believe how good he’s been rebounding the ball; he showed no instincts for it at Arizona last year and isn’t a great athlete. Color me impressed.
Dallas Mavericks (91) vs Houston Rockets (107)
- Yogi Ferrell played 41 minutes last night due to a combination of Dennis Smith being out with an injury and the Mavs just being the Mavs. They’re not going to be good this year.
- The news broke two days ago that the Rockets would be without Chris Paul for 2-4 weeks. If this was last year’s Clippers team, this would be a death sentence for that month. The Rockets can just give the ball to their other all-star point guard who’ll put up 29 and seven and win the game convincingly.
- Nerlens Noel was just benched for Dorian Finney-Smith. Is Rick Carlisle experimenting with his line-ups or does he just not like Noel? Because I see no reason why this should ever happen.
Portland Trail Blazers (110) vs Milwaukee Bucks (113)
- MVP Watch: Giannis had a career-high 44 points, made 74% of his shots, grabbed eight rebounds, and had four assists, two steals, and a block. He’s the only reason the Bucks are winning games right now.
- Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 52 points last night and the team still lost. Sometimes, that duo just won’t be enough. Portland has seemingly always lacked bench scoring, and outside of Evan Turner, the Blazers bench had 12 points.
- Meanwhile, Milwaukee’s bench only had 18 bench points total. Like I said, Giannis is the only reason they win games.
Sacramento Kings (79) vs Denver Nuggets (96)
- The Kings only had 52 points through three quarters. The Nuggets were always going to be an offense-first team this year, but if they can play defense like that, they’ll be assured a playoff spot.
- Nikola Jokic took three shots and didn’t score yet was still somehow the best player on the court. Can we all just take the time out to be impressed for a couple of seconds? Good. Now, go shoot more.
- “Why aren’t the Kings starting De’Aaron Fox over Justin Jackson?” update of the day. Jackson: five points, one rebound, two turnovers. Fox: 18 points on 61% shooting, five rebounds, 1-2 assist to turnover ratio. I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Oklahoma City Thunder (87) vs Utah Jazz (96)
- We all know Russell Westbrook’s greatest strength is getting to the rim. We all know Rudy Gobert’s greatest strength is protecting the rim. Who won the battle last night? Westbrook had six points on 2-11 shooting. I think you can guess.
- Ricky Rubio had more turnovers than assists and shot 36% from the field, yet finished with the game’s highest plus/minus. This is why plus/minus is a really weird stat.
- I understand wanting Russell to grab rebounds: he’s so dynamic in transition, especially with the ball in his hands. But, he’s hurting Steven Adams’ biggest strength as a result. Adams only had 5 rebounds tonight while Westbrook had 13. Would it be so terrible if Westbrook let the center rebound?
Phoenix Suns (88) vs Los Angeles Clippers (130)
- Phoenix is absolutely atrocious on defense. The fewest points they’ve allowed over three games is 124. I can see DeAndre Ayton or Mohamed Bamba in their sights this year.
- Blake with a strong 29 points tonight. He seems to be a lot more free to play his game now that Chris Paul is in Houston. Maybe the Clippers are better as a result?
- The Booker/Bledsoe total from last night: 17 points on 33% shooting, five rebounds, six assists and six turnovers. Is anyone really surprised the Suns didn’t even break 90 points?
(Feature Image by Benny Sieu)