November 2, 2018, 6:24 am
It was a rough and tumble, and to say the least, rather odd Thursday night. Well at least as far as a few NBA games were concerned. We had six games on tap and at least a couple of which yielded unlikely results. What a way to welcome November.
The Clippers threw everything they had at Joel Embiid and almost threw out a near-useless Marcin Gortat out with the bathwater, so to speak. They started Boban Marjanovic in the third quarter over Gortat in a desperate attempt at throwing the biggest able-bodied big man at Embiid with the hopes of slowing him down. It was a valiant yet futile attempt as Embiid tore up the box scores with 41 points, 13 boards, three triples and four blocks. The man was simply unstoppable. Concerns arising from his injury history kept his ADP hovering somewhere in the second round of most drafts but Embiid is currently clocking in with top-10 value for the season. The only that can slow him down at this point is exactly what people fear, an injury. Should he stay healthy, Embiid is going to be such a dominant big man in this league people should be afraid. Just ask Clipper giant, Boban what it’s like to be featured on the wrong end of an Embiid poster.
The Clipper duo of Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari was unable to fuel enough offense to match Embiid’s impact. They combined for 49 points, just eight more than the Man-Beast. Remember how dominant DeMarcus Cousins was last season before he ruptured his Achilles? It’s that kind of overwhelming force that Embiid can add to tip a game in the Sixers’ favor. Scary. The Sixers took the road win 113-122.
Here we go. The Nuggets-Cavs game was one for the books. The Nuggets were in such complete control of this game that it produced some unlikely results in the box scores. Nikola Jokic finished with four points, six boards and assorted peripherals. Season-lows obviously for the first-round stud. An unlikely Juancho Hernangomez, of all people, wound up with a game-high 23 points. If those two players’ end-game stats don’t scream outlying statistical anomaly, then I don’t know what does. So no, Jokic won’t be this bad again anytime soon and sadly neither will Hernangomez be this good. This game will surely mess with the per-game averages of both players, resulting in not-so-smart decisions.
The recently hot pickup from the Cavs’ Sam Dekker logged a team-high 35 minutes but did not have anything much to show for his time on the floor other than three steals. He’s still someone to watch and is apparently the interim gatekeeper to Larry Nance‘s fantasy value, with Nance scoring eight points and recording three steals of his own but in just 19 minutes on the court. Odd indeed. Let’s not forget, however, that the boys from The Land are still adjusting from a recent coaching change. Bye, Tyronn Lue! #sorrynotsorry
The one thing to seriously take into consideration in the midst of this 110-91 win by the Nuggets is that Mason Plumlee put up his second straight, albeit low-end stat-sheet-stuffing performance. He’s worth an add in deep leagues, if available.
The Hornets’ sneaky attempts at going ultra-small-ball didn’t fool the Thunder. Surprise performances from Alex Abrines and Dennis Schroder, who added 25 and 21 points off the bench, respectively, helped the Thunder punish the Hornets. The Thunder are finally back on track with a 111-107 victory.
Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Steven Adams played well with a semi-mixed bag of leftover candy from Halloween kind of way. Some stats were sweet, while others just stuck to your gums and you wished you could brush your teeth.
The Kings played like madmen in their 146-115 win over wing-clipped Hawks. Not the John Hamm kind, but more of the King Lear kind. It’s quite astonishing to see what they’re capable of when De’Aaron Fox goes off as he did. The Fox man had a career night with a monster 31-10-15 triple-double. Folks, let’s not get too excited now, ok maybe just a little, but this could very well be Fox’s coming out party – yes, suspend disbelief and forget for a second that it WAS against the Hawks. Sometimes all it takes is for a player to realize, “Hey, I can do this!” and it becomes a habit. He was more Russell Westbrook than Russell Westbrook was against the Hornets. Buddy Hield had a sublime game as well with his 27 points and impressive marksmanship.
At the end of the day, it wouldn’t be a 2018-19 Kings game without a nice line – out of nowhere from, you guessed it, Nemanja Bjelica, who had 19 points and other very desirable peripheral contributions you can gladly write home to your mother about.
Good news is that Bogdan Bogdanovic could play next week. So stash him now. Yes. Now. He’s an under-the-radar producer who can sneak his way into the top-100 if he’s 100 percent healthy.
The Boston Celtics put on full display why they’re considered the top team in the Eastern Conference as they defeated the Bucks 113-117. Kyrie Irving caught fire from downtown (6 3-pointers) and dropped 28 points on the Bucks. It also didn’t help the Bucks’ chances when Brook Lopez put up a fugly 2-point dud of a game.
Oh, Giannis Antetokounmpo cleared concussion protocol and was back to his old tricks with a 33 and 11 double-double performance.
I’ve balked at and even made fun at his expense in the past but I must admit Marcus Morris – yes you read that right – has been quite, uh, good, this season so far. He led the Celtics bench with 17 points and five treys – his best game of the season. I’m personally using him in our 12-team Hoop Ball staff league and am kicking some serious behind this week. Marcus, if you’re reading this, which I doubt, “I’m sorry” – with feelings (as we Filipinos like to add jokingly)
Onto our last game. No Anthony Davis (sore elbow), no Elfrid Payton (sprained ankle), and yes, no win for the Pelicans, who fell to the Blazers 119-132. As expected, Jrue Holiday and Nikola Mirotic did their respective thangs with their own double-doubles, but it was not enough to beat out the Lillard-Nurkic-Aminu(?) Show.
On the Zach Collins-watch front, he had a sub-par game with nine points, two treys and one block. Maybe it was that 17 & 10 double-double from Aminu that kept Collins from shining like the star in the distance we keep on wishing upon over the last several games. Still, I’m an optimist – or deluded – depending on whether I wind up right or wrong – that Zach Collins will resume his breakout season soon.
May 23, 2019, 11:49 pmKhris Middleton - F - Milwaukee Bucks
Khris Middleton really struggled in Thursday's Game 5, scoring six points (2-of-9 shooting) and pulling down 10 boards as the Bucks fell 105-99 at home.
Middleton's disappearing act offensively was the difference for the Bucks who really need their second best offensive option to demand the ball and produce more. The airball late in the game was a microcosm of the outing for Middleton. He'll need to take more than nine shots (less than any other Bucks starter) for the team to have a good shot at a Game 6 win in Toronto.
May 23, 2019, 11:46 pmBrook Lopez - C - Milwaukee Bucks
Brook Lopez scored 16 points and pulled down eight boards on Thursday night in a Game 6 loss.
Lopez was fine in general and wasn't really a liability, but he also didn't provide as much as needed on the defensive side or from long range. For what it's worth, he has generally outplayed his counterpart Marc Gasol in this series and tonight was no different.
May 23, 2019, 11:44 pmMalcolm Brogdon - G - Milwaukee Bucks
Malcolm Brogdon reentered the starting lineup on Thursday night and put in a solid performance, scoring 18 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.
It was a better sight to see than the disastrous four points in Game 4, but it wasn't enough as his absence from the bench really sucked the offense out of the bench group as the second unit scored a whopping 15 points. A repeat performance from Brogdon and more from Khris Middleton is a potentially winning formula for Game 6.
May 23, 2019, 11:39 pmEric Bledsoe - G - Milwaukee Bucks
Eric Bledsoe showed signs of life on Thursday night, scoring 20 points, but it wasn't enough for the Bucks to overcome the Raptors in Game 5 at home.
Bledsoe was worlds better than he was on Tuesday, but the Bucks didn't have an answer to Kawhi Leonard and lost hold of the game late in the fourth quarter. A dialed in Bledsoe would really help the cause in Game 6.
May 23, 2019, 11:35 pmGiannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 24 points with six rebounds and six assists on Thursday as the Bucks fell to the Raptors in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Antetokounmpo continued to struggle from the free throw line, hitting just four of nine free throw attempts. It seemed like he really got beat up trying to take the ball to the basket late in the game. Even more puzzling, GA wasn't in the game for some key moments late in the game. He'll need to lead from the front for the Bucks to bring this back to Milwaukee.
May 23, 2019, 11:30 pmPascal Siakam - F - Toronto Raptors
Pascal Siakam played 36 minutes, scoring 14 points (on 15 field goal attempts) with 13 rebounds and four defensive counters on Thursday night.
Siakam wasn't efficient on the offensive side including a sequence of three missed 3-pointers on the same possession during the Raptors' sluggish start. He was pivotal to the fourth quarter defensive effort especially when protecting the rim against Giannis late in the game.
May 23, 2019, 11:25 pmFred VanVleet - G - Toronto Raptors
Fred VanVleet was on fire again in Thursday's Game 5, scoring 21 points with all his points coming from seven 3-pointers.
The distance shooting was huge for the Raptors as VanVleet outscored the Bucks' bench by six by himself. VanVleet could definitely be the key to the Raps' efforts to close this series out on Saturday. We'll see if he can keep finding his shooting stroke.
May 23, 2019, 11:19 pmKyle Lowry - G - Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry played 39 minutes on Thursday, scoring 17 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists.
Lowry has been dealing with a thumb injury which may be part of the reason he's struggled with his shot at times in the postseason. Still, most guys are banged up at this point in the season and he's just going to continue to tough it out with the NBA Finals on the horizon.
May 23, 2019, 11:12 pmKawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors
Kawhi Leonard was something else on Thursday night, leading the Raptors with 35 points, seven boards and nine assists despite not being 100 percent in Game 5.
It was Leonard's show in this one and he really took control of this game down the stretch. The Raptors have a chance to close this out on Saturday and earn a trip to the NBA Finals with Leonard leading from the front.
May 23, 2019, 7:02 pmMike Budenholzer - Team - Milwaukee Bucks
Coach Budenholzer told the media that he is thinking about making a change to the starting lineup for Game 5 on Thursday.
The Bucks were able to win the first two games of the series and were talked about as if they had already made the NBA finals. Unfortunately for the team, they traveled to the Raptors and experienced what it was like to be on the road against a very hungry team. The saying goes that the series doesn't start until a road team wins a game. Will coach Bud make some changes to his starting lineup Thursday in order to continue the home team dominance we've seen thus far. Stay tuned for starting lineup announcements closer to tip-off.
Source: Josh Lewenberg on Twitter