August 4, 2020, 12:47 am
Apparently all of those wishes we’ve made on the stars have worked, as we had another successful day in the NBA restart bubble. We saw six games on the ticker in a full day of action that had plenty of playoff seeding implications. Now whether or not those wishes can keep this bubble from bursting is anyone’s guess, but so far so good as the NBA has executed an impressive resumption of activity in Walt Disney World and is a shining example for the rest of modern-day sports to emulate. What if I told you that the NBA would stop play in March, go on hiatus until the end of July, show the sports world how to respond to the social justice issues of our time and the coronavirus all in one fell swoop. Sounds like a strong sports documentary, to say the least, but that’s the power of a unified pool of players, alongside the Commissioner’s office under Adam Silver’s stewardship, all safely wrapped up in a Mickey Mouse themed bubble. This Dish is blasting off to Never Never Land as break down basketball from the Orlando bubble.
Add(s) of the Night
Michael Porter Jr., PF, Denver Nuggets – 37 points, four 3-pointers, 12 rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block, three turnovers, 12-of-16 FG, 9-of-9 FT
Michael Porter Jr. nearly blew the lid off the bubble with this display. He posted a new career-high and picked up 43 minutes to boot. A reality check is in order as Jamal Murray, Will Barton and Gary Harris are on the shelf for the Nuggets, but they’ll be eased back into the lineup and Porter will feast in the meantime. Nikola Jokic is happy to see his teammate thrive off his passing vision, and as long as the Nuggets are down a starter or two Porter is well worth rolling out there to cash in on his scoring upside. The talent is clearly here and a rapid accession could make Porter a difference-maker for the Nuggets when the playoffs begin. They have every reason to let him fly to a galaxy far, far away.
Jerome Robinson, SG, Washington Wizards – 17 points, two 3-pointers, three rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block, zero turnovers, 7-of-18 FG, 1-of-3 FT
Robinson logged another 29 minutes for the Wizards and received the fifth-most minutes on the roster on Monday. This was a smooth all-around performance, and he wound up earning more playing time than the starting point guard, Ish Smith. The 2018 first-round selection is bound to continue scooping up extra minutes as the Wizards get blown out in the final five games of the season. The starters are unlikely to last long against the upcoming slate which includes the Sixers, Pelicans, Thunder, Bucks and Celtics. Games against inferior competition like the Suns and Nets are now in the rearview mirror, and it is players like Robinson, young and in need of opportunity, who are bound to benefit. Improving upon 2-of-10 shooting from distance is also going to make Robinson a much more enticing option.
We’re not saying that you have to drop any of these guys like you’re going down the 13-story Tower of Terror, only that you should at least consider that it’s A Small World After All to choose from nowadays. Your mileage may vary on this Test Track, based on league size and team build, but for the most part, we’ll try to cut the dead weight leftover in this Walt Disney World bubble.
Another lousy outing in the books for Nunn, who is going to quickly lose his starting role as the Heat are increasingly turning towards other options off their bench. Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro both saw major minutes and Andre Iguodala lurks as he strengthens his foundation for the looming playoff action. Nunn finished with two points (0-of-7 FG), five assists, two rebounds, zero 3-pointers, zero steals and zero blocks over his 16 minutes of floor time. The bottom line, with so many options to choose from, Nunn’s gradual decline in production over the course of a 70-game regular season could be a sign of the rookie slump that’s caught many inexperienced players in the past.
Going up against the Grizzlies backcourt on Monday did not produce any positive benefits for Derrick Favors. He ended the night with two points (1-of-4 FG, 0-of-2 FT), 13 rebounds and one block. It appears that Favors is never going to break out of his offensive shell, and is being shoe-holed into a rebounding specialist role for the Pelicans. With so many scoring options clearly ahead of him in the pecking order (Ingram, Williamson, Holiday, Redick, to name a few…), and a career-worst season from the free-throw line at .576 percent, Favors is no longer a must-have in standard leagues. You’d be better off chasing the Disney World Magic on a different ride with a much shorter wait than the Derrick Favors experience.
Jamal Murray (left hamstring tightness) missed Monday’s outing vs. the Thunder and has yet to appear in an official restart game in the bubble. Gary Harris (right hip muscle strain) is recovering slowly and also missed this one, as did Will Barton (knee). They all remain very questionable.
Dennis Schroder was spotted Soarin’ out of the bubble on Monday in order to attend the birth of his child. As he’ll have to quarantine upon his return he’s going to miss an additional two games at a minimum. Terrance Ferguson also missed Monday’s contest against the Nuggets with a right leg contusion.
Kyle O’Quinn missed a COVID-19 test on Monday and did not play as a result, not that you’d notice as he is out of the Sixers rotation, to begin with.
Marco Belinelli (left foot sprain) and Bryn Forbes (right quad soreness) missed Monday’s matchup with the Sixers, but they are fringe pieces in the Spurs rotation at this point, and Forbes could very well be done for the season in its entirety.
Malcolm Brogdon returned from a one-game absence due to a neck strain on Monday and looked solid across 36 minutes while recording 20 points, seven rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and a pair of 3-pointers. Victor Oladipo took the opposite approach and sat out Monday’s tilt vs. the Wizards as he continues to take it easy on his right knee. Oladipo is avoiding back-to-back games.
The Nets’ best players are getting Tuesday off in a meaningless contest vs. the top-seeded Bucks. That includes Jarrett Allen (rest), Joe Harris (back) and Caris LeVert (thigh contusion). The bench mob will lead the way, featuring Chris Chiozza, Tyler Johnson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Garrett Temple, Rodions Kurucs and Jamal Crawford.
Seth Curry (leg) is doubtful for Tuesday’s tilt with the Kings, which is a bit of a surprise after he looked fine on Sunday. Hopefully, this is just some extra rest.
Eric Bledsoe (conditioning) is no longer on the injury report, in which case he is lining up to make his debut on Tuesday against the Nets. Wesley Matthews (calf) will not play on Tuesday in what is most likely a rest day out of extreme caution.
Montrezl Harrell (personal) will miss Tuesday’s game as he remains outside of the bubble, and Lou Williams (self-isolation) is questionable for the matchup. Williams still has to work his way back into game shape as he has not practiced since entering self-isolation. If he does play it will be a limited role.
Alex Len (conditioning) is questionable to play on Tuesday as he struggles to recover from his bout with COVID-19.
A Toy Story Made For Two
The Magic Carpet Ride in Los Angeles had at least thrown scraps down towards the lesser fantasy commodities on the Lakers, but the opportunity for success is quickly slipping away if you are not one of the top two players on the Lakers.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis continued to dominate the wider NBA with first-round values by checking every category in the box score while on the way to a 116-108 victory over the Jazz on Monday. They’re really the 1-2 punch that makes the Lakers go, and the rest of this roster is filled with misfit toys in comparison. I’d call LeBron James Sheriff Woody in this Toy Story, he’s reliable and in touch with the game at hand, ensuring the rest of the characters fit appropriately into the playset. On Monday he finished with 22 points (9-of-16 FG), nine assists, eight rebounds, two 3-pointers, two steals, one block and four turnovers. He even hit both his free-throws, always a rarity from LBJ. Anthony Davis learned how to fly just like Buzz Lightyear as he fired off 42 points (13-of-28 FG, 9-of-12 FT), 12 rebounds, four assists, four 3-pointers, three steals, one block and one turnover. He did a number on the Defensive Player of the Year,
Emperor ZurgRudy Gobert.
The rest of the gang is made up of your Rex, Slinky Dog, Ham and Mr. Potato Head’s of the world. They are memorable characters, but at the end of the day, they’re just one of many options in the toy chest. We got the worst version of Kyle Kuzma tonight, nine points (3-of-6 FG), two 3-pointers, one rebound, one assist and nothing else over 25 minutes. Dion Waiters managed seven points, three assists and two steals over 19 minutes. Don’t look too closely at Alex Caruso either, three points, five assists and three boards for his 23 minutes. Dwight Howard did impress with 11 points (4-of-4 FG, 3-of-4 FT), five rebounds, a steal and a block, but that is far away from realistic on most nights he logged 17 minutes. JaVale McGee collapsed with just 14 minutes to produce one rebound and zero points. Danny Green was about what you expected for his 21 minutes but offered zero 3-pointers (eight points, three rebounds, two steals).
The winner of the night from this group would be Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is at least good enough to keep using in 12-team formats for the moment, but don’t get in over your head on KCP either. Before you know it the Lakers will try to give him away for another toy that could click better with the dominance that James and Davis produce no matter who is playing next to them. It really is a two-man show for the Lakers, and this movie is not necessarily safe for general audiences. With Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo out of the picture, the Lakers will need this collection of pieces to click into Championship worthy depth if they want to knock off the elite competition that awaits them in the later rounds of the playoffs. The success will shift from night-to-night, making all of these options unbearable in the long run.
The NBA has tapped into the Disney magic these past few days, but Disney films love to start off rosy before giving the protagonist some challenging life lessons. You’ll take some similar fantasy lumps over the next couple of weeks, but fear not, that experience will prove to be invaluable as you ultimately find your one true love, that fantasy championship.