August 24, 2020, 12:35 am
It’s another Sunday in August and I’m writing a Daily Dish about PLAYOFF NBA BASKETBALL. I suppose stranger things have happened but I’d have to be waiting for a teleportation device, alien invaders, or a marsupial with wings for something to top a professional basketball league resuming its season inside the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the middle of a global pandemic that has infected over 23 million people around the world.
I refuse to call of this the “new normal” since that expression makes no goddamn sense but I suppose I should just trudge forward in these strange times and lean into some bizarro basketball and recap a few things along the way. You might even pick up a hoops tidbit and a heartly chuckle along the way.
Come inside, it’s fun inside.
Brent Rambo Player of the Night
Here are a couple of players you may or may not have drafted for this sweet Bubblicious flavor of b-ball who played well enough on Sunday to warrant an emphatic opening credits thumbs up.
Luka Doncic, Everything, Dallas Mavericks – 46 minutes, 43 points, 17 rebounds, 13 assists, two steals, one block, four 3-pointers, 18-of-31 FG, 3-of-5 FT.
Some meat-brained putz wrote this a couple of weeks ago:
“Call me a coward or a hot take artist if you want, but all I know from my first-round pick in drafts is that I know I can’t win with getting that pick right alone. But I know I can lose if I screw it up. So as of now, if the 5th pick is mine I’ll probably pass on Luka and enjoy him as a fan and not a fantasy owner.”
What kind of dope says this? Who the hell is the utter drooling mutant that watches Luka Doncic and has that kind of reaction?
Oh wait, that was me!
Folks, I was wrong. Dead wrong. Dr. Cox taunting J.D. levels of wrong. This was a poor attempt at a hot take and it will remind me never to bet against Luka Doncic again. This was a playoff game so it doesn’t have fantasy ramifications but it is a reminder that these are the types of lines that Luka can put up on any given day. The worry about percentages and stocks are real but who cares about that when Luka Friggin Doncic can put up week winning lines like this.
Honorable Mention – Holy crap Donovan Mitchell. It’s late and I had Luka’s writeup all ready to go and you just have to go and drop a 50-burger on a flailing Nuggets team.
LeBron Yelling at J.R. Player of the Night
There are only so many things that can go wrong when there’s only four games on and no season-long fantasy games at stake. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating to watch a player let you down, whether that’s for a DFS lineup or for just plan old entertainment reasons. Sometimes screaming into an abyss isn’t all that bad.
I don’t need to be as ruthless as Twitter was on Paul George but let’s just say I’m not down with Playoff P (Yeah, you know me). When you start to trend as Pandemic P I’m sure the reaction is to make like Homer Simpson ducking into the bushes. I don’t doubt that he’s fully aware of that. PG-13 is going to need a new MPAA label given the bloody horror of his 21% shooting the past three games and how often the end result of his defense results in offensive language in multiple directions.
So yes, it would be easy to pile on and it’s largely been because of George’s ineffective play that the Clips haven’t been able to handle a team that should be putting away as easily as throwing a skeleton bone in the closet door. But so much of this may provide opportunity for us fantasy folks because George was quite good during the resumption period and if his playoff struggles are the last taste in the mouths of fantasy folks, then there might be a chance he could come at a bit of a discount next season. George has first-round potential and it took him a bit to get over his shoulder injury and find his stride in LA. Combine that with the current meltdown and you may start seeing someone who has regularly been in the top-20 slip into the late 2nd and 3rd rounds. That’s a recipe for a good potential buying opportunity for next season.
The Draymond on Steven Adams Report
Any injury that happens during the playoffs is going to be a kick in the nards for those of us who have horses still in this race. For those of you reading and wondering if any of your team’s players are on here, I hope you’re wearing a cup.
We begin with Luka Doncic making nice with Montrezl Harrell and gutting it out for Game 4 despite a sprained ankle. That was very welcome news for the Mavs, who were desperately trying not to let this series fly off the rails.
That good news was dealt an immediate blow when Kristaps Porzingis became a late scratch with knee soreness. We’re not sure if this is going to keep Porzingis out beyond Game 4 but then again, who needs KP when you have Luka, right?
Gordon Hayward officially left the Orlando bubble and it’s probably the last we’ve seen of him for a bit both because of his ankle injury that will cost him at least four weeks and because he is expecting a child in September, which he planned on leaving for anyway.
Patrick Beverley remained out for the Clippers with a nagging quad issue.
Aaron Gordon is questionable for Game 4 against the Bucks which is encouraging since it’s now or never for Gordon and the Magic after getting demolished in Game 3.
Russell Westbrook is said to be getting closer to returning and putting his next coaching career on hold but that is still rather ambiguous on when he can actually make his return. He’s out for Game 4 and highly questionable beyond that.
Tobias Harris briefly left Sunday’s elimination game against the Celtics with an eye laceration and we don’t think it will affect the tears that will need to be shed after getting swept out of the Bubble by their rivals.
Rajon Rondo’s back is acting up and he is considered doubtful again for Game 4 against the Blazers.
Gary Harris remained out for the Nuggets because of his hip strain.
Lastly, Kyle Lowry left Sunday’s game against the Nets with an ankle injury and the hope is some rest prior to the start of the Raptors’ second-round matchup against the Celtics is all that is needed for their floor leader.
Dust The Process
I really don’t know where the Sixers go from here but with a certain degree of hindsight we can say that The Process is dead and we can declare it a failed experiment. I don’t know how a couple of Conference Semifinal appearances to go with an embarrassing sweep in the first round make up for four completely lost seasons of trying to land superstar players. The problem is that when you go all in on a process, you have to get nearly everything right — or at least see it all the way through — because, again as hindsight is showing, you’re banking on a couple of lottery and free agency wins to mask the eschewing a long-term system of player development and other misses along the way.
This isn’t all on Joel Embiid but the biggest bet that was made on the Sixers’ franchise player came with significant injury concerns and at almost 27 years of age playing the center position, the odds that he will ever play more than 65 games at elite levels are dwindling.
This isn’t all on Ben Simmons either because he’s an incredibly gifted and dynamic player but we knew from his scouting days that he would be a liability as a shooter and hasn’t changed very much since.
This isn’t all on Tobias Harris and Al Horford because what are you supposed to do when a team with a couple of built-in studs backs up the Brinks truck without question, say no?
This isn’t all on Brett Brown because he really tried to make chicken salad out of all of this but it’s tough to make that as your meal and not be Chopped when your ingredients are chicken, mayonnaise, an excessive amount of vanilla and an old shoe.
This isn’t all on Elton Brand either because when you’re only a single shot away from knocking off the eventual champions, you go out and find a couple of guys who can get you over that hump.
But it is on a collective where everything needs to go right for a long-term experiment to go as you hope. You don’t give up on all those years for the goal to be a few early playoff exits, it’s for sustainable shots at a title. Instead it shines a glaring light on all the things they missed along the way like the brutal whiffs on Markelle Fultz and Jahlil Okafor. It shows that they were never committed to finding ways to develop young talent like Richaun Holmes and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. Richaun we all know about but TLC broke out in the Bubble when the Nets needed someone else to play major minutes. And it shows how fragile chemistry can be when you’ve got a couple of superstars and other miscast pieces who don’t have a system to maximize their individual and collective talents.
What felt like a long season is only going to lead into a longer offseason for the Sixers. It seems like a significant breakup is coming but with nearly $400 million still owed to Simmons, Harris, and Horford it will be very difficult for Philly to re-process this process.