September 14, 2020, 1:55 am
Every year I get amped up for the first Sunday afternoon of football season and by the first Sunday evening of football season I’ve realized that I have flushed lots of my hard-earned money into my municipality’s septic system. At least there was a basketball game that decided to be televised right at the same time a football-starved country finally got to have a real taste of the action. It was something I could come back to when I realized somewhere between the Eagles and Lions meltdowns that it’s going to be yet another long fall season for my bank account.
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.
Lamar Jackson – Nah, just kidding. But really, he’s so much fun to watch and I love nothing more than watching Browns fans suffer.
Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets – 40 minutes, 34 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists, one steal, one block, four 3-pointers, 13-of-22 FG, 4-of-5 FT.
It will never not remain insane to me that this doughy self-admitted slowpoke is one of the absolute best basketball players on Planet Earth. Jokic has been “Born to Kill” and there hasn’t been a thing that the Clippers have been able to do to stop him. This was one of those nights where you’re reminded that The Joker has every trick up his sleeve and will use every single one of them in the name of achieving ultimate basketball chaos, or as you and I call it, Game 7.
This is really what an MVP candidate does. He puts the team on his back when it matters most and wills them as far as they can go. And he’s been doing that with the swagger of a guy playing like he was up 3-1 and not down 3-1. Instead of potentially exiting the bubble for the fifth time this postseason, Jokic and the Nuggets are one game away from spoiling Adam Silver’s Battle of Los Angeles and I’m sure he couldn’t be happier to be the alien creature plotting an invasion of the Western Conference Finals.
LeBron Yelling at J.R. Player of the Night
Break out your favorite facepalm gifs and eye roll emojis to let out all of your playoff time frustrations.
It’s as though the 6th Man trophy was covered in arsenic when it was handed to Harrell. That’s the only explanation I can give for how bad he’s been this series. I know he’s dealt with personal issues leading up to the resumption period and playoffs and I hope they aren’t still weighing on his mind. I want to be sympathetic to that.
Still, the guy who is supposed to be the energy spark off the bench for the Clippers has been anything but that and the Clips haven’t had an answer for Jokic as a result. The Clips have now gone from cruising to a date with LeBron to wondering if they’ll be swiped right out of the bubble because guys like Harrell and Lou Williams have been unable to meet their same level of play when they’re beating up lesser team’s benches. If the Monsta has one more game where he can be unleashed, Game 7 would be the opportune time for it.
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.
Fortunately, there isn’t a whole lot of injury news to report. Just a lot of bruised egos in the Clippers locker room.
Russell Westbrook admitted that his quad was bothering him in the playoffs and likely contributed to his subpar play against the Lakers. Russ will have plenty of time to heal up but he’ll enter his 13th NBA season as a very polarizing fantasy pick for next season.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that Gordon Hayward could play “at some point” during the Eastern Conference Finals. We’ll consider Hayward very questionable for Game 1 but as great as the Celtics have been they’ll face another difficult defensive test against the Heat and any extra scoring they can get from a healthy Hayward would be a big boost.
No single item to really draw at as we start to wind down the season so here are some quick hitting thoughts on what is going on around the league.=
– Mike D’Antoni has coached his last game for the Rockets and the coaching carousel in the league is now just one of those seats with the turntable in the middle that kids try to spin as fast as possible to make their parents think their lunch will appear on their shorts at any minute. At least that feels like the dizzying breakneck pace of coaching changes in the league. But as I learned from the Steve Nash hiring in Brooklyn, no matter who gets hired in Houston, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Indiana, Chicago and New Orleans, the only real common denominator is that many people will be disappointed about how the ride ends.
– Brad Stevens and Erik Spoelstra will be playing chess while the rest of the league plays checkers. I cannot wait to see what wackiness they have in store for each other. Not to mention that Pat Riley and Danny Ainge don’t have any love lost for each other. This series is going to turn Jayson Tatum into a megastar or it will finally justify Jimmy Butler’s lunacy as a true Alpha. I’m ready for this war.
– Someone is going to have to explain to me why the NBA Draft will be moved back even further out toward mid-November. I recognize that there is a business side of things that gets factored into these decisions, but it feels like a league that can’t walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. If there are still significant issues with the CBA by October, then what will an extra couple of weeks in November do? In the meantime, it’s not as if you can scout prospects any further and combines might be virtual and regional if they happen at all. Just feels like kicking a can for no apparent reason.
– But really, I still do want a Battle of Los Angeles. No disrespect to Jokic, Jamal Murray and the Nuggets but I do enjoy a good storyline and this potential series was supposed to be the climax of the crazy 2019 offseason. LeBron, AD, Kawhi, and PG-13 are still very much the focal point of this league and I just want to see a West Coast sibling rivalry play out. California has been falling apart and it would be nice if its denizens can experience a small piece of joy in what has been an utterly miserable year.