April 15, 2019, 12:11 pm
Welcome, Hoop Ball readers, to another edition of The Week Ahead!
The first weekend of NBA Playoff basketball was stuffed with upsets, as the Magic, Nets, and Spurs all pulled off the unlikely. Although the Magic and Raptors game came down to the wire and ended with a D.J. Augustin game-winner, the most controversial game was the Nets and 76ers. I am the co-host of the Hoop-Ball Nets podcast, so I was watching this game and I have a great deal to say about how this upset happened and how the series can turn out.
The 76ers are a stoppable team that was exposed by the Celtics in the playoffs last season and they have easily fixable issues that they choose to ignore each offseason and trade deadline. Although getting Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris is nice and all, they are building the team in such a way that they are destined for failure. Giannis Antetokounmpo has all shooters around him with the Bucks which is why they are the best team in the NBA, but the 76ers are failing to notice that Ben Simmons needs the exact same thing. Whether it is trading Ben Simmons or letting Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris walk, something has to be done about this team as it is built the entirely wrong way. Teams can simply sag off on Simmons and double-team Joel Embiid, which means that each of the remaining three players are guarded by one player each and they are not fantastic shooters to begin with aside from JJ Redick. Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris were both below the league average in 3-point percentage since joining the 76ers, so although they are All-Star caliber players, they might not be the right fit for this team.
Simmons creates an environment for the 76ers that makes them a defendable team and the Celtics proved that last season when they put Al Horford on him and Aron Baynes on Joel Embiid. It will be interesting to see if the 76ers prove fans wrong and find a way out of this hole that they have found themselves in.
They are ultimately not built for success and head coach Brett Brown is not showing why he should keep his job. If this series ends in favor of the Nets, expect firings for the 76ers and some changes to be made in the structure of the team if they plan to move forward. Personally, I believe a starting five such as Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Bojan Bogdanovic, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid would work perfectly fine, but they would also need bench pieces such as Monte Morris, Marco Belinelli, Joe Harris or Bryn Forbes that can shoot as well. Jimmy Butler is a fantastic player, but I do not believe he betters this team in a way that also benefits Simmons, so the organization has some choices to make. This team has a lot of work to do before it becomes a championship contender.
The Nets were able to take Simmons and Redick out of the game, Harris was invisible, Embiid was hurt and Butler carried the team. The Nets had a balanced attack full of shooters and toughness, while the 76ers could not stop fouling and could not buy a 3-pointer. There is a chance that the Nets run away with this series, but Phildelphia’s issues are fixable if Brett Brown wants his team to advance. Possibly, benching Boban Marjanovic and playing Jonah Bolden more could increase the floor spacing and help Ben Simmons get things going. No matter how he does it, Brown must find a way to get his stars going or he is out of a job and the 76ers are out of a playoff spot. Watch this series closely as it could change the landscape of the NBA as we know it.
Now here is an overview of the week ahead:
Weekly Schedule Breakdown
Monday, April 15th– Nets at 76ers at 8 PM ET (Gm 2), Clippers at Warriors at 10:30 PM ET (Gm 2)
Tuesday, April 16th– Magic at Raptors at 8 PM ET (Gm 2), Spurs at Nuggets at 9 PM ET (Gm 2), Thunder at Blazers (Gm 2) at 10:30 PM ET
Wednesday, April 17th– Pacers at Celtics at 7 PM ET (Gm 2), Pistons at Bucks at 8 PM ET (Gm 2), Jazz at Rockets at 9:30 PM ET (Gm 2)
Thursday, April 18th– 76ers at Nets at 8 PM ET (Gm 3), Nuggets at Spurs at 9 PM ET (Gm 3), Warriors at Clippers at 10:30 PM ET (Gm 3)
Friday, April 19th– Raptors at Magic at 7 PM ET (Gm 3), Celtics at Pacers at 8:30 PM ET (Gm 3), Blazers at Thunder at 9:30 PM ET (Gm 3)
Saturday, April 20th– 76ers at Nets at 3 PM ET (Gm 4); Nuggets at Spurs at 5:30 PM ET (Gm 4), Bucks at Pistons at 8 PM ET (Gm 3), Rockets at Jazz at 10:30 PM ET (Gm 3)
Sunday, April 21st– Celtics at Pacers at 1 PM ET (Gm 4), Warriors at Clippers at 3:30 PM ET (Gm 4), Raptors at Magic at 7 PM ET (Gm 4), Blazers at Thunder at 9:30 PM ET (Gm 4)
Marcus Smart (oblique) missed Game 1 against the Pacers with an oblique injury, which is not surprising as he is now slated to miss most of Round 2 as well if they make it to play the Bucks (probably). He is the Celtics’ best perimeter defender, so this is a tough blow for a team that was just beginning to figure things out as playoffs arrived.
Ed Davis (ankle) /Jared Dudley (calf) – Typically, these guys would go in the role player section. However, they were instrumental in the Game 1 win for the Nets and are worthy of their own mentions. Ed Davis and Jared Dudley are both questionable for Game 2 after suffering minor injuries in Game 1. Hopefully they can give it a go as they were a huge reason as to why the Nets pulled out the upset victory.
Joel Embiid (knee) is considered a game-time decision for Game 2 against the Nets. Embiid looked sluggish and hurt in Game 1, so it is no surprise that he ends up on this list. He could not hit a 3-pointer as his legs were not under him and if he gives it a go we could see much of the same in the next game.
Blake Griffin (knee) was ruled out for Game 1 and could return next game, though there are other reports that he’ll miss the whole first round. The Pistons were already at a massive disadvantage with him on the court, so without him it is no surprise that they got blown out. Hopefully, he can return to the court to make this a series against the Bucks.
Some day-to-day guys that are role players for their respective teams: James Ennis III, Jonah Bolden, Patrick McCaw, OG Anunoby, Michael Carter-Williams, Hamidou Diallo, and Tony Snell
Thanks Hoopballers for reading The Week Ahead!
April 24, 2019, 3:24 pmJaMychal Green - F - Los Angeles Clippers
JaMychal Green will remain in the starting lineup in Game 5 on Wednesday.
Green logged 22 minutes in the same role in Game 4, though it's not surprising that the Clippers will stick with the same group considering Ivica Zubac's tough fit in this matchup and Montrezl Harrell's fit in his current role.
Source: Andrew Greif on Twitter
April 24, 2019, 2:11 pmNate Tibbets - Team - Trail Blazers
The Suns have been given permission to interview Blazers assistants Nate Tibbets and David Vanterpool for their vacant head coaching position.
The Cavs have already been connected to the duo from Portland, and Tibbets interviewed for the Hawks' gig last summer. The Suns reportedly fired Igor Kokoskov so they could make Philadelphia assistant Monty Williams their top target before the Lakers got too deep into talks, but Phoenix will be looking at multiple candidates. It's a nice roster to work with but we can't imagine anyone will be too eager to work with the team's ownership group.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
April 24, 2019, 2:00 pmDraymond Green - F - Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green admitted that his right wrist has been hurt for "a while."
Green added that he got hit there in Game 4 and "it pissed it off" and said that he's going to play through any pain in the postseason. It's not like teams weren't sagging off Green on the perimeter already, but if his wrist continues to hamper him in any way we may see opponents get very aggressive in their defensive efforts on Golden State's other players. Green is going to have lots of open jumpers presented to him for the rest of the postseason.
Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter
April 24, 2019, 1:57 pmJarrett Allen - C - Brooklyn Nets
Jarrett Allen will work on extending his range to the 3-point line this summer.
Him and every other big man. Allen went 6-for-45 on 3-pointers this season, so he's got some work to do. He's a quality young player who can protect the rim, but Allen isn't quite strong enough to crash and bang with the league's true behemoths and not quite gifted enough offensively to be anything more than a threat on the roll. It's a great base from which to work, however, and it's good to know that Allen is going to be putting in the work to make himself more of a weapon as the Nets look to build on a nice campaign.
Source: Bryan Fonseca on Twitter
April 24, 2019, 1:55 pmMarcus Smart - G - Boston Celtics
On Wednesday Brad Stevens said that Marcus Smart (torn oblique) is "doing great."
That's nice, but it's not much of an update. Smart was able to do some light shooting and treadmill work yesterday but we're still not expecting to see him until the tail end of the second round at the earliest. His tenacity and perimeter defense will be missed dearly in Boston's matchup with the Bucks.
Source: Jay King on Twitter
April 24, 2019, 1:48 pmKyle Lowry - G - Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry suffered a dislocated finger on his right hand in the first half of Tuesday's Game 5 but was able to pop it back in and return to the game.
Lowry swiped at the ball and ended up hitting Evan Fournier's leg with his hand, which caused the injury The fact that he was able to return to the game, even in a blowout, bodes well for his status for the second round. It may affect his shooting to some degree but Lowry has been playing facilitator more often anyway, and we wouldn't expect his performance to suffer. After a scoreless Game 1, Lowry was all over the floor for the Raptors as they locked in and simply outclassed Orlando.
Source: The Athletic
April 24, 2019, 11:50 amJeff Hornacek - Team - Sacramento Kings
Sam Amick of the Athletic is reporting that former Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek had an interview with the Kings for the lead assistant coach job.
Sacramento has already hired Luke Walton to be their new coach but the news about the sexual assault allegations he faces might put his status in danger. Walton should be able to assemble his coaching staff once he is out of the woods but we should know more once the NBA concludes with their investigation of the matter.
Source: The Athletic
April 24, 2019, 11:11 amLuke Walton - Team - Sacramento Kings
Sam Amick of the Athletic is reporting that Luke Walton still has the Kings’ support, despite the sexual assault allegations the newly-hired coach is facing.
The Kings are working with the NBA to investigate allegations made against Walton by his former colleague at Time Warner Cable, Kelli Tennant. The report adds that the two sides are moving forward with their working relationship and there doesn’t appear to be any momentum toward firing Walton, who was hired earlier this month just three days after he parted ways with the Lakers. The Kings confirmed that they were not aware of the accusations until TMZ reported the news and that they will wait for the facts before making a decision on Walton’s future. The investigation has been delayed because all parties haven’t been able to access Tennant’s lawsuit so more information should merge soon.
Source: The Athletic
April 24, 2019, 10:49 amJaren Jackson Jr. - F/C - Memphis Grizzlies
Jaren Jackson Jr. said that he wants to improve his "motor," his ball-handling skills and his shooting mechanics entering year two and he hopes to work with Kevin Garnett over the coming months.
Jackson and Garnett spent time together last summer and again in February when Garnett visited Memphis to feature Jackson’s game for his segment on TNT. "He has a work ethic that is a throwback that I'm very appreciative of," Garnett said in the segment. "I love working with him. He is the future. I look forward to him becoming the leader of Memphis." The rookie had an impressive season before getting shut down due to a bruised thigh, averaging 13.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.9 steals and 0.9 triples per contest. He has tremendous upside and owners in dynasty leagues should feel great about him.
Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal
April 24, 2019, 9:56 amIvan Rabb - F - Memphis Grizzlies
Ivan Rabb plans to spend much of his offseason in the weight room as he tries to bulk up and show that he has NBA-level defense to pair with his expanding offensive game.
For all the charm of Rabb's smooth offensive repertoire, he knows his defense needs to improve. It was especially evident in an April 3 loss at Portland when Enes Kanter torched Rabb and the Grizzlies in the post for 21 points and 15 rebounds. Rabb posted almost identical statistics this season to those he posted in 36 games as a rookie, but the second-year post player knocked down 37 percent of his 3-pointers in the G League, showing a comfort level from beyond the arc previously missing from his game. Rabb's deal is non-guaranteed, so the Grizzlies could move on from him if they want but he is only 22 years old and has shown enough potential to likely warrant another season at the relatively low price tag of $1.6 million. Keep him in your radar as he might have an important role next season in what might be a rebuilding year for the Grizzlies.
Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal