10/29 Lakers @ Timberwolves Rapid Reactions

Timberwolves and Lakers

Final Score: Timberwolves: 124, Lakers: 120

Timberwolves:

  • It was a much better night for the Timberwolves after a putrid showing last Friday night against the Bucks. Minnesota’s offense was firing on all cylinders. The defense was a different story, but the offense was enough against the Lakers.
  • Butler was on fire in the four quarter. Butler paved the way for Minnesota in the fourth, including his ridiculous, clutch three to seal the win. Overall, Jimmy recorded 32 points on 12-20 shooting from the field, including 6-7 from three. While it’s clear the Wolves need to trade Butler, it would be nice if Butler continues to help Minnesota get wins until then.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns plays his most active game of the season. KAT put up 25 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Towns was active on both ends of the floor, which included Towns grabbing nine offensive rebounds.
  • I continue to not understand Derrick Rose. Unfortunately, Thibs still thinks Rose is the former MVP, so when Rose struggles, Thibs leaves him in the game. Rose shot 4-16 from the field tonight in 29 minutes. Rose continues to be an up-and-down player for the Wolves, but he continues to get heavy minutes.
  • The Timberwolves dominated points at the charity stripe. Minnesota recorded 26 points at the line, compared to Los Angeles’ 10. For the Lakers, it’s hard to win games with that big of a disparity at the free-throw line.

Lakers:

  • The Lakers continue to play fast, really fast. Coming into the night, the Lakers played with the fourth fastest pace in the league. Contrary to LeBron’s normal pace of play, the Lakers continue to run with the ball. If the Lakers can tighten up on defense, their offense can lead them to great heights.
  • JaVale McGee is turning into a valuable player for Los Angeles. McGee has been great at running the floor and protecting the paint this season, and that continued tonight. McGee put up 13 points and blocked three shots in tonight’s game. If McGee continues to do the small things to help the Lakers win, he will continue to see more and more minutes.
  • Lonzo Ball had a rough night. Ball was a team worst -11 tonight, and he shot 0-4 from three. Ball has improved this season, but his four points and one assist tonight was not one of his best games.
  • The Lakers can’t afford to drop too many more games in a row to start the season. Los Angeles is off to a 2-5 start to the season, and in a brutally tough Western Conference, there isn’t a lot of breathing room. The Lakers will look to get back on track against the Dallas Mavericks on Halloween night.

 

Advertisements

10/28 Wizards @ Clippers Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Wizards 104, Clippers 136

Washington Wizards:

What in the world is going on with this Wizards team?

  • Hey! The rebounding wasn’t an issue! You wan’t to know why? Because there practically weren’t any to grab! The Clippers shot a blistering 54% from the field and 55% from beyond the arc. Washington had one defensive lapse on top of another, and there was a lacksidasical effort all across the board tonight. This season (so far) was perfectly summed up in a John Wall mishandled ball in which he lost and then simply stood next to the grapple for the ball, watching his teammates wreslte to grab his own error.
  • Otto Porter has caught his share of criticism from head coach Scott Brooks throughout past games, and didn’t do much tonight to change his stance on Porter’s play. In thirty minutes, the forward made six shots on 33% shooting, along with a few boards and assists. The poor effort, along with the early exit of Markieff Morris, spelled early disaster for this team. HOWEVER, that does not excuse the accompanying white flag that came from the remaining starters in the game.
  • Although it is very early in the season, there seems to be the possibility of some possible locker-room dysfunction already. Accountability was an issue last season, and in a year where it has already gone not-so-according to plan, this could be an problem that tears a team apart. In what feels like a make-or-break year for the head coach, and even some players on the team, this is not a good look for what was figured to be a promising year for this group.

Play of the Game: This feels like a game not-so-deserving of one. In fact, I am incredibly tempted to put a “Not Play of the Game”. In a bad performance, usually there is still a bright spot, but today there isn’t a whole lot of positives surrounding this team currently.

 

Los Angeles Clippers:

  • This was a performance that should get Clippers fans excited for the outlook of their team. The feelings surrounding this franchise coming into the season were mixed, with some thinking this was a bridge season until the team could find its next star, and others intrigued by the possibilities and potential this cast presents. This performance, and especially the success of shooting from deep, shows the ability of this team even without a true “superstar”.
  • The Clippers got great production off the bench, especially from fan favorite Boban Marjanovic tonight. That bench stumped both the starting and reserve units of the Washington team this evening. Combined with a great defensive efforts from their starters, this is a recipe for the type of team LA will have to be if they want to be a serious threat in the West come late in the year.
  • A great point was brought up during the Clippers broadcast late in the third quarter- “This team doesn’t have a superstar caliber player, and that may not be the worst thing in the world”. Doc Rivers through these few games has shown tremendous coaching in the lineups and skill he has brought out of his players. This team will need to embody the old fashioned “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” style, and they have the potential to do so.

Play of the Game: With 2:40 left in the first quarter, Bradley Beal grabbed a rebound and attempted a layup to make it a one score game. Avery Bradley flew in to swat the ball away, setting the defensive tone early and keeping the Wizards behind.

10/28 Jazz @ Mavericks Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Jazz 113, Mavericks 104

Utah Jazz:

  • Georges Niang. Have you heard that name before? If not, remember it, because he’s been ballin’ for the Utah Jazz and will only be getting more minutes as the season progresses if he continues to play at the level that he is. Niang’s basketball IQ is high, as he makes great reads and takes good shots consistently. He finished the night with 13 points on 4-5 shooting in 13 minutes.
  • Early on Mavs players could not stay in front of Jazz players on defense. Utah had easy access to the basket in the first half, although in the latter part of the game Dallas did improve on that front.
  • Six consecutive double-doubles for Rudy Gobert to start the season. First time that’s been done for Utah since Carlos Boozer back in the day. Gobert finished with 23 points, 16 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals.
  • The confusing season of Ricky Rubio continues. After posting 28 points and 12 assists in New Orleans, Rubio had just 6 points on 2-9 shooting. He did have 8 assists, however.
  • Grayson Allen has taken advantage of the minutes he’s received early on this season. He had the best +/- of any Jazz player with a +17 on a perfect 3/3 shooting night with 11 points. With all the pieces the Jazz have, it’ll be interesting to see how minutes are distributed to the rookie as we move along.

Dallas Mavericks:

  • The Jazz were cruising early on in this one but started to lose their way some in the 2nd quarter due partly to Dallas’ increased defense and advantage in the turnover margin. At halftime the Mavs forced 13 turnovers, but had nine of their own.
  • Dennis Smith Jr. is a legit young talent in this league. The Mavs building around Smith and Doncic is as good of a plan during a rebuild that you can have for a team. Smith caught fire in the 3rd quarter, scoring a total of 27 points on the night.
  • Smith had a good night, but also made some costly mistakes down the stretch. In a game which the Mavs remained in striking distance, Smith missed two layups as the Mavs were going on a run and committed a couple of late fouls. For Smith to take the next step he has to start sinking those layups and playing a full game of consistent basketball.
  • Overall tonight Dallas played well and gave Utah a good fight. This is the best Mavs team I think I’ve seen in a few years, and should play solid basketball moving forward.

Where does De’Aaron Fox rank among NBA point guards?

Most of the NBA’s best point guards did not have a significant spike in production from their rookie season to their second year in the league.

Go down the list — Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, etc. — and you’ll notice the typical progression involves a slight uptick in the major bulk stats of points and assists, and maybe a significant jump in shooting percentages. That could be attributed to the game slowing down for a second-year player who isn’t pressing as much as a rookie.

In that sense, what De’Aaron Fox is doing for the Sacramento Kings in the very early stages of the 2018-19 season is an exception to the rule — presuming that he is in fact on the road to becoming one of the NBA’s top players at his position.

As a rookie last season, Fox — the No. 5 pick in the draft out of Kentucky — averaged 11.6 points, 4.4 assists and 1.0 steals per game, shooting 41.2 percent from the field.

Six games into Year 2, Fox is putting up 17.7 points, 7.0 assists and 1.3 steals while hitting 47.4 percent of his shots from the field.

If Fox keeps this up, the leap he will make between his first and second pro seasons would mimic that of Kemba Walker, the Charlotte Hornets’ two-time All-Star point guard. Walker averaged 12.1 points and 4.4 assists on 36 percent shooting as a rookie for a Charlotte team that posted a historically awful 7-59 record during a 66-game lockout-shortened season. In his second year, Walker upped his numbers to 17.7 points and 5.7 assists while shooting 42 percent. Charlotte was a little bit better than before, finishing 21-61.

The seemingly overnight improvement for Fox could be chalked up primarily to confidence. Not from Fox, who is utterly confident in his abilities, but rather from Kings coach Dave Joerger.

Going into his rookie year, Fox was described by Joerger as possibly having the highest basketball IQ on the team. However, Joerger tends to take it slow with his rookies. Fox began the season coming off the bench behind veteran point guard George Hill.

Fox eventually earned the full-time starting job (and Hill was eventually traded), but the Kings were a team that appeared unsure of its identity — only half-committed to its youth movement while still leaning on veterans like Zach Randolph and Vince Carter who are near the end of their respective careers.

This season, the Kings are all-in on the kids: Fox (20 years old), rookie forward Marvin Bagley III (19), shooting guard Buddy Hield (24), center Willie Cauley-Stein (25), forward Harry Giles (20), wing Justin Jackson (23), center Skal Labissiere (22) and guard Frank Mason III (24).

Carter was allowed to walk in free agency over the summer, and Randolph — the team’s leading scorer last season — has not played a single minute through the Kings’ first six games.

Fox has benefited from being handed the keys to the Kings from Day 1 of training camp as the starting point guard. He’s playing over 32 minutes per game in October, compared to last December when he played just 22 minutes per game.

Joerger gave Fox another ringing endorsement recently at the Kings’ Media Day:

“The best thing you can do for him is play fast and give him as much room as possible,” Joerger said Monday at the Kings practice facility during media day. “To play small and try to do that is best for De’Aaron. He’s our franchise guy. I think he is and I think everybody kind of agrees on that.”

On Friday, Fox and the Kings faced the Washington Wizards, meaning Fox went head-to-head with All-Star point guard John Wall.

Because they both played college ball at Kentucky, and because they’re two of the fastest men in the sport, Fox has often been compared to Wall. Which makes their 1-on-1 meetings something of a litmus test for Fox’s progress.

Fox faced Wall and the Wizards twice last season, and two times he was badly outplayed while the Kings lost convincingly.

On Friday, Fox led the Sacramento to a 116-112 victory while putting up 18 points and nine assists, shooting 7-for-14 (50 percent) from the field. Wall had 26 points, eight assists and three steals while making 9-for-20 (45 percent) from the field.

The good version of Fox and the still-learning version of Fox were both on display. The good was the baseline crossover and dunk he threw down in the first half, and when he scored or assisted on 15 straight points for the Kings in the fourth quarter. The bad was later in the fourth quarter when he took two ill-advised, rushed shots in the same possession that he missed badly when Sacramento was trying to protect a three-point lead.

Fox’s leadership also factored into the win over the Wizards. He was the one encouraging Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica to keep shooting even after he missed his first few attempts. Bjelica wound up being huge for the Kings with 24 points and six threes.

Between his individual stats, some standout performances against other good point guards, and the fact that the Kings are doing better than expected at 3-3 heading into a four-game Eastern Conference road trip that starts Monday in Miami, it’s worth asking …

Where does Fox rank among the NBA’s starting point guards right now?

I have him in the top 15:

  1. Stephen Curry
  2. Russell Westbrook
  3. Chris Paul
  4. Kyrie Irving
  5. Kemba Walker
  6. Damian Lillard
  7. Ben Simmons
  8. John Wall
  9. Kyle Lowry
  10. Rajon Rondo
  11. Jrue Holiday
  12. De’Aaron Fox
  13. Mike Conley
  14. Reggie Jackson
  15. Goran Dragic

When the Kings beat Westbrook and the Thunder, Fox put up 22 points and 10 assists while shooting 58 percent from the field. Westbrook finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, shooting 56 percent.

In Sacramento’s win over Memphis, Fox posted 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists on 43 percent shooting, while Conley went for 27 points, six rebounds and five assists on 45 percent shooting.

In the Kings’ loss to the Pelicans, Fox put up 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists on 50 percent shooting against Holiday, who had 15 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists on 45 percent shooting.

Numbers aren’t everything, of course.

Perhaps the most impressive thing Fox has done this season is take the reigns of a very young team and help make them competitive. The Kings still need a lot of work defensively, but offensively they’ve been good enough to hang in there with or beat some more talented, experienced teams.

More specifically, Fox has improved in his ability to run the Kings’ offense and play under control.

He has always been fast and a great athlete, but sometimes Fox plays too fast for his own good. Now he’s learning how to play point guard in the NBA. Ideally, what you’d want Fox to do is blend that Allen Iverson speed with an Andre Miller approach to the game.

If he does that, Fox will continue moving up the ranks as one of the league’s best at what he does.

We need to talk about the Milwaukee Bucks

(photo cred ESPN)

So I’m going to say something and I need you all to be good friends and just let me say it without shouting at me before I even finish my sentence…

The Milwaukee Bucks are legitimate contenders to win the Eastern Conference. 

Deep breath. I know that in the NBA, we don’t handle change all that well. Twitter explodes when someone gets traded or falls to injury. We hold onto our favorite teams that aren’t our favorite teams and say things like, “I’m a Celtics fan, but Miami could finish as the 3 seed if Hassan Whiteside plays like he did three years ago.”

But sometimes greatness smacks you in the teeth and you have to be able to recognize it. And guess what, the Milwaukee Bucks under coach Bud are GREAT. The season is only five games deep for the Bucks and normally I call for caution in these situations. Now, however, it has come time to call a spade a spade. The Bucks have officially entered the realm of Contender and left the realm of Pretender.

How did they do it?

The Numbers

Allow me to show you two different images. The first one will be from the Bucks 2017-18 season. Pay attention to the 3-point shooting numbers and how pedestrian, if not below average they were.

2017 bucks.PNG

Not good, right? This second image, however, will show you the Budenholzer effect. I present to you: The 2018-19 Milwaukee Bucks

2018 bucks.PNG

Woah. See how the emphasis is on 3-pointers and not 2s? Also, check out the number of shots taken per game. The Bucks are taking way more field goal attempts this year, and it has paid off.

Clearly, the Bucks have placed an emphasis on pacing and spacing. They are finally playing modern NBA basketball, and taking advantage of the snipers on their team. I hope you liked the Basketball-reference.com images, because you are about to get a lot more of them!

Brook Lopez – 38% from 3 on 7.2 attempts per game

And that is not even the sexiest part. Chec out his 3PAr (3-point attempt rate.) Lopez isn’t just taking a lot of triples, but that is largely the only type of field goal he is taking. The shot selection is key for understanding why this team is 5-0.

Advanced Table
Season Age Tm G MP PER TS% 3PAr
2017-18 29 LAL 74 1735 16.4 .557 .410
2018-19 30 MIL 5 130 16.1 .643 .735
Career 641 19983 20.5 .566 .088
9 seasons NJN,BRK 562 18118 21.0 .566 .052
1 season LAL 74 1735 16.4 .557 .410
1 season MIL 5 130 16.1 .643 .735
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/27/2018.

John Henson – 45% from 3 on 2.2 attempts per game

Don’t look now, but John Henson has played awesome for the Bucks. To boot, he has changed his game too. This dude may finally be living up to his contract. How? I’ll tell you with another image.

Shooting Table
3-Pt 3-Pt
% of % of % of % of % of Corn Corn
Season Age Tm G FG% Dist. 0-3 3-10 10-16 16 ❤ 3P %3PA 3P%
2017-18 27 MIL 76 .572 4.5 .558 .317 .026 .084 .014 .143 .000
2018-19 28 MIL 5 .444 12.1 .370 .185 .037 .000 .407 .364 .500
Career 396 .540 4.6 .518 .359 .052 .060 .010 .250 .333
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/27/2018.

Bro, what? Henson is taking 55 percent of his shots within 10 feet of the hoop. He is taking another 40 percent of shots from deep. That’s modern big man shot selection for ya! Where did this come from?! Henson has literally never been a 3-point shooter, and all of a sudden is hitting 36 percent of his corner triples? Woah. When Henson appears in a Zach Lowe article, give me some credit.

Eric Bledsoe – career low in 2 point field goal attempt rate

…but a career high in assist percentage.

Clearly, Bledsoe has gotten the message from coach Bud. Take less twos and keep the ball moving. Guess what? It has translated to wins. Although early still, Bledsoe is taking 2-pointers on only 56 percent of his shots. His career average for that category is 72 percent. What’s more, Bledsoe is averaging a career high in assist percentage at 33 percent. Love it. Plus, his defense has seemed to return.

Khris Middleton – 57 percent from 3 on 7.6 attempts per game

Uhhhhhh, can you say All-Star birth?

The Bucks have an insane offensive rating  of 128 when Middleton is on the court, as in they score 128 points per every 100 possessions. I need my inhaler.

Middleton is known for being not only a potent 3-point shooter, but a guy who can beat you in the midrange. His touch is incredible and he can take you from the post, high post, or just about anywhere on the court. This year, however, Middleton is taking noticeably less midrange shots and focusing on 3s and shots close to the rim.

Shooting Table
% of % of % of % of % of % of
Season Age Tm G 2P 0-3 3-10 10-16 16 ❤ 3P
2017-18 26 MIL 82 .680 .140 .133 .218 .189 .320
2018-19 27 MIL 5 .465 .169 .127 .155 .014 .535
Career 383 .677 .155 .128 .178 .216 .323
6 seasons MIL 356 .677 .153 .127 .180 .216 .323
1 season DET 27 .681 .206 .142 .121 .213 .319
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/27/2018.

Okay, we have seen some stats. We get it, the Bucks are spacing the floor, bombing triples and creating space for Giannis to complete his “Dunk on everyone” 2018-19 agenda. But what does this offense look like?

The Eye Test

Bud has brought his Spursian offensive scheming to the Milwaukee, and it has been dynamite. Specifically, what is he doing? Bud has often given Giannis the ball in isolated situations when the Greek Freak has a mismatch. For instance, what him work Landry Shamet in the post (sorry, Landry.)


Giannis catches the ball in a post-up, and everyone HAS to pay attention to him. So what do the Bucks do? They keep three capable, if not plus, 3-point shooters on the perimeter. Do not be fooled, however. Giannis knows exactly which guy he is looking for: Brook Lopez. We know this because Tony Snells sets a screen for Lopez to get open on the opposite wing.

Bud will do this often. He likes to load up the weak-side with shooters and create a mismatch for Giannis on the strong-side of the court. Giannis can either take his man off the dribble and do MVP stuff, of use his above average vision to find open shooters. Giannis has as much gravity as anyone in the league, and draws literally 5 defenders to the paint (or right outside of it.) Think i’m joking?

bucks giannis.PNG

In this next Giannis post possession, he has open shooters on the perimeter. But, Giannis realizes his mismatch and decides to shoot a hook shot. Good decision, considering he is 6’11” and 4 feet from the hoop. Look at the gravity he draws, however. This will be here all season long for the Bucks, and defenses will have to pick their poison.


The Bucks also run a plethora of players in the pick and roll as the ball handler. Khris Middleton is incredibly underrated in this area. Middleton is a good passer, but has a knack for knowing when to drive on a player or shoot over him. Watch these two possessions below with Middleton running the PnR.

The first set is a basic pick and roll with Henson as the screener. There is some weak-side movement but Middleton sees the space and pulls up. In the next set of action, a horns set, Middleton gets an inch of space and makes Ben Simmons pay for it with a jumper. Bud seems to emphasize player freedom, and Middleton certainly has the green light.


I would not forgive myself if I did not talk about Eric Bledsoe. Last season, the point guard was often on the receiving end of criticism. This year, however, Bledsoe has played some of the best basketball of his career. I’m all in on the Bledsoe Revival campaign.

His vision has always gone underappreciated, but Bledsoe has traditionally been a top-notch passer. Let’s give him his due shine. Before I play this next clip of Bledsoe mastering a drive and dish, I want to show you a freeze frame.

bledsoe vision.PNG

What happened here? Bledsoe beat his man off a drive, and sees an open shooter in the corner. But Damyean Dotson sees him too, so he sprints to close out on the corner shooter. Despite a horrible angle, Bledsoe actually sees Dotson running to the corner threat. So, Bledsoe whips a one-handed pass to the perimeter and Middleton calmly drains a three. Last year, Bledsoe may have likely pulled up for a jumper or tried to go to the rim. This year, he is finding wide open men and opponents are paying dearly. See for yourself.

What’s next?

The Bucks take on the Toronto Raptors Monday night, in what will be a clash of the East’s top two teams (as of now.) Please, tune in! See Giannis take on Kawhi. See if Bud can outsmart a rookie head coach. See if the Bucks can go toe to toe with one of the East’s top dogs. See if this article will look even better than it does now!

@Mattesposito_

 

10/26 Bucks @ Timberwolves Rapid Reactions

Bucks and Timberwolves

Final Score: Bucks: 125, Timberwolves: 95

Timberwolves:

  • What a brutal showing. This isn’t the way Minnesota wanted to play in front of a solid Target Center showing on a Friday night. There is so much going on around the team, that everyone is starting to wonder how long the drama can go on. While the players are expected to be professionals, there is little doubt the drama is bothering the team and carrying over into their performances.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns had a brutal first half, performed better in the third quarter. Towns finished the first half with two points. Yes, you heard that right. The All-NBA Center had just two points at half. He was getting shots, but not hitting them. Fortunately, Towns had a terrific third quarter. KAT recorded 14 points in the third quarter, on 6-8 shooting in that frame. With tonight’s 16-point showing, Towns is now averaging just 16.3 points per game. That number is a cause for concern. Maybe it’s a matter of time before he heats up, or maybe the Butler situation is taking a toll on the big man, but things need to change.
  • Timberwolves go cold from three. After shooting 50% from three in Toronto on Wednesday, the Timberwolves were 10-43 (23.3%) from three tonight. It’s good to see Minnesota taking more threes, but they were not hitting the shots tonight, so it would’ve been nice to see Minnesota attack the basket more.
  • Minnesota has a big night on the offensive boards. One slight positive from tonight’s game was Minnesota’s effort on the offensive glass. Minnesota grabbed 17 offensive rebounds in the game, turning those rebounds into second chance points. While Minnesota has struggled grabbing defensive rebounds at times this season, the Wolves have been terrific crashing the offensive glass.
  • How long can the Jimmy Butler saga continue? Tonight’s effort was pathetic, and it won’t be getting any easier for Minnesota. Sitting at 2-4 with their next six games against the Lakers, Jazz, Warriors, Blazers, Clippers, and Lakers again, the Timberwolves have no easy upcoming contests.

Bucks:

  • Milwaukee was about as hot as a team can get from three. The Bucks shot 19-46 (41.3%) from deep. Middleton led the way making four threes with Henson and Lopez each connecting on three shots from deep.
  • Mike Budenholzer is the right coach for this group. The Bucks have started the season 5-0 and look primed for success this year. In a game where Giannis was held under 20 points, the Bucks handled Minnesota easily. If the Bucks continue to get support around Giannis, they will be in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
  • Donte DiVincenzo knows how to play. DiVincenzo won’t always make his presence felt in the box score, but the rookie understands the game. DiVincenzo made a number of hustle plays tonight and recorded nine points. For DiVincenzo, he has the chance to develop into a great role player for Milwaukee this season.
  • The Bucks shared and moved the basketball. Milwaukee recorded 32 assists on their 49 made field goals. Compared to the Wolves’ 19 assists on their 36 made field goals, Milwaukee moved the ball and found the open shooter in Minnesota.

10/26 Mavericks vs Raptors Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Dallas 107, Toronto 116

Toronto Raptors

  • Pascal Siakam is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. The big man can take you outside and knock it down as well as put it on the floor. Siakam relentlessly runs the floor and is a quality passer for a big.
  • Danny Green is just a good basketball player. He is exactly what you want in a wing for today’s brand of basketball. Perfect fit next to Lowry.
  • When Jonas Valančiūnas took off for that sky hook in the 2nd quarter and put it in I stood up and yelled. I love that man so much.
  • I didn’t like the all-bench lineups for the extended amount of time they played. Nurse might be able to get away with it in short stretches but shouldn’t look to it often.
  • Kyle Lowry is the BEST Point Guard in the East right now. This man is playing incredible basketball. The command he has of the offense and the leadership that is clearly on display is second to none in the conference right now at the position.
  • Lowry had two passes in the first quarter that were just stellar. The bounce pass to Siakam and then the touch pass to Valančiūnas.
  • This Raptors team does everything well. They shot 48% from the field, 40% from three and hit 85% of their free throws. They don’t have a weakness offensively.

Who’s Up: Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam

Who’s Down: Serge Ibaka

Next Up: Monday @ Bucks

Dallas Mavericks

  • You can never count out a Rick Carlisle led basketball team. They always play with great energy on both ends, are fundamentally sound, and don’t beat themselves. Whenever Toronto would pull ahead Dallas would grit their teeth and get back in it.
  • Luka doesn’t have elite quickness or athleticism, but this guy has poise beyond his years and his patience with the ball in his hands is already elite.
  • Harrison Barnes made his season debut tonight. He definitely looked a bit rusty shooting just 5-17, but he will provide a much-needed scoring presence for this team.
  • Wes Matthews looked like an actual all-around player again in this game. Until tonight, I wasn’t sure if he could do anything inside the three-point line anymore.
  • Jalen Brunson is definitely a guy. He didn’t shoot well tonight, but make no mistake about it, this 2nd round pick can play in this league.
  • Deandre Jordan is the ever consistent 7-foot monster. You know exactly what you are going to get from him. Tonight, he gave 18 and 15 on 50% shooting.
  • Dallas really played a decent game, but just could never overcome the slow start. Dennis Smith didn’t play tonight, might have been a different outcome with his electric game in the Dallas backcourt.

Who’s Up: Wesley Matthews, Maximillian Kleber

Who’s Down: Harrison Barnes(rusty)

Next Up: Sunday vs Jazz

(I had to put this. I loved this play so much)