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NBA bubble player rankings – Studs and Duds from the first week of seeding games

Studs and Duds from the first seek of seeding games!

A new episode of the Shoot or Pass Podcast is out! Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby share their version of NBA bubble player rankings in a segment called Studs and Duds. Find out below who are the Studs and Duds from last week’s seeding games.

STUDS

Chevy – Phoenix Suns

Picking an entire team here because going 5-0 when no one saw it coming is STUD-ly. Devin Booker has been shining! Did you see the walk-off three he hit on Paul George to beat the Clippers? The rest of the team deserves some credit too. DeAndre Ayton is playing great, Ricky Rubio is proving to be a wonderful complimentary player. Don’t discount the Cams (Cameron Payne/Cam Johnson) either. Holding TJ Warren to just 16 points when he is averaging a whopping 36 points in the bubble is quite an accomplishment. Needless to say, this is an entirely different team in the bubble. Don’t be surprised if they end up as the 8th seed in the Western Conference playoffs!

Gabe – Michael Porter Jr.

This guy. Where has Denver been hiding him? His injuries held him out last year, but he is averaging 26.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1 block a game. To add, he is shooting a whopping 47.8% from three-point land. The Nuggets have some key players out with injuries. Fortunately for them, Michael Porter Jr. continues to put video game numbers each game. If you haven’t heard the name, you need to watch his game!

Rhoby – Chris Paul

I got a tweet of a picture of Devon Booker and Chevy threw in TJ Warren as a suggestion for my consideration. No chance I pick the man who just torched the HEAT nor will I disrespect my boy Jimmy Butler. Thankfully, there’s a man out there who is reveling in renaissance, a man who not only drinks vino, but is aging like it. Some know him as a snitch, some know him as a leader, I call him the Point God – Chris Paul. First, he stares down Bol Bol and hits a big jumper in his face on Monday. Then he capitalizes on the Laker’s shooting woes and has a great game today. Consequently, the Thunder are looking smoother and moving the ball better and can be a dangerous team come playoffs.

DUDS

Chevy – New Orleans Pelicans

Sticking to my theme this week of picking entire teams. After picking Zion Williamsion as my dud last week, this team had ground to make up. Instead, they are packing their bags and heading back home after a disappointing effort in the bubble. Before Lonzo Ball got on the court for Sunday’s “matinee” game vs. the San Antonio Spurs, he was averaging 5.8 points per game, shooting 27% from the field and 22% from the arch. Subsequently, Zion’s performance is also puzzling. It is abundantly clear he’s got some conditioning issues. Furthermore, the minute restrictions he’s under are confusing. During the match up against the Spurs, Alvin Gentry made the decision to pull him out of the game while he was in the midst of a run in the third quarter. Did the Pelicans give up on this season entering this game? Sure looks like it!

Gabe – Joel Embiid

I see a lot of similarities between Joel Embiid and one of my favorite players of all time, Rasheed Wallace. Like Embiid, Wallace had all the tools to win in the NBA, but would end up settling for the back-seat role. When I watch Embiid play, I see a player who can dominate in the paint, take over the defense, and shoot the ball from all over the court. With that said, why does he struggle to put on consistent performances? I believe no one can stop him. He has the ability to outperform any one in the NBA. Unfortunately, he just does not play up to his competition consistently enough and that will continue to hurt the Sixers.

Rhoby – The Shot Clock Operator in the Jazz-Nuggets double-overtime thriller

It is one thing if the clock malfunctions and doesn’t start once, but seeing that followed up with the clock starting too early three seconds later in the next play is a bit ridiculous. Was the shot clock operator in cahoots with TNT? Because I saw TNT take advantage of this by sandwiching even more commercials at the end of the 4th Q and in overtime. All this to say, if the NBA is hiring new shot clock operators, I have absolutely no experience but am happy to clear up my schedule for them.

Check out our NBA Bubble Standings updated around the clock!

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NBA’s top bubble players

Who is at the top of the NBA Bubble?

From what we’ve been told, life in the bubble is quite a bit different than NBA players are used to.  A few of the factors that may have an effect on a given player’s game include lack of distractions, no crowd noise, ability to rest, no travel, and constant warm weather. This NBA Bubble sounds quite like the vacation right?

With the above said, is there a difference in top players in the NBA Bubble?

The idea struck me that with these factors some guys might be better suited to living and playing in the NBA bubble than others.  In fact, some ballplayers might be better playing there than outside of the bubble or anywhere else for that matter.

It seems that further analysis is warranted to see how the league stacks up in this alternate reality that is the bubble.   And with most players having played 5 games so far, it is not that infantasmaly small of a sample size to compare.  So, whose game is most conducive to the bubble? Who is normally a David but turns into a Goliath inside the bubble?  Let’s take a look at the top contenders below to see who is the real bubble boy.  

Too Good to be Considered:

Stars like Nikola Jokić, Damian Lillard, Giannis, and James Harden, have, of course, been playing well in the bubble, but that is to be expected.  Their stellar performance this far is par for the course, not any change that the bubble may have brought out of them. So, they are out. 

Young guns like Luka Dončić and Zion Williamson have seemingly elevated their games in the bubble, but this is also expected.  They have embarked on their upward trajectory, as everyone and their mother thought they would.  These players we already know are too good to be in consideration for true bubble boy champ. 

Devin Booker has had a great run in the bubble so far.  He’s also been putting up 26 points per game and 6 assists per game for the last 2 years and made his first All-Star game this past year.  So, his bubble stretch of 27, 30, 35, 20, and 35 pts respectively is impressive but is not that much of a jump from his pre-bubble performance.  Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how you look at it) Book is out. 

Contenders for top bubble players:

This leaves two true contenders: Michael Porter Jr. and T.J. Warren.  If you’ve been paying attention to the NBA you probably could have guessed this but let’s break them down.

Michael Porter Jr., is averaging 9.2 pts and 4.7 rebounds in the restart, his first real NBA season. His bubble points totals have been:

11 points (in only 25 mins), 37, 30, 27, 23.  He is also put up double-digit rebounds in all but his first game as well.  Advanced metrics have, of course, are kind to Porter Jr’s in his bubble stretch.

The statistical breakdown

Michael Porter Jr. Advance Metrics (season vs bubble):
OFFRTG of 116.2 (bubble) – 112.8 (season), DEFRTG of 112.1 (bubble) – 111.3 (season), and a NETRTG of 4.2 (bubble) – 1.5 (season)

T.J. Warren’s point totals for the 5 games of the bubble thus far: 53, 34, 32, 16, & 39. (He’s averaging 19.9 ppg for the season and 15.5 for his career).  

T.J. Warren Advanced Metrics (season vs bubble):
OFFRTG of 122.3 (bubble) – 110.0 (season), DEFRTG of 102.8 (bubble) – 111.3 (season) and a NETRTG of 19.5 (bubble) – 3.1 (season).  

The defense hasn’t been great but his offense and thus net more than makeup for it. An overall net increase of +16.4 is absurd.   

So, stats pull in TJ’s favor.  The other thing that pulls in TJ’s favor is expectations.  As with the previously mentioned “too good” players, there was a decent chance that MPJ will to ascend to this point.  Yes, both MPJ and TJ were 14th overall draft picks but MPJ had serious injury concerns and still managed to be picked 14th.  

Let’s not forget that he was the #2 overall recruit in the 2017 recruiting class.  In addition, MPJ is in his first full season of playing NBA basketball. Sky is the limit for him to improve at some point unless the injuries fully derailed him.  

Warren is in his 6th season, averaging a very respectable 19+ points per game. His bubble scoring jumps to 40+ points per game.  Guys don’t typically make unreal jumps like that, let alone in their 6th season. Therefore, TJ absolutely should be take the crown as our bubble boy champion through 5 games and will be tough to unseat. 

Yes, I know that haters will say that TJ’s ascendance is a hot streak or that Domantas Sabonis’ injury allowed greater spacing for TJ.  But they know, in their heart of hearts, that it’s all about the bubble – baby. 

Follow John Glowatz on Twitter @PodNortheast

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What to look for in the remaining NBA Seeding games

NBA seeding games a success

Smooth sailing and no interruptions! The NBA restart has thus far been a success as it attempts to finish out the 2019-2020 season. Announced on August 5th, 2020, the NBA reported yet again, zero positive COVID-19 tests after the first month of locking down in the bubble in Orlando, FL. The NBA has now completed a little over half of their seeding games.

With 22 teams scheduled to play eight seeding games, we are a little over the halfway mark. The final stretch begins now.

Some teams are content like the Los Angeles Lakers who clinched the first seed in the Western Conference early last week. The Milwaukee Bucks who also officially clinched the Eastern Conference recently.

(and if you haven’t checked out the standings you probably should check out our standings. Updated with bubble records and around the clock for your pleasure!)

Other teams could be switching seeding places depending on how their remaining games play out. All teams in the east and west have clinched their playoff spot except the Memphis Grizzlies in the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, the Portland Trailblazers and Phoenix Suns are coming in hot behind the Grizzlies. Honorable mentions are the San Antonio Spurs who are a half-game back from the 9th seed but due to win percentage considered the 10th seed.

The Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans are officially eliminated from playoff contention.

The Phoenix Suns making the playoffs

Undefeated? That’s right STILL undefeated! Currently sitting at 6-0 the Suns have pulled themselves in contention of forcing a play-in tournament with the 8th seed. If the Memphis Grizzlies continue a downward spiral can the Suns take the 8th seed?

They are currently in the 10th behind Portland. Keep in mind the NBA will use win percentage to determine final seedings as not all teams will play the same amount of games after the final 8 seeding games.

The Suns remaining games are against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, and Dallas Mavericks. Should all three of these teams be content or locked into their seeds Phoenix might face rested line-ups against the mentioned teams. A plus for a Suns team trying to make a case for the playoffs.

Play-in tournament in the Western Conference

Of course, as most may have expected, the Washington Wizards have a worse record and win percentage than the Charlotte Hornets (who wasn’t even invited to the bubble by the way).

Indeed, the Wizards are definitely eliminated from playoff contention. Therefore, the Eastern Conference will not need a play-in tournament.

However, out west, the race for the 8th seed has gotten hot. Funny how we just mentioned the Suns right? At the beginning of the restart, the Grizzles held a 3.5 game lead over the 9th seed. Their goal? To win enough games to try and be five games or more ahead of the 9th seed.

Memphis started 0-4 in the restart and we’ll cut them some slack. After all, Jaren Jackson Jr was ruled out early last week for the remainder of the season due to a torn meniscus. A huge loss for the Grizzlies and even further disappointing that they have Portland and Phoenix hot on their trail to take over the 8th seed.

It took about a week but the Grizzlies won their first seeding game last Friday in a 121-92 victory against the Thunder. The question is can they win a couple more to remain in the 8th seed? Their remaining schedule sees Toronto, Boston, and Milwaukee. Basically, the Eastern Conference’s top three teams.

By the looks of the east, these teams have most likely unofficially locked into their seeds. Will they be kind and rest their best against Memphis?

Will Damian Lillard be sending anyone home this year?

Beyond the games, there is still some drama in the bubble. In case you missed it, the NBA bubble caused some tensions to burst via social media. Damian Lillard had some words to share during his interview about the Clippers bench celebrating his two missed free throws during this past Saturday’s 122-117 loss.

“PG did the wave because he also was surprised [about the missed free throws] because he experienced being waved at last year,” Lillard said of his famous wave goodbye to Russell Westbrook and George after his walk-off game-winning 3-pointer that eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the first round last year.

“Asking me about Patrick Beverley, who I sent him home before at the end of a game. Paul George is a guy sent home by me last year in the playoffs, so they know. The reason they reacting like that is because of what they expecting from me, which is a sign of respect, and it just shows what I have done at a high clip more times than not. I am not offended by it.

“If anything, it should just tell you how much it hurt them to go through what I put them through in those situations previously.”

Source

Dame Time in jeopardy of going home before the playoffs

Besides social media jabs, the Trailblazers need every win they can get. With the loss to the Clippers on Saturday, they allowed the Suns to pull even closer to the 9th seed who are now only a half-game back behind Portland.

The Blazers will face the Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, and Brooklyn Nets in their final three games which will be crucial to compete with win percentages and tie-breakers should Phoenix continue blazing up the bubble.

With Lillard’s history of sending others home, his chances of going home himself early are definitely high. The Western Conference 8th seed race will be the draw to watch out of the remaining seeding games.

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2020 NBA Awards picks

With the NBA announcing the finalists to the 2020 NBA Awards, the Baseline Times NBA crew shares their favorite picks for Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, 6th Man of the Year, Most Improved Player, Defensive Player of the Year, and MVP.

The NBA decided to award these for regular season contributions before the unexpected shutdown, so check back here as we make our picks for our 2020 NBA Bubble Awards!

Coach of the Year

Chevall Kanhai votes Nick Nurse

The Toronto Raptors are the defending champs losing arguably one of the top three players in the league last summer. Before the season was suspended, Nurse was limited with some of his core players out. Pascal Siakam missed 11 games, Fred VanVleet missed 16 games, Kyle Lowry missed 12 games, Serge Ibaka missed 14 games, and Marc Gasol missed 28 games. Somehow, the Raptors are third in the NBA in defensive rating and overall standings in the league.

John Glowatz votes Nick Nurse

He is aiming for his second Coach the Year award with the job he’s done getting the Mavericks to play championship level ball which is evident in the way Luka has seemingly taken over the league from one year to the next. Beating the Bucks on their home floor which at the time had only one home loss (vs Miami) shows poise, experience and damn good coaching. Don’t be surprised to see this team make a serious run to the title in this second season

Gabe Lloyd votes Rick Carlisle

He is aiming for his second Coach the Year award with the job he’s done getting the Mavericks to play championship level ball which is evident in the way Luka has seemingly taken over the league from one year to the next. Beating the Bucks on their home floor which at the time had only one home loss (vs Miami) shows poise, experience and damn good coaching. Don’t be surprised to see this team make a serious run to the title in this second season

Rhoby Sala votes Nick Nurse

Winning an NBA Championship as a rookie Head Coach with a superstar named Kawhi Leonard is commendable, but keeping your team competitive enough to remain a top contender in the East after said superstar takes off AND almost every player in your rotation misses time due to injury is UNPRECEDENTED.

Rookie of the Year

Chevall Kanhai votes Ja Morant

Morant’s numbers after 59 games before the season suspension: 17.6 points per game, 6.9 assists per game, and shooting 49-percent from the field. His scoring and assists per game currently lead all Rookies. There shouldn’t be any second-guessing Morant as his Grizzlies are lined up at the 8th seed in the Western Conference and will try to avoid being bounced by a potential play-in tournament.

Gabe Lloyd votes Ja Morant

As much as I want to be a homer and pick Kendrick Nunn for the award, Ja Morant has him beat in every statistical category across the board. Rookie of the Year isn’t a team award the way some media members pick MVP based on the record. Ja Morant came into the league with much hype and rightfully so averaging 17 points per game and a shade under 7 assists per game. He has the talent and vision to lead this team for years to come. The Grizzlies are a young squad finding their place in the league so with more experience and consistency they should be a normal playoff contender.

John Glowatz votes Ja Morant

In addition to averaging 17.6 points and 6.9 assists per game for the Grizzlies, Ja has them in the playoff picture in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season.  Ja also makes Memphis a ton of fun to watch as he is seemingly always in the highlight reel with high-flying, acrobatic play.  [Zion ineligible IMO with not enough games played]. 

Rhoby Sala votes Ja Morant

Talk about putting an entire team on your back! The Grizzlies were expected to tank this year, but the #2 pick out of Murray State in the 2019 NBA draft had other plans. An average of 17.6 ppg, 6.8 apg, and some big (and I mean BIG) 4th Quarter shots later – and Ja Morant has the Memphis Grizzlies in playoff contention instead.

Sixth Man of the Year

Chevall Kanhai votes Montrezl Harrell

Harrell comes in as a defensive anchor for the Clippers which traditionally you could assume this award would go to a scoring bench player. However, Harrell does it all. Currently, he is averaging a career-high 18.6 points per game to go along with 7.1 rebounds, 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 58-percent from the field. Only starting two of the 62 games he played in with those numbers makes him the favorite over teammate Lou Williams who regressed from last season.

Gabe Lloyd votes Dennis Schroder

Oklahoma City has been a pleasant surprise in the western conference after most thought they would shrink after losing both Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Operating as a modern-day Reggie Jackson, Schroder has steadily anchored the second unit being a former on and off starter with the Hawks in previous seasons. With guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and Chris Pual leading the starting five, there is no reason for dropoff for this young talent who I believe has yet to scratch the surface of his full potential should CP3 depart.

John Glowatz votes Dennis Schroder

Schroder averaged nearly 19 points per game coming off the bench and carried the water for the Thunder while Chris Paul was resting or out.  I give him the edge over the Clippers duo of Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams as he has less support on the second unit for the Thunder. 

Rhoby Sala votes Montrezl Harrell

Before we go and rename this the “Lou Williams” award, let’s consider the fact that Lou Williams himself endorsed Montrezl Harrell (if he didn’t win it for third straight time). Harrell’s stats have improved across the board this year, but his energy and his hustle coming off the bench for the Clippers is something you just cannot measure or compete against.

Most Improved Player of the Year

Chevall Kanhai votes Luka Doncic

Why even shy away on giving Luka this award even with star potential?
Doncic currently averages 28.7 points per game, 8.7 assists per game, 9.3 rebounds per game, and shooting 46-percent from the field. He is currently in the top five in assists and points per game in the league. His 9.3 rebounds per game place him at 18th in the league this season but he is the only guard on the list in the top 18

Gabe Lloyd votes Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic has taken his game to another level with a league-leading 14 triple-doubles. He has become appointment viewing. The thing about Doncic is that his game isn’t flashy and he actually plays at a slower pace than most but his LeBron James like frame and court vision puts him in elite status this early in his career.

John Glowatz votes Bam Adebayo 

Honestly, I haven’t watched a ton of Heat games this year.  So, when I first heard that Bam made the All-Star team this year I was pretty surprised.  (Not even going to touch his Skills Challenge win).  That is what a true MIP should be, a player that would surprise an NBA fan if you woke them up from a year-long coma and told them that said player made an All-Star team. 

Rhoby Sala votes Bam Adebayo

This one’s tough. Brandon Ingram deserves it just as much, but the homer in me says that Bam’s improvements in every major statistical stat and ascendance into an All-Star caliber NBA center is enough to defend myself. Go HEAT!

Defensive Player of the Year

Chevall Kanhai votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

He leads the league in defensive win shares (0.206) and currently holds the NBA lead for Player Efficiency Rating (31.71) and net rating (16.1), which are all career-highs. His 11.5 defensive rebounds per game is also a league-high. The Bucks are rated the NBA’s best defensive team while sitting pretty with the NBA’s best record. What else is there to say? Congratulations to Giannis twice in one season.

Gabe Lloyd votes Bam Adebayo

This may be a stretch for some but Bam Adebayo has shown he can be a Defensive Player of the Year. Getting rid of Whiteside unlocked Bam’s full potential. He can shoot the jump shot and pick and pop with the best of them. When a player can guard your team’s guards with his versatility he has to be considered a candidate. He is the prototypical big man in today’s NBA with speed and court awareness.

John Glowatz votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Greek Freak is a monster on D, he can guard all 5 positions at an elite level. That sort of versatility gives him a slight edge over guys like Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert in my opinion.  [Gobert ineligible for attempting to infect others with COVID-19, only half kidding]. 

Rhoby Sala votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

I know, Rudy Gobert’s defense is so good he shut down the entire league for four months (knee slaps), but Giannis is leading most of the advanced defensive stats this year and is the centerpiece to a Bucks defense that will surely go down in history as one of the all-time greats.

MVP

Chevall Kanhai votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis is showcasing a season that we’re really not going to see in a while but also going up against a LeBron James making a strong case as well. The fact that Giannis is efficient by averaging his 29.6 points per game, 13.7 rebounds per game, 5.8 assists per game, and shooting 55-percent while playing about 30 minutes per game is the nod. Statistically, he’s better than LeBron and on top of that leading the Bucks to the best record in the league.

Gabe Lloyd votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

This pick doesn’t bear much of an explanation but I’ll share a few words anyway. He could very well be Defensive Player of the Year but that wouldn’t be fun to lump in two awards. He has been the best player all season leading the bucks to the best record in the NBA. I believe this postseason he will show the world why he is worthy of the award. COVID-19 has given players time to work on their game and come back better than ever. He is hungry and I will say this now, he will have a jump shot and it’s going to be scary.

John Glowatz votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis is having a historic statistical season, averaging nearly 30 points per game, 14 rebounds per game and 6 assists per game despite playing less than 31 minutes per game. He’s also the clear favorite for Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. Dominating on both ends of the floor should grant you MVP honors.  That being said, I think Lebron and the Lakers end up winning the ship this year. 

Rhoby Sala votes Giannis Antetokounmpo

Can you guess who this is? Averages 29.6 points per game, 13.7 rebounds per game, 5.8 assists per game and shoots 54.7% from the field in 30.9 minutes per game. He leads the top defensive team in the league and a top 10 offense with no co-superstar in tow. Is it Lebron? Not this year! #RevengeSeasonContinues #NotTheKidfromAkron

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76ers’ Ben Simmons has subluxation of his left patella out indefinitely

Philadelphia 76er All-Star Ben Simmons will be out indefinitely with a subluxation of his left patella. Simmons sustained the injury during the 76ers injured during the third quarter of Wednesday’s 107-98 victory over the Washington Wizards.

Simmons’ injury comes after he suffered a back injury in the first quarter of Philadelphia’s loss in Milwaukee on Feb. 22 and it was unclear whether he was going to be available for the playoffs had the season not be suspended.

Source

Early top performers in NBA restart

In case you missed it, there’s a bubble in Orlando broadcasting basketball games to the world! We’ve got 30 games in the books and an abundance of fun matchups, lockdown defense, and buzzer-beaters galore!

We’re only a little over a third of the way through the seeding games! Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry, it’s a lot after four months of absolutely no sports whatsoever. Strap in, and let me catch you up on the top takeaways thus far.

The Brow leads as the Lakers clinch the Western Conference top spot

Typically, LeBron is the man leading the Lakers, but even with some uncertainty looming over him after an eye injury, this has been the Anthony Davis show and we are just fortunate enough to have (virtual) courtside seats to watch it during this restart. He is averaging 30 points and 8.7 rebounds a game, connecting on 43% of his three-point field goals (just ignore the 2-for-7 effort from the field in 35 minutes against the Raptors over the weekend).

The exclamation point – A three while getting fouled by Rudy Gobert with under a minute left in the 4th quarter against the Utah Jazz Monday night. Davis ended the night with 42 points, a big reason why the Lakers clinched the top seed in the West. He probably won’t remain the leading scorer or play 36 minutes a game throughout the rest of the seeding games to rest, but if he can carry this level of production into the playoffs – WATCH OUT WORLD!

The Phoenix Suns are undefeated

Yep, you read that right.

Of the 22 teams invited to the NBA bubble, the Phoenix Suns is not one expected to extend their stay beyond August.

But, a decisive win again the Washington Wizards for their first restart game may have not raised any eyebrows. However, a two-point victory that included a defense holding an offensive juggernaut like the Dallas Mavericks to just 19 percent from the three-point line cannot be overlooked.

If that wasn’t enough to get your attention, Devin Booker came up clutch again and connected on a game-winning field goal against the Los Angeles Clippers – a team expected to make the Western Conference Finals if not the Finals. Don’t look now, but the Phoenix Suns are now 3-0 and inching closer to a bid for the coveted 8th seed in the Western Conference.

The Toronto Raptors are for real, for real…

The Raptors opened their first restart game last Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers. Remember LeBronto? Probably a name to throw on the back-burner for a while.

The Raptors held the Lakers to 35 percent from the field and outrebounded an Anthony Davis-led front-court 51-40. As mentioned, Davis was held to 2-of-7 shooting from the field and only finish with 14 points after his 34-point night against the Clippers on opening night.

Fast forward to Monday’s afternoon game and the Raptors held off some heat from Miami. Toronto would lose a 17-point lead only to secure a 107-103 victory against Miami. Connecting on 50 percent from the three-point line and a big game from Fred VanVleet dropping 36 points on 8-of-16 shooting held off the Heat from closing the gap on the second seed in the east.

The Raptors still have Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics on their remaining seeding games in which they could further prove they’re serious about repeating as Eastern Conference Champions.

T.J. Warren is worth more than cash considerations

While it was up in the air that the Indiana Pacers might be without their best player in Victor Oladipo there was some soul searching for who got next. Warren dropped 53 points in the Pacers’ first game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Shooting 20-for-29 from the field (9-for-12 from the three-point line), Warren efficiently lit up the 76ers in a 127-121 win.

What if Warren’s 53-piece still hasn’t been beaten especially by someone named James Harden? (who dropped 49 points in his season restart debut by the way)

What if I told you that T.J. Warren is averaging 39.9 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game, and shooting 65 percent from the field (61 percent from three) in Indiana’s first three bubble games?

Ask Mark Zuckerberg to put a fact check on that one and like Mr. Warren says, in an interview prior to the season with The Athletic’s Shams Charania, he’s worth more than cash considerations.

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NBA Studs and Duds from the first weekend of the season restart

One weekend down and many to go. Our Shoot or Pass Podcast Co-Hosts will be sharing their Studs and Duds right here. Who impressed and who disappointed? Find out below!

STUDS

Chevy – Damian Lillard

While we’ve witnessed a win and a loss from the Blazers, Dame is making NBA headlines. Dame means business in the bubble. He’s not here to play just 2 weeks and 8 games of basketball, he plans on sticking around for a deep run. He’s playing playoff minutes (45 vs. the Grizzlies, 44 vs. the Celtics) and is averaging about 30 points each game (29 vs. the Grizzlies, 30 vs. the Celtics). Unfortunately, the Blazers lost yesterday after a big on Friday, but the goal here is to get within 4 games of the 8th seed to force a play-in. I think Dame can keep them hanging around for it.

Rhoby – Kyle Lowry

KYLEFORNIA knows how to party! Lebronto is no more, as Lebron and the Lakers were bullied around by Kyle Lowry Friday night. NBA players are supposed to be breaking down by their mid-30s and undersized guards aren’t supposed to be hitting threes with a 7-footer in their face or making an impact as a rim protector, however, Kyle Lowry isn’t getting the memo. He scored a game-high 33 points, nabbed a career-high 14 rebounds, and has 6 assists. I am sold. The Raptors are a force to be reckoned with in this NBA Restart.

DUDS

Chevy – Zion Williamson

I know I have to tread carefully here because this is the NBA’s new poster boy, but if I’m Adam Silver you want him to be seen and on the floor. What is his deal? A month or two ago, a picture of Zion surfaced on social media and he looked like he was in great shape and ready to lead the Pelicans to the playoffs. Needless to say, I don’t understand the way Alvin Gentry is restricting his minutes. In the loss to the Jazz, Zion was on the bench for a crucial 4th quarter. Wouldn’t you want the best player on your team to be playing in those scenarios? Definitely a concern for a rising star on a team fighting for playoff spot.

Rhoby – Shake Milton

To begin with, this stat line says it all – 0 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists. NOT a good look for the new starting PG of a Sixers. This team appears to be failing expectations. What’s new? He appeared to have no command of the ball, only took one shot in the game in the 4th quarter, made some bad turnovers, and found himself in foul trouble. He focused on racial injustice in post-game comments, which is great, but I hope he’s also focusing on his game going forward because the Sixers need him to show up if they want to make noise in the playoffs!

For more NBA content, subscribe to the Shoot or Pass podcast anywhere you get your podcasts and follow us on Instagram & Twitter @BaselineTimes

Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 28: NBA Restart First Impressions

Lakers lost Saturday night and Chevy is reeling, but new segment “Studs & Duds” (along with Rhoby’s singing voice) offer him no consolation (07:30). They also go to bat for Jonathan Issac, Greg Popovich and Becky Hammon (17:10), fire off on the Sixers and Pelicans in another new segment “Overreactions” (40:20), and announce the Expert Picks of the Week (37:30) 

NBA teams as Disney rides and attractions

The NBA is going to Disney Wooooorld!

So, I decided to describe NBA teams as Disney World rides/attractions, here’s what I’ve got so far:

New York Knicks – Tower of Terror

Yeah, I know the Knicks are not playing in Orlando. I also know that being a Knicks fan is basically like living in the Twilight Zone – frozen in time, abandoned, and constantly seeing the darkest corners of your imagination come to life.

Oklahoma Thunder – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Who said trading away Russell Westbrook would leave the Thunder stuck in a rebuild? This team is still a gold mine and can become a real big obstacle on the rickety track to NBA Finals. The Clutch Conductor (CP3) and the Locomotive driver (SGA) have led OKC to 16 games over .500 with a chance to get to the 4th seed in the WC.

Milwaukee Bucks – Soarin’

The Bucks are soarin’ high, sitting comfortably at 6.5 games ahead of the Raptors at the top of the Eastern Conference thanks to world wonder and potential back-to-back MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo

LA Lakers – Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster

This was one was easy. Hollywood. Iconic, Legendary players in LeBron & AD. LA traffic. A chance to see J.R. Smith topless stumblin’ around chugging Hennessy at a championship parade.

Toronto Raptors – DINOSAUR

Well, what else did you expect here? Will Toronto be able to travel back in time, kidnap Kawhi Leonard and bring him back to the present as a Raptor for their repeat bid? No. Their top 7 players may have been in/out of the rotation with injuries, but they are healthy now and ready to defend their title against anything – 21 NBA teams, fiery meteors, COVID-19.

Got any suggestions for NBA teams as Disney rides and attractions?

Leave us a comment or email media@18.232.170.104 for a chance to be featured on the Shoot or Pass podcast!

Top 10 Battle Rap NBA/Basketball Bars of all Time

Top 10 NBA/Basketball Bars of All Time

Heat Check

Continuing my anthology of some of my favorite sports-related bars of all time, we’re moving into basketball with this list. Basketball and hip hop have been linked forever and have influenced one another in a myriad of ways. Battle rap would be no exception as it’s essentially the street ball of rap. I don’t think there’s a battle rapper who hasn’t made at least one NBA or basketball reference in their career. I had to take a lot of time to consider what to put on this inaugural list. The top 3 could be in any order. Here we go.

Bars were chosen based on creativity, references used, and the uniqueness of the bar. I’ll be citing the battles the bars appear in, please check them out so these artists can get the love they deserve. Thanks to Genius.com for some lyrical clarity.

Honorable Mentions

“Ibaka, I make my living off taking blocks.” Goodz (vs. Aye Verb)

“He’ll be Isaiah Thomas: Detroit nigga pissed on (Piston) with 11 in his back.” Tay Roc (vs. Ill Will)

“Violate him in 5 seconds like the nigga trying to inbound.” Arsonal (vs. Aye Verb)

“Before the cut; Shumpert, after the cut; Beasley.” Gun Titles (vs. NWX)

10. B Magic – Back to the Cavalier (vs. Conceited)

Classic B Magic delivery made this bar stand out me. Plus I like the double wordplay.

Conceited gon’ catch every shell it contain
Then I’m running back to the Cavalier: LeBron James

9. Calicoe – Rajon Rondo’d (vs. O-Red)

Calicoe was on a killing spree against new jersey at this time, and this bar lead to a lot of Rondo bars against Surf going forward.

I show up to Rajon with a blindfold; get Rajon John Doe’d

Put a nine in Rajon Back and get Rajon Rondo’d

8. Jaz The Rapper – Get the Tech (vs. Official)

I love one-liner bars like this. It set the energy for the battle for Jaz.

I’m gonna talk crazy to Official…just so I can get the tech

7. Tsu Surf – Lakers Scheme (vs. Conceited)

There’s been a lot of starting 5 bars spit, and I think this one is the best. You know they say Surf’s cold but all he talks about is hoopin…

And if I gotta let it go then I’ma clap ’til he drop
POW! I felt like Kobe how word got back to the block after the shots… Pau, Kobe, Howard, back to the block

6. Hitman Holla – JR Smith Remix (vs. Aye Verb)

The very first remix that becomes Holla’s signature move ever since. It wasn’t the most complicated bar, but the performance and delivery upped this to a classic.
I come to one of Verb parties with the AR clip
And shoot soon as I get in like I’m J.R. Smith

 

5. Hollow Da Don – Timeout in Michigan (vs. Tsu Surf)

Personal and creative. Hollow’s return against Surf is anchored with this haymaker.

Hopin’ it gets better, playin’ Chris Webber
Tryin’ to forget that time out in Michigan

4. Ill Will – At the Rucker Game (vs. Tay Roc)

The second bar from this battle, it was aided by Will’s excellent performance of the bar. Not to mention you can see Hot Sauce in your head doing what Will said.

So if he go for the steal, I’ll put one round his head
And tuck it back in the shirt like Hot Sauce at a Rucker game

3. Big T – Lebron James (vs. Deacon Frost)

Classic, classic bar. If you know old URL, you remember this bar.

Don’t let me hear  you cremating her

I’ll show up to your crib, and Lebron James the remains of her

2. Marvwon and Quest MCody – Gilbert Arenas (vs. Chess and Steams)

This is an all-time top bar. Marv and Quest are flawless on stage together, and this shows it. I get the stink face just thinking of this bar it’s so nasty.

Y’all called the right bluff, nigga pressuring us will make the pipe bust

I tell my niggas Gilbert Arenas if he actin’ type tough

Hold up you better break that down

That’s when you put a Gun on a PG, and fuck his whole life up

1. Murda Mook – Jordan Still won that game (vs. Yung Hot)

Mook’s scheme here could arguably be the most famous lines in battle rap. Years later people still allude to it. It’s hard to deny the levels to this scheme, and it goes to show why Mook is held in such regard for his pen.

I believe in the hype, that’s why every time you hear me, I compare me to Mike

Example: Remember when A.I. crossed Mike out his sneakers?

Seemed so much worse ’cause we ain’t think Mike had a weakness

All for that one move A.I. got his fame

They forgot Jordan had 35 and still won that game.”

Peace.

Markus X. Murden, Esq.

Senior Editor/Heels of Wrestling

@MXMurden and @TheHowPod