I don’t really know what to say, but it seems wrong to start talking hoops without acknowledging what happened in Wisconsin. Obviously, I wasn’t there. I don’t know the full details of what happened. I don’t know what lead to the shooting. What I do know, is that it’s an absolute tragedy that a father of three was shot multiple times in the back, in front of his children. As a father it terrifies me. As a victim of racism, it enrages me. Mostly though, I’m just sad for those involved and hurt by this. I am proud of all the NBA players and people around the world who continue to stand against injustice. I hope that Jacob Blake recovers. I hope his family are ok. I hope justice is served. I hope truth finds the light. Black Lives Matter.
Another tough loss for the Magic today, as the Bucks take a 3-1 lead in the series. Vucevic (he is really making me look stupid) had another strong performance and kept Orlando close throughout, but ultimately they fell short after a strong 4th quarter performance from Khris Middleton. It’s good to see he continued his upward trajectory. Giannis will need that consistently from him moving forward. Speaking of the Greek Freak, he was his usual strong self once again, posting 31 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists. Orlando did what they had to and shot the 3 point very effectively, but unfortunately for them, so did Milwaukee. The Magic fought hard, but the Bucks proved to be too good in the end.
Chris Paul and the Thunder guards helped lead their team to another victory and tied the series at 2 games each. It looked like the Rockets were going to run away with this game easily in the second half, after starting 8 for 8 from outside and they built a double digit lead. However, this Houston team really does live by the 3 and they just as easily die by it. OKC rode out the barrage and Houston went 5/26 for the remainder of the game. Houston just have no idea how to adjust their gameplay when the shot isn’t falling. They set a playoff record with 58 long range attempts, connecting on 23 of them. Almost 40% which is pretty good, but as I mentioned, they could not hit them when it mattered most. It’s a best of 3 now, I wonder if Westbrook will suit up soon. He could be the difference maker. I’m genuinely surprised he didn’t get a bench technical called after he was yelling at the Thunder bench. I don’t think one was warranted, but it seemed weird one wasn’t given. On a side note, Westbrook’s “Why Not? Zer0.3” are my favourite basketball shoes and have been all year. They look so good!
Miami completed the sweep of the Indiana Pacers. It was another admirable performance from Indiana, but ultimately Miami proved that they can always find a way to get it done. Butler left this game early with an injury and Miami really struggled to get it going offensively in this game. So, they turned it on with a very strong defensive performance, holding the Pacers to just 87 points. Unfortunately, it’s another first round exit for Indiana. That’s always hard to swallow, especially when they weren’t 100% healthy. Full credit to them for coming out and competing every single game. They had some success in the bubble and look to have some good building blocks moving forward. For Miami, it’s likely on to face the Bucks in round 2. I really think Miami will give Milwaukee a lot of trouble, but we will get into that in the round 2 predictions.
August 24. Black Mamba day. I’ll never forget the morning when I heard the news about Kobe and Gianna Bryant. It’s still a hard day to think about. So, today is an important day around the league, celebrating and remembering the lives of Kobe and Gigi. I’m sure it meant even more to LeBron and the Lakers. They brought the Mamba Mentality. The Lakers came out with their feet pressed firmly on the gas and they never let up. Hot shooting, solid defense and almost every statistical advantage you could want. Even JR Smith chipped in! One negative I will point out, is the Lakers at the free throw line. They need to figure that out soon. 56% from the field and 43% from downtown, but just a measly 66% from the line. They are getting away with it in this series, but they won’t in later rounds. It was a good bounce back game from Nurkic, but the guards for Portland struggled to get going. Melo, Lillard and CJ combined for just 45 points. Lillard left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury. At the last report, he was undergoing an MRI. As always, I hope it isn’t too serious and Lillard can suit up for the next game.