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Basketball

NBA Recap : Sep 9th

What a thrilling game 6! Double OT and the Raptors manage to get it done, forcing a game 7 for the day after tomorrow. Awesome! By the time the first game had ended, the first quarter of Denver and L.A. was almost over! Lots of talking points for the Raptors and Celtics, let’s make a start.

I’m going to start with Marc Gasol. I was surprised he got the start today, I honestly thought Nurse would look elsewhere. His minutes have been reduced to around 16 a game, but they are still a bad 16 minutes. He is still a liability on both ends of the floor. He did hit a couple of threes in this game, but if you keeping throwing them up, one or two will drop eventually. Game 7 is too important to have any inefficient players on the court. This is not Gasol’s series, time to sit him.

That seems as good a segue as any, let’s talk about S3rg3 Iblocka. Sorry, that’s unprofessional. But, I wanted a way to highlight how important his 3 point shooting and consistent defense has been. 3 blocks and 13 points on 60% shooting from outside. I know he has the ankle injury and is a big part of the bench, but for game 7, I think it would be wise to increase his minutes and start him at the centre.

OG had a double/double today. 13 points and 13 rebounds. Credit again to OG for another efficient scoring night, but I am really starting to notice his ability to get rebounds. He certainly has a few highlight boards (if you think rebounding can be a highlight, I certainly do) but he also gets a lot of easy ones. I think he sees the floor very well and is usually in a good position. Both defensively and offensively. He knows his spots on the court and he knows how to get to them.

Lowry lead the way again with 33 points (60% overall and 60% from 3), 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Another great game for Lowry and I love his passion and energy. Sometimes, I wish he’d calm down just a bit. He’s lucky to not get more technical fouls with the amount of flopping and arguing he does. Also, it’s a bad look when your star player is chewing out the coach. I can’t really complain about Lowry though, he got the job done and at the end of the day, that’s the main thing. Quick shout out to Norman Powell as well, he came on late and came up clutch.

Fortunately, it didn’t upset Toronto in the end, but VanVleet and Siakam had bad games again. It’s surprising how Toronto keep managing to get away with it. They combined for 33 points, which sounds ok, but they also combined for about 105 minutes and their shooting percentage was awful. They combined to hit 12 shots out of 41 attempts, including going 3 for 18 from long range. I understand they contribute to the game in other ways, but that’s a lot of points left up for grabs. Nurse doesn’t really have a choice but to keep playing them, they both need to step up and improve their efficiency.

Lots of big individual performances for some key players for Boston. I want to start with Marcus Smart. It was the second triple double of his career, posting 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He also hit 6 three pointers. He is blossoming into a superstar this series. He has always been an excellent defensive player, but in some of these games he is turning into a lethal 3 point shooter as well. Good 3 and D guys are so valuable in this league, and Smart is certainly looking to be like one of those guys.

You all know that during this series, I have fallen in love with the big man, Daniel Theis. He was excellent again today, especially in the overtime periods. Admittedly, his box score doesn’t jump out at you (18/7/2 in 47 minutes) but once again he made his presence known. I lost count of how many dunks he picked up in overtime. Theis shot 82% in this game, although that’s easy to do when you are just dunking! He’s definitely someone to keep an eye on in the future.

Jaylen Brown was incredible again. 31 points and 16 rebounds. Poor shooting percentage though, it felt like this should of been a 40 point night for Brown. Jayson Tatum was also huge. 29 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists. They both looked like all star players tonight.

Lastly, Kemba had a rough night but it’s hard to discredit him for it. Toronto game out with the mindset of taking him out of this game and they were largely effective at this. Kemba shot 18% on the game and finished with 5 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists. He did his part by drawing so much defensive attention and getting other guys involved. Nothing to be ashamed about if you are Kemba Walker.

It felt like Boston where going to win this game. They came out hot and it looked like they were going to run away with it. It also felt like the momentum was shifting their way in the second OT period. Boston had most of the statical advantages you could want : higher shooting percentage, more assists and more rebounds. Toronto didn’t score for almost 4 minutes coming down the end of regulation. The longer I wrote about this game, the more it felt like Boston should of been victorious. In the end, it feels like Toronto dodged a bullet by getting this win. I guess, they just came up more when it mattered.

I didn’t get too watch the Denver and L.A. game as closely as I would of liked. As I mentioned, I missed most of the first quarter because of the Toronto/Boston double OT game. I missed bits and pieces of the rest of the game because of my daughter (what a pest!), so forgive me if you find anything inaccurate. I nearly turned off the game about halfway through the fourth quarter. I had to go the toilet because Scott Foster and the referees were giving me the sh*ts. This was not a fun game to watch. It was dragged on so long by officiating, reviews, arguing and timeouts. Unfortunately, I stuck around to see the end. Here’s what I noticed in the game.

It looked like Denver competed fairly well for parts of this game, but it was a slow start and an ugly finish for them. 12 points in the first quarter for Denver. I said this in my series preview and I’ve said it throughout the series, Denver need to play the full 48 minutes of basketball. They just are not doing that right now, and it honestly looks to be the difference in all of the games.

Jamal Murray struggled to get it going. Beverley did such a good job on him defensively. He wasn’t the only one though. Doc Rivers threw a lot of guys at Murray. He saw Leonard, Harrell, George, Beverley…he had to work very hard tonight. Murray played almost 45 minutes and finished with 18 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds. He gave his best efforts to try and get the Nuggets back in it late, but it was already over.

Jokic double/doubled with 26 points and 11 rebounds. He settled for too many threes though. I know he can hit them, but he’s such a big body. I hate it when big guys shoot so many threes. Get inside and bully them! Michael Porter Jr. shot the basketball well but struggled to get involved in this game. He finished with 15.

Leonard was his usual monstrous self, and nearly triple doubled again. Leonard had 30 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks. That is such a crazy stat line. I love Leonard. He rarely has an off night. He just comes in and gets to work. You rarely see him argue or complain. He is a basketball robot and I love it. PG13 was absent on offense again, finishing with just 10 points on 40% shooting. Obviously, he makes an impact in other ways, but he has to be a more aggressive scorer moving forward. The Clippers will get away with it against the Nuggets, but the competition only gets more fierce from here.

Patrick Beverley has a sad looking box score, but his impact was measured on the other end. You can measure his impact by how much Nuggets fans hate him. Marcus Morris shot the long ball well and ended the night on 11 points. Zubac finished with 11 and 9. Williams and Shamet both had ugly nights.

That’s about enough on this game. It wasn’t fun to watch and it wasn’t fun to write about! Overall, it was a poor shooting night for both squads, but at least L.A. managed to remain engaged defensively. It was the same old story for Denver. Sometimes they looked good, other times they looked awful. Consistency is very important in the game of basketball. So is taking care of the basketball. On a night where not a lot separated these teams, the first thing I always look back on in is the turnover differential. Guess who lost that tonight?

By the way, you have probably noticed that I haven’t been talking about the officiating as much the last couple of days. There were a couple of games that the officiating was better, but mostly it’s been the same old garbage. The referees are still terrible and keep finding ways to slow up otherwise great games. They have no back bone anymore, when a player or coach yells at them, they either change the call or instantly go to review. They review too many plays, particularly very obvious ones. When they are reviewing plays, they take far too long to do it. And finally, of course, is the “hostile act” reviews. They are still checking for these far too much. I’m just tired of talking about it and giving them attention. I hope the NBA addresses it soon, because it is appalling . It’s damaging to the reputation of the league and of the game.

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