NBA Restart Week Three (8/9 – 8/15)
Wizards 103 @ Thunder 121 (8/9/20)
There needs to be a mercy rule / CDC mandate for these seeding games. Having already gone winless in the bubble and (unsurprisingly) eliminated from the playoffs (since April if you ask me) were how the Wizards walked into tonight’s game. Mind you, all that was BEFORE they got rocked by the Thunder. Just get these dudes home, Commissioner. Consider this horse flogged to the fullest.
Believe it or not, there was something on the court worse than the Wizards. Those slate and gold OKC unis. For fuck’s sake this team was once the Sonics.
I wonder if Japan can talk to somebody about the war crimes being committed by the Wizards against one of their citizens #freeRui
I honestly wonder how Rui will fit in the full strength version of the Wizards with Wall, Beal (or whoever they trade Beal for) and Betrans (or whoever they trade Betrans for). I mean, the only place to go now is up, right?
Grizzlies 99 @ Raptors 108
In one fell swoop, Toronto Head Coach (and odds on favorite to be this year’s Coach of the Year) Nick Nurse clinched the #2 seed in the East with the win and prevented Memphis from clinching the 8th seed in the West. Not only does this mean that a four way play-in orgy with Portland, Phoenix and San Antonio has to be planned out and most likely catered, but also that whichever team survives the bloodbath gets served up to the Lakers fatigued nestled gently on a silver platter. Unless it’s Gary Trent Jr and the Blazers, which means that the Lakers are getting knocked out and he doesn’t have to deal with LeBron on the road to Toronto’s back to back championships. Some people play checkers, other people play chess.
As much as I am a Morant guy, every time the Grizzlies lose, I’m a little happier and happier. Not like, happy, happy, no. Like happiness in an Edgar Allan Poe story. I’m now longing for a Blazers/Suns play in, which means ultimately, the Grizz are about to hit a win streak—tearing through my darkened heart—to secure the 8th spot.
I’m gonna miss these Vancouver teals. Meanwhile, it was nice to see the Air Canada-era unis for the Dinos.
*whispers* Grayson Allen had more points than Ja. I hate this.
Grayson Allen is going to drop a 40 spot in the deciding game, dude. Just you watch.
Spurs 122 @ Pelicans 113
Dear god, Zion is still playing basketball. Do you think Adam Silver has something on Alvin Gentry? And all just so JJ Reddick can remind him who the better Dookie was (31 Old Man Reddick points!). If this were the Bruce Bowen Spurs, you just know he’d switch to the big fella and then poke a foot in his landing space before blithely telling young man, “see you next fall.”
Boardman Jr., Dejounte Murray with a clean 18 points and two steals.
Pop and the gang’s “Let’s Fuck Someone’s Summer Up” concert series keeps chugging along.
Magic 119 @ Celtics 122
Boston’s resident hirsute icon, Gordon Hayward victoriously leads Brad Stevens’ phalanx of extraordinary wings in a tight one over the surprisingly game for it Magic. I don’t think I’ve said it anywhere on here before, but shouts to Markelle Fultz for taking that long road back from the darkness.
With 30 seconds left on the clock, Magic Missile had a five point lead. Five. But Kemba Walker—who had been WOEFUL all game—decided to do this Rube Goldberg of a “rebound-slash-bounce-pass” thing to Tatum that when all was said and done, ended in them dropping Orlando’s life points to zero. I’m still not exactly sure what happened.
Markelle is the next Penny. Take it to the bank.
Hayward’s mustache is somehow the one-part 70s porn stache and one-part cop stache which invariably means Boston will erect him a statue.
The Magic are so afraid of their current bench, that they moved The Human Torch out of the starting five, and then ran him 37 minutes.
76ers 121 @ Trailblazers 124
Talk about an “I remember the good old days game.” Dame dropped in 51, Melo was the second leading scorer on the team with 20 points AND Bubble SZN All-Star Gary Trent Jr (the patron saint of this blog) only netted 5 in 33 minutes. Normally, I would’ve called this the Dame Time 51 Game but this, I think, would be more accurately described as The Right Side Up Game so I’ll end up going with that.
Big ups to basketball dissident Pat Bev for pissing off Dame so much that he had to put another ho-hum half century on the dumbstruck Sixers. I’d give Bev the Bubble Sixth Man, just for this shit.
When asked about Dame’s 10 fifty spots, Shaq said the only 50-point game he remembers was when he went at Christian Laettner. PUT IT IN MY VEINS.
Dame also fleeced another sucker (this time Josh Richardson) for a 4-point play. He’s got at least two in The Bubble, and god knows how many for his career.
Death, taxes, and Embiid going out with injury. Even if it’s not serious, he’s still gonna miss games, which will likely include versus the Suns. No Simmons, no Embiid. Devin Booker is gonna feast like Dame.
Thybulle thefted three cookies. Nurk three blocks. Al Horford is still a certified stud, and this incarnation of Melo climbed to 15th all time on the points list.
Patrick Beverly’s shit talking… I completely agree on it also being Sixth Man eligible.
Rockets 129 @ Kings 112
Austin Rivers cooked the rotting corpse of the Sacramento Kings. I was actually worried that Harden was going to go off so crazy on the Kings that he would have to defend himself for the next couple of days for allegations of bullying children.
I imagine it went something like this: Rockets locker room, Westbrook gingerly slipping on his kicks, and Austin Rivers comes over and says, “Nah, fam, have the day off, on me.” The only way I know this possibly didn’t happen is that Rivers didn’t come back to Westbrook with a triple double in tow.
The Rockets were just playing with their food this game, letting the Kings trot out a breezy lead in the first half. Let them feel like they were really doing something. And step-backing firmly down on their throats, choking out any and all hope. If you let Austin Rivers hit you with 41, death-from-embarrassment is entirely on the table.
Rockets as a team lobbed 57 threes which seems like a slow night as of late. Jeff Green continues to shoot really well which has me absolutely terrified of when the other sneaker will drop. Harden had 32 points, which will tank his season average.
Some Kings players did stuff. Can an adult please come pick them up and take them home?
Beware everyone, Jeff Green will break your heart.
Nets 129 @ Clippers 120
Yup, we’re still in the Upside Down. Okay, cool.
This fucking game.
PG13 had a note to skip PE, which still doesn’t make sense of anything that happened.
Fun fact (and by fun, I mean not at all): At no point in this game did LA’s other team lead. Broken Nets led by 21 at one point.
How many times did the Clips get roasted on the double team of… Caris Levert?? Dude’s a bucket, but yo.
Kawhi had a very TJ Warren-like 39. I think maybe he’s got a future in this league.
Shout out to you for blessing the lexicon with a brand new shining baby. Anytime anyone on the internet says / types / TikToks “TJ Warren-like” something something you get paid back in bitcoin right?
Thunder 101 @ Suns 128 (8/10/20)
Let me get this straight, no SGA, no Adams, no Gallo and no Schroder? Now that the Commissioner’s (not so) secret plan to get Zion in the playoffs has been scuttled, my new Charlie from It’s Always Sunny whacked out in front of his murder board theory is that every team in the bubble is consciously fucking with the Lakers. Gamesmanship is the name of the game, baby.
There is not a single doubt in my mind that playoff teams are absolutely trying to make the first round as difficult as possible for the clearly-not-ready-for-the-playoffs, Lakers. Even if they manage to drag the purple and gold out of the first round matchup with either Portland or Phoenix (sorry Grizz, it is what it is), it’s gonna be a long, tough series, which puts whoever got next in a really good position.
When Book drove on non-political Nader fellow, and crashed to the hardwood, my heart jumped into my throat. Oh my god. Have these lovable tykes made me a Suns fan? Am I doomed?
When all is said and done, I hope people realize just how lights out Cam Johnson has shot during the restart. Book is gonna get all the fanfare, and rightfully so (MVP! MVP! MVP!), but the rook put in WORK.
Chris Paul made Darius Bazely look like the next D-Mile. Which I’m not sure is the career trajectory that anyone wants.
Mavericks 122 @ Jazz 114
Will you look at that? Came from 22 down AND made sure to have scored more points than their opponent (at the end of the 4th quarter, no less). I’m the kind of proud only parents feel when their child first potties into the toilet on their own, without being asked. Made prouder still by the fact that both Luka and Porzingis were furloughed for the day. I’m also already tearing up even at the thought of mentioning Boban’s TJ Warren-like performance of 20/9/2/2. Goddamn, they do grow up fast don’t they?
This is how seriously no one takes the Jazz. The Mavs have exactly the same amount of wins as the Jazz, but ran a team without The Unicorn Bros., and still beat them by eight. I don’t see The Salt Lake Crew winning another game in The Bubble, and while it looks like some extra losses keep Dallas from leap-frogging them, it won’t stop the Thunder from securing the fifth. It’s kind of a shame that Dallas can’t take the sixth, because the Jazz deserve to get mercy killed by the Clippers.
Tim Hardaway, no longer Jr., played one hell of a game. And this bench is dummy good. They ran eleven even without Luka and KP.
Raptors 114 @ Bucks 106
Speaking of parenthood and furlough days, legendary playoff dad Fred VanVleet and his Toronto backcourt mate Kyle Lowry were given the day off along with Giannis and his backcourt mate of blood (i.e. real life brother) Thanasis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks (the latter was probably just a regular degular DNP-CD though). Billy Hoyle devotee Pat Connaughton got some run which was cool. Other than that, a nice time was had by all.
We’re realistically looking at the two #1 seeds having losing Bubble records, which isn’t terribly surprising (they have very little to actually play for), but the difference between the Lakers, Bucks, and say, the Raptors and Celtics is startling. The Rap Gods came in looking like the playoffs began day one, while the Bucks and Lakers look like they came to Orlando for two months of cornhole and fishing. And the fishing can’t be that good. Time will tell if the talent gap between the Bucks and Raptors is really that great, but with lowkey Bubble 2nd Teamer VanVleet on the case, I don’t buy it.
Pacers 92 @ Heat 114
Fuck yeah, the Jimmy Butler / TJ Warren Revenge Game! But it wasn’t all golf claps and blowing kisses, folks. The game was pretty much in the Heat’s back pocket by the end of the third and Bubble SZN MVP TJ Warren’s chance to feed perennial First Team All Asshole Jimmy Butler some crow was ultimately wasted. Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan was quoted saying that it wasn’t about Warren and Butler, that it was about Miami and Indiana and I almost believe him because that’s the kind of boilerplate coachspeak someone on the losing team would invoke. Miami Heat Head Coach, and a famous kababayan of mine, Erik Spoelstra I could’ve sworn I heard say that yeah Jimmy’s coming for that ass but I could be wrong. I mean, with Jimmy locking him up pretty much all game (on 25 possessions if you want to get technical) the Restart’s leading scorer only scored 2 points off of him, ending with a very un-TJ Warren-like 12 points for the night. Even if it’s not true, tell me that Coach Spo quote wasn’t at least hinted at in the huddle. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Jimmy Buckets is always coming for that ass, even if it’s wearing the same jersey. Do you ever wonder if Spo sits back and thinks, I’m not even fifty yet, and I have two rings. I had a chance to be all-time, all time, and now I coach Jimmy Butler. No team will ever win a championship with Jimmy Butler, mainly because no one seems to want to play WITH him. I sometimes think about Spoelstra coming back to Portland to coach Dame and Nurk. They could Scrooge McDuck through all the rings they’d have.
Butler’s return (with 19 points) is gonna get most of the love, but the plus-minus kings were Duncan Robinson and Goran Dragic, this day.
The Icarus game finally happened. TJ Warren returned to sharing the atmosphere of mere earthlings. Pedestrian stats all around, leaving the door open for VO to drop the most in for the Pacers. Man, Victor Oladipo feels like such a “let’s remember some guys,” guy, and he’s 28 and was an all-star last year.
Has anyone seen Kendrick Nunn?
Nuggets 121 @ Lakers 124
Hard to believe that it took a Kyle Kuzma last second 3 ball and a combined 56 points from the King and Brow to take out a Nuggets team led by PJ Dozier’s 18 points backed up by everyone else on the team handcuffed to a Zion Williamson 25 minutes of game time limit. The majestic Bol Bol did throw that frozen rope to one of the Plumlees running a post which was beautiful.
MPJ was Street-Fighter-SFX-PERFECT from the floor.
Is there a better two man game in the Bubble than Bol Bol and Mason Plumlee? Undoubtedly yes, but I won’t hear it.
The Lakers—probably seeing the Something Wicked This Way Comes that are the Portland Trailblazers—snapped to life. AD, who’s been absolutely corpselike since he went off for 42, reanimated, and reminded everyone why he’s the most dominant big in the league, even with Denver’s battery of Burlies on the court.
But let’s not get it twisted, this was Kuzma’s game. 25 points, almost 70% from the floor, and two big steals. All of it meaningless compared to the dagger at the end. And this is basketball I love to see. The Lakers have Brow, Lebron, Danny Green, Dion Waiters, all of whom you’d think would get a number called before Kuz for a game winner. Nope. Instead, AD dumped the moment in the lap of a power forward who was shooting 14% from three in March, and Kuz roped it.
The clip of Vogel drawing up that play and having it executed to perfection was *chef’s kiss*
Nets 108 @ Magic 96 (8/11/20)
The Parrot strikes again! And someone named Jeremiah Martin went career on the Magic for 24.
Magic Missile started off red hot through the scrimmages and their first two games but ever since JI went down, so too have the Magic, and if we’re to keep up the missile metaphor, they’re very soon likely to blow, if they haven’t already. The good news for them, is that the only team that in theory could have caught them were the Wizards, and well, no. So, they pulled most of their starters and played a pick up game, their date with Cream City always secure.
Markelle got himself a solid 18pts, and is starting to show consistency to go along with his flashes of genius. He’s one of only seven players under 23 to average 12/5 this season, and his bubble numbers improve on that.
It’s actually hard for me to believe that both of these teams are in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Depending on how tired I am when I’m doing these write-ups, there are moments when I look at these lineups and wonder if it’s Summer League.
Rockets 105 @ Spurs 123
All you need to know is Harden was on siesta. Undoubtedly saving his energy for the showdown with recently-human TJ Warren.
Jeff Green continues to ascend toward his inevitable downfall.
Pop is squeezing every drop of blood from this Spurs team. The Monster of the Mid-Range DeMar DeRozan got some unexpected help from some dude named Keldon Johnson? I know the Suns are the sexy choice and the Blazers are the safest choice, but how about these Spurs coming into focus at the very end as the hipster choice?! Who would’ve thought? Not me.
Which is pretty much exactly San Antonio’s reason for existing in Texas. It’s not Austin, but, like, it’s not Houston either.
Also, this team WOULD be Houston if DeRozan and LMA learned to shoot from a step and a half back. How does one team stockpile so midrange maestros?
Suns 130 @ 76ers 117
The feel good story of the bubble stay feeling good. Granted, it was against the 75ers (clearly not the 76ers) but a win’s a win, fam. Stay on that collision course, fellas. The streets are waiting.
I’d say 69ers, but this team is anything but nice. This team is dogmeat. And two of whoever is left for Philly got absolutely posterized on a left-hand spike from who else, Devin Booker.
I don’t know how he’s done it, but Booker has scored exactly 35 points in four of his last six games, and is shooting 50% or better in each of those games. Listen, I know Kawhi is going to be voted “most likely to turn out is an actual robot,” in the NBA, but what Booker is doing is some precise calculator shit.
Mikal Bridges piled on 24 FROM EIGHTY PERCENT SHOOTING, and has had one hell of a Bubble run so far, too.
Also, props to Draymond taking that 50k slap from the commish to “maybe” tamper with Book, as if the Warriors aren’t a woeful goddamn awful team literally occupying the cellar.
Celtics 122 @ Grizzlies 107
It’s not happening for Memphis. Even if they get in the play-in, they’ll be walking in outmanned and outgunned in every way possible. It sucks, man. Especially for Ja.
It’s interesting how criminal it feels to not have Ja in the playoffs, even though it’s his first season. That said, IT’S ABSOLUTELY CRIMINAL that Ja is going to be the odd man out of the playoffs, but, when compared to Dame and Booker, the writing has been on the wall since Bubble Day One.
Trailblazers 134 @ Mavericks 131
Dame. 61. What else was there?
“I told y’all I didn’t come here to waste my time,” and “put some motherfucking respect on my name.”
I wonder if Portland can put the Beverlys on the payroll? The truth is however, even with “the shittalkers talking their shit,” Dame has amassed so many 50+ point games this season that it almost feels boring. So, he goes and drops 60.
It’s Dame’s World, and we’re all living in it, and if it wasn’t already apparent, he got the most god-tier shooter’s bounce I have ever seen in my life.
Pelicans 106 @ Kings 112
If two teams have nothing to play for, did a basketball game really happen at all? The answer is… kinda? Nobody you or Adam Silver came to see, played. Unless you’re one of those weird Lonzo stans. JJ Reddick earned a DNP, and Lonzo did not. That’s that tea.
Hope these dudes told their friends and family not to even bother.
Bucks 126 @ Wizards 113
The Headbutt Game.
I mean… we have to talk about it, right? I don’t really know how I feel about it? Was it a big deal? Was it not? Why u mad, bro? The dude’s name is Moritz, for fuck’s sake. Moe’s known for being a pest, and was definitely NOT heading to the bench, but the lowly Wizards are so beneath you, Giannis. Literally nothing this mole-people franchise or any of its players could do should earn a Zidane.
Giannis made a game versus the Wizards just a tad bit spicier with the extra curriculars and props to Moe Wagner for taking one on the dome. To anyone surprised that Giannis went about his beezy like that, c’mon now. That’s just how bucks fight.
Pau Gasol sure as fuck gets it, having been on the wrong end of Giannis battering ram. My favourite part of this is after the game Giannis was like “Nah, I ain’t got beef with Moe.” Of course he doesn’t. That shit was well and truly settled.
Pacers 108 @ Rockets 104 (8/12)
The Eric Gordon bubble game, but only because The Indiana TJ Warrens went on Holliday(s). Nate McMillan, you coward. Instead we got Indiana’s lesser TJ [McConnell].
Russell Westbrook in athleisure instead of a uniform with a strained right quad. Just once I’d love to enter the playoffs healthy. Speaking of, Houston had the most empty shot at the third, fourth, or fifth seed, which means literally nothing, it’s all the same damn teams.
Rebounds only happened in the game because somebody had to.
#RodmanCovington defended three men all by himself on a breakaway. Sure, it ended in a Pacers three ball, but still deserving of golf claps.
Everyone’s hero, Jeff Green did cool shit up and down the floor. Austin Rivers on the other hand, reminding everyone just what an Austin Rivers game looks like.
Ultimately, a sloppy, meaningless game with both teams looking way down at the ends of their benches.
I don’t know if I mentioned it here before, but Jeff Green is going to break your heart.
I know it’s coming and still can’t quit it.
Raptors 125 @ 76ers 121
Guess the fuck what! Raptors Head Coach Nick Nurse gave HIMSELF a DNP-CD and let assistant coach Adrian Griffin have the keys. I also was kinda hoping that Horford would have a big game with Embiid not playing the second half just to build up some trade value so that he can go someplace where he’s actually wanted. Instead, we got Furkan Korkmaz erupting for 21 points all from behind some type of line (3PT and FT).
God bless a coach truly embracing that DNP-CD liiiiiife. I know that Nurse wanted to show the NBA world that Adrian Griffin can coach better than he gets credit for, and definitely better than Tom—fucking—Thibodeau, but get used to this, Philly. The big teams in your conference think so little of you that they’d rather go take an evening walk around Disney than bother coaching against you.
Heat 115 @ Thunder 116
As a show of protest for the league not letting in “any individual the player has not previously met in person or with whom the player has had limited in-person interactions (for example) known by the player only through social media” Miami Heat influencer in residence Tyler Herro goes off for 30 points in the loss to Mike Muscala’s Oklahoma Thunder. Hundreds of Florida based IG baddies are twerking at half mast after the news broke at 6:30 am EST as per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi.
I know Tyler’s probably frustrated at the pandemic’s latest cockblock, but, I can’t imagine his, yours, and everyone’s favourite IG models were champing at the bit to come do an all expenses paid Orlando quarantine “for the ‘gram.”
In other load management news, CP3 and Jimmy Buckets played very little, leaving the heavy work to Darius Bazely, the aforementioned guy named Tyler, and… Duncan Robinson who was the epicenter for some good beef between the teams’ two daddies. Jimmy took exception to CP3 spanking his kid (an elbow, and a ball just shy of the face region), so Jimmy trucks him hard and says “get off my lawn.” Good stuff.
Clippers 124 @ Nuggets 111
Signs of how life in the bubble is getting to folks. Yesterday, the ever affable face of the NBA Giannis Antetokounmpo sucker punches an innocent Washington Wizard WITH HIS FOREHEAD. Today, noted cyborg and patron saint of this blog (All Hail the All Ball All Ball God) Kawhi Leonard showed the actual human emotion called frustration whilst jockeying for post position with the Nugget’s Jamal Murray.
And he yelled, again in frustration for not getting a foul call, in the middle of a physically contested fadeaway jump shot against the aforementioned Murray which he drilled.
Needless to say, the previously mentioned friends and family (and cybernetic diagnostic technician) can not get here soon enough.
Human emotion, or faulty wiring? I didn’t see electricians on Adam Silver’s approved conjugals list. All kidding aside, I know that I’ve cracked in quarantine, and that was in my own home. I imagine “for the love of the game” ain’t enough to get you out of your hotel bed every morning.
Bol Bol failed to assist Mason Plumlee this game, but he DID have an amazing thievery in transition where he beat everyone down the court for the dunk. I know he’s got massive strides, but a man that big should not be that fast.
Michael Porter Jr. stepped aside for Jerami Grant to have himself a game, and literally no one else (okay, fine, Jokic had 17 points he made look way too easy).
Wizards 96 @ Celtics 90 (8/13/20)
Only three games mattered on Thursday, and this sure as hell wasn’t one. Just ask the entire starting line up for The Cs who were street clothed. Meanwhile, The Wizards ran all of theirs—except Rui—and still only beat the Celtics’ bench by six. This franchise is cheeks, man.
My only takeaways from his game were, one, goddamn Tacko Fall is majestic! How a coaching savant like the Celtics’ Brad Stevens can’t figure out a system where any of his multi-talented wings throws a pass up real high somewhere in the direction of the rim, Tacko Fall grabs it and casually drops it into the basket is beyond me. The other takeaway is Rui Hachimura’s well deserved DNP-CD. It’s over now, kiddo. It’s okay, it’s okay. It’s over now. #FREERUI
Tacko somehow only played eight and a half minutes, but it felt like way more. He scored twice on two attempts in the most Tacko fashion (oop, and a dunk after clearing his airspace), he had four boards, an assist, and TWO blocks. In eight and a half minutes. Just imagine getting 20 glorious Tacko minutes.
I just am not sure it will happen. I don’t think he fits the play style of Brad Stevens, and in almost every Wizards lowlight, you can see Tacko slowly make his way into frame at the end. Tacko 1000% belongs in this league, but the Celtics are basically small ball at this point. There is only one solution, send him to Denver: Jokic, MPJ, Twice, and Tacko.
It was Tacko Thursday, apparently, as Mr. Fall very rudely told Mr. Smith to get that weak Ish outta here.
Kings 136 @ Lakers 122
Saw a clip of the King eating a sandwich on the bench. Kinda understood the charm of reading those paparazzi mags that’re usually somewhere by the supermarket checkout stands for a second. They’re just like us, eating sammys during their lunch break at work. They are human, too.
At one point Sac Lunch—somehow not the Kings eating a sandwich— were up like 90-something to 69, and I sent Jericho a like “wtf Lakers?” and we did the whole “house on fire, this is fine thing.” Look, I’m not going to doomsay the number one seed too much, but they did go 3-5, and struggled mightily to score 100 points a game. And they’re gonna face Dame and a healthiest-they’ve-ever been Portland team. Bron’s sando lookin’ kinda like a Last Supper, you feel me? Okay, I lied. I am gonna doomsday this squad. I know AD and… Kuzma were seated, but they still got beat double digits by a Kings team that gave Jabari Parker 30 minutes.
Of course, last night I saw a bunch of delusional Lake fans harassing Memphis fans after their win, saying they’re gonna get swept in the first round. Y’all know you’re not gonna play the Grizzlies, right? It’s Dame Time for your asses, and errrrybody knows it (sorry Memphis). And that dude can score more than half what the Lakers have been by himself.
Mavericks 102 @ Suns 128
All the applause this world can muster should be given to the 2020 Phoenix Suns. Came back all the way from the brink of elimination through a pandemic to the precipice of storming their way into the playoffs for an improbable run at a championship. As much as playing Boban and the back half of the Dallas bench equates to an actual storming that is, but who cares?! They did it, they’re doing it and, this weekend hopefully, they’ll have to do it again, so kudos, I say. KUDOS!
I think Book would have probably eclipsed even Luka on this day. The Suns were not going to be denied. At least, not on a court where they had a say. Sometimes ball does lie. The Suns went 8-0, and did so pretty convincingly in every game, but still didn’t control their own destiny. This is an absolute shame. I’m thrilled for the Suns, and their fans who got to see the best basketball this team has played in at least a decade. It’s just a damn shame that they were put in a position where they could literally do no better and still drew dead. I will forever be a fan of this Suns squad. The Boys of Summer. the Bubble Boys. And yeah, I’m gonna come through and buy those three jerseys I put up as a wager for these Suns, and be absolutely happy doing it.
Bucks 106 @ Grizzlies 119
What’s it going to take to get one last win to keep their playoff hopes alive? Giannis being out for the game after his uncharacteristic dome piece shiver to some intern from Washington helps, but he was probably going to be load managed out of this game regardless. Maybe an act of God? Say, the spiritual possession of Dillon Brooks which led to his dropping 31 points? How about another act of God, like Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas BOTH recording quality triple doubles? Well, whatever it was worked tonight, but think about if this is what it took to get them in the play-in what the fuck else is it going to take for them to past that and into the for real playoffs? Flood? Storm of locusts? The reanimated corpse of Bryant “Big Country” Reeves as a last minute roster addition? Seriously, what else?
Shoutout to Big Country, man. Do you ever think what his career would have been if he had suited up in Memphis instead of Vancouver? That maybe that sweet southern waters of Memphis might have miraculously saved his woe begotten knees that couldn’t even wait to be out of a game before being iced? No? Just me? K.
Are you kidding? Big Country in Memphis?! They would’ve erected a statue of him right in front of FedExForum.
Jer pretty much covered everything. The Bucks had nothing to play for, and the Grizz everything. And they played like it. The best team in the land went with the intimidating lineup of Khris Middleton and “G-League All-Star, Frank Mason.” The GRZ NXT GEN looked like everyone was gonna go triple-double, and pulled this one out. They managed not to choke away their entire season. I legitimately enjoy watching this team, but I can’t be happy with this. Not with what the Suns did. And the Grizz keep trying to be the tone-deaf scrappy underdogs (the internet saw you, Ja). Memphis vs. errrrybody. Errybody whipped your ass, 2-6. While the real underdogs splashed dubs on literally everybody, and still didn’t get in because you managed to play your best game of the Bubble to beat the Bucks bench by thirteen.
Spurs 112 @ Jazz 118
*In a very Nelson Muntz voice* Ha-HA!
All kidding aside, there’s one thing you can’t take away from Pop and his Spurs. What did it take to keep him from the playoffs for the first time in 23 years?
A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.
So, not a bad year for Pop and the gang, all things considered.
Pop’s rabid twitter kids already out here saying “this one didn’t count anyway.” Shut up and go to TikTok. Let the Blazers have this one.
Blazers 134 @ Nets 133
I didn’t think I’d feel this way about this game. The outcome was exactly what I’ve been hoping for this whole Bubble SZN. The win secures my newly adopted favorite bubble team’s spot in the play-in for the 8th seed in the Western Conference thus (fingers crossed) setting the stage for their eventual knocking off of the top seeded Lakers. Dame did his Dame Time thing, went for 42, hit that fuck you three from Jerry West’s inner thigh at half court and gave NBA Twitter more ammunition to fire back at noted gasbag Skip Bayless’ chicken shit takes.
But at the end of the game, in as much as I was stoked that the Portland Trailblazers got into the play-in, it absolutely knocked the wind out of me knowing that the Phoenix Suns were eliminated that same exact moment.
I’m in complete agreement with what El wrote about the Grizzlies’ dumbfucking their way into the play-in. There’s nothing left to be said after that. It’s just…the way things shook out for Memphis was extremely on brand for 2020. The Blazers and Dame’s ascendance was a great story, but the 8-0 (literally rising from the ashes) Phoenix Suns were the ultimate NBA story the bubble could have ever hoped to manufacture. Guess it just goes to show you that having two good things will always be one too many.
Fucking sucks, man.
In complete agreement. I have not felt this kinda way for a basketball team that was not Seattle or Houston based… ever. Well said, Jer.
Pelicans 127 @ Magic 133
Bro, who the fuck cares about this shit and how in the hell was it placed as the headliner of tonight’s games?! Was it supposed to be Zion’s last stand…AGAINST THE MAGIC?! Sorry, Mr. Commissioner. That definitely wasn’t it.
Just how much was the fix on? Adam Silver would have caused a TILT if this were pinballl. You can see the storyline, “Zion and the Gulls need a win, and they’re in.” So let’s schedule the lowly eight seed from the east (because apparently throwing The Wiz at them would have been just too damn gratuitous). Jokes on you, Adam. Pels couldn’t even win this game. This game mattered so little that even Lonzo was DNP.
But guess what? Games that mean even less Friday!
Nuggets 109 @ Raptors 117 (8/14/20)
The best part of playing in the bubble? There’s no such thing as home court advantage! So after figuring out how the conferences are seeded and who’s playing who there comes a point where there really isn’t much for the teams to play for.
THESE ARE THOSE GAMES.
Also, WHO THE HELL CARES ABOUT THESE GAMES?!
Nobody cared about these games. I’d say not even the teams, but, well, they care purely on the basis of don’t nobody get hurt.
I’m not even sure what this game would have meant, and why it was scheduled on the last day. Everybody was comfy. But hey, bonus basketball?
Heat 92 @ Pacers 109
If Pacers SF Doug McDermott was the winning team’s leading scorer then there was nothing in this game that would’ve made me care about it.
The Pacers went up by one game on the Heat to, uh, still play the Heat in the first round. This game could have been a tune-up for the series, but instead nobody gave anything away and just dribbled out the clock.
Thunder 103 @ Clippers 107
If Clippers rookie SG Terance Mann was the winning team’s leading scorer (and a single assist shy of a triple double) then there was nothing in this game that would’ve made me care about it.
Steven Adams, SGA, and basketball man named Dennis all played in this game. I have no idea why. Old Man and the Sea Joakim Noah got thirty minutes. Thirty.
76ers 134 @ Rockets 96
If Rockets PF Jeff Green was in the starting lineup and the losing team’s second leading scorer then there was nothing in this game that would’ve made me care about it.
James Harden still grifted 27 points out of this game. Mbah a Moute saw his first Bubble minutes. Jeff Green is apparently waiting until game seven of the WCF to break my heart. Right? Right?
Grizzlies 122 @ Trailblazers 126 (8/15/20)
This can be our future, Commissioner, and it can be so very very bright. Imagine having this play-in game but instead of playing in an empty gym in Orlando it’s prime time in a completely blacked out and thunderous Rose Garden (I don’t give a shit what it’s actual name is). Every inch of the place, from the rafters to the foundation, would rock every time Dame splashed it from deep. The venom from the crowd would feel so thick and palpable in the air the second the ball hit Ja Morant’s hands it would almost justify his ill timed “underdogs” tweet. I could feel the vibrations from the crowd’s reaction to CJ’s le’ fawke vou troi surging through my bones. Congratulations to the Blazers for taking their glass slipper all the way to the dance and a hearty slap on the back to the Grizzlies for making a show of it, especially suicide mission Ja, who I forgot was a rookie all throughout my watching the game.
But we, the fans, are the real winners.
Imagine the Smoothie King Center rocking so loud it reaches a new frequency and a defiant Zion Williamson standing midcourt and staring at the opposing bench daring them to come and take the 8th seed in the 2021 playoffs from his Pelicans.
From the other bench, as cool as can be (so calm in fact that when he moves it seems like he’s dancing between the raindrops) Ja Morant throws his chin up and utters two words in response.
That was so beautifully written, I almost don’t want to fuck with it. Almost. I just cannot believe that Ja or Zion will be in position for the eighth seed next year. NOLA will undoubtedly hire some Jason-Kidd esque coach when they ultimately fail to collect the real thing, and they’ll struggle to bring in a missing piece that puts them in the driver’s seat for the eight. Meanwhile, I think that Memphis is good enough to make a jump to seven or six in Ja Year Two, even if they can’t convince a big free agent to come play with an already mega star.
All that said, this is one of the most exciting points in a very young, talented NBA. Ja and Tatum have already ascended. Zion is likely to join them shortly. Devin Booker. Giannis, Luka, Joker… you almost forget about KAT, Simmons, Donovan Mitchell. Then you have people like De’Aaron Fox, D’Angelo Russel, Trae Young, who are on the cusp of becoming franchise players, provided their franchises get right. And then the bevy of cuspy players who have yet to even hit their stride (Dejounte, a resurgent Markelle, on and on…). This damn game is just too much fun. And the future is bright. It’s unfathomable to think that a generation that began with—and will ultimately end with Lebron—might not even be as good as this next one.
But, it was not the youngin’s time this night. Tonight belonged to one man, and one man alone, and that was Damian Lillard. At age 30, Dame somehow fills the role of someone who has been a perennial all star for almost a decade, and a generational tweener, who still finds a way to get better and better. And no matter what Lakers team shows up, the Bubble already has, and will forever stand as the coronation of one of the NBA’s kings. He wasn’t gonna even come and waste his time unless he ended up right where he is. And even though he found his own Splash Bud in GTJ, a finger-of-god sniper with a busted back in forever running mate CJ McCollum, a paint beast, who despite losing his grandmother to COVID on another continent is a man possessed in Nurk, and oh, yeah, a silky smooth return of point machine Carmelo Anthony, literally gambling with his last dime, it’s still Dame Time.
The week’s Almost Valuable Player
The person running the Suns Twitter page has been tre-fucking-mendous all Bubble SZN long. Whoever you are, I sincerely hope you get a raise or at least parlay your time in the bubble as leverage for a super max elsewhere, probably a New York or one of the LA teams. Just know that we’re rooting for you, always.
ABABCG Roofing’s Employee of Week
The King with that extra spike-ington to Everyman All Star Paul Milsap’s put back attempt in the 3rd that also broke a State Farm electronic ad board on the sidelines. It’s cool, I’m sure it’s covered.
This is one of those rejections that announcers like to say “he didn’t know what hit him,” and that would normally be true because LBJ crept-exploded on poor Paul Milsap. But Paul knew it was coming. He saw his life flash before his eyes, probably in slow motion. So he did what anybody who has been thoroughly dressed down by Lebron does, pretend he smacked them. I’m not even mad at the flop. I’d have done it, too.
Glorious Basketball Names from Around the World
The bj league—yeah, you heard that right—was a professional basketball league in Japan. Get it? Basketball Japan. BJ. It didn’t have a ton of endurance, and only lasted from 2005-2016, when they rebranded to the B.League, which I think we can all agree somehow sucks way more.
I’m actually familiar with the bj league—not a euphemism—and have caught a few games in person. Go Yokohama B.Corsairs!
Image by Getty Images / ABABGC