Breakfast Special: Is Basketball OK?

Before we get to the NBA highlights this morning, a moment to call out the single worst Super Bowl ad from a branding perspective in the history of spending millions of dollars on 30 seconds of air time.

Pepsi ran an ad in which a customer at a diner orders a Coke, the waitress says “is Pepsi OK?”, and then Steve Carell, Cardi B, and Lil Jon spend 30 seconds ranting about how Pepsi is “better than OK.”

Which…you just showed a customer in a restaurant ordering a Coke. You just showed a restaurant practically apologizing for serving your product.

You might as well have just said “Pepsi: Coke’s Bitch Since 1898.”

Whoever greenlit that stupid, stupid advertisement should be canned immediately. In a red can.

Ahem…had to get that off my chest. It was driving me crazy. On to the basketball.

A Fine Sports Day For Boston

The Patriots won the Super Bowl, of course, but Boston got off to a fine start to its sports day earlier when the Celtics beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 134-129, capitalizing on a crucial late turnover from Russell Westbrook in order to grab the victory the way the football team capitalized on a late red zone turnover from Jared Goff of the Rams.

Who says basketball isn’t a great form of sports foreshadowing?

Westbrook had another huge triple-double (22 points, 16 assists, 12 rebounds) but shot just 8-of-19 from the field, turned the ball over four times, posted a negative plus-minus, and in the end cost his team the game.

Westbrook is either the best bad player or the worst good one in NBA history, and it’s hard to put into words just what a puzzling contributor he is when he’s gunning for counting stats and acting as a liability in the same breath.

Meanwhile, the Celtics ran just nine players out on the floor, and of those, only Gordon Hayward (3 points, 1-of-6 shooting, in 24 minutes) failed to crack double figures.

Kyrie Irving led the way with 30 points on 14-of-19 shooting, Boston shot 59.3 percent overall and a startling 71.9 percent on two-pointers (!) to secure the win.

The Celtics lost the free throw (13-of-17 vs. 25-of-34), rebound (42-38), three-point (13-of-34 vs. 14-of-35), and turnover (14-11) battles, but when you make over 70 percent of your two-point shots, it doesn’t matter what the other team does, you’re winning that ballgame.

Irving is your man of the match:

Basketball, Eh?

The Toronto Raptors always seem to have a game scheduled for Super Bowl Sunday, as if to tell Canada “we’ve got you covered sports-wise, guys.”

And this time around, Toronto beat the visiting Clippers up, down, and sideways, coming away with a 121-103 win.

Kawhi Leonard led a balanced attack with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, those 12 attempts were the most on the Raptors, all 10 Raptors players who played more than 12 minutes had positive plus-minus numbers, nine Raps scored at least seven points (despite just five guys in double figures), and the Clippers made just two three-pointers the entire game on 12 tries, like it was 1980 and the three-pointer was some wacky new gimmick.

Seriously, how a team attempts just 12 of 89 shots from three-point land is beyond the ken of this observer of the game, but it probably means Doc Rivers belongs on the scrap heap of NBA coaches alongside Nate McMillan and anyone else with Scott-Hollins Syndrome.

Heck, even the Spurs have been shooting a lot more threes lately, one reason they’re all the way up in fifth in the West. (yes, the Spurs are still dead last in 3PAR at .282, but they’re making over 40 percent of their triples and shooting 25 threes a game. You’d like to see them shoot more, but they’re also the eighth-slowest team.

Anyway, the “Doc Rivers Needs to Go Away” column is coming later this week. For now, feast your eyes on Kawhi’s scoring and Serge Ibaka‘s big double-double:

A Stinker in New York

That the Knicks are a garbage fire is not a surprise.

That someone in the Knicks front office thought combining a guy with negative Win Shares (Frank Ntilikina) and a guy with a 0.0, i.e. “G-League replacement player”, VORP as the backcourt of the future was a good idea?

Never change, Knicks. You are a beacon of ineptitude in an increasingly competent world. Seriously, Dennis Smith Jr. had a chance to be something in this league before he got traded to one of the worst franchises in all of sports—although the Knicks and Jets could have quite the slap fight for who’s the biggest joke in Gotham.

Smith was 3-of-9, Kevin Knox was 5-of-18, and Ntilikina didn’t play in the Knicks’ 96-84 loss at home against Memphis.

Meanwhile, trade targets and venerable teammates Mike Conley (25 points, 9-of-17 shooting, plus-25) and Marc Gasol (24 points, 11-of-19, plus-24) beat up on the Knicks like it was the morning shootaround.

New York made just 28 of 73 attempts from the field, a woeful 38.4 percent shooting night, and reflective of the poky pace of play in the game.

Although pace won’t save you when you turn the ball over 16 times in a slow ballgame.

Your man of the match tandem, get ’em while they’re still on the Grizzlies:

Normal service, of a sort, resumes tomorrow, as football stole the evening narrative. But all the same, basketball is more than OK. Thanks for reading!