Breakfast Special: Russell Westbrook’s G-League Spectacular!

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been soundly thwacked by the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team they might well see in the first round of the playoffs. The 104-88 loss was Oklahoma City’s third straight, all by double digits. The funny thing about all this is Russell Westbrook, who has come alive recently, put up a monster performance; he had 38 points on 15-of-23 shooting, grabbed 10 rebounds to up his season average to 9.6, and dished five assists even though nobody else on his team could make a shot. Westbrook is averaging 25.1 points, 9.6 boards, and 10.0 assists per contest, …

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Breakfast Special: The Lakers Make Danny Ainge Look Smart

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Sacramento Kings Tuesday in a battle of two of the worst teams in the Western Conference, and by extension among the worst in the entire NBA. Previously, I’d referred to the LOLakers as “they can’t even tank right”, but it was brought to my attention that “hey, genius, the Lakers don’t own their pick in 2018.” And that’s true; if the pick is No. 1 overall or 6th or later, the Sixers get it; if it falls between 2 and 5, the Celtics get it. The whole thing is the result of the Steve …

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Does Lance Stephenson Justify His Minutes?

Nobody can question Lance Stephenson‘s value to the Indiana Pacers in terms of intangibles. He’s a locker room glue guy, a fan favorite, and one of the reasons the Pacers’ team chemistry is such a massive improvement over the joyless death march that was the last two years with Paul George as the clubhouse leader (were this the kind of publication that dealt in eye-test talk, I’d go into more detail on this, but just suffice to say that Myles Turner in particular has said more than once how much more fun it is playing basketball this season, and from …

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Breakfast Special: Chef Curry, Extra Spicy

The Denver Nuggets had four players with at least 20 points in Oakland Monday night. They shot 49.5 percent from the field and racked up 114 points. Trouble is, Stephen Curry exploded for 32 points, the Warriors shot 56.5 percent as a team, and the Nugs, who seem to only win on Friday and Saturday, lost another game during the week to the tune of 124-114. For Curry, it was another fantastic display of efficiency. 9-of-17 from the field. 5-of-10 for three. 9-of-10 from the line. Just a .529/.500/.900 line because he clearly got upgraded to MVP caliber again during …

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Using Point Differential To Project the 2018 NBA Playoffs: Western Conference

Click here for the breakdown for the East. OK, now that we’ve projected the East standings, let’s go ahead and do the same thing for the West. As a reminder, the methodology assumes that the factors (injuries, intangibles, player skill, all the normal variances of an NBA season) are going to remain constant, because we can’t predict how that stuff will shake out; we can only use the actual game results to extrapolate to the rest of the season. This is not a comprehensive crystal ball game. It’s a statistical test, no more, no less. Now then, the West standings through …

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Using Point Differential To Project the 2018 NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference

(Click here for the Western Conference projections.) Roughly halfway through the 2017-18 season, we’ve seen a few surprises in the league, both good and bad. The Heat, Pistons, and Pacers have overachieved in the Eastern Conference, while Philly and Charlotte in particular have disappointed. Out West, the Thunder have fallen short of expectations, the bottom fell out on the Grizzlies, the Lakers remain a joke, and the Timberwolves find themselves on a 50-win pace by record. Part of this has been the unpredictability of any given NBA season; there are always surprises, often involving rookies who perform beyond anyone’s wildest expectations …

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Suck Faster: When Bad Teams Play Up-Tempo

Ask a casual NBA fan to guess which team plays at the fastest pace in the league and most of them would probably guess the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets, teams drilled in the principles of modern pace-and-space basketball, with Houston coached by the inimitable Mike D’Antoni, who might as well draw the two little arrows of the fast-forward symbol on the whiteboard during timeouts. This article originally appeared on January 25, 2017, and stats are as of that point in the 2016-17 season. They’re not bad guesses; the Warriors are second in pace (100.7, with all stats in …

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Breakfast Special: The Lakers Tank Fail

Lakers coach Luke Walton is taking the continuing criticism of Black Marv Marinovich in stride. BMM’s son, Lonzo Ball, continues to be the biggest bust at No. 2 overall since Darko, and indeed Ball shot a disappointing 5-of-13 from the field in the Lakers’ you-can’t-even-tank-right 132-113 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. With the game decided, Walton pulled Ball from the game to preserve his health, but he couldn’t resist taking a dig at the media circus around Lakerland. When asked why he’d pulled Lonzo, Walton simply said “His dad was talking s— so I took him out early.” …

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Breakfast Special: The Golden State Reformation

Here’s to the restoration of NBA order, as the Golden State Warriors, behind 29 points from Stephen Curry and 28 from Klay Thompson, shot 55.2 percent from the field, got a triple-double from Draymond Green (17 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists), held Houston to 17-of-50 (34 percent, and wait, 50 three-point attempts?!) from long range, and won the game 124-114. Eric Gordon had 30, Gerald Green added 29 off the bench, and Chris Paul had 28, and if you want to go for a fourth, Clint Capela had 15. That accounts for 102 of the Rockets’ points. The rest of …

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Paul George: Is He Any Good?

When Paul George was a member of the Indiana Pacers, he picked up a superstar’s reputation without really putting up a superstar’s stats. This was partially attributable to the terrible team he was on; after all, Indiana without him was basically a G-League team, and PG13 was practically 2006 Kobe in terms of singlehandedly carrying a bad team to the playoffs. With no chance of signing him when his contract expires, Indiana traded him to Oklahoma City, where he has joined Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony as the Big Three on a so-called superteam that really isn’t very super. Sure, …

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