Washington Wizards vs. Indiana Pacers
The Washington Wizards are trying to give their young players experience in a playoff like atmosphere, as well as trying to be competitive as their talent level allows. They have seen strong performances from their young players, and have been relatively close in some of their games here in the bubble.
Kept the Pacers within ten for most of the game
The Indiana Pacers are a playoff team that has the chance to make it deep into the playoffs, and the fact that the Wizards were able to keep a reasonably close margin with them is surprising. The Pacers didn’t have Victor Oladipo, who was resting, but the Pacers lineup is still very talented with Myles Turner and Malcom Brogdon headlining the group that played the Wizards. While the Pacers were able to push their lead to 25 at one point in the third quarter, the Wizards kept cutting into the leads and were usually within ten points of the Pacers. This is a good sign for a Wizards team that was not really expected to be close in any of their games, and the fact that they were able to have a game with the Pacers instead of getting blown out is a really good thing for Wizard fans.
The Wizards could not control T.J Warren
The Indiana Pacers small forward T.J Warren has broken out in the bubble, and played some of the best ball of his life. Against the Wizards, he was able to attack wherever he wanted, and there was little resistance. This goes in hand with the Wizards terrible defense, but Warren was also dominating on the boards and on defense. Warren had 11 rebounds and 7 forced turnovers, which is not something the Wizards should be allowing given that they have 6’10 players being outrebounded by a 6’8 players such as Warren. While this is not a pressing issue given Warren’s hot streak and great games against teams much better than the Wizards, it should still serve as a learning point for some of the Wizards younger players.
The Washington Wizards are going to be facing the Philadelphia 76ers in their next game. This is a team that is very talented, but has had a close game against the Spurs due to lack of consistency and not much team chemistry.
After a vital win against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Pacers went on to face a young Washington Wizards team. Indiana was heavily favored in this game, and they got the job done. T.J. Warren had another great game, blocking 4 different shots on defense.
The free throw shooting was excellent.
The Pacers had an excellent day at the line, going 16-16. These kinds of days will be very important come playoff time, especially in matchups against teams like Boston who also have great free throw shooters. Although this game wasn’t close in the second half, it is always important to have clutch free throw shooters in.
T.J. Warren had another great day, and it wasn’t just on offense.
T.J. Warren had yet another outstanding day against the Wizards. He dropped 34 points, going 14-26 from the field. He also had a productive day on the defensive end. He had four blocks, and three steals. Warren did a great job of taking advantage of the bad passing by Washington. When Oladipo and Sabonis are out, Indiana now knows who to go to.
Indiana will go on to face the Orlando Magic next. The Magic have been hot on offense, so the key for Indiana is to keep grabbing steals and rebounds. Don’t let Nikola Vucevic get easy paint points.
Final Score: IND 111, WAS 101
Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
After a blowout loss to the Heat, the Denver Nuggets were looking to bounce back against the OKC Thunder. Playing again without various starters, the Nuggets needed some role players to step up.
Michael Porter Jr has had his biggest game.
After all the talk about MPJ not being what he used to be, he has finally silenced the critics. Porter Jr had a double-double last night, and was the main problem for the Thunder. He ended up with 37 points, 12 rebounds, and an assist. A very solid night for him. Without him, Denver wouldn’t be able to squeeze out this much needed win. It’ll be hard to grab a two seed, but Denver would much rather face Denver than Utah, Houston, or even OKC again.
Nikola Jokic also had a quality game.
Although Michael Porter Jr stole the show, Nikola Jokic made some noise as well. The Joker had a triple double in his second game back, and made some tough shots to keep the game close. It is important for Jokic to carry most of the load while Jamal Murray and Gary Harris aren’t playing. This Nuggets team can do something when Jokic is rolling.
The Nuggets will try to get two in a row, facing the San Antonio Spurs next. The Spurs are coming off of a close loss against the 76ers, but Poppovich is still finding a way for his team to make noise. The key for a Nuggets win is for them to contain DeMar DeRozan. Even since the NBA came back, DeRozan has gotten his way when it comes to the mid-range jumper. If Michael Porter Jr is the one defending him, I think it will be a great challenge for DeMar. MPJ is tall, lengthy and has great balance.
Oklahoma City Thunder
With all the controversy in the Western conference seeding battle barely anyone is talking about them. OKC is another one of those teams with a chip on their shoulder as they head into the bubble.
Free throw woes
The Thunder struggled from the line in a game where there were a total of 61 fouls. They were 24-31 from the line but misses came during the most important part of the game. Under 2 minutes to go OKC missed two free throws that would have given them a very good shot at winning. The biggest miss was from Chris Paul which came 2.9 seconds to go and would have given OKC a one point lead. Ultimately the game would still go into OT and they would lose there, but a free throw could have given them the win.
Shai Gilgeous Alexander
Shai went into the fourth quarter with 5 fouls, meaning one more for the young guard and he would have been out of the game. That would have been a huge blow to OKC and most likely would have lost them the game if he came out. Instead Shai was clutch and calm scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter leading OKC. Unfortunately like Paul he missed a free throw, the other one under two minutes, and that would hurt them big time, Shai continues to be good when they need him, he might just be the piece that OKC needs to make a strong run.
OKC takes on the Lakers at 5:30 on August 5th and will try to upset the one seed in the west.
Final Score: DEN 121, OKC 113
L.A Lakers vs Utah Jazz
The Lakers had little to gain or lose against the Jazz, but if they won they would clinch the number one seed in the West for the first time since 2010.
AD vs Lebron
Hard to find many problems in the Lakers win against Utah, but there is now a big question on whether AD has been playing better than LBJ. All three games of bubble ball have now shown Anothony Davis playing better ball. He is averaging around 30 points in the bubble while Lebron is sitting at around 19. Davis has been efficiently getting to the line which is huge in these closer games for LA. Even though Lebron is in playoff mode, AD might have also switched it up a few gears for the playoffs as well.
The Lakers bench was a problem before the bubble, but recently it has looked like those problems are not there anymore. Everyone on the Lakers reserve had a positive plus minus except for JR Smith. All the players had a great day and Dwight Howard and Kyle Kuzma combined for a total of 20 points.
The Lakers take on the Thunder next on August 5th at 5:30.
The Utah Jazz had a bad loss against the OKC Thunder a couple days ago, and even though this game was not a win it was much better than the Jazz’s showing against the Thunder. With a close game against the Lakers, the Jazz had a really good game.
Great bounce back game
After losing by 16 points to the Thunder, the Jazz come back and give the Lakers a run for their money. Against the number one seed in the west, the Jazz were able to keep multiple leads on the Lakers in the first quarter, and keep the game close through all four quarters. If not for a huge first half from Anthony Davis, the Jazz would have had a comfortable lead going into halftime and might have pulled out the dub. In the second half the Jazz started to fall, but a late push in the third quarter made for a very exciting fourth. The Jazz were gaining on the Lakers, and it took everything from a red hot Davis to keep the Jazz at bay. The Jazz should see this game on a positive note, as they never gave up despite a 22 point deficit and kept the game interesting.
No help for Donovan Mitchell
One of the main reasons that the Utah Jazz were in the game was due to Mitchell. He put up 24 points to lead the Jazz, and did not get much help from his teammates. The Jazz’s second leading scorer was Mike Conley with 13 points, and after him there was only one other Jazz player that scored in the double digits. If the Jazz want to start winning their marquee matchups against teams like the Lakers, they will need big games from Rudy Gobert, 8 points, and Joe Ingles, 2 points. While it is good to see Mitchell performing at a high level, the Jazz need to work on making sure that there are other scorers to take the burden off of Mitchell.
The Jazz are set to take on the eight seeded Memphis Grizzlies next. This provides a good opportunity for the rest of the roster to get back on their game, and help Mitchell.
Final Score: UTA 108, LAL 116
San Antonio Spurs vs Philadelphia 76ers
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have been grinding through the bubble and they have potential to make a big splash with the rest of their games after a 2-1 start
The Spurs have had their veterans step up in their games, mostly Demar DeRozan and Rudy Gay. Both of these players have been downright amazing and continue to lead the Spurs to some great games. Demar has been working on creating space for others and bringing up the young players to get them some more open looks. This relaxed move has shown for the Spurs and they look like a much better team. Rudy has finally come back and started to make more and more buckets for the Spurs. His presence could be huge in a big run.
Derrick White and Dejounte Murray
Both of these players have been good in the Spurs restart, similar to there verteran teammates. What I really want to talk about here is Murray vs White. Now we can say both of these guys are really good ball players, Murray is not the guy late. White has consistently put up the best plus minus and should be the guy with the ball. Murray let up in the game vs the Sixers and even let Milton take a wide open 3 late. While we can argue all day about the pros and cons but White is older and gets the nod here for me.
The Spurs take on the Nuggets on August 5th at 3 PM.
Will Philly right the ship and get back on course after taking their time adjusting to their new starting lineup and struggling in their first game?
Josh Richardson and Shake Milton both struggled in the first game vs the Pacers and just couldn’t hit the deep ball. In this game however they played much better with a combined 35 points and 5 for 12 from beyond the arc. Sixers need their guards to produce threes with the other starters not really specializing in the department. If Milton and Richardson can continue this they will be in good shape to take the Sixers to more wins in the restart.
Embiid is a problem
Joel has been solid for the Sixers and looks at the top of his game right now. Him being at where he is right now gives the Sixers a chance every time they step on to the floor. Embiid just out sixed everyone on the Spurs team and it was just not even close. Players tried, but it just wasn’t enough to stop the big man. He put up 27 points and was consistently helping out on the glass. He could be a huge problem down the stretch for Philly.
Philly will take on the Wizards on August 5th in a game they should win if they play as well as they did against San Antonio.
Final Score: PHI 132, SAS 130
Memphis Grizzlies vs New Orleans Pelicans
The Grizzlies have now started in the bubble 0-3 and thee 3.5 games lead they had on everyone is starting to fade away. Memphis still has yet to make any sort of big adjustments that put them back in a position to win a game. In this game once again the Pelicans controlled the pace the whole game. They were in control the whole game and that is what got them. If Memphis wants to make the playoffs they better start stepping up. Other playoff hungry teams around the lead are already getting higher and closer to Memphis.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
We have just been told recently by ESPN that Jaren Jackson Jr. will be out for the remainder of the regular season with a torn meniscus. This will hurt the Grizz badly is Jackson Jr. had been playing very well in the bubble and throughout the season for Memphis. They will try to fill this void, but with Memphis already not playing well from beyond the arc, this hurts. Memphis fans will need someone to step up in a huge way in order to make the playoffs.
The Grizzlies take on the Jazz on August 5th at 1:30 PM.
New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans suffered a beatdown from the L.A Clippers and were looking for a bounce back game against the Grizzlies. In a game that was instrumental for the battle of the eight seed, the Pelicans were able to go out and take care of business.
Brandon Ingram is stepping up
The New Orleans Pelicans have been keeping Zion on a time limit, and this forces others to step up. For the Pelicans, Brandon Ingram has really stepped up in the bubble. Ingram has led the team in scoring for all of their games in the bubble, and has been consistently putting up double-digits. Against the Grizzlies, Ingram put up a nice 24 points and 7 rebounds. This is important for the Pelicans because they will need a second scorer to pair alongside Zion, and from this season it seems like Ingram is going to be that scorer. If he can continue this prolific scoring and show that he can pair well with Zion while still scoring at his maximum potential, he will make the decision easy for the Pelicans to re-sign him next year.
The Memphis Grizzlies have a superstar in the making with Ja Morant, and a group of talented players alongside him. The Pelicans were able to limit Morant to 11 points, while the Grizzlies did not even make it to 100 points. The Pelicans had a great defensive effort as a team, and the defensive prowess of guards Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball contributed to the shutdown of Morant. If the Pelicans can keep this stingy defense and still be productive on offense, they will be a hard team to stop as they fight for the eight seed.
The Pelicans are set to play the 12th seeded Kings in their next matchup. After losing their first two games the Pels need every win they can get if they want to be contending for the eight seed, and a win against the Kings should not be taken for granted.
Final Score: MEM 99, NOP 109
Miami Heat vs Toronto Raptors
Can the Heat move around in the East to avoid facing a tougher first-round matchup. Do they have enough star power to make a deep run in the playoffs?
The Heat are already on the edge for a contested seeding matchup between them, Indiana, Philadelphia, and Boston. They wanted this win badly and came back late in the 3rd and almost got away with it. Miami had 15 turnovers in the game and two of them came at the most costly time. With 17.4 seconds to go Dragic’s pass fell off the hands of Jimmy Butler and went out of bounds giving Toronto the ball back. Then with 7.4 seconds remaining and a 2 point Toronto lead, Butler’s pass got deflected and stolen by Fred VanVleet. The Heat had two chances to tie or take the lead here and it just wasn’t meant to be. This is something they will definitely have to clean up.
Miami was the best three-point shooting team in the league this year with a 38% rate from beyond the arc. In games where Miami is unable to produce higher than 32%, they are 1-13. Against Toronto, they were 14-45 which is 31% and they lost the game. Their rally was powered by threes as Miami had 9 from beyond the arc as they slowly came back. This looks like it might be a big problem for the Heat if they can’t it going, 1-13 is a lot of losses.
The Heat plays the Celtics tomorrow and will look to gain a game on them to fight for the three seed.
The Raptors are going into every game this season with the belief that they have something to prove. Everyone is counting them out and they are coming to prove everyone wrong
VanVleet was a bright spot in the Raptors win over the Heat with 36 points for the team. He made 7 from behind the arc and was just playing some great basketball. Fred also got to the line consistently and was 13 for 13 from there. He is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after this season and he is due for a big payday with these numbers. VanVleets biggest impact was in the third quarter where he consistently got buckets to keep Toronto up.
The Raptors have plenty of players who can just flat out play. They have Siakam who put up 22 points with 4 three pointers in the win. They have Kyle Lowry who had 14 and made all nine of his free throw attempts. They also have Anunoby who has shown that he is also capable of big nights although he only had 7 today. They also have plenty of great players on their bench including Serge Ibaka who comes into the starting lineup every now and again. Today Serge grabbed 15 off the bench and was playing really well on the inside. Norman Powell is another one of those players who you can give the ball to and get a bucket. The Raptors have a solid core and a pretty good bench, having both can lead to championship runs.
The Raptors next play the Magic on August 5th at 8 PM ET.
Final Score: TOR 107, MIA 103
Top Photo: thednvr.com