A number of ideas on among the Christmas video games within the NBA…
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Knicks 101, Hawks 87
This sport was largely a snoozer, having misplaced most of its luster as soon as Trae Younger entered the well being and security protocols. Younger was unable to rile up the Madison Sq. Backyard crowd, and each groups entered the competition beneath .500, having to this point not recreated the magic every had final season.
New York in the end took care of a depleted Atlanta squad, although it needs to be famous the Knicks had been additionally with out Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley. Kemba Walker continued to benefit from the absences, taking part in a Thibsian 40 minutes and recording a triple double, with 10 factors, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds, although he shot solely 3-of-12 from the sector.
Essentially the most encouraging signal for the Knicks was in all probability Julius Randle’s three-point taking pictures. Randle completed with 25 factors and hit 6-of-9 from deep. Randle is taking pictures solely 32% on threes this season, a steep drop from the 41.1% mark he posted in 2021. It was in all probability unfair to count on Randle’s outdoors taking pictures to take care of—he was a primary candidate for regression—however Randle desperately wants to seek out environment friendly offense. Almost each one among his baskets is a grind, and his true taking pictures proportion is its lowest since 2016. Possibly Randle lastly discovered his shot on Christmas. Even when he solely splits the distinction between his three-point proportion from final season in comparison with this one to this point, New York could be in a lot better form.
Bucks 117, Celtics 113
Props to Boston for placing up a hell of a struggle with Dennis Schroder, Al Horford, Josh Richardson, and Grant Williams all sidelined. The Celtics are possible kicking themselves after blowing a 13-point lead with 5:28 to go.
This was only a actually traditional efficiency from the Bucks, who are actually working at close to full power (with apologies to Brook Lopez). Giannis Antetokounmpo performed solely half-hour and nonetheless put up a 36-12-5 stat line. Boston shot 45 threes as Milwaukee walled off the paint, maybe finest illustrated by Giannis himself within the sport’s ultimate seconds, when he rotated into the lane to stop a Jayson Tatum layup, then blocked a Rob Williams dunk after Tatum dumped the ball off. The Bucks are a well-oiled machine, and the Greek Freak is threatening to win his third MVP.
And don’t sleep on Wes Matthews! The midseason pickup closed the sport, and hit the go-ahead three with 30 seconds to go. Matthews isn’t fairly P.J. Tucker, however in case you squint, he may also help Milwaukee with a few of what Tucker contributed in the course of the summer time’s Finals run. Within the playoffs, the Bucks will mainly want no less than one among Matthews, Grayson Allen, Donte DiVincenzo, or Pat Connaughton to hit a giant shot or two and compete on the perimeter defensively. Saturday was a reminder of how scary the Bucks could be once they lock in. And now they appear to have extra choices than ever on the wing.
As for Boston, the Celtics needs to be inspired. This group can compete with anybody when Tatum and Jaylen Brown are wholesome, and Williams continues to indicate he belongs on the ground in high-leverage moments. Any takes that persist about splitting up Tatum and Brown are silly. Boston needs to be going all in round them and Williams. If Boston is basically on the lookout for commerce candidates, Marcus Sensible’s defensive depth will not be as invaluable as bringing in a extra pure level guard to assist settle issues down in shut video games.
Warriors 116, Suns 107
This was a Christmas heavyweight struggle between the 2 of one of the best groups within the NBA. Golden State is now up 2-1 within the season sequence, and each win will depend between these two groups in the event that they find yourself assembly the playoffs and the sequence goes to a Sport 7. The Suns can have a look at this sport and nonetheless consider they’re in good condition. Jae Crowder missed a pair vital threes down the stretch, and Devin Booker doesn’t put up many 13-point video games on 5-of-19 taking pictures. Phoenix continues to be very a lot legit.
The Warriors’ depth was the story of this sport, nonetheless. With out Jordan Poole, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, and James Wiseman, Golden State beat a Phoenix group at full power. Gary Payton II’s protection was ferocious as at all times, and he sunk a few triples as well. In the meantime Otto Porter was additionally unbelievable, scoring 19 factors, together with some clutch buckets within the fourth. Rookie Jonathan Kuminga additionally performed 21 minutes and seemed unfazed within the playoff environment, chipping in 12 factors to associate with his bodily protection.
Golden State is scary. They’re already profitable at a excessive charge, Klay is ready within the wings, and a bunch of gamers are stepping up every time anybody goes down. The expertise gained by guys like GPII, Kuminga, and Juan Toscano-Anderson now might pay large dividends come playoff time, particularly once they contribute towards one of the best competitors. For all of the discuss how the Warriors are attempting to construct for the long run and win now on the similar time, they seem to have a humiliation of helpful function gamers to fit in subsequent to one of many all-time nice trios in Steph, Klay, and Draymond Inexperienced.
Nets 122, Lakers 115
I’m wondering what number of cigarettes have been smoked due to the Lakers this season, as a result of this group is infuriating. The Lakers’ season has been nearly completely comprised of transient moments of competence surrounded by disappointment, neatly captured of their loss to the Nets on Saturday. L.A. was dangerous for a lot of the day, went on a strong run within the second and an enormous run within the fourth, after which couldn’t full the comeback because of some mind-numbing defensive lapses and tough offense. (The win was good for the Nets, who had been lacking Kevin Durant, Joe Harris, and Kyrie Irving. James Harden had a 36-10-10 triple double in his first sport in 15 days.)
The Lakers have clearly been hit onerous by the well being and security protocols—sure, that was Darren Collison taking part in his first NBA sport in two years with the “S” on his jersey peeling off—however it’s truthful to count on extra from them when no less than two of their stars are wholesome. Russell Westbrook was inefficient offensively and dropping gamers defensively. Dwight Howard performed six minutes, which is six minutes too many for this group to be taking part in a conventional heart. Talen Horton-Tucker cramps the group’s spacing. And LeBron—although spectacular—performed a giant function within the flawed building of this roster. All people deserves blame.
Hammering the Lakers is a damaged report at this level. Many individuals had been skeptical of this group’s depth, which was compromised largely due to the Westbrook commerce. The Lakers had been defiant about this “narrative” earlier than the season, however they want extra from the likes of Russ, THT, and even Wayne Ellington proper now, significantly when going through one other depleted squad. The Lakers can’t proceed to lean on excuses. They should begin determining options.
Extra NBA Protection:
• The NBA Has Chosen Its Path Towards COVID
• The Warriors’ Quest to Obtain What Different Franchises Could not
• Inside LaMelo Ball’s Breakout Yr