Five Thoughts From Nets 101-91 Loss to The Jazz, And Rudy Gobert on Finding a Defensive Rhythm (Video)Read Now
Coming off Sunday’s tough loss to the 76ers, the Nets were looking to rebound on this extended homestand against the Jazz. For three quarters it looked like they had put Sunday’s game behind them. But some familiar problems reared their collective ugly heads and the Nets dropped their fourth straight game, and are 2-8 in their last 10 games. Here are my thoughts from Wednesday’s 101-91 loss to the Jazz.
1. A First Half Collective Hangover?
The first half of basketball in Brooklyn on Wednesday night was not pretty. The Jazz led 43-42 at the half and it wasn’t stellar defense being played by either team. They both looked out of sync and in a funk. We mentioned the Nets heartbreaking loss to the 76ers on Sunday, maybe they were still feeling the aftershock? The Jazz were in Indiana on Monday getting waxed by the Pacers. Maybe they were still licking their wounds? Maybe both teams hit the NYC clubs last night and were literally hungover? Whatever it was, that first half set the game of basketball back to the days of two set shots and no shot clocks. It was ugly. Both teams combined to shoot 36% from the field (36 of 91). The score was 17-16 at the end of the first quarter.
2. Spencer Dinwiddie & D’Angelo Russell Were…
Not good. We touted them, rightfully so, at the end of the 76ers game. As good as they were Sunday night, they were just as bad on Wednesday. The duo shot a combined 11-36 from the floor for 32 points. They looked out of sorts. Dinwiddie fouled out late in the game, he had 18 points, 0 assists, 2 turnovers, and was a -15 from the floor. Russell took and missed a majority of the shots, finishing 6-25. Some of that was the Jazz defense in the second half, particularly, where he finished 2-11.
Despite the poor play from their backcourt, the Nets had an eight-point lead heading into the final quarter…
3. Seems like Poor 4th Quarters Are This Season’s Poor Third Quarters…
The team’s struggles in the third quarter of games last season were well documented. Lately, it seems like the 4th quarter is their new achilles heel. Part of that is the absence of Caris LeVert. The injured guard is the team’s go-to option in late game situations. His ability to create his own shot and create for others is sorely missing. The Nets were outscored 31-13 in the 4th quarter Wednesday night. In their last two games, they are a -33 in point differential in the 4th. That simply won’t get it done. Some of that was the Jazz defense, which apparently found its groove on Wednesday night in Brooklyn. But part of the blame goes on the Nets as well. They were very stagnant on offense and following the game head coach Kenny Atkinson talked about the ball “sticking” too much and the lack of assists.
4. Ed Davis Can Rebound
The veteran big man from North Carolina finished with 10 boards on Wednesday night in 16 minutes of action. The Nets as a whole were pretty good on the boards, they finished even with Utah at 48. The aforementioned Davis, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (11), and Jarrett Allen (10) were the big contributors. Would Davis playing more minutes help? He isn’t a threat offensively, but his per 36 minutes rebounding numbers are off the charts, 17 per game! Kenny and the coaching staff wouldn’t have to run any plays for him, and he could help end defensive possessions and on the other end, he could grab tip-ins, putbacks, and keep offensive possessions alive. Just a thought…
5. Talent, the Draft and Free Agency
The Nets have talent. Kenny and GM Sean Marks have built a tremendous culture, which I’ve written about many times. But, they currently lack top end talent. It shows up in the 4th quarter of games when teams that have star players like Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, and Donovan Mitchell can just go to “their guy” and he can get a bucket or make a play. We talked about LeVert being out, as he was developing into that player for the Nets. But, heading into the trade deadline, the draft, and this summer’s free agency period, the Nets brass needs to hit big. It’s simple and cliche but top end talent wins in this league. Period. If the Nets are going to show what the culture and environment they’ve built in Brooklyn is all about, they need to win. We are a quarter of the way through the season and the Nets are six games under .500. It will take a herculean effort to make a playoff push. That may not be likely, but the plan to increase the team’s talent has to begin to take precedence, in the wake of a season that will include more losses than wins.
The Utah Jazz were one of the best defensive teams in the NBA last season. It has been a bit of a tough start to this season for them defensively. But, defensive player of the year, Rudy Gobert sees things changing for the Jazz.
Five Thoughts From Nets 127-125 Loss to The 76ers, And Jimmy Butler on Knowing He Would Get to His Spot For The Game Winner (Video)Read Now
The Nets suffered a heartbreaking loss in Brooklyn on Sunday night to the Philadelphia 76ers, 127-125. Brooklyn led most of the way, carrying a 14 point lead at halftime and a 13 point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The game featured a ton of shot making and huge plays offensively and defensively. Here are some thoughts from a thrilling contest.
1. D’Angelo Russell And Spencer Dinwiddie Were Really Good
The two combined for 69 points on 43 shots, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. They were efficient and came up with big shots to build the lead and stop various runs by the 76ers. Russell started and had his best game as a Net, finishing with 38, 8 and 8. I wrote about him in my Thanksgiving column. He has an opportunity, with the Caris LeVert injury, to prove to Nets coaches and management that he is a key piece in the team’s plan for the future. Dlo was decisive Sunday night, showed the kind of full-court dominance that led to him being the #2 overall pick in the 2015 draft. It’s a shame this stat line came in a loss. But if he can show consistency the rest of this season, he will leave the Nets with no choice but to re-sign him to a lucrative extension this summer.
When Dinwiddie is hot from behind the arc, this is what his game looks like. In 29 minutes off the bench, he finished with 31 points, including 4-5 from deep. He’s such a steady player for head coach Kenny Atkinson and plays within himself and the system. He has a knack for knowing exactly what the team needs at specific points in the game. The team will have a choice to make with him as well this summer.
If both players can play to their full potential and consistently this season, the Nets will have some interesting and tough decisions to make. Speaking of consistency…
2. Nets Defensive Effort Was a Tale of Two Halves, Sort Of…
Just looking at raw counting stats, the Nets held the 76ers to 54 points in the first half but gave up 73 points in the second half. On its face that doesn’t look good and was a problem this team had last season. The inability to play consistently for a full 48 minutes seemed to rear its ugly head at points this season but that wasn’t totally the case on Sunday.
Yes, the Nets did show some defensive slippage, but the pace of play picked up in the second half as well which contributed to the higher score. The 76ers hit some really tough shots in the face of pretty good defense. One of the problems was the defense fouled too much down the stretch.
Atkinson talked to the media postgame about the team’s defensive effort.
3. Free Throw Battle
The Nets were outscored 27-15 on the free throw line, and the 76ers had 33 attempts to only 20 by the Nets. Understanding time, score, and foul situation are among the most basic keys to playing winning basketball. The Nets focus and attention to detail wanes at times. There were a few key possessions late where Nets defenders left their feet and fouled jump shooters in the act. The Nets big men (Ed Davis and Jarrett Allen) in particular had a rough go of things combining for 10 fouls. To be fair, they had to guard All NBA Center Joel Embiid who finished with 32 points and 12 rebounds. That dude is a monster.
On the perimeter, Dinwiddie and Joe Harris combined for 8 fouls and had tough moments keeping Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons out of the paint. Again, these are All NBA players, so you’re going to have difficulty with them. But, it’s an area the Nets need to show improvement in.
16 turnovers in a vacuum isn’t a bad number. The Nets average just slightly over 14 per game. But when you factor in pace and the type of turnovers, 16 doesn’t look so great. Brooklyn is in the bottom quarter of the league in average possessions per game at just under 103. With limited possessions in close games, live ball turnovers are costly and spark runs by the opponent. Late in Sunday’s game when the offense got a little stagnant, there were a few costly turnovers.
5. Top End Talent Matters So Much
The cliches that exist around the NBA are all true and Sunday’s game proved them. In no other sport does top end talent have such a demonstrable impact. The Nets were leading most of the game as mentioned. But in the end, the 76ers have Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, and Ben Simmons. As well as Dlo and Dinwiddie played, it wasn’t enough. Having more guys that can get and make their own shots are how big games are won in this league. The 76ers have proven big shot takers and makers.
Watch Jimmy Butler at the end of the game.
Confidence is a mother****, after the game I asked Jimmy can anything be done when he gets to his spot on the floor.
Karl-Anthony Towns Talks About Camaraderie, Trust & Togetherness Now That Jimmy Butler is Gone, But Will That Be Enough? (Video)Read Now
It was an early tip for an NBA game. The Friday after Thanksgiving, at Noon on the road in Brooklyn. The Minnesota Timberwolves who entered the game with no road victories, a two-game losing streak, and a 7-11 record, needed this win badly. That’s just what the T-Wolves got. A 112-102 victory over a, better than you think, Brooklyn team. Derrick Rose (25 points) and the native Brooklyn son, Taj Gibson (16 points), were much of the postgame talk. But Karl-Anthony Towns quietly put up 21 points and 9 rebounds and had timely buckets to push the lead ahead for the T-Wolves. No doubt KAT has started to play better, since the trade of Jimmy Butler, and is putting up the type of numbers that had GM’s, as recently as last year, saying he is the number one guy they would start a franchise with, in the NBA. But, will the trade of the team’s most determined player in exchange for solid, above average NBA players with more amenable personalities be enough to change the mood and direction of this team?
The Jimmy Butler “drama” had officially ended two weeks ago with his trade to the 76ers, in exchange for Robert Covington and Dario Saric (principal players involved). But the fallout from his training camp showdown with KAT and Andrew Wiggins still appeared to linger from afar. There was clear on-court tension during the games Butler did play in this season. Obviously, something had to be done for the good of the franchise. Ownership and a reluctant management sided with Towns and dealt Butler. They kind of had to. Towns just signed his max extension in the off-season. This means, for better or worse, they have tied their entire future to KAT. On the surface that makes sense. He is younger and far more talented than Butler. But KAT wasn’t lighting up the scoreboard very much early in the season and looked to be despondent and not happy with his surroundings.
In Friday’s victorious postgame locker room, KAT looked like a man happy to be at work with his new co-workers. Particularly Robert Covington, their lockers were right next to each other and they were joking and having a good laugh with teammate Gorgui Dieng. They then shifted their attention to Gibson, who played off the emotions of returning home to Brooklyn, and hyped it up as “TG’s moment.” Yes, KAT was a happy man Friday afternoon. A large reason for that was the win, coming off the aforementioned losing streak and their first road win of the season. But, there was something more. There seemed to be a sense of freedom from KAT, as he engaged with the locker room. Almost as though he were “commanding” it. The team has plenty of veteran presence, but none of them are on KAT’s level from a talent perspective. Plus, none of them have the personality where they would attack KAT publicly. All indications are that KAT does not respond well to that type of coaching or criticism. In theory, a friendlier locker room is where he thrives and is at his best. If he is at his best, with the roster they have, this team should be in contention for a playoff spot. But there are still some questions and tensions around this group. KAT has the kind of locker room he wants, but how does that work with the “tough love” head coach Tom Thibodeau? He isn’t happy his “guy” (Butler) is gone. Thibs is no doubt on the hot seat and coaching for his job.
All that is to say, the Timberwolves are not out of the woods yet. They are still under .500 and on the outside of the playoff race in a difficult Western Conference. But, if the atmosphere at work is better for the franchise player, that has to be a good thing, right? KAT has the tools to be an MVP and best player in this league. Butler knew it and said as much, even on his way out the door. But he questioned KAT’s heart and “want to.” The two skills hardest to quantify but very evident when you see it. Does KAT, have the requisite “dog” in him to lead this team to the playoffs and beyond over the next several years? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, KAT is enjoying coming to work again and believes everyone in the locker room has each other’s back, and for now, that’s enough.
Check out KAT's postgame comments. I ask him about playing with his new teammates.
It’s the season of giving, no doubt that tryptophane from Thursday’s dinner is still having an effect. Amidst the festivities and indulging in culinary delights, it’s very important that we all take time to give thanks, and appreciate the many good things in our lives. NBA franchises are no different. On the day after Thanksgiving and at the start of this holiday season, here are the five things the Nets are thankful for:
1. Culture and Environment
GM Sean Marks and HC Kenny Atkinson are the big reasons for this, when they inherited this team it was a dumpster fire. The roster had aging players on massive contracts, no draft picks, and the culture wasn’t such that any notable free agents would even consider playing for the franchise. Enter Marks and Atkinson. Marks was groomed in the San Antonia Spurs organization, the league’s gold standard – in recent years – for stability, culture, and winning. Atkinson was an assistant in New York, under offensive mastermind Mike D’Antoni. He then went on to be an assistant in Atlanta under Mike Budenholzer, a coach of the year and Gregg Popovich disciple. Between the two men, they weathered the storm of losing seasons with no draft picks and have finally drafted young talent and created a culture and atmosphere conducive for success. Speaking of…
2. Cap Space
Atkinson has made some shrewd moves with limited pieces, and this coming summer (2019) the Nets have room for two maximum salary players. They can be serious players in the free agency market and don’t have to give up draft picks to acquire superstars. That is huge, and make no mistake Brooklyn is a free agent destination. Players around the league and their representation have taken note. Imagine being one of the faces of the Brooklyn Nets resurgence in NYC? Lots of opportunities for the right marquee superstar.
3. Caris LeVert’s Injury Prognosis
The Nets young star was coming into his own this season before what appeared to be a horrific broken leg in Minnesota threatened to derail his career. After an examination, it turned out he only dislocated the foot. There were no fractures and only moderate ligament damage. LeVert will still need to undergo a rigorous rehabilitation stint but the prognosis is for a full recovery. This is excellent news for Caris and the Nets. If he’s able to come back towards the end of the season, he can play under game conditions and get comfortable with doing everything again and head into offseason work with no limitations. A healthy Caris LeVert is a 20 ppg scorer on this team who can play excellent defense and would be an excellent piece on a deep contending playoff team. The “blessing in disguise” of the LeVert injury is…
4. D’Angelo Russell’s Extended Crunch Time Audition
The Nets will know for sure if D’Angelo Russell is a part of their future or not. Earlier in the season when LeVert was healthy, Atkinson wouldn’t play Dlo in crunch time. He didn’t trust the point guard’s decision making in tight situations. Out of pure necessity, he has to have Dlo on the floor. So the 4th year player will have every opportunity to prove he can be the point guard on a good team. Dlo shows flashes but struggles with consistency. Part of that is due to injury. But if he is healthy all season and proves he can be consistent, the Nets will likely give him a rookie extension and we’ll see if he can fulfill all that potential.
5. Spencer Dinwiddie
If things don’t go well with Dlo, the Nets have Spencer Dinwiddie. Now Dinwiddie is an unrestricted free agent and will go to whoever is the highest bidder. But, here’s the thing, Dlo’s upside is higher in terms of his ceiling. If Dlo reaches his full potential he is a multiple time all-star. Dinwiddie is the far more consistent and reliable player right now. While his ceiling isn’t as high as Dlo’s, his floor is higher. In other words, the Nets can likely re-sign Dinwiddie to a smaller contract, and let Dlo walk if some team signs him to a bigger offer sheet.
Check out video of Nets HC Kenny Atkinson talking about what he is thankful for regarding his team.
What The Giants Have Learned During Their Two Game Win Streak That Can Carry Them The Rest of The Season In a Suddenly Open Division (Video)Read Now
The New York Giants defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-35 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday. That’s two consecutive wins for the Giants and they sit at 3-7 in a chaotic NFC east, more on that in a moment. This is the team’s first winning streak since December 2016. That’s a very long time. It’s no wonder there is an air of optimism around the locker room. Coming off their bye week star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said their goal was to “win out” and “make the playoffs.” A bold proclamation no doubt, but with two wins, it’s looking slightly more attainable. OBJ remained steadfast in his claim following the game, saying:
The goal is to win every game. So six games left, it’s really only crazy until you do it.
In order for the Giants to have a chance to pull off this miracle, they will need their stars like OBJ, who finished with 85 total yards and a touchdown, and Saquon Barkley – 152 total yards and three touchdowns – to play like stars. Veteran quarterback Eli Manning will have to be very good and limit the mistakes, as he did on Sunday (17-18, 231 yards and two touchdowns), and an improving offensive line will need to continue to execute.
Football players and coaches often speak of “one play at a time,” and “just needing to execute” when discussing what needs to happen or continue to happen to have success in the NFL. In his postgame press conference on Sunday, head coach Pat Shurmur talked about the team executing and getting into a rhythm offensively and how that allowed for more variety in the play calling. It’s true that when a team “remains on schedule” in terms of down and distance and getting positive yards on first down it opens things up and the whole playbook becomes available. Coaches are often reluctant to be aggressive when simple plays don’t work. Shurmur knows the Giants have a lot of areas to clean up but hopes the team can continue to execute in their remaining games and who knows where they’ll end up. The NFC East race is chaotic and he wants his team to keep believing, saying:
Crazy, isn’t it. That’s why I said through the first eight weeks, ‘You just have to keep playing. You never know. If we let the [outside] noise get to us and get us all dark and stormy and weird about things, then you’re not set up to do anything at the end of the season. … If we can keep battling and fighting, who knows? Who knows? That’ll be a fun thing for everybody to write.
It’s only two wins and the 49ers and Bucs are among the worst teams in the league, but you can only play who is on the schedule. The Giants travel to Philadelphia next week to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Eagles, who sit at 4-6 and beat the Giants earlier in the season. Saquon and his teammates want to continue the win streak and keep hopes alive, so it’s a must-win game. In his postgame press conference, Saquon was asked if he was looking forward to going back to Pennsylvania – where he was a collegiate star for Penn State. The mature beyond his year’s rookie said:
You know, I’m not really excited about going back to play in Pennsylvania. I did that in college, and the past is in the past. I’m just excited to get back out there against those guys, we owe them one. They got us up here last time.
For the miracle run to continue, the Giants must continue to do the little things they’ve done over the last two weeks. Execute the basic elements of the game, win their individual battles, and build momentum. It’s a tall task, but with Alex Smith lost for the season for Washington, and the inconsistent play of Dallas and Philadelphia, everyone is still alive in a haphazard NFC east.
Check out Saquon Barkley’s full postgame press conference where I ask him about execution and specifically what the Giants have done to get on this streak.
Bol Bol Dominates Syracuse in a Win at 2K Empire Classic, Here is Where His Draft Stock Stands (Video)Read Now
On his 19th birthday, Oregon men’s basketball star freshman Bol Bol finished with 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks in an 80-65 win over Syracuse in the consolation game of the 2K Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden. This was a bounce-back performance for Bol and the Ducks, as they laid an egg Thursday night in the semifinals against Iowa. Uneven performances early in the season is what Oregon head coach Dana Altman expects from a young team. Following Friday’s win against Syracuse he said:
Today, I thought we competed much better…I’m really proud of the way they bounced back. We were really disappointed in them last night and our coaches expressed that. The way they turned it around, for a young team that hadn’t been together – I was pleased with that.
But the story of the tournament and this game is Bol. The son of former NBA player Manute Bol is 7’2 with a 7’8 wingspan. He’s listed at 230, but in person doesn’t look like he’s more than 210. But the lanky freshman has range, handle, touch and a great feel for the game. The rarest of attributes reserved for players in the NBA affectionately referred to as unicorns. See Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis & Kristaps Porzingis. 7 footers that possess guard-like skills and attributes to varying degrees. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has seen a lot of great players over his tenure in college basketball, but Bol is special Following the game, he said of Bol:
He’s very good…He’s got great touch. I think that’s the biggest thing. He has a great feel for the game. He’s a good passer and he’s a good scorer. He can shoot from the perimeter, he can shoot from the high post – that’s a great combination.
For Altman and Oregon, there is a fine line he has to balance between pushing Bol to get the most out of him and being patient because he is a freshman. But the likelihood is, Bol will be a one and done, so patience is a luxury Altman can’t afford. Oregon looks like a tournament team and a sweet 16 run or deeper will be dependent on the maturation of the uber-talented, but super slight freshman.
His ability to adapt and handle the rigors and physicality of the college game quickly will decide how far he can take this team, and he’s smart and understands that. After the win, I asked him to assess his play in the early season and about the adjustment to the college game.
Altman agrees with Bol, saying:
We do have to get him stronger. He’s got to play the game as more of an athlete, rather than straight up and down. When you’re straight up and down, everything seems to be moving a lot faster and seems to be a lot more physical than it is. He’s got to be lower and a better athlete. He’s a really good athlete, but when he’s straight up and down everybody pushes him around. He’s going to figure all these things out and he’s working with us, he wants to be a good player and he’s unique.
As we project forward to his potential in the NBA, this will be an area where improvements will have to be made. But he is a 19-year-old kid and he can definitely add more muscle and weight to his frame. He may never get as muscular as Giannis, but he could be wiry strong like KD. He is nowhere near the offensive talent of KD, but he has skills that will have many GM’s salivating.
Right now he doesn’t project ahead of any of Duke’s three freshmen and is likely a top 10 pick, though he may not make it past the 5th pick, as his potential might be too tempting to pass up. He’s not a plus athlete, but his feel is something you can’t teach and he’s only played four college games thus far.
For you fans of NBA teams that will be picking in the lottery in 2019 (you know who you are), you may want to stay up late and catch some Pac-12 college hoops. Oregon looks like the best team in the league, early on and Bol is your early favorite for freshman player of the year in the conference. Think of him as Kristaps Porzingis light, that’s not a bad thing.
Watch highlights of Bol against Syracuse and Dana Altman’s comments on his young star.
Inside On What The Nets Plan to Do In Wake of The Caris LeVert Injury & Why GM Sean Marks & HC Kenny Atkinson Can’t Be Patient Anymore (Video)Read Now
The Brooklyn Nets take on the Miami Heat tonight at Barclays Center in the team’s first game since the injury to their star guard and leading scorer Caris LeVert. The ex-Michigan Wolverine was having a breakout season in his third year, is the team’s go-to guy and showed the potential of being an all-star in this league. That all came to what initially seemed like a dramatic halt on Monday night in Minnesota as LeVert landed badly under the basket an appeared to fracture every bone in his ankle. In what can only be described as a miracle, LeVert was examined by the team’s orthopedist and the diagnosis is a subtalar dislocation of the right foot. He will be back at some point this season after completing his extensive rehabilitation program. While that’s certainly good news, general manager Sean Marks, and head coach Kenny Atkinson were quickly reminded how the hopes for an entire season and franchise hinge on the thinnest of margins. It is with that sobering reminder, Marks and Atkinson will do what they must to keep the team focused on this season, but come the summer of 2019, do everything within their power to stockpile this roster with top-tier talent. The time is now.
For the first time since 2013 the Nets own their first round pick, and while the thought from many might be the Nets should tank and hope to land one of the Duke Blue Devils’ star freshmen, Marks and Atkinson don’t believe in tanking. They will be pushed hard and will compete for their sidelined teammate. Truth be told, the Nets likely don’t believe in tanking because they are confident in their drafting ability. After all the team selected LeVert in 2016 with the 20th pick and drafted Jarrett Allen in 2017 with the 22nd pick. No doubt Marks and company believe they can identify gems and franchise building blocks no matter where they select. Now comes the important part for both men. How do they ensure, they are in the best possible position to attract top-tier free agents this summer?
First thing’s first, who are the keepers on the roster as currently constructed? We already mentioned Allen and LeVert. Allen Crabbe will exercise his player option next season and take the $18.5M owed to him as he likely won’t get that on the open market. Good news is, that’s an expiring deal that could be used in a trade package at some point next season if needed. Sharp shooting Joe Harris is in the first year of a two year deal, so he’ll also be back. Everyone else is either a restricted free agent or unrestricted. Whether or not they are on the Nets next season depend on how they perform the rest of this season and at what price the Nets can bring them back at. That’s especially important with D’Angelo Russell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. In Russell’s case, he has the opportunity to prove skeptics and doubters wrong with LeVert out as he will likely inherit those crunch time minutes. Atkinson has not trusted Russell thus far this season, but he may have no choice now. This is it for Russell, it’s now or never.
Once it’s decided they can look towards the free agent class in 2019 and determine who their top targets are. This is a roster devoid of top talent and if playoffs are the goal, the Nets need to attract some players. They have space available for two max salary players, and in order to attract the best of the best, they need to show serious promise. Players around the league have taken notice of LeVert and to a lesser degree Allen. If they both make a leap (which Caris was doing prior to the injury), with the culture Marks and Atkinson have built, Brooklyn is a preferred destination. They’re certainly in better shape than their rivals across the bridge.
While they would never publicly admit this, the LeVert injury has shifted the perspective for Atkinson and Marks. A season that started with so much promise, has soured a little. It’s the NBA, so they have a long way to go until the finish line, and until then they will preach next man up, one game at a time and the common cliche’s we’ve come to expect. But I suspect within their offices and in team meetings, Marks and to a lesser extent Atkinson (given his job as head coach) have their eyes focused on 2019. What can this roster look like with a top wing talent like Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard? Too lofty a goal? What about Tobias Harris or Khris Middleton? Niokola Mirotic would be a nice stretch 4 in Atkinson’s offense…
Regardless of whom they select the time is now for Brooklyn to accelerate this franchise forward and cement the roster with top-end talent and young cornerstone pieces. Teams like the Celtics, 76ers, and Bucks look poised for long-term success. With the right players in place, the Nets should be able to compete in what has rapidly become a pretty good eastern conference.
Prior to the game Kenny Atkinson and Sean Marks addressed the media and talked about the team’s short-term and long-term perspective, given the loss of Caris LeVert.
Patrick Ewing And Jessie Govan on The Big Man Lineage at Georgetown And The Season Outlook For The Hoyas (Video)Read Now
Patrick Ewing begins his second season at the helm of his alma mater. The Georgetown Hoyas will tip off the season Tuesday night against The University of Maryland Eastern Shore. This should be a comfortable home opener for the Hoyas, but Ewing knows after a 15-15 record in his first year including 5-13 in the Big East, nothing is a given. In year two, the Hoyas will start to look more like the team Ewing wants them to be, and a big reason for that is the return of his star center Jessie Govan. The senior averaged 17.9 ppg and 10 rpg. Govan showed tremendous improvement during his junior season, under the tutelage of Ewing who is not only the head coach but the former star center of the Hoyas in the 80s and the greatest player in school history. Govan could have entered the NBA draft in June but his decision to return was based in large part on his desire to work with Ewing for another season and help the Hoyas make the NCAA tournament and to continue the proud tradition of centers at Georgetown.
Beginning with Patrick Ewing, and continuing with Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, Othello Harrington, and Roy Hibbert, the Hoyas have had excellent big men. The game has evolved and back to the basket low post threats are becoming rare. Today centers have to be able to step out and shoot it from distance, giving offenses more room to operate and flow. Ewing has said he wants his team to be able to play with pace and be multifaceted on offense. A big part of the team’s ability to do that will be the leap Govan is able to make. The Queens native was named to the preseason All-Big East team and will have to play like an All-American if the Hoyas are to make the leap towards the upper echelon of the Big East. Govan is confident and believes he can do that, which is why he embraced the challenge of coming back to school. As a big man, he knows Ewing will demand a lot out of him and be extra hard on him, given that Ewing once dominated the position was national player of the year, a three-time All American, two-time Big East Player of the Year. Govan isn’t shy about his coach’s penchant for being extra tough on him and at Big East Media Day, he opened up about what that experience is like.
It’s important to set goals and have something for the team to strive for, but Ewing knows this will be a marathon, not a sprint. Both in the macro sense of the rebuild of the program and this upcoming season. The expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” is cliche but apropos. Ewing is starting to bring in the recruits he wants to mold into his style of play. He was asked at Big East Media Day about the style of play and how he wants to coach the team. He talked about excelling in the pick and roll, catch and shoot situations, all facets of the game. Being amorphous sounds good in theory but the Hoyas will need an identity. The one area they should be able to hang their hats on is playing with the intensity and effort their head coach did when he was at Georgetown and later in the pros.
Ultimately the overall rebuild is going to be tied to Ewing’s ability to land top recruits and play a style that will attract the nation’s best prep prospects. In the short term, if they can get to .500 in league play, a winning overall record, a decent run in the conference tournament, and postseason play, that will be huge in aiding Ewing’s recruitment pitches. Ewing has wanted an opportunity to be a head coach for a very long time, spending serval years as an assistant in the NBA. He believes he is the right man to restore Georgetown to prominence and can coach winning basketball. Time will tell.
See Patrick Ewing's full Big East Media Day comments.
Sijara Eubanks, Israel Adesanya & Daniel Cormier Dominate #UFC230 in Different Ways, Results The SameRead Now
The UFC 230 card Saturday night at Madison Square Garden was full of brutal hard-hitting action, and dominant performances by some of the sports biggest names. Three noteworthy performances were turned in by Sijara Eubanks, Israel Adesanya, and Daniel Cormier. Each of these fighters dominated but did it their own way, which is why they are who they are.
Eubanks is the #4 ranked women’s flyweight fighter. The week started off controversial as Eubanks was on Twitter trolling and talking about title shots. She then missed weight on Friday, forfeiting a percentage of her purse. But none of that mattered. Defiant and trolling as always, Eubanks entered the ring with Cardi B theme music blaring and egging on the crowd. Eubanks struck hard and often and won by unanimous decision. After the fight Eubanks said:
I thought it was a good fight. I really appreciate Roxanne taking the fight on short notice and putting on a show with me. I knew I was the stronger fighter and I just used that to my advantage. I had her hurt, thought I had her finished at a couple of points but all respect to her. She’s tough as nails and came to scrap. This was an important win because I needed to show everyone that I belong at the top of this division. I’m the one who deserves to fight the winner of Valentina [Shevchenko] and Joanna [Jedrzejczyk]. Make no mistake, I will be there on championship weight. I’m a grinder and I’m just going to keep grinding and beating my opponents until there is a gold belt strapped around my waist.
A dominating performance was turned in by Israel Adesanya. His opponent, Derek Brunson is a hard hitter, but his stance is so open, and he holds his head and chin very high, leaving him open for a straight shot to do damage. That’s exactly what happened. Adesanya was brash and confident and knew he would handle Brunson easily, delivering a straight knee kick right to the chin and ending the bout in the first round. Following the fight Adesanya said:
It was an easy night at the office. I told my team that I don’t get to come to New York enough and I wanted to be able to spend my time here enjoying the city so finishing the job early means I’ve got more time to relax. I have to go back and watch the performance but I felt great in there. I was taking my time and feeling him out, making him chase so I could time my shots. That knee was perfectly timed. You can ask my coaches about that because I’ve been wrecking them with it all week whenever they would shoot during our training sessions. People may think they know what I can do but tonight was an example that they don’t know. There’s levels to this fight game and I am leveling up over and over. I want to watch the other middleweight fights tonight and see how they play out. I don’t need to rush. We’ll see how the fights go, we’ll see if Gastelum gets injured and they need a replacement… I’m just going to sit back and observe. I’ll find the right move.
The main event was for the heavyweight title, featuring the champ Daniel Cormier and popular up and coming challenger Derrick Lewis. Fans were decidedly pro Lewis, and you can chalk that up to people loving the underdog, but there is more to it than that. America and fight fans love their violence, and the appeal to Lewis is his size and fighting style. The “Black Beast” is a big hulk of a man at 6’3″ and 265 pounds, the prevailing thought was if he could land some punches or kicks he had a chance. A “punchers” chance if you will. The thing about that is, it is just that, a chance. Cormier is a proven highly skilled champion. He knows strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. Cormier knows he doesn’t want to get into a striking battle with Lewis, that would tilt the scale in Lewis’ favor. But, if the match got onto the mat and turned into a wrestling match, it would be over by submission, and that’s exactly what happened. Despite the boos and groans from the crowd who wanted Cormier to “stand up and fight”, he knew all he had to do was get Lewis on the ground and he would submit. In the second round, Cormier took Lewis down again and submitted him via the rear naked choke. Following the match Cormier said:
Two belts for each shoulder! I get to look at this again. It’s history and Daniel Cormier is one of the best of all-time. What surprised me was him hitting me when I was coming in for that last shot. My leg is hurting from checking his kicks. Everything he hit me with had power behind it. I love Derrick Lewis and his story. I am honored to share the Octagon with him. I’ve been doing this for 9 years and have fought at championship level for 8 so nothing is a surprise to me. Derrick is good but he’s just not that level yet. Brock Lesnar, bring that WWE belt over here when you come… I feel like taking that one too. Let’s go, Brock!