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Monday, December 26, 2022

Notes About the 2022 Christmas Day Quintupleheader

As usual, the NBA's annual Christmas Day quintupleheader featured the league's highest profile teams, including the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors, the reigning Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics, the 2021 NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, and the 2020 NBA champion L.A. Lakers. We also saw reigning two-time regular season MVP Nikola Jokic and his Denver Nuggets, plus likely future MVP Luka Doncic and his Dallas Mavericks, who reached the Western Conference Finals last year for the first time since Dirk Nowitzki led the team to the 2011 NBA title. 

Game One: Philadelphia 76ers 119, New York Knicks 112 

1) The Knicks led most of the way, but faded badly in the fourth quarter. The Knicks opened the game with a 12-4 run, and they pushed that margin to 37-25 by the end of the first quarter as Julius Randle (13 points on 4-7 field goal shooting in 12 minutes) and Jalen Brunson (10 points on 4-9 field goal shooting) set the pace. 

The Knicks maintained a solid working margin for most of the second quarter, but the 76ers pulled within three points just before halftime after Shake Milton hit a half court buzzer beater. Randle scored 25 points on 9-15 field goal shooting, tying the most points scored in a first half on Christmas Day in the last 25 years. R.J. Barrett had 11 points despite shooting just 3-11 from the field, and Brunson contributed 10 points plus six assists. Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 16 first half points, doing most of his damage in the paint and at the free throw line. De'Anthony Melton added 12 points on 4-4 field goal shooting, while James Harden had 11 points on 2-5 field goal shooting, plus seven assists and no turnovers. 

Early in the fourth quarter, the 76ers took their first lead of the game (101-98) on a Georges Niang three pointer. Niang soon hit two more treys to push the margin to eight (108-100), and the 76ers did not look back after that. Even with Niang getting loose, the Knicks' overall fourth quarter defense was not bad--they gave up fewer points in the final stanza (24) than in any of the three previous quarters--but their offense disappeared, as they scored just 16 points after producing at least 26 points in each of the first three quarters. 

Embiid finished with 35 points on 12-22 field goal shooting. He shot just 10-15 from the free throw line, and he only had eight rebounds plus one assist. Embiid's plus/minus number was -6. Only four of the 10 76ers who played had a positive plus/minus number, and three of those four were bench players (Georges Niang, Montrezl Harrell, and Shake Milton). Harden (29 points, 13 assists, four rebounds, four steals) was the only Philadelphia starter with a positive plus/minus number (+10). Niang contributed 16 points on 6-11 field goal shooting in just 23 minutes, and he had a game-high +17 plus/minus number. Niang drilled four three pointers in the fourth quarter.

Randle led the Knicks with 35 points on 12-24 field goal shooting. Brunson added 23 points and 11 assists, but he suffered some kind of leg injury that limited him to three ineffective fourth quarter minutes (he had a -10 plus/minus number during those three minutes, a marked contrast to his +3 plus/minus number in his other 32 minutes).

2) The Knicks had won eight games in a row to improve to 18-13 before losing two games in a row prior to Christmas Day. Free agent acquisition Brunson (20.1 ppg, 6.4 apg) has provided a spark offensively, and is part of a potent scoring trio with Randle (22.7 ppg) and Barrett (20.4 ppg). The Knicks rank third in rebounding, and they rank third in defensive field goal percentage, so if their version of a "Big Three" continues to be productive offensively then they may return to the playoffs for just the second time since 2013 (which would also be the second time in three years since Tom Thibodeau became their head coach).

3) Embiid is without question an MVP caliber player, and he is playing at an MVP level this season, including averaging career-highs in scoring (33.0 ppg) and field goal percentage (.528)--but he has already missed eight out of 32 games this season, he has never played more than 68 games in the regular season, and he has never led the 76ers past the second round of the playoffs. Until he proves otherwise, there is no reason to believe that he has the necessary durability and mentality to be the best player on a championship team--and that is not "hate": that is a statement of fact that will remain true unless/until he disproves it.

4) The 76ers have won eight games in a row. This season, the 76ers are 12-6 with James Harden (which projects to 55-27 for an 82 game season), and they are 8-6 without James Harden (which projects to 47-35 for an 82 game season). It is worth noting that the 8-6 record sans Harden has been accomplished without the injured Tyrese Maxey, who is arguably the 76ers' second best player now behind Joel Embiid. 

Harden has been with three different teams since 2018 (Houston, Brooklyn, Philadelphia), and during that time span none of those teams advanced past the second round of the playoffs. During his eight full seasons in Houston, Harden demonstrated that I was correct to assert that Harden "is not Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James" and that he was not equipped to be the best player on a championship team (even if I did not anticipate the extent that, aided by rules changes/officiating changes, Harden would post gaudy scoring and assist numbers as a Rocket). It remains to be seen if Harden can be the second or third best player on a championship team.

Game Two: Dallas Mavericks 124, L.A. Lakers 115

1) It is always a treat to watch Hubie Brown provide color commentary. Unless I missed something, this is the first ESPN/ABC game Brown did this season. I always enjoy hearing Brown's words of wisdom. Brown is still the best at concisely pointing out the specific reasons that a player is effective, and at diagnosing a team's strengths and weaknesses. After the Mavericks missed several three point shots in the first quarter, Brown calmly noted that this is how the Mavericks play: they rank third in three point field goal attempts but just 14th in three point field goal percentage, so when they are hot they are dangerous and when they are cold "you get what you are seeing here." Brown not only diagnosed what happened in the first quarter, but he foreshadowed what would happen in the third quarter.

2) The Lakers led 28-21 at the end of the first quarter. LeBron James scored 10 points on 5-8 field goal shooting, and he had a +15 plus/minus number in nine minutes. The Mavericks shot just .353 from the field in the first quarter. Luka Doncic had seven points on 2-4 field goal shooting.   

At halftime, the Lakers were up 54-43, with James pouring in 18 points on 9-15 field goal shooting. His +25 plus/minus number indicated his tremendous impact during the 19 minutes he played. Russell Westbrook (12 points on 5-12 field goal shooting, four rebounds, two assists) was the only other Laker who scored in double figures. He had a plus/minus number of 0 during 12 minutes. Christian Wood topped the Mavericks with 15 points on 6-8 field goal shooting, but he also had a team-worst -18 plus/minus number. Doncic (10 points on 3-6 field goal shooting, -7 plus/minus number) was the only other Dallas player who scored in double figures.

Early in the third quarter, the Lakers extended their lead to 58-46, but then the Mavericks countered with three three pointers to trim the margin to 58-55, and soon after that Tim Hardaway Jr. drilled a trey to put Dallas up, 65-63. As Hubie Brown mentioned during the first quarter, the Mavericks are a team that runs hot and cold from beyond the three point arc, but they will keep launching from long range. The Mavericks outscored the Lakers 51-21 in the third quarter, draining nine three pointers while tying the franchise record for most points in a quarter. Brown noted that the Mavericks were successful not merely because they took a lot of three pointers but also because they played very patiently and unselfishly. Doncic attacked the paint to draw double teams, and then the Mavericks kept passing the ball until they obtained wide open shots. 

James tried to singlehandedly bring the Lakers back in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 points in a little over three minutes, but that proved to be too little too late for the Lakers, whose defense has been leaky throughout the season.

Doncic paced both teams with a +24 plus/minus number as he scored 32 points on 9-16 field goal shooting while also contributing nine rebounds and nine assists. Wood added 30 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, four steals, and two blocked shots along with a +16 plus/minus number. Hardaway Jr. scored 26 points on 10-19 field goal shooting, including 6-14 from beyond the arc as the Mavericks finished 18-44 (.409) from three point range despite their slow start.

James poured in a game-high 38 points on 13-23 field goal shooting while also grabbing six rebounds and dishing for five assists. He finished with a +2 plus/minus number. Westbrook added 17 points on 7-16 field goal shooting, plus five rebounds, four assists, and no turnovers in 24 minutes. His -30 plus/minus number reflects the reality that he was on the court when the Mavericks went on their third quarter three point barrage. Plus/minus can be useful, particularly in large sample sizes, but sometimes it can be deceptive, and this is an example of a player's plus/minus number not accurately reflecting his individual performance. Austin Reaves scored 16 points with a -15 plus/minus number. No other Laker scored in double figures.

Casual fans and careless commentators will focus on the Lakers' 9-28 (.321) three point shooting while not mentioning that (1) the Lakers scored 115 points on .488 field goal shooting, and (2) the Lakers gave up 124 points on .524 field goal shooting. The simple truth is that any NBA team that gives up 124 points on .524 field goal shooting is not going to win very many games; the Lakers' main problem is their porous defense, not their three point shooting. Contrary to what many people insist, it is not necessary to make a lot of three pointers to win, but it is necessary to defend well at all levels: in the paint, in the midrange, beyond the three point arc, and at the free throw line (in terms of defending without fouling).

3) The Mavericks finished with the fourth best record in the Western Conference last season before advancing to the Western Conference Finals after stunning the Phoenix Suns in the seventh game of the second round. Entering Christmas Day, the Mavericks were tied with the Portland Trail Blazers for eighth place in the Western Conference. Doncic is having an MVP caliber season (32.8 ppg, 8.7 apg, 8.3 rpg, career-high .497 FG%) but the Mavericks rank 30th (out of 30 teams) in rebounding, and they rank 23rd in defensive field goal percentage. Much has been said about how much the Mavericks miss Jalen Brunson, but the reality is that for the Mavericks to be a consistent contender--and not just a team that makes one Conference Finals run before falling back to the pack--they must improve their defense and rebounding, two categories in which Brunson did not make major contributions.

4) Westbrook leads NBA reserves in assists, and he ranks third in scoring among bench players. The 2017 regular season MVP and future Hall of Famer has made a great transition to the sixth man role. Brown mentioned Westbrook's excellent play during the telecast, and last season Brown was one of the few commentators who did not jump on the anti-Westbrook bandwagon.

The silence of Westbrook's critics is deafening, particularly considering how much unwarranted blame Westbrook received last season. Westbrook was not the Lakers' main problem last season, and he has been one of the few bright spots for the Lakers this season. It is worth contrasting the way that Westbrook has accepted a reserve role with the way that many big name players have resisted coming off of the bench, including but not limited to Carmelo Anthony (late in his career) and James Harden (early in his career with Oklahoma City).

5) Last year, Anthony Davis missed the Christmas Day game as part of a 17 game absence (December 19, 2021-January 23, 2022) due to injury. Davis missed this year's Christmas Day game due to injury, and he is expected to be out of the lineup for at least another week. Davis is an 11 year veteran who has played more than 68 games in a season just twice; the Lakers have an 11-14 record this season with Davis, and are now 2-6 without Davis. The Lakers are not particularly good even with Davis, but they are awful without him. He is their best defensive player, so the Lakers' defense goes from mediocre to terrible when Davis does not play.

6) James played in his 17th Christmas Day game, breaking the record previously held by Kobe Bryant. It is an understatement to say that James has had a remarkable career; he is less than 700 points away from breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time career regular season scoring record, and he is on pace to shatter Abdul-Jabbar's record for best single season scoring average by a player in his age 38 season (Abdul-Jabbar averaged 23.4 ppg in 1985-86, while James is averaging 27.4 ppg this season).

7) Prior to the game, the Mavericks unveiled a statue honoring Dirk Nowitzki, the only player in NBA history to spend an entire 21 season career with one team. Nowitzki and Doncic were teammates during Nowitzki's last season/Doncic's rookie season, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to see them in person when the Mavericks visited Madison Square Garden early in 2019.

Game Three: Boston Celtics 139, Milwaukee Bucks 118

1) The Celtics shot 7-9 from the field to start the game--including 5-6 from three point range--to storm to a 19-12 lead at the 7:56 mark. The Celtics led 36-28 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a running three pointer at the buzzer by Sam Hauser. Jaylen Brown scored 13 points on 5-8 field goal shooting, including 3-3 from three point range. No other player from either team had more than seven points in the first quarter.

The Celtics cooled off a bit in the second quarter, and the Bucks outscored them 33-26 to cut the margin to 62-61 by halftime. Jayson Tatum led both teams with 19 first half points on 6-11 field goal shooting, while his teammate Brown chipped in 15 points on 6-10 field goal shooting. The Bucks featured balanced scoring with three players in double figures: Jrue Holiday (13), Brook Lopez (12), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (11).

Tatum erupted for 20 third quarter points on 7-10 field goal shooting as the Celtics extended their lead to 100-86. The Bucks never seriously threatened during the fourth quarter, and Coach Mike Budenholzer waved the white flag at the 3:41 mark when he sent Antetokounmpo and Holiday to the bench while trailing 127-108.

Tatum finished with a game-high 41 points on 14-22 field goal shooting and 10-10 free throw shooting. He had seven rebounds, five assists, and just one turnover along with a +18 plus/minus number. Tatum was without question the best player on the court. Brown also had an excellent game: 29 points on 11-19 field goal shooting, five rebounds, four assists, +11 plus/minus number. 

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 27 points and a game-high nine rebounds but he shot just 9-22 from the field as the Celtics did a very good job of limiting his touches in the paint. He had a game-worst -27 plus/minus number. Much like Westbrook's plus/minus number, this should not be interpreted to mean that he was the worst player in the game, but it does indicate that he was on the court when the Celtics made some big scoring runs. Holiday had a good all-around game (23 points on 8-14 field goal shooting, seven assists, six rebounds).

2) It is fair to say--not just based on this game, but based on nearly half a season's worth of games played--that the Celtics are the best team so far this season. That being said, the Bucks are currently without the services of All-Star swingman Khris Middleton, who makes a significant impact at both ends of the court, and who has played just seven games this season. Even though the Bucks are just 4-3 with Middleton this season, that record does not reflect his value: he only played six minutes in one of the losses, and he was clearly hampered by a knee injury in his last game before missing the next five games (including this one) to rest his knee.

In contrast, the Celtics are at full strength with the exception of Robert Williams III being on a minutes restriction as he comes back from knee surgery.

3) Antetokounmpo is on pace to average at least 30 ppg, at least 10 rpg, and at least 5 apg. The only other players who have accomplished that trifecta in the same season are Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Russell Westbrook.

4) Barring injuries or other unforeseen developments, the Bucks and Celtics are the two best teams in the Eastern Conference--if not the entire NBA--and they are headed toward what should be an epic showdown in the Eastern Conference Finals. Perhaps the streaking Brooklyn Nets will work their way into that conversation, but the onus is on the Nets to prove that they can stay healthy and avoid internal turmoil, the two issues that have been their downfall since Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving teamed up in 2019.

Game Four: Golden State Warriors 123, Memphis Grizzlies 109

1) The undermanned Golden State Warriors--without the services of 2022 Finals MVP Stephen Curry and 2022 All-Star Andrew Wiggins--led 33-29 at the end of the first quarter after shooting 6-11 from three point range, led by Jordan Poole's 17 points on 5-9 field goal shooting (including 3-5 on three pointers). The Warriors pushed that margin to as many as 15 points, but the Grizzlies pulled to within 59-54 by halftime. Poole cooled off in the second quarter, but still finished with 20 first half points on 6-13 field goal shooting (including 3-7 from three point range). Donte DiVincenzo was the only other Warrior who scored in double figures (13 points on 5-8 field goal shooting, including 3-6 from three point range). Ja Morant had 22 points on 10-16 field goal shooting, but his teammates shot just 11-31 (.355) from the field. 

The most surprising first half statistic was that the undersized Warriors outrebounded the Grizzlies, 31-19. The Grizzlies entered the game ranked first in the league in rebounding. Their best rebounder, Steven Adams, did his part with six first half rebounds, but Morant was the only other Memphis player who had more than one first half rebound. The Warriors played with great energy and effort, while the Grizzlies were uncharacteristically passive and lackadaisical--and nothing changed in the third quarter, as the Warriors outscored the Grizzlies, 40-30.

At the 9:20 mark of the fourth quarter, Poole received his second technical foul and thus was automatically ejected. The Warriors led 106-90 after Desmond Bane made the resulting free throw. Poole's early departure changed nothing, as the Grizzlies were not able to gain any ground the rest of the way.

Poole finished with a team-high 32 points on 11-25 field goal shooting, including 3-10 from three point range. He cooled down significantly after his big first quarter, but other Warriors picked up the slack, most notably Klay Thompson (24 points despite shooting just 8-25 from the field), DiVincenzo (19 points on 7-12 field goal shooting), Ty Jerome (14 points on 6-9 field goal shooting), and Anthony Lamb (11 points on 4-5 field goal shooting). Draymond Green added three points, 13 rebounds, and 13 assists. 

The Grizzlies outrebounded the Warriors in the second half, but the Warriors still won the overall rebounding battle, 51-44. Morant poured in a game-high 36 points on 15-29 field goal shooting, but his teammates combined to shoot 24-65 (.369) from the field. Adams had a game-high 14 rebounds, and Morant and Brandon Clarke had seven rebounds apiece, but no other Memphis player had more than three rebounds.

The Grizzlies talked like this would be a statement game, but the Warriors' actions spoke louder than the Grizzlies' words.

2) Morant raised some eyebrows recently when he declared that the only team he focuses on as a potential threat is the Boston Celtics, and when questioned about that statement he emphasized that no team in the Western Conference concerns him. The sub-.500 Warriors may not have seemed to be in position to dispute Morant's opinion, but that is why they play the games. Further, there are two other teams currently vying with Memphis for the best record in the West (Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans), plus four other teams within three games of the leaders. Morant's confidence in himself and his team is understandable, but at least until the Grizzlies win a title less talk and more action may be the more prudent course.

3) There is no doubt that Morant is a special player. Though slight of build, he attacks the paint ferociously not only to score but also to grab rebounds. He is averaging 26.5 ppg, a career-high 7.9 apg, and a career-high 6.4 rpg. However, his field goal percentage (.449) and free throw percentage (.735) have both dipped, and--even though he is renowned for some spectacular defensive plays that he has made--he has yet to establish himself as even a good defensive player, let alone a great defensive player. At 6-3, 174, his durability and his ability to impact the game defensively will be valid question marks until proven otherwise. Very few 6-3 or under players have clearly been the best player on an NBA championship team. 

4) The Warriors have had a disjointed season so far. First, the always combustible Draymond Green punched out Jordan Poole during a practice session. Later, the Warriors sent James Wiseman--the second overall selection in the 2020 NBA Draft--to the G League (he is back with the Warriors after a 10 game stint in the minor league). Then, Curry suffered the shoulder injury that has kept him out of the lineup since December 14, and will likely sideline him for at least another two weeks. The Warriors were not playing great even with Curry (14-12), and they have been awful without him (2-6 including this surprising win versus the Grizzlies). If everything breaks right, the Warriors could be a serious contender by playoff time, but if a few things go wrong the Warriors could miss the playoffs.

Game Five: Denver Nuggets 128, Phoenix Suns 125 (OT)

1) The NBA saved the best for last--at least in terms of providing a game that was competitive from beginning to end.

Devin Booker returned to Phoenix' lineup after missing three games due to injury, but the Nuggets were already up 16-7 just 4:20 into the game before Booker left the game and went to the locker room to be reevaluated. Booker was soon ruled out for at least the rest of this game. Denver led 28-24 at the end of the first quarter, paced by Nikola Jokic's 15 points on 6-8 field goal shooting. Mikal Bridges (10 points on 4-6 field goal shooting) led Phoenix, with no other Sun scoring more than four points.

The Suns took the lead early in the second quarter after Damion Lee hit a three pointer to make the score 29-28. The Suns remained on top for most of the rest of the quarter, only briefly relinquishing the advantage after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's three pointer put Denver ahead, 38-36. At halftime, the Suns led 57-51. Landry Shamet scored 15 points in 17 minutes for the Suns, while Bridges and Lee each added 10 points. Jokic did not score in the second quarter but still led the Nuggets with 15 first half points. Aaron Gordon (11 points) was Denver's only other double figure scorer. The Nuggets hurt themselves with poor shooting, with Jamal Murray (nine points on 2-8 field goal shooting) and Michael Porter Jr. (scoreless on 0-5 field goal shooting) being the two primary culprits.

Early in the third quarter, the Nuggets continued to be sloppy on offense and sluggish on defense. Chris Paul opened the second half scoring by dribbling into a midrange pullup jumper as the Suns used a 12-6 run to extend their lead to 69-57 before Denver called a timeout at the 7:52 mark. Denver cut the margin to 84-79 after Jokic drained a three pointer with 34 seconds remaining, and the Nuggets trailed 84-81 heading into the fourth quarter after Murray hit a pair of free throws. Five Suns had reached double figures in scoring through three quarters, while Jokic (31 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists) needed just one assist for a triple double.

Jokic notched his 83rd career triple double with an assist to a cutting Porter Jr. at the 7:53 mark of the fourth quarter, trimming Phoenix' lead to 96-93, but the Suns quickly rebuilt their lead to 106-98. The Nuggets chipped away for the next several minutes before going ahead, 108-107, on a Murray three pointer. Paul countered with a midrange jumper, but then Porter Jr. split a pair of free throws to tie the score at 109. Shamet rescued an off target Paul pass before drilling a three pointer to put Phoenix up 112-109, and then the teams traded empty possessions before Jokic's tip in cut the lead to 112-111 with 1:17 left in regulation. After the teams traded misses, Denver ran the two man game with Jokic and Murray. Deandre Ayton switched on to Murray, who missed a long jumper. The Nuggets fouled Ayton, who made one out of two free throws with 15.1 seconds remaining, leaving the door open for Denver to tie with a two pointer or go ahead with a three pointer.

The Nuggets burned their last timeout, and then Murray scored on an emphatic dunk after running the two man game again with Jokic. The Suns called timeout with 10.7 seconds remaining. Bridges was called for an offensive foul for setting an illegal screen, giving Denver a chance to go for the win, but Bridges blocked Murray's three point attempt as time ran out.

Ayton opened the overtime scoring with a jumper to put Phoenix ahead 115-113, but the Nuggets countered with six straight points. Paul missed two free throws, and then Jokic's runner put the Nuggets up 121-115. Shamet hit back to back three pointers sandwiched around a Caldwell-Pope trey, and then Ayton's layup cut Denver's lead to 124-123. Shamet took a charge to nullify a sensational Gordon dunk, but upon review the call was reversed to a block, and Denver led 126-123 with 24 seconds remaining after Gordon missed the ensuing free throw. Gordon rebounded his miss and was immediately fouled. He made the second of two free throws to put Denver up 127-123 with 22.1 seconds remaining. Paul hit a jumper, and Murray countered by splitting a pair of free throws.

The game ended with Shamet missing a three pointer, and Bruce Brown stealing Bridges' pass just after the Suns grabbed the offensive rebound. Brown dribbled down court and ran out the clock before the Susn could foul him.

Jokic logged the highest scoring triple double in Christmas Day history (41 points, 15 rebounds, 15 assists). Gordon had 28 points, including seven dunks, and he added 13 rebounds. Murray bounced back from his slow start to finish with 26 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Caldwell-Pope had 15 points.

Shamet led Phoenix with 31 points on 10-20 field goal shooting, including 7-17 from three point range. Ayton contributed 22 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Lee scored 18 points on 5-8 field goal shooting, including 4-5 from beyond the arc. Paul had 17 points and a game-high 16 assists, but he shot just 6-17 from the field.

2) The Suns put forth a valiant effort in this game, but it is no secret that something is wrong with the Suns. Not only did they fold meekly in game seven at home versus Dallas to bow out of the 2022 playoffs, but the relationship between starting center Deandre Ayton and head coach Monty Williams has been publicly contentious on multiple occasions. Chris Paul is showing serious signs of age--and he has never been the leader that so many proclaim him to be. Last season, the Suns posted the NBA's best record (64-18) while ranking 10th in rebounding and third in defensive field goal percentage; as is usually the case, offense gets headlines, but defense gets wins. This season, the Suns rank 15th in rebounding, and they rank 15th in defensive field goal percentage, so it is not surprising that their winning percentage has declined.

The Suns led the Bucks 2-0 in the 2021 NBA Finals before losing four straight games as yet another Paul-led team suffered a postseason collapse. That will probably turn out to be the closest this iteration of the Suns gets to winning a championship; Paul is nearing the end of the line, and it seems likely that sooner rather than later the Suns will have to choose between Ayton and Williams.

3) Jokic does not soar through the air before "posterizing" opponents with dunks, nor is he an elite three point shooter, but he is a fantastic all-around player who is a dominant scorer, rebounder, and passer. Basketball greatness is not about how you look or about style, but about how much you impact the game--and Jokic has a significant impact on the game.

Analysis of Previous Christmas Day Quintupleheaders:

Notes About the 2021 Christmas Day Quintupleheader (2021)

Notes About the 2020 Christmas Day Quintupleheader (2020)

Notes About the 2019 Christmas Day Quintupleheader (2019)

Several Stars Shine During Christmas Day Quintupleheader (2018)

Christmas Day Quintupleheader Recap (2012)

Comments and Notes About the Christmas Day Quintupleheader (2011)

Thoughts and Observations About the Christmas Day Quintupleheader (2010)

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posted by David Friedman @ 1:55 AM



At Thursday, December 29, 2022 1:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

did you watch all that bball?? that's a lot to watch in one day!

At Friday, December 30, 2022 1:23:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Yes, I watched every game, as has been my tradition most years.

At Saturday, December 31, 2022 11:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see personally enjoy seeing Chris Paul flameout every postseason. He's a dirty player and as you mentioned not the great leader he is touted to be.

Looking forward to the NBA season kick into high gear as the overrated NFL ends it's season



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