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Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Notes About the 2023 Christmas Day Quintupleheader

The NBA's annual Christmas Day quintupleheader featured the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets, the reigning Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat, the 2022 NBA champion Golden State Warriors, the 2021 NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, and the 2020 NBA champion L.A. Lakers. We also saw the winners of four of the past five regular season MVPs: Nikola Jokic (2021-2022) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2019-2020). Joel Embiid, the 2023 regular season MVP, did not play due to injury.

Game One: New York Knicks 129, Milwaukee Bucks 122

1) Last season, the Bucks ranked first in the NBA in rebounding and second in defensive field goal percentage. This season, the Bucks rank 11th in rebounding and 16th in defensive field goal percentage. The two main differences are that the Bucks fired Coach Mike Budenholzer and traded Jrue Holiday for Damian Lillard. Budenholzer led the Bucks to the 2021 NBA title, but his replacement Adrian Griffin has never been an NBA head coach. Lillard is a prolific scorer, but he is also undersized and a subpar defensive player. The Bucks are still a championship contender because they have Antetokounmpo--who is perhaps the best all-around player in the NBA--but their declines in rebounding and defense could prove to be fatal weaknesses in the playoffs.

2) It is always special when Hubie Brown calls a game, and it is fitting that Brown--who was an assistant coach for the Bucks from 1972-74, and served as the Knicks' head coach from 1982-87--called this game. I think that Brown's previous ESPN telecast was Minnesota's 102-94 win versus San Antonio on December 6.

Brown pointed out that Milwaukee's 9-1 December record prior to this game had been fueled by their powerful fast break attack, and he said that a key factor for the Knicks would be matching up with the Bucks in the open court. Brown's analysis proved prescient, as the Knicks outscored the Bucks 23-12 in fast break points--an advantage that more than provided the margin of victory.

Brown praised the Knicks' pressure defense against Lillard in the opening minutes of the first quarter, while noting that the Knicks may not be able to maintain that pressure all game. Brown mentioned that Lillard ranks fifth in ABA/NBA history in three pointers made and said, "That's his game." Brown is correct that three point shooting is a big part of Lillard's game, but I would say that Lillard played into the Knicks' hands by forcing up contested three point shots early in the shot clock; he developed the habit of taking low percentage shots while serving as the number one option for non-contending Portland teams, but there is no excuse for jacking up such shots while playing alongside Antetokounmpo (as well as other Milwaukee players who are capable scorers, including Khris Middleton). 

The Knicks led by as many as 12 points in the first quarter, and were ahead 36-27 after the first stanza. Jalen Brunson poured in 15 first quarter points on 7-10 field goal shooting, and R.J. Barrett added 14 points on 6-10 field goal shooting. Middleton led the Bucks with seven first quarter points, while Antetokounmpo scored six points and Lillard had five points on 2-7 field goal shooting. Brown noted that a major factor was that the Knicks outscored the Bucks 22-10 in the paint. Brown urged the Bucks to attack the paint as they did in their three previous wins this season versus the Knicks, and to stop shooting so many three pointers.

I cannot emphasize enough that--contrary to all of the attention paid to "clutch" statistics--the NBA is a first quarter league, and the matchup advantages and patterns of play from the first 12 minutes often determine the course of play for the entire game. That was the case for this game.

The Knicks led 62-51 at halftime while outrebounding the Bucks 26-22 and outscoring the Bucks 32-16 in the paint. Brunson had 20 first half points on 8-15 field goal shooting, and Barrett scored 18 first half points on 8-13 field goal shooting. Lillard led the Bucks with 12 points, followed by Brook Lopez (10 points), Antetokounmpo (nine points), and Middleton (nine points).

Before the third quarter began, Brown praised Brunson for putting on a clinic in terms of how to score in the paint versus bigger defenders, and how to utilize various moves/countermoves (step-through, fadeaway, spin), noting that Brunson did not just show up and decide to do those moves today: it takes a lot of work to develop and maintain those skills.

Antetokounmpo scored 17 third quarter points and the Bucks trimmed the Knicks' lead to 77-73 midway through the third quarter, but the Knicks outscored the Bucks 21-14 down the stretch to reestablish an 11 point lead, 98-87, heading into the fourth quarter. 

As the Knicks pulled away to build a 16 point fourth quarter lead, Brown said, "If you're a Milwaukee fan, you're upset because you're being outworked in the paint." He added that before the game he never would have expected the Knicks to outscore the Bucks both in the paint and on the fast break.

Last Christmas, the Knicks got off to a fast start versus the Philadelphia 76ers but then faded in the fourth quarter and lost 119-112, but in this game the Knicks did not fall apart down the stretch, and they withstood a late Milwaukee run to end the Bucks' seven game winning streak. The Knicks outscored the Bucks in the paint 72-50. Brunson shredded Milwaukee's soft defense with a game-high 38 points on 15-28 field goal shooting. Hall of Famers Bernard King and Richie Guerin are the only Knicks who have scored more than 38 points in a Christmas Day game. Julius Randle contributed 24 points and nine rebounds, Barrett cooled off in the second half to finish with 21 points, and Immanuel Quickley added 20 points on 7-10 field goal shooting. Antetokounmpo and Lillard each scored 32 points. Antetokounmpo shot 13-24 from the field while grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing for six assists. Lillard shot 10-21 from the field, and he had a game-high eight assists.

This game represented a reversal of fortune from the previous game between the teams; on Saturday, the Bucks beat the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, 130-111. In that game, the Bucks outrebounded the Knicks 53-41, and outshot the Knicks from the field, .527-.441. Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 28 points on 11-17 field goal shooting while also contributing seven rebounds and seven assists. Brunson scored a game-high 36 points on 15-26 field goal shooting. Brunson is a great player, but it is evident that Lillard is not a good on the ball defender, nor is he effective as an off the ball defender; when Lillard is on the court, the Bucks are playing four on five defense while praying that Lillard will provide a spark on offense.

3) The Knicks deserve full credit for playing well and finally beating the Bucks after losing nine in a row versus Milwaukee, but I would argue that this game tells us more about the Bucks than it does about the Knicks; the Bucks have serious problems defensively, and they will not be able to mask those problems just by trying to outscore teams, particularly in the playoffs versus elite teams. 

Today we saw the Knicks at their best, but by the end of the season I still expect that the Knicks will prove to be--to quote the memorable Dennis Green rant--who we thought they were: a good team that has a chance--at best--to earn the fourth seed and win one playoff series before being bounced in the second round.

Game Two: Denver Nuggets 120, Golden State Warriors 114

1) It is not easy to win back to back championships. The Kevin Durant-Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors are the last team to accomplish this (2017-2018), and the list of the NBA's other repeat champions since 1990 includes some of the greatest teams of all-time, with each featuring at least one member of the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team: the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade Miami Heat (2012-13), the Kobe Bryant L.A. Lakers (2009-10), the Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant L.A. Lakers (2000-2002), and the Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen Chicago Bulls (1991-93; 1996-98). Kobe Bryant is the only player in the shot clock era (post-1954) to lead a team to back to back titles without having a Top 75 teammate!

Many "experts" dismissed the Nuggets last season until the Nuggets cliched the championship, and many of those same "experts" are writing off the Nuggets this season, even though the Nuggets' winning percentage so far is better than their winning percentage last season. It is true that five teams have better records than the Nuggets, but would you trust any of those teams in a seven game series versus the Nuggets?

Nikola Jokic is once again having an MVP caliber season, ranking second in the league in both rebounds and assists while averaging nearly 27 ppg. He led the Nuggets on a dominant 16-4 playoff run last season, and he is quite capable of performing similar postseason heroics again. 

2) The Golden State Warriors won four championships by surrounding Stephen Curry with a very talented cast--and, on two of those championships teams, with an even greater player (Kevin Durant)--but this season the Warriors have been heavily reliant on Curry. Not surprisingly, the Warriors are struggling to get above the .500 mark. The Warriors' 2022 championship team ranked second in the NBA in defensive field goal percentage and third in points allowed. With all due respect to Curry--and I have great respect for Curry--he was not the primary (or secondary or tertiary) reason that the Warriors had a dominant defense. This season, the Warriors rank 11th in defensive field goal percentage and 20th in points allowed. Their fourth place ranking in three pointers made--and even their league-leading rebounding--cannot make up for all of those defensive lapses, a problem compounded by the team's high turnover rate.

The Warriors enabled Draymond Green's violent misconduct for far too long, and now he is serving an indefinite suspension after his latest act of on court violence, striking Jusuf Nurkic in the face and then implausibly claiming that he had made accidental contact. Green has long been overrated--the Warriors went 15-50 in 2019-20 when Green did not have Curry and Klay Thompson to carry most of the weight--but there is no doubt that because of the way Golden State's roster is constructed he can play a valuable role when he is able to control his anger management problem. I refuse to give credence to the notion that the Warriors would have won the 2016 NBA title if Green had not been suspended for game five of the NBA Finals; anyone who is going to give Green credit for his positive contributions must also acknowledge that part of the Green package is that his lack of poise/self-control regularly causes him to be ejected and suspended. That is an integral aspect of Green's basketball character, much like some players are chokers and some players are injury-prone. When the Warriors signed up for the Draymond Green experience, they signed up for him losing his cool and missing games, particularly in light of the fact that they repeatedly excused his misbehavior instead of disciplining him.

3) In the first half of this game, ESPN commentator J.J. Redick asserted that Chris Paul's ability to control and direct an offensive possession is "second to none in NBA history." Apparently, Redick has never heard of Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Walt Frazier, Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd, and LeBron James, to name just a few championship-winning playmaking maestros. Of course, we know that Redick has heard of Cousy. Redick's ignorant, shameful comments about Cousy specifically and retired great players in general ensure that no one who loves and understands NBA basketball takes seriously anything that Redick says.

4) The Nuggets built a 24-14 lead in the first quarter, but the Warriors trimmed that margin to 29-26 by the end of the period. The Warriors clung to a 54-53 halftime lead mainly because their reserves outscored the Nuggets' reserves 28-8. Former starter Andrew Wiggins led the Warriors with 10 first half points and a game-high +19 plus/minus number. The Nuggets' Michael Porter Jr. topped both teams with 15 points, while Jamal Murray added 11 points. Jokic had a quiet first half (six points, six rebounds, four assists).

Jokic scored 10 third quarter points on 10-10 free throw shooting and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also scored 10 points as the Nuggets outscored the Warriors 39-35 to take a 92-89 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Jokic (10 points) and Jamal Murray (nine points) led the way in the final stanza as the Nuggets held off the resilient Warriors to win their fifth straight game. Murray finished with a game-high 28 points on 10-18 field goal shooting, and Jokic had 26 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists. Jokic shot just 4-12 from the field, but he attacked the basket enough to earn 18 free throw attempts, and he made each of them. Porter Jr. (19 points), Aaron Gordon (16 points), and Caldwell-Pope (16 points) round out a big and strong Denver starting lineup that rivals Boston's starting five as the league's best quintet this season.

Wiggins paced the Warriors with 22 points, while Curry had a quiet game by his lofty standards (18 points on 7-21 field goal shooting, game-worst -26 plus/minus number). This was a rare game during which the Warriors' bench dominated--outscoring the Nuggets' bench 57-15--but Curry and the starters were decisively outplayed.

Game Three: Boston Celtics 126, L.A. Lakers 115

1) After winning the NBA Cup, the Lakers went 2-5 in their next seven games, and heading into Christmas Day the Lakers posted a 10-14 record in their non-NBA Cup games this season. The Lakers placed a lot of emphasis on the NBA Cup, perhaps because they lack confidence in their ability to win the NBA championship. Kobe Bryant, whose Lakers went 5-2 in the NBA Finals, once declared, "You know this franchise does not hang Division banners. It does not hang Conference championships. We hang one banner and one banner only and that's NBA championships. You have to start there. You have to understand that that's what this is."

LeBron James joined the Lakers in 2018. Since that time, he has led the Lakers to one "bubble" title, but the Lakers have also missed the playoffs twice and lost in the first round in 2021. It says a lot about the mentality of the franchise under James' direction that winning the NBA Cup is considered to be banner worthy; the decision to honor the NBA Cup win with a banner will look particularly odd if the Lakers once again lose in the first round of the playoffs.

2) More than a third of the way through the regular season, the Boston Celtics look like the class of the league, not just because of their won-loss record but because of their balanced attack: they rank third in the NBA in points allowed, third in rebounding, fourth in defensive field goal percentage, and sixth in points scored. Other than injuries--which can derail any team--there are only two concerns about the Celtics:

  1. Although they have proven that they can consistently reach the Eastern Conference Finals, since 2017 they are just 1-4 in the Eastern Conference Finals--and the one time they reached the NBA Finals, they lost to an undersized Golden State team even after winning game one on the road.
  2. Coach Joe Mazzulla has publicly stated that he wants the Celtics to attempt 50 three pointers per game (they currently rank first in the NBA with nearly 43 three pointers attempted per game), and that high variance style of play is not optimal for a championship contender, particularly a team that has so many players who are good at attacking the hoop.

3) The Celtics opened the game with a 12-0 run in the first 2:39, and they led 32-23 at the end of the first quarter. Each Boston starter scored between four and nine points, while Anthony Davis led both teams with 13 points on 6-9 field goal shooting. James had five points on 1-5 field goal shooting.

In the second quarter, the Lakers battled back to tie the score at 52 before the Celtics regained the advantage and settled for a 58-57 halftime lead. The Celtics attempted 24 three pointers in the first half--in line with Mazzulla's goal to attempt 50 three pointers per game--but they made just seven; their poor three point shooting plus the Lakers' scoring advantage in the paint (30-24) enabled the Lakers to overcome their slow start. Davis had 20 points and seven rebounds in the first half, while James had eight points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Three Celtics scored 11 first half points each (Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis, and Jrue Holiday), and Peyton Pritchard added 10 points off of the bench.

The Lakers took their first lead of the game on their first possession of the third quarter: James posted up Holiday on the right block, backed him down, and converted a short left handed shot over Holiday's outstretched arms. The Lakers are at their best when Davis and James attack the paint on offense and defend the paint on defense. Unfortunately for the Lakers, James did not score again in the third quarter, and their defense collapsed, allowing the Celtics to score 41 points on 12-23 field goal shooting. The Celtics led 99-90 heading into the fourth quarter, and they cruised to victory by outscoring the Lakers 27-25 in the fourth quarter.

Each Boston starter scored at least 18 points: Porzingis led the Celtics with 28 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, followed by Tatum (25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists), Jaylen Brown (19 points), Derrick White (18 points, game-high 11 assists), and Holiday (18 points, seven assists, seven rebounds).

Davis led the Lakers with a game-high 40 points on 15-26 field goal shooting plus a game-high 13 rebounds; when he is healthy and energized he can be a dominant player. Taurean Prince added 17 points, while James had 16 points on 5-14 field goal shooting while grabbing nine rebounds and passing for a team-high eight assists. James has been a dominant Christmas Day performer, but this will not be remembered as one of his great games.

ESPN's Doris Burke suggested that the Lakers' problems are on offense, specifically three point shooting. Does she believe that the Lakers should have to score more than 115 points to win? The Lakers shot .486 from the field, including .406 from three point range; those numbers would rank fifth and first in the league respectively this season. The Lakers gave up 126 points on .506 field goal shooting--including 68 second half points on .545 field goal shooting--and the Celtics outscored them 58-50 in the paint, including 34-20 in the second half. The Lakers lost this game because of their poor defense. 

Game Four: Miami Heat 119, Philadelphia 76ers 113

1) It is sometimes said that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but after James Harden forced his way out of Philadelphia and to Los Angeles, Joel Embiid has been posting scoring/rebounding numbers unmatched by any 76er not named Wilt Chamberlain or Moses Malone. It is doubtful that anyone in Philadelphia has become fonder of James Harden or is thinking wistfully about Harden's annual playoff collapses.

Rebounds are not fungible--despite the pathetic, misguided assertions by Russell Westbrook's critics suggesting otherwise--but the way that Embiid and the 76ers have thrived without Harden running the show indicates that assists are both fungible and overrated, at least in terms of measuring a player's unselfishness and his value as a playmaker. Last season, Harden led the NBA in assists (10.7 apg), but the 76ers ranked 16th in the league in assists and 14th in scoring. Sans Harden this season, the 76ers rank 13th in assists and fourth in scoring; in other words, not only have the 76ers collectively replaced Harden's assists without missing a beat, they are more productive offensively without being limited by Harden's overdribbling, poor shot selection, and penchant to disappear when it matters most.

"Stat gurus" and media members often focus on the exploits of players who rack up a lot of assists but when heaping praise on their favorite players they neglect to note that (1) in recent years scorekeeping standards for assists have loosened in general, and (2) some players (most notably Chris Paul, but I suspect there are others as well) benefit from particularly loose scorekeeping regarding assists. I am not saying that Harden lacks any passing skills, but I am saying that his playmaking has long been overrated, and I am saying that his gaudy assist totals are fungible: his playmaking can be easily replaced, as the 76ers are proving.

2) The Miami Heat are a puzzling team. They don't look like anything special statistically at either end of the court, and they are fighting to stay above the Play-In Tournament line--but they reached the NBA Finals last season after surviving the Play-In Tournament, and they have reached the NBA Finals in two of the previous four seasons, a feat that no other franchise has accomplished during that time span; think about how many "Super Teams" have been built since 2019, and it is remarkable that none of them have reached the NBA Finals more than once (and some of them never reached the NBA Finals). The Heat do not look like an NBA Finalist right now on court or on paper, but we should all know better than to count them out.

3) This game's star power dimmed significantly because of the absences of Embiid (sprained ankle) and Miami's Jimmy Butler (calf strain). The 76ers jumped out to an 18-8 lead, but without Embiid that success was not sustainable, and the Heat closed the first quarter on an 18-4 run to take a 26-22 lead.

The Heat led by as much as 17 points (60-43) in the second quarter, and had a comfortable 63-49 advantage at halftime--but, as the cliche goes, every NBA team makes a run. The 76ers outscored the Heat 37-23 in the third quarter, briefly taking a two point lead before entering the fourth quarter tied 86-86.

The fourth quarter was tightly contested, but the Heat led for the final 10:31, and pushed their advantage to 11 in the last minute before settling for a six point win.

Rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored a game-high 31 points on 11-15 field goal shooting while also grabbing 10 rebounds. Bam Adebayo had an excellent all-around game (26 points, game-high 15 rebounds, five assists), and Tyler Herro contributed 22 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Duncan Robinson scored 16 points and had a game-high +26 plus/minus number. The Heat outrebounded the 76ers 56-36, and they outscored the 76ers 50-46 in the paint; those are the two categories where Embiid's absence was felt the most. Tobias Harris led the 76ers in scoring (27 points), rebounding (seven), and assists (six). Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 25 points and also had seven rebounds. Mo Bamba provided a spark off of the bench with 18 points on 7-8 field goal shooting, and DeAnthony Melton had 15 points, but Tyrese Maxey--who is having an All-Star caliber season--suffered through a miserable game, finishing with 12 points on 4-20 field goal shooting.

Game Five: Dallas Mavericks 128, Phoenix Suns 114  

1) The Mavericks and Suns are two wild card teams that could emerge as legit contenders or end up as first round playoff losers. Both teams have multiple future Hall of Famers, both teams can score a lot of points when at full strength, and both teams are questionable in terms of both defense and depth. 

2) After Kyrie Irving joined the Mavericks last season, the Mavericks plummeted out of playoff contention and did not even qualify for the Play-In Tournament just one season after reaching the Western Conference Finals with Jalen Brunson playing Irving's position. This season, the Mavericks feasted on an easy early schedule, but they have fallen back in the standings recently. Irving has not played more than 60 games in a season since 2018-19, and this season he has already missed 13 out of 30 games (including this one).

3) After losing in the second round for the second consecutive season, the Suns fired Coach Monty Williams, shipped out Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton, and went all in with a "Big Three" featuring Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal; that trio has not even spent the equivalent of one full 48 minute game on the court together, so it is not surprising that the Suns are struggling to get above .500.

4) During the first quarter, Luka Doncic scored his 10,000th career point, reaching that milestone in fewer games (358) than any active player. Wilt Chamberlain holds the record for fewest games to score 10,000 career points (236), and Doncic is tied with Bob McAdoo for seventh on the career list behind only Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, and George Gervin.

Doncic's career per game averages in points (28.0), rebounds (8.6), and assists (8.1) are each higher than LeBron James' career per game averages in those categories (27.2/7.5/7.3). Of course, James has posted those averages over a 21 year span during which he has won four NBA championships, while Doncic is in his sixth season and has yet to play in the NBA Finals. 

5) The Mavericks outscored the Suns 36-24 in the first quarter. Doncic had 17 points on 5-6 field goal shooting while also dishing for four assists. Grayson Allen led the Suns with six points, while Durant had five points, and Booker had just two points on 1-5 field goal shooting.

The Mavericks never trailed in the first half, and enjoyed a 64-54 halftime lead as Doncic dominated with 24 points on 7-13 field goal shooting while also passing for eight assists. Chimezie Metu led the Suns with 13 points and 10 rebounds; that is a credit to him, but it is not a great sign for the Suns when their most productive player is an unheralded reserve. Booker had 11 points on 3-9 field goal shooting, and Durant had nine points on 2-7 field goal shooting.  

As noted above in the Miami-Philadelphia recap, every NBA team makes a run. Sure enough, the Suns rallied in the third quarter, and took an 84-82 lead after Allen stole the ball from Doncic and then drilled a three pointer. Allen scored 19 third quarter points, and the Suns led 92-91 heading into the final stanza. Doncic scored 14 third quarter points.

The Mavericks dominated the fourth quarter 37-22. Doncic finished with 50 points, tying Rick Barry for the third highest scoring performance on Christmas Day. He also tied the Christmas Day record for three point field goals made (eight). Doncic shot 15-25 from the field, including 8-16 from three point range. He had a game-high 14 assists, plus six rebounds, four steals, and three blocked shots. Derrick Jones Jr. added 23 points, Dereck Lively II contributed 20 points, and Tim Hardaway Jr. chipped in 18 points. Allen led the Suns with 32 points, and he tied Doncic with eight three point field goals made. Metu had 23 points and a game-high 19 rebounds. Booker added 20 points and a team-high 10 assists, but he had a game-worst -18 plus/minus number. Durant finished with 16 points on 4-11 field goal shooting, plus seven assists and a game-high six turnovers.

Analysis of Previous Christmas Day Quintupleheaders:

Notes About the 2022 Christmas Day Quintupleheader (2022)

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 @ 1:30 AM



At Tuesday, December 26, 2023 3:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lakers & Celts combined to take 74 threes (https://www.cbssports.com/nba/gametracker/boxscore/NBA_20231225_BOS@LAL/); and they had Burke and Doc Rivers announcing. I used to be an avid NBA fan. I only tuned in yesterday so I could trash talk Boston fans if LA had won. The league has lost me

At Friday, December 29, 2023 1:10:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I understand your frustration.

Many decision makers in the NBA do not understand that even though a three point shot is worth one more point than a two point shot it is suboptimal to take as many three pointers as possible without consideration of time/score/game situation/matchups. Further, from an entertainment standpoint--and the NBA is focused on entertainment, because that is what generates revenue--it is not great to watch teams chucking up tons of three pointers, particularly when there are tons of misses.

At Sunday, January 07, 2024 7:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

same Anonymous as prior comment:

From Phil Mushnick's column (https://nypost.com/2023/12/30/sports/shane-lowry-calling-out-jon-rahms-liv-golf-spin-takes-courage/):

Christmas Day, Celtics-Lakers on ESPN, Celts lead, 100-92, 10:18 left. Good fourth-quarter basketball stuff to come. Perhaps. We’ll let the new-age, post In Season Tournament NBA take it from there, just as it reads on the play-by-play sheet:

Celts’ Payton Pritchard misses 3-point pull-up jump shot.
Celts’ Sam Hauser offensive rebound.
Celts’ Jrue Holiday bad pass, D’Angelo Russell steals.
Lakers’ Russell bad pass, Jaylen Brown steals.
Celts’ Hauser misses 3-point shot.
 Lakers’ Jared Vanderbilt defensive rebound.
Lakers’ LeBron James misses 3-point shot.
 Celts’ Al Horford defensive rebound.
Celts eventually win by 11, with almost no sensible, recognizable team basketball played the entire fourth quarter. But the Celtics made 13 of 42 3-point shots.

Auld lang syne. Gee, how I miss NBA games back when they played basketball.


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