2020-2021 NBA Game Thread

Sam Ray Not

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I gotta say, for a guy who gives endlessly repetitive crap to HRB for having suggested that Curry might be slipping from stardom, you seem to not worry too much that you spent a year or more spinning LeBron's +/- numbers to suggest that he was in some sort of serious decline, too.

Curry is great. And still is. LeBron is great. And he still is. And its impressive that both remain great after considerable wear and aging. That slam was damn impressive and stands on its own. Saying its not is like someone watching Curry hit a 35 footer and saying: meh, I saw Austin Rivers do the same - big deal.

In short: Everything doesn't have to be about projecting out your rooting interests.
Yeah, that's the not the first time you've ridden me about something you half-remember me writing about LeBron 3-4 years ago, and I gotta say, I think it's pretty grossly exaggerated or oversimplified. You can find the exact post(s) in question, but I never thought LeBron was in "serious decline," and have always given him his just due as an absolutely mind-blowing basketball player — one of the two greatest of all-time, or #1 with a bullet if you value longevity over peak level.

If you look at his full-season stats from his last season with the Cavs, though (which IIRC is the era you're referring to here) it was not an unreasonable inference at the time that he might have declined slightly from his absurdly high peak. He was a 33 year-old superstar with a huge number of career minutes logged who had gone from three straight seasons of +16.6, +15.8. +17.3 net on-off to a full 82-game season of +1.9 (just +1.4 on court). As I recall, my hypothesis was that when the mild decline started, it would be felt more on defense than on offense due to his genius IQ as a playmaker; and that the sudden drop in plus-minus numbers might be evidence of that. In 20:20 hindsight, his age 34-36 seasons have made that last season with the Cavs look anomalous. His defense in particular with the Lakeshow has been annoyingly good. But I don't think it was crazy hypothesis at the time. 33 year old players tend to decline. I'd add that when I have floated theories about his decline, I have usually added disclaimers that it might be wishful thinking on my part.

As far as the dunk: I'm in awe of LeBron's continued athleticism and durability at age 36. I've just seen enough evidence of it over the past year that I wasn't that wowed by that particular clip of him flushing a wide open dunk. YMMV.

In any case, I'm pretty sure nothing I've ever written about LeBron is particularly comparable to saying Curry was "being exposed as a non-star" based on small-sample theater of two games. I was far from the only poster here who gave HRB (polite) crap about the comment, and I don't think I was "endlessly repetitive" about it. I also did not misquote, exaggerate, or creatively paraphrase what HRB wrote about Curry, as you've done to me several times now regarding LeBron. Either way, tho, I think HRB is a grownup who can handle it. He owned up to the Curry mistake a few days ago. If after a full season, Curry's on-off or other numbers have tanked and he wants to posit that he might be beginning a decline at 33, I think I'll take it in stride. But beginning a phase of decline is not the same as "being exposed as a non-star."
 
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Kliq

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Paradigmatic example of this phenomenon is Allen Iverson, who is unfairly maligned by the stats folks (or he was back in the day). That 76ers team that made the finals won with its defense, and they were able to get away with surrounding him with offensive juggernauts like Mutombo, Eric Snow, and the immortal George Lynch exactly because you could achieve an average offense by just handing Iverson the ball and letting everyone else get out of the way. Which is incredible and rare.
Your point is technically correct, but that Sixers team is arguably the worst team to ever make the Finals. They went through a horrible Eastern Conference (Sixers were probably not one of the five best teams in the NBA that season) and BARELY made it past Milwaukee in a series that had a fairly large controversy at the time about the refereeing (Philly outshot Milwaukee 180-120 from the line during the series) and Iverson was outplayed by Ray Allen. It's not like a core of Allen/Sam Cassell/Glenn Robinson was a juggernaut; and then Philly was really waxed in the Finals. Iverson having the big Game 1 and the Ty Lue step-over really helps his legacy; because without that moment he has very little playoff success. That Sixers team never made it out of the second round (again in a very weak East) outside of that season. 2001 was really just a fluke.

It was also a different time, the game was much lower-scoring and you could fight your way through having one player inefficiently take a lot of shots if your defense could hold on. Really, the history of offensive-scoring machines, from Maravich to Gervin to Dantley to Dominque to T-Mac to Iverson to Carmelo to Westbrook to Harden is one that lacks playoff success. Only Jordan (and Kobe) really shamelessly gunned their way to titles.
 

slamminsammya

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Your point is technically correct, but that Sixers team is arguably the worst team to ever make the Finals. They went through a horrible Eastern Conference (Sixers were probably not one of the five best teams in the NBA that season) and BARELY made it past Milwaukee in a series that had a fairly large controversy at the time about the refereeing (Philly outshot Milwaukee 180-120 from the line during the series) and Iverson was outplayed by Ray Allen. It's not like a core of Allen/Sam Cassell/Glenn Robinson was a juggernaut; and then Philly was really waxed in the Finals. Iverson having the big Game 1 and the Ty Lue step-over really helps his legacy; because without that moment he has very little playoff success. That Sixers team never made it out of the second round (again in a very weak East) outside of that season. 2001 was really just a fluke.

It was also a different time, the game was much lower-scoring and you could fight your way through having one player inefficiently take a lot of shots if your defense could hold on. Really, the history of offensive-scoring machines, from Maravich to Gervin to Dantley to Dominque to T-Mac to Iverson to Carmelo to Westbrook to Harden is one that lacks playoff success. Only Jordan (and Kobe) really shamelessly gunned their way to titles.
I don't disagree. That team was not a good finals team. But they were a good team, and definitely one of the most extreme teams in terms of the distribution of skills across its players, thats all. You don't get 53 wins by putting Mutombo, Lynch, Snow, and McKie around anyone other than Iverson at that time (Kobe was not yet full force Kobe).

I am not sure I understand your point about the era being lower scoring though. It is true, but if anything we are in the golden age right now of heliocentric offenses, and good ones at that. Giannis, Luka, Harden (the Houston version), Lillard.

You have to wonder about the Harden example though, since saying he lacked playoff success is maybe overreacting to being a Chris Paul injury away from knocking off maybe the best team ever?
 

Cesar Crespo

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Strus is at 15 games, 15.1 minutes per, .533/.433/.778 shooting. Averaging 9.6 3PA/36. 26/60. Still gets erratic playing time and it's not a huge thing, but he'd look better than Green.
 

terrynever

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No Embiid tonight so Sixers lead 36-27 with 3 minutes left in first quarter. Sixers hit 14=of first 17 shots but Clarkson comes off bench to hit 4 straight 3s. Simmons thinks he is back at LSU. 19 points so far. Hasn’t missed yet.
 

BigSoxFan

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No Embiid tonight so Sixers lead 36-27 with 3 minutes left in first quarter. Sixers hit 14=of first 17 shots but Clarkson comes off bench to hit 4 straight 3s. Simmons thinks he is back at LSU. 19 points so far. Hasn’t missed yet.
Watching this one. Simmons has been incredible. Sixers are taking it to a team that destroys offenses. Really impressive so far.
 

mikeot

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This Sixers-Jazz matchup on Mountain Time is good enough to wreak havoc with my sleep schedule.
 

Kliq

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Clarkson with 40 points, 0 rebounds and 1 assist in 29 minutes off the bench. That is a hell of a stat line.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Clarkson with 40 points, 0 rebounds and 1 assist in 29 minutes off the bench. That is a hell of a stat line.
Coach Snyder (before game): “Jordan, you have one job!!!”

Clarkson (after game): “Sorry about that pass, Coach.”
 

terrynever

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Simmons played center and scored 42 points last night. That’s what Magic did to Philly in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, rookie year. Except his team won. Ben just kept on taking it to the hoop. Gobert had no idea, especially early. Drive and dish is Ben’s role in Philly but last night it was drive and finish. Danny Green and Friggin’ Korkmaz again gave nothing from the shooting guard slot. Wonder if Redick is still available?
 

Apisith

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Harden averaging 23/9/12 with a true-shooting % of 66%. His usage is down a lot, the Nets need to give him the ball more. He’s far too efficient to live on 25% usage. Give him the ball and let him cook, man.
 

BigSoxFan

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Harden averaging 23/9/12 with a true-shooting % of 66%. His usage is down a lot, the Nets need to give him the ball more. He’s far too efficient to live on 25% usage. Give him the ball and let him cook, man.
Kyrie must love this. Harden is taking the PG job so all Kyrie has to do is look for his shot. Harden can sleepwalk to 10+ assists every night passing to Kyrie, KD, and Harris.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Harden averaging 23/9/12 with a true-shooting % of 66%. His usage is down a lot, the Nets need to give him the ball more. He’s far too efficient to live on 25% usage. Give him the ball and let him cook, man.
Harden is playing the point for the Nets and is initiating literally every offensive set. He’s had 30 assists the past two games (and a +61). Their offense isn’t the problem.
 

HowBoutDemSox

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Simmons played center and scored 42 points last night. That’s what Magic did to Philly in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, rookie year. Except his team won. Ben just kept on taking it to the hoop. Gobert had no idea, especially early. Drive and dish is Ben’s role in Philly but last night it was drive and finish. Danny Green and Friggin’ Korkmaz again gave nothing from the shooting guard slot. Wonder if Redick is still available?
Another anecdote suggesting that the Simmons/Embiid duo might perhaps be better as a pair of solo acts. The team is obviously playing well enough that they won’t break them up anytime soon, but it does make me wonder what Simmons would look like as the focal point of a team build around his unique skill set.
 

BigSoxFan

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Another anecdote suggesting that the Simmons/Embiid duo might perhaps be better as a pair of solo acts. The team is obviously playing well enough that they won’t break them up anytime soon, but it does make me wonder what Simmons would look like as the focal point of a team build around his unique skill set.
Seems like he gets so passive sometimes when Embiid is in the lineup. Last night, he knew he had to be aggressive and he was great. I don’t recall seeing him look better in a game I watched.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Seems like he gets so passive sometimes when Embiid is in the lineup. Last night, he knew he had to be aggressive and he was great. I don’t recall seeing him look better in a game I watched.
He has so much untapped physical ability it’s insane. The biggest challenge for Simmons is between the ears in figuring out how to integrate his massive skills with his teammates that maximize both of their potentials. He’s still very young from a BBIQ perspective.
 

Jimbodandy

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He has so much untapped physical ability it’s insane. The biggest challenge for Simmons is between the ears in figuring out how to integrate his massive skills with his teammates that maximize both of their potentials. He’s still very young from a BBIQ perspective.
He's like Magic and Giannis had a baby. If all of the light switches ever go on, he'll be a top 3 player. I can't imagine trading him, knowing that might get hung around my neck forever
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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He's like Magic and Giannis had a baby. If all of the light switches ever go on, he'll be a top 3 player. I can't imagine trading him, knowing that might get hung around my neck forever
Not directed at you but it's funny that about a month ago, this board was talking about Simmons as being a top 20-25 player who hasn't made any progression and comparing him to Oladipo.

Little different characterization today. Not the same people but it's just interesting to note at least IMO.

If Simmons was on the table for Harden, I would have taken him if I were running HOU.
 

Jimbodandy

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Not directed at you but it's funny that about a month ago, this board was talking about Simmons as being a top 20-25 player who hasn't made any progression and comparing him to Oladipo.

Little different characterization today. Not the same people but it's just interesting to note at least IMO.

If Simmons was on the table for Harden, I would have taken him if I were running HOU.
Totally fair to point this out.

Fwiw, I think that it depends on what you think of his mindset.

Con: he's four years in and really hasn't progressed at all. His year on year statlines are carbon copies. Also he basically won't shoot outside of the paint. Finally, he only infrequently shows the type of aggression that we saw last night.

Pro: if that level if aggression ever became his norm, sweet Jesus. And if he ever becomes a credible shooter, he's a different dude also.

I'm not betting on him putting it all together, but I'm not betting against him either. If that seems like equivocation, it is.
 

terrynever

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Totally fair to point this out.

Fwiw, I think that it depends on what you think of his mindset.

Con: he's four years in and really hasn't progressed at all. His year on year statlines are carbon copies. Also he basically won't shoot outside of the paint. Finally, he only infrequently shows the type of aggression that we saw last night.

Pro: if that level if aggression ever became his norm, sweet Jesus. And if he ever becomes a credible shooter, he's a different dude also.

I'm not betting on him putting it all together, but I'm not betting against him either. If that seems like equivocation, it is.
Simmons opened the season underperforming but he has been much more aggressive since he missed a couple games. Sixers were winless in the three games he missed. Last 10 games, averaging 19.7 ppg, shooting 60 percent from field, 8 rebounds, 8 assists.
Magic played with a big center, too. They did not blend perfectly. Lakers had better pieces around their Big Two — Worthy, Wilkes, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper. Sixers have Tobias Harris, Danny Green and Seth Curry. No comparison.
This west coast trip exposed Green especially. Morey is going to do something soon at the 2 guard slot.
 

Kliq

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Simmons is kind of a mental case who refuses to shoot outside of the paint, despite the fact that everybody in basketball agrees that he would be a much better player if he did that. Any thoughts about him have to include the fact that he has, for some unexplained reason, refused to get better.
 

Euclis20

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Simmons opened the season underperforming but he has been much more aggressive since he missed a couple games. Sixers were winless in the three games he missed. Last 10 games, averaging 19.7 ppg, shooting 60 percent from field, 8 rebounds, 8 assists.
Magic played with a big center, too. They did not blend perfectly. Lakers had better pieces around their Big Two — Worthy, Wilkes, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper. Sixers have Tobias Harris, Danny Green and Seth Curry. No comparison.
This west coast trip exposed Green especially. Morey is going to do something soon at the 2 guard slot.
The Magic/Simmons comparison works a bit, but the game is totally different now than 35 years ago. Spacing is everything now. Even 10 years ago you could get away with three players on the court who didn't have 3 point range, but in today's NBA it's hard to have an above average offense with more than one non-shooter on the floor at a time.

Plus if Magic really needed a 3 point shoot, he seemed to have the tools to develop one. He hit 81% from the line as a rookie and finished at nearly 85% for his career (he shot over 90% over his last 3 full seasons). It's an aspect of these comparisons that never quite work because Simmons isn't a poor shooter for a playmaker, he's perhaps the worst of all time. Guys like Magic (and Giannis) are/were bad 3 point shooters, which is at least one level above Simmons.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Totally fair to point this out.

Fwiw, I think that it depends on what you think of his mindset.

Con: he's four years in and really hasn't progressed at all. His year on year statlines are carbon copies. Also he basically won't shoot outside of the paint. Finally, he only infrequently shows the type of aggression that we saw last night.

Pro: if that level if aggression ever became his norm, sweet Jesus. And if he ever becomes a credible shooter, he's a different dude also.

I'm not betting on him putting it all together, but I'm not betting against him either. If that seems like equivocation, it is.
To me, it's impossible to talk about Simmons without talking about the situation he found himself in. He really hasn't been surrounded with guys that complimented his skillset.

As HRB mentions above, Simmons' skills and athleticism are breathtaking. He's also, what, 24? I think guys are so young when they come into the league, people forget that even after five (or so) years, they still aren't in their prime.

I'd bet on him too but that's easy for me to say from my keyboard.
 

Kliq

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The Magic/Simmons comparison works a bit, but the game is totally different now than 35 years ago. Spacing is everything now. Even 10 years ago you could get away with three players on the court who didn't have 3 point range, but in today's NBA it's hard to have an above average offense with more than one non-shooter on the floor at a time.

Plus if Magic really needed a 3 point shoot, he seemed to have the tools to develop one. He hit 81% from the line as a rookie and finished at nearly 85% for his career (he shot over 90% over his last 3 full seasons). It's an aspect of these comparisons that never quite work because Simmons isn't a poor shooter for a playmaker, he's perhaps the worst of all time. Guys like Magic (and Giannis) are/were bad 3 point shooters, which is at least one level above Simmons.
The difference between Simmons and Magic Johnson is that one of those guys was one of the most intelligent, competitive players in history who is also one of the greatest leaders in the history of team sports, and the other is a guy who has shown no real offensive improvement since entering the league and does not appear to be competitive at all.
 

Kliq

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A competitor would actually work to get better on offense. A competitor would take well-known criticisms of their game and work on them. A competitor wouldn't just flatline from their rookie year. The commentary from last night's game tells you everything; people praising Simmons for "being aggressive" and "trying to score" all things that SHOULD come naturally to the kind of alpha player that Simmons has the potential to be.

People work themselves up defending Simmons, talking about all of the things he does really well (which are all true) to counter the fact that the guy REFUSES TO SHOOT THE BASKETBALL and has willfully ignored any logical progressive steps for him to improve as a player. I don't care how many jumpers he takes in shoot-around, he never takes them in games and that is almost the sole reason why his ceiling has been limited, and it it has to almost entirely be by choice. 90% of his shots come from inside ten feet of the basket.

"Well he is a good defender and can really pass the ball and is great getting out in transition blah blah blah" the guy has some serious mental blockage and has refused to take the one logical step that would take his game to a new level. He appears to be one of the least competitive NBA players I can recall watching.

And I think Simmons, if he was put on the right team where he could be the point-center and be used more as a screener like Jokic, would be a Top 10ish player.
 

the moops

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How in hell would he be a top 10'ish player if he is non-competitive? That makes no sense. Yes, he has some weird shooting stuff going on, but he is a hell of a defender and screener and passer, and you don't become those things without being a competetive player.
 

terrynever

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The difference between Simmons and Magic Johnson is that one of those guys was one of the most intelligent, competitive players in history who is also one of the greatest leaders in the history of team sports, and the other is a guy who has shown no real offensive improvement since entering the league and does not appear to be competitive at all.
The difference between Simmons and Magic Johnson is that one of those guys was one of the most intelligent, competitive players in history who is also one of the greatest leaders in the history of team sports, and the other is a guy who has shown no real offensive improvement since entering the league and does not appear to be competitive at all.
Pretty valid observation. Magic was a killer competitor from the womb while Ben admitted just last night that he is ”still learning” the mental part of the game. That’s pretty telling. But we forget that Magic had to get his first Lakers coach fired before things fell into place. Ben had to deal with his friend from Down Under, Brett Brown, until this season. Doc is giving Ben the green light to push the pace and forget about shooting from outside. Will it work? I don’t know. But the kid is playing with some steam this season.
The money quote from Ben in this linked article comes in the second to the last paragraph.

 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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all things that SHOULD come naturally to the kind of alpha player that Simmons has the potential to be.
For whatever reason, I don't think Simmons is wired to be an alpha player. Maybe he can learn how to play like one, but I don't think he's wired like MJ, LBJ, Magic, or Larry, just to name a few.
 

Kliq

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Pretty valid observation. Magic was a killer competitor from the womb while Ben admitted just last night that he is ”still learning” the mental part of the game. That’s pretty telling. But we forget that Magic had to get his first Lakers coach fired before things fell into place. Ben had to deal with his friend from Down Under, Brett Brown, until this season. Doc is giving Ben the green light to push the pace and forget about shooting from outside. Will it work? I don’t know. But the kid is playing with some steam this season.
The money quote from Ben in this linked article comes in the second to the last paragraph.

Magic didn't need to get his first coach fired for things to fall into place, he won a championship during his rookie season with one of the all-time clutchest performances in NBA Finals history. He did definitely get Westhead fired; but he also did that because he was tired of playing in Westhead's system that saw him often playing off-ball with Norm Nixon. So it was partially his own competitive streak that got Westhead fired and Riley brought in a different system that gave him more autonomy.


For whatever reason, I don't think Simmons is wired to be an alpha player. Maybe he can learn how to play like one, but I don't think he's wired like MJ, LBJ, Magic, or Larry, just to name a few.
It's not just that pantheon-level class of players; put Dame Lillard or Ja Morant's head on his body and Simmons would have already won the MVP by now. I'm just tired of people always gushing about all the things he does well and ignoring how incredibly weird it is that he refuses to shoot outside the paint. People talk about Ben Simmons shooting like he is Giannis, a poor (but willing!) shooter from outside when the reality is that he is far, far more problematic.
 

terrynever

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Magic didn't need to get his first coach fired for things to fall into place, he won a championship during his rookie season with one of the all-time clutchest performances in NBA Finals history. He did definitely get Westhead fired; but he also did that because he was tired of playing in Westhead's system that saw him often playing off-ball with Norm Nixon. So it was partially his own competitive streak that got Westhead fired and Riley brought in a different system that gave him more autonomy.
Not sure how “clutchest” Magic had to be in a 123-107 win. Game was never really close. Magic played great but Philly had no answers. Certainly Darryl Dawkins was always more of a question than an answer. Jamaal Wilkes killed Philly with 37 points. He was Doc’s man. Magic’s rep took a hit during the Westhead controversy but Paul’s system was screwy. Up-tempo, almost like today’s game.
 

bigq

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Not sure how “clutchest” Magic had to be in a 123-107 win. Game was never really close. Magic played great but Philly had no answers. Certainly Darryl Dawkins was always more of a question than an answer. Jamaal Wilkes killed Philly with 37 points. He was Doc’s man. Magic’s rep took a hit during the Westhead controversy but Paul’s system was screwy. Up-tempo, almost like today’s game.
It was tied at the midway point and then the Lakers ran away with it in the 2nd half. Despite not playing with their star center the Lakers killed Philadelphia on the boards with a 52-36 rebounding advantage led by Magic’s 15 while playing out of position at the 5. It was one of the most amazing rookie performances in NBA finals history.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Not directed at you but it's funny that about a month ago, this board was talking about Simmons as being a top 20-25 player who hasn't made any progression and comparing him to Oladipo.

Little different characterization today. Not the same people but it's just interesting to note at least IMO.

If Simmons was on the table for Harden, I would have taken him if I were running HOU.
I must have turned off that silliness before the Oladipo “comp.” Good lord.

The Simmons for Harden package made so much sense for both teams. Wish I was a fly on the wall to hear those phone calls.
 

radsoxfan

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I don't recall the Simmons-Oladipo comp talk, but I still think 20-25 is totally fair for his range right now. Simmons has been better the last couple of weeks but big picture he is still pretty much the same guy since he came into the league.

For what it's worth, Simmons currently ranks 23rd in the league in LEBRON stat. 48th real plus minus. 44th on RAPTOR. 20th in VORP. 30th in Win Shares. Saying he is a top 20 player right now is quite generous.

Here is is DARKO chart, pretty amazing how he hasn't changed at all. Threw Embiid and Oladipo on there too. Poor Victor, that quad tear is seeming like a career changer.
 

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terrynever

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It was tied at the midway point and then the Lakers ran away with it in the 2nd half. Despite not playing with their star center the Lakers killed Philadelphia on the boards with a 52-36 rebounding advantage led by Magic’s 15 while playing out of position at the 5. It was one of the most amazing rookie performances in NBA finals history.
I suffered through it. 1980 was a rare year in Philly. All four pro teams played for the championship of their sport. Only the Phillies won.
 

Apisith

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Harden with 38/7/11 on 14/22 shooting away from home against the Suns. Without Kyrie and KD. Nets comeback to win.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Harden with 38/7/11 on 14/22 shooting away from home against the Suns. Without Kyrie and KD. Nets comeback to win.
Texting with buddy early 3Q about how Phoenix is going through the motions as if the Nets are going to roll over. They lost this one as much as the Nets won it imo.....but these Nets are figuring out their personnel and how to win games in the 120’s. I doubt this works well in the playoffs but they are a fun reg season team to watch.
 

bigq

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I suffered through it. 1980 was a rare year in Philly. All four pro teams played for the championship of their sport. Only the Phillies won.
Sorry about that. I really thought that the Eagles were going to win the Super Bowl that year. Jaworski throwing an INT just over a minute in that was quickly turned into a TD for the Raiders followed by Plunkett’s 80 yard TD several minutes later and the game was basically over before the first quarter ended.