2021 NBA Playoffs Gamethread

Euclis20

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Agree on the D, frankly that's the only thing keeping him even in the discussion for a fringe All-Star/top 25-30ish player.

He has some offensive skills of course, but he gives so much back with his lack of shooting and floor spacing that his offense is just shockingly "blah" overall.
I absolutely love his defense and think he's the most versatile defender in the NBA, but perimeter defenders always look better when there's a rim protecting center behind them. For all the talk about how playing on a team built around his skillset might unlock his offense, I think it's playing on a team with Embiid that maximizes his defense.

*edit - flawed as he is, I think he's pretty clearly a top 25 guy. He made 3rd team all-NBA last year, and for better or worse is almost the exact same guy now.
 

Jakarta

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Any team without a great center. He would be an incredible point center for the Celtics, for example.
Offensively this would work, but defensively putting him at center would waste his ability to completely shut down opposing teams perimeter games.

It’s crazy that he would likely look like a much better player if he played with Brook Lopez (or Vucevic) than Embiid.

I would still love to see him on the Cs as the perimeter D and transition offense with Simmons, Tatum, JB, and Smart, would be fun. Queue the Simmons for Kemba trade rumors!
 
I watched some of the Hawks game last night before going to bed, but when I last looked at my phone the Sixers were up by 17 in the second quarter. How nice to wake up and watch the fourth quarter as-live and realize that despite another woeful shooting game, a) worst-case scenario, Atlanta has properly pushed the number 1 seed in the second round, which was way more than we could have expected at the start of the season; and b) best-case scenario...well, what *is* the best-case scenario for the Hawks? I mean, Embiid looked like he needed a standing eight-count in the second half, and Green is already out; the Nets are falling apart; if the Hawks can beat the Sixers, they can certainly beat the Bucks; and nobody in the West is terrifying, either. Everyone probably thinks the Hawks are too young and only going to get better over the next few seasons, and that this year is all about getting experience ahead of bigger battles to come. That's probably true, but then, there are no guarantees the Hawks will be in a better position than this over the next few years - especially after a normal offseason and with the league schedule getting back to normal - and the door to a potential title run RIGHT NOW is at least slightly ajar. I have no expectations, because this is Atlanta after all, but I'm allowing my hopes to get just a teensy weensy bit up.

(John Collins, though...oof. I know he had some big moments last night - especially that late three off of the ridiculous Trae feed - but I absolutely don't trust him right now.)
 

Kliq

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The problem with Simmons goes beyond his issues with shooting. Yes, he doesn't shoot outside 15 feet and that has limited his development and makes him a poor fit for a team trying to space the floor, but it is so much more than that with him. He refuses to improve his offensive game (by learning how to shoot) and I think that shows that he simply isn't wired the way most elite NBA players are, and despite having the talent to be a Top 10 player in the NBA, his mentality appears to be holding him back from ever reaching that potential.

He simply isn't a very aggressive offensive player and he doesn't look to score enough on his own. It's good that he is unselfish, but often times this Philly team needs him to step up and carry the scoring load and he doesn't have that alpha sense to say "Okay, its on me now" and take over a game. Giannis and Simmons athletically are very similar, and both are poor shooters (although Giannis at least tries to improve and to keep defenses honest). Giannis averaged 28 ppg this season because he is an aggressive, bad ass motherfucker. Simmons only scored 28 points or more twice in 58 games this season, and only cracked 20+ points 8 times. Yes, he can't shoot, but still has the size, skill and athleticism to score a lot of points if he wanted to be aggressive, instead he is passive and nowhere to be found in the half-court offense at times.
 

Humphrey

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And then there's Embiid (0–12 in the 2nd half, basically physically collapsiing in the final minutes).
Simmons was two assists away from a triple double with around 20 minutes to go in the game, got one more; that's how terrible the people he passed the ball to were.
 

terrynever

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The problem with Simmons goes beyond his issues with shooting. Yes, he doesn't shoot outside 15 feet and that has limited his development and makes him a poor fit for a team trying to space the floor, but it is so much more than that with him. He refuses to improve his offensive game (by learning how to shoot) and I think that shows that he simply isn't wired the way most elite NBA players are, and despite having the talent to be a Top 10 player in the NBA, his mentality appears to be holding him back from ever reaching that potential.

He simply isn't a very aggressive offensive player and he doesn't look to score enough on his own. It's good that he is unselfish, but often times this Philly team needs him to step up and carry the scoring load and he doesn't have that alpha sense to say "Okay, its on me now" and take over a game. Giannis and Simmons athletically are very similar, and both are poor shooters (although Giannis at least tries to improve and to keep defenses honest). Giannis averaged 28 ppg this season because he is an aggressive, bad ass motherfucker. Simmons only scored 28 points or more twice in 58 games this season, and only cracked 20+ points 8 times. Yes, he can't shoot, but still has the size, skill and athleticism to score a lot of points if he wanted to be aggressive, instead he is passive and nowhere to be found in the half-court offense at times.
Everything you say is true, Kliq, but Simmons counters all the criticism by saying he’s more concerned with winning and losing, and how he can facilitate that process. He is a point guard who tries to feed his teammates. He rarely looks for his own shot. And yes, that’s a problem in today’s game, but how many current NBA teams would be better off with a true point guard trying to run an offense and avoid “Hero Ball?”
You can call Ben stubborn. I call him unselfish. Has the sport changed so much that an unselfish player no longer fits? And if so, how come Philly is one of four teams still playing?
 

Cellar-Door

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Everything you say is true, Kliq, but Simmons counters all the criticism by saying he’s more concerned with winning and losing, and how he can facilitate that process. He is a point guard who tries to feed his teammates. He rarely looks for his own shot. And yes, that’s a problem in today’s game, but how many current NBA teams would be better off with a true point guard trying to run an offense and avoid “Hero Ball?”
You can call Ben stubborn. I call him unselfish. Has the sport changed so much that an unselfish player no longer fits? And if so, how come Philly is one of four teams still playing?
What does a true PG mean. If it means a guy who can't shoot or a guy who when the defense gives him space can't look for and get his shot.... the answer is none.

Chris Paul is the best example of what I think of when we say "true PG" in the modern era. A terrific offense runner who can also get his own shot when the defense allows. In the modern era, a PG needs to be able to control the offense, and part of that is stretching out the floor, and making a defense make decisions when he has the ball. Paul is the best at making the defense decide... this guy is driving, what do we allow... his favorite midrange that he's deadly on.... a path to the rim? Play off and let him take 3s? Force the ball out of his hands and rotate like hell?

If you can't do that you aren't an elite PG in this league.

Ben Simmons is a C or PF in the modern NBA... a good passing one, but not a true PG in any sense. On a team without Embiid you play him like Jokic.
 

Kliq

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Everything you say is true, Kliq, but Simmons counters all the criticism by saying he’s more concerned with winning and losing, and how he can facilitate that process. He is a point guard who tries to feed his teammates. He rarely looks for his own shot. And yes, that’s a problem in today’s game, but how many current NBA teams would be better off with a true point guard trying to run an offense and avoid “Hero Ball?”
You can call Ben stubborn. I call him unselfish. Has the sport changed so much that an unselfish player no longer fits? And if so, how come Philly is one of four teams still playing?
His teams always flame out in the playoffs and he fails to take control of the game in a way you would expect a star player to do so. He can only influence the game so much by never spacing the floor, never shooting and being a total liability from the free throw line, all things he could improve upon but has shown little motivation to do so. Trae Young last night somehow managed to both score AND get his teammates involved, the best players can balance the need to incorporate teammates while also taking over offensively when needed. Simmons has the talent to be one of those players but he chooses not to be.
 

Jimbodandy

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Everything you say is true, Kliq, but Simmons counters all the criticism by saying he’s more concerned with winning and losing, and how he can facilitate that process. He is a point guard who tries to feed his teammates. He rarely looks for his own shot. And yes, that’s a problem in today’s game, but how many current NBA teams would be better off with a true point guard trying to run an offense and avoid “Hero Ball?”
You can call Ben stubborn. I call him unselfish. Has the sport changed so much that an unselfish player no longer fits? And if so, how come Philly is one of four teams still playing?
It's unselfish to share the ball so that your teammates get going, stay engaged, and of course that the team gets the best shot in the possession.

It's weird to not improve though. It's totally a fair critique. If the guy wants to help his teammates, he should attack ruthlessly like Giannis. And he should extend his range to keep defenses honest. His disappearing act is becoming kind of a thing. If you stop primary transition, you're playing defense 5 on 4. It's a problem on the offensive end.
 

Kliq

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What does a true PG mean. If it means a guy who can't shoot or a guy who when the defense gives him space can't look for and get his shot.... the answer is none.

Chris Paul is the best example of what I think of when we say "true PG" in the modern era. A terrific offense runner who can also get his own shot when the defense allows. In the modern era, a PG needs to be able to control the offense, and part of that is stretching out the floor, and making a defense make decisions when he has the ball. Paul is the best at making the defense decide... this guy is driving, what do we allow... his favorite midrange that he's deadly on.... a path to the rim? Play off and let him take 3s? Force the ball out of his hands and rotate like hell?

If you can't do that you aren't an elite PG in this league.

Ben Simmons is a C or PF in the modern NBA... a good passing one, but not a true PG in any sense. On a team without Embiid you play him like Jokic.
You only have to look at Ice Trae across the court, someone that doesn't have anything close to Simmons physical talent, and see someone who has a better understanding of being a true PG.
 

terrynever

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What does a true PG mean. If it means a guy who can't shoot or a guy who when the defense gives him space can't look for and get his shot.... the answer is none.

Chris Paul is the best example of what I think of when we say "true PG" in the modern era. A terrific offense runner who can also get his own shot when the defense allows. In the modern era, a PG needs to be able to control the offense, and part of that is stretching out the floor, and making a defense make decisions when he has the ball. Paul is the best at making the defense decide... this guy is driving, what do we allow... his favorite midrange that he's deadly on.... a path to the rim? Play off and let him take 3s? Force the ball out of his hands and rotate like hell?

If you can't do that you aren't an elite PG in this league.

Ben Simmons is a C or PF in the modern NBA... a good passing one, but not a true PG in any sense. On a team without Embiid you play him like Jokic.
Thanks. That shoots down one of my thoughts. Seriously. I like to hear from you guys. I don't follow the modern NBA as many of you do, which means I only watch the Eastern Conference playoffs and read your takes on the late night games. I guess my idea of a true point guard was Oscar and it kind of stopped there until Magic came along and redefined the position 40 frigging years ago. A lot has changed since then. Ben never had the offensive post game that Magic did from the start. In fact, when people say Simmons is super talented, I question that. He is unique in terms of size and athleticism. Simmons is the ultimate hype guy, one year of college, filled with highlight clips, and drafted No. 1.
 

Cellar-Door

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Thanks. That shoots down one of my thoughts. Seriously. I like to hear from you guys. I don't follow the modern NBA as many of you do, which means I only watch the Eastern Conference playoffs and read your takes on the late night games. I guess my idea of a true point guard was Oscar and it kind of stopped there until Magic came along and redefined the position 40 frigging years ago. A lot has changed since then. Ben never had the offensive post game that Magic did from the start. In fact, when people say Simmons is super talented, I question that. He is unique in terms of size and athleticism. Simmons is the ultimate hype guy, one year of college, filled with highlight clips, and drafted No. 1.
Simmons has ridiculous ability, and he's a lockdown defender. If he went to the right team they would use him like a bigger more mobile Draymond (who also can't shoot) and he'd be a monster, because he's a better scorer inside the arc than Draymond, bigger, a better athlete, he can guard anyone on the floor basically.
But he's on the team with one of the two best bigs in the league, so he's a wing, and wings who can't shoot are a problem.
 

PedroKsBambino

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It's important to focus on role not position, and on what guys can do as well as what they cannot.

Simmons, in part because he was the top pick, has expectations he's a great all-around offensive player. He just isn't. But he is an all-around great basketball player. His comps are guys like a more versatile Draymond Green, a taller Jason Kidd (likely without the late-career 3pt boost), even a less offensively skilled Scottie Pippen. Those are all great players, two of them hall of famers. But he is never going to play like Larry Bird, Danny Manning, Luka Doncic, or other guys with much broader offensive skillsets. That doesn't make him a failure.

I agree with others that the problem is as much about fit on Philly as anything. It remains in my mind a very open question whether they should trade him because he just isn't a great skill-fit there. For my money, given Embiid's worrisome injury history and thus iffy long term projection, this is why you should have thought hard about Simmons for Harden.
 

Fishy1

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What's bizarre to me is even with a middling jump shot or a decent 3 pointer, with his handle, his size, and his speed, he would be able to get to the rim very nearly at will, and to finish through contact. But his game around the rim is not about fighting through contact at all. He should be doing that alone ten times a game. He should be like Lebron used to be. A guy who can get you a lay-up at literally any time, and is good enough from everywhere else that you have to guard him everywhere. He should be getting 7-8 free throws a game, finishing through contact, the whole thing.

Instead, it seems like the only time he can reliably get you a lay-up is in transition. And even then he's not very good. I went through his career numbers and posted him and the dross that surround him below. And this is his one of his best years. You won't be surprised to hear he's miserable at scoring as a pick and roll ballhandler either. He's good at scoring off cuts, but that's really it. And I know, I know, this play-type stuff might not be perfect. But it seems to match the eyetest. A good enough passer and defender to be a top 30 player, but he'll never get any better unless he diversifies his scoring. And Philadelphia, and especially Embiid, really needed him to take some weight off their shoulders last night, and he came through with 11 points, 1 flagrant foul and an assist in the third quarter, and an assist and exactly one point in the fourth.

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Jimbodandy

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It's important to focus on role not position, and on what guys can do as well as what they cannot.

Simmons, in part because he was the top pick, has expectations he's a great all-around offensive player. He just isn't. But he is an all-around great basketball player. His comps are guys like a more versatile Draymond Green, a taller Jason Kidd (likely without the late-career 3pt boost), even a less offensively skilled Scottie Pippen. Those are all great players, two of them hall of famers. But he is never going to play like Larry Bird, Danny Manning, Luka Doncic, or other guys with much broader offensive skillsets. That doesn't make him a failure.

I agree with others that the problem is as much about fit on Philly as anything. It remains in my mind a very open question whether they should trade him because he just isn't a great skill-fit there. For my money, given Embiid's worrisome injury history and thus iffy long term projection, this is why you should have thought hard about Simmons for Harden.
I agree with all of this.

I still think that is shows a lack of killer instinct or desire that he hasn't improved an iota in four years. It's fucking weird.

This isn't some slugger who can't hit a curveball and maybe never will. There should be no reason why he can't shoot 70% from the line and 33% from 3 on a few "keep them honest" attempts per game. The fact that he hasn't even improved his free throw attempts per game is weird too. Is he even trying to get to the rim? It's weird.

Edit: also what fishy said
 

terrynever

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Dana Barros, who runs shooting clinics, says Simmons’ technique is all wrong. His left elbow is outside the tight triangle shooters employ. Since Barros once played for Philly, you would think the team would have sent Simmons to Dana’s school, but sadly, at least in recent years, Ben is becoming part of the LA social/celebrity scene during the offseason. Fixing his shooting doesn’t seem to be his No. 1 priority, or at least not during the Brett Brown Era. Maybe Doc and Morey will intervene this summer. Because what we are seeing right now with the free throws probably cost 76ers Game 4 last night.
 

Euclis20

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Someone really early on compared Simmons to a 6'10 version of Rondo and really it is a decent comp, but even Rondo took wide open jump shots when they were available early in his career. He even developed a not too terrible 3 point shot after leaving Boston. Simmons' inability to shoot outside the paint isn't unselfish, it's detrimental to the Sixers' offense in the halfcourt. He's the worst perimeter shooter (for wings and guards) in modern history. Offensively he's still basically the same guy he was when he was drafted, 4 years and a redshirt season ago.

The problem with Simmons goes beyond his issues with shooting. Yes, he doesn't shoot outside 15 feet and that has limited his development and makes him a poor fit for a team trying to space the floor, but it is so much more than that with him. He refuses to improve his offensive game (by learning how to shoot) and I think that shows that he simply isn't wired the way most elite NBA players are, and despite having the talent to be a Top 10 player in the NBA, his mentality appears to be holding him back from ever reaching that potential.
Exactly. The rest of his game is good enough for him to be an all star and occasionally make 3rd team all-nba, but he should be better. Oh well.
 

TripleOT

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Rushing back from a hamstring injury is a bad idea. The Bucks would be wise to run him and play physically with him early in the game
 

johnmd20

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Rushing back from a hamstring injury is a bad idea. The Bucks would be wise to run him and play physically with him early in the game
That is a fact. Just keep making him have to run through screens.

But the Nets realize they need Harden, which is why they are rushing him. Up 2-0, they could chill. Now. . . .without Flat Earth, it looks dubious.
 

Fishy1

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Wouldn't surprise me to see Harden go down again, to be quickly followed by Durant.

I do not trust Durant's legs. He's rebounded to his peak, something only Wilkins was able to do after an achilles tear, but even Nique was finished a year or two later. The guys who do regain some of their explosiveness seem to lose it pretty quickly, and far more likely is your career is just over.

We'll see, but he's being asked to carry an enormous load, be the best player on both ends of the court, and do it for 40+ minutes a night. For all his very human faults, he's really an incredible player to watch, and I can't help thinking each time out might be his last playing at this level.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Wouldn't surprise me to see Harden go down again, to be quickly followed by Durant.

I do not trust Durant's legs. He's rebounded to his peak, something only Wilkins was able to do after an achilles tear, but even Nique was finished a year or two later. The guys who do regain some of their explosiveness seem to lose it pretty quickly, and far more likely is your career is just over.

We'll see, but he's being asked to carry an enormous load, be the best player on both ends of the court, and do it for 40+ minutes a night. For all his very human faults, he's really an incredible player to watch, and I can't help thinking each time out might be his last playing at this level.
Durant is also kinda old so he's probably going to be done being Kevin Durant after a few years anyway. Dominique was on the old side too.
 

Kliq

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Dominique was also 30 years ago and played in an era where players were all run into the ground. I wouldn't rule out someone as skilled as Durant, playing in an era that is way more focused on rest and sustainability, falling down a peg for a while.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I agree with all of this.

I still think that is shows a lack of killer instinct or desire that he hasn't improved an iota in four years. It's fucking weird.

This isn't some slugger who can't hit a curveball and maybe never will. There should be no reason why he can't shoot 70% from the line and 33% from 3 on a few "keep them honest" attempts per game. The fact that he hasn't even improved his free throw attempts per game is weird too. Is he even trying to get to the rim? It's weird.

Edit: also what fishy said
I'm always leery to judge a guy's heart at the level Simmons still plays, but I can't really dispute anything you say. I would say we have seen zero evidence in college or pros he has that killer instinct that the greatest players do (then again, neither did Pippen from the comps I listed).

The lack of improvement is odd; I get maybe he just can't shoot but he has not materially developed his post game or anything else either. I guess you could say he has gotten even better defensively, so there's that.
 

Van Everyman

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Ersatz superstar Simmons on the bench for the final play. So fucking overrated.
So I said this back in 2016 and stretched things a bit far probably but what is he better at tha
Wouldn't surprise me to see Harden go down again, to be quickly followed by Durant.

I do not trust Durant's legs. He's rebounded to his peak, something only Wilkins was able to do after an achilles tear, but even Nique was finished a year or two later. The guys who do regain some of their explosiveness seem to lose it pretty quickly, and far more likely is your career is just over.

We'll see, but he's being asked to carry an enormous load, be the best player on both ends of the court, and do it for 40+ minutes a night. For all his very human faults, he's really an incredible player to watch, and I can't help thinking each time out might be his last playing at this level.
What are all of Durant’s human faults? I get that he seems a little thin skinned but, especially compared to his two “I quit on my team to get here” teammates, he seems like a pretty good dude.
 

Cellar-Door

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I'm always leery to judge a guy's heart at the level Simmons still plays, but I can't really dispute anything you say. I would say we have seen zero evidence in college or pros he has that killer instinct that the greatest players do (then again, neither did Pippen from the comps I listed).

The lack of improvement is odd; I get maybe he just can't shoot but he has not materially developed his post game or anything else either. I guess you could say he has gotten even better defensively, so there's that.
Yeah. I will say, the knock on him coming out was the same though. He chose a low competition school, his team was very bad despite having him and multiple 4 and 5 star recruits and he was criticized all year for his effort before they missed the tourney.
 

radsoxfan

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Everything you say is true, Kliq, but Simmons counters all the criticism by saying he’s more concerned with winning and losing, and how he can facilitate that process. He is a point guard who tries to feed his teammates. He rarely looks for his own shot.
We will never really be able to fully get into his head, but generally speaking when someone is terrible at something they tend to avoid doing it. Simmons can claim he's worried about winning/ losing and getting others involved rather than looking for his own shot. But I think we all know that's not the entire story.

If simmons didn't stink at shooting, would he still be avoiding all shots and saying he is just concerned with winning and losing? A bit of a chicken/egg problem. The Sixers would obviously be so much better if Simmons could shoot.

If a challenging case pops up on my screen, I usually check in with a colleague for their opinion or pass it off to someone else who has more expertise than I do in that area. That's not unselfishness, that's survival.
 

terrynever

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We will never really be able to fully get into his head, but generally speaking when someone is terrible at something they tend to avoid doing it. Simmons can claim he's worried about winning/ losing and getting others involved rather than looking for his own shot. But I think we all know that's not the entire story.

If simmons didn't stink at shooting, would he still be avoiding all shots and saying he is just concerned with winning and losing? A bit of a chicken/egg problem. The Sixers would obviously be so much better if Simmons could shoot.

If a challenging case pops up on my screen, I usually check in with a colleague for their opinion or pass it off to someone else who has more expertise than I do in that area. That's not unselfishness, that's survival.
Maybe Simmons just needs to see a shrink. He shot 10 free throws per game in college and made 67 percent of them. He only took three shots from beyond the arc in 33 games and made one of those three. Perhaps he got the yips at the FT line watching Markelle Fultz in his rookie year.
 

Jakarta

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Compared to how the Suns were attacking AD, a bit disappointed.
Exactly. Nets trying to hide Harden on PJ Tucker. Just need to set a back pick for PJ and he either gets a layup or Nets switch it and Harden ends up guarding someone who can run a pick and roll and then he can be attacked.
 

Cellar-Door

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Gonna be brutal for MIL when they get a Kyrie injury, Harden hobbled....

and Jeff Green drops 35 on them
 

BigSoxFan

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These are just like the Lakers games. This is over. Harden gave it a try but shouldn’t be playing now.
 

Fishy1

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Bucks have so many mismatches to hunt with Harden, Harris, and Griffin on the floor. Hard to see the Nets winning this game unless something drastically changes, like, I don't know, benching Harden, who can't stay in front of anyone.
 

BigSoxFan

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Bucks have so many mismatches to hunt with Harden, Harris, and Griffin on the floor. Hard to see the Nets winning this game unless something drastically changes, like, I don't know, benching Harden, who can't stay in front of anyone.
The Bucks would have to go ice cold to lose this one. Like Grant Williams to start this season cold. The Nets win on offensive efficiency, which they no longer have. And the Bucks can get whatever they want. I expect a 20+ point win. And probably a similar result in Milwaukee.
 

radsoxfan

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I'm loving this Harden/Kyrie situation unfolding.

Harden has to either try to play with his normal aggressiveness or just sit until game 6.

The half-way effort on a bad hamstring just doesn't seem like it's going to work.