The NBA playoffs took two interesting turns over the weekend. On Saturday night, the Bucks went into Brooklyn and eliminated the Nets in a Game 7 that went to overtime. It was the first road victory of the series, and it came despite another heroic effort by the Nets’ Kevin Durant. Watching the game, it was obvious to me that he was having a monster night on the court and the box score confirms that observation:
- Durant played all 53 minutes. He had 48 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal and 1 blocked shot.
James Harden also played a great game considering that he was playing on a partially torn hamstring. Here are Harden’s numbers for the night:
- Harden played all 53 minutes. He had 22 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal and 1 blocked shot.
The box score for that game tells an additional story; it points to the factor that gave the Bucks the win. Compare the contributions “off-the-bench”:
- The Nets played 8 players. The three players off-the-bench combined to contribute 19 minutes of playing time, zero points, zero shot attempts, 2 rebounds and 1 assist.
- The Bucks also played 8 players. The three players off-the-bench combined to contribute 29 minutes of playing time, 9 points, five shot attempts, 5 rebounds and zero assists.
- The Bucks’ bench did not cover itself in glory there, but those players were at least sufficiently engaged to take a shot in their time on the floor.
In the other game, the Hawks beat the Sixers in a Game 7. In baseball, there have been times when a specific player gets himself into a state where he cannot execute the simplest of tasks in the game. The Mets had a catcher who could not throw the ball back to the pitcher without a half-dozen “false starts” in the process. There have been infielders – second basemen seem to be “prone to this infection” – who could not pick up a ground ball and make a routine throw to first base. MLB pitchers who have been pitching with pinpoint accuracy for years suddenly get to the point where they cannot keep the ball in an area where the catcher can put a glove on the ball – – let alone the strike zone. This condition is called “The Yips”.
I think the Sixers’ Ben Simmons has a mild case of “The Yips”; and since there is no known cure for “The Yips”, he and the Sixers have to pray that the condition is not progressive. Simmons is under contract with the Sixers through the end of the 2024/25 season and the team still owes him $147M. Last night, Simmons scored 5 points and only attempted 4 shots in 38 minutes. That is a meager return on investment for the Sixers and if “The Yips” are progressive …
In a column last week in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, Bob Molinaro had this item:
“Waiting: Shouldn’t the investigation into sexual harassment alleged to have taken place under Dan Snyder’s watch be finished by now? Or is the NFL holding onto the findings until it can figure out a way to soft-pedal the results?”
I believe – but have no inside information that would confirm – that the report is finished and has been in the hands of the league office for some time now. I also believe that the league is indeed trying to find a mechanism to deal with the findings of the report that will do minimum public relations damage to the league. It is important to recognize that every action the NFL might contemplate has negative blowback potential for the league; and the NFL does not like negative blowback. Put most indelicately, I think the NFL suits are trying to figure out which set of folks they are going to trigger:
- Will it be the “Me Too Folks” if the league takes the report and issues a minor wrist slap to a few folks and tosses it aside as “boys will be boys”?
- Will it be the “Cancel Culture Crowd” if the league comes down hard on sleazy behaviors that took place more than a decade ago?
- Will it be the “Broadcast Partners” who might suffer resistance from their advertisers?
I do not think the NFL believes that they can make all of this dry up and blow away simply by stalling. They cannot. However, I do believe that they are still looking for the course of action that minimizes their regrets after it all plays out to its conclusion.
I have purposely avoided chiming in on the brouhaha between Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers’ front office. The only speculation left it seems to me would be to wonder what might happen if Rodgers were abducted by space aliens who surgically attached a third arm to his body and the NFL was at a loss to figure out if their rules allowed a “three-arm player” to participate. Every other angle has been beaten to death already.
I will observe, however, that Rodgers’ absence from team OTAs and the “mandatory mini-camp” [Aside: How “mandatory” is it since Rodgers simply did not show up?] may have been beneficial to the Packers. When the Packers used a first-round pick to draft Jordan Love a little over a year ago, they obviously thought that Love was their “QB of the Future”. Last season, Love never saw the field; the Packers probably still believe he is Rodgers’ heir to the QB position in Green Bay, but they do not know it yet. Given all these team activities where Love has been involved and Rodgers has not, the Packers have had more time to see Love “in action” with the first team and it has given Love and his pass catchers time to work on “chemistry”. If Rodgers had been there, Love would have gotten less of that quality practice time.
Finally, let me close today with another observation by Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
Upsetting: On a note of faux disappointment, how is it that the USA men failed to qualify for the Olympic debut of the 3-on-3 basketball tournament? This is like Australians failing to qualify for a boomerang contest.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………