Welcome back to the weekly grind, friends. Did you have a good weekend?
I’m kidding. Of course you did; after all, the Philadelphia 76ers are still undefeated. So long as that’s the case, the world is gumdrops and lollipops. …s’that? They play whom tonight?
4 games tonight to get you back into the swing of things. Let’s do this.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Cleveland Cavaliers (7:00 PM)
By now, you’ve probably heard that Kevin Martin took a totally over-the-top, completely unnecessary shot at his old teammates on Oklahoma City. The way I’ve seen it laid out, Martin essentially trashed his time in a Thunder jersey and made it absolutely clear that he never wanted to be there. He said he hated his teammates with the fiery passion of a volcano on the Sun, which I’m pretty sure is a physical impossibility.
Or, you know, he didn’t do that at all.
Kevin Martin on playing with the Wolves: "This is such a fun team to play on. Nobody is trying to lead the league in scoring here."
— NBA Guru (@NBAGuru) November 4, 2013
I suppose that if you really want to see that as a slight against Kevin Durant, then you could twist it as such. It seems to me, however, that Martin’s simply saying that a team where one player is gunning for the scoring title is probably not doing all it can to be a team. I mean, Kevin Durant wasn’t trying to win the scoring title last year. Kevin Durant doesn’t have to try to score. He simply scores. That’s who Kevin Durant is.
If anything — and again, I don’t really think this is a shot at anyone — it’s simply Martin putting his experiences under coaches Scott Brooks and Rick Adelman in context. To me, it seems like he’s saying that he enjoys being back in Adelman’s system. And honestly, he has Ricky Rubio on his team; he could have said, “Nobody is trying to be a killer clown living in the sewers turning children into balloons,” and the first part still would have stood on its own.
Besides, that quote’s rather disingenuous, or at least incomplete. Martin went on to say, “Everybody has the big picture of getting to the playoffs.”
That big picture is on the mind of the Cavaliers, as well. Cleveland hasn’t gotten off to the start it might like at 1-2, but they’re not sweating the small stuff. For the Cavs, the big picture and the playoffs are what’s important. Getting to .500 and knocking off the surprisingly dominant Wolves would be a step in the right direction.
Golden State Warriors at Philadelphia 76ers (7:00 PM)
Tonight’s games feature 4 of the top 10 teams in 3-point attempt rate, a measure of the percentage of a team’s field goal attempts that come from behind the arc, so far through the season. Naturally, the Warriors are one of those teams; they clock in at number 5 at this early point in time.
Somewhat surprisingly, however, the Sixers are nowhere near the top-10. They’re 16th, a tick below the league average. For all that’s been made of Philadelphia’s strategy of increasing variance against teams that are ostensibly better than they are, the Sixers aren’t taking an outlandish number of 3s in relation to their total field goal attempts. They are 4th in total 3-pointers taken, though, and two of the teams above them in that category have played 4 games to Philadelphia’s 3. The Sixers are pushing the pace on offense — they’re second in the league in pace, .1 possessions per game behind the Los Angeles Lakers.
That knack for quick possessions might come back to bite the Sixers tonight, though, as Golden State is right behind Philadelphia in terms of pace so far. Expect a shootout tonight; even if the Sixers finally have their winning streak snapped…
…sorry, my brain shut off for a second after typing that. Anyway, even if the Sixers finally have their winning streak snapped, tonight promises to be another thoroughly entertaining game. And that’s all you can really ask for, right?
Well, that and 82-0, I suppose. DARE TO DREAM, PHILLY FANS.
Boston Celtics at Memphis Grizzlies (8:00 PM)
The Celtics have had a rough go of it through three games, which was to be expected. Memphis, on the other hand, has been surprisingly ineffective to start the season. Spending too much time thinking about this game makes me sad — miss you, Rajon Rondo — so I won’t dwell on it.
Instead, let’s celebrate Vitor Faverani, the greatest Brazilian basketball player of Italian descent in NBA history. I know that’s going out on a limb, but few have the panache, the chutzpah, the je ne sais quoi that Faverani has brought to Boston. Everything he does lights up the court and the hearts and minds of children of all ages.
One of those phrases was Italian, right? Probably. I’m not a linguist. I only speak the language of numbers, and looking at the Grizzlies’ defensive rating makes me want to take a monastic vow of silence.
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers (10:30 PM, NBATV)
This matchup, on the other hand, makes me want to scream from the mountaintops. No words would come out, just incoherent babbling and shrieks of pure joy. The 2013-14 season is young. Much is still left to be determined; little of what has transpired will matter in the long run.
But that sheer exhilaration the first week of basketball has generated is perfectly encapsulated by this game. There will be 3s. Oh yes, there will be 3s. There will be fastbreaks. There will be free thr…
Well, never mind that. But the game is going to be spectacular. Chris Paul. James Harden. Dwight Howard. Blake Griffin. Other people whose names I don’t have the wherewithal to type because I’m currently running around my house, giggling and leaping into the air.
WHY ISN’T IT 10:30 YET. MAKE THIS GAME HAPPEN RIGHT NOW.