Category Archives: NBA

Triple Zeros: “They’re Making Their TikToks…”

Triple Zeros

“They’re Making Their TikToks…”

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh sets expectations for the NBA Playoffs that start in less than two weeks, the players like Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook who have stepped up, and the state and future of his Chicago Bulls. Then, things switch over to the NFL and the sounds from the 2021 NFL Draft, the memo sent to teams regarding injuries, and Baltimore Ravens tackle Alejandro Villanueva taking shots at his former Pittsburgh Steelers teammates and head coach Mike Tomlin. All of that and so much more!

Anchor | Apple

NFC North 2021 NFL Draft Grades

Chicago Bears 2021 NFL Draft Review

Top-5 2021 NFL Draft Classes

NBA Teams Getting Hot Just in Time for the Playoffs

Former Chicago Bulls Heading to Playoffs a Tough Pill to Swallow

Everyone Wants the Chicago Bears to Ruin Justin Fields

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NBA Teams Getting Hot Just in Time for the Playoffs

The 2021 NBA playoffs are set to begin in just over two weeks and, if you’ve been keeping track of all the injuries, they can’t start soon enough. But a more direct question is which teams are getting their act together just in time for the second season. The ones that have weathered the storm and now have their collective sights set on a greater accomplishment than a top-seed.

Which NBA Teams are Getting Hot at the Right Time for the Playoffs?

The Grinders

Washington Wizards

We keep trying to write the Washington Wizards off and they just won’t go away. After an 0-3 start to April, the Wizards went 13-3 the rest of the month. They’ve split their two games so far this month, but are now in 10th and have a shot at the playoffs via the play-in. Say what you want, but this is a team that was supposed to be dead in the water. All of this is gravy for Russell Westbrook and puts Bradley Beal in an interesting position regarding his long-term future.

Denver Nuggets

Everyone (present company included) thought the Denver Nuggets ship was sunk when Jamal Murray went down. Well since then, Denver is 9-2, the second-best record in the NBA over that span. Nikola Jokic has averaged 27.1 PPG, 10.9 RPG, and 6.9 APG. Those numbers are down from his full-season averages, but part of that is due to the emergence of Michael Porter Jr. He’s been a top-20 scorer since Murray went down, averaging 25.0 PPG while shooting nearly 57 percent from the floor and over 49 percent from deep.

The Surprises

New York Knicks

A hot start by the upstart New York Knicks gave way to a lull that most probably saw coming. After all, this team is overachieving by most standards. It would make sense for a late-season swoon from a bunch of guys not used to winning. But the bounceback was strong with this one and the Knickerbockers, fresh off of a 6-9 stretch, have won 12 of 13, including nine in a row. There aren’t many teams that want to face this team in the postseason.

Phoenix Suns

We did an entire write-up on Chris Paul and how his impact on every team he’s been on has allowed him to be one of the few who escape the “rings or bust” narrative we often see around the game’s greats. Pairing him with Devin Booker has proven to be trouble for the rest of the West. Granted, injuries have run amuck in the NBA and Western Conference teams haven’t been immune. But, at a certain point, durability is just like any other skill.

The Disappointments

Lake (No) Show

Injuries have been a constant this season so barring any extenuating circumstances, it isn’t an excuse for our purposes. As such, the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers are limping their way to the finish line as Anthony Davis and LeBron James both knock off the rust from extended absences. It isn’t wholly unexpected, they and the Miami Heat (who have also been ravaged by injuries and COVID protocols) had just a little over two months between seasons. Basically, in this case, “disappointment” is less of a pejorative and more so just an acknowledgment.

Boston Baked Cs

Another focus of a Clocker Sports write-up, the Danny Ainge Boston Celtics have seen the sheen wear off of them. So much so that there were even questions of whether or not Brad Stevens was the right man for the job. They too have dealt with injuries and shook up their roster with mid-season trades. But for a group that has reached the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the last four years, anything less than an NBA Finals appearance will be viewed as a failure. They’re 2-4 over their last six but they do have one of the easier remaining schedules.

Risers and Fallers Ahead of NBA Playoffs

The NBA Playoffs are right around the corner and most of these teams are doing the right things to get themselves prepared. But things can change so they have to keep up the intensity down the stretch. For those on the skids, at least those in our examples, returning players and weaker opponents appear to be saviors on the horizon.

Triple Zeros: “Ah, That’s Interesting…”

Triple Zeros

“Ah, That’s Interesting…”

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about Russell Westbrook (again) and the surging Washington Wizards, how teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks are trending in the wrong direction, and the horrible night of injuries in the NBA. The focus then turns to the NFL as the Eagles are opting for a QB battle between Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco in camp, Tom Brady has a “get off my lawn” moment, and so much more!

2021 NFL Draft: Brevin Jordan Player Profile

The Washington Wizards Must Have Found Their Magic Spellbook

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Anchor | Apple

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The Washington Wizards Must Have Found Their Magic Spellbook

The Washington Wizards must have found some magic because they’ve been on a tear of late. Winners of seven of their last eight games, the once left-for-dead Wizards have turned things around after they stumbled coming out of the All-Star break. Washington lost their first five games and went 3-12 before this streak.

The Wizards Change Of Fortune Is No Magic Act

Impact Players

Everyone knows Bradley Beal is one of the best scorers in the NBA. Up until Stephen Curry dropped 40-plus in back-to-back games, Beal led the NBA in scoring.

It would be the second year in a row Beal finishes in the top two in scoring in the Association. Beal also missed the one game Washington lost in the aforementioned streak.

He averaged 27.4 PPG post-break but has averaged 29.7 points during the Wizards run. He also hasn’t done it all by himself.

Russell Westbrook might need to have an award created just for him to signify all the times he’s been written off in recent years. And while his numbers are certainly down on the year, his impact has not been.

Sitting on a 21.8/10.9/10.9 line, Westbrook is putting up 23.5/12.3/12.3 since the break has been at 21./13.5/13.1 during the recent string of wins. The most encouraging development might be his improved efficiency from deep.

He’s shooting better than 30 percent from beyond the arc on the season and 33 percent since the deadline. It’s a modest percentage but it’s a massive step up for Westbrook.

The “Other” Guys

Davis Bertans was a hot commodity on a watered-down free-agent market in an abbreviated offseason. He re-signed with the Wizards on a five-year deal after recording the best deep-shooting advanced metrics in the NBA.

The honeymoon didn’t last long though as Bertans averaged just over 11 points while shooting under 39 percent from outside.

Bertans, just like Beal and Westbrook, has been much better over his last seven games. He’s averaging 14.7 points and shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc.

On the less glamorous end, Daniel Gafford is providing a very nice return on Washington’s investment. Since joining the Wiz, the former Chicago Bulls big man is averaging 11.4 PPG and 5.8 RPG; both up substantially from his time in Chicago and mostly thanks to more playing time.

But it’s his 2.0 blocks per game that have caught the most eyes.

That’s because, as the Bulls have struggled with their rim protection even with Gafford in the fold, he’s been rejecting some of the game’s most notable dunkers in DC. It’s a testament to his work ethic to turn what could be damaging to a young player into an opportunity.

Wizards Re-Discovered Magic Spellbook

Washington is currently 11th in the East, just outside of the play-in tournament. But they have one of the easiest remaining schedules, per Tankathon.com, and have six games remaining against four Eastern Conference opponents that are set to make the playoffs themselves.

This is the perfect situation for the Wizards to take advantage of and the best time for the Wizards to re-discover their magic. How long can they keep this up?

Triple Zeros: Easy Money Sniper on the Roof

Triple Zeros

Easy Money Sniper on the Roof

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about Kevin Durant leaving Russell Westbrook off his list of his top-five teammates in favor of Serge Ibaka and reminds everyone of his warning about Nikola Jokic and the NBA MVP with Stephen Curry hot on his trail. Then things switch over to the NFL as Alex Smith walks away from the game on his own terms, Patrick Mahomes tells Tom Brady the G.O.A.T. discussion isn’t settled, and so much more!

Chicago Bulls Aggressiveness, Ball Movement Return in Wins

Be sure to follow on Facebook and Twitter (@JoshGBuck, @3ZerosPod, @ClockerSports) today!

Anchor | Apple

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Triple Zeros: Jadeveon Clowney a Cleveland Brownie

Triple Zeros

Jadeveon Clowney a Cleveland Brownie

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh gets into why Michael Jordan (and not Vanessa Bryant) will present Kobe Bryant at the NBA Hall of Fame induction ceremony, struggles to place blame in the condensed schedule-injury debate. Then, things switch over to NFL talk as he tells you why he loves Jadeveon Clowney signing in Cleveland and talks about players saying they won’t attend OTAs and so much more!

Anchor | Apple

The Chicago Bulls are a rudderless ship right now

2021 NFL Draft: Chuba Hubbard Player Profile

2021 NFL Draft: Nico Collins Player Profile

The Chicago Bulls Have No Answers When Shots Aren’t Falling

Matt Nagy’s Presence at Pro Day Means Everything (or Nothing!)

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Boston Celtics Fans Have to Wonder, “What’s the Point?”

The Boston Celtics have gone through several point guards in the last few years. Blame has shifted from player to team and back depending on the name on the jersey. But the constant in all of it is Danny Ainge, the architect of this latest iteration of the Celtics. He also built the last Celtics team to win a championship.

What’s Been the Point of the Celtics Shuffle at Lead Guard?

Living in the Past

That was 13 years ago, though. Many of Ainge’s moves since then have left the roster stale and lacking several key elements contenders often possess.

Much of the talk has been over their lack of a true interior presence; hence talks of LaMarcus Aldridge when he came available.

But why are they getting a pass (no pun intended) on screwing up their point guard position time and time again?

Their trade for Kyrie Irving was met with mixed reactions but, at least inside the building, they thought it would put them over the top.

Ainge says he “has no regrets” over the trade but the locker room issues it brought can’t have been worth it. Especially after Irving walked in free agency just two years later.

But Ainge wasn’t content so he traded for Kemba Walker. The former UConn star had been toiling away down in Charlotte but had shown to be a big shot taker (and maker).

It seemed to many like the perfect pivot from Irving.

So Close, Yet So Far

And, to be honest, Year 1 felt like that might be the case. The Cs won 48 games in a shortened season; one less than the year prior with a full 82-game schedule.

But now they’re .500 and sitting seventh in the East. They lack an identity and are close to out of answers.

The Irving trade was only made after they struck out on Jimmy Butler and Paul George and cost them one of the precious draft picks that Ainge covets.

Walker was really only a target after they missed on Anthony Davis.

Acquiring Walker also cost them Terry Rozier who had been with the team since the IT era. Hornets owner Michael Jordan was criticized for Charlotte not extending a contract to Walker and then trading him for Rozier, who had some rough games in the postseason.

Ainge was called a “thief” by at least one Cavs player after the pieces they got back flopped.

One Team’s Trash

Fast forward and Rozier is averaging more points, more efficient from the floor and deep, and is still giving great effort on the boards. All while being just 1.3 assists behind Walker who has dealt with injuries all year. Oh, his team is better too.

We don’t have to talk about what Irving is doing with the loaded Brooklyn Nets. But we will note the difference in opinions of Irving in a different situation.

The mercurial guard was looked at as a team killer who had ruined his best shot at another ring and a team with what was supposed to be a great locker room culture.

This really all started with that trade for Irving. Giving up on Isaiah Thomas after he played through his sister’s death and a devastating hip injury for whom Bomani Jones called “taller Isaiah Thomas” seems like a good way to ensure sports karma comes for you.

Boston is one of the storied franchises in the NBA. That causes those in charge to make some drastic moves oftentimes in an effort to maintain that aura.

Ainge appears to have been a victim of that but also of “buying his own hype” and holding onto his draft capital for too long. Holding out for Butler, Davis, and George meant passing on other, more attainable, assets.

Celtics Missing the Point (Guard)

Saying you’re going all in for a player is great until you miss and you have to smooth it over with the guys you were going to jettison.

Ainge also hasn’t draft particularly well with the picks he held onto. It hasn’t been bad. Moreso hit-or-miss. And there’s been nothing in the way of a game-changer.

Granted, they haven’t held a pick higher than 14th overall since back-to-back third-overall selections brought Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Not flipping those picks meant he had to hit home runs and what he got was a couple of doubles and a single.

A flawed roster, a coach on the public opinion hot seat, and not many options to go in either direction. The Celtics have some very important building blocks for a title contender.

But, due to their in-between handling of the roster and draft picks, it’s a roster in neutral without many paths forward.

And at the top of it all is Ainge. Once the envy of NBA front offices for his stockpiling of draft picks after robbing the Nets. Now he looks like a man either without a plan.

Or one with multiple plans and he can’t decide which he likes best.

Triple Zeros: He was “Seeing Ghosts”

Triple Zeros

He was “Seeing Ghosts”

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about the Utah Jazz having to make an emergency landing. He also Rui Hachimura showing respect to Russell Westbrook and asks if Joel Embiid can catch Nikola Jokic for NBA MVP. Then, things shift over to the NFL as the Carolina Panthers traded for Sam Darnold, the Atlanta Falcons announced the 4th-overall pick is available, and so much more!

Chicago Bulls: Rhythm Found and Roles Defined in Big Win

The Chicago Bears are Betting on Matt Nagy’s Scheme Over Roster

Anchor | Apple

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Triple Zeros: “Best of the Best of the Best, Sir”

Triple Zeros

Ep. 121 – “Best of the Best of the Best, Sir”

NBA

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about the Brooklyn Nets indeed being overloaded but it not being a bad thing. In fact, it’s really what we all want. Then he talks about the contract news for Moses Brown and Dennis Schroder plus the early ROI from the NBA trade deadline.

NFL

The discussion turns to the NFL moving forward with a 17-game regular season, the cost of trading up for rookies like Mac Jones and Trey Lance, and so much more!

Chicago Bulls: Remaining Young Officially on Notice

Chicago Bears Must Change Focus to Rest of Roster

Anchor | Apple

Be sure to follow Josh and the pod on FB and Twitter (@JoshGBuck, @3ZerosPod, @Clockersports) and visit ClockerSports.com today!

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Triple Zeros: “All the MVPs Going Down”

Triple Zeros

“All the MVPs Going Down”

NBA

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh recaps the NBA trade deadline frenzy that saw Nikola Vucevic, Norman Powell, and others move on to new teams. He also talks about the MVP race and how all the contenders are dropping like flies before going into Draymond Green’s comments.

NFL

Then things switch over to NFL talk and the upcoming Clocker Sports 1st-round mock draft 2.0 as free agency has changed the landscape. He also gets you caught up on the latest on Deshaun Watson, asks the media to leave Chicago Bears fans alone about Russell Wilson and so much more!

Winners and Losers from the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline

Examining the Foundational Issues of the NBA’s Cellar-Dwellers

Anchor | Apple

 

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Triple Zeros. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. Triple Zeros