Category Archives: NBA

Triple Zeros: Playoff P is in Full Effect

Triple Zeros

Playoff P is in Full Effect

This episode of Triple Zeros starts off with Friday’s exciting NBA Playoff Game 6s between the 76ers and Hawks in the East and the Clippers and Jazz in the West. That leads to talk about properly appreciating Paul George and Donovan Mitchell for their efforts. Things shift to the weekend’s pair of Game 7s (Bucks-Nets on Saturday and Hawks-Sixers on Sunday) before switching over to the NFL.

That’s when things go back to a story about the city of Las Vegas having to go into emergency funds for the second time to make payments on the Raiders stadium. Also, why Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes sharing the Madden 22 cover is weak, Le’Veon Bell vs. Andy Reid, and more!

Anchor | Apple

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Triple Zeros: Smooth Jazz Clips Los Angeles in Utah

Triple Zeros

Smooth Jazz Clips Los Angeles in Utah

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks NBA Playoffs and Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks chances now that they got a game against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. He also talks Utah Jazz dynamo Donovan Mitchell‘s dominance over Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers then sets the stage for Friday’s Hawks-76ers and Nuggets-Suns tilts.

Things switch over to the NFL as the preseason schedule was released, Aaron Rodgers remains steadfast in no longer playing for the Green Bay Packers, and Russell Wilson proves a previous talking point right. All that and much more!

Anchor | Apple

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Triple Zeros: Clips and Salsa

Triple Zeros

Clips and Salsa

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh reacts to the first round of the NBA Playoffs continuing thanks to Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers Game 6 win over Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. He also takes a moment to acknowledge the feats of Devin Booker and Trae Young and shining brightest on the biggest stages. Then things switch over the NFL as the league is already pushing for an 18-game schedule. Plus Todd Gurley could re-unite with Jared Goff in Detroit, and so much more!

Anchor | Apple

5 Most Impactful Guards from the First Round of the NBA Playoffs

It Needs to Actually (Finally) Be ‘Dame Time’

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Clocker Sports

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It Needs to Actually (Finally) Be ‘Dame Time’

Perhaps for the first time in his career, following another early exit from the NBA Playoffs, it needs to actually be Dame Time. Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers otherworldly point guard, has been the consummate professional. It would take an entirely separate article to list all he’s done for the city of Portland and his hometown of Oakland. He even won the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award this season too, so…yeah.

Damian Lillard Needs to Be More Selfish After Early Exit from NBA Playoffs

There isn’t anything else he could do to be a better face of the franchise or role model.

Now that all of the pleasantries are out of the way, he needs to be more selfish and either demand better help or a ticket out of town.

Lillard has always said the right things in the public eye; never fully condemning coaches or teammates despite the numerous times they’ve let him down. We may have gotten a bit closer to him speaking out against his current situation after being eliminated from the playoffs in the first round for the fifth time in eight years.

He also posted this quote from the late Nipsey Hussle on Instagram.

The fact is this team has a ceiling even when they are at full strength. It’s time to go in a different direction. You’re going to hear all about potential destinations, Boston and Los Angeles among them.

Can They Keep Him and Actually Get Better?

One idea could be pairing Lillard with his friend, and fellow super-team naysayer, Bradley Beal. He too is suffering in an organization that is toiling away in anonymity. Washington made the playoffs this season but was unceremoniously dispatched by the 76ers, who were without Joel Embiid for most of Game 4 and all of the decisive Game 5.

Beal finished second in the NBA in scoring behind Stephen Curry and is/was eighth in the postseason. He (like CJ McCollum) is a scorer before anything else. But in addition to just being better at it, he has a more diverse scoring profile than what McCollum does.

This is obviously suggesting McCollum has to go to bring Beal West.

This is where it gets complicated, though. The Blazers don’t appear to have the requisite firepower to make it happen outside of McCollum. They don’t own their first-round pick this season and, one would assume, any future picks would be well outside of the lottery with a Lillard-Beal tandem.

Could Lillard make his way to Washington?

They do hold their own first-round pick and could include one or both of their last two first-rounders, Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija, in any potential deal. Would that be enough to sway the Blazers?

Probably not barring a demand from Lillard himself and even then, once it’s made known he’s available, the teams chomping at the bit to get him will surely drive the price right out of the Wizards price range. It would take some sort of “do-right-by” agreement between the Blazers and Lillard which just doesn’t make much sense organizationally.

A Blazers-Wizards pact is certainly within the realm of possibility though that roster wouldn’t be viewed as a threat to the Bucks or Nets as currently constructed.

Indeed Boston is among the top expected bidders. But the Knicks have reportedly already started calling and don’t discount the Philadelphia 76ers should Embiid’s absence lead to Ben Simmons not being able to carry them through the next round.

Something Needs to Change for Lillard after Losing Early in Playoffs

Head coach Terry Stotts is a likely head to roll but the roster needs to be re-worked as well.

And, at this point, Lillard has proved all that he can on an individual level. It’s time for greater team successes. He can see what the Portland front office can do but after eight years, a change of scenery for him could be in order, wherever that may be.

He wouldn’t be the first superstar to leave the team that drafted him because they squandered years of his career. And he certainly won’t be the last. It needs to finally be Dame Time for real for Lillard. He needs to be more “selfish” to get what he deserves: a shot at a championship. He won’t get that in Portland the way things are.

5 Most Impactful Guards from the First Round of the NBA Playoffs

The first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs has been nothing short of exciting and there were several players who upped their level of play appropriately. Some are playing on the big stage for the first time and showing that they fit in just fine. Others have proven they still got it. And others still have reminded us that, to put it simply, this is what they do.

2021 NBA Playoffs 5 Most Impactful Guards

5. Ja Morant – G – Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies go as Ja Morant goes. That’s not groundbreaking analysis; point guards typically dictate the flow of the game. Morant is also the face of the franchise and just oozing with talent. But there are (or were) questions about his game, both upon entering the NBA and in the playoffs. We’re getting our answers.

Morant has gone from averaging 19.1 points per game during the regular season to 31.0 in the playoffs, good for sixth in the field. Even without his 47-point explosion, he’d be over 25 PPG in the playoffs. What’s more, is he’s been able to improve (slightly) upon his 7.4 assists per (to 7.5) and cut his turnovers as well.

He’s also been more efficient from the floor overall, though his perimeter game has been almost non-existent. He was hitting his 3.8 triples per game at a  percent clip during the regular season but has hit just 22.7 percent of his 5.5 3PA in the postseason. If he can return next season with an improved jumper, the Grizz are going to be a problem.

4. Trae Young – G – Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young was once billed as the “next Stephen Curry” coming out of Oklahoma. He had made a name for himself for his scoring exploits and seemingly limitless range in college. His first couple of seasons saw him try to live up to that hype but to limited success, especially on the team level. Atlanta won 49 games over in his first two years. They won 41 this past season.

A big part of that was Nate McMillan taking over for Lloyd Pierce. The Hawks went 27-11 under the former Pacers coach’s guidance. But another, more unsung, part was forward John Collins calling Young out for his style of play. Now, Atlanta went just 11-16 between that and Pierce’s firing.

But perhaps that inspired Young, who had bumped heads with Pierce, to voice his displeasure to an ear that mattered. Whatever the case, McMillan has Young playing with a style more reminiscent of CP3 than Chef Curry. As the Hawks look to take down the Knicks in five games, their point guard is just scratching the surface of his abilities.

3. Dillon Brooks – G – Memphis Grizzlies

Yet another young Grizzlies player makes this list and this one is as much about his career to this point as it is what he’s done in the playoffs, which has been incredible. Dillon Brooks left college after his Oregon Ducks lost to two one-seeds and one two-seed in three tournament appearances. But during the draft process, he was picked apart.

Brooks is the rare NBA player whose wingspan is shorter than his actual height (Kelly Olynyk is another). He’s also not a great athlete so it’s not hard to see why scouts doubted him based on that. But his determination led him to turn himself into one of the better young perimeter defenders in the league. And during this postseason, he’s found his offense.

After scoring 20-plus points in 25 regular-season games, Brooks has scored more than that in all four of the Grizzlies playoff games. He’s averaging 25.5 points (up from 17.2 during the regular season) while sharing duties on the toughest defensive assignment. Now about those fouls…

2. Mike Conley – G – Utah Jazz

If the Utah Jazz complete the takedown of Memphis and make their way to greater pastures, they will in part have Mike Conley to thank. The 14-year vet has settled nicely into the fabric of the Utah Jazz who play with a sense of togetherness not seen since Conley’s “Grit & Grind’ Memphis teams.

Conley is averaging 20 points and 10 assists in four playoff games. In Game 1, when Donovan Mitchell missed with his ankle injury, Conley had 22 points and 11 dimes. He’s been steady as they come for his entire career but this time just feels like he’s making that much more of an impact.

Maybe that’s because this Jazz team is better (both in terms of talent and record) than any he had playing for the Grizzlies. Utah is the top seed in the West and has a chance to advance to the second round of the playoffs with a win over his former team on Wednesday. He had just 11 points and seven dishes on Monday, but with a closeout at hand, another double-double could be on deck.

1. Derrick Rose – G – New York Knicks

Derrick Rose and the New York Knicks are fighting for their playoff lives versus the deeper and more skilled Hawks. But individually, Rose has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in the public eye. The former MVP (youngest in league history, in case you hadn’t heard) has bounced around since leaving the Bulls back in 2016.

Going from the Knicks to the Cavs to a cup of coffee with the Jazz to the Timberwolves to the Pistons and, finally, back to New York. Boy, should they be thanking their lucky stars he wanted to come back, this time to reunite with his former head coach with the Bulls and T’Wolves, Tom Thibodeau.

Rose has been the only consistent for the Knicks in the playoffs. He’s ahead of the 2021 Most Improved Player, Julius Randle, in points per game and not just by a little. He has a six-point edge! It’s hard to do over the slandering of Randle, but Rose’s performance deserves more praise especially considering the gravity of the situation.

Top Guards in the NBA Playoffs

This is just a shortlist of the guards who have had the biggest impact so far in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. We can do entire pieces on other positions. But guard play in the NBA is paramount these days. Who would you have on your list?

Triple Zeros: Phoenix’s Sun is Setting in Lakerland

Triple Zeros

Phoenix’s Sun is Setting in Lakerland

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns being up against it versus LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. He also goes into the state of the other series in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Then things switch over to the NFL as the Julio Jones saga took another twist this week on national television. Also, do QBs like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson mean it when they say they want out? All that and so much more!

Anchor | Apple

Chicago Bears Players with the Most to Prove in 2021

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Triple Zeros: Kwame Got Time Today

Triple Zeros

Kwame Got Time Today

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh gives a quick recap of the drama between Kwame Brown, Matt Barnes, Stephen Jackson, and so many others, talks about his most dangerous teams in the NBA playoffs, and Kyrie Irving using all his PTO and still going 50/40/90. Then things switch over to the NFL as Julio Jones has been reportedly made available by the Atlanta Falcons, Jon Gruden heaping praise on Josh Jacobs, and the QB carousel that really wasn’t. All that and so much more!
 
Be sure to follow on Facebook and Twitter (@JoshGBuck, @3ZeroPod, @ClockerSports) today!
 

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Clocker Sports

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Triple Zeros: James Harden is Taking His Flowers

Triple Zeros

James Harden is Taking His Flowers

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook making NBA history, the sale of the Minnesota Timberwolves to Alex Rodriguez, and other NBA buzz. Then the attention switches to the NFL and the biggest games to watch over the first six weeks of the regular season, Tim Tebow getting yet another crack at this thing, and so much more!

Anchor

Chicago Bulls: It’s Clear This Team is Still a Work in Progress

Chicago Bears 2021 Schedule Breakdown: Ranking Every Game by Difficulty

The Chicago Bulls Still Control Their Own Destiny…Sort Of

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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.