Basketball is very good and is coming back very well. We keep track of all major events and everything from now until the NBA Finals. Check back often for the last ones.
The Clippers’ Big Man carousel keeps spinning and spinning
Thursday, July 30, 9:14 p.m. PT
Rob Mahoney: Part of the appeal of the Clippers’ rotation is how much it leaves to the imagination. Every player on the active roster could record vital minutes before the playoffs are said and over; they are organized for the moment to support the most dangerous wing tandem in the league. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are the mainstays of the Clippers range. Everything else is up for discussion, starting with a wholesale conveyor belt that gives Doc Rivers a variety of options instead of the perfect one.
Never is this more relevant than in games against the Lakers, who make height a priority. Frank Vogel will sometimes play Anthony Davis in the center, but he has more often paired him in the frontcourt with another giant. While dated, this type of lineup could force the Clippers to reconsider their priorities in real time. Take Thursday’s game. Due to deleterious issues – the type exhibited by Davis flexing on the mismatches – every active great Clipper saw the short in the first half alone. That total didn’t even include Montrezl Harrell, the most productive of the lot; in the absence (excused) of Harrell’s indefatigable fuss, the Clips rocked through their alternatives in hopes of finding a balance between strength and subtlety. There was starter Ivica Zubac, whose height reflects Lakers center JaVale McGee; the champion of the people Joakim Noah, wiser than practical; a useful stretch from JaMychal Green, who played many successful regular season minutes alongside Harrell; and Patrick Patterson, whose sense of court helped unlock the Clippers’ half-court offense in this particular game.
There is no proper allocation of minutes for this group, which puts Rivers on the hook with every new game, if not every new day. It’s like watching a participant in a game show think out loud: rule out possibilities, show what they believe to be true, and face their own doubt. The very fact that Noah was added to the roster mid-season suggests the situation is malleable. Rivers reserves the right to mix and match, and to change your mind.
Weird Fan Cam Thing not so bad after all
Thursday, July 30, 7:40 p.m. PT
Pelicans prioritize Zion’s long-term vision and health, though it could cost them a knockout offer
Thursday, July 30, 6:58 p.m. PT
Paolo Uggetti: Zion was sitting ruminating on the bench, towels over his shoulders. He had played 15 minutes total in short bursts and scored 13 easy points, but all he could do now was watch. More than four months after Rudy Gobert’s positive coronavirus test brought the league and the country to a halt, the Jazz center sank a decisive pair of free throws across the field.
The Pelicans had one last chance to win it, but a 3-point Brandon Ingram pointer erupted on the buzzer, giving Utah a 106-104 victory over the Pelicans in Game 1 of the NBA resumption in Orlando. . And while it was somewhat poetic that Gobert had scored the first points of the first game since the save and the winning free throws, it was easy to imagine a different result if Zion had played a few more minutes. The Pelicans have led by as many as 16 at one point, after all. Instead, they’re now 0-1 in the standings and seek the standings in Sacramento, which is now half a game ahead of New Orleans.
Alvin Gentry later said 15 minutes was all Zion was allowed to play Thursday night, which then calls for a closer look at how and when those 15 minutes were used. The Jazz had no one to defend Zion and it was obvious from the start. He knocked down defenders and was able to reach the edge on several occasions with such ease it was as if he was walking through his own front door. He took eight hits, made six, and even got this dazzling dime to Lonzo Ball:
It’s clear that despite being only 20 years old, Zion is the pendulum that could tip the Pelicans into the playoffs. Anything that hurts him – whether it’s an actual injury or just conditioning after leaving the bubble for family reasons last week – could be enough to keep the Pelicans’ move to Orlando short. With just eight games to go in Orlando, New Orleans’ margin for error is slim, which is why Ingram’s lack of buzzer and Zion’s absence in the dying minutes felt so important. These little moments could come back to bite them.
Then again, as exciting as a playoff berth would be, New Orleans is probably better off prioritizing the long-term vision. A likely first-round loss to the Lakers isn’t worth jeopardizing the health of their rookie superstar. Project Zion is a long-term endeavor that could determine not only the future of basketball in New Orleans, but the league as well. You can’t spoil this for an eight game sprint.
NBA’s ‘New Game’ Really Looks Different
Thursday, July 30, 5:46 p.m. PT
Objects: Have you ever wanted to hear an NBA player or coach shout “Very low!” Yes this! From the comfort of your own sofa? Well, the bubble viewing experience is here to deliver just that.
With smaller arenas and no fans for the Orlando NBA reboot, the league has had to get creative when it comes to the broadcast of games. But even though they called this reboot a “brand new game”, the league is trying to make it look as close to “the old game” as possible.
To alleviate the lack of fans, the league has installed black curtains, large screens and scoreboards around the pitch to avoid showing empty seats, and there is an AP announcer, crowd noise, and local team specific game sounds and court logos. The only thing they cannot reproduce is the ambient noise of thousands of people, whether they are clapping, booing, or just being. That void led to a gig of squeaky sneakers that makes it look like we’re watching basketball camp or AAU tournament. We also hear what the players are saying on the pitch. Well, most.
In only half of basketball there were a handful of examples: “Oh my God! Jordan Clarkson was heard loud and clear when his et-1 attempt ended. A few minutes later, Clarkson got his et-1 and yelled “Et-1!” “When Lonzo Ball attempted a lay-up and was blocked by Georges Niang before being called for a goalkeeper, the” No! ” De Niang exploded in the arena. The broadcast stream cuts off anything it deems offensive, and across half the basketball there were already a lot of goofy mutes.
Meanwhile, behind the players grinning, talking about trash and pumping fists are screens filled with “virtual fans” for each team. Visually, it looks terrible, like the NBA is taking place in an alternate reality from a Wii game. However, I can’t hate it too much, because it blessed us with this hilarious development: even virtually, the Pelicans couldn’t have enough fans to take their seats:
The four teams kneel during the national anthems of the reopening night
Thursday, July 30, 3:47 p.m. PT
Zion is back… in “Short Bursts”
Thursday, July 30, 3:08 p.m. PT
Justin verrier: Most of Zion is back. The prodigy will appear in the NBA reopening game between Pelicans and Jazz, but will only play in “short bursts,” according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews. The approach will be similar to Williamson’s debut in January, according to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. In this game, Zion played the first few minutes of each quarter and only 18 minutes in total. He was slow to start but came to life in the fourth, leaping 17 points in just three minutes and almost confirming his bona fide superstar.
Williamson was away from the Pelicans and the NBA bubble / campus / anything in Orlando, for eight days dealing with a family emergency. He quarantined in Orlando for four days and participated in two workouts this week. Williamson told reporters this week that he did “a few body exercises” away from the bubble, “just to keep my muscles in shape. But he understood the need to be careful: “I think my team and I are going to look at what’s best for me, my future and be safe,” said Williamson. “If you know me, I want hoop. This is how I am; I would never change. I’m going to want to make the hoop, that easy.
Zion has only appeared in 19 games this season because of injury, but has already proven himself to be one of the most electrifying players in the NBA when he plays: he averages 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 29.7 minutes per game. The Pelicans open bubbleball 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies for eighth place in the West, with the Trail Blazers between them. But even though the Pels and the NBA are hoping Zion & Co. make their way into the playoffs, or at least the play-ins, the franchise still keeps the big picture in mind.