Shawn Marion's injury could be problematic

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The Dallas Mavericks’ defense is in trouble, and their inability to get stops is a big reason why they’ve faded since their 13-game winning streak. Brendan Haywood and Erick Dampier have been a bit more up-and-down than Rick Carlisle would like, the rotations have been a step slow, and giving up open shots on the weak side has been a bit of a problem.

The one defensive constant all year has been Shawn Marion, who has shown time and time again that he’s still capable of forcing opposing wings (small forwards in particular) into bad shooting nights. Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Kobe Bryant all produce at a lower level against the Mavs than they do on the regular, and most of that is because Marion has been an elite individual defender this year.

So naturally, because the basketball gods are cruel indeed and love to watch fans squirm, Marion’s strained oblique could become something of a problem. From Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas:

There’s been little fretting over the oblique muscle strain that Mavericks small forward Shawn Marion
suffered to his left side during Saturday’s game. It’s possible it
could keep him out longer than Terry[‘s recovery from face surgery] and that would be troubling for an
already sputtering Mavericks team locked in a multi-team battle for
homecourt advantage and the playoffs on tap in two weeks.

In a tweet Monday night, Marion, the Mavs’ best defender all season, said he’s “still hurting.” And with good reason.

The obliques wrap around the side of the body and an abdominal
strain can make it difficult to simply sneeze. Oblique strains are more
common in baseball players, obviously due to the twisting motions of
both hitters and pitchers. It’s not uncommon for a baseball player to
miss one or even two months depending on the severity of the injury.

The Mavs are in a tough position. It’s imperative that Marion be healthy in the playoffs, or else they will seriously struggle against a number of very tough wings (Durant, Manu Ginobil, etc.) in the postseason. However, it’s also quite important that the Mavs win as many of their remaining regular season games as possible, given the logjam in the standings right now. Then again, maybe a limited Marion won’t do much good at all, and if Shawn plays major minutes in what turns out to be a lost, the team has squandered away invaluable rest time for their prized stopper.

Handling Marion’s oblique strain won’t be simple, but I think it’s fairly safe to assume that he’ll miss tomorrow’s game against the Grizzlies. From there, we should have a better feel for how serious the injury is and how that affects the Mavs’ fortunes.

Kings’ Rudy Gay suffers apparent torn left Achilles tendon, would be done for season

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This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.

Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.

Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.

Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings,  and with that team’s playoff chances have taken a hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers). Don’t be surprised if the Kings look to add a scorer at the trade deadline.

Gay was not happy in Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.

That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.

Zaza Pachulia lays out Russell Westbrook, stands over him (video)

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Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.

Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.

Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.

Report: 76ers’ Ben Simmons sitting entire season still on table

TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07:  Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2016 NBA Rookie Photoshoot at Madison Square Garden Training Center on August 7, 2016 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?

It just won’t die.

Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.

Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.

76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.

It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.

Roy Hibbert passes ball into hoop, reacts with perfect facial expression (video)

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The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.

Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).