Why is Gilbert Arenas struggling? Because it’s cold outside.

Leave a comment

You know what was wrong with Gilbert Arenas Sunday? Why he was limping around and shooting 0-7 from the floor in Orlando’s loss to Boston?

It was cold outside, he told CBSSports’ Ken Berger.

“Cities that are high on the map, I have trouble with,” Arenas said. “Like (Boston) during the winter. But as soon as February shows up – that’s why they call me Mr. February, because I’ll be dunking and jumping around in practice. I’m glad we’re about to have a month basically at home so I can just get my rhythm and be in the warm weather where my knee is going to feel a lot better. It’s like day and night. It’s weird.”

Asked when it will feel better, Arenas said, “As soon as we land in Orlando. When it’s cold, the coldness swells in my joints and puts moisture in my joints and that’s what makes it stiff. So once I get to a warm city, or any city that has high humidity, I’m fine.”

So just like your grandmother, Arenas can tell you when it’s going to rain due to his pain. Or, you can just watch him play and tell what the weather is like outside.

Of course, the weather outside may have less to do with it than Arenas’ mental adjustments. Arenas is clearly still struggling to fit in with the Magic offense — for years he had a green light in every situation, now he has to feed others, to pick his spots to shoot and attack. He has to fit in a system, not have the system fit to him. The result is he has averaged 7.7 points per game on 35 percent shooting in his last 10, and he is shooting 20 percent from three in that stretch.

He said as much to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“I’m going to shoot and if I see somebody I’ll pass it. That’s how I used to be. When you’re a scorer, and you’re thinking about scoring, everything comes easy. It’s just … weird. I catch myself not being aggressive, and when I do turn it on, I don’t have a rhythm.

“When I’m alone shooting, I feel like I can’t be beat. That’s how I shoot. But in a game, I’m so worried about missing shots, that’s what I end up doing.”

Arenas has to accept that the days he can get in a shootout with Kobe Bryant are over. He’s a backup point guard and while the Magic want scoring from him they need him to fit in the system more. He has to adjust his game.

Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson have worked out well for the Magic out of their big in-season moves. But Arenas is the big, dangerous contract in that mix. If he doesn’t work out he could be the anchor on the Magic’s ability to win a title because that $63 million he is owed over the next three seasons after this makes it hard to get anything else done. And if they can’t win a title by the time Dwight Howard can become a free agent in a couple years… let’s not go there yet. We’re a long way from that.

But know that Arenas working out for the Magic matters. A lot.

Sixers Jabari Parker upgraded to “probable,” will decide after warm ups

Associated Press
Leave a comment

Everything you saw in the first two games of this Miami/Philadelphia playoff series you can throw out in the trash.

Joel Embiid is back and is now “probable” for Game 3, the Sixers announced, upgrading his status from “doubtful” earlier in the day. Embiid had been out with a concussion and orbital bone fracture.

Embiid will go through warmups — trying out both a mask and goggles — then will make a formal decision. However, he is expected to go. He certainly wants to play.

This changes the Sixers and the series. Yes, Philly has likely Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons and high quality role players such as J.J. Redick and Robert Covington, however, is Embiid that makes it all work. Put simply, when Embiid is on the court the Sixers are 15.2 points per 100 possessions better — their defense is elite and their offense is outstanding.

The Sixers will be better with their best player back in the fold, but don’t think this makes the series a cakewalk for Philly. It changes everything about matchups, but things are not all positives. When Embiid is on the court, the up-tempo, ball-movement style that the Sixers built around Simmons slows down and stops at points. The Sixers have played Hassan Whiteside and his rim protection off the court with floor spacing shooting bigs, now he has a place to be in the matchups. There are things the Heat can do now that may work for them.

It just may not matter — Philadelphia just got a lot better.

PBT Podcast: NBA first round playoff series breakdowns

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LeBron James‘ Cavaliers looks to be in a battle royal in the first round — and they could lose to Victor Oladipo‘s Pacers.

Miami’s defense and versatility is challenging the Sixers and shaking the faith of all those that just jumped on the bandwagon.

Utah stole a game in Oklahoma City showing great grit and resolve, not to mention a lot of Donovan Mitchell.

Anthony Davis has done everything but walk on water for the Pelicans.

The first round of the NBA playoffs has been filled with fascinating storylines — and we are just two games into each series. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break down all eight first-round series in this podcast, starting in the East and the tight races there, then move into the West. There’s even some “who wants to pay Jabari Parker this summer?” talk thrown in.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

James Dolan says Knicks must build around ‘great’ Kristaps Porzingis, offers fair rebuke of meddling charges

AP Photo/Richard Drew
Leave a comment

Phil Jackson received a standing ovation in his first game at Madison Square Garden as Knicks president. Don’t forget how excited New York was for Jackson, who coached the Bulls and Lakers to 11 championships and played for the Knicks’ last title team. He was welcomed as a potential savior.

The common refrain: Jackson would have a chance to succeed if Knicks owner James Dolan didn’t meddle.

Immediately, Dolan said he would cede control to Jackson “willingly and gratefully.” Dolan later pledged to honor Jackson’s full five-year contract.

But fans turned on Jackson as he did an awful job and the Knicks struggled. Dolan opted into the final two years of Jackson’s contract, anyway, as he said he would all along. Fans got angrier. When Jackson publicly flaunted Kristaps Porzingis trade talks, outrage reached a fever pitch. Finally, Dolan stepped in to fire Jackson.

Dolan, via Larry Brooks of the New York Post:

“A great player in hockey is the difference, but a great player in basketball is the team.

“And I think we have a great player in Porzingis. We just have to build around him.”

“Everybody who wants to talk about the Knicks wants to ask me about Phil Jackson,” Dolan said, smiling and shaking his head. “The entire market wanted to me to hire him and when I did, the entire market said it was a great move. The only thing was, everyone said that I shouldn’t interfere with him.

“Three years later, everyone wanted to know when I was going to do something about Phil. The same people who told me not to interfere wanted me to interfere. But that’s OK. I just think that Phil underestimated the job.”

Dolan makes a salient point about how people perceive his involvement. The problem isn’t that Dolan meddles. It’s that he makes poor decisions.

Hiring Jackson – an out-of-touch former coach with no front-office experience – was a poor decision. I’m not enthused about Steve Mills as Jackson’s replacement, either, though we’ll see how that plays out.

Building around Porzingis is a better decision. He’s an extremely talented 22-year-old.

But it’s hardly a foolproof plan. Porzingis is recovering from a torn ACL. Dolan said Porzingis could return in December – or miss next season entirely.

Either way, the Knicks must surround Porzingis with better teammates. Dolan will and should be a part of that process. Whether he’ll positively affect it is another matter.

76ers: Joel Embiid doubtful for Game 3 against Heat

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
4 Comments

MIAMI (AP) — Joel Embiid remains listed as doubtful by Philadelphia for Game 3 of the 76ers’ Eastern Conference playoff series at Miami on Thursday night.

Embiid was on the floor with the 76ers for their morning shootaround practice, but coach Brett Brown says there’s no change in the All-Star center’s status.

Embiid has missed Philadelphia’s last 10 games while recovering from a concussion and surgery that repaired a fractural orbital bone around his left eye. He’s no longer in the NBA’s concussion protocol.

He took to social media after the 76ers lost Game 2 of this series to the Heat, saying he’s tired of being “babied.”

Embiid has averaged 22.9 points and 11 rebounds in 63 games for the 76ers during the regular season.