Today, Thunder coach Scott Brooks is getting lots and lots of praise for leaving his bench (with Kevin Durant) out on the court throughout the fourth quarter. Some see it as a rebuke of Russell Westbrook, some as Brooks asserting his authority.
Not from where I sit. To me it’s more simple and pragmantic — he made the move that gave his team the best chance to win Game 2. He saw what was happening on the court and stuck with the guys that had played the best for the Thunder all game. He rode the hot lineup.
That’s not gutsy so much as smart. It may not have been easy considering the athletic talent on the bench, but it is what good coaches do.
The Thunder bench scored 50 points, was 16-of-23 shooting and +21 for the game. They were not playing great defense but they were running more cohesive offensive sets that the Mavericks were struggling to stop. There was no message that needed to be sent to the starters other than that — the bench guys are getting it done.
James Harden showed everyone why he is this team’s Manu Ginobili/Lamar Odom, bringing scoring (23 points) and some swagger off the bench. Not to mention the best beard in the NBA. I think his beard had three points and two boards Thursday night.
Eric Maynor is one of the best backup point guards in the league, he has games like this fairly often. Brooks know what he has and throughout the season has used Maynor more than many coaches use their backup point.
In his postgame comments, Brooks kept saying variations of the same thing, “We were increasing the lead.” He noted he had done it before during the regular season.
Not all coaches would have done it. Some would have stuck to their rotations and had the stars back in at the 6 minute mark of the fourth. But the best ones ride the hot hand.
This wasn’t about messages to Westbrook or some master plan of control. It was winning and evening the series. Simple as that.
And because his moves made to win the game worked, Brooks deserves credit.
After missing two entire seasons, all signs are pointing to 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid finally taking the court this season. Last week, Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Embiid has looked great in his workouts and is on track to play in the preseason, and Embiid himself echoed that sentiment over the weekend. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Marc Narducci that he feels “100 percent.”
There’s always a possibility and fear that Embiid’s recurring foot problems will come back, but for now, all indications are that he’s feeling good and will be able to contribute this season, which should make Sixers fans excited.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.