We have our first real upset of EuroBasket, just as things are starting to get interesting (Lithuania vs. Spain and Germany vs. Serbia Sunday, for example).
Macedonia 72, Greece 58: This is a pretty big upset — Macedonia had never won a EuroBasket game before this tournament, while in recent years Greece has been one of the better teams in Europe (it was just five years ago they upset the USA at the FIBA World Championship semi-finals). But a good rule of thumb is if you shoot 31 percent from the field as a team for the game, you’re going to lose. That said, this was close until the fourth courter, when Macedonia pulled away. Macedonia is now 2-1 in group play (same record as Greece) and they have a good chance of advancing to the knockout round, which is a huge win for them.
Slovenia 87, Georgia 75: Slovenia is now 3-0, tied with Russia atop Group D and almost certainly headed to the knockout round. And they are a team to be feared there. That said, the Rockets Goran Dragic is not wowing anyone in this tournament, with a 1-8 shooting performance Saturday, which leaves him shooting 32 percent for the tournament (but he is 7-of-14 from three).
Russia 79, Belgium 58: No real shock here, and Russia is now 3-0 and headed to the next round. By the way, Timofey Mozgov has been solid, scoring 5.7 points per game on 61.5 percent shooting and pulling down three boards per contest in limited minutes.
In other action: Croatia 87, Montenegro 81; Finland 92, Bosnia Herzegovina 64; Ukraine 67, Bulgaria 56 (a win for Mike Fratello’s team).
Joel Embiid could be the best player on the Philadelphia 76ers in a couple of years — many scouts had him the highest rated of all the first-round draft picks the Sixers have had in recent seasons.
But after two foot surgeries and two seasons sitting on the sidelines, we don’t know how good Embiid can be. We should find out starting in October when Embiid is part of the Sixers training camp. Embiid says he feels 100 percent, but he expects there will be restrictions on him at first, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com during the Sixers Beach Bash community event this weekend.
This is the smart move by the Sixers — they are not competing for a title, the games in November have minimal meaning long term, bring him along slowly and make sure he can make each step along the way. Let’s see what he can do, then worry about how much run he can get in games that matter.
It’s going to be interesting to watch how Embiid, Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor all fit together up front — and which one of them gets traded this season.
Avery Bradley was first-team NBA All-Defensive team last season, and his coach Brad Stevens lobbied for him to get the honor. Bradley picks up guys full court, pesters, and plays physical — we can debate if he is as good defensively as his reputation, but guys like Damian Lillard think he’s tough to go up against.
Bradley, for his part, says he has no fear going up against the best. Here is what he said to Tom Westerholm of Masslive.com.
“I love the challenge,” Bradley said on Friday, making an appearance at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “I love going up against the best players. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care about getting embarrassed. I don’t care. Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me. I know some players in the NBA probably get butterflies before the game, but not me. I’m licking my lips. I come excited. They need to prepare for me at the end of the day. That’s how I think.”
That’s exactly the attitude you want an elite defender to have.
Bradley injured his hamstring in the first game of the playoffs last April and sat the rest of the Celtics’ one series. Then this summer his name came up in potential Jimmy Butler trade rumors (that deal never actually came close to getting off the ground). Expect Bradley to put that all behind him by the time training camp opens.
LeBron James was dominant — the clear best player on the planet — when the Cleveland Cavaliers needed him most. That’s the reason Cleveland got its first major sports title in 52 years.
It’s the dead part of the NBA season — training camps don’t even open for a month — so why not enjoy a look back at LeBron’s amazing run to a legacy-defining NBA ring. Like you don’t have 15 minutes for this. What are you going to do, watch more preseason football?
It’s a summer tradition — tall NBA players swatting away the shots of young kids at camps/clinics.
Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid has yet to step on an NBA court — this fall, finally? — but he is part of the youth tradition now, destroying this young man at the Sixers Beach Bash event Saturday.
This summer Embiid has arm wrestled Justin Bieber and looked good working out in an empty gym, and to add to that list here is Embiid overpowering an average guy at Beach Bash then throwing it down. The man at least provided a little more resistance than a chair.