Tony Parker out for Spurs vs. Nets with lower back tightness; Popovich may play Duncan 48 minutes

1 Comment

Leave it to Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich to make light of an otherwise less-than-stellar situation.

San Antonio needed to expend more energy than perhaps was necessary in securing a double-overtime win over the Wizards on Wednesday, though they did it without Tony Parker for much of it.

Parker played less than 19 minutes and did not return after leaving the game with what was described as lower back tightness. Popovich ruled him out for Thursday’s nationally televised contest in Brooklyn against the Nets, while hinting that another of his veterans may have to step up in a big way in Parker’s absence.

From Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Duncan finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and three blocks. Popovich, who has a habit of resting his older players in back-to-back situations, said after Wednesday’s game he had a different plan in Brooklyn.

“I’m going to play him 48 (minutes) tomorrow,” Popovich said. “You’re making that kind of money, you’ve got to play.”

There’s a decent chance that even without Parker for this one, and even though the Spurs are still missing Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili due to injury, that Duncan gets the night off despite his team being so short-handed.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $12,000 Fantasy Basketball league that includes Thursday and earlyFriday games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $2,500. Starts at 8pm ET on Thursday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Popovich coaches not on a game-to-game basis, but with an eye on the totality of the season’s picture instead. While he might like to give Duncan the extra burn, if he does let him play, it likely will only be in a relatively limited capacity.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

4 Comments

Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

Getty Images
10 Comments

NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

Getty Images
Leave a comment

DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

6 Comments

This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.