Three Things We Learned Tuesday: Kevin Durant injury clouds Warriors season

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The NBA world — and potentially the race to the Finals — changed in an instant Tuesday night with one injury. But if you were busy celebrating Bill Paxton’s best work as the director and star of a music video about fish heads, we understand, here are the big takeaways from the night.

1) Kevin Durant injury leaves cloud over Warriors season (but Wizards will take the win).
Here are the numbers that matter most as we await the MRI results and the news of just how severe Kevin Durant’s knee injury is:

The NBA playoffs start in six weeks, the Western Conference Finals in two-and-a-half months, the Finals in three months.

The Golden State Warriors went from “can anyone beat this team” to vulnerable in the space of this one play, when Washington’s Marcin Gortat threw Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia to the floor to get a rebound and Pachulia fell right into Durant’s knee, leading to a hyperextension.

The MRI results are expected Wednesday at some point, but the Warriors are bracing for the worst having already set up plans to sign Matt Barnes to fill in on the wing.

While the Warriors tried to focus on the game despite not having their best player this season, the Wizards were playing with some real desperation — and that got them a much-needed win, their first since the All-Star break. John Wall dished out a career-high 19 assists, Otto Porter and Markief Morris hit key shots down the stretch, Stephen Curry is now 2-of-20 from three his last two games, all of which led to a dramatic Wizards win in Washington.

2) Triple-doubles tonight: Russell Westbrook (of course) and Nikola Jokic (the guy is a stud). The Thunder and Nuggets are both teams in need of wins as they focus on the playoffs — the Thunder to climb up the West seedings, the Nuggets to hang on to the eighth seed — and on Tuesday night both got massive games from their stars to get key wins.

Russell Westbrook put together his 30th triple-double of the season, scoring 43 points and hitting some clutch shots late, and did it against one of the best defenses in the league leading the Thunder to a win over the Jazz.

Denver leaned on their big man and franchise cornerstone Nikola Jokic, who led the team to a road win in Chicago with 19 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. Combine that with a Portland loss (see below) and Denver moves to 1.5 games ahead of the Blazers (and one better in the loss column).



3) Pistons knock off Blazers in overtime in the best game of the night.
Detroit entered Tuesday night as the eighth seed in the East. Barely. Portland entered as the ninth seed in the West. Barely, just half a game back of Denver. Both teams are desperate for wins to make the postseason, and desperation can lead to exciting basketball.

Damian Lillard forced overtime with a driving lay-up, but the night ultimately belonged to Marcus Morris, who had a career-high 37 points and was feeling it. Detroit got the win thanks to him.

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?