Kurt Helin

Grizzlies throwbacks

Grizzlies unveil tight ABA-inspired throwback jerseys

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From 1970-75, there were the Memphis Sounds of the ABA (they were called the Tams before that and the Pros before that).

It was the first professional basketball team in Memphis — long before the Grizzlies moved from Vancouver and kept the regionally inappropriate name — this ABA team played and represented the city.

For five games this season — starting next Monday against the Thunder — the Grizzlies will wear some tight, ABA-inspired throwback jerseys (and of course, there will be plenty of gear for fans to buy).

From the official press release:

This season, the Grizzlies are celebrating basketball’s rich legacy in Memphis and the Mid-South through the Hardwood Classics Nights at FedExForum. On five home dates this season, the team will wear throwback Memphis Sounds uniforms in recognition of the ABA (American Basketball Association) team that once called Memphis home from 1974-75.

Hardwood Classics at FedExForum will feature groovy entertainment programming and unique “old school” giveaways including Monday’s Memphis Sounds Pennant giveaway (to the first 5,000 fans in attendance) and Memphis Sounds Tacky Holiday T’s and Memphis Sounds Car Air Fresheners on future Hardwood Classics nights.

These may be the best throwbacks a team has done. Love them.

I’m not sure jerseys are going to help turn around the slow start of a team that has lost four straight and has the worst offense in the NBA this young season. But at this point, maybe a little uniform luck can’t hurt.

Now, if they’d just play with the old red, white, and blue ABA ball, that would be perfect.

Brian Scalabrine: Paul Pierce is NBA’s best trash talker

Paul Pierce, Garrett Temple
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The NBA’s best trash talker? Ask guys around the league and Kevin Garnett‘s name still comes up, although Draymond Green is the current consensus leader.

Former NBA player now Celtics analyst Brian Scalabrine says Paul Pierce has them all beat back in his prime, part of a Q&A at the Players’ Tribune.

Paul Pierce is the greatest trash talker I’ve ever encountered in this league….

Paul’s trash talk was devastating because he’s so witty and smart. I mean, the guy is off the charts smart. It’s one thing to say something outrageous or offensive to throw someone off, but I would hear Paul just cut through guys with his words. And the fact that he was so respected made his insults hurt even more. Nobody wants to get told they’re human garbage by The Truth.

You can see why Paul’s had so much success with poker. He understands how to employ psychological warfare to his advantage. To him, that’s all part of the game. He didn’t back down from any player, and there was never a time when he appeared rattled. Guys could try to talk smack back at him but it wouldn’t get through. He was too ice cold on the court.

Pierce still has the gift. Last season during the playoffs, then Wizard Pierce said Toronto didn’t worry him as an opponent because they didn’t have “it.” That became a talking point for days around the series, and it bothered the Raptors. The Wizards swept the series, and Pierce hit the dagger shot in one game.

The Clippers could use a little of that psychological warfare come the playoffs if they want to be a real threat to get out of the West.

 

Watch Stephen Curry drop 46 on Minnesota

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Ten games into the NBA season, Stephen Curry already has three 40-point (or more) games.

The latest came when he dropped 46 on Minnesota Thursday night, shooting 15-of-25 (you can see his buckets from the game above). He is shooting 47 percent from three on the season, he is getting to the line, and he is finishing in the paint better than previous years. There are no weaknesses. Check out his shot chart from this season:

Shotchart_1447415495598

Teams that trap him pay a price. Some teams have gone to putting their best perimeter defender on Klay Thompson in sort of a Michael Jordan/Steve Nash approach of “let him get his but don’t let him set up others.” Nothing has worked, the Warriors are 10-0, and Curry has been the best player on the planet.

And there is no end in sight.

Three Takeaways from NBA Thursday: When will the Warriors lose a game?

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Just three games on the schedule Thursday night, but if you were watching Rex Ryan get revenge then you missed a few things worth discussing, so here is a little wrap-up of three things to take away from the NBA slate of games:

1) When will the Warriors lose a game? Golden State is 10-0 after knocking off the upstart Timberwolves 129-116 Thursday. The Warriors aren’t just winning, they are dominating, having beaten opponents by an averaged of 17.1 points per game (17.2 points per 100 possessions). They have the top-ranked offense in the NBA and second-ranked defense (based on points per possession, stats via NBA.com). Stephen Curry has come back from his MVP season improved, and the Warriors’ team is not looking to coast through the early part of the schedule. It begs the question:

When will the Warriors lose a game?

Not this Saturday, when they host the lowly Nets. Probably not next Tuesday when they host Toronto (if DeMarre Carroll is back for the Raptors that game gets more interesting, but I’ll still take the Warriors). However, then comes a three-game stretch where I think the Warriors stumble for the first time.

Thu, Nov 19: at L.A. Clippers
Fri, Nov 20: Chicago Bulls
Sun, Nov 22: at Denver Nuggets

The Clippers are legit and — if Paul and Redick are healthy — they are capable of beating the Warriors on a given night. The Bulls still may be figuring rotations/chemistry out, but they are sixth in the NBA in defense, they have flashes of great offense, and with the Warriors on the second night of a back-to-back this could be the game. Denver has been middle of the pack on offense and defense, but they have shown flashes, and it’s the third game in four nights for the Warriors, plus this game is being played at altitude in Denver. That could lead to a one-off performance.

If they don’t stumble in those three and get to what would be 15-0, then it could be a little while as the schedule softens up. And at that point I’ll start entertaining a discussion of 70+ wins, not before.

2) Just a reminder that Stephen Curry is a basketball-shooting cyborg who cannot miss. Well, he does miss some shots — he was 15-of-25 on his way to 46 points Thursday — but that may just be part of the programming to throw us off, to make him look more human so we don’t get suspicious. Here are all his buckets from Thursday night, you be the judge.

3) Game summary: Blake Griffin got tossed for Clippers, Suns guards could not miss. Nobody should read much into the late TNT game regarding it being predictive. The Clippers started the night without Chris Paul and J.J. Redick, and that gave the Suns’ backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight a chance to take over. But there are two things of note from the Suns comfortable win over the Clippers, 118-104.

First, Blake Griffin got ejected, picking up two first-half technicals.

Doc Rivers and the Clippers didn’t like that call, saying the rule about if a player showing up an official is inconsistently enforced (he’ll get fined for that). My take on this is a little more nuanced (and has two parts): First, I don’t think what Griffin did in this specific instance was worthy of a technical, especially not a second one that sends him to the showers. Rivers is right that the rule about what constitutes showing up an official is applied inconsistently. This was a quick trigger — but the Clippers bring this on themselves. That’s the second part of this. No team in the NBA is as demonstrative at whining about calls game in/game out as the Clippers, and Griffin is at the forefront of that (with Rivers right behind him). Griffin’s incessant complaining pushes up against the “showing up the official” line nightly, so he should understand that he’s going to occasionally step over that line. More importantly, his behavior does not endear or make officials give him the benefit of the doubt — they are humans who get sick of being jawed at like anyone. Griffin wears on them nightly, and this is the occasional price. He shares blame here, even if you can say this particular instance was out of line.

The big takeaway: Griffin getting ejected did not decide this game. They were already behind when it happened. Without CP3 and Redick, Suns’ guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight took over this game from the start — they combined for 63 points and 13 assists. That’s why the Suns won this game; they got phenomenal guard play that the Clippers could not stop or match. Those two earned the Suns a quality win at home.

David Blatt: Kyrie Irving still has “ways to go” in return

Kyrie Irving
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The Cleveland Cavaliers are doing just fine, thank you very much. They are 7-1 and atop the Eastern Conference standings.

And they are not close to full strength, Kyrie Irving is still out recovering from the fractured kneecap he suffered during the NBA Finals last June. When might we see Irving back on the court? Patience, grasshopper, we’re going to have to wait a while. Here is what Cavaliers’ coach David Blatt said on the issue Thursday, as reported by Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“[We’re] not rushing things and not letting up from the day-to-day work, but still a ways to go,” he said. “And how much, I can’t honestly tell you, but he’s working at it every day.”

 

Irving has not returned to any practice yet, let along a full contact affair, so we are still weeks away at the very least. Reports have suggested it could be after the first of the year before Irving is back on the court (except as Uncle Drew), although somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems a more likely timeframe.

If the team were struggling, there might be pressure to speed up the timeline, but as they are not the Cavaliers should remain patient.