<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans

Kevin Durant remains on minutes restriction. Not that it will matter vs. Sixers.


The Philadelphia 76ers are playing their best basketball and with that are on the current longest winning streak of the season.

That Oklahoma City Thunder seem unconcerned.

Kevin Durant will remain on his minutes restriction of 30 in his second game back from foot surgery when the Thunder take on the 1-17 Sixers Friday night, reports Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman.

That shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, if he needs to play the full 30 I’d be more concerned. And the Thunder are right to not push too hard on the reigning MVP and the guy they need to be right for the long haul.

That said, Thunder need wins. Now. They need to go 44-20 the rest of the way to get to the 49 wins that was the playoff cutoff in the West last season (and it likely will be in that ballpark again this season). They can’t go out and not care against the Sixers, no matter how bad they are.

The Thunder enter a 10 game stretch now where they can make up ground facing teams such as lowly Philadelphia, as well as Detroit, Milwaukee (not a pushover), Minnesota, and the LA Lakers. There are some challenging games in that stretch — Cleveland, Golden State — and one game they should real circle on the calendar: Phoenix. That is the current eight seed and the team they need to catch in the Western Conference.

Like Durant said, they can’t look past anybody right now, they need to win about 70 percent of their games the rest of the way.

Joakim Noah, Kenneth Faried in latest NBA “swingman jersey” ads

Kenneth Faried, Joakim Noah
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The NBA’ swingman jersey ads — where we meet the “body doubles” of top NBA players — have been pretty classic.

But I think this latest one with the Bulls’ Joakim Noah may be the best. It was just released by Adidas and the NBA.

They also sent out this new one with Kenneth Faried. Enjoy.

Potential top pick Emmanuel Mudiay out in China with sprained ankle, future there in question

World Select Team v USA Junior National Select Team

When Emmanuel Mudiay decided not to play his college ball at SMU for Larry Brown (he didn’t meet the academeic requirements) and instead decided to go play in China there were risks — scouts wondered if Mudiay would play a full season in a place with a radically different culture than he was used to. If so, his game would benefit from playing against men not boys, and he would show a level of maturity to deal with the culture shock. On the court Mudiay has done well, averaging better than 17.7 points a game, plus six assists and six rebounds a night, and he even had a triple double.

But he has sat out the last four games with an ankle sprain and now his team, the Guangdong Southern Tigers, is brining in Will Bynum to play for them at a cost of $1 million.

That has led to questions about Mudiay’s future in China, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Chinese teams are allowed only two American players on the roster, but Bynum can replace Mudiay as the teenage American star is rehabbing his injury, sources said….

It is possible that Guangdong could release Mudiay and pay him the balance of his contract, or hold onto the teenager and watch how Bynum impacts the team until Mudiay’s ankle allows him to return to the lineup. Eventually, Guangdong could make a decision on which guard to keep – and release the other. Nevertheless, it would be an immense investment to bring Bynum over on a guaranteed $1 million-plus agreement – only to use him for one or two weeks….

Mudiay has to protect his draft value, and his representatives will be exceedingly careful to make sure he doesn’t risk further injury or poor performance in China. If released, Mudiay could simply return to the United States and train in preparation to begin predraft workouts with NBA teams prior to the June draft.

Mudiay is in the top three of pretty much everybody’s draft board (DraftExpress currently has him at No. 2, behind Jahlil Okafor of Duke and ahead of Karl Towns of Kentucky). Mudiay is a 6’5” point guard who has great atheticism, has shooting range, and good court vision. The NBA has become a point guard’s league and Mudiay could set a team up for a decade or more at that position.

Because of that potential coming back to the states likely wouldn’t hurt his draft stock much if any. Still, you would think that playing games and playing well in China would enhance them more than workouts against a chair in some Florida gym.

PBT’s Thursday Night NBA Winners/Losers: Kyrie Irving is the Cavalier you can’t stop

Cleveland Cavaliers v New York Knicks

Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Here’s what you missed while sleeping on your bacon-scented pillow case

source:  Kyrie Irving. He was the best player on the court in the Cavaliers win in Madison Square Garden. Not only did he score 37 points on 12-of-18 shooting, but he also he hit the dagger shot late in the fourth. The Cavs were up one with coming out of a timeout with 16 seconds left in the game, Irving had the ball out top isolated on Iman Shumpert. Irving drove left and got around Shumpert, Amare Stoudemire rotated over to help and Irving shot over both and went high off the glass — with an impressive degree of difficulty — to hit the shot. It was that way all night for Irving, who got to the rim whenever he wanted and also was 3-of-6 from three.

source:  Carmelo Anthony. He was just ice cold against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, shooting 4-of-19 from the floor. From our “a shot chart is worth 1,000 words” file, we bring you ‘Melo’s against the Cavaliers.


source:  Klay Thompson. Yes he scored 23 points in the Warriors comfortable win over the Pelicans (who had 30 points from Anthony Davis while the rest of the team shot 32.9 percent). However why he’s here is this amazing note from Sam Amick of the USA Today:

Amar’e Stoudemire can still dunk, does so on Anderson Varejao (VIDEO)

Amare Stoudemire, Anderson Varejao, Shawn Marion

I did a double-take to make sure Amare Stoudemire wasn’t still wearing a Suns uniform.

Nope, the Knicks are still paying him. A lot. But he turned back the clock on  this dunk on Anderson Varejao. That had some power behind it.

The Knicks hung around with the Cavaliers but in the end Cleveland picked up its fifth straight win, behind 37 from Kyrie Irving.