Kyrie Irving is just over a week away from being the No. 1 pick of the draft and having unrealistic expectations heaped upon him in Cleveland.
Irving is the Duke point guard who played eight games to start the season before a toe injury sidelined him. Until NCAA Tournament, when he returned and almost instantly was back in charge of the Duke offense.
If it hadn’t been for those extra few games, he would have returned to Duke, he told Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio.
“Those eight games (before the injury) just weren’t enough,” he said. “But playing in the tournament gave me a chance to prove to all the naysayers about my durability.”
So, three games made all the difference? Apparently. Duke beat Hampton and Michigan the first weekend but fell to Arizona (led by soon to be No. 2 pick Derrick Williams) in the Sweet 16. Irving had 28 points in the loss on 9-of-15 shooting in that loss. Irving said he was about 70 percent for those tournament games but is 100 percent now.
Of course, the only team that got to see him at 100 percent this summer was Cleveland, the team with the No. 1 pick is the only one Irving has worked out for.
And apparently the only reason they got to see him was three more games in March.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.
But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.
Popovich, via ESPN:
“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.
And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.
Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.
Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.
Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.
Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.
But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.
The Milwaukee Bucks keep right on rolling, they won their 18th straight on Saturday night, cruising past the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they’re going to have to keep this winning streak going without point guard Eric Bledsoe.
Bledsoe will miss at least two weeks with a right fibula avulsion fracture, the team announced Saturday. The injury happened Friday night in a win against Memphis.
An avulsion fracture is where a strain to ligament pulls a little bit of bone off where the two connect. It sounds worse than it is medically, and while it hurts rest is usually the only treatment needed.
Bledsoe is averaging 15 points and 5.7 assists per game for the Bucks, shooting 34.4 percent from three, playing solid defense, and providing another ball handler and shot creator next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee has been +4.1 points per 100 possessions this season with Bledsoe on the court.
George Hill, who has had a strong season for Milwaukee off the bench, will step into the starting role for now.
The injury comes at a rough time as the Buck hit a tougher part of the schedule this week, facing Dallas (which may be without Luka Doncic) and the Lakers on Thursday.
In what has been a disappointing rookie class so far, Charlotte appears to have a steal drafting P.J. Washington at No. 12. The power forward out of Kentucky has started every game for the Hornets this season and is loving the spacing in the NBA game, scoring efficiently in the paint while shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game, plus is averaging 5.3 rebounds a game.
Now the Hornets are going to be without him, likely for a couple of weeks, due to a fractured fifth finger on his right hand (pinkie). He suffered it in the fourth quarter against Chicago Friday night.
While the Hornets officially only list him as out for Sunday against the Pacers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports he’s going to be out through Christmas, which would mean at least five games.
Usually this would mean more minutes for Marvin Williams, but he is out with a sore right knee. Most likely, coach James Borego slides an undersized Miles Bridges over to the four — which had been the preseason plan until Washington surprised everyone — but he has a variety of small-ball players who likely will get a little run there.
The 12-16 Hornets are hanging around the playoff picture, just 1.5 games out of the eight seed (Orlando).