Five Things We Learned in NBA Monday: Remember Golden State is great defensive team

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If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while finding hundred-year-old baseball cards in your family Bible.…

1) Golden State shows off league-best defense in win. There are people who tend to gloss over that Golden State has the best defense in the NBA — the Warriors allow 97.4 points per 100 possessions on the season, two points better than the second-place Bucks. That defense was on full display Monday. Washington shot just 33.3 percent against the Warriors and were 1-of-18 shooting in the third quarter when Golden State took control of the game with a 22-2 run on their way to a 30-point win. The combination of Andrew Bogut up front and Draymond Green just blanketed the Wizards. Golden State breaks convention, they switch almost every pick-and-roll, which should create mismatches but Stephen Curry has stepped up on that end of the floor, and that showed Monday as well. To be fair, the Wizards also just missed shots — 44.4 percent of their shots were uncontested, they still shot just 33 percent on those. Still, this smothering defense is why the Warriors are legitimate title contenders. That and they can play a little offense, too.

2) James Harden drops another 44 and Rockets get another win. Add Monday night’s numbers to the James Harden for MVP file: He scored 44 points on 10-of-21 shooting, he got to the free throw line 22 times, and he dished out seven assists. Most importantly Houston picked up another win, 110-100 over Indiana, and the fact they remain on track to be home for at least the first round of the playoffs while being without Dwight Howard (who will be back sooner rather than later) may be Harden’s best MVP pitch.

3) Chicago gets Jimmy Butler back, but it was the Nicola Mirotic show. The Bulls needed the return of Jimmy Butler, who had been out since March 1 with an elbow injury.However, he brought back the expected amount of rust (6-of-20 shooting). This is where rookie Nicola Mirotic took over — he had 28 points, 14 in the fourth quarter, to lift the Bulls past the Hornets. Mirotic was scoring at the rim but was also 4-of-6 in the midrange. The Bulls also got 27 from Pau Gasol in a win that tied the Bulls with the Raptors for the coveted three seed out East.

4) Boston moves back into eight seed thanks to triple-double from Evan Turner. With the Hornets losing to Chicago, the Celtics had a chance to move back into the eight seed in a key game vs. Brooklyn (who also has eyes on a playoff spot). Of course, that  meant it was time for the Evan Turner show. No, seriously it was. He had 19 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.  Turner can be up and down, but he picked a good time to be up.  Combine that with Brooklyn’s 1-of-17 shooting stretch and Boston gets a win.

5) Deron Williams still has a few moves left. The Nets lost, and their playoff chances dimmed, but Deron Williams broke out a pretty sweet double crossover that is worth passing along.

Report: NBA deprioritizing playing regular-season games for local TV

Steve Kerr and LeBron James before NBA game
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The NBA is financially incentivized to play more regular-season games to satisfy local-TV contracts.

How does that square with resuming play – currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic – with a play-in tournament and playoffs?

It doesn’t.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

According to one source, getting some teams to a magical number of 70 regular-season games had been a goal, but in the last week has taken on less of a priority.

This stoppage is going to cost the NBA a lot of money. There’s no way around that. Not every source of revenue can be preserved. It’s about finding the optimal setup.

Importantly, canceling games could allow the NBA to reduce player salaries through force majeure. Of course, the union would consider that action when negotiating how to proceed.

LeBron James advocated for playing some regular-season games before the playoffs so everyone could get back into shape. But Steve Kerr called it very unlikely the Warriors would play another regular-season game. Perhaps, playoff-bound teams like the Lakers will play tune-up regular-season games while Golden State – the only team officially eliminated from the playoff race before the hiatus – doesn’t. It’d be a little odd to have such different formats, though. (Then again, these are odd times).

Considering this report, we ought to give more credence to the idea that Kerr knows something about the NBA’s plan and that the regular season is finished.

Lakers update that all players ‘currently symptom-free of COVID-19’

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Nearly two weeks ago, the Lakers announced that two of their players tested positive for the coronavirus. “Both players are currently asymptomatic, in quarantine and under the care of the team’s physician… All players and members of the Lakers staff are being asked to continue to observe self-quarantine,” the Lakers said at that time.

On Tuesday, the team provided an update saying nobody on the team is showing any symptoms after a couple of weeks of quarantine.

“All Lakers players are currently symptom-free of COVID-19. The team will continue to follow the health and safety guidelines set by government officials, the Lakers and the NBA,” the statement said.

The Lakers’ players who tested positive were never publicly identified (in fitting with HIPAA regulations).

A total of 10 NBA players — plus five members of staff associated with teams — have tested positive for the virus that has upended life in the United States. None reportedly have had to be hospitalized. Players such as Marcus Smart and others have recovered and free from the virus.

The NBA remains suspended, with the league hoping to jump-start the playoffs in June, possibly with all the teams in one location.

Report: NBA won’t hold draft until after season

NBA draft
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The NBA draft is scheduled for June 25. Most expect that date to change as the coronavirus pandemic causes postponements around the world.

Apparently, the draft will come after the NBA season – whether the season is completed in a modified format or just cancelled.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

I think everybody in the league feels it’s almost impossible to have a draft if you still have a season that’s ongoing.

You can’t have a draft while teams are still playing. You can’t have some teams able to do trades because their season’s done and then some teams unable to do trades because they’re still playing.

It doesn’t strike me as difficult to hold the draft before the season ends. Teams wouldn’t be allowed to trade current players. The restriction would apply across the board, just like the interrupted pre-draft process. That’s not ideal, but compromises must be made amid this chaos.

Importantly, holding the draft sooner could appeal to both sides of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

It’d be an opportunity to hold a revenue-producing TV event. Obviously, drafted players wouldn’t attend a mass gathering. But with sports fans starved for content, people would watch the selections. A handshake with NBA commissioner Adam Silver is only a small part of the festivities.

The National Basketball Players Association should also push for an earlier draft. Prospects want information sooner so they can prepare for their next step – whether that’s the NBA, returning to college or playing overseas. That said, the union has bigger priorities than potential future members.

So, it’s easy to see why postponing the draft has gained momentum, even if that’s not a no-brainer solution.

Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell headline televised NBA video-game tournament

Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell
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The NBA season isn’t returning any time soon.

So, the closest thing you’ll get to live basketball on television is a video-game tournament between NBA players. The bracket has been revealed.

The Boardroom:

1. Kevin Durant (Nets)

2. Trae Young (Hawks)

3. Hassan Whiteside (Trail Blazers)

4. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)

5. Devin Booker (Suns)

6. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)

7. Zach LaVine (Bulls)

8. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)

9. Domantas Sabonis (Pacers)

10. Deandre Ayton (Suns)

11. DeMarcus Cousins (previously Lakers)

12. Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets)

13. Rui Hachimura (Wizards)

14. Patrick Beverley (Clippers)

15. Harrison Barnes (Kings)

16. Derrick Jones Jr. (Heat)

I have questions:

  • How does Hassan Whiteside have the same rating as Donovan Mitchell and a higher rating Devin Booker?
  • Does being extremely online bode well for Kevin Durant?
  • Is Donovan Mitchell, who spent his coronavirus isolation playing video games, in the best game shape?
  • Will Zach LaVine redeem himself?
  • Will players use their own teams? If so, will Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton both use the Suns, Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley both use the Clippers? If not, the most interesting aspect of this tournament – to non-esports aficionados – could be reading way too much into which teams players pick.