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Sorry Sixers, Jazz, but by Dec. 26 playoff teams largely set in NBA


Take a good look at the NBA standings today, because you’re looking this season’s playoff teams. Mostly.

There will be some shuffling of seeding, but once we get past Christmas the 16 teams set for the playoffs don’t change much — 87 percent of the teams in the top eight in their conference on Dec. 26 the past 10 seasons have gone on to make the playoffs. No fewer than 13 of the 16 teams in those playoff slots advanced. Teams down in the standings rarely come charging up to surprise anyone.

If anything, this season likely sees less movement — because of the early start to the season (to space out games and add rest), most teams have played 33 or so games, five or six more than they historically would have.

Sorry Philadelphia and Utah, and the fans of every other team on the outside looking in. It’s not impossible, but the odds your team climbs back into the playoffs are slim.

Last season, when the Christmas Day games were done, Cleveland and Golden State — the two teams to eventually meet in the NBA Finals — were on top of the standings in their respective conferences. Last year, 13 of the 16 teams to make the playoffs were already set (the Hornets and Knicks fell off in the East, replaced by the Bulls and Wizards, and in the West Portland made up the one game it was behind Sacramento and got invited to the dance).

That season fits the trend, in fact it saw more movement than most. I looked at the standings for the last decade (excluding the 2011 lockout season that started on Christmas) and things were largely set. Most years 14 or 15 of the teams set into the top 16 the day after Christmas advanced to the playoffs.

While not statistically probable, comebacks are not impossible.

The worst record to comeback and make the postseason? The 2013 Brooklyn Nets started 9-19 but came on to not only make the playoffs but beat the Raptors in a seven-game first round playoff series. In 2015, the Trail Blazers started 11-20 (.355 winning percentage) and both made the playoffs and beat a banged up Clippers team in the first round. The 2009 Chicago Bulls were 10-17 after Christmas and came back, but in a down year in the East they only had to make up 1.5 games on the Raptors to do that. The 2006 Nets and the 2007 Sixers were both 11-16 (.407 winning percentage) at Christmas and came back to make the postseason.

It’s likely one or two teams climb into the playoffs this season, although an injury to a team already in is mostly likely the reason it happens.

The best team at Christmas not to make the playoffs? The 2010 Utah Jazz were 21-9 and on top of the Northwest Division, but that was the season Jerry Sloan retired and Deron Williams forced a trade out, and they fell off the map and missed the postseason. Hopefully no team has to go through that this season.

Marcus Smart announces he recovered, cleared of coronavirus

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Marcus Smart stepped forward and self-identified as having tested positive for the coronavirus. He wasn’t showing any symptoms and went into self-quarantine, and last we heard was doing well.

Sunday, Smart said that two days ago he was cleared and has fully recovered from the virus.

Most importantly, this is excellent news for Smart and his friends and family (and, by extension, the Celtics). His health is the most important thing in this story.

The NBA has asked recovered players to donate plasma because scientists are hoping to use the blood — which has developed immunities — to help create a vaccine or medicine to slow COVID-19. It’s optional, but the league is encouraging players to help.

There have been 10 players and five NBA off-court staff — including Knicks owner James Dolan — who have tested positive for the disease. Fortunately, none of them have shown any advanced symptoms that required hospitalization.

Colorado junior forward Tyler Bey declares for NBA Draft

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University of Colorado forward Tyler Bey has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The junior averaged 13.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the Buffaloes. Bey shot 53% from the field overall and 74.3% at the free throw line.

Bey also extended his range a bit in his third year at Colorado. He knocked down 13-of-31 three-pointers (41.9%) on the season. At just six-foot-seven, he’ll need to be able to score from behind the arc to find a place in the NBA.

Most draft analysts have Bey pegged as an early second-round pick. Some thought he could play his way into the back-end of the first-round with strong pre-draft workouts. With the pre-draft process up in the air, NBA front offices may have to make their decisions based on what they’ve already seen in person and on tape.

Stephon Marbury has arrangement to procure 10 million medical masks for New York

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Former NBA player Stephon Marbury told The New York Post that he’s arranged a deal to deliver 10 million N95 medical masks to New York. These masks are much-needed among healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marbury is having the masks produced at cost in China, where he played the last seven years of his career.

Although Marbury currently lives in Beijing, China, he said “At the end of the day, I am from Brooklyn. This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York.”

While growing up, Marbury starred at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn and on New York City’s famed playgrounds. After one year at Georgia Tech, Marbury left for the NBA. The high-scoring guard played for five teams during his 13-year NBA career, including his hometown New York Knicks.

After sitting out for two seasons, Marbury signed to play for the Beijing Ducks in 2011. The move was initially seen as a way for Marbury to prove he could still play at an NBA level. Instead, Beijing became home-away-from home for the New Yorker.

Marbury averaged 21.6 points per game in 271 contests spread over seven seasons with the Ducks.

Georgetown sophomore Mac McClung declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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Georgetown sophomore Mac McClung told ESPN Jonathan Givony that he’s declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.

McClung first came to national prominence when his high school highlights blew up on YouTube:

In his second season at Georgetown, McClung averaged 15.7 points and 1.4 steals per game. A foot injury in late-January kept McClung out of the lineup for nearly a month. He returned for one game in late-February, but played just eight minutes off the Hoyas’ bench.

The six-foot-two guard is known for his deep shooting range and his highlight dunks. McClung’s shot is inconsistent however, as he shot under 40% in each of his first two seasons at Georgetown. McClung’s defense also needs work.

McClung projects to be a point guard in the NBA, due to his size. To make it as a lead guard, he’ll need to work on his ballhandling and playmaking. With those question marks, McClung is seen as a stretch to be drafted in the second round.

McClung stated he’s signing with an NBA/NCAA approved agent. That will allow him to keep his college eligibility as he goes through the pre-draft process.