Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) Dwyane Wade jumped in the hot tub time machine for a night, but Kevin Durant is still clutch so Warriors win. When Dwyane Wade is inducted into the Hall of Fame, here is one thing that will not get enough discussion: He is the best shot blocking guard of all time.
Wade has 868 blocks in his NBA career, using a combination of athleticism and timing to rack up more blocks than former Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah in his career. Those blocks are one of the reasons Wade is a three-time All-Defensive Team selection (he didn’t just do it on one end).
The 868th of those blocks he added on Sunday and it was a highlight play on a nearly highlight day for the Miami Heat — Wade helped from the baseline and blocked a Kevin Durant fadeaway ,then got out in transition and finished the play to give Miami the lead over Golden State with less than a minute left.
On the ensuing play, Josh Richardson — who had a career night with 37 points, including eight threes — got the steal and the breakaway dunk to put Miami up three with :51 seconds left in the game. The Heat were in position to steal their best road win of the season…
Then Kevin Durant did this.
This was followed by a Miami miss, and with 12 seconds left everyone in the building knew that Durant was going to take the final shot (he had 39 points on the night and the hot hand). The Warriors had DeMarcus Cousins come out and set the screen to force the switch, and Durant got a clean look but missed — however, Cousins had Justise Winslow switched onto him and just overpowered the wing to get the rebound, and Cousins was fouled on the putback attempt. Cousins sank the free throws and that was the game. (Miami had the last shot with 5.4 seconds left, but Richardson went to the ground in the corner trying to get open, that left it to Dion Waiters in isolation and he missed.)
Golden State escapes with the win at home, but Miami gave them a test and us one of the more entertaining games of the season.
2) The new Philadelphia starting five is impressive, the Sixers are playing with confidence. Just ask the Lakers. It’s only been two games, but damn the new-look Sixers are turning heads.
And they are fun to watch.
The addition of Tobias Harris to the starting lineup in Philadelphia with Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler, and Joel Embiid has worked very well so far. Through two games, that fivesome is +17 in 30.3 minutes, and that includes a 14-7 run against Denver late in that game that helped Philadelphia seal a win.
What’s more, Brett Brown is staggering those stars with the bench and getting some punch — The Sixers are +13 in the minutes those five are not paired through two games.
The second of those was a win Sunday against LeBron James and the Lakers on national television, where it turned into the Joel Embiid show on his way to 37 points and 14 rebounds.
The Sixers are feeling so confident Ben Simmons pulled up for the first legitimate three-pointer of his career (as in non-desperation heave). It missed, but it stunned the Sixers — “I was like, ‘Oh, s—!’” Embiid said.
Maybe the biggest beneficiary of this new lineup is J.J. Redick. Defenses can’t focus on him the same way as he comes off screen after screen and he’s getting clean looks — Redick has 55 points over the past two games, and is 9-of-13 from three.
The rest of the East should be nervous, Philadelphia looks all kinds of dangerous.
3) Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic put on a show in Dallas Sunday. Portland went into Dallas needing a win. Sure, the Trail Blazers sit as the four seed in the West, but James Harden and his Rockets are right behind them, hard-charging Utah is closing fast, and in the big picture the Trail Blazers are still just 3.5 games from falling out of the playoffs all together in the wild West.
Lillard did his part to get the win Sunday — he had 16 consecutive points for Portland in the third quarter, and scored 21 of his 30 for the game in that frame.
Then Luka Doncic took over the fourth — he had 13 of his 28 in the final frame, the Blazers’ 15-point lead was gone, and in the clutch Doncic was hitting everything.
In the final three minutes of games within three points this season, Doncic 16-of-29 shooting (55.2 percent) including 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) from three. This rookie is already clutch.
Lillard was frustrated late in the game thinking he should have been sent to the line more, but Dallas hung on for the 102-101 win in another dramatic game.