Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks going that make the NBA great.
1) Stephen Curry will set 3-point record in Madison Square Garden
Would anyone be surprised if Tom Thibodeau’s defensive game plan is to put four guys on Stephen Curry 30 feet from the basket?
After Curry hit five 3-pointers in Indiana on Monday night, he needs just one more to tie Ray Allen for the most 3s made all time, and two to pass the Hall of Famer, cementing Curry’s legacy as the greatest shooter the game has ever seen.
That will happen Tuesday night on one of the league’s biggest stages: Madison Square Garden. Technically I should say “Curry is poised to set the record” but come on, Curry can get two 3s from the tunnel before the game. Whatever defense Thibodeau and the Knicks throw at Curry, it feels as if the basketball gods have willed this to happen in NYC.
Maybe those gods want to rub salt in the wounds of Knicks fans: Curry was selected seventh in the 2009 NBA Draft, one spot ahead of the Knicks, who were reportedly high on him (New York ended up with Jordan Hill instead.
But mostly, those gods understand New York is the right setting for a coronation. Which is what this is — we already know Curry is the GOAT shooter. This is more of a celebration of that fact, an appreciation of what Curry has become as the face of a basketball generation, an official crowning for what already is reality — Curry is going to pass Allen in 511 fewer games played.
Curry also became Curry in MSG: His 2013 game with 54 points and 11 three-pointers against the Knicks was his breakout game.
Curry gets credit because of his shooting range — which has changed the game and won the Warriors titles because of how it warps defenses — but what really sets him apart is he is equally deadly shooting 3s off the dribble or on the catch-and-shoot. His lightning-quick release factors in as well. Curry can walk the ball up the court, and if a defender doesn’t respect him Curry will pull up and drain the 3. Come out on him and Curry will pass the ball and get the offense in motion, but then he moves quickly off the ball, using screens, and all he needs is a sliver of space for the pass back to find him and for Curry to make the defense pay.
Ray Allen said he would try to be there for the moment, but he has commitments as a high school coach he will not break.
“I spoke with the people at the Warriors and I actually spoke with Steph a little bit, trying to help him navigate this whole process,” Allen said on the Dan Patrick Show last Friday, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “It’s an exciting time for him and I tried to give him what I was dealing with, you know, going into the game and everything that led up to it.
Curry is the inspiration of a generation — go to NBA games, or just walk the streets, and see whose jersey all the 13-year-olds are wearing. This is a night to celebrate and savor what he has become, the GOAT shooter and an inspiration.
2) Bulls games postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak
As the NBA ramped up testing and the number of COVID-19 cases rose, this felt inevitable.
With 10 players plus some staff in league health and safety protocols, the NBA postponed the next two Chicago Bulls games, Tuesday night against the Pistons and Thursday in Toronto. The Chicago Health and Safety Department reportedly had concerns about the Bulls continuing to play amid a workplace outbreak.
This is the right thing to do — put player safety first. Technically the Bulls likely could have suited up eight healthy bodies for Tuesday night’s game, but that would have led to both increased risk and just bad basketball.
Nikola Vucevic had the best idea to salvage the games.
— Nikola Vucevic (@NikolaVucevic) December 13, 2021
People around the NBA quietly expect an uptick in cases: the Omicron variant is sweeping across the nation right as people will be gathering indoors more with family and friends for the holiday. That’s a recipe for more positive tests, and while the NBA may be 97% vaccinated (the percentage of players who got the jab), it’s not going to stop the virus from spreading (it should help keep the cases from being as severe, especially for the 60% of players who got the booster).
Let’s just hope there are no severe cases.
3) Why was Nikola Jokic ejected?
Nikola Jokic was hot. Spencer Dinwiddie had driven the lane, kneed and elbowed Jokic during the shot, and there was no call. Jokic can be a hot head and snapped at referee Eric Dalen as the teams went back up court. He deserved a tech for that.
But it was the fast second one for a word to Tony Brothers that came off as an official letting his ego get in the way.
Basketball is an emotional game and referees need to check their egos and the perception of being disrespected, let the players vent a little, and move on. Some lines can’t be crossed, but two technicals from two different officials for the same play is over the top.
We pay to see the stars play, let them stay on the court until they truly earn an ejection. This was not one of those cases.
Highlight of the Night: Kevin Love jumped in the Hot Tub Time Machine
Kevin Love jumped in the Hot Tub Time Machine at the half and brought the 2014 version of himself to 2022 as he scored 23 points in the second half, hitting 5-of-7 from 3, and sparking the feisty Cavaliers past the shorthanded Heat.
Last night’s scores:
Cleveland 105, Miami 94
Golden State 102, Indiana 100
Toronto 124, Sacramento 101
Houston 132, Atlanta 126
Boston 117, Milwaukee 103
Memphis 126, Philadelphia 91
Dallas 120, Charlotte 96
Denver 113, Washington 107
LA Clippers 111, Phoenix 95