Three Things To Know 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 that make the NBA must-watch.
1) Should NBA turn to target score for overtime?
Overtime should not only decide a winner for the game but also give fans edge-of-your-seat drama. It should be intense, nail-biting minutes. The NFL and NHL get that with their sudden-death, score-and-you-win systems (the NFL’s is slightly modified, but it still works).
NBA overtimes often lack that tension, that level of intensity.
The league may have found the answer in a G-League experiment this season — setting a target score and having teams race to it. Wouldn’t NBA overtime be more dramatic and more entertaining if it was “first team to score 12 points wins” rather than playing five minutes?
It’s an idea that could be on its way in the coming years — the reports out of the G-League is that their target score is a hit with front offices, coaches and fans. Since the NBA uses the G-League as its petri dish to experiment with new ideas, and this ending is thriving there… don’t be shocked if this ends up in the NBA in the next couple of years.
The NBA has been using the Elam Ending — or what they will call the target score ending — for a few years now. Fans will recognize it from the All-Star Game, where the target score to win is 24 more than the team with the lead at the end of the third quarter (24 for Kobe Bryant, so if the West leads 110-100 then the target score is 134, the first team to the number wins). It’s worked well and added a little drama to an otherwise often dull game that lacks intensity.
So why not bring it to overtime of NBA regular season games? As noted, the NBA tried it out this season in the G-League — the first team to score eight wins — and the buzz has been good. John Hollinger summed it up well writing at The Athletic after the G-League Showcase in Las Vegas just before Christmas.
That change got a thumbs-up from NBA personnel I spoke to, with the consensus being that NBA overtimes are too long right now and deflate drama from the end of the fourth quarter. The target score also eliminated the chance of multiple overtimes and the crazy player minute situations they can engender. The G League staffers all love it, too.
The number needs to be higher than eight points for the NBA overtime, a dozen give or take a couple makes sense. Hollinger noted that the new ending created its own strategies in OT.
If your opponent is three points away from the target score, do you foul to eliminate losing on a 3-pointer? Concede a layup to do the same? (I saw a couple of teams in this situation hug all the shooters and leave gaping holes down Main Street).
This should be a regular season thing only — get to the playoffs and I want the potential drama of multiple overtimes, and the intensity on every possession is already there. Think of it like the NHL, which during the regular season plays 3-on-3 hockey in overtime for five minutes, then if nobody scored they go to a shootout. However, in the playoffs, it’s regular 5-on-5 hockey and sudden death — the first team to score wins. There is no reason the regular season and playoff overtime rules need to be the same.
Also, this does not mean the NBA should put a target score in at the end of the fourth quarter — keep the 48 minutes at 48 minutes. Don’t mess with the regular four quarter game. But overtime in the NBA can often lack the drama it should have — a target score could help change that.
2) Jokic, Denver beat Boston and… are the Nuggets the best team in the West?
In a wide-open Western conference, why not the Denver Nuggets?
Denver showed how dangerous it could be Sunday night as Nikola Jokic put up another triple-double with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists — and the Denver Nuggets shot their way past the Boston Celtics, 123-111 in a battle of the teams in first place in each conference.
— NBA (@NBA) January 2, 2023
This was one of those nights where the Nuggets couldn’t miss, shooting 57% overall and hitting 17-of-30 from 3. The Nuggets have been hot shooting for a while and have won 10-of-12, and more importantly, their bottom five defense before this run has been a respectable 12th in the league over the past dozen games.
This game featured a lengthy delay after a Robert Williams III dunk knocked one of the rims askew and a crew of six, plus a couple of ladders and workers with a level had to come out and straighten the thing.
Nuggets players were playing rock-paper-scissors with a fan during 38-minute delay 😂💙 pic.twitter.com/0L3qL0jJPt
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 2, 2023
Even after that Brown was not happy.
“There was no communication. They spent all that time trying to fix it, but when we came back, it still looked like it wasn’t even level, in my opinion. So we just wasted all that time,” Brown said, via the Associated Press.”That has an effect on the game. That’s how injuries and stuff happen. Luckily, that didn’t [happen], but that wasn’t good. That whole process was handled poorly, in my opinion, and that had an effect as well. But luckily nobody got hurt.”
The Nuggets, when they defend like this, are legit. They could come out of the West this season.
3) Ja Morant puts up 35 in the Grizzlies win, then makes young fan’s day
The Grizzlies kept right on rolling Sunday night as Ja Morant scored 35 points and his Grizzlies pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Sacramento Kings 118-108.
Dishing, dunking, doing it all 🐻
— NBA (@NBA) January 2, 2023
However, the highlight of the night was Morant making a young Grizzlies fan’s day by giving him his game shoes after the win.