Nets star Kevin Durant
Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Frustrated Kevin Durant bounced in first round of NBA 2K players tournament

Leave a comment

It was one of the strategy questions coming into the NBA 2K players tournament broadcast on ESPN Friday night: When would players use the big-gun teams? The rules of the competition had players designate eight teams they might play as, but they could only use each team once. Teams such as the Bucks and Lakers are high value, but use them early to advance and it becomes hard to win it all.

Derrick Jones Jr. went to the big guns and played the Bucks in the first round against Kevin Durant, who picked the Clippers. Durant has complained in the past on Twitter that the transition defense in NBA 2K20 is terrible, and Jones showed exactly why on his way to an upset win.

Durant’s Clippers could not stop Giannis Antetokounmpo in transition. Although to be fair, the actual NBA has that same problem.

Durant’s other problem may simply have been he’s old at age 31, born in 1988.

What may have been most interesting through the night was the side banter between the players. For example, when Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton said he’s been lifting during the NBA’s coronavirus-forced suspension, the Bull’s Zach LaVine said he didn’t need to get any bigger. Durant said it had been a while since he touched a ball and Jones said he was shooting onto his roof to keep his shooting touch as best he can.

On the virtual court, Trae Young used the Bucks to thrash Kings forward Harrison Barnes 101-59, Ayton, using the Rockets, topped LaVine (Heat) 57-41, and Patrick Beverley (Bucks) beat Hassan Whiteside (Lakers) 84-54.

The first round of the tournament continues Sunday on ESPN2.

Kevin Durant tips off ‘NBA 2K Players Tournament’ Friday night; start time and more

NBA 2K Players Tournament
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

NBA players can’t get together right now on a real court for some playoff basketball, but they can get together virtually for an NBA 2K Tournament.

The first-ever “NBA 2K Players Tournament” tips off tonight and in the current desert of sports programming, plus the fact we’re all forced to be home, this esports event becomes must-watch NBA content. There are 16 NBA players — including Kevin Durant, Trae Young, Donovan Mitchell, Zach LaVine and Devin Booker — going head-to-head in a tournament that will stretch out for eight days. All of it will be televised on some platform.

Here are the details.

Broadcast Schedule (all times Eastern)

FIRST ROUND:
Friday, April 3 on ESPN:
• 7-7:30 p.m.: NBA 2K Players Tournament Preview Show
• 7:30-8:30 p.m. ET: Derrick Jones Jr. (16) vs. Kevin Durant (1)
On ESPN2:
• 8:30-11:30 p.m.: Other matchups

Sunday, April 5 on ESPN2:
• 12-4 p.m.: Other first-round matchups

QUARTERFINALS

Tuesday, April 7 on ESPN2:
• 7-11 p.m.

SEMIFINALS & FINALS

Saturday, April 11 on ESPN:
• Timing to be announced.

WHERE TO WATCH LIVE STREAM

•ESPN App
• NBA.com
• NBA App
• Twitter (@NBA2K, @NBA),
• Twitch (@NBA2K, @NBA),
• YouTube (@NBA2K, @NBA)
• Facebook (@NBA2K, @NBA).

Competition bracket

Competition Format

The first two rounds are single elimination, then the semifinals and finals are a best-of-three.

Each player had to submit eight teams he can choose to play with during the tournament.

However, and this is a big part of the strategy, each player can only use each team once. Meaning players may not want to burn using the powerhouse teams — the Lakers, Bucks, etc. — in the early rounds of the tournament. If both players try to choose the same team, the away team gets the first choice.

Enjoy this everyone; it is going to be fun.

Al Horford ($500K), C.J. McCollum ($170K) donate to coronavirus relief

76ers big Al Horford
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Al Horford (four-year, $97 million-$107 million contract with 76ers) and C.J. McCollum (three-year, $100 million extension with Trail Blazers) received big deals last offseason.

Now, both are stepping up amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

Portland Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum will be donating $170,000 total to the communities of Portland, Oregon, and Canton, Ohio, for COVID-19 relief, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro Area will receive a $70,000 donation and the Akron-Canton Food Bank will receive a donation of $100,000.

This is great.

Report: No chance of traditional NBA playoffs this season

NBA playoffs
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NBA playoffs have a familiar format – four rounds, best-of-seven series, games in front of fans at home arenas.

But the coronavirus, which has forced the NBA into an indefinite stoppage and disrupted life around the world, makes that untenable. Don’t expect the league to wait until that’s workable, either.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

At this point, several team and league officials told SI.com, any chance of a traditional postseason is out.

A shortened playoffs in Las Vegas is gaining momentum. It’d allow the NBA, hemorrhaging money, to draw revenue sooner. A reduced postseason would also minimize disruption to future seasons.

But even that comes with major complications, especially containing coronavirus from undermining the entire operation. It could be a long time until its safe to hold games, even in a centralized location without fans.

It could be so long… a traditional playoffs could be back on the table. Though I find that unlikely, I’m still not convince people have a proper understanding of how lengthy this hiatus could be.

Everyone wants to finish the season. The playoffs are the NBA’s most lucrative time, and it feels right to crown a champion.

So, it’s good the focus is on alternative formats. It’d be naïve to expect business as usual when the NBA resumes.

Damian Lillard opposes idea of later NBA season start running into summer

Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

At the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference a few weeks back (although it feels like a lifetime ago), Atlanta  CEO Steve Koonin suggested the NBA should permanently shift its schedule to a mid-December start with the Finals running into August. The idea was to stop going head-to-head with the NFL and college football at the start of the season. Then the pushed back playoffs forced by the coronavirus have made that discussion more relevant. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said everything is on the table.

Damian Lillard is not a fan of the idea.

He likes the schedule just the way it is, something he said during a video conference with the media on Tuesday, hat tip to Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports Portland.

“I just don’t see it. I mean, the season starts when it starts now, then February all-star weekend, getting toward the end of the season in April and then getting into the playoffs. You get that early June Finals and then you get to go off into your summer…

“You get to enjoy real-time summer,” Lillard said. “Our break is into the summer and then you get to come back as summer is leaving. I think that’s been perfect…

“It’s been perfect for us,” Lillard said. “So, for that to change and for things to be pushed back, I’m definitely not a fan of that and I don’t see many guys being a fan of that.”

Lillard is not alone in thinking this way, but Silver is more open to change than most sports commissioners. That said, changes that break with long-standing traditions are hard to make a reality.

There would be a lot of questions around a schedule change. Would the ratings still be as high for a Finals series in the heart of the summer? The NBA season no longer would sync with the NCAA or international leagues’ schedules, leading to questions about the draft and timing for players who want to test the waters. There would need to be reworked television contracts, both regionally and nationally. It could make scheduling a challenge at arenas used to having more concerts and other events in the summer.

Plus, all of this would need to be negotiated with the players union — and Lillard speaks for a lot of players on this issue.

If the NBA could somehow convince players that starting later meant more money in their pocket, those union negotiations would take on a different tone. But would the move increase revenue? That’s not an easy sell.

With this NBA season likely running late, the start of next season could be pushed back, and this theory could get a little bit of a test. Or, the next season could be shortened a little to get the league back on its regular schedule.

Which would make Lillard happy.