Even the Juice doesn’t know how to react to this move.
What We Know:
— O.J. Simpson (@TheRealOJ32) December 27, 2019
- Antonio Brown spent 14 weeks enjoying life outside of the NFL after being released due to a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault and rape. Brown has said that he won’t ever be in the NFL again, yet has posted Instagram photos that show he’s missing the NFL. He also recently announced that he’s creating a rap album called No more white woman 2020.
- Now, Brown has changed his mind and did a workout for the New Orlean Saints. The Saints are free to sign Brown, but he will be put on the Commissioner’s Exempt list. This means he can’t play until the investigation is completed, according to Denver 7.
The Saints (12-3) have clinched a playoff spot and the NFC South Championship. This Saint’s team is loaded with talent but is missing a deep wide receiver. Brown could easily fill those shoes with his record-breaking resume and skills.
NBA Play-In Matchup Set: Blazers vs. Grizzlies
Before Thursday, there were four teams fighting for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. After an exciting finish to Thursday night’s slate of games, the field of potential teams narrowed down to two: the Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trail Blazers. They will face off in the NBA’s first play-in games to determine the Western Conference playoff picture.
What We Know:
- The first must-win game of the day was the Memphis Grizzlies vs. the Milwaukee Bucks. The Grizzlies came into the bubble as the 8th seed, but a dismal 2-6 record in the seeding games pushed them to the edge of elimination. Still, they controlled their own destiny and could secure a spot in the play-in game with a win against the Bucks. On paper, this was the worst possible matchup the Grizzlies could have asked for with the Bucks having a league-best record of 56-17. But, a lot of things went in the Grizzlies’ favor on Thursday. Reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out for the Bucks due to a suspension and the team didn’t play any of their starters for more than 20 minutes. The Bucks already secured their playoff seeding so there was no point in going all-in for their last game. The Grizzlies took advantage and won the game 119-106. Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas both had triple-doubles and Dillon Brooks went off for 31 points, scoring 14 in the third quarter to put the game away.
- The Phoenix Suns played the Dallas Mavericks for their last seeding game. The Suns played excellent basketball right from the start and basically won the game in the first half, putting up 76 on the Mavericks through just two quarters. Like the Bucks, the Mavericks were already locked into their playoff seed and had nothing to prove. Kristaps Porzingis did not play and Luka Doncic only played in the first half. Still, the Suns played with a sense of urgency to win this game. Devin Booker put up another excellent performance with 27 points and he got a lot of help from his supporting cast. Although the Suns won 128-102, they needed help in the form of losses from the other teams trying to make the play-in game. Unfortunately for Phoenix, this won’t be the year they end their playoff drought. Even though the Suns will not be in the play-in game, they surprised everyone in the bubble and were the only team to win all eight of their games. There’s something special going on in Phoenix and they have a bright future.
- The San Antonio Spurs came into their last game with the worst record out of the four teams trying to make the play-in game. Because the Grizzlies and Suns won their games earlier, the Spurs were mathematically eliminated from making the play-in right before their game tipped off. They played the Utah Jazz, who already had their playoff seeding fixed, so neither team really had anything to play for. Rudy Gobert did not play for the Jazz and the Spurs rested most of their veteran players. The Jazz won 118-112 and the Spurs will be leaving Orlando shortly. Although this seemed like a nothing game, it was an opportunity for the young Spurs players to get some time on the court. Rookie Keldon Johnson had a fantastic game with 24 points, tying his career-high. This marks the end of Gregg Popovich and the Spurs’ 22-year playoff streak, last missing the postseason in 1997. Popovich won three Coach of the Year awards and the Spurs won five NBA championships during that time.
- For the last game of the night, all the pressure was on the Portland Trail Blazers as they faced the Brooklyn Nets. If they won the game, they would make the play-in. If they lost, it would have propelled Phoenix into that position and Portland would go home. Phoenix coach Monty Williams said that his team got together in the hotel lounge to watch the game and root for the Nets. The entire game was a back-and-forth affair with no defense and a thrilling ending. The Blazers held a lead through the first two quarters, but the Nets erupted for 37 points in the third led by Caris LeVert and Garrett Temple. With their season on the line, the Blazers entered the fourth quarter down 7. But, everyone knows that the fourth quarter is Dame Time. Damian Lillard scored 12 in the final stretch of the game including a deep three-pointer from near half-court. The game came down to the last possession where LeVert missed a potential game-winner for the Nets. At the end of the night, the Blazers squeaked by with a 134-133 win to climb to the 8th seed in the Western Conference and secure a spot in the play-in game.
The Blazers-Grizzlies play-in game will be Saturday, August 15th. If the Blazers win on Saturday, they will advance to the playoffs. Since Memphis has a worse record, they will have to win Saturday’s game and a second play-in game to advance. The winner of this scenario will face the top seed Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.
Rockets-Thunder First Round Playoff Matchup Is Official
One year after the blockbuster trade that sent Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets, the two teams will play each other in the NBA Playoffs.
What We Know:
- On Wednesday, the Thunder defeated the Miami Heat and the Rockets lost to the Indiana Pacers. The outcomes of those games locked OKC and Houston into the 4th and 5th seeds in the western conference, guaranteeing a first-round playoff matchup. The teams still have one more game each to officially decide who will be the 4th seed and who will be the 5th seed, but the lack of home-court advantage in these playoffs makes the seeding for this matchup less important.
- In addition to the CP3-Westbrook trade, these teams have a lot of history between them, and the series should be full of storylines.
- The main draw of the series is that both teams traded their superstar point guards for each other just last year. Chris Paul had a short, two-year stint in Houston where he helped the team reach Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals. However, the Rockets ultimately underachieved and Paul’s injury concerns and large contract led the team to trade him. Westbrook played 11 seasons in OKC and he was beloved by the fans. After Kevin Durant left the team in 2016, Westbrook committed to the team long-term and accepted the challenge of being the franchise player. Westbrook wowed the league with triple-doubles and heroic play and even won a league MVP in 2017, but the team was never able to advance past the first round of the playoffs with him being the best player.
- With Westbrook in Houston and Paul in OKC, both players have had a renaissance year. Westbrook looks like his MVP self, acting as the catalyst for Houston’s faster offense this year, and Paul has led this Thunder team to outplay expectations and they look to be a serious threat in these playoffs. This series could potentially be a revenge tour for both players as they compete against the franchises that traded them away. This could also be revenge for Rockets star James Harden. Harden started his career on the Thunder, but the team traded him to Houston in 2012 to avoid paying him a max contract.
- In addition to Paul and Westbrook playing their former teams, OKC and Houston have their own history and both teams are out to prove something this year. The Thunder came into this season with no expectations, many assuming they would miss the playoffs and try to trade Paul away as soon as possible. Now that the team has proven that they’re legit, they’re looking to make a deep playoff push: something they failed to do with Westbrook as their leader. In four of the last five postseasons, the Rockets have lost at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors aren’t in the playoffs this year, so the Rockets don’t have that specter looming over them anymore. For a team with James Harden and Russell Westbrook, this season is championship or bust and the Rockets are looking to finally make it over that hump.
The playoffs begin August 17. The Houston-OKC series could be complicated by Russell Westbrook’s recent quadriceps injury. Westbrook has missed three games so far and will sit out Houston’s last seeding game. The Rockets are planning for Westbrook to miss the first few games of their first-round series.
Lonzo Ball Claps Back After Bleacher Report Posts Stats
Lonzo Ball not too happy with Bleacher Report sending out a tweet with Ball’s averages in the bubble, along with his underwhelming shooting percentages.
What We Know:
- In the bubble, Ball was averaging 5.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists and shooting 26% from the field and 19% from the three point line.
- Ball was quick to make note of the tweet and added his own comments and included the hashtag #TMC, which is a reference for The Marathon Continues, Nipsey Hussle’s mixtape.
— Lonzo Ball (@ZO2_) August 9, 2020
- Ball’s younger brother, LaMelo Ball, also took to Twitter to back up his oldest brother. LaMelo is projected to be drafted in the upcoming NBA Draft as a high prospect.
yeaaa deuce 😈 starts now. https://t.co/ERzWf8Upab
— Melo (@MELOD1P) August 9, 2020
- Ball is one of many players across the league that has struggled inside the bubble. One can say it’s due to the hiatus and lost of chemistry, but videos on social media prove that Ball wasn’t particularly focused on practicing his game while in quarantine. So, it could be a mixture of both.
- Since the Pelicans were facing the league’s easiest schedule in the bubble, it was a huge surprise that as a team they were struggling so much.
- The Pelicans gave up a franchise record 25 three-pointers to the Los Angeles Clippers on Aug. 1st. After bouncing back against the Memphis Grizzlies, they then gave up another franchise record to the Sacramento Kings, allowing 49 points in the first quarter.
With the Pelicans out of the bubble and out of the playoffs, Ball’s statements about making improvements for next year, are just that, next year.
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