Week 2 gave teams a chance to either rebound from their previous performance or a chance to build on some momentum from the season opener. This season the top 6 teams will automatically clinch a spot in the quarter finals which will begin in June. The last 2 spots will be determined by a play-in/wildcard game between seeds 7 to 10 and subsequently the bottom three teams (11th, 12th, 13th) will miss the playoffs entirely. Every game is of course very important but I expect teams to be fighting it out till the very end and alot will be determined in the last couple weeks of the regular season. So a slow start to the season will not bury you...but eventually adjustments will need to be made! Also a reminder that every person subbing into the game must check in at the stats table before entering the game! Each player must sub off at least once during EACH HALF BEFORE THE 2MIN MARK! There will be no more warnings and teams will be penalized 4 free-throw attempts awarded to their opponent either at half-time or at the end of the game. This is to allow for fair amounts of playing time for everyone on the team. With that being said...let's get to these recaps!
GRIZZLIES: One of the best games of the night and after ripping the Raps in my last recap...I am going to have to praise them heavily in this one. They are playing a stacked Grizzlies team and noone would have been suprised if they got blown out in this one. It looked like it could be headed that way when the Grizz opened up a 17-6 lead on a 3pter by Anthony. But credit the Raptors for battling back and taking a 21 to 20 on some fine passes from Somi and Thileep. GM Thileep had 2 nifty passes to Sanam in this one where he got him an open lay-up . The game was a battle back and forth for the most part but a couple things stood out. Firstly, Anthony for the second straight game was in 'Russell Westbrook mode' and has now taken 60 shots in 2 games! He was 11 for 33 in this one for 33 points and most of the time his teammates were caught watching him go ISO pretty much the entire game. Sometimes he will pull out victories for his team in the regular season with this strategy but for the most part against the better teams and in the playoffs...this is going to be extremely easy to defend. Plus, it didn't even allow them to win this game as others on the team just couldn't find a rhythm and are going long stretches between shots. Mayuran did a tremendous job on Anthony in the second half even though the kid is almost half his age lol. He used his veteran experience and defensive tenacity to make it as tough as possible for him down the stretch. The final play of the game with 6 seconds left and the Grizz down by one...they gave it to who else...and the Raps were ready for Anthony as Harrison did a great job completely leaving his man to go help and contested his jumper and the shot was not really close. Harrison is another guy who stood out in this one as he just made some heads up defensive plays throughout the game (even though he is not known as a defender). He also carried his team offensively with 18 points but the Raptors overall did a heck of a job moving the ball and getting much better shots than they did in week one. 15 assists on 18 made field goals shows how much they were sharing the rock! What a turnaround for the red team. The Grizz lose a tough one after being up most of the game but they still have a talented team that just needs to find the right identity.
Final Score: Raptors 51 - 50 Grizzlies Player of the Game - Harrison Pon 18pts/6rebs/2asts/3stls
BLAZERS: We got the game of the night in this one! Bulls had a bye week previously and thus this was the first time we got to see the new look squad that GM Billal has built. He still has his 2 rock solid players in Fasel and Jeron but now he surrounded them with what he hopes is a deeper more well-rounded squad. He did not get a chance to see them up close however as he was on vacay in Los Cabos (lucky bastard) but he will be satisfied with the outcome and the effort his team put up against Ripcity. They jumped on the Blazers in the first half by capitalizing on their turnovers and playing some team ball. The story of the game for the Bulls of course was Jeron Hameed who is a 2 time all-star and showed exactly why with the way he put his team on his back offensively. He has his patented running hook which was falling for him and the mid-range jumpers were on point as well. Nishan and Fasel did a great job looking for him on offence whenever they needed a bucket. Speaking of Nishan, he was definitely rusty in this one but he more than made up for it with his toughness on defence and made some high IQ passes on offence. The charge he took on Vijith showed he was willing to sacrifice to get this W (he also let him know about it too lol). On the flipside, NJ was incredible for the Blazers and on a day where Vijith could not get anything to drop...he stepped up huge for them. How about 27/11/3 with 4 steals and 5 triples...just nasty! He helped them put up a big second half to comeback from 16 (39 - 23) and send this game to overtime. In overtime, it was the same theme that occurred throughout the game...more turnovers by the Blazers and big shots by Jeron to seal it. Michael Manansala was also big in this one as he was excellent guarding the wings of the Blazers and also made some timely threes and chipped in 4 steals!. If this game was any indication, I could see both these teams earning a top 6 seed this season.
Final Score: Bulls 54 - 50 Blazers Player of the Game - Jeron Hameed 20pts/3rebs/3asts/1stls/2TOs - 61.5% Shooting
SPURS vs CELTICS: The young guns went at it in this game and it was a very interesting game. The C's looked like they put week 1 behind them and came out a lot more poised. Abdul got them off to a great start as he scored 9 out of the first 13 points and assisted one of the other 2 baskets during this stretch!. After that we had Umaraj take over not only the scoring load but just the playmaking in general as he finished with 18pts and 7assists. Dude is just a bulldog and won't be denied getting to the basket kinda like Kyle Lowry! The difference in this one compared to last game was that he was able to find cutters and shooters on the outside while he was driving. He did not just simply put his head down and get tunnel vision which was huge for his squad. Him and Abdul are going to be a handful for other teams and once the other guys on the team fully buy into their roles...this team will be fun to watch. Randy Cho is also proving that he can be a deadly shooter and finished with 12 points in this one including 2 from long range. He is going to be vital in giving space for their 2 stars to go to work in the paint. This team has size, speed and IQ and they put all of that on display and really punished the Spurs for their breakdowns on defence. This might be the first time ever where 4 guys scored in double digits and the team still lost as the Spurs just could not stop anyone on offence. I like the mix of players they have but like I said in the power rankings...will they mature especially on the defensive end and will they be able to make enough outside shots on offence?. There is still lots of time left for them to figure it out. The Celtics get the Jazz this week and that is going to be a stiff test for them and we shall see if they can keep this momentum going.
Final Score: Spurs 60 - 49 Celtics Player of the Game - Umaraj Thavakumar 18pts/1reb/7asts/3stls - 1 Triple
WARRIORS vs NUGGETS: Okay, so this was a rematch of the quarter finals from Season 2 where the Warriors barely edged out the number 2 seeded Nuggets. This time however, GM Ray got the last laugh as they crushed the men in orange! His second rd pick, Chris Searles, played phenomenal and was a monster on both ends of the floor and he could be the difference maker that takes this team all the way this season. The Warriors were missing their first rounder Asok in this one as he was apparently too hungover to play. The way the rest of the team played...they probably were hungover too. You can maybe excuse Gopal because he was at the casino till 8am and I only know that because I was there with him lol. Regardless, they never really had a chance in this one as they were fully outplayed from the outset. Amit is still having trouble hitting shots and the rest of the team is just not in sync right now. They made only 8 field goals and Hari had 4 of them! Jeffrey got tossed out after he received 2 techs and both times it was for clapping/screaming at a player while they were shooting. Probably the ugliest game I have seen this Warriors squad play with GM Gautham at the helm. They face a hungry Lakers squad this Sunday and thus they need to turn it around soon or they could fall back in the standings pretty fast. They are 3 for 42 thus far on their 3pt attempts...yikes! The Nuggets get the Bulls this week which should be a highly competitive game as the two rival GM's go at each other in that one.
Final Score: Warriors 30 - 49 Nuggets Player of the Game - Chris Searles 20pts/11reb/4asts/5stls/2blks - 61.5% Shooting
LAKERS vs TIMBERWOLVES: This was also another very entertaining game as the Lakers almost pulled out a great comeback win. They started off very slow in the first half as the Twolves outplayed them pretty much the entire first half. Brendan only played 10 minutes in this game for the Lakers as he is still dealing with some calf issues but he was effective in the time he was out there finishing with 9 points and 4 rebounds. If he can get fully up to speed then this Lakers team is really dangerous. But nevertheless, the Lakers still have lots of talent and they put on an impressive performance halfway through the second half when they were trailing by 14. They played the best 12 minute stretch of any team on this night with some amazing ball movement and cutting (only if they had done this earlier!). There was an emphasis on pick n rolls...there were fake dribble hand offs, give and go's, and just a whole lot more teamwork and communication. LiShin was amazing as he dropped 18 points and he just knew when to cut to open spaces and when to take his midrange jumpers. His chemistry with Sarwar was evident as they probably have played a ton together before. The Twolves were led by Mr. Manveer Boyal in this one as he has become the master at drawing fouls on his 3pt shots. He is of course deadly from long range and defenders are trying to get up on him a little too aggressively and he has done a terrific job selling the call to the refs. He went 10 for 12 at the free-throw line and finished with a game high 19. Everyone scored for the Twolves (except for GM Suthan) but he must be ecstatic with the way his team has played thus far. Thuva has not had his signature breakout game but he has not needed to because of the surrounding talent around him. The Lakers had a chance to tie the game on a triple at the end of the game but it was not meant to be.
Final Score: Lakers 48 - 51 Timberwolves Player of the Game - Manveer Boyal 19pts/4rebs/1TO - 3 Triples
PISTONS vs BULLETS: The final game of the night seemed to be interesting on paper but it ended up being one sided. GM Patrick was looking forward to this one but unfortunately missed the game due to an emergency but Chenthu and Javan got to exact some revenge on their fomer GM Sugee. Well they did exactly that as both of them combined for 26 points which was only 6 less than the entire Pistons squad. Chenthu looks alot more confident this season and GM Patrick has been encouraging him to be more aggressive with his shot which looks to be paying off. They also got Tharu back but he was only able to manage 3 points in this one but made some nice passes and rebounded well for the team. PJ was missing for the Pistons and without him this team was in trouble for most of the game. GM Sugee was bragging about how his squads have made the semi-finals in the first 2 seasons of ETBL but it looks like that will be coming to an end this season unless things change in a hurry. They are off this Sunday as they have the bye week and maybe that will give them some time to regroup. Usamah has already displayed that he is extremely frustrated and it has only been 2 games into the season! The Bullets are 2-0 and are picking up some steam but they will have a tough match-up against the Grizz this Sunday.
Final Score: Pistons 32 - 46 Bullets Player of the Game - Javan Whittle 15pts/9rebs/1asts/2stls - 1 Triple
-Kisho Jeyaseelan (Commissioner)