We were blessed with more competitive and closely contested games on Sunday March 11th! Week 3 is in the books but most of the games were once again very intense and had a bit of that playoff atmosphere. Everyone got their jerseys last night and that added to the excitement and energy we saw from players. A reminder that there are 11 regular season games and the last Sunday for the regular season is currently scheduled for May 27th. We do not play on April 1st (Easter Weekend) and May 20th (Victoria Day Weekend). Player stats should be updated as well as team standings! Run differential is the tie-breaker used when teams have the same record and thus it will be important to continue to play hard throughout the whole game regardless of the score. Now let's get right into it!
GRIZZLIES: Okay fine...the Bullets are legit conten-...hmmm...nope, I can't just say it yet! Have they exceeded my original projections...most definitely...do they have versatile playmakers, defenders and hustle guys?...for sure they do...are they going to keep this up all season long?...that I am not convinced of at the moment. So who have they beaten so far? They beat the Celtics in the season opener and we could argue the C's are still trying to find their identity. They beat the Pistons who didn't have their centre and are already not loaded with a ton of firepower. Now they have beaten an undermanned Grizzlies team (missing Andrew and Pandi). I am not trying to undervalue their 3-0 start because they took care of the business that was in front of them. I am just more intrigued I guess to see how they would do against a top tier contender that had a full squad. GM Patrick did say this team would make noise this season and they have backed it up fully. They got bigs that can stretch the floor and defend, they got guards that are crafty and smart, and most importantly they have some excellent chemistry which is evident on the court. The 3pt line was the biggest difference in this one as they outscored the Grizz 21 to 9 from long range which was pretty much the difference in the score. If they hit their free-throws then it could have been an even easier victory. Patrick with 2 clutch threes and Tharu kept pulling up off his dribble and nailed 3 from long range! All of this looked even better with the sweet Bullets jersey they were rocking :). Grizzlies now have lost 2 in a row and you could tell they ran out of gas in the second half. GM Vimal who loves to play with a short bench...might have gotten punished for it 2 weeks in a row as they just seem to slowly lose intensity in the later stages of the game. Credit the Bullets for constantly moving and trying to get up and down the court which just eventually gassed out the Grizz. Anthony had a heck of a game with 24pts/3rebs/3asts and chipped in 2 steals while only turning it over once! He was much more in control this game and was looking to find his teammates on cuts and fed the post to Nisan quite a bit. He was vocal and pumped up his teammates whenever they made a big shot which is great to see and shows he is willing to accept criticism and work on his game! Bullets get a bye next week while the Grizz get a tough match-up against the Nuggets.
Final Score: Bullets 59 - 49 Grizzlies Player of the Game - Tharu Nadarajah 13pts/9rebs/2asts/1stl/1TO - 3 Triples
LAKERS: No Gopal and GM Gautham this game against the Lakers...and after already starting the season 0-2 it looked like they were going to have to climb out of a early season hole! But luckily he still had another all-star to lean on for this game and that would be Mr. Asok Arutselvan who put on a show to squeeze out the victory. He got help from Amit who dropped 12 points and 13 rebounds and considering him and Bahee are battling some lingering injuries...they did well to come out of this one with a 'W'. Bahee struggled offensively as it looks like the injury is affecting his shooting but he did manage to make one big three pointer late in the game (his only make of the game). His pick n roll game with Asok was the difference late in the second half as the Lakers could not guard it and it led to a few big baskets for the Warriors. Good hustle and defence by Jeffrey, Hari and Kevin to really help secure this victory and now the Warriors will look to get a full team next week and get back to their winning ways. The Lakers meanwhile got solid games from Ara and Sarwar but the rest of the team struggled to make shots. 6 for 32 from the other Lakers including 12 turnovers as well. They were right in it till the end however but a few missed opportunities eventually did them in. They are 0-3 now but their run differential is at minus 13 which means they are losing very close games and will need to clean it up in crunch time to secure a win. Brendan was able to give it a go and although he struggled on the offensive end...he more than made up for it on defence including 2 steals and 4 blocks! Lakers get the Spurs next Sunday who are also winless and needless to say it will be an important game for both clubs.
Final Score: Warriors 46 - 43 Lakers Player of the Game - Asok Arutselvan 24pts/15rebs/1ast/1stl/2blks - 4 Triples
CELTICS vs JAZZ: The Jazz were presented with their Championship hardware prior to the game and after taking photos and kissing babies...it was time to get back to work. They got outplayed in the season opener by the Nuggets but this time they were locked in during the first half. It almost seemed like the Celtics were a little intimidated by the Champs and they did not play their game at all. The Jazz just kinda hit them quick with their phsyical style of defence and played some great team ball offensively to take a 14 point lead into halftime. Nathaniel also hit 3 big triples against his former team and good friend (GM JSO) which probably felt real good! lol. Don't know exactly what was said during the half in the C's huddle but they definitely did not play scared or intimidated in the 2nd half! They also stepped up the intensity on defence...much better communication and help rotating to close out on 3pt shooters. Umaraj and Abdul took it to the purple team in the second half and while one was steam rolling to the basket...the other was hitting incredible rainbow 3s. Abdul hit 5 triples to close the gap and pull even with the Jazz! He gets incredible arc on those shots and it feels like it doesn't even hit rim or net when it goes in! The dynamic duo combined for 45 points and 17 rebounds and really made a name for themselves against a tough defensive team. Great effort by the green team to just get this game to overtime but the Jazz experience once again came through as they have been in numerous pressure situations and now how to handle them. Demone with a sweet dime to Yaga to open up OT...good job by Yaga to cut to the basket once he realized noone picked him up. The inexperience of the Celtics in these moments on both ends of the floor cost them the game as both their go to players also took a couple bad shots on offence. Yaga then iced the game with 2 freethrows and that was a wrap. The first half it looked like an unfair game as the Jazz were just too smart and savy for the C's...but then in the 2nd half it looked the opposite as the green team looked too fast and quick for the Jazz. I think the C's learned alot from this game and it will help them down the road.
Final Score: Celtics 55 - 59 Jazz Player of the Game - Yaga Palmer 13pts/8rebs/5asts/5stls - 1 Triple
SPURS vs RAPTORS: The Raptors are slowly getting their swagger back. Looked like a crisis situation after week 1 against the Pistons but now they have reeled off 2 straight and look like a rejuvenated team. This backcourt tandem of Somi and Harrison is legit and they combined for 37 of the Raps 48 points in this one! Somi had two steals at halfcourt which he converted into fast break layups and that took the air out of the Spurs. Somi noticed they were real casual when bringing the ball up across halfcourt and he applied great pressure right away which paid off huge. He also was able to get to spots in his midrange zone and cashed in with his jumper (6 for 10 from inside the arc). Harrison was also excellent with 17/3/5 and 3 steals! Both of these guys are going to be depended on heavily to carry the scoring load for the team. Harrison showed off his range and hit 3 big triples and if he can do that more then that would create additional space for Thileep and Somi to operate in the mid-range. Athi also played with a ton of energy for the first time this season and was solid on both ends of the court for the team. They are going to need one of Saktish, Athi and Sanam to be an x-factor if they want to go deep into the playoffs. Spurs got 14 and 14 from their giant in the middle (JT) and got pretty decent contributions from Pirasaanth and Dylan. Just some bad turnovers at the wrong time and their shots were not dropping in this one. I just don't see enough creativity and ball movement for this team to get easy shots...barely any fast break points...it has generally been iso ball and dumping the ball in the post and watching. They got youth, speed and quickness on their side but it's not being utilized very often. It just takes one win however to right the ship and they are going to look to do that this Sunday.
Final Score: Spurs 44 - 48 Raptors Player of the Game - Somi Ravin 20pts/4rebs/4asts/4stls - 1 Triple
NUGGETS vs BULLS: This was a great game to say the least. It is usually pretty good when GM Ray and GM Billal go at it but Ray has had the advantage the last couple seasons. Well this game was different however as this Bulls team is not the same as the ones Billal had previously. This team just flat out has much better basketball IQ and it starts with their leader Nishan Thurai. You can tell his game is slowly coming around (if not, he will tell you personally lol) and there is nothing particularly flashy but after awhile you look up...and now he just dropped 17, 8, and 6 and the Bulls are on their way to victory. He also set up some of his teammates nicely in this one including Jonathan and Michael who were huge for the Bulls with 13 a piece. Mr. Jonathan Nagesh came outta nowhere and drained 3 bombs from long range and just to put that into perspective...in Season 2 he only hit 3 triples total for the year!. I forgot to mention, they did all this without their second rounder Jeron which was mighty impressive against a solid Nuggets squad. For some reason this feels like it won't be the last time these 2 meet this season! Fasel gobbled up all the boards (13) which he is great at even though he plays the wing position...Wilbert and Steven chipped in as well and it was a full team effort for the Bulls. Nuggets played solid but they just got outplayed in the last few minutes of the game. They got some good looks that did not drop and maybe a few sloppy turnovers but this game coulda gone either way and not much to read into. They get the Grizz next which should be fun while the Bulls get the Jazz which also looks to be an awesome game.
Final Score: Nuggets 49 - 53 Bulls Player of the Game - Nishan 17pts/8rebs/6asts/1stl
TIMBERWOLVES vs BLAZERS: The last game of the night also lived up to its hype as these two strong teams battled it out all the way to the end. GM Suthan and GM Annojh obviously know each other very well so there was a lot of bragging rights on the line in this one. Losing team shoulda done Karaoke at the bar but the Blazers do that every week regardless lol. Vijith had a game to forget last week but he bounced back very nicely in this one with 16pts, 6rebs, 2asts, and 4 steals! He even did the Jamal Murray 'bow and arrow' celebration after a deadly three where he pump faked Johan so badly that he almost broke his ankles. NJ was also great as he went up against Thuva in a battle of first rounders. He hit 4 very timely three's and seemed to hit one whenever the offence stalled for the Blazers. Manveer had 16 for the Wolves and Thuva had a double double but he missed a couple fast break layups which he normally does not. Manish was solid but felt like he wasn't as aggressive in this one. Ragu had some turnovers which he would love to have back but he played solid defence and he is going to be a key piece in the puzzle for GM Suthan. Manveer had a chance to tie the game as the Blazers were trying to deny him at the 3pt line and he smartly put the ball on the deck and drove it to the basket. Unfortunately, he was contested at the rim and he was not able to finish the play but a solid effort from everyone. GM Annojh got the best of Suthan in this one...but they both still went for Karaoke after :)
Final Score: Blazers 50 - 48 Timberwolves Player of the Game - NJ 17pts/7rebs/2asts/2stls/2blks - 4 triples
-Kisho Jeyaseelan (Commissioner)