Week 4 is in the books and half the games were blowouts while the other half were closely contested. We had a few trades go down this past week which we will touch upon in the recaps. Trade deadline is March 26th @ midnight and we shall see if any other moves are made by then. A reminder that teams get 1 timeout per half, and it carries over to the second half if the timeout was not used. There are no extra timeouts for the 2min overtime unless it is playoffs. Now let's get right to it.
GRIZZLIES: Oh boy, there seems to be alot of dysfunction emanating from the Grizzlies after another dissapointing effort from them. This makes it 3 losses in a row and regardless of how much talent you have...if there is no cohesion, chemistry, and communication from the team...then it's going to be an uphill battle. The Nuggets had 7 guys score at least one basket while the Grizz only had 3 guys do the same. The Grizzlies body language and attitude towards each other has been less than ideal to say the least. The Nuggets were encouraging and praising each other for just getting offensive boards and setting screens...meanwhile the Grizz were yelling and screaming for letting up on defence or taking bad shots. It's tough when you don't know each other that well and are drafted onto a team...you don't want to be a bad teammate but some players are highly motivated to win and frustration can spew out when it doesn't go well. Maybe this team needs a team bonding karoake session at Cornerstone's...they should sing 'Hakuna Matata' together or 'We Are Family'...maybe 'Don't Stop Believin'?. Also, grab have some beers and air out all their differences...don't know if Anthony is old enough to drink but I am sure he wouldn't mind taking some shots ;). Or GM Vimal will just make some trades if all else fails! The Nuggets on the other hand were disciplined and played their solid brand of defence. They feature some amazing guard/wing defenders and that is going to be an issue for opponents who rely on their backcourt players. Dwayne who is not known for his scoring had a game high 16 for team yellow and just did it all for them on both ends of the floor. The role guys all chipped in including Suhi who grabbed 5 key offensive boards to keep possessions alive for the Nuggets. What did he earn for this solid game of his? He promptly got traded to the Pistons in exchange for Trevor Fernandes lol. GM Ray reunites with his former teammate and friend and has officially put his team at the top of the championship contender list by addressing the one possible weakness they had (rebounding).
Final Score: Nuggets 45 - 27 Grizzlies Player of the Game - Dwayne Lubin 16pts/9rebs/4asts/2stls/2blks/1TO - 60% Shooting
BULLS vs JAZZ: This matchup looked to be a good one on paper. Then we find out the Bulls are missing 2 starters (Jeron and Jonathan) and so I was expecting a pretty easy win for the Jazz. They eventually got the 'W' but it was certainly not easy! Nishan led them once again by getting the ball to his guys in the right spots and playing some solid defence at the top of the zone. GM Billal had them playing zone which was smart considering they were shorthanded and needed to conserve some energy while also focusing on securing the rebound. It was pretty effective considering the Jazz went 4 for 22 from long range and Mr. Fasel Ali grabbed all the boards! (19 of them to be exact). He also showed off his range by hitting 3 triples including one that pushed the lead to 42 to 28 in the second half with 9mins remaining. Pretty darn impressive for this Bulls squad who showed alot of heart against the former champs...but then shortly there after Nishan subbed out while they were up 12 and everything came crashing down for the Bulls. The Jazz went on a 14 to 0 run (8 to 0 while Nishan was on the bench) and wrestled this game away them. Nishan was not aware of the substitution rule apparently and some of that blame has to go to GM Billal who should have made sure everyone was aware of this since he has been in the league for 3 seasons now. They could have gotten the substitution done earlier and may have avoided this run by the Jazz. But nonetheless, you gotta give credit to the champs for always staying composed no matter what the situation is. They have pretty much seen it all and know exactly how to respond. They trapped the ball handlers during their run and forced them to make mistakes and with the Bulls not having a traditional point guard on the floor...it ended up hurting them badly. Very entertaining game and both teams showed what they are capable of when they lock in on both sides of the ball.
Final Score: Bulls 43 - 46 Jazz Player of the Game - Fasel Ali 19pts/19rebs/1ast/2stls- 54% Shooting - 3 Triples
CELTICS: Another great game to follow up the previous one! The C's put up an impressive first half and led 30 to 16 with a minute to go into halftime. They were led of course by the dynamic duo of Abdul and Umaraj who were great and gave the Blazers alot of trouble. Umaraj started the second half making a layup and the green squad had a 34 to 22 lead and looked like they were on their way to a solid win. The Blazers were sluggish early on and they had no subs in this one as well so it looked like they were slowly going to get blown out...but Mr. Nirojan Krishna aka 'NJ' was not going to let his team down without a fight. He hit back to back triples and both were decently contested! and then immediately follows that up with an 'and1' to cut the lead down to 3 pretty quickly. He dropped 30 in this one and is playing like an MVP giving an amazing effort on both ends of the floor. Also, he only took 14 shots to bag that 30 which is mighty impressive! The C's did not initially break down as they pushed the lead back to 40 to 31 but once again NJ just burned them down the stretch. Annojh stepped up in the second half on defence and also helped the team with his 11 rebounds as they needed every one of them. Great comeback victory for the Blazers while being extremely shorthanded!. As for the C's, this is the second time they have flip flopped between playing like a contender and then in the same game playing like a pretender. The second half against the Jazz they looked unstoppable...the first half here against the Blazers they once again looked amazing but they haven't been able to put 2 halves together. When they were up in the second half, they should have double teamed/shadowed NJ to not let him beat them...and just as importantly...do not give up 3 point shots! Just some strategic mistakes in this one which they will learn from for sure. They still had a shot to win the game in the dying seconds as they were only down one but an amazing steal by Annojh on the inbounds clinched the victory for Ripcity.
Final Score: Blazers 52 - 49 Celtics Player of the Game - NJ Krishna 30pts/13rebs/1ast/2stls/1blk - 3 Triples
RAPTORS: Raptors came into this one with a 2 game winning streak while the Warriors just got their first 'W' of the year against the Lakers. Warriors were once again missing their GM (Gautham) who was somewhere travelling overseas. But he still had time to message me and ask me to send him videos and stats for the games he missed so he can analyze them...dude just enjoy your mohito on the beach...jeez. They were also without Bahee who had a splint on his middle finger but still showed up to the game and coached his squad from the bench! He was vocal and loud (the stats guys almost went deaf sitting next to him) and got his squad to be in the right places on defence. The Warriors responded by playing a very solid game on both ends of the floor. Jeffrey was highly effective at the top of the zone really using his length to disrupt passes and getting a hand up on the 3pt shots. Asok was too much for the Raps while Gopal cleaned up all the misses and finished with 15 and 9. Anujan was the newest member of team orange crush as he got traded for Kevin and immediately made an impact by hitting a big triple off a pass from Jeffrey to extend the lead. He also moved the ball well on offence (3 assists)...grabbed 5 boards and chipped in a steal and a block! He seemed alot more engaged on his new squad which could prove to pay dividends down the line. Hari was another member of the Dubs who played very well as he was dropping dimes everywhere (finished w/6) and also helped on the boards with 8. He can be a very useful facilitator for this squad as he loves to drive and kick to 3point shooters which this team has plenty of. Raps have been more worried about what moves to make to improve this team rather than focusing on what plays/schemes best enhance their chances of winning. They did end up trading Sanam for Chris Cruz from the Pistons right after this loss. He will provide them with another ball handler and floor spacer which should help them but they have lost some size now and will be relying on Thileep to take care of the paint. They could possibly have Chris play the point guard role while they try and run the offence through Harrison and Somi. But then again Somi went 1 for 10 in this one and finished with 2 points...yikes. Harrison had 21 and Saktish hit 3 triples but they will desperately need that 3rd scorer to be successful.
Final Score: Warriors 61 - 45 Raptors Player of the Game - Asok Arutselvan 21pts/9rebs/1asts - 64% Shooting - 2 Triples
SPURS: The two winless teams go at it in this one so something had to finally give. GM Rahul has made it clear that he thinks his team is a contender and knew this was a big game for his squad. He not only led vocally but also played a big part on the defensive end as he racked up 11 boards. 3 steals and a block in this one! He also did some actual GM work by obtaining Kevin in a trade with the Warriors who gave him quality minutes in this one. This game was not pretty to say the least but both teams battled the whole way trying to grind out this victory. Sarwar made some big shots for the Lakers to secure this win and he was easily the best player on the court. They will need more of this from him if they want to make some noise this season. The twin towers both double doubled in this one and combined to go 9 for 21 from the field (JT and Pirasaanth) for 22 points...while the rest of the team went 5 for 34! Roy had a night to forget as he finished 2 for 18...he does a great job getting into the lane but rushes his pull-ups or floaters quite often. If he and the bigs can get some sort of pick n roll game working it would allow him to get cleaner looks at the basket and much more driving space to work with. The twin towers are going to need his help to get easier looks and shots rather than just straight post-ups everytime. Right now everything is too predictable and now the Spurs are the only team in the league without a win. The good news is they are only 1 game out of a wildcard spot! Lakers will look to continue the momentum versus the Bulls on Sunday.
Final Score: Lakers 45 - 39 Spurs Player of the Game - Sarwar Syed 16pts/9rebs/3asts/1stl - 2 Triples
PISTONS vs TIMBERWOLVES: The Pistons were shorthanded once again. No Usamah and no PJ meant this could turn out very ugly. They were down 28 to 5 to start the game...so it was pretty much over within the first 15mins of the game. They ended up making it respectable and actually scored 29 points in the second half and saved them self from getting absolutely crushed on the run differential. There isn't much to analyze in this one as it was a slow death for the Pistons (and all of us doing stats!). The only thing that wasn't so bad to watch was of course Mr. Manveer Boyal who dropped a season high 29 points on 10 of 16 shooting including 6 triples!!! He was in the zone and he was locked in from the start. Every time he let it fly it seemed like it was going to go in and has proved to be the best 3pt shooter in the league. He was drafted in the 4th round (44th overall) and I am sure there are enough GM's regretting passing over the sniper. Long range shooting is incredibly important in this league as he hit more triples by himself than most teams on this night! The Nuggets and Grizzlies combined to only make 5 of them in the first game of the night lol. This Twolves team has alot of weapons and are a fun team to watch play. After the Pistons got smashed in this one...GM Sugee decided to trade Trevor and Chris Cruz and in return he will be getting Suhi and Sanam. I think he just wanted to fill his team up with players that had names which started with 'S' to go along with himself and Sanjoo. Do these players make his team better? Will he go back to the run and gun style? Will they have a full team soon? Will they win another game? Alot is left to be determined for the Pistons.
Final Score: Pistons 40 - 58 Timberwolves Player of the Game - Manveer Boyal 29pts/6rebs/1asts/2stls/2blks - 62.5% Shooting - 6 Triples
-Kisho Jeyaseelan (Commissioner)