Week 5 had some interesting matchups and now the standings are very tightly bunched up for the most part. We are off this Sunday as it is Easter weekend and that means teams can regroup and try to make a push for the second half of the season. The trade deadline has also passed and there were no last minute blockbusters to speak of...but alot of smaller moves were made prior and we shall see how they pan out for the remainder of the season. Now let's get right to it.
SPURS vs GRIZZLIES: Two struggling teams faced off in the opener and we were going to see if either team fixed some of their previous issues. The first half was a back and forth battle and it was probably the best half the Spurs have played all year. They were playing with no substitutes and that was going to be tough but they played in control and really slowed the pace down and got great shots. Roy did not force any jumpers or floaters and was much better in the half court sets. They would dump it in the JT in the post and he would pass out of double teams to Pirasaanth just above the freethrow line and then he would get Roy a clean look on the baseline. They played inside out very well in this half and took a one point lead into half. Unfortunately, the Spurs got destroyed in the second half and you can point to fatigue being a big factor as they just could not get back for transition defence. Anthony absolutely torched them on the fast break in this one and there is noone that is better at this then him in the league. He was able to leak out a bunch of times and his teammates did a great job of pushing it up to him to do damage. He had his best game of the year as he dropped 32 points on 21 shots and was extremely active on defence against the guards of the Spurs. Spurs went back to ISO ball as soon as they started getting down a bit and that is something they are going to have to work on. I saw good things however from them and now they just need to play a full 44minutes with that same composure. They get the Bulls next and they hope to get their first W against them. Grizz seemed a little bit more cohesive in this one which paid off and now they get the Celtics next which should be a great game.
Final Score: Spurs 39 - 56 Grizzlies Player of the Game - Anthony Jeyakanthan 32pts/2rebs/1ast/4stls/1blk - 52% Shooting - 3 Triples
JAZZ vs TIMBERWOLVES: Two important pieces were missing in this one as Demone was out partying in Vegas and Manveer was missing for the Twolves. Manveer has been averaging almost 20 points per game for the Wolves! so who was going to step up and fill this void?. Well, how about Season 2's 'Rookie of the Year'...Mr. Thuva Sivasamy! He put on a show for everyone at the Logos Centre as he dropped 33points in the first 30mins of this game!!! He had about the same amount of points as the entire Jazz squad nearly halfway thru the second half! That hesitation pull-up three was money all game as he hit 5 of them. He trigger is very quick and too high for most ppl to even come close to blocking and he was on fire in this game. It took him only 17 shots to put up his 33 points and it looked like they would cruise to a blowout. The Jazz however made a late push once Yaga put the cuffs on him and would not let him get any space to shoot. Everyone started contributing on the offensive end for the Jazz as they cut into the big deficit and had it to within a couple possessions. The Wolves were able to close it out as Manish hit a couple triples and Johan with some key baskets as well. The Jazz fought hard without their main guy and some of the role guys got a good run which will bode well for them down the line. After 5 games, the Wolves are on top of the ETBL universe and look incredibly impressive. Their only loss was by 2 points to the Blazers and they have solidified themselves as a true contender. They get a big matchup against the Nuggets on April 8th while the Jazz get the struggling Pistons in week 6.
Final Score: Jazz 50 - 57 Twolves Player of the Game - Thuva Sivasamy 33pts/6rebs/3asts/5stls/1blk - 65% Shooting - 5 Triples
BULLS vs LAKERS: A very competitive game between the Bulls and the Lakeshow. The Bulls get Jeron back for this one but they were missing their first rounder Nishan. The first half was a struggle for both teams offensively but the Lakers managed to squeek out a 4 point lead at halftime. One thing they did well was not settling for jumpers and either taking it to the hole or shooting long range bombs. The role guys contributed with 12 points total (Keving & Shahriar) which proved to be huge. Kevin especially looks to be very comfortable on this team and is giving them quality minutes. Great job by LiShin to notice this and instead of subbing in for him...he waived it off and let him play a few more mins and Kevin rewarded him by hitting a big 3 to stretch the lead. Speaking of Li...he continues to do it all as he scored when they needed it...got boards...made defensive plays...and passed the rock really well in this one. His chemistry with Ara and Sarwar has been on point thus far and we shall see if the whole team can find its rhythm. The Lakers have won 2 in a row and GM Rahul can now breathe a sigh of relief as he was on edge for a few weeks. He expects alot out of his team and thinks they can be a legit contender and he should be happy with the progress they have made. It was not a pretty game what so ever but a win is a win! Bulls were missing the spoon the stirs the drink in this one. The shots they were taking was a little more contested than usual and the spacing on the court wasn't the same as before. Fasel did everything he could to keep them in it with 15 points and 20 rebounds!! Jeron was rusty after missing 2 straight games which is expected but look for him to bounce back next game.
Final Score: Bulls 47 - 51 Lakers Player of the Game - Fasel Ali 15pts/20rebs/4asts/3stls - 1 Triple
RAPTORS vs CELTICS: When I write recaps, there are always a few things that stand out more than anything when it comes to certain games. For this game, there were 2 things in particular. Firstly, Mr. Umaraj Thavakumar is flat out B-A-L-L-I-N-G-! He was unstoppable in this one and noone told me he was this good. His first step is hard to keep up with for defenders and his hard nosed bulldog mentality is tough to stop. He is able to finish on both sides of the rim and is also doing a great job of finding teammates when the driving lanes close on him. He put up a cool 25 points as he was 10 for 16 in the lane and also dished out 4 assists. His partner in crime, Abdul, also played great with 18 and 9 rebounds. When you focus all your attention on these two...then Randy Cho hits you with 3 triples and finishes with 13 points. He is going to be able to exploit alot of teams 3rd best defender which will bode well for the C's going forward. The other thing that stood out to me in this game was the play of Mr. Thileep Thana...or more specifically the lack of stamina from the big man. He came out strong making a bucket and some defensive plays but slowed down after 5 mins into the game. There is no backup centre on this Raps team (or any decent sized big) and thus he is unable to get much rest on the bench. He is forced into big time minutes and the cardio is not there yet for him which meant he struggled on offence and could not make shots or be involved at all. The team will have to find a way to manage minutes without him on the floor and that is going to be a challenge as they mostly have guards on the team. Or he is going to have to do some 'Insanity' and get that cardio up quickly. Harrison had a solid 18 points and Somi dropped 15 but the defence was the issue in this one for the Red team. They now have the same record as the C's and now everything is closely tied up near the bottom of the standings.
Final Score: Raptors 49 - 60 Celtics Player of the Game - Umaraj Thavakumar 25pts/5rebs/4asts/2stls - 55% shooting - 1 Triple
BULLETS vs WARRIORS: Today was finally going to be the day I talked highly of the Bullets! They had been 3-0 and were rolling and maybe I was wrong about them overachieving...maybe I had been wrong about their outlook...maybe they are legit..but then they go and lose by 15 to the Dubs...so maybe I was somewhat right?!?. The Warriors no doubt play the best 2-3 zone in the league but the Bullets shoulda been aware of this as it was not a secret. But the way they were playing...it looked like they had no clue what to do against the zone and it certainly does not help if you go 3 for 25 from long range against the zone either. You gotta have your best 3pt shooter in the corner and make those open threes or it is going to be a long night. GM Patrick was the one getting those open looks and he was not even close and ended up going 0 for 5 from long range. James, who is their best long range bomber, went 1 for 7 from deep but did pitch in with 8 rebounds and 7 assists!. Javan had a solid game with 14 points but he actually shoulda gotten more shots in this one as he was the only one having success against the Warriors. Tharu had a night to forget as he went 2 for 16 and the Bullets will have to regroup and find out what their offensive identity is. They should have alot of the offence run thru Javan & James and let them make the offensive decisions. Sam spent more time arguing, complaining and breaking water bottles than he did focusing on the game lol. They faced a legit team in the Warriors and got humbled a bit but I am definitely encouraged by the willingness to accept defeat and come back stronger. They have the right pieces to make a run and GM Patrick will just have to figure out what style works best for them. The Warriors meanwhile are slowly getting their mojo back. 3 in a row after starting horribly...Amit had his best game with 16 points, 6rebs, 4 asts and 1 steal! Not only that but just a few hours prior he got married to his fiance!!! How the heck was he even allowed to come to this game?!? #ballislife!!! Asok did the rest of the damage with 17 points on 7 of 9 shooting and he is not know for his defence but dude swatted away 4 shots as well in this game. His focus has been incredible this season and is playing with extreme confidence. He stays even keel and looks like he learned alot from Season 2 and has come out hungry this season.
Final Score: Bullets 39 - 54 Warriors Player of the Game - 17pts/5rebs/2asts/4blks - 78% shooting - 1 Triple
PISTONS vs BLAZERS: The new look Pistons go up against the Blazers and we were about to see how well those trades would pay off for GM Sugee. Well they started by getting hammered right away and were down 25 to 9 just 15 mins into the game. They were getting outrebounded by the smaller Blazers team which obviously should not be happening! The main battle was of course between NJ and Usamah and they went at each other on both ends of the floor. They pretty much cancelled each other out but the Blazers got more help from their key guys compared to the Pistons. Nishant, Vijith, and Suren combined for 25 while Sugee, Sanjoo, Suhi combined for 17. The Blazers did not play their best game but they did constantly move the ball and look for each other. It is something they have done all season which has worked out well for them and their gang rebounding has been impressive also. The Pistons offence seemed to stall quite a bit and it's not anything new as Usamah does get into Westbrook mode throughout the game. He can singlehandedly win a game for you but thus far it has not been working in the teams favor. Others are standing around watching and there is very little movement...if they can get a more free flowing offence going (run and gun?)...maybe it can kickstart their offence and more guys can contribute. Kyle Lowry made this change to his game and now look at the Raptors!!! Usamah is more than capable of leading this type of offence but the question will be whether he wants to win or whether he wants to pad his stats! They get the Jazz next and that is going to be a tough challenge but we shall see if the Pistons are up for it. Blazers get the Bullets in what will be an important game for seeding purposes.
Final Score: Pistons 38 - 46 Blazers Player of the Game - Vijith Nava 9pts/14rebs/3asts/1stls/1TO
-Kisho Jeyaseelan (Commissioner)