Week 9 is in the books and we are officially in May now. The weather is heating up and so are the standings as things are getting chaotic. Teams 5 thru 10 all have 4 wins and 11th spot (Bulls) are only a half game out of a wildcard spot! The Pistons are also 1.5 games back but they will need to pick up some victories and get help from other teams...but hey...they are not mathematically eliminated yet. We also have a guest writer for the game between the Bulls and Twolves!!! He goes by the alias '6.5 Fan'. Let's get right to it!
JAZZ vs GRIZZLIES: The Jazz were missing Jenush and Demone in this one (well Demone showed up with 4 minutes left but did not play) and the Grizzlies showed no mercy as they took care of business easily. They were too fast and too dominant on the boards and they needed this win badly. This catapulted them up to the 8th spot and they can now set their eyes on a top 6 seed which seemed impossible just a few weeks ago. You had to figure the talent on the team would match the results and even though they have also been shorthanded quite abit...they have found enough stamina to string together some much needed wins. Mr. Nisan Gnanalingam had his best game of his ETBL career as was a beast in the interior and there was nothing the Jazz could do to contain him. He finished effectively (9 of 13 shooting) and did a great job getting a hand on all the rebounds. Anthony did the rest as he dropped 30 which is the 4th time this season he has at least hit that mark and he continues to be a major force for the Grizz. Vimal matched his career high with 8 assists and had 7 steals!!! He has always known to be a shoot first guard but he has transitioned himself incredibly well into being a ball distributor in such a short time. He is second in the league in assists and that is something I thought I would never say lol. Also, after his 7 steal performance, he is now tied for first in steals with Somi Ravin!. The Jazz were led by Joseph with his first career double double (13pts/10rebs) and he brought his usual energy in this one. The Jazz are now 4-4 and we shall see how they finish the season as things are gettting tight in the standings. They face the Warriors this Sunday which would be a rematch of the finals from the previous season!
Final Score: Jazz 35 - 61 Grizzlies Player of the Game - NISAN Gnanalingam 18pts/16rebs/5asts/2stls/1blk - 69% Shooting
BULLETS vs NUGGETS: The Bullets played a solid first half and took a 4 point lead into half-time. They controlled the pace and tempo very well...forced some turnovers and stepped up on the 3pt attempts. The second half they were unable to keep the momentum going and basically could not buy a bucket. They shot 26 percent for the game and only 3 for 24 from long range. Every player on the Bullets had a bucket but the highest player total was only 10 by Javan. The Nuggets really clamped down on defence and the Bullets could not muster any offence. GM Patrick's team now sits at 4-4 and have 3 games remaining...all three options are still on the table for the Bullets...they could finish with a top 6 record...they could end up in the wildcard game...or they could completely miss the playoffs! They got the Bulls next in what is going to be a huge game for both teams as they try and make this playoff push. The Nuggets did not play their best game especially during the first half but they grinded it out like usual. They are currently in the 2nd spot and we shall see if they can catch the top seeded Blazers.
Final Score: Bullets 35 - 42 Nuggets Player of the Game - DWAYNE Lubin 11pts/13rebs/3asts/1stl/1blk
RAPTORS vs BLAZERS: A very entertaining game between the Raps and Blazers this past Sunday. It was high scoring and fast paced with a few things standing out including Chris Cruz...not for his play (he was solid tho)...but he stood out because he was the only non-tamil on both teams! That aside, Harrison Pon also stood out as he scored a game high 34 points and put on a show for the fans as he kept his team in it. He made 5 bombs including a few in a row when his team needed it the most in the second half. This is the second time he dropped 30 plus but both games have resulted in losses for the Raps as they just haven't got enuff from their supporting players. The Blazers are currently getting solid production from their 'big 3' as they combined for 56 points! NJ was dominant on the boards with 15 while Nathies, Annojh, Vijith and Suren all chipped in with 6 rebounds each! Their gang rebounding once again proves to be a difference maker in these games. Nishant made some big plays in this one to put it away for Ripcity and they are currently the number 1 team in ETBL (according to the standings anyways). They get the Spurs next who are the worst team in ETBL but they will present challenges with their two main bigs. We shall see how GM of the year candidate Annojh gets his team prepared for them this Sunday. The Raps get a bye week and we shall see if they come back rejuvenated for the last couple games of the season.
Final Score: Raptors 57 - 66 Blazers Player of the Game - NISHANT Manohar 20pts/5rebs/4asts/1blk - 60% Shooting
SPURS vs PISTONS: A battle of the bottom feeders in ETBL actually turned out to be a fun game where we saw big shots from both teams. The Spurs were missing Roy as he dislocated his pinky figure and that pretty much sums up their season in a nutshell. Pistons with a great first half as Usamah was finding his teammates and they were knocking down shots including Suhi and Sugee. Usi played a balanced game of trying to move the ball and working to get his own shot as he finished with 16/7/6 and 3 steals! Suhi did a great job of cutting to the basket without the ball especially in the first half and Usi was able to find him for some great looks. They had some communication issues in the second half but they will need to be on the same page throughout the game for the Pistons to be successful. GM Sugee usually does alot of talking...but in this game he let his game do it for him with a season high 20 points including 6 long range bombs. He has played well in 2 straight now and they needed his outside shooting to secure this win. Spurs put up a good fight without their lead point guard...JT was a monster on the boards with 20 which helped get them tons of second chance opportunities! Ajevan came up big too with some timely shots especially in the second half and finished with 9 points and 9 rebounds. Down the stretch the Pistons just made more clutch shots including a couple by Usamah and they get a much needed win to keep their playoff hopes alive for the time being.
Final Score: Pistons 56 - 50 Spurs Player of the Game - SUGEE Rajakulendran 20pts/2rebs/3asts/2stls/1TO - 6 Triples
CELTICS vs WARRIORS: The Warriors are now the hottest team in the league with their 6th consecutive victory! This game was not pretty by any means but they got the job done against a shorthanded Celtics team who were missing Umaraj and Randy of course. Abdul had to shoulder the load on offence but he struggled with his shot in this one. He was 0 for 8 from long range! He is a tough cover when he is attacking the basket...the Warriors zone defence obviously gives you opportunities to shoot from the outside but he played into their hands and let them off the hook by settling. The C's turned the ball over way too many times...missed way too many shots...and just basically played extremely sloppy throughout. Jeffrey was active on defence once again at the top of the zone...his length as helped him get deflections and contest 3pt shots very well. Considering how he started the season...he has made tremendous strides the last few weeks which has contributed to this win streak. Amit also did a great job in this game (besides the turnovers) as he made some big shots and got some big rebounds for his club. His passing game is also getting better as he is finding a comfort zone with his teammates. C's have a huge game against the Lakers this Sunday while the Dubs get the Jazz.
Final Score: Celtics 43 - 53 Warriors Player of the Game - AMIT Sieukumar 13pts/7rebs/5asts/2stls
BULLS vs TIMBERWOLVES (written by 6.5 Fan)
I had marked this game on my calendar as I was curious if the Bulls would change their defensive identity. They along with the Warriors and Celtics (which have yet to play the Twolves) primarily play a 2-3 zone. If you were too busy watching the great brand of basketball played by the Spurs and Pistons, you may not have known that the Twolves have 3 of the top ten 3 point shooters in the league. 2 of which are shooting around 40%. From tip off I got my answer; Bulls started out in man coverage. It didn't take long to notice that man defence wasn't going to be enough to cool of these hot shooters. In my many years of men's league basketball I have never seen such hot shooting. The first half was a back and forth contest with each team trading shots. At halftime, I told myself that if the game continued this way then the Bulls would end up winning. I did not believe this type of shooting could be sustained. How wrong I was. During the second half Manveer, Thuva, and Manish channeled their inner Klay, Steph and KD. As I stated before I've never seen this type of shooting before. Not even in NBA 2K on rookie mode with all the shooting sliders up. All three individuals finished with 20 points and a combined 18 for 35 shooting from 3. It was around the 11 minute mark the Twolves went up by 21 points and I thought the game was over. Insert Mamba time. The #2 overall pick Nishan Thurai willed his team back with 3 consecutive 3's. Those shots seemed to spark life back into the Bulls. The Ultimate glue guy Fasel Ali was diving for loose balls, rebounding, setting hard screens. Unsung hero Michael Manasala hit a few 3s to pull the Bulls even closer. Unfortunately, Jeron Hameed seemed to think that it was his turn to shoot 3s. In the final 3 minutes when it was a one possession game he looked off Nishan...this didn't happen once but rather THREE straight positions. When you have a player of Nishan's caliber you ride and die with him: especially when he has it going! Taking 2 ill-advised threes and an awful running hook will not get you a win. It will get you sitting next to the Pistons and Spurs. Sorry, that's my last Pistons and Spurs joke I promise. Even with bad execution and hot shooting, the Bulls were able to keep the game close due to their offensive rebounding (22 to 11). In the final minutes they had a chance to tie the game but missed the shot. The Twolves came down and iced the game with 2 free throws. Now for the drama... Many people where I was sitting said that a lane violation had taken place and that the last FT should not have counted. The reason why this was important is because Michael launched a half court shot which went in. If in fact there was a lane violation the game should have been tied and headed to OT. With that being said the refs decided that it was better for ETBL rating if the Bulls lost which would bring up an all-important game next week between the Bulls and Bullets. Both teams need a win badly. Great win by the Wolves who are playing great ball and looking for the top spot!
Final Score: Bulls 69 - 70 Twolves