Week 10 had some shockers and suprises and it is tough to predict what will happen week to week in the world of ETBL. The Bucks are out of the playoff picture currently, the Nuggets and Pistons are in the bottom third of the league, and the Pacers still only have one loss on the year. It feels like it is going to be a wild finish but let's first breakdown what happened on Sunday!
BUCKS vs LAKERS: The Lakers were battling the hungry Bucks and they had to battle them without their main big man in Jenush. GM Somi had vowed that his team would be one of the best teams in the league and that they will contend for a championship. Now, keep in mind he says this every season for each team he has been on but for the first time in his ETBL career...he was the one to recruit and put this team together and so he was more confident than ever (if that is even possible). He also guaranteed that he would finish above the Pistons which seemed insane at the time as the Lakers were 1-3 and Motor City was 3-1...but damn...Usamah comes back from his injury...the role players play defence and rebound...and Somi himself has channeled his inner Kobe...and now the Lakers are undefeated in 2019!. They are on a 4 game winning streak after securing the win against the Bucks and they have leapfrogged over the Pistons in the standings! (somewhere Sugee is crying tears). Somi drops a season high 25 points and put in work on the defensive end as well to lead the Lakers just like he did last week as well. He has been posting alot of videos of him working on his game and looks like it is paying off huge for this team. Another major reason they took this game was the work on the glass starting with Vinoth who has been incredible in the defence and hustle department as he had 9 offensive boards (14 in total) and also chipped in a steal and 2 blocks!! He just kept plays alive and the entire team finished wth 20 offensive boards which was the story of the game. The Lakers easily lead the league in offensive rebounds per game at 16.5! The Bucks are now off till February 24th and that will hopefully give them time to regroup...they have 3 games remaining and sit one game behind the Hawks for the last playoff spot.
Final Score: Bucks 49 - 54 Lakers Player of the Game - SOMI RAVIN 25pts/9rebs/3asts/3stls/1blk - 2 Triples
PISTONS vs WARRIORS: This game had some buzz surrounding it and it lived up to the hype as both these teams traded punches and went back and forth all the way down to the wire. The Pistons leaned on their go to guy and Mr. Kris G did not dissapoint as he dropped a game high 25 points on only 15 shots and he did everything possible to pull this game out. The only knock against him would be the final playcall of the game where there was 5 seconds left and they were down by 2...the Warriors had a foul to give...and everyone on the Warriors knew the ball was going to Kris...all the people in the stands knew...heck even the janitor knew...and so they sent 3 guys to triple team him when he got the ball near the sidelines from the inbounder and they were able to successfully trap him and kill valuable seconds off the clock before fouling him. There is definitely nothing wrong with giving the ball to your best player and let him work but maybe a little more creativity on where to get him the ball (preferably facing the rim near half court instead of back to the basket near the baseline)...run some sort of screen action where the inbounder would have had another option to outlet to if the defenders decided to trap...the Warriors are already a challenge but even harder to beat if you give them all the answers to the test. The Pistons did have a 2 point lead with less than a minute to go and even without Manish and Jolly they worked their butts off to put themselves in this position. Thanujaan however decided to put his mark on the game with a big time clutch triple to give the Warriors the lead and then followed that up with a beautiful give and go with Amit for a layup to give them a 3 point lead. Another key was the rebounding by Bahee and Gopal who combined for 19 and Gopal had 5 offensive rebounds himself including a big one late. With the absence of a true point guard, Bahee has stepped up and played the role of point forward and led his team once again with 5 assists! This would be one heck of a matchup if they were to meet again in the playoffs.
Final Score: Pistons 43 - 45 Warriors Player of the Game - AMIT SIEUKUMAR 14pts/4rebs/2asts/0to - 50% Shooting
HEAT vs CAVALIERS: This was the most suprising game of the night by far but not because of the teams involved but because of how badly one team destroyed the other! The Heat have had a very good season thus far with alot of credit going to GM Billal for putting together a savvy veteran team and the Cavaliers have been inconsistent thus far but still managed an above .500 record...but throw all that stuff out the window as the Cavs came to light the Heat up in this one and Harrison, Thannojh, and Ainky went on a heater from long range. They combined for 12 triples while the entire Heat squad only managed to hit 2 of them. Second straight game with 29 points for Harrison but this time it led to a win and he was rediculously good in this one. He got 17 from his buddy Ainky and everytime they hit a triple they got confident and hype which deflated the Heat and they could not respond in this game. It's going to be next to impossible to beat the Cavs if these gunslingers are shooting like this and they have now moved up to the third spot in the standings. I think it will be important for the Cavs to secure a top 4 seed and get a bye in the first round so that they only have to win 3 games in the playoffs rather than 4. With type of style they play it will be tough to always shoot well from long range especially when defences start honing in on them in the playoffs. Not saying it cannot be done but obviously will be tougher the more games you play as everyone is susceptible to a bad shooting night. Another impressive feat was the defence they played on Milton as they pulled out an active tight zone which was very successful. Milton still finished with an impressive 16 and 15 on 70% shooting but the rest of the team could not step up and make outside shots which eventually led to the massive blowout. The Cavs focused all their attention on the big man and dared the others to beat them and it worked out perfectly in this one as the role guys could not duplicate their past weeks performance against the Bucks. Big statement game by the Cavs.
Final Score: Heat 42 - 67 Cavaliers Player of the Game - HARRISON PON 29pts/4asts/2to - 61% Shooting - 4 Triples
TIMBERWOLVES vs HORNETS: No suprise but the Twolves were shorthanded once again and had no subs against the Hornets who were also missing Satish and Sinthujan. First half was actually competitive and the Twolves put up a fight as Trevor played a solid game and could not be stopped in the paint area. He finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds on 60% shooting. The second half however was the quite the opposite as the Twolves ran out of gas and got run off the court. Nishan almost had a triple double as he continues to round back into mvp form. Luxshan was terrific with 16/3/3 as he continues to unlock his offensive upside and Sen hit 4 triples to finish with 14 points on the night. The Twolves have had a rough year thus far and so I will keep this recap short.
Final Score: Timberwolves 41 - 65 Hornets Player of the Game - NISHAN THURAI 19pts/9rebs/8asts/3stls - 63.5% Shooting - 2 Triples
NUGGETS vs HAWKS: The Hawks are currently sitting in a playoff spot after a big time win against the Nuggets! GM Patrick made some trades...got the team to practice...has been leading them vocally...and it has all been paying off as they have been alot more competitive compared to the first half of the season. On a day where Nirsan did not have it offensively, the rest of the team stepped up and contributed to this victory. Starting with James Arakill who made some clutch shots and passes to really give this team a shot in the arm. Sam also hit a clutch triple in the late stages to seal this victory and he led the team with 12 points. Nirsan still held it down defensively especially against Javan who could not get any shots up against him and was totally taken out of this game. Dylan had 16 for the Nuggets but needed 17 shots to get it and the rest of the team just could not hit any open shots. It was the first time Andy got to play his former team and he was definitely energetic and active (finished with 8 points and chipped in 3stls). Muhammad who was on the other end of the trade finished with 8 points and did a great job drawing fouls and getting to the freethrow line. This could be a defining moment for the Hawks and they will need to use this momentum when they face the tough Pacer squad next game. But they now control their own destiny for the most part and we shall see if they can hold onto this playoff spot. The Nuggets meanwhile are in a serious funk and look nothing like the finals team from the past season...they will have a chance to get their confidence back against the lowly Timberwolves next game.
Final Score: Nuggets 33 - 39 Hawks Player of the Game - JAMES ARAKILL 9pts/3rebs/3asts/2stls/1to - 60% Shooting
SUNS vs PACERS: The last game of the night was supposed to be a good one...and it definitely was!. Two of the most versatile teams in the league squared off and they were battling all throughout game down to the last play which happened to be a crazy ending. Both teams have bigs...both teams have shooters...both teams have defenders...and both teams have ball handlers...so this was definitely an intriguing matchup to watch. GM Vimal came back from his one game absence and had a solid performance with 9/6/3 and continues to do whatever the team needs from him. But let's fastforward to the late stages of the game where both these teams were just going back and forth in a closely contested game. GM Jasinthan makes back to back big shots both off a pass from Abdul to take a 2 point lead 46 to 44. Akshay cuts the lead to one going 1 for 2 at the line and then Umaraj makes a big basket to put the Suns up by 3 with 16 seconds left and what felt like the winning basket for the Suns. After calling a timeout, the Pacers inbounded the ball to Ganen who used a screen and eventually pulled up from way deep and splashed a clutch game tying triple!!! In hindsight, the Suns could have used a foul to send them to the line for a 1 and 1 but decided to play it out...and I mean it was a very deep three point shot and so I guess you can live with that...but damn did that hurt. Zanoon misses a chance to win it on the other end and we go to OT where the Pacers got to the line and cashed in as Vimal and Paolo hit some big ones to seal it! The Suns definitely feel like they let one get away and this will definitely hurt their chances of getting a top 4 seed. The Pacers meanwhile just keep rolling and continue to be the best team in ETBL.
Final Score: Suns 51 - 54 Pacers Player of the Game - GANEN THANGA 8pts/10rebs/2asts/1to
Written by: Kisho (Commissioner)