The Brooklyn Nets are still the team to beat in the East, plus what’s next for Damian Lillard in Portland?

Happy Thursday morning, friends. I hope this newsletter finds you well.

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Good morning to everyone but especially…


The ranking of the Eastern Conference may show Chicago Bulls on top, but without error: Brooklyn Nets is definitely the classroom of the conference. On Wednesday night, they reminded us of it, when we arrived in the Windy City and blow away Bulls 138-112.

Here’s how it happens:

  • Everything is bound, 71-71, early third quarter before Brooklyn continues 43-8 runs to put the game to bed early in the fourth quarter.
  • Kevin Durant fell to 27 points, of which 17 were in that decisive third period. It marked his 12th straight game with at least 25 points, forced its own franchise record.
  • James Harden had 25 points and 16 assists.
  • Rookies Day’Ron Sharpe added 20 career high points and Patty Mills scored 21 from the bench.

Yes, the Bulls have no defensive highlights Alex Caruso, and yes, the Bulls have won their first two meetings this season. But those first two games don’t have Kyrie Irving in the mix, and his presence, even when Caruso was playing, led to the question every team was trying to answer: How do you protect the Nets?

Irving was like a magician with the ball in his hand, constantly putting pressure on the defense with slick dribbles and melancholy finishes. In Monday, Trail Blazers head coach (and former point guard star) Chauncey Billups Irving has been called “the most skilled player” ever in the position. Ours NBA guru Brad Botkin enthusiastically agree:

  • Botkin: “Ultimately, we died from a hit in the middle of the most skill point guard era in history, and Irving and Curry were ahead of everyone else. But then Irving even moved up a notch from there. . Curry is the greatest shooter ever. Irving is the most skilled point guard. In my opinion, Billups is right.”

That’s what makes the Nets so scary. Irving had just nine points on Wednesday. Instead, Durant showed that he was almost useless on the pitch, no matter the opponent (especially against a Chicago team without a classy full-back). Harden has shown that while his shooting ability is MIA-rated, his distribution is second to none when he’s at his best. What are these Our NBA expert Sam Quinn had to talk about it all:

  • Quinn: “The complete version of this team is going to be more intimidating. Most defenses lack the personnel to accommodate a superstar. No one has all three.”

Wednesday night’s contest did more than close the gap between these two teams to 1.5 games at the top of the Eastern Conference. It sent a reminder to the Bulls – and the rest of the league – of who’s boss.

Honor mention:

  • Congratulation Jon Lester about a terrible career. The leftist retired on Wednesday, and it begs the question: Is he a Hall of Famer?

And not a good morning for…


Almost half a season, Portland Trail Blazers – a team that has reached the knockout stages eight seasons in a row – has barely managed to hang on to the final starting place in the Western Conference. The task of staying there – which did little to improve their position – was only much harder.

Damian Lillard going to have abdominal surgery and miss six to eight weeks. The All-Star player has not played six times since New Year’s Eve and has missed 11 games this season. Since Lillard entered the tournament in 2012, he has been as enduring as they come, with only PJ Tucker play in more games.

This is the latest hit for a team that was once without CJ McCollum in the last 16 games and have struggled to adapt to the freshman coach Chauncey Billups. Portland has the second worst defense in the league. All that leave Portland at 16-24, tied for its worst start in 40 games since Lillard’s arrival. So now again for this forever question: Time to trade Lillard?

Send it back to our NBA pro Sam Quinn again for break the tough situation:

  • Quinn: “Lillard was adamant that he didn’t want to be moved from Portland to an immediate competitor, but (Anfernee) Simons’ breakthrough combined with the perhaps higher draft pick the Blazers would have received that No need Lillard can rebuild General manager Neil Olshey at the start of the season and still looking for a long-term replacement Reports have suggested that possible candidates for the position are interested in trading Lillard and start rebuilding, but without positions being filled full-time, it’s impossible to know which direction the Blazers will go.”

The Trail Blazers have never made it to the NBA Finals with Lillard and have made it to the grand finals only once: in 2019, when they were swept by the Warrior. Good enough to make it to the knockout stages but not good enough to compete for a title is a tough spot to get stuck on, and no team understands that better than Portland.

Super Wild Card Weekend Match Rating

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Super Wild Card Weekend is upon us and it’s shaping up to be a great vehicle. Six games spread over three days. Of course, ours NFL expert Tyler Sullivan ranked the matches from first to worst.

His top picks come as no surprise: 49ers at Cowboys, you can watch Saturday at 4:30 p.m. on CBS and stream it on Supreme +.

Not only is this the closest match on the betting table – Dallas is a three-point favorite – but it also features crime stars (Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle) and defense (Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner).

More, have history:

  • Sullivan: “You also have two of the NFL’s older franchises that have competition from the 1970s. Dallas had three playoff wins (including two at the NFC Championship) in the early ’70s, in when Team 49 could walk away with a last-second win over the Cowboys in the 1981 NFC Championship thanks to Dwight Clark starring in Joe Montana’s ‘The Catch’. compete again when they meet many times in NFC Championship and championship Super Bowl title for half a decade. Now, we will have the latest chapter in this historic competition. “

How do Barry Bonds (and others) still get into the Baseball Hall of Fame, even if it’s not this year

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That is last year on the Baseball Hall of Fame vote for Bonds Barry, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosaand all four former stars tend to fall short of the 75% required to be featured.

So it is it, right? The home run king – and three of his contemporaries – would miss Cooperstown, wouldn’t they?

Not necessarily. As MLB expert Matt Snyder explains, there is one more option:

  • Via the Hall of Fame website: The Today’s Game Commission (“Committee”) will refer to a constituency that considers retired Junior Baseball League players to be no longer eligible for election by the Baseball Writers Guild of America (BBWAA), along with administrators, referees, and referees. and executives, whose greatest contributions to the game are recognized from The period 1988-2016.

The “committee” will consist of 16 people and one candidate needs 12 votes for referrals. If the past is any indication, Bonds and those in similar positions could have a good shot.

  • Snyder: “It’s been an amazingly quick turnaround for players like Lee Smith, Jack Morris, Alan Trammell and Harold Baines between voting by BBWAA and then being inducted into the Hall of Fame through these committees. . Through this lens, it looks like Bonds, Clemens and Schilling have a great chance to hit it immediately in December if they don’t get 75 percent of the vote this January.”

What we’re watching on Thursday

🏀 No. 16 Ohio State No. 13 Wisconsin, 7 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Warriors at Shove, 7:30pm on TNT
🏀 BYU at No. 2 Gonzaga, 11 p.m. on ESPN2 The Brooklyn Nets are still the team to beat in the East, plus what’s next for Damian Lillard in Portland?

Charles Jones

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