The NBA … where pettiness happens
It isn’t truly basketball season until an on-court scuffle continues days after the incident on social media, as exhibited by Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns last week. After the two seven-footers got into a shoving match during the Sixers big win over Minnesota, the two were ejected from the game and subsequently suspended two games each for the altercation. But in true NBA fashion, the drama was far from over.
This event really had everything: Embiid soaking up the hometown cheers like a snowbird marinating in the Boca Raton sun, Towns’ mother giving Embiid the finger as he went through the tunnel and of course, a back-and-forth, multi-platform social media war between the two after the game. Embiid brought Jimmy Butler into the mix (referring to him as ‘you-know-who’ as if he was Voldemort), dropped a P-bomb on Towns and reminded everybody of the T-Wolves failed postseason efforts. Delicious.
Now, to actual basketball, Steph Curry broke his hand and the Warriors went from running out Curry, Klay, KD and Draymond to a starting five of Ky Bowman (rookie with six career games played), Eric Paschall (ditto), Jordan Poole (ditto again), Glenn Robinson III (4.5 career PPG) and Willie Cauley-Stein (has a tattoo under both eyeballs) in a span of four months. Boy can things turn quickly in the NBA. Golden State sits in second-last place in the West and will be without Curry for 3-4 months after undergoing hand surgery.
The Mavs-Lakers game was incredible, as Luka Dončić and LeBron James went toe-to-toe the whole night. James put up a ridiculous 39-12-16, while the 20-year-old Dončić put up 31-13-15 in an unfortunate loss. It was an instant classic — the only shame is that the Mavs got screwed by a missed call that ultimately cost them the game.
The Raptors have looked great at times and not so great at others; particularly when Lowry and Siakam go to the bench. There hasn’t been too much of that, though, as the 33-year-old Lowry is leading the league with a ridiculous 38.8 minutes per game. VanVleet is second in the league with 37.8. Do you think Nick Nurse trusts his backup guards? Heck, Siakam would probably be up there too if he wasn’t always in foul trouble. The guy is playing like an All-NBA forward, but the one knock so far has been his foul count.
Leafs rocky start, plus big hits in the NHL
The Leafs have really missed John Tavares as of late. Since breaking his finger against Washington two weeks ago, the Leafs have gone 3-4 without their captain. Nylander got benched against the Flyers after a lazy effort led to a Philadelphia goal and if it weren’t for Freddy Andersen bailing them out in the worst shootout ever, it easily could’ve been 2-5. Both Auston Matthews and Dmytro Timashov attempted the Kucherov-accidental-on-purpose-deke-shot against Brian Elliott in the shootout. Both did not work.
The Leafs have had a hard schedule as of late, which is perhaps why the absence of Tavares has seemed so massive, but it’s clear how important J.T. is to the team. The Leafs re-tooled PP1 unit has been depressing without Tavares to carry it.
It was a busy week for big hits and unfortunately, Senators forward Scott Sabourin took the worst of it, as he needed to be stretchered off the ice after laying motionless from a David Backes shoulder-to-head hit. ‘Ah, he just got knocked out, no big deal’, right Don? Ugh.
Milan Lucic sucker punched Kole Sherwood for lightly tapping Mike Smith’s pads after making a save, dropping Sherwood to the ground before adding one more punch in for good measure. He got a nice two game suspension for that one.
A nice, gentlemanly fight occurred in Vegas after Adam Lowry rocked Alex Tuch, causing Ryan Reeves to drop the gloves in defence of his teammate. Both guys calmly talked about it at the ensuing faceoff before slowly removing their gloves. Very polite.
It was a rough couple of days for the Hughes family, as both Jack and Quinn were shaken up over the weekend. Quinn seemed to lose an edge against the Ducks on Saturday, but avoided major damage and is listed as ‘day-to-day’ with a bruised knee. Jack got rocked by Matt Niskanen and appeared to hit his helmet-less head on the boards but was able to return to the game after initially heading to the dressing room.