Tuesday night in the NBA brought 12 teams to the floor, and highlighted the impact Covid-19 and injuries have played early on in the season. The Sixers outlasted the Heat in an OT game where both teams had just eight available players while the injury-riddled Cavs were no match for the Jazz in Cleveland. The Pacers upset the Warriors in Golden State, the Lakers routed the Rockets again with LeBron hitting a Steph-esque no-look 3PM, the Nets fended off the Nuggets after KD’s dagger, and the Spurs took down OKC.
Enjoy PSO’s Game Reviews for NBA Tuesday on January 12th, 2021:
Miami Heat (134) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (137) (OT)
[Highlights] @76ERS (-321; $9.57) d. HEAT (+321; $9.25) 137-134 (OT) [MIA +9 | o212.5]
[Highlights] @NETS (-117; $9.00) d. NUGGETS (+117; $9.16) 122-116 [BKN -1.5 | o230.5]
[Highlights] PACERS (+133; $9.97) d. @WARRIORS (-133; $8.95) 104-95 [IND +3 | u228]
[Highlights] SPURS (-124; $12.10) d. @THUNDER (+124; $8.94) 112-102 [SAS -2.5 | u218.5]
[Highlights] LAKERS (-177; $10.55) d. @ROCKETS (+177; $7.95) 117-100 [LAL -5 | u224]
[Highlights] JAZZ (-655; $10.29) d. @CAVALIERS (+655; $11.66) 117-87 [UTA -12 | u208]
Bron going behind-the-back 👀 pic.twitter.com/lgRbv8KOl9— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 13, 2021
Embiid is doing it all tonight 😤 pic.twitter.com/Q6IwV9o7TA— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 13, 2021
🚨 POSTER ALERT 🚨 pic.twitter.com/BeRYkgtUTC— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 13, 2021
CURRY IS A CHEAT CODE 🔥 pic.twitter.com/pHSGZe1ya5— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 13, 2021
Another CREATIVE JaVale finish on NBA LP! pic.twitter.com/9XNtjhmGMc— NBA (@NBA) January 13, 2021
Caris LeVert euro 🥶 pic.twitter.com/iFr3haLkty— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 13, 2021
👌👌👌👌👌👌👌👌👌— NBA (@NBA) January 13, 2021
Danny Green's career-high 9TH triple! pic.twitter.com/Ee589q18wL
1. LeBron is playing with a new championship swagger and confidence, but AD surprisingly isn’t
The highlight of the night saw LeBron James turn around at his teammates before draining a 3-pointer in a blowout victory in H-Town. The 4x Champ LeBron James is talking the talk, celebrating his big moments, and turning around before his threes are even dropping, which turned out to be in response to an in-game “bet” with Dennis Schroder. While some expected LBJ to have a slow start after the short offseason as a 36-year-old, King James still sits on his throne as the best player in the game, and is playing with as much swagger, confidence, and energy as ever.
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis is finally playing in the League as an NBA Champion. After spending the first seven years of his career trying to crawl to the top, he’s now entering his 9th season on the reigning best team in the league, and favorite to repeat this year. He’s also playing his first year under the lucrative 5y/$190 million contract the Lakers awarded him in the offseason, giving him the seventh largest contract in NBA history. If that doesn’t give a guy confidence, then nothing will. Yet early on in the year, it’s been a quieter AD than most expected and a decrease in production across the board.
Davis is by no means having a bad year in LA. AD is playing like an All-Star, and has shown flashes of his dominance when the Lakers have needed him to. However, he isn’t looking like the unstoppable, aggressive, swagger-filled player the Lakers saw in the bubble. Davis has not been as aggressive on the boards this year, averaging just 8.7 rebounds per game, the fewest since his rookie season. He’s getting to the line HALF as much as he has over the last 4-5 years, and at times has looked like a spot up shooter on the Lakers team, as opposed to a threat on all three levels.
It should be understood that first and foremost, the Lakers are clearly prioritizing Davis’ health this year, as a healthy AD makes LA a runaway title-favorite. Second, AD is spending more time than ever at the PF position, a whopping 88% of the time, which would be 24% more than any other season. As more of a stretch-4 now, Davis isn’t disappointing, shooting as efficiently as ever from the field, and proficiently as ever from three. A subdued AD isn’t a problem for the Lakers, especially as he should alter his energy levels come playoff time, but it’s interesting that LBJ has gained the confidence and swagger many were expecting AD to play with this year.
2. Joel Embiid has officially entered the MVP conversation
Joel Embiid has racked up many accolades early in his NBA career. The 26-year-old is a 3x All-Star, 2x All-NBA 2nd-Teamer, 2x All-NBA Defensive 2nd-Teamer, and was on the All-Rookie 1st Team in 2017. After missing his first two seasons with a foot injury, the 7-footer has lived up to everything and more as the key ingredient of “The Process,” yet in his fifth NBA season, he’s taken yet another jump.
Joel Embiid has officially entered his name as a candidate for the MVP Award, averaging over 26 points and 12 rebounds per game as he leads the team with the most wins in the East. He’s recording career-highs in field goal, three-point, and free-throw percentages, and has been a force on both ends of the floor for the 8-4 Covid-riddled Sixers. Despite Simmons fouling out in regulation on Tuesday, and the Sixers only having eight available guys to begin with, Embiid put the team on his back, sending the game to OT with a 21-foot pull-up jumper with 3.3 seconds left, and scoring 11 of the team’s 17 points in the extra period to beat the Heat.
On Tuesday, Embiid became the first player since 1983-84 with at least 45 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, and five steals in a game. Embiid is by far the best player on the current top team in the Eastern Conference, and the 26-year-old is solidifying himself as one of the best players in the entire league. Embiid’s best finish in the MVP race has been 7th. Considering his massive impact on both ends of the floor so far, that’s destined to change this year.