Orlando Magic Jersey

In his second year with the Orlando Magic, Bismack Biyombo took a step back. Biyombo’s massive contract looms large as the offseason approaches.

It is no secret, but not much went right for the Orlando Magic this past season. Injuries and overall poor play shut down a scorching start.

For Bismack Biyombo, the 2018 season was also one to forget. He saw a drop in numbers across the board, even with a chance to take over for Nikola Vucevic, who missed plenty of games due to injury.

One of the team’s highest-paid players, Biyombo has been relegated to the bench. His strong defensive play just cannot outweigh his offensive limitations. Still, Biyombo received plenty of playing time last year.

As fans clamored for Khem Birch to take over his role, Bismack Biyombo felt his role as the primary backup big slip. He still managed to garner playing time and was the only player to play in all 82 games, but Khem Birch appeared just as a effective, and at a fraction of the cost.

Without a role, and the youth creeping up behind him, his future in Central Florida will be an interesting case study. He is probably one of the best defensive big men on the roster, but with his price tag and flawed game, will he be worth keeping around for three more seasons?

Scattered throughout the season, Biyombo showed flashes of what he was signed to do. Protect the rim, snatch rebounds and be available for easy lobs at the rim. Those games just did not come around enough to stop the losses from piling up.

Despite all the issues, he was someone head coach Frank Vogel could count on. A veteran who has played in Eastern Conference Finals, as well as lottery bound squads, Biyombo has seen it all.

That contract hangs over his head, but figuring out the right role for him remains elusive.

 

Philadelphia 76ers Jersey

The Philadelphia 76ers will attempt to begin a new winning streak after losing to the Miami Heat 113-103. The series is now tied 1-1 with Game 3 to be played in Miami on Thursday night.

The Philadelphia 76ers, down all night, fought to climb back to within two points of Miami with three minutes left. Miami substituted Dwyane Wade back into the game while the 76ers countered with Robert Covington. Miami promptly went on an 8-0 run and held on to win game two of this series.

Philadelphia 76ers, welcome to the real NBA playoffs. Throw out the first game where Miami played a disinterested second half. In game two, Miami played aggressively all night and Philly received their first playoff punch in the face. Game two will be a better representation of how Miami will play the rest of the series. It will be interesting to see how Philly responds on Thursday. Now for the analyzing part, and it’s not pretty.
STARTERS — ADVANTAGE HEAT

Goren Dragic and James Johnson both had excellent games, combining for 38 points on 15-21 shooting. Josh Richardson provided support with 14 points and was a solid defensive presence.

The Sixers were led by Ben Simmons and Dario Saric, who combined for 47 points on 18-38 shooting, however Saric also had five turnovers. Robert Covington was only 3-13 shooting and J.J. Redick 4-13.
BENCH — ADVANTAGE HEAT

It helps Miami to bring a still-effective top 50 player of all-time off their bench. Dwyane Wade was the difference tonight, scoring 28 points on 11-17 shooting. Miami also received contributions from Wayne Ellington and Kelly Olynyk with 11 points each.
COACHING — ADVANTAGE HEAT

Brett Brown was heard in a third quarter huddle telling the 76ers when Miami overplayed them on the perimeter to take the ball to the basket. Brown should have told the Sixers that in the second quarter when Miami began to exert their defensive dominance.

When it became apparent that Miami was going to stick to the 76ers’ shooters all evening, Brown should have instructed Simmons back down his defender earlier and have the other Sixers screen away from Simmons.

Why does T.J. McConnell get minutes in the second half and not Markelle Fultz? This would have been a good learning experience for Fultz. It would have been good for Fultz’s growth to play regular minutes in a game where the 76ers struggle.

By not playing him, Brown may set Fultz back emotionally. Fultz, who may still be in a fragile mental state anyway, may be questioning why he didn’t play. Brett Brown, I have news for you — T.J. is not the answer for a spark off the bench.

The 76ers had a team on the floor that cut the Miami lead from 12 to two points late in the fourth quarter. Why substitute? Finish with what got you there. The time outs are twice as long, so fatigue should not be an issue. Hopefully Brown is not going to over-rely on his tank players.

PLAYING STYLE — ADVANTAGE HEAT

Miami was aggressive defensively and it showed on the Sixers shooing only 42 percent for the game and an anemic 20 percent from three. Miami wasn’t much better, however Miami had players that could go one-on-one and get their own shot. Philly does not.

At half time both Miami and Philly had only nine assists to nine turnovers, however Miami could break down the Sixer defenders going one-on-one. Also the Philly defenders would run out too hard on shooters, allowing the Miami players to drive by them.
REF REPORT

Not a big fan of either Tony Brothers or Scott Foster, however Miami was the aggressor and was rewarded by the officials. Only issue was all the illegal screens most of the Miami players set most of the evening, not just Hassan Whiteside.

Phoenix Suns Jersey

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns still have one more game on tap for the regular season, but the franchise will finish with the worst record in the NBA after the Suns fell to the Warriors 117-100 on Sunday.

Phoenix has the worst record in the NBA by 2.5 games since the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Pistons.

This entails that the Suns will have the highest chances of landing the No. 1 overall pick of the NBA Draft during the lottery process with a current 20-61 record.

If the Suns receive the No. 1 pick of the NBA Draft, it’s highly possible that Arizona’s superstar big man Deandre Ayton will begin his professional career just up Interstate-10 in Phoenix, a city he’s familiar with considering he played high school ball at Hillcrest Prep after moving from Nassau, Bahamas.

How does the draft lottery work? The 14 teams that didn’t make the playoffs are entered in the lottery to determine the draft order with a different number of ping-pong balls. The ping-pong balls are placed into a machine, and the team with the worst record receives the most combinations of balls to land the No. 1 overall pick while the team with the 14th-worst record has the least amount of combinations.

Behind closed doors, the 14 ping-pong balls are mixed in a lottery machine, with 1,001 possible combinations, and after the top three picks are randomly selected, picks No. 4 through 14 will be in order from worst-to-best record.

The Suns right now have a 25 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick, a 21.5 percent chance at the No. 2 pick and a 17.7 percent chance at the No. 3 pick. The Grizzlies have a 19.9 percent chance at the No. 1 pick with Dallas (13.9) and Atlanta (13.8) right behind according to Tankathon.

Ayton is projected to be the No. 1 pick by Sports Illustrated and ESPN among others. Ayton went on CBS Sports Radio at the end of March and alluded that he wouldn’t mind playing in Phoenix, particularly with rising star Devin Booker.

“Honestly, I could see myself in Phoenix. I could see a little Shaq and Kobe 2.0,” Ayton said.

The NBA Draft order will be revealed on May 15 in Chicago followed by the combine, which runs from May 16-20. The NBA Draft will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on June 21.

Portland Trail Blazers Jersey

Portland Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers will have a measure of revenge on their minds when they play host to the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night at Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

On Wednesday at the FedEx Forum, the Grizzlies scored a come-from-behind 108-103 victory over the Trail Blazers that could have an impact on Portland’s finish in the Western Conference playoff race.

The Trail Blazers (47-29) can secure their fifth consecutive postseason berth with a win on Sunday are also trying to clinch the third seed in the West playoffs. Their magic number is four in their last six regular-season games to gain the No. 3 spot over the San Antonio Spurs. Portland can’t afford a repeat of what happened at Memphis.

“We have to get Memphis back for that one,” Trail Blazers forward/center Zach Collins said. “We felt like we shouldn’t have lost that game at Memphis. We should have finished that road trip strong.”

The Grizzlies (21-55) have long been out of the playoff picture.

“They’re playing free and loose right now,” Collins said. “They’re getting up and down (with a fast-break offense). We have to be ready for that.”

“We were up seven points with five minutes left and lost,” said Portland guard CJ McCollum, who scored 42 points in the game at FedEx Forum. “But credit (the Grizzlies). They fought back and took the game from us. We have to be ready to compete and come out here and make the statement.

“We know they’re going to go out there and play hard. They have a lot of guys trying to compete for minutes, to establish themselves in the NBA or to get new contracts.”

The Blazers will be without starting small forward Moe Harkless (knee) and reserve power forward Ed Davis (ankle). Point guard Damian Lillard returned to action Friday after the birth of his first child, Damian Jr., compiling 17 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in a 105-96 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at Moda Center.

The Grizzlies are giving substantial minutes to reserves as they play out the season. Some people call it tanking; others say it is developing younger players. Center Marc Gasol is an example. In Friday’s 107-97 loss at Utah, the Grizzlies’ best player was 11 for 12 from the field, including 6 for 7 from 3-point range, while scoring 28 points in only 23 minutes. He didn’t play the final 16 minutes.

Gasol played the good soldier but seemed irritated by the lack of playing time.

“They’re just trying to compete,” Gasol said of the Memphis substitutes who were seeing more action. “I’m trying to help them with details and tell them where to be. Small things matter a lot, especially at the defensive end.”

Sunday night’s game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. Brian Wheeler and Michael Holton will have the call on Rip City Radio 620 AM.