Good morning, folks. I’m beginning to notice some trends surrounding the playing time of some former Kentucky players and it’s not looking good as the playoffs loom. Let’s talk NBA.
- Let me be a little bit more specific, here. Each NBA team has roughly 20 games left before the regular season officially ends, which means head coaches are going to use this stretch to help determine their rotations heading into the playoffs. So instead of teams playing nine, 10, 11 guys throughout the course of a game, they’ll try to trim that down to seven or eight players that will command the majority of the minutes. Which is smart. Teams shouldn’t be experimenting with new lineups and inserting unseasoned players into high-stakes environments. This way, the team can have a clear and concise plan against whomever they’re matched up against. Because in the NBA playoffs, it is 100 percent about matchups. It’s how the Pelicans were able to sweep the Trail Blazers in the playoffs last season despite being three seeds lower in the Western Conference Standings. Portland simply had no answer for the trigger-happy frontcourt of Anthony Davis and Nikola Mirotic and New Orleans capitalized all over it. During the regular season, teams don’t focus on just one opponent, they focus on building the players within the roster. Once those 82 games are up, it’s time to lock down and pick the best available options that will work best against your playoff matchup.
- So, why am I bringing this all up? Well, it would appear that a few teams that feature some members of the BBNBA are finding themselves on the outside of the playoff roster looking in.
[38-22] Thunder – 112 @ [42-18] Nuggets – 121
- Before we get into which players are falling out the rotation, let’s recap the actual game first.
- Jamal Murray (who is most definitely in the Nuggets playoff rotation) hit a handful of clutch shots down the stretch of this game, including a couple of threes to ice it away for Denver. Murray finished with a BBNBA high 20 points on 8-15 shooting (4-7 from deep) to go along with his five assists, five rebounds, and only one turnover.
- For the Thunder, Nerlens Noel played significant minutes in the fourth quarter and might have finished the game for OKC had he not fouled out with about four minutes left. Even still, the big man played 17 minutes and posted seven points and five rebounds.
- You may notice some names are missing from both of these teams. Starting with OKC, Hamidou Diallo and Patrick Patterson did not appear in this game. Diallo received a DNP-CD for the fourth straight game while Patterson went his third straight game without playing.
- Now, Diallo not finding minutes this late into the season shouldn’t be a surprise. He’s showed potential as someone the franchise can develop but is nowhere near ready for a playoff environment. His minutes have been severely cut over the course of the last month and I wouldn’t expect that to change. He’s a rookie whose skills just aren’t going to be reliable in a potential seven-game series. As for Patterson, he’s currently being replaced. Markieff Morris has taken over Patterson’s spot since the Thunder signed the big man free agent earlier in the month. I mentioned this the other day – and Patterson could easily slide back into the rotation – but it doesn’t bode well for the former Kentucky player at the moment. Thunder head coach Billy Donovan could just be experimenting with a new body and swing Patterson’s minutes back his way in a week or two. But right now, with how poorly Patterson has played this year, the addition of Morris was meant to replace Patterson for the team’s playoff run. We’ll see if Morris can play well enough to keep hold of that spot.
- The last name I’m going to mention is Trey Lyles for the Nuggets. Lyles situation is a bit different than Patterson or Diallo, considering Lyles has been dealing with a hamstring injury that has sidelined him the last three games. But even before the injury, it felt like Lyles was already being pushed out of the lineup. Lyles had a string of four games in a row to start February where he topped double-digits in scoring and was averaging over 16 points and 20 minutes per game. Then the following two games he played a total of 13 minutes before missing the next three. This has been Lyles season all year long. No consistency with sprinkles of reliable basketball. With how loaded the Nuggets are on the bench, Lyles could very easily find himself outside of the team’s playoff rotation.
- Jodie Meeks played his second game since signing a 10-day contract with the Toronto Raptors, putting up five points on 2-4 shooting with two rebounds in seven minutes. The Raptors smacked the Boston Celtics by a score of 118-95 in Toronto.
- Kevin Knox had a rough shooting night against the Orlando Magic, making only three of his 16 shot attempts for eight points, but his Knicks team still earned the win at home.
- Check out the full stat sheet below.
|Jamal Murray (DEN)||121-112 W vs. OKC||20||8-15 (4-7)||5||5||0||0||1||+16||32|
|Kevin Knox (NYK)||108-103 W vs. ORL||8||3-16 (0-2)||5||2||0||0||2||-18||27|
|Nerlens Noel (OKC)||112-121 L @ DEN||7||3-4 (0-0)||5||1||1||1||2||+14||17|
|Jodie Meeks (TOR)||118-95 W vs. BOS||5||2-4 (1-3)||2||1||0||0||0||0||7|
|Jarred Vanderbilt (DEN)||121-112 W vs. OKC||0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||-2||>1|
|Isaiah Briscoe (ORL)||103-108 L @ NYK||DNP-Concussion||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Trey Lyles (DEN)||121-112 W vs. OKC||DNP-Hamstring||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Patrick Patterson (OKC)||112-121 L @ DEN||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||---|
|Hamidou Diallo (OKC)||112-121 L @ DEN||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TONIGHT IN THE NBA
7:00: Rockets (Jones) @ Hornets (Kidd-Gilchrist, Monk)
7:30: Timberwolves (Towns) @ Hawks (Poythress)
7:30: Wizards (Wall-out) @ Nets
7:30: Warriors (Cousins) @ Heat (Adebayo)
8:00 (ESPN): Trail Blazers (Labissiere, Kanter) @ Celtics
8:00: Bulls @ Grizzlies
8:30: Pistons @ Spurs
8:30: Pacers @ Mavericks
9:00: Clippers (Gilgeous-Alexander) @ Jazz
10:00: Bucks (Bledsoe) @ Kings (Cauley-Stein, Fox)
10:30 (ESPN): Pelicans (Davis-?, Miller-probable, Randle) @ Lakers (Rondo)