New York, New York: What we realized from a uncommon NBA doubleheader

1:20 AM ET

Tim BontempsESPN


NEW YORK — Black Friday supplied NBA followers within the Huge Apple a uncommon deal with: the possibility to absorb two video games in in the future.

Between the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets enjoying at Barclays Heart on Friday afternoon and the Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks squaring off at Madison Sq. Backyard on Friday evening, followers might — in the event that they selected — soak up 4 of the 5 Atlantic Division groups just by taking a fast subway trip.


We did simply that — and, within the course of, obtained an opportunity to take a snapshot take a look at all 4 of them because the NBA season is 20% full. Here is what we noticed:

The Nets have received 5 of their previous six video games, all with out Kyrie Irving. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE through Getty Photographs

In the course of a timeout in the course of the Celtics-Nets sport, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving stood on the courtroom laughing and joking with each other.

Sadly for the Nets, although, they did so sporting go well with jackets and slacks.

However whereas Durant, Irving and Caris LeVert proceed to take a seat out with accidents, Brooklyn earned a 112-107 victory over Boston due to standout showings from Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen — the sort that enable the Nets to hope they’ll proceed their latest sizzling streak as soon as they start to get their large names again on the courtroom.

The Nets are actually 6-2 with out Irving after Friday’s win — a stretch throughout which Dinwiddie has taken on the problem of being the crew’s lead playmaker with aplomb.

“Simply persevering with to progress yearly,” mentioned Dinwiddie, who had 32 factors and 11 assists Friday and is averaging 24.5 factors and seven.eight assists since Irving left the lineup. “I used to be simply attempting to strike a stability tonight between passing and scoring and work out my function because it continues to shift round after we get wholesome and are not injured.”

Dinwiddie has performed alongside Irving loads to this point this season, too — simply as he did alongside D’Angelo Russell final season — and that can proceed as soon as Irving comes again. Dinwiddie’s dimension and size at 6-foot-6 make him an ideal complement to Irving.

Allen, although, won’t be enjoying subsequent to DeAndre Jordan, the person he is alternated time with this season — which is why his play throughout this streak, by which he is averaged 15.6 factors and 12.6 rebounds whereas capturing 72.5% from the ground, has the Nets so enthusiastic about what lies forward.

“[Nets coach] Kenny [Atkinson] challenged him in movie one sport to not be as up and down, however to simply be up, and to play at that stage,” ahead Garrett Temple informed ESPN. “‘We see that you would be able to and we want you to be at that stage to achieve success,’ and he is taken that problem head on and he is been wonderful.

“I feel he understands what he can do, and he is stepped into that function. ‘I will be this dominant inside and my crew wants me to be dominant so I’ll be dominant like that.'”

The Nets nonetheless have loads to type out. The offense will inevitably look totally different every time Irving comes again — which, after he returned to on-court work Friday, seems to be getting nearer. LeVert’s return will come a pair weeks after that. However, as they watch for these guys to return, the Nets have to be ok with what they’re seeing of their absence.

The Celtics are 7-Zero at house this season, however their loss Friday dropped them to 6-5 on the highway. Emilee Chinn/Getty Photographs

On the primary two possessions of the second half of Celtics-Nets, Boston heart Daniel Theis missed a brief runner within the lane, then watched Allen go proper previous him for an offensive rebound and a putback dunk.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens had had sufficient. Enes Kanter checked into the sport for Theis 33 seconds into the third quarter, and Theis remained anchored to the bench for the rest of the sport.

“He was obtainable,” Stevens mentioned when requested about Theis after the sport.

“We have talked about all of it yr, we’ll have a rotating heart spot. Now that Enes is getting more healthy, I assumed that Enes was actually good within the first half, and so we went with Enes early.”

Later, in reference to a query about Allen, Stevens made his true emotions recognized.

“I feel we began three of the 4 halves we performed within the final three days with a Jarrett Allen dunk,” Stevens mentioned, “which isn’t a great way to begin from the Celtics’ [point] of view.”

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Theis has been a big a part of why Boston has gotten off to such a powerful begin, however his benching Friday was simply the most recent instance of the sport of musical chairs Stevens has been enjoying along with his supporting solid all season, in an effort to search out usable rotation items.

To this point, it has been a principally barren pursuit.

Of the gamers behind the crew’s perimeter stalwarts — Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Marcus Sensible — the one choice who has been serviceable is Brad Wanamaker, who has capably dealt with the crew’s backup level guard minutes. However Grant Williams and Carsen Edwards — two of the crew’s three rookies drafted among the many high 33 picks in June — have struggled mightily. The third, Romeo Langford, made a 14-second cameo Oct. 30 and hasn’t been seen in a sport since. Semi Ojeleye, a third-year ahead, stays an at-best inconsistent spot-up shooter on the perimeter.

The struggles by the rookies have stood out. After going Zero-for-2 towards the Nets, Williams is now simply 12-for-49 (24.5%) from the sphere — together with Zero-for-21 from Three-point vary. There won’t be an individual higher suited to coping with such a droop, nonetheless, than Williams, who’s equally each a sunny persona and a really assured one. However that may do solely a lot.

“Generally, you simply miss them,” he mentioned, referring to his oh-fer streak from Three-point vary. “However finally they’re going to begin falling, and I really feel like they’re going to fall when the crew wants them, particularly. So I’ve obtained the utmost confidence in it to maintain capturing them and let it fly.”

Edwards additionally is not shy. He additionally has struggled mightily. He’s now 23-for-73 (31.5%) on the season, and 14-for-43 from Three-point vary. Greater than half of his whole made baskets this season got here in simply two video games, towards the porous defenses of Washington and Cleveland. Take out these two video games and Edwards is capturing 20% (11-for-55) general and 20.6% (7-for-34) from Three.

“It is a powerful adjustment,” Edwards mentioned Friday. “I am nonetheless attempting to be taught. On the finish of the day, I am simply studying and attempting to do the perfect I can.”

The identical will be mentioned for all of Boston’s younger gamers. And, at 13-5, the Celtics are exceeding expectations. However for a crew that has aspirations of a deep playoff run, these last rotation spots all bear watching.

David Fizdale’s Knicks are off to their worst begin since 2014-15. Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports activities

Throughout a timeout within the fourth quarter at Madison Sq. Backyard, the in-arena digicam confirmed singer Mary J. Blige sitting on movie star row as her track “Household Affair” blared by way of the world’s audio system.

The Knicks’ season, nonetheless, hasn’t precisely been percolating.

The Knicks constructed up a 16-point first half lead Friday, solely to observe it instantly evaporate after halftime. The way more proficient Sixers, who appeared fully unmotivated within the first half, determined it was time to get up and begin enjoying, and went on to win 101-95.

Shedding an enormous result in the 76ers for the second time in two weeks is not practically as disconcerting because the haphazard manner the Knicks are progressing by way of this season.

New York is tied with the Atlanta Hawks for the worst document within the Jap Convention at Four-15. However it seems the crew remains to be extra centered on attempting to win than attempting to see what it has in its younger gamers. That’s the solely clarification for Kevin Knox, the No. 9 choose in final yr’s NBA draft, getting a DNP-CD Friday evening.

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“The stream of the sport,” Knicks coach David Fizdale mentioned afterward when requested why Knox did not play.

“However on no account is Kevin buried. He will should combat his manner out of it. I obtained a variety of confidence that he’ll.”

There is not a ton of proof to this point in his profession that Knox goes to be an excellent NBA participant. He’s capturing 38% from the sphere this season (although, to be truthful, he is additionally capturing that from Three-point vary, the place it’s a respectable mark). However whether or not there’s proof or not needs to be irrelevant for a Knicks crew that wasn’t anticipated to be aggressive this season by anybody exterior the group.

The crew’s aim ought to have been to search out out what it has in Knox, Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett and Frank Ntilikina. Nothing ought to get in the way in which of that — particularly after the dreadful begin ought to have eradicated from the equation the faint notion that this crew could be good.

However, in Fizdale’s protection, that is the place the crew put him. After a loss to the Cavaliers earlier this month, crew executives Steve Mills and Scott Perry — on the behest of proprietor James Dolan — held an impromptu information convention and declared, “We expect the crew is just not performing to the extent that we anticipated or we anticipated to carry out at, and that is one thing that we expect we collectively should do a greater job of delivering the product on the ground that we mentioned we might do at first of this season.”

There may be nonetheless loads of time for the Knicks to shift their priorities to the issues that ought to matter: totally specializing in the event of these younger gamers. Till they do, nonetheless, an unpleasant season will solely proceed to get uglier.

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Joel Embiid racks up a game-high 27 factors and 17 rebounds whereas Ben Simmons provides 15 factors and eight assists because the 76ers beat the Knicks 101-95.

There may be one theme that has been persistently apparent about Philadelphia’s begin to its season, and it was on show once more Friday, even in a halfhearted victory over an overmatched Knicks crew. It has been one thing Sixers coach Brett Brown has mentioned repeatedly, together with earlier than Friday’s sport: The offense has to meet up with the protection.

The numbers bear that out. The Sixers now have the NBA’s third-best defensive effectivity, and are inside a half-point of getting the top-ranked unit. Offensively, nonetheless, Philadelphia ranks simply 18th within the league.

“We simply actually have to search out our stream,” ahead Tobias Harris mentioned. “We have now to maneuver our our bodies somewhat extra and simply execute.

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“Some video games we do one of many three, or two of the three. However when it is good, and we’re clicking, it seems to be actual good. We’re not going to be excellent, however we have now some strides to make at that finish.”

It was at all times going to be a piece in progress for the Sixers at that finish of the courtroom. In contrast to virtually each different crew within the league, the Sixers are counting on dimension and power to provide factors, fairly than spacing and capturing. It is a combine that’s going to want time to be sorted out.

However there are indicators that it’s going to work. That beginning 5, within the restricted minutes it has performed collectively, has impressed, outscoring opponents by 21.Three factors per 100 possessions. However the truth that the group has appeared in solely 9 of Philadelphia’s 19 video games — and for a complete of 102 minutes — is a well-recognized improvement. The Sixers had related points getting their finest gamers on the ground collectively final season.

“I really feel like we obtained into an excellent stream,” mentioned guard Ben Simmons, who had 15 factors and eight assists Friday. “There’s ups and downs, which occurs, however we’re form of discovering it.”

There have been flashes of what the Sixers will be — like their opening evening win towards the Celtics and final Saturday’s demolition of the Miami Warmth, each coming in Philadelphia. The 13-6 document is not dangerous, both. However there’s nonetheless a lot work to be accomplished if the Sixers are going to be the crew they hope to change into.