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Sports NBA bubble takeaways: Warren and Lowry steal the show, Sixers stumble

10:51  02 august  2020
10:51  02 august  2020 Source:   thescore.com

Kyle Lowry, Raptors took off the bubble wrap to compete vs. Lakers

  Kyle Lowry, Raptors took off the bubble wrap to compete vs. Lakers Toronto's point guard had a big night against LeBron and Co. as the defending champs made an emphatic return to the court.Ease into the postseason like their coach wants? Nope. They knew who was on the other end of the floor. They knew they couldn't go half-speed.

The bubble atmosphere is unique. When viewing a TV broadcast of the scrimmages, nothing feels particularly weird or off during the In both places, I was able to tell stories about the team stemming from my perspective, which is largely built on the strategic elements of the game of basketball .

Damian Lillard was also brilliant, and there are reasons to believe the Nets can actually eliminate the Sixers .

T.J. Warren et al. standing in front of a crowd © David Dow / NBA / Getty Images

With five more games in the books, all 22 teams in the NBA's Disney World restart have now played at least once. Here are three takeaways from Saturday's action:

Don't sleep on T.J. Warren

I'm not saying you should've seen a 53-point explosion coming from a guy who had never scored more than 40 in a game or averaged 20-plus in a season, but Warren has been an impressive scorer for longer than most people have been willing to admit.

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NBA BUBBLE RESTART: Bucks, LeBron James among those with most to gain in restarted season. And Williamson’s return to the NBA bubble after a family emergency is a breath of fresh air because Toronto is the defending champ, it has a ton experience with Kyle Lowry , Pascal Siakam

He's currently ninth in NBA scoring with 26.7 points per game, thanks to a refined offensive repertoire both inside the paint and on the perimeter. Davishas helped transform the Los Angeles Lakers into one of the league's top defensive outfits, too, putting him in the running for this season's Defensive Player

He steadily improved over five years in Phoenix on a mostly dysfunctional Suns team, which led many pundits to dismiss his individual offensive accomplishments. As is often the case for players in Warren's position, his numbers were tossed aside under the pretence that "someone has to score" on a bad team.

Yet if anyone actually took the time to dig into Warren's numbers, they would've seen a player who, like Devin Booker - although obviously less prolific - wasn't just scoring on a bad team. He was scoring efficiently on a bad team, which isn't easy to do when you're putting up a decent amount of shots without much supporting talent around you to share defensive attention.

Despite the fact the Suns had a solid, improving young scorer on their hands who was locked into a team-friendly contract, Phoenix traded Warren to Indiana without recouping any tangible value. Sure, the Suns were able to sign Ricky Rubio - a much better fit for Phoenix - after parting with Warren, but the fact the Pacers only needed to part with cash considerations and actually acquired draft assets in picking Warren up shows how undervalued the 26-year-old was.

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The Sixers were able to feed off a lineup change to claim a 103-92 Game 4 win over the Celtics and avoid elimination. The Sixers are going to use the 2020 bubble season to experiment with a bunch of new ideas, from Shake Milton at point guard to Ben Simmons' new three-point range.

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As the 76ers are now painfully aware following a 53-point outburst on 69% shooting, Warren can score in a variety of ways from a number of spots around the court, whether he's putting the ball on the floor or catching and shooting.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by theScore

Warren is now averaging 19.2 points on 54-40-82 shooting this season, emerging as the leading scorer on a team playing at a 49-win pace despite dealing with a number of injuries to key players at various points in the year. On Saturday alone, the Pacers were missing Malcolm Brogdon and All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis.

Over the last three seasons, Warren's averaging 19 points on 57% true shooting. Not bad for a guy who was literally traded for cash and is set to earn less than $13 million in each of the next two seasons.

Kyle Lowry's superstar impact

a group of people sitting at a basketball game: Bill Baptist / NBA / Getty Images © Provided by theScore Bill Baptist / NBA / Getty Images

Undersized point guards who put their bodies on the line and play heavy minutes are supposed to be breaking down by their mid-30s, yet, as he showed in the defending champion Raptors' bubble debut, Kyle Lowry is somehow playing some of the best basketball of his Hall of Fame career at age 34.

No shortage of points scored inside the NBA's bubble

  No shortage of points scored inside the NBA's bubble LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The last time there was a slate of five or more NBA games on the same day, with every team scoring at least 110 points, was more than 32 years ago. That is, until the opening of the league's so-called bubble amid the coronavirus pandemic — where it already has happened twice. Scoring numbers are soaring inside the NBA’s bubble, where the restarted season is happening at Walt Disney World. Entering Sunday’s games, 17 of the 22 teams inside the bubble were exceeding what had been their scoring averages before the season was suspended on March 11 because of COVID-19. Games on average have seen nine points more than what had been the norm this season.

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Lowry gave the Lakers a steady diet of all that makes him great throughout the contest on Saturday night.

The six-time All-Star scored a game-high 33 points on 50% shooting, pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds - against a top-five rebounding team, no less - and dished out six assists while finishing plus-24 in his 35 minutes of action. Put another way, the guy who grabbed four more rebounds than anyone else on the court is a 6-foot guard who also combined to score or create 46 points on 32 possessions.

And that's barely scratching the surface of his overall impact on Toronto's 107-92 win.

Lowry's long been hailed as a basketball genius whose greatest contributions come in the hidden areas of the game the stat sheet doesn't always pick up. Against the Lakers, he served as an impact rim protector by showing off his knowledge of opposing offenses and timing his help-defense to perfection, including on drives by LeBron James. He also continues to be an effective screener on inverted pick-and-rolls, with the Raptors once again digging up gold by having Lowry screen for Pascal Siakam in the closing minutes of a close game:

Embiid wants 76ers to play boos during their seeding games

  Embiid wants 76ers to play boos during their seeding games Joel Embiid has a compelling idea to motivate the Philadelphia 76ers during their games inside the bubble. "We need some boos in here," he said on the "Rights to Ricky Sanchez" podcast. "I think that's what gets us going." Embiid's proposal is rooted in familiarity, as the 76ers have heard booing from their fans in Philadelphia in recent months. Their displeasure was even heard during their first game of the 2019 postseason, prompting a postgame response from Ben Simmons in which he told booing fans "to stay on that side."Embiid theorizes that hearing the anger from fans again might help the squad bust out of any slumps.

LeBron James' late putback layup capped a thrilling NBA bubble debut. George threatened to steal the victory for the shorthanded Clippers, who started bubble play without Montezl Harrell and Lou Williams, neither of whom has yet been cleared to play.

This is T.J. Warren ’s bubble , the NBA is just living in it.Source:Getty Images. Just when we all Warren helped lead the Pacers to a big time 127-121 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday The win takes the Pacers to 41-26 on the season and extends their lead over the Sixers who sit in

Tally it all up, and whether you're the type of observer who geeks out on those hidden details, or merely a casual fan who wants to see traditional production, one thing was abundantly clear on national television Saturday night; in a game featuring James, four total All-Stars, and three likely All-NBA selections, Lowry was undoubtedly the best player on the court.

With all due respect to Siakam, Lowry remains the most valuable contributor on a Raptors team playing at a 59-win pace. The 14-year vet is averaging 20 points, 7.6 assists, and five rebounds on 59.2% true shooting. That's the type of season only guys named Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Chris Paul, LeBron James, and James Harden have put together before.

Sixers' bubble debut spoiled by same old issues

Ben Simmons et al. walking on the court: Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBA / Getty Images © Provided by theScore Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBA / Getty Images

Philadelphia entered the restart as perhaps the league's most fascinating team for a number of reasons, but if their Disney opener is any indication, the same issues continue to plague this disappointing contender, as the 76ers lost to a Sabonis-less, Brogdon-less Pacers team that also had to deal with Myles Turner being limited by foul trouble.

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For one, a Sixers team that has been undone by turnovers for the entirety of the Brett Brown era coughed it up 21 times against the Pacers. To put that in perspective, Philly only recorded 20 assists.

The team also still looks woefully dependent on Joel Embiid, as the Sixers were plus-21 in 34 minutes with the big man on the court, but an unfathomable minus-27 in just 14 minutes with Embiid on the bench. Al Horford, meanwhile - who the Sixers owe up to $81 million over the next three years - still looks two steps slow coming off the bench.

Oh, and there was a little bit of infighting.

If there's a positive to be found in Saturday's loss - aside from Embiid's individual domination - it's that the team's more sensible starting five, which now includes Shake Milton's shooting in place of Horford, and Ben Simmons at power forward, did score in ways the Sixers have struggled to in the past. Though it was an extremely small sample size, if Philly can find a way to build on that while maintaining its terrifying defensive upside, a legitimate contender still lies within.

The counter to that, of course, is that we're talking about a sixth-place team after a loss in game no. 66. At what point do we stop waiting for the Sixers to realize some perceived potential we all assume is there, and just accept that the dysfunctional, 39-27 team in front of us might be exactly who they are?

Copyright © 2020 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.


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