Providence continues to win close games, and the Nets’ title chances are about to improve
Happy Thursday everyone!
Let’s cut to the chase.
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Hello everyone, but especially to…
It’s a good morning for the brooklyn nets, and they didn’t even have to do anything to earn it. On Wednesday, the mayor of New York Eric Adams he said ‘I can’t wait’ to remove the city’s vaccination mandate – a step that many other major cities on the East Coast have already taken or are in the process of taking.
That means the Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving — who is unvaccinated and has played 14 games (all on the road) this season — could return full time sooner rather than later. This is big news for the Nets, who are eighth in the Eastern Conference and has lost 12 of its last 14 games before the All-Star break.
Brooklyn, of course, traded James Harden for Ben Simmons (and others) and was without Kevin Durant since January 15 — however Durant is making steady progress towards a return from his knee injury. Irving’s potential full-time presence would give Brooklyn the ballscorer they lost in the Harden trade and ease the burden on Simmons as he adjusts to his new team.
Check out the Nets’ net ratings this season:
- Durant and Irving on the court: +14.8 in 82 mins
- Durant on the court, Irving off the court: +3.8 in 1,231 minutes
- Irving on the court, Durant off the court: -3.0 in 425 mins
- Durant and Irving off the field: -4.4 in 1,104 minutes
Yes, it’s an extremely small sample when both stars are on the pitch – too small to do too much – but we don’t really need numbers to know the nets will be scary when all the pieces fall into place. Until Wednesday, we didn’t know if that “when” would ever come. Although we still don’t have an exact date — the vaccine mandate has yet to be officially rescinded, Durant has yet to recover and Simmons has yet to play — it seems to be going in the right direction.
… AND ALSO HELLO TO THE BROTHERS OF PROVIDENCE
It took three extensions, a leaky roof and a defective reading monitor, but No. 11 Providence still controls its own destiny in the Great East after fend off Xavier, 99-92.
- Jared Bynum came off the bench to score a game-high 27 points, including a huge three late in the third overtime.
- All five Providence starters also scored in double figures.
- Providence is now 23-3, and its 13 Big East wins are the most in conference history
If you feel like all Providence does is play tight games, you’re not mistaken. It was the brothers 12th game this season that was decided by five points or less and/or went to overtime. But relatives do not bother them: They are 11-1 in those games.
Close game magic (or luck, or skill, or…whatever you want to call it) creates a metrics nightmare: Brothers are 11th in AP Poll but entered yesterday 28th in the NET ranking, 43rd at Kenpom and 40th in ESPN’s BPI. In the ranking that matters most, they were 15th in Saturday’s 16-team table revealed — good for a 4 seed in the Southern region.
Living on the edge isn’t always the best idea – that’s why some metrics don’t like brothers – but wins are wins, and there’s a reason they win biters more often than not. nails. Seven of the eight players in Providence’s rotation are either seniors or juniors. Saturday against Creightonthe Brothers can do something they have never done before: win a Big East regular season title. They will wake up today tired and sore, but they will also wake up to a game in history. It really is a good morning.
Not so honorable mentions
NBA returns tonight: Lakers have toughest remaining schedule 🏀
The NBA returns tonight after the week-long All-Star break. Although it’s not really the “second half” of the season – each team has played at least 57 of its 82 games – the break has given us time to reassess where things stand and what lies ahead. Our NBA expert Brad Botkin took a look at the remaining strength of the calendar for the 30 teamsand Lakers fans, this is not good news.
Here are the toughest schedules remaining according to Positive Residual:
- 1. Lakers (.552)
- 2. bulls (.552)
- 3. Warriors (.551)
- 4. deer (.537)
- 5. kings (.529)
Remember that the Lakers will have to make their effort (they are currently No. 9 in the West) without Anthony Daviswho is out for several weeks. On the other end of the spectrum, here are the five easiest remaining schedules:
- 26. Heat (.463)
- 27. Pacers (.461)
- 28. riders (.457)
- 29. Magic (.448)
- 30. Nuggets (.427)
Because of this – and other factors – watch out for nuggetsBotkin writes:
- Botkin: “Denver not only has the easiest remaining schedule, but there’s a chance Jamal Murray and or Michael Porter Jr. will come back at some point. The Nuggets are just three losses away from a top-four seed.”
Champions League recap: draws for Atletico-Man United and Benfica-Ajax ⚽
The last two first legs of the Champions League round of 16 took place yesterday with Atlético Madrid draw Manchester United 1-1 and Benfica draw Ajax 2-2. It wasn’t the Red Devils’ best performance, but the 19-year-old substitute Anthony Elanga ensured his side returned to Manchester level with their 80th-minute goal.
Meanwhile in Lisbon, it was an entertaining battle between two high power attacks. Thursday’s action wrapped up all the first legs of the round of 16. Here is where we are:
- Manchester City (5) vs. CP Sports (0)
- Madrid (0) vs. PSG (1)
- Bayern Munich (1) vs. Salzburg (1)
- Liverpool (2) vs. Inter Milano (0)
- Lille (0) vs. Chelsea (2)
- Juventus (1) vs. Villareal (1)
- Ajax (2) vs. Benfica (2)
- Manchester United (1) vs. Atletico de Madrid (1)
If that first score stood out, it should. Manchester City’s dominance over Sporting puts Premier League leaders above football expert James Benge UCL Power Ratings:
- Benge: “Failing to live up to their own high standards, City ripped Sporting apart, securing themselves a place in the last eight with a 5-0 win. The ensuing loss to Tottenham in the Premier League could offer their opponents something new. have a plan – draw the press before hitting fastballs into space behind the high line – but it will indeed take a special performance to execute that plan and prevent this devastating attack from scoring a handful of goals.”
What we’re watching on Thursday 📺
🏒 Capitals at Rangers (-1.5)7 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Celtics (-7) at nets7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 No. 22 Ohio State at No. 15 Illinois (-6)9 p.m. on FS1
🏀 Gonzaga #1 (-9.5) in San Francisco9 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Warriors (-9) at Trail Blazers10 p.m. on TNT