Some of the greatest joys from the NBA’s return to action have been the storylines that emerged to captivate the attention of the bubble. In a league that delivers drama and intensity on a nightly basis, here are three of the most memorable storylines from the NBA’s seeding games.
Damian Lillard’s dazzling run in Disney
Michael Jordan made it abundantly clear during “The Last Dance” that great players are continually searching for a reason to get angry and subsequently raise their game. Damian Lillard is a great player who is officially ticked off. You don’t need to be an accomplished lip reader to see that Lillard has no qualms about letting that passion and anger show.
Lillard capped off what has been one of the most impressive stretches of basketball in recent history with a 42-point performance in Portland’s victory over the Brooklyn Nets. In a game in which a win meant securing a spot in the play-in game, and a loss meant packing their bags and leaving the NBA’s bubble, Lillard delivered when the stakes were at their highest. The Nets desperately tried to force the ball out of Lillard’s hands through double teams and matchup zone defenses, but Lillard was prepared. It’s impossible to double someone when they pull-up from the center court logo.
T.J. Warren has been one of the best stories of the NBA restart in Orlando, and he’s doing it despite some foot issues.
Warren played through a foot issue during Indiana’s loss to Miami on Monday. He was ruled out for the team’s game on Wednesday against Houston due to his foot.
Pacers head coach Nate McMillan says that Warren has plantar fasciitis.
The good news for Pacers fans is that ESPN’s Tim MacMahon says Warren’s injury is not considered serious.
Warren likely will not play on Friday, which is Indiana’s final game before the playoffs begin. However, both MacMahon and Indianapolis Star reporter J. Michael say Warren should be available for the playoffs.
The 26-year-old guard was acquired by Indiana in a trade with Phoenix last year. He opened up the restart with a 53-point game and has had three other games since of at least 32 points. He’s averaging 19.8 points per game so far this season.
I truly admire any Phoenix Suns fan that hasn’t made the plunge into the cesspool of all-out pessimism by now. Because this season is certainly giving them more than enough reasons to do so.
According to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Tuesday, Suns forward T.J. Warren will miss the remainder of the 2015-16 season with a broken right foot.
An MRI taken on Warren’s foot Monday is said to have revealed the diagnosis. Wojnarowski also reports that it is not know at this time if Warren will require surgery, but that he is expected to make a full recovery.
Warren, 22, finishes the year with averages of 11.0 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game. A smart cutter with a high basketball IQ and quietly top-notch one-on-one defense, Warren had been coming into his own as an impactful rotation player off the Suns’ bench in his second season.
This is just the latest catastrophe in a season chock full of them for the Phoenix. Star guard Eric Bledsoe has already been lost for the year with a torn meniscus, and the team just fired head coach Jeff Hornacek as they currently sit at an unsightly 14-35 record.
Warren, the NC State product, looks like a piece the Suns can build around long-term, so hopefully he takes the rest of this lost campaign to get healthy for the future.
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