🏀 The Green Machine

Plus, how did OKC get here?

If you think you had a bad weekend, at least you didn’t lose a basketball game by 52 points on national TV. And if, for some reason, you did lose a basketball game by 52 points on national TV… maybe avoid today’s newsletter.

Today’s Lineup

⭐ Last Night’s Action: The Green Machine
Was Sunday’s 52-point win the C’s most impressive yet?

👑 Weekend Wrap-Up: 40K for the King
LeBron stands alone.

Rebuild Recap
How did the Thunder get here?

Sunday’s ⭐-Studded Slate

Celtics crush Warriors 140-88 (yes, really.)

When you’re as good as Boston is (48-12), there aren’t many more “statements” to make. Needless to say, this game still felt like one.

The C’s ended the first quarter on a 21-1 run and it got WAY uglier from there, as they beat Golden State (32-28) by 52 points. The Warriors’ starting lineup scored 33 points total. This was a decimation.

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Maxey leads Sixers over Mavericks 120-116 in morning duel

No Joel Embiid, no probl—well, that’s actually a pretty big problem. But Philadelphia (35-25) did still win this game! Tyrese Maxey came out blazing with 15 points in the first quarter and a late Dallas (34-27) run came up short as the Sixers held on for dear life. Luka Doncic posted a cool 38/11/10.

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Clippers beat Wolves 89-88 in old-school defensive battle

Maybe Golden State thought they were playing in this game? Who knows. Anyway, talk about a grinder—we don’t usually see games finish with both teams scoring under 90, especially two great teams like LA (39-20) and Minnesota (42-19). A last-minute Kawhi Leonard and-1 was the deciding factor in this one.

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Thunder survive scary third quarter, beat Suns 118-110

Good teams respond, and Oklahoma City (41-18) responded last night. After the Thunder had built a big first-half lead, Phoenix (35-26) came all the way back by getting hot from deep. But the always-cool Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (35 PTS, 9 AST) steadied the ship and OKC prevailed in the end. These kids are serious!

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Elsewhere around the Association…

  • Charlotte was down late by double-digits and almost stormed back against Toronto… but didn’t. Raps won 111-106, Immanuel Quickley posted 22 & 11.

  • Watch out for Orlando! The Magic are getting hot again—they’re 5-1 post-All Star break after beating the Pistons 113-91 last night. Paolo Banchero had 29 for the second straight game.

  • The Knicks got the 107-98 win against the Cavs, but may have suffered a loss in the process. Jalen Brunson left early with a knee contusion and didn’t return, but initial x-rays fortunately came back negative.

  • We can’t remember a player evolving as quickly as Victor Wembanyama has in his rookie season—and he was already really, really good. 31 points, 12 rebounds, and six blocks for the Spurs’ phenom in San Antonio’s 12-point win over Indiana.

40K for LeBron!

Very few hoopers reach a point where they’re only competing against themselves in the record books, but that’s what LeBron James is doing in year 21. On Saturday, with this layup, he became the first NBA player ever to score 40,000 career points. Young NBA fans probably don’t remember life without LeBron in the league, so we can’t take for granted that this man has the type of talent that we may never see again.

Do you remember LeBron's first basket?

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Weekend Wrap-Up

Though LeBron passing 40K was the story of the weekend, there were some other notable moments as well:

  • The Heat are showing signs of life! Jimmy Butler put up 37 to help Miami beat Utah for its 10th win in 12 games. We’ve seen this same story unfold many times before…

  • Malik Monk must have taken a vow to get buckets at halftime on Saturday, as after scoring just four in the first half, he finished with 39 (!) in an impressive Kings’ win in Minnesota.

  • Jalen Green scored 34 to lead Houston over Phoenix. We simply REFUSE to give up on the former number-two pick…

    us, watching Jalen Green

🧠 Daily Trivia 🧠 

Since 2000, what NBA player has the most games with 10+ blocks?

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Rebuild Recap: How did OKC Get Here?

It’s weird to think that one of the best teams in the NBA is “rebuilding”, but that’s just because Oklahoma City did it so well that they’re competing in the middle of what was supposed to be their rebuild. But how did today’s Thunder team come to be?

Scrap Heap

Aaron Wiggins was the 55th pick in the 2021 draft, Isaiah Joe was waived by Philadelphia last year, Lu Dort went undrafted in 2019, and Jaylin Williams was a second-rounder in 2022. All of these guys are now contributing important minutes for OKC, which proves that taking flyers on talented players and being patient with their development is a key part of rebuilding.

Value Picks

Jalen Williams was a late lottery pick who has (greatly) outperformed his draft position. OKC saw potential star-power where 10+ other teams didn’t, and that’s thanks to the front office just simply doing their homework. You don’t need to win the lottery to find a franchise cornerstone, and the Thunder are a shining example of that.

Big Swings

Getting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander back in the PG13 trade and drafting Chet Holmgren were both franchise-altering moves, and both could not have had better results for OKC. Without one of those decisions, the Thunder would be in a completely different spot today, but Sam Presti pulled off two impeccable moves and showed once again how calm under pressure this OKC front office is.

Three in the Key

🍜 Jerami Grantthe passer?
That’s a very slick dish from the Blazers’ forward.

🤔 Well, he’s right…
The Celtics won by so much that Steph started reminiscing.

😨 We’re in trouble.
Wemby is throwing no-look passes now.

What We’re Enjoying

ScHoolboy Q: New Q! The TDE rapper is back with a new album, Blue Lips, and let’s just say he delivered a great one. The LA native sounds energetic and motivated, and the production throughout brings out the best in Q’s aggressive delivery:

Signing Off

And we’re out of here! If you’re feeling in a funk lately, that’s okay. Try doing something you’ve never done before—going to a new coffee shop, exploring a new part of town, or seeing a movie that you know nothing about. It’ll re-energize you instantly. Talk soon!

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