We got the Jazz — Nets-Bucks disaster — MVP x Taco Bell

Friday, June 11th, 2021

  The Opening Tip

  • The Bucks beat the Nets last night in a remarkably bad game. 
  • Why Taco Bell’s quesarito and the new NBA MVP will be star-crossed forever. 
  • We have a responsibility to remind you that the 2009 NBA Finals was closer than it looked.

Tonight's playoff games

1. Are you prepared to live in a reality where the Utah Jazz are NBA champions?

The reason the Jazz can actually win this whole thing is because there are several reasons they can win this whole thing.

  • They have the most elite of rim protectors guarding the rim. (Try to guess if this shot went in.)  
  • They have the continuity and chemistry (Joe Ingles, Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Quin Snyder, Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neale) that matters when you don’t have Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
  • They’re up 2-0 on the Clippers (without Mike Conley), who, on paper at least, have two of the best players in the league.  
  • They have a capital S Superstar. 

Speaking of Donovan Mitchell … he had 27 at the half last night and 37 overall in the Game 2 win over the Clippers, which was an encore to his 45 in Game 1.

  • Over his last 13 playoff games, he’s averaging 34.6 PPG. Since he returned for Game 2 of the Memphis series, the Jazz is 6-0 with a league-high 124.1 offensive rating.

Utah has a playoff-adept offense (unlike Milwaukee), a familiar group (unlike Brooklyn, though that might not matter in the end) and they appear to like each other (unlike the Clippers).

  • In a soft year for the West with no LeBron or Steph Curry to play gatekeeper, Utah is now a heavy favorite to make the Finals and is closing the odds gap between itself and Brooklyn to win it all.

So … close your eyes and try to imagine a sober and very civil parade running through downtown Salt Lake City. It could happen.

2. Daily GIFYou thought this was going in, didn’t you?

It’s a testament to Kevin Durant’s inevitability that everyone from Milwaukee to Brooklyn thought his game-tying attempt last night -- a floating left, one-foot heave from 35 feet as time expired -- was going to go in.

Alas .. it was too strong, giving the Bucks a narrow win in the worst-played game of the season for either team.

We have the stats to back it up:

  • The 86 and 83 points are the lowest outputs for either team all season. 
  • They combined to shoot 14-of-63 from deep, or 22 percent. (Joe Harris shot 1-for-11 overall.) 
  • There was a three-minute, 29-second stretch starting at the 6:09 mark of the fourth quarter in which neither team scored at all. It felt like Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals without the drama. 

Also: Giannis (33 points) and Khris Middleton (35) combined for 79 percent of Milwaukee’s 86-point total, most by two players on one team in playoff history. Jrue Holiday had only nine in 46 minutes, though two of those came on the game-winner.

Also, pt. 2: Poor Bruce Brown got skewered on Twitter last night for thinking he was back on the courts of Dorchester on the second-to-last possession of the game.

3. Trivia time

If the Nets win the title this year, Steve Nash will be the fourth rookie head coach since 2015 to win it all. Who are the other three?

Answers at the bottom.

4. The complete transcript from ESPN’s coverage of the moment Nikola Jokic got drafted

Nikola Jokic was officially named MVP on Tuesday, becoming by far the lowest drafted player (No. 41 overall) to win the award.

Here’s the transcript of the moment the Nuggets chose him, from ESPN’s telecast of the 2014 NBA Draft:

 
Narrator: “Two things you only dreamed would come together: A delicious cheesy quesadilla wrapped around a beefy burrito. The new quesarito from Taco Bell.”

(The joke: He got drafted during a Taco Bell commercial.)

BTW: The quesarito is still available for purchase. A single 'rito starts at $3.39 but there are plenty of add-ons if you want to get wild.

5. 06/11/2009: In Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Derek Fisher gives a generation of Orlandoans something to bemoan

Her: What’s wrong?

The Grip: Nothing.

Her: Are you sure?

The Grip: Yes.

...

The Grip: It’s just ...

Her: What?

The Grip: It’s just … everyone thinks the 2009 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Magic wasn’t close because the Lakers won in five games. But if Derek Fisher didn’t hit a desperate 3-pointer to tie Game 4 in regulation then hit another in overtime for the win, and if Courtney Lee didn’t miss the easy alley-oop to win Game 1, then it’s not just a different series, it’s a different outcome.

Her:

6.  Quick hits

  • Here’s a good inside look on why now-fired Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren didn’t work out in the NBA.
  • Giannis got called for another 10-second violation yesterday. 
  • This is why people call Patrick Beverley a dirty player.
  • The 2021-22 regular season will begin on Oct. 19, fulfilling the league’s long-held desire to return to a normal cycle. 
  • It’s “widely believed” expansion to 32 teams is on the way. 
  • Donovan MItchell’s side-step 3 to end the first half last night was crazy.

7.  Reads

  • Mark Cuban on the future of the Mavs, taxing billionaires, and why Elon Musk is ‘irrelevant’ to crypto [The Daily Beast]
  • The Suns are real and they’re spectacular [The Ringer]
  • Trae Young and the art of drawing fouls [Sports Illustrated]

Trivia answer: Steve Kerr (2015), Ty Lue (2016), Nick Nurse (2019).


That's the buzzer.
Thanks for reading the 282nd edition of The Grip.

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