Welcome to another edition of The Morning Dunk, where we break down the hardwood happenings with a splash of fun. Let’s bounce right into the action!
Nick Nurse Faces Raptors for First Time
Former Raptors head coach Nick Nurse received a visit from some old friends on Thursday night, as the Toronto team took on the 76ers.
A nostalgic night quickly became heated as Scottie Barnes and the Raptors got off to a fast start. Toronto will look toward their third-year star to guide the team into playoff contention this season.
Barnes could do more than that if he keeps shooting the ball like this. Unfortunately, a win for the Raptors wasn’t in the cards as the man who knows them best was able to exploit their weaknesses.
Some straight-up bully ball led the Sixers to victory. Embiid dropped 28 points and 13 rebounds and looked the part of a reigning NBA MVP. Philadelphia is a true sleeper in the NBA Championship odds at +2800, but Embiid, Tyreese Maxey, and the aforementioned Nurse could quickly make those long odds look silly.
Pelicans Blow out Jazz
Down in New Orleans, the Pelicans are soaring high after a 125-116 victory over the Detroit Pistons. Both Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram missed this contest through injury, and it didn’t even matter.
Veteran point guard CJ McCollum dropped 25 first-half points, while Jonas Valanciunas chipped in with 23 points and 13 rebounds in the straightforward victory.
The question remains, can Zion and BI stay on the floor and finally lead this team to a playoff berth in an uber-competitive Western Conference? Who knows but the young Pelicans are a ton of fun to watch. New Orleans is the quintessential league pass team to check in on when your team isn’t playing.
Intriguingly, the Pels are currently -215 to make the playoffs. However, the real value lies on New Orleans at +130 to win the Southwest Division. If you’re feeling lucky, Zion sits at +6000 to win NBA MVP.
KD Seeks Revenge
Remember the other day, when we hoped for many more Victor Wembanyama-Kevin Durant battles? The basketball Gods granted our wish.
And Kevin Durant, one of the greatest scorers in basketball history, was very unhappy at the way Tuesday night’s game ended. He took out those frustrations on the San Antonio Spurs last night, using his length and sharpshooting to paint a basketball masterpiece. Durant is a true artist who remains at the top of his game. Only this time, he had help.
Devin Booker returned and dropped 31 points. Still, it wasn't enough, and Phoenix has now lost two straight to San Antonio.
After two straight losses, the ceiling of the Phoenix Suns team remains to be seen. Getting Bradley Beal back in the lineup as quickly as possible will be paramount. As the new “Big 3” will need plenty of time to gel as the season progresses.