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‘It was a little different, for sure’

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On Monday, Scottie Barnes came off the bench for the first time during the regular season in the Toronto Raptors’ 100-88 home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. For the 2021-22 Rookie of the Year, the feeling was different.

“It was a little different, for sure. It was all right,” Barnes said after the win on how it felt to come off the bench. “I don’t know. It was all right I guess.”

Per a few NBA betting sites, the Raptors possess the 14th-best odds to win the championship in 2023. Check out which sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets.

The second-year Raptors star noticed some differences. “I don’t know,” continued Barnes. “I’m used to being out there to start off the game. But I guess it was just a little adjustment. I guess. I don’t know. It was just different I guess.”

Of course, the move came as no surprise to Barnes. “No. I knew it was happening,” responded the Florida State product. “It was just different.”

In 27 minutes played, Barnes finished his Monday night performance off the bench with 11 points, four rebounds, five assists, one steal, and three blocks. He finished 5-of-12 (41.7%) shooting from the floor.

Raptors forward Scottie Barnes says “it was a little different” to come off the bench for the first time during the regular season

When asked if he was OK with a different starting lineup, Barnes replied, “Yeah, it’s whatever the scheme was, the game plan. It was fun.” At least Barnes seemed cool about it.

Through 17 appearances this season, the Raptors wing is averaging 14.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. He’s shooting 43.7% from the field and 34.8% behind the arc.

Barnes’ player efficiency rating (15.5) and true shooting percentage (50.4%) statistics are lower than his rookie-season numbers. However, the Raptors are utilizing Barnes in 21% of their plays with the forward on the court, which is a career-high usage percentage.

Furthermore, Toronto coach Nick Nurse is not the first to alter his starting five this season. Los Angeles Clippers coach Tyronn Lue decided to bring former Raptors star Kawhi Leonard off the bench.

And Russell Westbrook of the Los Angeles Lakers now leads his team’s second unit. Lakers coach Darvin Ham thought it was a necessary change. Although inconsistent, Westbrook is thriving in the sixth man role at this point of his 15-year playing career.

Through 18 appearances, Westbrook is averaging 15.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Plus, he’s shooting 40.6% from the field and 31.6% from three-point range. The forward has also recorded six double-doubles.

After one game, it’s difficult to say whether or not this is the right decision by Nurse. On Nov. 19, in the Raptors’ 124-122 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Scottie Barnes recorded a season-high 28 points in 46 minutes.

Though, the wing has logged just two 20-point games this season. This time last season as a starter, Barnes recorded 20-plus points in four contests.

During the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs, Barnes came off the bench in Game 4 of the Raptors’ 110-102 home win over the Philadelphia 76ers. He finished that game with six points, 11 rebounds, and two assists in 26 minutes.





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Lakers fans can finally breathe again as Anthony Davis is reported ready to return tonight vs. Spurs – Basketball Insiders

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The news every Lakers fan has been waiting for the past six weeks is finally here! Anthony Davis is reported ready to return to action for the Los Angeles team, and it all seems as if it will be tonight against the San Antonio Spurs in their own Crypto.com Arena. 

Now, unless Davis suffers any setbacks before the game or even during the warmup, it’s officially confirmed he’ll be on court for his team tonight. He was also given a 20-24 game play restriction by the team’s medical officials, as his return was initially speculated after 8-10 weeks of recovery, but he became fit before time.

Sometimes it’s not a matter of when he will return, but for how long.

Now, lets remember how he got injured last year. It was mid-December and the Lakers were playing against Denver, as Anthony Davis had been playing like the league’s MVP for the past weeks. Unfortunately, he landed awkwardly on a layup attempt in the first quarter and that was it for him, he had broken a bone spur in his right foot.

Watch the following video as he last played for the Lakers in their 126-108 win against the Nuggets on Dec. 16:

Let’s remind ourselves just how impactful the big man’s performances have been this campaign, right before he injured his foot. Lakers foward-center had scored an average of 27.4 points, won 12.1 rebounds, and handed 2.6 assists per game, after playing a total of 25 games so far with a 33.4 minute average.

He was sorely missed during 20 matches, all through the New Years and up until tonight against San Antonio. Los Angeles ended up with a tight 10-10 record in his absence, which incredibly is a much better record than with him on court this season (12-16).

Many questions emerged when he was sidelined

Many questions arose as he was injured, when unexpectedly the Lakers starting playing as a whole without their main stars.

For example, the Los Angeles side won their first game of the year in the absence of Anthony and LeBron James and actually beat the Miami Heat in an incredible team display that many considered the best performance of the season. The internet went into a frenzy and this revived their hopes of qualifying to the playoffs.

One of the main doubts was if Thomas Bryant would return to the bench once Davis returned from injury. The 25-year-old player impressed all as he had to fill his teammates shoes until he was fit to come back. Bryant’s stats aren’t as high as the 6-foot-10 foward, but still make a strong case as he proved to be an important team player. Thomas has now played 34 games this campaign, averaging a score of 13 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

Rui Hachimura, on the other hand, is expected to make his Lakers debut tonight. As LeBron James has been taking the spotlight, scoring 40+ points in recent games, he needs to start distributing his offensive responsabilities with his teammates so he can gain some rest and therefore, more team quality to his game. And that’s when the young Japanese steps in!

As for the team’s General Manager, Rob Pelinka suggests the Los Angeles side are not done in the trade market after the Hachimura deal. Early this week he mentioned that every trade he evaluates involving the 2027 and 2029 1st round picks has to make them feel like it will propel them towards a championship and “there is no in-between.”





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‘It sounds like a rivalry to me’

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Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson believes the Memphis Grizzlies are one of the biggest threats to the reigning champs in the Western Conference. Beyond the halfway point of the 2022-23 season, the Dubs are 23-24 and rank 10th in the standings.

“They’re knocking on the door of championship contention, trying to knock us off,” Thompson told Damichael Cole of Memphis Commercial Appeal. “And they are loud about it. We’re trying to hold on to this run, and they’re right there knocking at the door. Sounds like a rivalry to me.”

Per multiple NBA betting sites, the Warriors have fifth-shortest odds to repeat. Check out which sportsbooks are giving the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, and Denver Nuggets greater odds.

“I’m human. I’m more competitive than people think I am,” added the Warriors guard. “At the end of the day, it’s all just competitive fun. If you want to talk trash, it’s all part of the game. We all grew up talking mess. You can’t hoop without talking a little mess.”

Golden State will play the Grizzlies for the second time this season on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN. This game is part of NBA Rivals Week. Sportsbooks show the Warriors as three-point favorites at home. According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the Warriors have a 63.2% probability of winning.

Five-time All-Star Klay Thompson says the Warriors are developing quite a rivalry with the Grizzlies

In the first matchup on Christmas Day, the Dubs won 123-109 at home. Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins were absent in this head-to-head contest. Jordan Poole led Golden State in scoring with 32 points in 29 minutes of action. Memphis’ Ja Morant scored a game-high 36 points as well.

A total of seven technical fouls were issued in the Christmas Day matchup, six of which were on Golden State. So, is this a rivalry? It appears to be. Memphis is 4-6 in its last 10 contests against the Warriors.

More importantly, the Grizzlies are winless in their past five road games versus Golden State. Every time these teams play one another, fans can expect to see a little bit of drama.

But the Grizzlies will not compete at full strength. Steven Adams (knee) remains out indefinitely. Not to mention, Danny Green (knee) and John Konchar (concussion) are also out.





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Mavericks’ Maxi Kleber (hamstring), Christian Wood (thumb) out vs. Suns

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Dallas Mavericks centers Maxi Kleber (right hamstring tear) and Christian Wood (left thumb fracture) have been ruled out for Thursday night’s away game against the Phoenix Suns. Kleber, 30, hopes to make his return prior to the All-Star break.

The 6-foot-10 big man has missed 22 games since his injury, and he has been absent for a total of 27 contests this season. Wood, 27, has been out for the last three games. The UNLV product has missed seven contests.

Upon further review of some NBA betting sites, the Mavericks have 13th-best odds to win the championship. A couple of sportsbooks are giving the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Clippers greater odds.

Through 22 games off the bench this season, Kleber is averaging 6.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.0 assist, and 1.0 block per game. To add to these statistics, he’s shooting a career-best 49% from the floor and 36.9% beyond the arc.

On Oct. 27, in the Mavericks’ 129-125 win over the Brooklyn Nets, the sixth-year player logged a season-high 15 points in 33 minutes of action. He finished 4-of-5 (80%) shooting from the field and 3-of-4 (75%) from 3-point range.

Mavericks centers Maxi Kleber (right hamstring tear), Christian Wood (left thumb fracture) remain out against Suns on Thursday

As for Christian Wood, the 6-foot-10 center is averaging 18.4 points, 8.4 boards, 1.7 assists, and 1.3 blocks per contest. Plus, he’s shooting 53.5% from the floor and 38.5% outside the arc.

For the Suns’ injury report, Devin Booker (left groin strain), Cameron Payne (right foot strain), and Jae Crowder (personal) remain out indefinitely. Landry Shamet (foot) has been downgraded to out as well. Josh Okogie (nose) and Deandre Ayton (illness) are now listed as probable.

Dallas is 3-7 in its last 10 games. The team is coming off back-to-back losses. While the Mavericks are 1-5 in their past six contests, they’re also 6-1 ATS in their previous seven meetings versus Phoenix. However, the Mavs are 5-13 in their last 18 matchups against the Suns.

Moreover, these Western Conference contenders are evenly matched at the moment. The Mavericks are 8-15 away, 2-11 as underdogs, 7-16 ATS away, and 25-24 overall. On the other side, Phoenix is 18-7 at home, 18-11 as a favorite, 15-10 ATS at home, and 25-24 outright.

Additionally, the Suns are on a four-game win streak. They’ve won five of their past 10 contests. Not to mention, the team is 9-1 at home against Dallas over the last 10 meetings. Phoenix is 4-1 ATS in its previous five home games.

Thursday night’s intraconference showdown is the third head-to-head matchup of the season series. Of course, this series is tied at one game apiece. Phoenix defeated Dallas 107-105 on Oct. 19, and then the Mavericks won 130-111 on Dec. 5.

Per ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the Suns have a 54.8% probability of defeating Dallas at home. Sportsbooks show the Mavericks as 1.5-point underdogs. Though, since Phoenix is still without Booker, the Mavs could pull off the upset.





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