Was Doc Rivers purposely trying to tire out Kyrie Irving and James Harden by playing them too long in the All-Star Game? The minutes’ distribution in the second half had many NBA fans scratching their heads.
Rivers coached Team Durant and rode the Brooklyn Nets stars late into the fourth quarter on Sunday night. Harden saw 31 minutes and 30 seconds while Irving got 32 minutes and 14 seconds for the game. Meanwhile, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons rested back at home due to COVID-19 protocols.
Remember, the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets appear to be on a collision course to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. Obviously, people were suspicious. The feeling was that Rivers intentionally gassed them. The Nets and Sixers don’t meet again until April 14 in Philly.
Team Durant lost to Team LeBron 170-150 in Sunday night’s All-Star Game. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks was named MVP after scoring 35 points on a record 16-of-16 shooting from the field.
Harden Confirms Blake Griffin Headed to Brooklyn
Harden confirmed the worst kept secret in basketball: Blake Griffin is headed to Brooklyn. The Nets are using one of their veteran-minimum-contract slots to sign Griffin, according to ESPN. The nine-time All-Star was asked about Griffin in his post-game Zoom call and finally copped to it after trying to play it off.
“All right. You got me. Yeah, I’m sure he wants to win,” Harden told reporters. “If he passed up more money to obviously stay in Detroit, he wants to win, and he wants to have an opportunity to play meaningful minutes. I’m assuming that’s one of the reasons why he came.”
Harden complimented Griffin’s freakish athleticism, then praised him for improving his three-point shooting and ball-handling ability.
“Obviously, we know the athletic and high-jumping Blake, but I think as of these last couple years, he’s knocking down the three-ball a little bit better, ball-handling is a lot better, and he can be a great contribution to this team. So, if your sources are correct, then we’d be more than welcome and excited to have him on our Brooklyn Nets team.”
Rivers Offers New Update on Embiid, Simmons
The whole barbershop fiasco that caused Embiid and Simmons to miss the All-Star Game is still shaking out in Philly. Both players have turned in consecutive negative tests for COVID-19 following their exposure to someone who tested positive.
According to Rivers, Embiid and Simmons must test negative for five straight days for them to not miss any time. The Sixers don’t return to the court until March 11 when they travel to Chicago. There is hope the dynamic superstar duo will be there.
“Yeah, that’s a relief,” said Rivers on Embiid and Simmons testing negative. “Now we need some more good news. It’s five days and we’re in the clear, but anything longer, I think they’ll miss some games. I’m thinking Saturday, but that’s what I’m hoping.”
Embiid and Simmons are committed to getting back to the team as quickly as they are allowed. It was unfortunate they had to miss the All-Star festivities.
“We’re disappointed, but their biggest concern was being able to play the first two games when we get back,” Rivers said. “We don’t know the answer to that yet and that’s going to be really important for us. It would be tough to start the second half of the year and not have either one.”