November 28, 2022

Three Things is NBC’s five-day closing of the night before in the NBA. Check every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before, plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA a must-watch.

Just a note, there won’t be any “Three Things” on Wednesday mornings because the NBA takes Tuesday night off to encourage people to vote — so do it. Go out and vote. It is important.

1) Luka Doncic scores 30+ for ninth game in a row, Mavs top Nets

Luka Doncic has slowed down in recent seasons – in his first six games last season, he averaged nine points per game less than in April, with a true shooting rate of less than 50 – something that hurt his MVP case.

Not this season – he’s started the season at Wilt Chamberlain’s level (sort of). Doncic comes to training camp from EuroBasket, and with secondary shotmaker Jalen Brunson moving to New York, Doncic has taken on more of the Dallas offense to start the season and has thrived:

Monday night against Brooklyn, Doncic dropped 36 – his ninth straight 30+ game to open the season.

Doncic now holds the second longest streak of 30+ points to open a season in NBA history (Like many things in the NBA record books, it feels like Wilt Chamberlain lifted video game numbers – he opened the 1962-63 season with 23 consecutive 30+ points nights).

In nine games, Doncic averages 36 points per game on 52.4% shooting, plus 8.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. He reaches the rim for 31.9% of his shots and finishes 71.6% of them – breaking ankles along the way. Just ask Ben Simmons.

However, where Doncic has shown real improvement is on short floaters (63.9% shooting from 3-10 feet out) and the midrange (56.5% on shots from 10-16 feet). Doncic’s shooting numbers may only get better, he shot 35.3% from 3 last season but is only 29.7% to open this season.

Doncic adds 8.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists, all with a league-highest utilization rate of 39.2 – Dallas is leaning against his star like never before and so far he has carried the burden.

Doncic and Kevin Durant – 26 points – put on a show Tuesday night. Well, they did in the first half, but in the third quarter, the game somehow became a revenue-filled slog. Doncic and the Cavs broke out there in the fourth, thanks in part to 17 from Jeff Green, and they won.

Doncic went into the season as the MVP god favorite and lived up to the hype. Not a slow start this time. What that will mean in May — both when the NBA awards are handed out and the playoffs are in full swing — remains to be seen, but Doncic has already made a historic start.

2) Warriors have problems, but they also have Curry – are 47 tops Kings

The Warriors are in trouble. They have the 27th-ranked defense in the NBA. Their youth hub – the “win now and win later” idea with two timelines – was in practice a mess with Jonathon Kuminga and James Wiseman breaking the bill. Critical players such as Jordan Poole (30.1% of 3) and Klay Thompson (36% shooting overall) are still finding their chance.

But they have Stephen Curry.

Cold Blooded Curry.

Curry plays at an MVP level and carries the Warriors early, dropping 47 to the Kings on Monday night. Curry also had eight rebounds and eight assists in the win.

Steve Kerr must find a way to reduce Curry’s minutes and workload – they need him rested and healthy in April and May, without carrying a burden from November – but until the rest of the team (and defense) is round, Kerr must lean against Curry to win games. Like he did Monday night.

3) It was Josh Hart’s turn for a Portland game winner

Two nights earlier, it was Jerami Grant with the Trail Blazers game winner.

On Monday night, Portland looked to be headed for overtime after Miami’s Max Strus knocked down a 3-pointer by 6.2 seconds to even the game.

In a brilliant moment, Chauncey Billups didn’t call a timeout, he trusted Damian Lillard to make the right play – and that play was to find Josh Hart open in the corner.

ball game.

While Anfernee Simons had 25 for the Trail Blazers, Grant 23 and Damian Lillard came back from his calf strain to score 19, this should be remembered as the Justise Winslow match. It was the Winslow in the middle minutes who changed the game, which Miami struggled with, crediting Billups for both trying that little ball look and holding onto it when he saw it working, rather than returning to his conventional setups. Those minutes turned the game.

It’s another heavy loss for Miami, which led by a whopping 15 in the second half, but lost and fell back to 4-7. The Heat had seven players in double digits, but that wasn’t enough on Monday.

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