Welcome to another issue of A Farewell to Takes, our quick look around the NBA. There’s a lot to get into this issue but before we do there’s a couple of housekeeping notes from our team. First, we are doing a second weekly podcast called The Old Man and the Three Things available exclusively on Amazon Music. Each week Tommy and I will deep dive on 3 things around the league. Episodes come out every Monday. Secondly, we announced our partnership with DraftKings Sportsbook last week. ThreeFourTwo is very excited about this partnership, and we have a lot of great content (and same game parlays lol) to look forward to.
In this issue of A Farewell to Takes we are looking at:
- The Boston Celtics historic offense
- Toronto’s defensive star
- Tommy's Best Thing I Ate This Week
- Our Wine of the Week
As always, thanks for listening, reading, and watching our content. We have some really exciting stuff coming the rest of the month.
The Stat of the Week is 119.4
The Boston Celtics are 10-3 and a half game out of first place in the Eastern Conference, despite not producing the same results as last year on the defensive end. They are in the bottom third in the league defensively after having the NBA’s best defense in 2021-22 when they made the NBA Finals (Rob Williams’ absence likely plays a huge a factor in their defensive woes). Despite this, they continue to win because of their offense. They currently have the best offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) in the league at 119.4, which would be the best offensive rating for a team in NBA history. Boston is taking care of the basketball (tied for 3rd lowest turnover percentage) and shooting the ball great (highest True Shooting%* in the NBA). A large part of this is the play of Jayson Tatum. Tatum has 13 straight 20-point games to start the season, the 2nd longest streak in Celtics history — McHale had 28 straight 20-point games to start the season in 1986-87. Tatum currently sports a ridiculous .653 TS% which would be the best of his career, given that he has never had a TS% higher than .586. Credit for the Celtics offensive success should also go to Marcus Smart, who is playing the point guard position very well and sports an excellent assist to turnover ratio of 4.6. It’s a long season, but the Celtics clearly look like one of the ELITE teams in the NBA. —JJ
*Note: True Shooting Percentage is a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account 2-point field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws.
Featured Player of the Week: A defensive star worth the price of admission
The Raptors have been tough to get a read on so far this year. Pascal Siakam has looked like an All-NBA guy, Fred Van Vleet has been his usual consistently solid self, Scottie Barnes has shown enough flashes of his insane potential that you understand why Toronto has refused to entertain the idea of trading him for anybody ... And yet, they are currently sitting at 7-7. Yes, Siakam's recent hip injury hasn't helped, but the group overall has just been inconsistent, with recent losses to the Thunder and Pacers underscoring a lack intensity. With that being said, one significant bright spot for Toronto, which probably bodes well for their future with a healthy roster, has been the utter individual defensive dominance of OG Anunoby.
His 2.9 steals per game have set the tone for a team defense that leads the league with 11 steals per game. That's nearly 2 steals higher than the Thunder, who are 2nd in the category. The Raptors are 2nd in the league in points off turnovers, trailing only the Jazz. OG has always been a plus defender, with prototypical 3&D size, but his activity this year has reached another level. Take his back to back games against the Spurs and Hawks last week, where he posted 5 and 6 steals. Switching between playing free safety on Trae Young passes to ripping Jakob Poetl and running the other way for a dunk, we've gotten to see the full range of a budding defensive menace.
Only 8 players in NBA history have ever averaged 3 steals per game for a full season, and nobody has since 1991. And according to Stathead, only one player in NBA history (John Stockton) has ever averaged 3 steals per game while shooting 40% from 3 for the season. While OG's shooting has dipped below 40 recently, the pace that he's on feels like a real possibility and has been a bright spot on overall frustrating Raptors season so far. —Tommy
Best Thing I Ate This Week: Sen Chan Pad Lobster from Wayla
There's a lot of mediocre Pad Thai in this world. I get it. It's easy to make, it's one of the world's most popular dishes (just made this up but it sounds right), so the audience is there whether or not the preparation is phoned in. It's a bit like guac, in that you're probably going to order it when you go to a Thai restaurant, so it doesn't really matter how good it actually is. Well if you find yourself on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at any point, Wayla, an immersive basement restaurant on Forsyth, does not take the same approach.
This is the best Pad Thai in New York City in my estimation, and one of the better ones (won't say the best as I need to try more) in the country. The noodle preparation, the right kick to the sauce, and a perfectly prepared, succulent lobster makes what is generally an unmemorable dish, one of the best meals I've had in a while. —Tommy
Our mailbag returned last week with OM3 correspondent Tyrese Haliburton. We get into the hot start of the Blazers, Lauri Markkanen's leap with the Jazz, the spectacular play of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and more.
Wine of the Week: 2018 Girolamo Russo Etna Rosso A’Rina
For this week’s WOTW, we are headed back to Sicily for another Etna Rosso (we featured an Etna Rosso from Benanti in a previous issue). Girolamo Russo makes some outstanding red Sicilian wine from the nerello mascalese grape. These grapes are grown on the slopes of Mt. Etna and reflect the terroir. Russo describes his wines as such: “a wine that carries the breath of the volcano: a blend of smoke and ashes and ripe, fragrant fruit — a fruit which yields a gentle caress.” Who doesn’t love a fruit that yields a gentle caress? The A’Rina sources grapes from a few different production zones in the area. All together this wine has a nice balance of freshness, complexity, and drinkability. I was introduced to Girolamo Russo wines at a dinner at Lilia in Brooklyn and have enjoyed the wines ever since. In fact, I had this very bottle at dinner on Saturday night and it was lovely. —JJ
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