Welcome to another issue of A Farewell to Takes, our quick trip around the NBA. Nekias and Steve of The Dunker Spot joined me and Tommy on the show last week to do a thorough playoff breakdown before the weekend. Plus, on yesterday's episode of The Old Man and the Three Things, Tommy and I recapped Game 7 of Celtics-Sixers before previewing the Eastern and Western Conference Finals.
The Playoffs have been wildly entertaining, and we're very much looking forward the Conference Finals. So I'm going live on our YouTube tonight after Game 1 of Lakers-Nuggets for a postgame recap. We'll be doing these lives throughout this round, so keep an eye on our socials to get updates on which games we'll be doing them for.
In this week’s A Farewell to Takes we are giving you:
Our Stat of the Week
Tommy on Aaron Gordon
The Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week
Our Wine of the Week
Thanks for reading! —JJ
Stat of the Week: 29.8
In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Joe Mazzulla inserted Robert Williams III in the starting lineup. Williams III essentially played free safety over the last two games of the series. Horford played Embiid and Williams III started on PJ Tucker. This adjustment allowed Horford to be higher up in pick-and-roll coverage against the Harden and Embiid 2 man game. Williams III being on the backline of the defense also deterred Embiid from attacking the basket against Horford when he was in isolation. The Smart/Brown/Tatum/Horford/Williams III 5 man lineup played 32 total minutes together in Games 6 and 7 (the most used Celtics lineup over those 2 games). That lineup had an offensive rating of 121.9 and a defensive rating of 92.1. I don’t necessarily love small sample sizes in the playoffs, but it’s hard to argue that this adjustment didn’t have a profound effect on the outcome of this series. In two elimination games, the Celtics most used lineup had a net rating of 29.8 per 100 possessions. Give credit to Joe Mazzulla for making the right call and changing the coverage. —JJ
Featured Player of the Week: Aaron Gordon
As Farewell to Takes diehards will know, I'm a bit of an Aaron Gordon fanboy. His efficiency was insane all season, top five in the league for much of it, and he's been one of the more undoubtedly effective wing defenders since he got to Denver. The days of just being the dunk contest guy are firmly in the rearview.
As we look at x-factors in this fascinating Lakers/Nuggets WCF, Gordon feels like he's at the top of the list. The Joker/AD heavyweight battle is going to get most of the pub as it should, but Gordon, who will be checking LeBron for most of the series is going to have to play a large role if Denver expects to make it to June.
As the great Nuggets beat reporter Harrison Wind pointed out, in the Phoenix series, Kevin Durant shot 26-82 (38.2%) and finished with 11 assists and 11 turnovers when defended by Gordon as the primary defender. Gordon's footwork and contest without fouling all series was phenomenal. In the first round Minnesota series against Gordon, Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points, 9 turnovers, and shot 10-27 (37%) and 1-9 from 3 (11%).
According to Second Spectrum, Gordon has held LeBron to 39.5% effective field goal percentage when defending him in halfcourt matchups in his career. That is the lowest eFG pct allowed against LeBron over the last 10 years, including regular season and playoffs (min. 75 FGA defended). Now LeBron James is LeBron James and has historically dominated the Nuggets (averaging 27,8,8 in his career) so he obviously presents a different challenge than any other forward, but as we look at one of the key differences between 2020's Western Conference Bubble Finals matchup between these two teams and now, Gordon stands out as the starkest difference. —Tommy
Welcome to Episode 5 of Islands in the League. JJ shares his thoughts about success and failure in sports (prompted by Giannis Antetokounmpo's press conference) and checks in with #NBATwitter on the GOAT debate.
We love you, #NBATwitter https://t.co/Pwt4uUHKcK
— TheOldMan&TheThree (@OldManAndThree)
May 10, 2023
Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week: Miso Fudge and Maitake Mushroom Ice Cream at Margot
Margot, a brand new French/Mediterranean restaurant in Fort Greene, just steps from Barclays Center, is a super promising spot. The entire menu is strong and includes a really great wine list. The standout is the dessert. Maitake Mushroom Ice Cream is an ambitious, some would say crazy idea, but it works. And the fudge is like no fudge you will ever have. A true show stopper.
I think the restaurant is less than a week old so I would try to get a rez here before it becomes impossible. —Tommy
Wine of the Week: 1989 Vega Sicilia Unico
Unico is Spain’s most legendary red wine. Coming from the Ribera del Duero wine region, this is essentially Spain’s version of a First Growth Bordeaux. We had this wine on Saturday night at Lucali celebrating Chelsea and Kylee’s birthday. It’s a special wine for a special night. —JJ