Welcome to another issue of A Farewell to Takes, our quick trip around the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers are the hottest team in the NBA right now: winners of 7 in a row and 20 of their last 24. In a marquee matchup against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, Joel Embiid put up a monster performance with 47 points and 18 rebounds. This was a statement game for Embiid who finished second to Jokic in the last two MVP races. In addition, Embiid was the odd man out when All-Star starters were announced on Thursday. Philadelphia sits just a game back in the loss column of Boston for first place in the East. Speaking of the Celtics, the big story in the NBA over the weekend was the no-call at the end of the Lakers-Celtics game on Saturday night. Jayson Tatum clearly fouled LeBron James on a game winning layup attempt and Boston subsequently won in overtime. NBA Twitter had fun with LeBron’s reaction to the no-call, and Pat Beverly had an all-time technical foul after the no-call.
On this week’s The Old Man and the Three Things, our weekly podcast available exclusively on Amazon Music, we discuss All-Star starters and who we think the reserves should be, the Tatum-LeBron no-call, and Kyrie Irving’s sneaky great season. Stay tuned for that.
In this week’s A Farewell to Takes we are giving you:
- Our Stat of the Week
- Tommy holding on to his love for the Timberwolves
- The Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week
- Our Wine of the Week
As always, thanks for being a part of the OM3 community! —JJ
The Stat of the Week is 43%
Jaren Jackson Jr. is getting a lot of love for DPOY right now and rightfully so. He is averaging 3.1 blocks a game and 1.0 steals per game on the #1 defense in the league. And yes, I realize there is a whole Reddit controversy circling social media on the Memphis scorekeeper potentially crediting Jackson Jr. with more blocks and steals than he actually gets. However, Jackson Jr.’s impact goes way beyond counting stats. According to Second Spectrum, there have been 70 players to contest at least 150 shots in the restricted area this season. Among those players, Jackson Jr. has held opponents to the lowest field goal percentage at 43%. The next closest player is Draymond Green at 48.5%. In addition to elite rim protection, Jackson Jr. also has the ability to switch onto perimeter players and defend 25 feet from the basket (similar to Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat). What makes JJJ so unique is his ability to defend the perimeter and paint PLUS his ability to knock down threes. He’s shooting above league average at 37% on 4.1 three point attempts per game. While Memphis had a rough road trip following an 11 game win streak, a healthy Jaren Jackson Jr. will be incredibly impactful come playoff time. —JJ
Pardon My Take's Dan Katz (aka Big Cat) joined the show last week for a great episode with topics such as: this 2022-23 MVP and why Big Cat doesn’t think it will be Jokic, load management and sitting players on the second night of back-to-back games, the success of PMT, and a very good draft of "sports stories we want to see as movies."
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Who won the Draft?
Let's not forget about the Wolves
For the first four months of this season the Timberwolves have been at best an afterthought, at worst a full fledged train wreck. After an intense playoff series against the Grizzlies last spring and trading 97 first round picks for Rudy Gobert, expectations were high in Minneapolis. Instead, we got injuries to Karl Towns, some pundits calling the Gobert trade "the worst trade of all time," and a sputtering start. All of this culminated in a New Years Eve record of 16-21 making people wonder if not only would the Wolves not be returning to the playoffs, whether they might consider blowing the whole operation up.
While everything isn't perfect, it appears those fears may have been overblown. The Wolves, winners of 11 of their last 15 games, all without their All-Star forward Towns, have righted the ship, and sit currently in 5th in the topsy-turvy West.
While much of this recent success can be attributed to Anthony Edwards going absolutely bananas, averaging 34/6/5 in in his last five games (on an insane 54% from 3 clip), there have been other positive signs for the Wolves worth mentioning. Kyle Anderson has been a really underrated pickup, adding defensively versatility and a surprisingly lethal 3-point stroke, sitting at 44% on the season going into today's games. Anderson currently sits at 74 in RAPTOR ahead of Desmond Bane, Jaylen Brown, and Jamal Murray among others. As Coast 2 Coast on Twitter points out, the Edwards x Anderson x Jaden McDaniels combination has a plus 9.2 net rating, providing offensive firepower and striking defensive versatility.
Likewise, Naz Reid has been a surprising positive find for the Wolves. A popular target in trade deadline conversations, Reid has been really solid, a massive luxury on a team that added one of the great defensive centers of the last 20 years. He's currently in the 93rd percentile in blocks percentage and is shooting 54% from the field, and though his 3 point shooting has dropped from earlier in the year, still provides a floor stretching depth, a luxury.
Between Reid, Anderson, and Jaden McDaniels, the Wolves depth has been solid. Where they really need work is to figure out how to make Gobert and Towns work together when their All-Star forward returns. They're currently 12th in team defense and 19th in net rating, not good enough for a team that added a six-time All-Defensive player in Gobert. While that remains a big question mark heading into the 2nd half of the season, the Wolves deserve credit for taking what looked like a full fledged disaster six weeks ago and flipping it on its head. —Tommy
Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week: Like a Greek Bagel at Baby Blues Luncheonette
Everybody loves a Greek Diner. New York has historically been a weird diner city. There are 24 hour options that are ok, local spots that can hit the spot in a crunch but nothing really that has stood out as truly special. Until now. I'm hesitant to write too much about Baby Blues because it's small and hard enough to get into as is, but this is is certainly up there for best brunch spots in the city and best diners I've ever been to.
Everything on the menu — the haloumi BLT with a side of bacon jam, the homemade tzatziki, the tomato soup — is special, homemade, and feels completely fresh. But the best thing on the menu by far, is the Like a Greek Bagel: a thick slice of sourdough bread, covered by the best whipped feta cheese I've ever had, with freshly sliced smoked salmon, tomato, and onion. It's simple, but with ingredients like this, it completely works. If you find yourself in Williamsburg, do not skip Baby Blues. —Tommy
Baby Blues Luncheonette | Instagram | 97 Montrose Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11206
Announcing our second guest for the New Orleans live show
Wine of the Week: Montevertine Toscana Red 2018
This is a Tuscan red wine made by Montevertine. Montevertine’s more famous cult classic wine — Le Pergole Torte — trades at roughly 4x the price of a standard Montevertine. The first time I bought this wine, my friend, Grant at Parcelle Wine, told me it’s the perfect “pizza wine.” I will agree with that, but also have had it with pasta and hearty meat dishes, as well. Sangiovese is the grape, so expect a nice balance of acidity and tannins (chewy mouthfeel). —JJ