The duo of Joel Embiid and James Harden continues to dominate
Plus: Thoughts on Mikal Bridges and the Nets
Welcome to another issue of A Farewell to Takes, our quick trip around the NBA. Last week, Tommy and I spoke with Bobby Portis. It's a fun episode, and I really love this particular story of him calling up Giannis to tell him he could help him win a chip. Also: on this week's The Old Man and the Three Things, we cover the Kings, Lakers, and the undecided MVP race. That episode drops later today.
In this week’s A Farewell to Takes we are giving you:
Our Stat of the Week
Tommy on the Nets
The Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week
Our Wine of the Week
As always, thanks for reading! —JJ
The Stat of the Week is 210
The Philadelphia 76ers won their 5th straight game on Sunday, defeating the Wizards 112-93. The duo of Joel Embiid and James Harden continued to dominate. Embiid had his 6th straight game with 30 or more points and 50% shooting (the 3rd longest streak in 76ers history). Harden had 14 assists, including 7 assists to Embiid. In fact, Harden now has 210 assists to Embiid this season. That is the most assists from one player to another in the NBA and the most in a season since 2018-2019 when Harden had 220 assists to Clint Capela. The 76ers currently sit just one game back in the loss column of the 2nd place Boston Celtics. There still are some tough games remaining on the 76ers schedule- at Cleveland this Wednesday, a West Coast swing against Golden State, Phoenix, and Denver, and one game against both the Bucks and Celtics. Joel Embiid’s MVP case will be strengthened if Philadelphia can surpass Boston in the standings and come within striking distance of the Bucks for the top seed in the East. So much basketball left to play! —JJ
.@BPortistime reflects on the incident that led to his suspension and how he grew from it.
Watch the full episode with @jj_redick and @talter: youtu.be/k5syBmI4AeA
— TheOldMan&TheThree (@OldManAndThree)
Mar 9, 2023
On the Nets
The Nets aren't going to win a playoff series this year. Let's get that out of the way. Their rotations are in flux, the rebounding has been a mess, they are only 5-5 in their last 10, and yet ... it's hard not to love this team. After beating the Western-Conference-leading Nuggets on Sunday, they sit at 39-29, 5th in the East, ahead of both the play-in game and their crosstown rivals.
Some of this love just comes from vibes. This was a team who has been through a century's worth of drama in the past 8 months. Their two superstar players publicly asked for trades at least twice, they went through a rare pre-Thanksgiving coaching change, and that's not even getting into the the protests outside the arena, the suspensions, and the "documentary." Even though the on-court product from Kyrie and KD had serious flashes of greatness, this was a group whose miserableness was seemingly only eclipsed by their own fans. Nothing fixes that problem like throwing Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson aka "the Twins" into the mix. We'll get to their basketball in a minute, but objectively speaking, I'm not sure there are two happier, more popular guys in the league.
But of course, nobody smiles too much when they lose, and what's been particularly impressive in the month since the trade deadline, is the basketball strides the Nets have been making. Mikal has been unbelievable. For a guy who hasn't missed a game since he was in high school and has been one of the best defensive players in the league for the last two seasons, his offensive jump in the past month has been striking. He's averaging 30.4 ppg, 54% from the field and 48% from 3. The Nets win over Minnesota the other night was a perfect example of the jump Mikal has taken. 34 points on 13 made baskets, postups, stretching the floor, the complete offensive package.
Where the team overall has stood out though, is on the other end of the floor. Before Sunday's game, the Nets were leading the league in defensive rating in their previous five games, at 101.9 with the next closest team coming in at 107.7. Adding great defensive wings like Bridges, Johnson, and Dorian Finney-Smith surely contributed to this jump, but overall it's been a group effort. They currently lead the NBA in blocks, in large part due to Nic Claxton, who has a legit argument for first team all defense this year.
Nobody knows that the next month is going to look like and based on the predictability or lack thereof of the Nets so far this year, I wouldn't dare to guess. But for a team that was written off on February 10th as at best a playoff afterthought, at worst full on rebuild mode, the Nets are at least making things interesting. —Tommy
Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week: Steak Tartare at Wilder
The OM3 team took a road trip to Philadelphia this past week, and Jason and I had to make a stop at Wilder, the pasta and seafood restaurant in Center City. The pizzas and pastas here are all great; I'm sure the hanger steak is delicious (though I've never had it); all of the traditional seafood dishes are super fresh and worth ordering. The Steak Tartare was the standout to me though. With sesame, iceberg lettuce, a little cheddar cheese, the tartare was the perfect mix of flavor and crunch, filling enough to be a full meal but also good as a shareable app. —Tommy
Wine of the Week: Eric Rodez, 'Cuvée Blanc de Blanc' Champagne
If you’ve ever been lucky to enough to try Krug Champagne, you know how beautiful those wines can be. Matt from Parcelle Wine has some notes on what makes this wine of the week so special:
This Wine of the Week is a Blanc de Blanc champagne made from 100% chardonnay. Blanc de Blanc wines are my personal favorite champagnes and usually are more “delicate and crisp” than Blanc de Noirs. Plus, at $65, this is a great value for wine made by someone who honed his craft at Krug. —JJ
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