Welcome to another issue of A Farewell to Takes, our quick weekly trip around the NBA. The Boston Celtics are still surging, having won nine games in a row and now have a 4.5 game cushion on the second place Philadelphia 76ers (who have won five games in a row to move past the Bucks and Nets in the Eastern Conference standings). Over his last three games played, Jayson Tatum has averaged 39.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. MVP numbers? MVP numbers. The middle of the Western Conference continues to be bunched together, just two games in the loss column separate the #5 seed Dallas Mavericks and the #13 seed Portland Trail Blazers. With the trade deadline approaching, it will be fascinating to see which teams are buyers, which teams are sellers, and which teams stand pat. The Grizzlies entered the weekend riding an 11 game winning streak but lost back-to-back games in Los Angeles and Phoenix. Perhaps the bigger story was Shannon Sharpe’s cardigan.
Last week on The Old Man and the Three, we chatted with Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin. It was interesting hearing his perspective on his unique journey to the NBA, accepting a role off the bench, and why LeBron is the GOAT of his generation. You can watch the interview here or listen wherever you listen to your pods.
In this week’s A Farewell to Takes we are giving you:
Our Stat of the Week
Tommy on Steven Adams
The Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week
Our Wine of the Week
As always, thanks for reading and listening. We are very grateful for our community! —JJ
The Stat of the Week is 1
How many games have the Warriors lost at home under Steve Kerr when leading by 10 or more points in the final 5 minutes of regulation? 1, and that loss was last night against the Brooklyn Nets. Kyrie Irving had another monster game (as did Nic Claxton), leading the Nets to a big road win. Irving scored or assisted on 21 points in the 4th quarter, including 10 points in clutch time. The Warriors are now 23-24 and still have not found any consistency this season. Despite their record, I still believe this team is championship caliber and will be a tough out in the playoffs. There have been seven times in NBA history that a team has reached the NBA Finals after being under .500 at least 47 games into the season. The last team to do it? The Boston Celtics last season. —JJ
Indiana Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin joined the show last week for a great conversation on his time with the NBA Academy, Welcome to the NBA moments, comments on LeBron, and more. Plus, Tyrese Haliburton returns to give us a quick update on his injury, make his clear case for why he's an NBA All-Star, and draft 'Best Mall Stores.'
Who won the Draft?
Featured Player of the Week: Steven Adams
We have talked a ton about the Memphis Grizzlies and how bullish we are on their postseason chances. A legitimate superstar in Ja Morant, the Defensive Player of the Year front-runner in Steven Adams, great coaching, depth, killer instinct, etc. I can go on and on. With the best defense in the league and 2nd in the league in Net Rating, the Grizz don't have many holes. A guy who deserves a bit more love though, who won't be on any All-NBA teams, but has been really, really great this year, is our old friend Steven Adams.
When the Pelicans and Grizz swapped big men last year, it wasn't super clear how the fit in Memphis was going to be initially. Adams's hulking skillset was clearly not a fit in New Orleans, but as he adjusted to a young team flying up and down the court, his numbers and minutes dropped, and he became a bit of an afterthought in a great, upstart run.
Afterthought, no more. Adams is currently 2nd in the league in defensive rating (a monster combo with the Grizzlies big wings and Jackson Jr.) and 1st in the league in rebound percentage. He's first in the league in total rebounds, first in offensive rebounds, contested offensive rebounds, and offensive rebound percentage, and according to Stat Muse, currently has the highest offensive rebounding percentage since Dennis Rodman in 1995. What's more impressive about these numbers is Adams is doing this while constantly being guarded by the opponents best defensive rebounders. While Jackson Jr. rightfully has garnered a huge amount of attention for his defensive presence, Adams is also top 10 in the league in Defensive Points Saved, coming in at 9th.
With dynamic guards like Morant and a plethora of roaming shooters, these offensive rebounds are backbreakers for opposing defenses. Adams's massive activity also allows bigger wings like Dillon Brooks and Santi Aldama to feast on the boards, just from the sheer amount of attention he draws.
As we start looking forward to postseason matchups, the Grizzlies are going to have a number of advantages, but likely none bigger than their productivity and sheer physicality in the paint. —Tommy
Best Thing Tommy Ate This Week: Chocolate Rugelach at K'Far
Philadelphia readers of this letter will recognize K'Far, the brainchild of chef Mike Solomonov. After taking over the city of Brotherly Love, Solomonov has recently expanded to Brooklyn; opening Laser Wolf (a wonderful family style Israeli spot which will make this letter at some point) and just in the past month, K'Far, an all-day cafe. They're both set in the The Hoxton, a hotel in North Williamsburg. K'Far looks unassuming and more like a regular hotel coffee shop than any sort of dining destination. But don't be fooled. Everything from the Shakshuka to the Jerusalem bagels (more like a pressed flatbread) are excellent. I decided to highlight the Chocolate Rugelach because it's cheap (3 dollars), it's quick, and the K'Far team has managed to take a chocolate pastry that is generally unmemorable, and give it a texture and flavor that is borderline addicting. —Tommy
Wine of the Week: 2017 Domaine Tortochot Chambertin
This week’s wine recommendation is on the expensive side but well worth the cost if you’re willing to splurge for a “Wow” wine. Domaine Tortochot is a producer in Burgundy, and this particular wine is a Grand Cru (the highest classification level in Burgundy). Gevrey-Chambertin happens to be my favorite village, and Chambertin itself is a vineyard situated in the middle of 9 Grand Cru sites. Chambertin is the most prestigious of these sites and produces some of the best Pinot Noir in the entire world. While bottles from some Chambertin producers can cost north of $5,000, this bottle from Domaine Tortochot comes in at just under $200, representing strong relative value. My friends over at Sokolin have this wine available here. —JJ