New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson will replace Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid in the starting lineup for Team Durant in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, which will be played tonight at State Farm Arena in Atlanta (8 p.m. ET, TNT and ESPN Radio). Team Durant head coach Doc Rivers made the decision to go with Williamson to replace Embiid.
Embiid and his teammate, All-Star Ben Simmons, have been ruled out of the 2021 NBA All-Star game due to the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Embiid and Simmons were exposed to COVID-19 through their personal barber, who had a positive test result and is awaiting another test. Both players traveled by themselves on private planes and had no exposure to other players or people down in the Atlanta bubble.
Fortunately, both players did not come in contact with the other All-Stars in Atlanta.
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley has been named by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to replace injured Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker on Team Durant in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, the league announced on Friday.
In addition, Conley will replace Booker in the 2021 MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest, which will be held on March 7 before the NBA All-Star Game.
This is the first NBA All-Star selection for Conley, who is in his 14th season. He is averaging 16.1 points and 5.7 assists and shooting a career-high 42.2 percent from three-point range in 29 games this season. The 33-year-old Conley has helped the Jazz post an NBA-best 27-9 record. He joins two Utah teammates, Team LeBron center Rudy Gobert and Team Durant guard Donovan Mitchell, in the NBA All-Star Game.
Booker is unable to play in the NBA All-Star Game or participate in the MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest because of a left knee sprain. He was named to the NBA All-Star Game by the Commissioner as an injury replacement for Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis. Booker is averaging 24.9 points and 4.4 assists in 31 games this season.
The NBA All-Star Game and MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest are part of NBA All-Star 2021, which will take place on one night. TNT’s NBA All-Star coverage on March 7 will begin at 5 p.m. ET with TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by CarMax, followed by the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge and MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. NBA All-Star Game coverage will begin at 8 p.m. ET, with AT&T Slam Dunk taking place at halftime.
The Mavericks(18-16) go into the All-Star break playing some decent basketball. Dallas has won three straight and 10 of their last 13, including Wednesday night’s 87-78 home victory over the Thunder(14-21).
Dallas was without their star Luka Doncic, who missed Wednesday’s game due to lower back tightness.
The Mavericks struggled with their shot against OKC and shot only 39% from the field, including 8-40 from three-point range. In the first half, Dallas was 1-19 from three-point range, but it was all about what Dallas did on defense. They held OKC to a season-low of 78 points.
After the game, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle talked about the rough shooting night and the great defense.
“What a tough game,” Carlisle said. “It was going to be difficult, it was going to be physical, it was going to be tight,” Carlisle said. “The shooting wasn’t there, particularly in the first half. When I looked at halftime, it was hard to believe we were 1-for-19 from 3. But we just kept with the process, stepped into some shots in the second half. The defense was tremendous — maybe our second-best game other than one early on—three sub-20-point quarters. The defensive belt tonight went to the entire team, which is a bit of a departure but appropriate for the circumstance.”
Now, the focus is getting rest during All-Star weekend. The Mavericks had a lot of issues with COVID-19 in the first half of the season. Guys like Josh Richardson, Jalen Brunson, Maxi Kleiber, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Dwight Powell all missed time due to health and safety protocols, but now those guys are healthy.
According to Kristaps Porzingis, who had 19 points and 13 rebounds against OKC, Dallas is starting to get a rhythm.
“I started the season late. Maxi [Kleber] and Dwight [Powell] and everyone was catching the virus,” Porzingis said. “We didn’t have the whole team playing for a while. It just took time, and also the schedule was really tough. It was a combination of things. The good thing is that we are getting in a rhythm lately and want to keep it going after the break.”
Richardson, who had 16 points on Wednesday night, added: “We have had a lot of guys in and out of the lineup. We have had six-game skids, three-game skids and have just been all over the place. But I think we are starting to find good form, and hopefully, it carries over after the break.”
Dallas is playing good basketball right now, and you wonder if the break is coming at the wrong time because this team seems to have found a rhythm. The rest should be good for this team as they prepare to make a playoff push in the final 36 games of the regular season.
The Delaware Blue Coats (9-4), the NBA G League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers, defeated the Canton Charge (4-9), 103-97, on Wednesday afternoon at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida. With the win and NBA G League Ignite’s loss to the Agua Caliente Clippers, the Blue Coats clinched a playoff berth for the first time in Delaware franchise history.
76ers two-way contract player Paul Reed scored 14 of his 26 points (10-17 FG, 2-4 3FG, 3-3 FT) in the fourth quarter, the most for any Blue Coat in a single quarter this season. He added 12 rebounds, including a season-high nine boards on the offensive glass. It was Reed’s 10th double-double in 13 games.
Delaware’s Justin Robinson tallied 17 points (7-16 FG 2-6 3FG, 1-4 FT), seven rebounds and a game-high eight assists in a game-high 35 minutes of action. Michael Frazier II scored 18 points (7-14 FG, 1-4 3FG, 3-4 FT) off the bench, while Jemerrio Jones posted a game-high plus-24 rating with five points, eight rebounds and four assists.
The Blue Coats overcame a 16-point deficit in the game. They won the rebounding battle, 52-49, and scored 20 more points in the paint (54-34). Delaware swiped at least 10 steals (11) for the ninth time in 13 games.
The NBA G League playoffs begin March 8. The Blue Coats will play two more games this week to complete their 15-game regular season schedule.
UP NEXT: Delaware will take on the Salt Lake City Stars on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
For most of the night, the Cleveland Cavaliers(14-22)were rolling against the Indiana Pacers. After Darius Garland made a driving layup plus the foul in the third quarter, Cleveland went up 77-60. However, Garland would leave the game with a groin injury, and Indiana(16-19) would outscore the Cavs by 20 points the rest of the way and win 114-111 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Wednesday night.
With the loss, Cleveland’s four-game winning streak is snapped. Indiana was led by Malcolm Brogdon, who had a team-high 29 points, and T.J. McConnell, who had a triple-double with 16 points, 13 assists, and 10 steals off the bench. McConnell set an NBA record with nine steals(first half) in a half and became the first player since Mookie Blaylock(1998) to have a triple-double with points, assists, and steals.
After Garland went out of the game, Cleveland’s offense struggled, and they committed seven of the team’s season-high 26 turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff discussed the struggles on offense without Garland.
“Darius is a heck of a playmaker,” Bickerstaff said after the game. “He’s a guy teams have to worry about as far as scoring and also making his teammates better. He was one of our primary ball-handlers and playmakers. And, without him in the game, it just became a little more difficult… We missed Darius a lot down the stretch.”
According to Collin Sexton, who had a game-high 32 points to go along with 10 assists, if the team would have limited the turnovers, they would beat the Pacers on Wednesday night.
“We just gotta be better,” Sexton said. “We had too many turnovers tonight. We cut down on turnovers; hell, we win that game by at least 10, 12 points.
Despite the loss, Cleveland has to be excited by how they played in the last few games before the All-Star break, especially when you consider they had a 10-game losing streak. Now, as they go into the break, Cleveland has to hope they can get it healthy, which could give this team a shot at a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.