Peltzman’s NBA Playbook: Griffin Bucked Out, the first 70-point 76er, Siakam and Rozier trades

Peltzman's NBA Playbook graphic. -Multimedia Editor / Drew Peltzman

Griffin Out In Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Bucks sit at the number two spot in the Eastern Conference through the first half of the season. For the front office and ownership, this was not sufficient considering the shocking firing of first-year head coach Adrian Griffin. Why would a team this set up for a playoff run leave their head coach on the side of the road for the remainder of the season?

The answer stems from the fact that Griffin, a reported pick for the coaching vacancy by Giannis Antetokounmpo to avoid Nick Nurse, was hired four months before the Sept. 27 trade for Damian Lillard. Last season, the Bucks ranked fourth in the NBA in defensive rating. Through 43 games this season, the Bucks rank 21st in the league. Griffin also bumped heads at practice with respected assistant head coach Terry Stotts, who resigned a few days after the incident. This, in addition to a doubt that Griffin would be able to put the players in positions to win in the playoffs, resulted in his dismissal.

A common thought is that Griffin was doomed since the trade for Lillard took place, as his entire off-season plan had to be reworked to include the superstar guard. The immense expectations and media pressure with Lillard and Giannis would take a toll on any first-year coach, except for maybe Ty Lue. Doc Rivers has been hired to fill the vacancy after serving as an advisor to Griffin for most of the season.

The First 70-point 76er

Joel Embiid, on Monday, became the ninth player to ever score 70 points in a single game, and the first to ever do it in a 76ers uniform. The reigning MVP delivered a historic performance in a matchup against Victor Wembanyama and the Spurs and is the first to score 70 in a game since both Donovan Mitchell and Damian Lillard reached 71 in early 2023. Wilt Chamberlain had scored 70 or more in a game on six separate occasions, including the all-time record of 100 points. Other names on the lucrative list include Elgin Baylor (71), David Thompson (73), David Robinson (71), Devin Booker (70), and Kobe Bryant (81).

The Sixers center joins only Michael Jordan to put up 65+ points 15+ rebounds and 5+ assists in a single game and is now averaging the most points per minute in NBA history at 0.87 – .05 points above current second-place holder Luka Doncic.

Joel’s season has been remarkable, putting up more than his MVP averages without playing in the fourth quarter for a dozen games this season. After missing some games earlier this month for a left knee injury, Embiid can only miss seven more games if he still wants to be eligible for postseason awards and defend his MVP trophy.

Scary Terry Is Free From Charlotte

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The Heat’s acquisition of Terry Rozier, a younger more athletic scoring guard than the 37-year-old Kyle Lowry, can alleviate the pressure of scoring as he is currently putting up career-high averages in points (23.2), assists (6.6), and field goal percentage (45.9). The Heat are currently ranked 20th in offensive rating, but I would not be surprised to see that number rise by the end of the season. This acquisition of Rozier is setting up Miami, despite being the sixth seed in the east, to be the team absolutely nobody wants to face in the playoffs and potentially go on another Finals run like they did last year.

Hornets General Manager Mitch Kupchak was vague on whether he will relocate Lowry or let the the trade deadline pass.

Pacers Pair Haliburton & Siakam

Despite not winning a game since the trade, the Pacers have to be happy with the Siakam and Haliburton pairing so far. They have played one game together and both put up 21 points in a defeat to Portland but Haliburton has missed the last two with a hamstring injury. Dealing away Brown will free up more than enough cap space to sign Siakam to a max extension this summer, a deal he has been public about wanting to complete. The Pacers are currently seventh in the East after losing three in a row, and the Cavaliers winning eight straight has shifted seeding. I doubt that once Haliburton gets healthy, he will let the Pacers be a play-in team come spring.

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