Monday night’s NBA schedule features 9 games and I’m here to break down the connections between old coaches, players and cities.
Blazers vs Pacers
After beginning his coaching career in Seattle, Nate McMillan coached Portland for 7 seasons from 2005-2012, finishing his tenure 3 games below .500 (266-269). His first three seasons ended with no playoffs, and the next three ended with first round playoff exits, before being fired mid-way during the 2012 season. After sitting on the Pacers bench as an assistant coach, he got the job in 2016, replacing Frank Vogel, after Vogel failed to elevate the Pacers to the next level. Through two seasons (94-76 cumulative record), McMillan has faced the same issues, with two first round playoff exits in two seasons, though in his own defense, this team is considerably less talented than some of the ones Vogel had. McMillan gets credit for maximizing the talent of 2018 All-Star Victor Oladipo, something no one else had previously done.
Hawks vs 76ers
The Hawks are embarking on a “Trust the process” type rebuild, complete with replicating the Philadelphia coaching staff. They hired Lloyd Pierce as their head coach this summer, to replace Mike Budenholzer. Pierce was on the Sixers staff from 2013-2018 and spent the entire time working under head coach Brett Brown. Monday offers the first chance to coach against one of his former mentors.Brown is 127-283 in 5 long seasons in Philly. “The process” finally peaked in 2018 with a playoff appearance after four long, challenging seasons. The Hawks are 2-3 and playing hard with a team comprised of mostly young recent draft picks. Pierce needs to hope for the same fortune and patience that Brown received in Philly, despite undergoing a couple of regime changes in his time there.
Nets vs Knicks
Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, who had a lengthy playing career overseas, got his first NBA coaching gig with the Knicks, serving as an assistant to Mike D’Antoni from 2008-2012. He would move onto the Hawks from 2012-2016 before getting the Nets job. Things are going slowly in Brooklyn as Atkinson has won just 48 games through two seasons but has been plagued by not having a lottery pick (Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum perhaps?) and a tight salary cap that has limited the spending. Atkinson is 3-6 coaching vs the Knicks through two seasons, including a win on Brooklyn’s opening night a couple weeks ago.
Warriors vs Bulls
Ron Adams is one of the most respected assistant coaches in the NBA. He worked with the Bulls from 2010-2013 but saw his contract expire after the 2013 season, a decision he called hurtful. Since being let go in Chicago, Adams has worked in Boston and is currently one of Steve Kerr’s top assistants. Adams is a defensive specialist and has worked closely with Draymond Green in developing him to be one of the game’s top defensive players. I’m sure Monday’s game is as personal as any for the, now 3x NBA champion Adams.
Kings vs Heat
Hassan Whiteside was a second round draft pick by the Kings in 2010. He appeared in just 19 games through two seasons, spending most of his time in the G-League, before being waived in 2012. After bouncing around the G-League and EuroBasket, Whiteside has found a home in Miami since 2014. In 2016, Whiteside led the league in blocks and in 217, led the league in rebounds. He now has career averages of 13.6 ppg and 11.4 rpg. Coming into Monday night, his numbers are at 11.8 ppg and 14.6 rpg. While Whiteside struggled during the 2018 playoffs to find a role in the evolving NBA style, there is always a need for an athletic rebounder and shot blocker, giving Whiteside a renewed purpose as he averages 30 minutes per game, after playing just 15 minutes per game during last year’s playoffs. Whiteside is on a list of many, many, many players that the Kings let get away without any kind of compensation.
Lakers vs Wolves
On Saturday night, we told the story of the New Orleans/Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans. Monday night features similar circumstances. The Los Angeles Lakers, who originated in Minnesota, faces the team who 30 years later replaced them, the Timberwolves. Like the case with the Jazz, the Lakers nickname made a lot more sense in Minneapolis, the land of a thousand lakes.
Lakers originated in and played in Minnesota from 1947-1958 before moving out west. Can you imagine an NBA without the LA Lakers? Without all those dynasties and without Lakers vs Celtics? Minnesota regained an NBA team in 1989 when the Timberwolves began play. Both team’s enter Monday’s game at 2-4 but moving in opposite directions. Lakers got off the schneid, with their first two wins of the year last week and starting to show signs of cohesion with their new remade roster. The Wolves are a mess and need to move on from Jimmy Butler for the benefit of everyone.
Other games on Monday’s schedule include: Mavs vs Spurs, Pelicans vs Nuggets, Raptors vs Bucks