Three Things To Know is NBC’s five-day-a-week roundup of the previous night in the NBA. Check NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before, plus the gossip, drama and dunks that make the NBA a staple.
1) Should the NBA turn to target scoring for overtime?
Overtime should not only decide the winner of the game, but also give fans drama on the edge of your seat. They must be intense. The NFL and NHL get that with their sudden death scoring systems and you win (NFL is tweaked a bit, but it still works).
NBA overtime often lacks that tension, that level of intensity.
However, the league may have found the answer in the G-League this year – setting a target score and running teams. Wouldn’t NBA overtime be more dramatic and entertaining if it was “the first team to score 12 points wins” rather than playing five minutes?
It’s an idea that could be on the way for years to come – the NBA tried it out in the G-League this season, and all reports say teams love it. Given that the NBA uses the G-League as a petri dish to experiment with new ideas, and that end is in full swing there…don’t be shocked if this ends up in the NBA in the next two years.
The NBA has been using the Elam Ending – or what they will call the target score ending – for a few years now. Fans will recognize this from the All-Star Game, where the target score to win is 24 more than the leading team at the end of the third quarter (24 for Kobe Bryant, so if West leads 110-100 then the goal score is 134, the first team to the number wins). It worked well and added some drama to an often boring game that lacks intensity.
So why not bring him to overtime at NBA regular season games? The NBA experimented with it this year with the G-League – the first team to score eight wins – and the buzz was good. John Hollinger summed it up nicely when writing to The Athletic after the G-League Showcase in Las Vegas just before Christmas.
This change was approved by NBA staff I spoke to, with the consensus being that NBA overtime is too long right now and deflates drama from late in the fourth quarter. Target scoring has also eliminated the risk of multiple overtimes and the crazy situations they can cause. G League staff members love it too.
The number has to be over eight points for NBA overtime, a couple dozen give or take makes sense. Hollinger noted that the new ending created its own strategies in OT.
If your opponent is three points away from the target score, do you foul to eliminate the loss on a 3 point? Concede a lay-up to do the same? (I’ve seen a few teams in this situation embrace all shooters and leave gaping holes in Main Street).
It should be just one regular season thing – getting to the playoffs and I want the potential drama of multiple overtimes, and the intensity of every possession is already there. Think of it like the NHL, which during the regular season plays 3-on-3 hockey in overtime for five minutes, and then if nobody scores, they go to a shootout. However, in the playoffs, it’s regular 5-on-5 hockey and sudden death – the first team to score wins. There’s no reason the regular season and playoff rules should be the same.
It also doesn’t mean the NBA should put a target score at the end of the fourth quarter – keep the 48 minutes at 48 minutes. Don’t mess with the regular four-quarter play. But overtime in the NBA can often lack the drama it should have – a target score could help change that.
2) Jokic, Denver beat Boston and… are the Nuggets the best team in the West?
In a very open western conference, why not the Denver Nuggets?
Denver showed how dangerous it could be on Sunday night as Nikola Jokic posted another triple-double with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists – and the Denver Nuggets fought their way past the Boston Celtics, 123-111 in a battle of the teams for first place in every conference.
—NBA (@NBA) January 2, 2023
It was one of those nights the Nuggets couldn’t miss, shooting 57% overall and hitting 17 of 30 from 3. The Nuggets have been shooting hot for a while and won 10 of 12, and more importantly, their defense of the last five before this run was a respectable 12th in the league over the last twelve games.
Jaylen Brown had 30 and Jayson Tatum 25, but the Celtics shot 9 of 33 (27.3%) from 3 on the night.
This game featured a long delay after a dunk from Robert Williams III knocked one of the rims askew and a crew of six plus some ladders and workmen with a level had to get out and straighten the thing out.
Nuggets players were playing rock-paper-scissors with a fan 38 minutes late 😂💙 pic.twitter.com/0L3qL0jJPt
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 2, 2023
Even after that, Brown was not happy.
“There was no communication. They spent all that time trying to fix it, but when we came back it still looked like it wasn’t even level, in my opinion. So we lost all this time,” Brown said, via The Associated Press. “It has an effect on the game. That’s how injuries and stuff happen. Luckily, that hasn’t been the case. [happen], but it was not good. This whole process was mishandled, in my opinion, and that had an effect as well. But luckily no one was hurt.
The Nuggets, when they defend like that, are legit. They could come out West this season.
3) Ja Morant puts 35 in Grizzlies win, then makes Young Fans Day
The Grizzlies continued to roll Sunday night as Ja Morant scored 35 points and his Grizzlies retired in the fourth quarter to beat the Sacramento Kings 118-108.
Dishing, dunking, doing it all 🐻
—NBA (@NBA) January 2, 2023
However, the highlight of the night was Morant making a young Grizzlies fan’s day by giving him his playing shoes after the win.
Dillon Brooks added 15 for the Grizzlies, while Steven Adams matched his career high with 23 rebounds.