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Introducing The NBA Casual Papers: Everything A Casual Fan Needs To Know To Catch Up On The Season

Stacy Revere. Getty Images.

Welcome to the NBA Casual Papers. A new recurring blog I'm piloting designed to target an audience of casual NBA fans who might find themselves looking for something to do after football season and popping on a Cleveland Cavaliers game only to wonder when LeBron James will ever check back in. And once they realize their error, suavely fix it by switching over to the Heat game. 

Hand up, as much as I love basketball, I've been a certified casual in recent years. But it's not my fault. There's a lot this league needs to fix and I diagnosed it all last week. Basically, this league is on a runaway track with a steeper grade than the Polar Express where animated Tom Hanks plays easily the worst train conductor in the history of train conductors. But that's a blog for another day. This blog is about catching fellow NBA casuals up to speed with some inside scoops even the likes of Russillo, Simmons, Partnow, Ben Taylor, or Goldsberry don't even know. Little nuggets you can drop in a pinch if someone sizes you up trying to see if you know ball. Here are answers to all the questions you need to know. Let's get to it. 

When do teams start trying on defense?

This is an important question because we all know teams basically go through the motions for much of the season so we need some backing to defend the fact that us casuals haven't been crushing League Pass since October. Historically speaking, teams have always began going full speed on defense on precisely the 83rd game of the season. For Sacramento Kings fans, that means the playoffs. This is isn't just a new age NBA thing either, it's kinda always been like this. 

Break this down by any decade and it's the same. Scoring trends up slightly as the season progresses before going crypto in the playoffs. This is interesting since the playoffs contain the best offensive teams, but speaks towards the fact that coaches have some time to actually game plan defensively for a particular opponent. Definitely remember this when a hardo asks why you haven't been watching. If the teams don't care enough yet, why should we?

Speaking of the Sacramento Kings - no franchise in the big four of major sports has a longer playoff appearance drought than the Kings (16 years) now that the Mariners ended their streak that was old enough to drink. Despite the fact that only 16 percent of NBA teams have ever made the playoffs after losing their first four games, the Kings are ready to break that trend sitting in third place in the West with a 32-25 record. This will all be really fun for the Kings until they run into the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs, who have been my favorite team this season ever since I realized they've been wearing 90's drip a few weeks ago. Let's be honest - 90's NBA jersey/court graphics are undefeated. 

What player made the most consecutive threes in a game so far this year? 

Giphy Images.

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Zach Lavine made the most consecutive three pointers of the year with eight on January 6th. Not going to lie, I didn't take Zach as a "going downtown on Jan 6th" type of guy, but here we are. 

OK who MISSED the most three pointers in a game?

Speaking of Jan 6th dad jokes, let's talk overtime (stick with me here as I prepare to nail this landing). Let's talk sad overtime. The Miami Heat visited the Washington Wizards on November 18th losing 107-106 to the home team in OT. But here's the thing - the 4th quarter ended with the game tied at 104. 

Giphy Images.
Giphy Images.

Yep, that makes five combined points in overtime for both teams. This is the second fewest combined OT points ever (shout out Charlotte Hornets who were involved in a two-point effort with the Nuggets in 1997). The Wizard's offensive possessions in OT ended in: Miss-Dunk-Offensive Foul-Turnover-1/2 Free Throws-Turnover-Miss-Miss-Miss. Again, this was the team that won the game. 

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Meanwhile, the Heat only mustered a couple free throws in OT and decided to let Max Strus attempt a last second three to no avail. You might wonder why Strus decided on a three despite being down only one. You'll wonder even more when you learn he had missed his prior ten consecutive three point shots before missing once again at the buzzer for eleven in a row which - yes - is the answer to the bolded question above. 

OK, here we go. 

I guess history does repeat itself as Washington DC once again allowed residents of Florida to waltz through their open doors after regulation of a contest allowing no resistance whatsoever only to discover such visitors had absolutely no earthly idea what they were doing anyway.

Giphy Images.

OK but has anyone failed to make a single three pointer for an entire calendar month while attempting at least 26?

So glad you asked because the answer is no. I'm here to defend the honor of Dennis Smith Jr. of the Charlotte Hornets who took 26 three point attempts in the month of January and went a gentlemen's 1/26. His make came in the first game of the new year which was followed by 23 consecutive misses - the most of anyone so far this season across multiple games. But I'm not here to bring up the 23-consecutive misses part. I'm here to remind everyone that he at least made one in January, so there's no reason to poke any fun. Here's the breakdown in graph form. Big miss by Miami not trading for this guy. Talk about a culture fit. 

What team had the saddest foul of the season?

Only the Spurs have committed a sad personal foul while down 30. I'm defining this as any personal foul on defense (to presumably stop the clock) in the final minute of a game when a team has no chance to comeback to win. The Spurs did this on October 19th and decided to run it back in December down 34. In fact, three out of the saddest four fouls in the league so far belong to San Antonio. Hang it. 

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Who is winning the Ben Simmons challenge?

OK, so the Ben Simmons challenge is having the lowest percentage of shots taken per minute played for any shooting guard with at least 1,000 minutes played. Yeah, I just made that stat up on the fly. As you might know, Ben Simmons often times flat refuses to take a shot even when wide open and it's gotten so bad that even the broadcast crew of Nets games couldn't help but offer some advice to guide him in the right direction:

Ben might be the most confounding basketball player ever. He just really has no interest in shooting. It's like he visited a youth summer camp to play a little ball and felt so good passing the ball to the little tots that he never really got out of that mode. If Isaiah Thomas (no not that one causals, I mean his son) made a comeback and joined the Nets I think Ben Simmons would lift him up for a layup before taking a shot of his own. Anyway, I was shocked to learn that Ben Simmons didn't even place first in his own contest.

Leave it to Ben Simmons to even shy away from leading the league in shying away. But congrats to Alex for being an uncredited extra in his own Carushow. 

That's enough for today. Oh yeah - KD is on the Suns now and Kyrie is on the Mavericks. You won't find LeBron in Cleveland or Miami anymore as he's been on the Lakers for a few years. Just never on the Twitter graphic when they lose. 

Welcome back NBA causals!  Hit me up with any weird stat tips/question on Twitter

- Jeffro