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NBA looking into 76ers’ injury reporting + what’s wrong with the Heat?

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Stock Market

Checking trends after an extended weekend

For yesterday’s newsletter, I was under strict orders to load manage my time — shoutout to Marcus Thompson for doing an amazing job. Now that I’m cleared to resume writing activities, let’s get into the latest trends in the NBA Stock Market!

📈 Pistons. Yes, the Pistons! Of Detroit! They beat the Thunder this past weekend and have won two of their last three games, and Cade Cunningham only played in the loss after returning. The 6-40 Pistons (last in the East, if you’re guessing) are four wins away from avoiding history.

📈 The Knicks are crushing everybody right now. The Knicks (30-17, fourth in East) have won seven straight games and are right on Philadelphia for the No. 3 seed. They’ve beaten the Rockets, Raptors, Nuggets, Heat and Hornets during this run.

📉 Scoring 62 points. Twice in the last week, we saw a player score 62 points while losing. Funny enough, it happened with Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker, who might be best friends. Maybe Booker was just trying to make KAT feel better about his loss?

📉 Watching Embiid at altitude. Once again, Embiid decided not to play in Denver, which threw a big wrench into the finish of Rivalry Week. He hasn’t played in Denver since 2019. Embiid played in Salt Lake City this month for the first time since 2019. He hates altitude! But what if we get a Philly-Denver Finals? 😬

📈 Scoring backlash. Are you anti-scoring now? Then, this is the week for you! Recently, we’ve had a 70-point game and a 62-point performance on the same night, causing people to start judging those enjoying the scoring outbursts. And, while I do think the NBA needs to allow more physical defense, we can’t keep acting like Mo Bamba scored 70 in these games. It was Embiid and Luka Dončić!

📈 The Kings (27-18, fifth in West) have bounced back by erasing its four-game losing streak and replacing it with a four-game winning streak, including winning against Dallas (26-21, seventh in West) and the Warriors (19-24, 12th in West). De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes and Domantas Sabonis are killing right now.

📈 The 28-16 Cavs are getting healthier and have enjoyed an incredible run on the court. They’ve won 10 of their last 11, with their only loss being to Milwaukee. They just beat the 30-15 Clippers (fourth in West) last night. The Cavs are half a game out of the No. 3 seed.

The Latest From Shams

NBA probing Sixers’ reporting

After Joel Embiid was a late scratch in Saturday’s nationally televised 76ers-Nuggets matchup, I’m told the NBA is indeed looking into Philadelphia’s injury reporting ahead of that game.

Embiid missed the showdown against Nikola Jokić due to knee soreness, and I’m told he didn’t enter the injury report until 15 minutes before the game. The situation has brought the topic of player participation and the league’s new 65-game criteria for many postseason honors back into the spotlight.

It should be noted that Embiid missed last night’s game in Portland as well. He’s having a monster season, averaging 36 points per game for the Sixers (29-16), but can only miss a few more games before he is ineligible for MVP and other honors.

Heat Cooling

Time to panic about Miami?

Don’t look now, but the Miami Heat are in shambles. Two weeks ago, they were 24-16, were on pace for a playoff spot and sat just two games behind the 76ers for third in the East. Even with Jimmy Butler missing games to start the season, the Heat looked much stronger than they did a regular season ago. Miami was playing good defense and getting by on offense.

Now, as we enter February, the Heat have lost seven straight, marking the team’s longest losing streak since the 2007-08 season, when it tied the franchise’s fewest wins in a season (15). That was the season before Erik Spoelstra took over. So, what is wrong with this Miami team?

During this streak, the Heat have lost to Toronto (trounced on the road), Atlanta (buzzer-beater), Orlando (trounced on the road), Memphis (held under 100 at home), Boston (trounced at home), New York (trounced on the road) and Phoenix (handled at home). You can forgive the last three losses, but they should have won those first four.

The Heat can’t buy a shot these days. They have the NBA’s fourth-worst defense in the last two weeks while sporting the absolute worst offense. They’re bottom five in turnover rate, dead last in shooting and one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. Miami tried to change its fortunes by trading for Terry Rozier, who needed 47 shots to score 47 points in his first four games with the Heat.

Tyler Herro has regressed. Bam Adebayo hasn’t maintained his hot start. Butler’s numbers look good, but Miami is getting killed with him on the court (minus-14 during losing streak). Jaime Jaquez Jr. has only played in two of those games due to a groin injury, but can their success really hinge on a rookie first-round pick?

We’ve seen the Heat overcome bad seasons, including as recently as a season ago during their NBA Finals run as a No. 8 seed. But that shouldn’t make them feel comfortable about where they are. It’s a terrible precedent to try to replicate.

About Last Night

Monday’s brilliant hoops slate

Mondays in the NBA are usually packed, as they should be now that “Monday Night Football” is over until the fall. If the NBA has more Mondays like last night’s 12-game slate, I might suggest setting up some nationally televised games each Monday.

Here’s what you should know from last night:

Nuggets 113, Bucks 107: Nikola Jokić didn’t shoot well (10-of-25 for 25 points), but he had a triple-double for the Nuggets (33-15, second in West). And Jamal Murray did shoot well with a game-high 35 points. Doc Rivers is 0-1 as the Bucks coach. No. 2 Milwaukee trails East-leading Boston by four games.

Wolves 107, Thunder 101: Minnesota (33-14, first in West) had a huge fourth quarter. Anthony Edwards went off on the court (27 points) and on the officials after the game, calling it “eight-on-five.” The Wolves and Thunder (32-15, third in West) went 2-2 in their regular-season series, with three of the games decided by 14 total points. 

Cavs 118, Clippers 108: Two of the hottest teams in basketball threw down as the Cavs (28-16, fifth in East) were fueled by 28 points and 12 assists from Donovan Mitchell and a 20-point, 17-rebound night from Jarrett Allen. James Harden only shot eight times in almost 40 minutes. He played like it was an elimination game.

Celtics 118, Pelicans 112: The Pelicans (26-21, eighth in West) were cooking in this one, but the East-best Celtics (36-11) outscored them 68-52 in the second half. 

Nets 147, Jazz 114: Ben Simmons is back! And he was good! In his first game since Nov. 6, he had 10 points (5-of-5 shooting), 11 assists and eight rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench for Brooklyn (19-27, 10th in East). Simmons had only one turnover.

Suns 118, Heat 105: Miami (24-23, seventh in East) trailed by almost 30 in this game despite Phoenix (27-20, sixth in West) not even playing that well.

Mavs 131, Magic 129: Dončić had 45 points in the close win for Dallas. That’s an off night for him lately. Orlando (24-23) is three games behind the sixth seed in the East.

Rockets 135, Lakers 119: Dillon Brooks flagrantly fouled LeBron James and talked trash. We also had memes of James looking furious at everything while on the bench. Jalen Green had 34-12-7 for his best game of the season. The Lakers (24-24, ninth in West) are a game ahead of Houston for the Play-in (22-24, 11th in West).

Kings 103, Grizzlies 94: Memphis (18-29, 13th in West) had 37 rebounds. Sabonis had a career-high 26 boards for the Kings. His 28 straight double-doubles are nearing Oscar Robertson’s franchise record (31 in 1961).

Bounce Passes

Read Tim Cato’s incredible step-by-step breakdown of Luka dropping 73 on the Hawks.

Will scoring get even more out of control in the season’s second half?

Watch this breakdown of the Victor Wembanyama-Chet Holmgren battle from last week.

Screen Game (All times Eastern)

  • Main Screen: Pacers-Celtics (7:30 p.m. TNT). Easily the best game of the night and a potential playoff preview. Indy (27-20, sixth in East) has won three straight.
  • Second Screen: 76ers-Warriors (10 p.m. TNT). Will Embiid play for Philly (29-16, third in East)? We don’t know! Will the Warriors be good? Maybe not!
  • League Pass Game of the Night: Jazz-Knicks (7:30 p.m.). The Jazz (24-24, 10th in West) are reeling a little bit. The Knicks (30-17, fourth in East) provide a massive test for them. Full schedule here.

( Top photo: Bart Young / Getty Images )

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