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NBA Tidbits: Jaylen Brown, Matt Ryan & Jose Alvarado Update, Kristraps Porzingis Joins Elite Company and Nic Batum Returns

Jaylen Brown suited up for the Boston Celtics’ 102-100 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night despite being listed as a Game Time Decision due to a groin injury. But the 27-year-old wing was hampered by the injury as he turned in his second-worst performance of the season last night. Brown finished with 12 points on 5 of 16 shooting, including 1 of 7 from the 3-point line. He recorded six rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and two steals.

NBA Tidbits: Jaylen Brown, Matt Ryan & Jose Alvarado Update, Kristraps Porzingis Joins Elite Company and Nic Batum Returns

Boston sits atop the Eastern Conference with an 11-2 record and takes their six-game winning streak into Charlotte on Monday in the second game of back-to-backs. The Celtics are 6-2 on the road this season and 1-0 in games following no days off.

While Brown has been cleared to play against the Hornets, Boston will be without two rotational players. Al Horford and Derrick White will both sit out the contest.

Charlotte has lost four straight games and is 3-9 on the season, including 1-6 at home. The Hornets have dealt with several injuries this year. Four players have appeared in every game thus far, and four others have missed just one contest. As a result, the Hornets have used three different starting lineups already. Terry Rozier will miss his eighth straight game with a groin injury and is among five players who won’t play against the Celtics. Nick Richards, Frank Ntikilina, James Bouknight, and Cody Martin also remain out.


Kristaps Porzingis Joins Elite Celtics’ Company

Kristaps Porzingis is a significant reason why the Celtics have remained a top defensive unit despite Boston shipping off former DPOY Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies over the summer. Porzingis showed off his defensive prowess against the Grizzlies, swatting away a season-high six shots, including Memphis’ game-tying shot attempt at the buzzer. The 7-3 big man, who has one double-double on the year, also had the game-winning bucket as he threw down a pass from Jayson Tatum to give the C’s a 102-100 lead with 1:01 remaining.

Porzingis finished with a game-high 26 points and eight rebounds, becoming the fourth player in Celtics history to score 25 points and block six shots. He was 9 of 13 from the floor, including 9 of 10 inside the 3-point line. It is the third time in his career that he has shot 90% on two-point attempts.

Porzingis ranks among the top league defenders in several categories. Ranked as the sixth-most prolific shot-blocker among active players, Porzingis is seventh in blocks this year at 1.8 a game. He is 14th in defensive win shares, 10th in defensive Plus/Minus, and eighth in defensive rating. Opponents shoot 44.9% from the field when he is the primary defender. Porzingis also holds opponents to 48.9% shooting within six feet of the basket, which is nearly 14% below league average, and 47.1% within 10 feet of the hoop, which is almost 10% below league average.

Al Horford, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parrish are the other Celtics to score 25 points and record six blocks. Horford accomplished the feat on Dec. 2, 2016. Meanwhile, McHale had four such games, and Parrish did it eight times.

Nic Batum Returns After Three-Game Absence

Nicolas Batum was back in the Philadelphia 76ers starting lineup for the Sixers 121-99 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday after missing the previous three games.

Batum contributed three rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes on Sunday. While the stats may not seem much, he did post a +25 plus/minus rating, tying Joel Embid for a game-best. The 6-8 versatile forward is averaging 6.2 points,3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in his five games with the Sixers.

Celtics’ Notes

Boston is the only team in the NBA to rank in the top 5 in offensive and defensive ranking. The Celtics moved ahead of the Orlando Magic for the top spot on the defensive end as the C’s held the Grizzlies to 100 points on 95 shots on Sunday. It was the third time this season that Boston has held its opponents to 100 or fewer points. Boston is third and fourth in the league in offensive rating.

Boston is playing tough defense as the Celtics are second in the league in field goal percentage defense and two-point field goal percentage. The Celtics are third in 3-point defensive percentage, third in opponents’ effective field goal percentage, and second in opponents’ free-throw percentage. The C’s are also fourth in defensive rebound percentage, fifth in opponent second chance points, and fourth in fast break points.

76ers Notes

Philadelphia (10-3) is off to its best start since the strike-shorten 2011-12 campaign. The Sixers have defeated the Nets five straight games, including four consecutive times in Brooklyn.

Embiid led the way for Philadelphia against Brooklyn as he just missed his first triple-double of the campaign, finishing with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists.  He leads the league with 31.9 points a game, sixth in rebounds (11.2). 13th in assists (6.2) and 15th in blocks (1.5). Sunday marked Embiid’s eighth game of 30+ points and his ninth double-double of the season.

Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and De’Anthony Melton combined for 78 of the Sixers 121 points. Maxey recorded his fifth double-double with 25 points and ten assists against the Nets. He has scored at least 20 points in 11 of his 13 appearances this season. Meanwhile, Melton chipped in 21 points — his second most this season — as he was 8 of 10 from the field and 4 of 6 from the 3-point line. Melton has connected on multiple 3-pointers in four straight games, going 16 of 25 (84%) over this span.

Other Tidbits

New York’s starting shooting guard Quentin Grimes is questionable for tonight’s tilt at Minnesota due to a wrist injury. He has missed the last two games due to the injury. Grimes has strictly been a 3-point specialist this year, with 84% of his attempts coming from beyond the arc. He averages 2.3 treys while shooting it at a 39.7% clip. Grimes is playing some exemplary defense.

Evan Fournier could miss his second straight game due to ankle inflammation as he is listed as questionable for the Knicks game against the Timberwolves.  Fournier has only seen action in one game this season, totaling two points on 1 of 6 shooting in 16 minutes of action against Washington on Friday.

New Orleans Pelicans backup point guard Jose Alvarado has another chance to debut as the Pels face Sacramento tonight. Alvarado, who has been sidelined due to a right ankle sprain, was upgraded to questionable on Saturday but wasn’t ready to go, per New Orleans coach Willie Green.

Alvarado announced that he would suit up tonight, per’s Christian Clark. If Alavardo does get into the game, which is likely, it will be his first action in nine months.

“I’m back,” Alvarado said. “I feel good. I will go through pregame. But I’m back. That’s the plan.”

However, New Orleans continues to be without CJ McCollum, Trey Murphy III, Larry Nance Jr. and Matt Ryan tonight. Ryan has been diagnosed with a mild right calf strain and is expected to miss about 10-to-14 days. He suffered the injury during the Pelicans’ loss to the Wolves on Saturday. Ryan is off to a strong start, averaging 9.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists while shooting .458/.471/.929


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