Big Ben Tuesday: Mavs and Luca Tank, Knicks vs Donovan Mitchell, Red Hot Rays

STAMFORD, CT – With the NBA playoffs about to start, er, at least the play-in games, which are technically not the playoffs, let’s talk some hoops. And a little hockey. And some baseball. Today’s topics; Mavs and Luca tank right out of the playoffs, Donovan Mitchell vs the Knicks, and the Red Hot Tampa Bay Chili Rays. 

Tanks

The first version of the “tank” was used in World War I. It was a failure as its top speed was two mph and it got stuck in trenches. The first sports teams to blatantly tank were the ’83-84 Houston Rockets and the ’83-84 Pittsburgh Penguins, to increase their odds of getting Hakeem Olajuwon and Mario Lemieux.

Well, tanking is alive and well in the NBA and the NHL. The Mavs took a dive to miss the play-in and keep a lottery protected pick, instead of sending it to the Knicks. The Blazers shut down Damian Lillard with two weeks left due to a phantom thigh injury. On the ice, the Blue Jackets practically put the puck in their own net to lose to the Rangers and increase their odds of getting franchise-changer Connor Bedard.

Tanking is always a bad look, but it’s hard to blame teams for doing it. It worked out pretty well with Olajuwon and Lemieux, eh? In typical Jets Jetsiness, the Jets forgot to tank when Trevor Lawrence was falling into their lap. Look at them now, waiting outside of a dark cave to beg Aaron Rodgers to play QB for them. When there’s a monster talent like Trevor Lawrence, Connor Bedard, or Victor Wembanyama sitting there, you have to at least play the back end of your bench.

Wembanyama is the French center expected to be the top pick. He’s slightly better than former Knicks first round pick and French center, Frederick Weiss

There is an obvious solution to this tanking mess that much of the world figured out long ago. Relegation.

Is Luca the Problem?

The Mavs were horrible down the stretch and missing the playoffs was probably the right decision for their future. The addition of Kyrie Irving did not help at all. It seems to me that part of the problem is Luca Doncic. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching this guy play. But he just needs the ball too much and it seems hard to get an offensive flow with him dominating the ball. Plus, he plays zero defense. It’s easy to argue that Jalen Brunson’s value was restrained playing with Luca.

I’d like to see Damien Lilliard and Luca on the same team. They’ve suffered enough bad teammates, let’s see if they can make it work together.

Donovan Mitchell and the Cavs vs Knicks

The big story in the Cavs Knicks series is Donovan Mitchell. Supposedly, the Knicks did not want to part with RJ Barrett. In retrospect, I think you immediately part with RJ Barrett to get Mitchell, even with the three first round picks it would have taken on top of that. If the Knicks had to include Toppin and Mitchell Robinson, it gets harder. But RJ would be gone.

He can take it to the basket pretty well, but his three point shooting is abysmal. It’s 31%, but feels like he misses four of five. If everyone is healthy, my top five in crunch time for the Knicks would be Brunson, Quickley, Hart, Randle, and Mitchell

Break Up the Rays

I’ll end with some baseball. In case you haven’t noticed, the Tampa Bay Rays are 9-0 with a ridiculous +57 run differential. They’ve already logged three shutouts and have averaged a whopping 8.3 runs per games. Yikes, my fellow Yankees fans.

With a closer look you might write this off to playing three of the worst teams in baseball in the Tigers, Nationals, and A’s. That is probably a fair point, as those three teams aren’t expected to win many games. But still, it’s one heck of a start.

The Rays have a stretch of seven games in May in New York against the Yankees and the Mets from May 11th to the 18th. Hopefully that train will have lost some steam by then.

Comment below and come back tomorrow for Angry Ward. And follow us on Twitter at @benwhit8 & @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts. And we’re on Instagram, too – @MeetTheMatts.

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About Ben Whitney 402 Articles
Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest "rounders" games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.