Suspended Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving verbally apologised for his recent social media post for the first time on Saturday, saying he is "deeply" sorry to the Jewish community as a return to NBA ranks looms.

The Nets listed Irving, who has been out for eight games due to a team-imposed suspension for sharing a book and film with antisemitic tropes on social media, as "questionable" for Sunday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Irving said he has been on a "learning journey" as part of his suspension and reintegration into the Nets team.

The seven-time All-Star had previously apologised on social media after the suspension was imposed on him for the "harmful impact of his conduct". Prior to that, Irving had failed to apologise for sharing the post nor unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs on numerous occasions in the immediate days after that.

"I just want to apologise deeply for all my actions throughout the time that it's been since the post was first put up," Irving told SNY. "I've had a lot of time to think. But my focus, initially, if I could do it over, would be to heal and repair a lot of my close relationships with my Jewish relatives, brothers and sisters.

"I really want to focus on the hurt that I caused or the impact that I made within the Jewish community. Putting some type of threat, or assumed threat, on the Jewish community."

The fall-out for Irving has been significant. Not only was he suspended by his team, Nike announced they had severed relations with him after a decade-long relationship and were dropping his latest signature shoe, the Kyrie 8, from its catalogue.

Irving has met with several representatives from key communities, working with the Nets, the NBA and the NBPA to move towards remediation and a resolution. His meetings included with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who is Jewish.

"It was a learning journey to be honest with you," Irving said. "It was a lot of hurt that needed to be healed, a lot of conversations that needed to be had and a lot of reflection.

"I got a chance to do that with some great people from the Jewish community. From the Black community, from the white community - I've had so many conversations with all of our races and cultures and religious groups of people.

"Just try to find a better perspective on how we live a more harmonious life. I'm a man who stands for peace. I don't condone any hate speech or any prejudice and I don't want to be in a position where I'm being misunderstood on where I stand in terms of antisemitism or any hate for that matter for anybody in this world."

Irving called his initial reaction as self-defense when he failed to unequivocally declare he was not antisemitic during a press conference, when offered numerous opportunities, leading to the team-imposed ban, which had been indefinite without pay but for a minimum of five games.

"I felt like I was protecting my character and I reacted out of just pure defense and just hurt that I could be labeled, or I thought that I was being labeled as antisemitic or anti-Jewish, and I've felt like that was just so disrespectful to ask me whether or not I was antisemitic or not," Irving said.

"Now to the outside world, that may have been seen as a simple 'yes' or 'no'. Which rightfully so, it should've been, 'No, I'm not antisemitic. No, I'm not anti-Jewish.' I'm a person who believes we should all have equal opportunities and that we should all shower each other with love, and that should be at the forefront.

"But it wasn’t in that initial conversation, and I take my accountability and I want to apologise for that, because it came off the wrong way completely."

Suspended Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving verbally apologized for his recent social media post for the first time on Saturday, saying he is "deeply" sorry to the Jewish community as a return to NBA ranks looms.

The Nets listed Irving, who has been out for eight games due to a team-imposed suspension for sharing a book and film with antisemitic tropes on social media, as "questionable" for Sunday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Irving said he has been on a "learning journey" as part of his suspension and reintegration into the Nets team.

The seven-time All-Star had previously apologized on social media after the suspension was imposed on him for the "harmful impact of his conduct". Prior to that, Irving had failed to apologize for sharing the post nor unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs on numerous occasions in the immediate days after that.

"I just want to apologize deeply for all my actions throughout the time that it's been since the post was first put up," Irving told SNY. "I've had a lot of time to think. But my focus, initially, if I could do it over, would be to heal and repair a lot of my close relationships with my Jewish relatives, brothers and sisters.

"I really want to focus on the hurt that I caused or the impact that I made within the Jewish community. Putting some type of threat, or assumed threat, on the Jewish community."

The fall-out for Irving has been significant. Not only was he suspended by his team, Nike announced they had severed relations with him after a decade-long relationship and were dropping his latest signature shoe, the Kyrie 8, from its catalogue.

Irving has met with several representatives from key communities, working with the Nets, the NBA and the NBPA to move towards remediation and a resolution. His meetings included with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who is Jewish.

"It was a learning journey to be honest with you," Irving said. "It was a lot of hurt that needed to be healed, a lot of conversations that needed to be had and a lot of reflection.

"I got a chance to do that with some great people from the Jewish community. From the Black community, from the white community - I've had so many conversations with all of our races and cultures and religious groups of people.

"Just try to find a better perspective on how we live a more harmonious life. I'm a man who stands for peace. I don't condone any hate speech or any prejudice and I don't want to be in a position where I'm being misunderstood on where I stand in terms of antisemitism or any hate for that matter for anybody in this world."

Irving called his initial reaction as self-defense when he failed to unequivocally declare he was not antisemitic during a press conference, when offered numerous opportunities, leading to the team-imposed ban, which had been indefinite without pay but for a minimum of five games.

"I felt like I was protecting my character and I reacted out of just pure defense and just hurt that I could be labeled, or I thought that I was being labeled as antisemitic or anti-Jewish, and I've felt like that was just so disrespectful to ask me whether or not I was antisemitic or not," Irving said.

"Now to the outside world, that may have been seen as a simple 'yes' or 'no'. Which rightfully so, it should've been, 'No, I'm not antisemitic. No, I'm not anti-Jewish.' I'm a person who believes we should all have equal opportunities and that we should all shower each other with love, and that should be at the forefront.

"But it wasn’t in that initial conversation, and I take my accountability and I want to apologize for that, because it came off the wrong way completely."

All-Star point guard Ja Morant is "week -to-week" after the Memphis Grizzlies confirmed he had sustained a Grade 1 left ankle sprain.

Morant had to be helped off the court in Friday's 121-110 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder after getting tangled with Lu Dort in the fourth quarter.

The 23-year-old is averaging 28.6 points and 7.1 assists per game this season for the Grizzlies, who are already without Desmond Bane, who will be re-evaluated in two to three weeks due to a Grade 2 sprain of his right big toe.

"After further evaluation, it was determined that Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant suffered a Grade 1 sprain of his left ankle during the November 18 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder," the franchise announced on Saturday.

"Morant's return to play timeline will be week-to-week, and updates will be provided as appropriate."

The Grizzlies are scheduled to face the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, with Kyrie Irving potentially returning for the home side at Barclays Center.

Memphis are also due to play the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

Meanwhile, ESPN have reported that Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey will miss three to four weeks with a small fracture in his foot revealed by an MRI from Friday's 110-102 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey both were forced to leave their respective games early on Friday after rolling their left ankles.

Morant's injury came late in the fourth quarter of a 121-110 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, immediately needing to be helped off the floor. He finished the game with 19 points on five-of-20 shooting and 11 assists.

After the game, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said his star point guard "tweaked his ankle" and that there will be no update until scans on Saturday. It is the same ankle he rolled last week that forced him to miss one game, while co-star Desmond Bane remains out for multiple weeks with a toe sprain.

Earlier in the day, Maxey hurt himself late in what was arguably the best half of his young career.

The third-year guard played nearly the entire first half as starters Tobias Harris and James Harden both were absent with their own injuries, putting up 24 points (nine-of-12 shooting), five assists and four rebounds with only one turnover.

He did not return in the second half as his team went on to lose to the Milwaukee Bucks 110-102. The initial X-ray was negative, meaning there will be an MRI scheduled for Saturday to determine the damage.

Kevin Durant says the probable return of Kyrie Irving for the Brooklyn Nets' game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday will provide a "much-needed spark".

Irving will miss an eighth straight game because of a team-imposed suspension when the Nets take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, in the final leg of their four-game road trip.

The seven-time All-Star guard was handed an indefinite team-imposed suspension without pay by the Nets, for at least five games, after he shared an allegedly anti-semitic film and book on social media last month.

The Nets, the NBA and the NBPA have worked together with Irving to remediate the situation, after Brooklyn initially laid out six prerequisites for the player. According to reports, a resolution is close, potentially in time for Sunday's game.

"It's exciting for everybody," Durant told reporters prior to Thursday's game. "I mean we miss 'Ky'. We miss his presence on the floor.

"I haven't talked to him since we've been on the road trip about it the last couple of days. But we're looking forward to his return to the team. Definitely gonna give us a much-needed spark."

The Nets, who are 6-9 overall, have gone 4-3 in Irving's absence, although they were blown out 153-121 by the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, which was a franchise record for most points conceded.

Durant added that he was hopeful Irving's return would be soon but said he had not been briefed on where the process is at.

"I don't know the details about everything that's going on to be honest," Durant said. "I should know, I guess, because I'm part of the team.

"But I've been totally focused on the road trip. Once we get back home, I'm sure that stuff will figure itself out. Hopefully it's soon, that's all that I can say."

Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane will be out for up to three weeks with a toe injury.

Bane did the damage to his right big toe during a 114-103 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at FedExForum last Friday.

The Grizzlies on Tuesday revealed Bane will be sidelined for at least a fortnight.

A statement released by the franchise said: "After further evaluation, it was determined that Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane suffered a Grade 2 sprain of his right big toe during the November 11 game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Bane will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks."

Bane is averaging a career-high 24.7 points, 4.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game for Memphis in an impressive season to date.

The Grizzlies are fourth in the Western Conference at 9-5 ahead of a meeting with the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry scored 18 of his game-high 40 points in the fourth quarter of his team's 106-101 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

After scoring a season-high 47 points on 17-of-24 shooting (70.8 per cent) in Monday's home win against the Sacramento Kings, Curry electrified the Chase Center crowd once more for consecutive 40-plus point performances.

Despite his final figures against the Cavaliers, the visitors actually led 72-62 with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Warriors closed the game on a 46-29 run.

The Warriors trailed 98-95 with 90 seconds remaining, before Curry proceeded to hit two three-pointers, a two-pointer and two free throws to ice the game.

He finished a terrific 15-of-23 (65.2 per cent) from the field, hitting six-of-11 threes while adding five assists and two turnovers.

Andrew Wiggins chipped in 20 points (eight-of-13 shooting), Draymond Green had season-highs in assists (13) and rebounds (9), and Jordan Poole rediscovered some form with 18 points (six-of-13) off the bench.

Donovan Mitchell continued his strong start in a Cavaliers uniform as he put up 29 points (10-of-20), 10 rebounds and nine assists, posting a plus/minus of plus seven in his 37 minutes. 

Morant outduels Edwards in Grizzlies win

Ja Morant and Anthony Edwards faced off in one of the NBA's most entertaining matchups, but it was Morant's Memphis Grizzlies coming out on top against the Minnesota Timberwolves for a 114-103 home win.

Both young stars finished with 28 points, with Edwards shooting a superior 10-of-16 compared to Morant's 11-of-25, but Morant added 10 rebounds, eight assists and two steals, while Edwards had six rebounds and six assists.

Timberwolves' franchise-player Karl-Anthony Towns struggled with foul trouble all game, fouling out with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes.

Barrett, Brunson put on a show at Madison Square Garden

The New York Knicks' backcourt was everything their fans have been hoping for in a 121-112 home win against the Detroit Pistons.

Former third-overall draft pick R.J. Barrett scored a season-high 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting (three-of-eight from deep), with five rebounds and five assists, while his running-mate and recent trade acquisition Jalen Brunson was just as good.

Brunson scored 26 points on eight-of-16 shooting, adding a team-high seven assists and a game-high four steals.

The win boosts the Knicks' home record to 4-2, and pulls them to 6-6 overall. 

Nearly a month into the NBA season, Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane has continued his ascent into one of the best shooters in the sport, and he headlines the early candidates on breakout-watch.

The six-foot-five, third-year product out of TCU was considered a steal by avid college basketball fans when the Grizzlies selected him 30th overall in the draft, as he profiled as an elite shooter and stout defender from day-one.

As a 21-year-old rookie he averaged 9.2 points and 1.7 assists per game while shooting 43.2 per cent from three-point range, starting in 17 of his 68 appearances, before graduating to a full-time starter in his second season.

In his sophomore season, Bane started all 76 of his games and found his footing in the league, raising his averages to 18.2 points and 2.7 assists, and while his three-point attempts went up from 4.0 to 6.9, his percentage also went up from 43.2 to 43.6. Teammate Ja Morant won the league's Most Improved Player, but he gifted the award to Bane (who ultimately returned it).

A player's ability to scale up their volume of shots while maintaining efficiency is a telltale sign of someone ready to assume a larger role (see: Mikal Bridges, De'Andre Hunter), and that has continued in Bane's third season.

His usage rate jumped from a supporting-role-level 15.5 per cent as a rookie, to a main-option-level 22.6 per cent in his second campaign, before ascending to a 26.9 per cent usage this season. 

 

For reference, that is the 27th-highest figure in the league for players averaging at least 20 minutes per game, putting him ahead of players like C.J. McCollum (26.3) and Anthony Edwards (26.3) and only narrowly behind DeMar DeRozan (27.8).

His three-point attempts have also jumped again from 6.9 to 8.8, and once again, his three-point percentage has inexplicably risen with it, up to a career-high 46.8 per cent. 

It has led to career-highs across the board in points (24.6), rebounds (5.0), assists (4.6) and minutes (32.7). His 4.1 made three-pointers per game is tied with Buddy Hield for second in the league, trailing only Stephen Curry (5.1).

With a two-plus season sample size now under his belt, it is now clear Bane is not just a good shooter, but one of the best in the world. His career three-point figure of 43.7 per cent is the second-highest among all active players, trailing only Seth Curry (43.8 per cent).

It would be disrespectful to the legendary, game-changing Stephen Curry to put anybody in his class as a marksman, but if he were to retire tomorrow, Bane would have an argument to be the game's best shooter.

It had been assumed in Memphis that Jaren Jackson Jr was the long-term running-mate their potential MVP in Morant, but Bane has become undeniable, and it is now easy to envision the Grizzlies treating Bane as the Klay Thompson to Morant's Stephen Curry in their macro team-building vision.

Donovan Mitchell's spectacular start to life with the Cleveland Cavaliers continued against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, scoring 33 points in a 114-100 win.

Mitchell's 33 points was a game-high, and he delivered his production efficiently, hitting 10-of-17 from the field and 12-of-13 from the free throw line.

Through his first eight games with the Cavs since being acquired from the Utah Jazz in an offseason trade, Mitchell is averaging 31.1 points and 7.1 assists per game – both comfortably above his career-highs (26.4 points and 5.3 assists).

He was supported strongly by fellow All-Star Darius Garland, who chipped in 24 points (seven-of-18) and seven assists, while Kevin Love contributed a double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds) in 20 minutes off the bench.

For the Lakers, LeBron James was strong with 27 points on 13-of-23 shooting, adding seven rebounds and four assists, and Russell Westbrook posted 19 points (six-of-13) with 10 assists as he continues to produce well in a sixth-man role.

Cleveland are now 8-1, and are one of only two teams, along with the 9-0 Milwaukee Bucks, who are yet to record their second loss.

VanVleet steps up in Siakam's absence

With the Toronto Raptors' top option Pascal Siakam out for at least the next two weeks, Fred VanVleet stepped up and led his team to a 113-104 victory against the Chicago Bulls.

VanVleet finished with 30 points on nine-of-22 shooting, and also added 11 assists in an offensive masterclass from the diminutive point guard, posting a plus/minus of plus 27 in his 39 minutes. That means in the nine minutes VanVleet was on the bench, the Raptors were outscored by 18.

Starting in the place of Siakam was rookie Christian Koloko, and he made a big impression as he blocked six shots with his 11 points and seven rebounds.

Alex Caruso produced a noteworthy performance for the Bulls, finishing with an unconventional double-double as he collected 11 rebounds and 11 assists, while shooting one-of-11 for four points.

Bane, Morant carry the Grizzlies 

Desmond Bane and Ja Morant combined for nearly half of the Memphis Grizzlies' points in their 103-97 win against the Washington Wizards.

While Morant struggled with his efficiency, only hitting nine of his 27 shots on his way to 23 points, Bane was terrific, scoring 28 on nine-of-16 shooting. 

The Grizzlies are now 7-3, and Bane has been at the centre of their early success, elevating himself to potentially an All-Star level in his third season as he is averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 46 per cent from long-range.

The Golden State Warriors' offense, led by the Splash Brothers, was at its destructive best in Thursday night's 123-110 victory over the Miami Heat.

In a strong four-quarter performance, the Warriors scored between 29 and 32 points in all four periods, led by iconic backcourt duo Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Curry was the game's top-scorer with 33 points on 13-of-22 shooting, hitting seven of his 14 three-point attempts. 

Thompson also got up 14 three-point attempts as the Warriors – who play at the fastest pace in the league at 111.7 possessions per game – were determined to let it fly from deep.

The second Splash Brother hit five of his 14 attempts, while going one-of-five from two-point range for 19 points of his own. They were supported strongly by Andrew Wiggins, who grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds to go with his 18 points (five-of-10 shooting).

For the Heat, Jimmy Butler was terrific on both ends, leading his team with 27 points on an incredibly efficient eight-of-13 from the field (four-of-seven from deep, made all seven free throws), while adding eight assists, six rebounds and six steals.

The win means the defending champions are 3-2 through their first five games, while Miami fell to 2-4.

The Baniac delivers again

Memphis Grizzlies wing Desmond Bane is in a rich vein of form, and he led the way with 31 points in a 125-110 win against the Sacramento Kings.

It is the second consecutive game Bane has top-scored for the Grizzlies in a win, after dropping 38 to tie with teammate Ja Morant and set a new franchise record for points by a duo (76) in their victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

Against the Kings, Bane stayed red-hot as he made 11-of-18 field goal attempts, including six-of-eight from long range in a true sharpshooter's performance.

One of the best shooters in the entire NBA, Bane now boasts a career three-point percentage of 43.3 per cent on 5.6 attempts per game.

Thunder collect another win over the Clippers

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers for the second time in the past three days with a 118-110 triumph.

Los Angeles were missing stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George when they rolled into Oklahoma City for a two-game road trip, and were still without Leonard as George returned to the lineup.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (24 points on 10-of-23 shooting) and Luguentz Dort (21 points on nine-of-15) carried the offensive load for the Thunder, while George was much less effective for the Clippers.

George could only muster 10 points on four-of-12 shooting, while center Ivica Zubac grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds with his 12 points. After starting their season with two wins, the Clippers have now lost their past three.

The Memphis Grizzlies duo of Ja Morant and Desmond Bane outdueled Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets in a high-scoring 134-124 win on Monday night.

Both Morant (12-of-22 shooting) and Bane (14-of-21) finished with 38 points, combining to hit 12 of their 17 three-point attempts as the Grizzlies rode a 45-point third quarter to the win. The pair's combined total of 76 points set a new Grizzlies record for most points scored by a duo in a single game.

Morant, the reigning Most Improved Player, is firmly in the mix for MVP this season and he added eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals to his gaudy stat-line.

The Nets led 69-64 at halftime as Durant and Irving were also both on their way to big games, with both scoring 37 points as Durant shot 14-of-20 from the field and Irving was 14-of-24 in an offensive exhibition.

But the Grizzlies' third-quarter explosion was too emphatic, with Bane scoring 19 of his points in the period while the Nets had 28 as a team.

Embattled Nets All-Star Ben Simmons struggled, fouling out for the second time in the Nets' first three games, while also committing five turnovers with his eight assists. 

With the win, the Grizzlies are now 3-1, while the Nets fall to 1-2.

Simons catches fire in Trail Blazers win

Fresh off signing his $100million extension in the offseason, 23-year-old Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons produced his first game-winning performance of the season as his third-quarter explosion led a 135-110 home win against the Denver Nuggets.

The Trail Blazers – who at 4-0 join the 2-0 Milwaukee Bucks as the only two remaining unbeaten teams – largely shut down reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, holding him to nine points, nine rebounds and nine assists as he battled foul trouble all night.

Damian Lillard top-scored with 31 points on 10-of-16 shooting for the Blazers, adding eight assists and six rebounds, but it was Simons' third quarter that separated the teams.

In just over five-and-a-half minutes, Simons scored 22 of his 29 points, including a stretch where he made six consecutive three-pointers as he helped the Blazers score 80 in the second half. It is the Trail Blazers' first 4-0 start to the season since 1999.

Rockets youngsters hand the Jazz their first loss

Houston Rockets fans received a glimpse into the future in their 114-108 win against the previously undefeated Utah Jazz, with top-three draft picks Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr both delivering strong performances.

Both players shot at least 50 per cent from both the field and long range, and combined to hit all nine of their free throws. 

Green posted 25 points on nine-of-16 shooting, hitting four-of-eight from deep, while rookie Smith had 21 points (six-of-10 shooting, three-of-five from long range), nine rebounds and three blocks.

Vassell flashes star potential for the Spurs

Third-year wing Devin Vassell caught the eye with a starring performance in the San Antonio Spurs' 115-106 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Vassell – the 11th pick from the 2020 draft – has shown significantly more playmaking this season since the departure of Dejounte Murray in a trade to the Atlanta Hawks, and against the Timberwolves he dished off a career-high seven assists.

As well as showing his ability to create for his teammates, the six-foot-six wing with superb defensive skills showcased his all-round game, hitting five-of-10 from three-point range on his way to 22 points, and he also grabbed nine rebounds.

A stunning 49-point outburst from Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant carried his side back from a 16-point first-half deficit to defeat the Houston Rockets 129-122 on Friday.

Morant had 18 points and six assists in the first half, but the rest of the Grizzlies were struggling, falling into a 42-26 hole early in the second quarter before trimming the margin to 70-62 at halftime.

The second pick from the 2021 NBA Draft, Jalen Green, showed why Rockets fans are so excited as he piled up 33 points on 13-of-21 shooting while going four-of-five from long range, but Morant was matching him step-for-step before running away late.

Memphis won the fourth quarter 34-22 as the Rockets ran out of gas, with Morant finishing 17-of-26 from the field, and five-of-six from long range, while adding eight assists, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal. He had 31 in the second half, and only a missed free throw in the fourth quarter kept him from scoring 50.

In an eye-catching performance, second-year center Alperen Sengun tallied 23 points (nine-of-13 shooting) with 12 rebounds in 27 minutes off the Houston bench.

Beal wins it for the Wizards

The Washington Wizards are now 2-0 after a Bradley Beal game-winner with seven seconds remaining handed his side a 102-100 win over the Chicago Bulls.

Chicago trailed by nine points with less than five minutes to play, but from that point on DeMar DeRozan dropped 11 of his 32 points (11-of-23 shooting), tying things up at 98-98 with a minute remaining after a pair of free throws.

Beal answered back with a layup, and DeRozan leveled the score again with a dunk, before Beal sank the dagger to finish with 19 points (nine-of-14 shooting) and eight assists. DeRozan had a chance to win it with a three-pointer on the buzzer, but could not deliver.

Brown and Tatum carry the Celtics

The combination of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum proved too much for the Miami Heat to overcome, with the duo combining for 57 points in the Boston Celtics' 111-104 triumph.

Tatum finished with 29 points on 10-of-22 shooting, getting to the line and hitting all seven of his free throws, while Brown was more efficient from the field, hitting 12-of-18 shots for 28 points after they scored 35 each in Boston's season opener.

The Heat could not survive in the minutes center Bam Adebayo had to sit down, as the big man posted 19 points (eight-of-11 shooting) with eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and a plus/minus of plus 20 in his 35 minutes. Unfortunately for Miami, they were minus 26 in the 12 minutes he was on the bench.

Simmons banks first win as a Net

The Brooklyn Nets won their first game with Ben Simmons as they defeated the Toronto Raptors 109-105 at home.

Simmons was solid without contributing much on the scoreboard, finishing with six points (three-of-five shooting), but he grabbed 10 rebounds, dished eight assists and blocked two shots.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant carried the scoring load, as Irving top-scored, producing 30 points on 11-of-24 shooting while adding seven assists, while Durant hit eight-of-18 shots for 27 points and six assists.

The New Orleans Pelicans sent a statement to the rest of the league with a 130-108 pounding of the Brooklyn Nets in their opening game of the season on Wednesday night.

Playing away from home, the Pelicans enjoyed a red-hot start, with eight points in the first quarter from Zion Williamson helping to build a 32-14 lead at the first break.

The Nets showed some fight in the second quarter, putting up 36 points in the frame to trim the margin to 58-50 as Kevin Durant had 21 in the first half, but the Pelicans came out of halftime and dropped 40 points in the third period to put the game to bed.

In his first game since May 2021, Williamson looked in tremendous shape, scoring 25 points on 11-of-22 shooting while adding nine rebounds, three assists and four steals. 

He was supported in fine fashion by Brandon Ingram, who top-scored for the Pelicans with 28 points (10-of-17 shooting), seven rebounds and five assists, and C.J. McCollum chipped in 21 points and six assists as well.

For the Nets, Durant showed he is still arguably the best scorer in the league with 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting, and he also tallied four blocks in an impressive two-way performance despite his team's shortcomings.

Box-office Banchero validates top draft selection 

Paolo Banchero was not thought to be an option for the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick until the day of the NBA Draft, but he showed exactly why they took him with a spectacular debut in a 113-109 loss on the road to the Detroit Pistons.

Banchero shattered the Magic record for points by a debuting rookie – previously set at 13 – with 27 on 11-of-18 shooting, and he also grabbed nine rebounds and dished five assists in a complete performance, posting a plus/minus of plus two in his 35 minutes.

It was a great debut for rookie Jaden Ivey as well, who the Pistons selected with the fifth overall pick, as he put up 19 points on eight-of-15 shooting with four assists and three steals.

Ivey complemented last year's top pick Cade Cunningham beautifully, with Cunningham running the show on his way to 18 points (six-of-16 shooting) and 10 assists, while newly acquired Bojan Bogdanovic top-scored for Detroit with 24 points on eight-of-16 shooting after hitting six of his first seven three-point attempts.

Morant lifts the Grizzlies in overtime

Ja Morant had his potential game-winner wiped off the board due to a contentious charging foul, but his Memphis Grizzlies got the job done at home in overtime to defeat the New York Knicks 115-112.

Morant was the game's top-scorer with 34 points on 11-of-24 shooting, and his nine assists was equal with New York's Jalen Brunson for the most in the contest.

Starting in place of the injured Jaren Jackson Jr, Santi Aldama gave a good performance with 18 points (seven-of-14 shooting) and 11 rebounds, while Julius Randle was the Knicks' best player, scoring 24 points (nine-of-16 shooting) with 11 rebounds and six assists.

Mitchell shines in Cavaliers debut despite loss

The Cleveland Cavaliers were treated to a terrific debut from star offseason acquisition Donovan Mitchell, but it was not enough to overcome an early Darius Garland injury in a 108-105 road loss to the Toronto Raptors.

All-Star point guard Garland only played 13 minutes before his night ended with a rough poke to the eye in the second quarter. Taking over some of Garland's point guard responsibilities, Mitchell dished off nine assists as well as leading the game in scoring with 31 on 12-of-21 shooting.

All five Raptors starters scored at least 15 points in classic Toronto fashion, with Pascal Siakam tallying 23 on nine-of-20 shooting with 11 rebounds and four steals, while reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes had 15 points (seven-of-14 shooting) with seven assists and a game-high plus/minus of plus 20 in his 32 minutes.

The new NBA season is about to get underway, with narrative everywhere across the league.

The defending champions in Golden State are many people's favourites to go again, but the Warriors have not exactly prepared perfectly after two of their stars recently came to blows during the preseason.

The Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving saga seems to have ended with hope that the pair can fire the Brooklyn Nets to glory, especially if the team's third star in the form of Ben Simmons can finally join them on the court.

Will back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic lead the Denver Nuggets to glory? Or can Luka Doncic do the same for the Dallas Mavericks? Might Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks get back to the top again?

Stats Perform's experts give their predictions on who could thrive in the regular season, who might take the MVP crown and who will go all the way and lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June 2023.

 

Liam Phillips

East first seed: Milwaukee Bucks

West first seed: Denver Nuggets

MVP: Joel Embiid

Champions: Denver Nuggets

Simply put, the Nuggets will have a terrific regular season record as long as Jokic is healthy, and he is one of the most durable superstars of his era.

Jokic has played at least 73 games in six of his seven years, and the other season he played 72 out of 72 in the shortened 2020-21 season.

The Nuggets went 48-34 this past season with their second and third-best scorers being Aaron Gordon (15.0 points per game) and Will Barton (14.7).

With ascending talents Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. returning from long-term injuries to assume those roles and give the Nuggets three elite scoring options, they could ride the best offense in the league all the way through the Finals.

Ben Spratt

East first seed: Milwaukee Bucks

West first seed: Denver Nuggets

MVP: Luka Doncic

Champions: Milwaukee Bucks

There are no shortage of potential contenders in the West, with each of the Nuggets, the Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers looking strong candidates depending on injuries or – in the case of Golden State – off-court (or, rather, practice court) issues.

In the East, however, a fit Bucks team would appear to be clear of the rest, particularly given the Boston Celtics' tumultuous offseason.

The Bucks were a disappointing 13-13 in the regular season and playoffs last year when missing Khris Middleton, who did not play the final 10 games of the postseason as the Bucks narrowly lost to the Celtics.

With his return and the omnipresent threat of Antetokounmpo, it might be difficult to bet against the 2021 champions.

Nicholas McGee

East first seed: Philadelphia 76ers

West first seed: Golden State Warriors

MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Champions: Golden State Warriors

Preseason fights, Klay Thompson being restricted to limited action in the exhibition schedule, key bench players leaving in free agency. Will any of it matter? No.

The Warriors have navigated discord before during title defences and will do so again in 2022-23. Even with the likes of Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. departing, the Warriors have excellent depth with several emerging talents complementing a core that reaffirmed their championship pedigree by beating the Celtics in six games last season.

Golden State will bank on Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody taking the next step in their second seasons, while Jordan Poole has the chance to ascend to stardom once the fallout from him being punched by Draymond Green dies down.

Everything revolves around Stephen Curry, though, and there is no sign of him slowing down or his game-tilting range reducing at 34 years old.

This is a team with an insatiable appetite for proving themselves all over again, and they have all the resources to do so once more. If James Wiseman stays healthy and blossoms into an impactful starting center, it will be difficult to envisage anyone stopping them.

David Segar

East first seed: Milwaukee Bucks

West first seed: Memphis Grizzlies

MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Champions: Milwaukee Bucks

As Ben said, it is difficult to see a stronger contender in the East than Milwaukee, presuming their stars can stay fit.

With Ja Morant getting better all the time and the Phoenix Suns looking like they might fall away slightly, it would not be a huge surprise to see an ever-improving Grizzlies team top the West and perhaps even make it to the NBA Finals this time.

However, it feels like Giannis is ready for another big campaign and, in a team that includes the likes of Middleton, Jrue Holiday and new arrival Joe Ingles, he should have plenty of capable support.

Only Embiid (30.6) and LeBron James (30.3) averaged more points per game than Antetokounmpo's 29.9 last year, a career high for the Greek.

Anything can happen in the NBA, but of all the big teams who could threaten, Milwaukee feel like the one with the fewest issues heading into the season, and they will want to make up for their early playoff elimination at the hands of the Celtics last time out.

 

Center Steven Adams has signed a multi-year extension with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Though terms were not officially disclosed when the agreement was announced on Saturday, a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN stated it to be a two-year, $25.2million deal.

The 29-year-old New Zealander has altered his role in recent years, having previously averaged 13.9 points per game in consecutive seasons for the Oklahoma City Thunder between 2017 and 2019.

Last season, he averaged just 6.9 points for the Grizzlies, but had his best campaign ever for both rebounds (10.0 per game) and assists (3.4 per game).

In fact, his 349 total offensive rebounds and 4.6 offensive rebounds per game were the best numbers in the league, breaking the single-season franchise records set by Zach Randolph during the 2009-10 season.

The Grizzlies begin the 2022-23 season at home to the New York Knicks on October 19.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.