Top Stories

Tune-In Tidbits: ESPN Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Get ready for Wednesday's ESPN doubleheader with five key stats to know about each matchup.

Brian Martin, for

Ben Simmons, who is second in this week’s Defensive Player Ladder, ranks fifth in deflections (3.5 per game) and ninth in steals (1.6 per game).

Nets (37-17) at Sixers (37-17)
7 p.m. ET, ESPN

• The Nets and Sixers enter their final meeting of the regular season at the top of the Eastern Conference standings with matching 37-17 records and a 1-1 split in the season series, so this game will determine the tiebreaker should it be needed at season’s end. Since Philly’s win on Feb. 6, the Nets have gone 23-6 (0.793) – the second-best record in the league behind Phoenix (26-6) and 3.5 games better than Philadelphia (20-10).

• The Nets are coming off a 127-97 win over the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Tuesday afternoon – in a game originally scheduled for Monday night – with Kevin Durant leading the way with 31 points on 11-15 shooting as Kyrie Irving (personal) and James Harden (hamstring) both missed the game. Durant has played on the second night of a back-to-back only once this season. The Nets are 6-4 in those situations, averaging 111.8 ppg, which is seven points fewer than their second-ranked season average (118.8).

• The Nets have gone 1-3 this season when none of the “Big 3” of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or James Harden play; that one win came against Philadelphia on Jan. 7 as the Nets got a 122-109 win behind Joe Harris’ game-high 28 points off the bench.

• Since returning from injury on April 3, Joel Embiid has averaged 27.2 points. 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks over five games, with the Sixers going 4-1 in those games. Embiid is shooting 48.2% from the field, only 17.6% from 3-point range, and 81.5% at the free throw line on 13 attempts per game. For the season, Embiid leads the league in free throw attempts (11.6 per game) and shoots 85.2% at the free throw line.

• This game features the second-ranked offense in Brooklyn (117.2 points per 100 possessions) facing off against the second-ranked defense in Philadelphia (106.4 points allowed per 100 possessions). The Nets are the top shooting team in the league (57.4% effective field goal percentage), while the Sixers hold opponents to the fourth-lowest eFG% (51.9%).

Jonas Valanciunas leads the NBA in rebounding (14.6 rpg) and double-doubles (19) since the All-Star break.

Mavericks (29-24) at Grizzlies (27-25)
9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

• If the season ended today, the No. 7 Mavericks and the No. 8 Grizzlies would meet in the Seven-Eight Game of the Play-In Tournament, with the winner of that game earning the No. 7 spot in the playoffs and the loser having to beat the winner of the Nine-Ten Game in order to grab the No. 8 seed.

• This is the second of three matchups between these teams this season. Dallas took the first game, 102-92 on Feb. 22, behind Tim Hardaway’s 29 points off the bench. Hardaway ranks second in scoring as a reserve (15.6 ppg) among 220 eligible bench players.

• Jonas Valanciunas is averaging career highs in both scoring (17.0 ppg) and rebounding (12.7 rpg, 3rd in NBA) and has already matched his career high in double-doubles (39) with 20 games left to play. Since the All-Star break, Valanciunas has a league-high 19 double-doubles in 20 games and is averaging 18.9 points, a league-leading 14.6 rebounds and is shooting 62% from the field, which ranks second to Zion Williamson (63.3%) among the 65 players with at least 200 shot attempts in that time.

• Luka Doncic (21.8) and Ja Morant (19.2) rank second and fourth, respectively, in drives per game this season. Doncic is averaging 12.6 points on 58.2% shooting on his drives as well as 2.4 assists. Morant is averaging 10.1 points on 45.4% shooting and 2.3 assist on his drives.

• The Grizzlies lead the NBA in points in the paint with 56.5 ppg, which accounts for 50% of Memphis’ total offense. They will be facing a Mavericks team that allows the fifth-fewest points in the paint at 44.3 per game. The Mavericks allow the eighth-fewest field goal attempts inside the restricted area (24.9) and the ninth-fewest field goal attempts in the rest of the paint outside the restricted area (41.7).