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Liberty Links - Lakers win and improve the odds of the Sixers getting their pick

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Will the Sixers have two top-picks this summer?

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, this is my first crack at the Liberty Links daily post. Please direct all positive feedback to me on Twitter and keep the negative feedback to yourself! When the LB gang was originally going over the outline of starting a daily early morning roundup-type article, I suggested that we call it the “Morning Cup of Joel,” a name that was vetoed and a decision that will haunt the site during Joel Embiid’s 2019 MVP speech.

D’Angelo Russell hits a buzzer-beating three for the Lakers

D’Angelo Snitchell came through in the clutch, hitting a game-winning, rim-rattling three-point shot for the Lakers against the Timberwolves last night. After an unlikely 13-point Suns win against the Mavericks on Sunday, the Lakers were tied with the Suns for the second-worst record in the NBA. After Friday’s glorious win against the Kings, as told by LB godfather Michael Levin, the Lakers were in prime position for having the Sixers steal their top-three protected pick in next year’s lottery. After this win, the Lakers still hold the third-best odds in the lottery all to themselves with their 25-55 record.

Hypothetically, if someone had bet on the Lakers’ over/under win total of 24.5 at the beginning of this season, this win would’ve been very bittersweet, given that it puts the Lakers at 25 wins, but helps the chances of the Sixers grabbing their pick. A very important loss for someone out there!

Oscar Robertson’s Triple-Doubles Look Nothing Like Russell Westbrook’s

Westbrook broke the single-season record for triple-doubles in a season yesterday with his monster 56-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist effort, his 42nd triple-double this year, in a win against the Nuggets. This marked his 79th career triple-double as well, putting him ahead of Wilt Chamberlain for the fourth most all time.

Here’s a good perspective on Westbrook’s historic season from The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman, who illustrates the differences from two jarring eras of NBA basketball:

There are a few reasons nobody has averaged a triple-double since the Kennedy administration. For one, the pace of games was much faster back then, when the NBA was still less than 20 years old. In the year Robertson averaged a triple-double, the average game featured 126.2 possessions in 48 minutes. The average game in today’s NBA features 96.4 possessions in 48 minutes. There were about 30 more plays per game on which players could get stats. Westbrook’s 31.6 points per game leads the NBA by over two points per game; Robertson’s 30.8 points in 1961–62 was tied for fifth — and almost 20 points behind Wilt Chamberlain’s lead.

And, well, players missed a crap ton of shots back in the day. In 1961–62, the average team shot 42.6 percent from the field and missed 61.8 shots per game. This year, the average team has missed 46.4 shots per game.

Cavaliers blow a 26-point lead on the road against the Hawks in an overtime loss

After momentarily silencing the Cavaliers Damage Control talk in the media with a 23-point road win over the Celtics on Thursday, it’s time for widespread panic for LeBron James and the Cavs after yesterday’s meltdown. James put up a very LeBron-esque line of 36 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, a steal and two blocks. The fact that the Cavaliers needed him to play 47 minutes in an April game against the franchise that’s the paragon of being on the treadmill of mediocrity is alarming though. James, who I’d give my imaginary MVP vote to, should be considered indestructible until proven otherwise, but I think the NBA is poised for the most intriguing Eastern Conference playoff setup in years.

Quick highlight: LeBron’s passing is a top-two player talent, along with Steph Curry’s off-the-dribble shooting, that I will most wax poetically about when I’m an old man:

Hypothetically, if someone were to have bet on the Hawks over/under win total of 43.5 before this season, they need the Hawks to end the year on an improbable 5-0 run that includes a win against the Celtics and two victories over the Cavs to clinch. If the Hawks win their remaining two games (Tuesday against the Hornets and Wednesday against the Pacers in Indiana), they will finish the season with 44 wins. This was a very important win for someone out there!

Sixers' Brett Brown's dad can't stop coaching

Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times profiled the father of Sixers head coach Brett Brown. Here’s one remark from the elder Brown that I would certainly agree with:

"I think I said, 'tell (Dario) Saric put more arc on his shot. His shot's too flat.' "

My Dumbest Tweet of the Weekend

2:14 a.m. Nothing says The Stranger-era Billy Joel quite like Vlade Divac, I guess.