The Cavaliers and Celtics meet for the fourth time tomorrow, but you have to ask yourself if this meeting can tell us much. Usually when two title contenders meet in April, there’s high drama and questions to be answered. But given what we’ve seen this season, the result would have to be extreme to bear any fruit in this instance.
We’ve not only seen the Cavs run away from the Celtics twice, making them look every bit the aging, worn-out team their critics claim they are, but we’ve seen the Celtics fall regularly to other teams, most recently the Rockets.
If the Celtics win, would you really think them more capable of ousting the Cavs in the playoffs if they were to meet? With the Cavs having essentially locked up homecourt through the playoffs, they have very little play for, and are still without the services of Shaquille O’Neal. The Celtics on the other hand were on a bit of a reclamation run before losses to OKC and Houston sent them back reeling.
If the Cavaliers win tomorrow, it will simply be a validation of everything we’ve already assumed, that they are the pre-eminent team in the East, and the Celtics are simply not in a position to compete this season.
A Celtics win, at best teaches that they’re capable of putting together a viable threat still. But it won’t erase the struggles they’ve had this season, or any shining light to guide the way to the Finals.
That said, I wouldn’t expect this to be any less of a battle. Neither team likes one another and the Celtics desperately needs to re-establish some measure of legitimacy.
And the Cavs are loath to relinquish the throne.
I love the drive by dunk challenge (if you prefer, the #drivebydunkchallenge), it would be the best thing on NBA Twitter this summer, if it wasn’t for Kyrie Irving.
But the best one yet comes from Boston’s Jaylen Brown.
He steals the ball, and the best part is the guy who comes over like he’s going to stop Brown from throwing it down.
The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.
Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.
He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):
We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.
The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.
But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.
Not that Lin cares what I say.
When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.
But there were some great blocks.
Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies have signed former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, a second-round pick in last month’s NBA draft.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Brooks was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 45th overall pick. The Grizzlies acquired him in exchange for a future second-round pick.
Brooks, 21, averaged 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior at Oregon last season. He was named the Pac-12 player of the year and helped Oregon earn its first Final Four berth since 1939.