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.
This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.
Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.
Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.
Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings, and with that team’s playoff chances have taken a hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers). Don’t be surprised if the Kings look to add a scorer at the trade deadline.
Gay was not happy in Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.
That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.
Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.
Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.
Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.
That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?
It just won’t die.
Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.
Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.
76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.
It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.
The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.
Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).