NBA Playoffs Cavs Celtics Game 1: The rematch begins

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It’s right that it should go this way.

These two never faced one another last year, and now that the Celtics are at full strength and the Cavaliers are ruling the roost, we need to settle this. The 2008 Champions, seeking to regain what they feel is their rightful title. And the Cavaliers, aiming to finally reach the promise land. Each team would face questions if they didn’t go through the other one on their way to the top. So now we get to settle this. Full strength Cavs versus full strength Celts.

The opening game’s questions will center around LeBron James’ elbow, which is supposed to be fine. But you can bet that when James drives, the Celtics will do whatever they can to irritate that side and aggravate it. This is a bullying Celtics team, and they’re likely to do whatever is necessary. Shut down James and the Cavs become a much different team.

But if James is healthy, the Celtics will simply have to live with his impact and try and shut down the rest of the Cavs. Key number one will be swarming Shaquille O’Neal and not giving him any easy buckets. It’ll be interesting to see how the Celtics approach it, and whether they let Kendrick Perkins try and handle him one on one or if they risk a double which could open up the perimeter for Mo Williams, Delonte West, and Anthony Parker.

But given the problems the Celtics faced last year with Rashard Lewis and a versatile stretch four, containing Antawn Jamison is going to be key. Jamison hasn’t really started to sync with the Cavs offense until late in the season and the Bulls series, but Jamison’s ability to create spacing problems is yet another complication for the Celtics.

But it’s not like the Celtics are coming into a gunfight with cap guns and pointy sticks. Ray Allen has rediscovered his stroke, and the Cavaliers have significant problem with running off perimeter shots. It didn’t hurt them first round because the Bulls couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat. But the Celtics have players on the perimeter that can hurt them. And hey, Rasheed Wallace is due, right?

Okay, don’t answer that.

Mo Williams better have a few tricks up his sleeve because the Celtics start and end with Rajon Rondo. If Williams can’t slow down Rondo in transition or contain his ability to run that offense to perfection, the Celtics can take this game.

Man up. First round’s over. The real series begin now. 

Blazers C Meyers Leonard dunks on Celtics’ Mickey twice in five minutes (VIDEO)

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Portland Trail Blazers big man Meyers Leonard is an athletic young guy who has made a name for himself as a fade man off the pick-and-roll. But against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Leonard decided to roll to the hoop instead, and it sort of worked out.

Unless you’re Jordan Mickey, in which case it didn’t.

The first poster dunk came during the final minute of the first quarter in Boston, where the Blazers were running a sideline out of bounds play.

Via Twitter:

The second came at 9:51 in the second quarter, with Leonard again rolling to the rack on a play with Allen Crabbe. Mickey again wound up as the help man, and again found himself on the wrong end of a highlight reel.

We’ll just forgive that off arm for now.

Jabari Parker held out of Bucks lineup vs. Heat for breaking team rule

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MIAMI (AP) Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker is out of the starting lineup for the first time this season Saturday night at Miami after breaking a team rule.

Parker will play coming off the bench, coach Jason Kidd said.

Kidd declined to elaborate on the move, which came after the Bucks held a long players-only meeting following a loss Friday at Orlando. The meeting got heated at times, and Parker said he wasn’t well received when he expressed his point of view.

Parker has scored at least 20 points in four consecutive games. He was replaced in the lineup by rookie Thon Maker, making his first career start.

Gregg Popovich on Trump: “Can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth” (VIDEO)

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Today across the country many hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets as part of the Women’s March to protest Donald Trump, his misogyny as demonstrated in prior comments made about women, and policies he’s promised to put in place to weaken women’s health including defunding Planned Parenthood and gutting the Affordable Care Act. Gregg Popovich, no stranger to speaking his mind about Trump, was asked about the marches today and how he felt about the former reality TV star’s first hours in office.

Popovich responded for around four minutes, spanning a wide breadth of topics including Trump’s maturity level, respect for the presidential office, and Trump’s cabinet members waffling on implied meaning when he insulted a handicapped reporter in November of 2015.

Via Cleveland.com:

I wish that he was more — had the ability to be mature enough to do something that really is inclusive rather than just talking and saying ‘I’m going to include everybody.” He could talk to the groups that he disrespected and maligned during the primary and really make somebody believe it, but so far we’ve got a point where you really can’t believe anything that comes of his mouth.

Popovich also expressed his frustration with Trump’s insecurities, referencing his need to discuss the size of the inauguration crowd from Friday — reported widely by major news outlets in both text and video/photographic evidence — as far smaller than Barack Obama’s in 2009.

“I’d just feel better if somebody was in that position that showed the maturity, psychological, and emotional level of somebody that was his age,” said Popovich, adding, “It’s hard to be respectful of someone when we all have kids and we’re watching him be misogynistic and xenophobic and racist, and make fun of handicap people.”

It’s an interesting period in American history to be sure. Things are at such a fever pitch after Trump’s election that whether people like it or not — and no doubt many won’t like Popovich’s comments or this article about it — the lines between diversion and real life, including politics, has begun to blur.

It’s great to see that coaches and players in the NBA are able to speak their minds about topics openly like this, perhaps surprisingly so when you consider the amount of money involved for the league and teams.

If you’d like to read the full comments you can do so here:

Ricky Rubio will miss Nuggets game for personal reasons

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Ricky Rubio has left the Minnesota Timberwolves for personal reasons and will miss at least the next game on Sunday against Denver.

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau says he expects Rubio to get back into town late Sunday and rejoin the team for practice on Monday.

Rubio did not play in the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night because of tightness in his left hip. Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones filled in admirably, helping the Wolves defeat the Clippers, 104-101.

Rubio has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the season, with the belief that Thibodeau would prefer a point guard who shoots better from the perimeter. In his previous five full games, Rubio was averaging 13.2 points and 14.0 assists.