The Celtics lead 41-32 at the half of Game 1 behind a defensive performance that was stunning. If you’re going to write a book on playing championship level defense, you want to start by looking at what the Celtics did for a long stretch from the opening tip until about the seven minute mark of the second. They held the Magic to 34% shooting and 0% from three point land. They swarmed over the top on drives for blocks, knocked the ball out of bounds routinely, scrambled for every loose ball, and effectively shut the Magic completely out.
The Magic are really only hanging on account of Vince Carter and Marcin Gortat. The Celtics routinely left Gortat open and he shredded the middle of the lane. Carter on the other hand, simply attacked. But Carter had three turnovers, part of 12 for Orlando.
The Celtics have everything going on offense. In addition to Ray Allen routinely walking to the layup line like it was 1999, Tony Allen has continued his stellar play. Rasheed Wallace put the exclamation mark on the Celtics ridiculous shooting ability nailing a three with a defender standing all up on him. Kendrick Perkins hit spot-ups, for God’s sake.
Everything going Boston’s way, but they’re only up nine. If Orlando doesn’t start getting the ball moving on offense and play sharper, they’re going to be facing a Boston team with all the answers and a captured homecourt advantage.
Doc Rivers says he wants Blake Griffin back with the Clippers next season.
The bigger question: Does Blake Griffin want to be back with the Clippers next season?
The decision is in Griffin’s hands as he has done what was expected, opting out of his contract for the coming season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
A number of teams — Boston, Miami, and others — are expected to take a run at Griffin. (In Boston’s case, he’s a backup plan to Gordon Hayward, but there will be conversations.)
What Chris Paul — also expected to opt out and become a free agent this summer — and Griffin choose to do will help set the market. They are two of the biggest free agent names out there where they could switch teams (Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are staying put). If they take their time making a decision, it leaves the Clippers in a bind — they have to wait to hear from these two before starting replacing or rebuilding, but by the time they know other players may have decided — and could bottleneck the free agent process.
The Clippers are going to be one interesting team to watch this summer.
This is the standard penalty for coaches and players hit with a DUI. I don’t think the penalty is stiff enough in general for a serious issue, but this is the precedent that has been set.
Detroit Pistons’ guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been suspended two games by the NBA for “pleading guilty to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, in violation of the law of the State of Michigan,” the NBA announced. He will miss the first two games of next season.
This will not stop Caldwell-Pope from getting PAID this summer.
A quality wing defender who hit 35 percent from three last season, he plays a position of need for a lot of teams and he is a restricted free agent. Other teams with cap space — Brooklyn and Sacramento come to mind — could step in and give him a max or near max offer. Then Stan Van Gundy needs to decide if he is going to match. He may not have much of a choice, if he wants to keep Andre Drummond and build an inside-out team around him, he needs Caldwell-Pope, and the Pistons don’t have the cap space to replace him.
One way or another, Caldwell-Pope is in line for a massive pay raise. This suspension will not slow teams, it just takes a little money out of his pocket.
If you are betting right now on next year’s NBA Rookie of the Year award, you are a die-hard fan of your team and their new addition. Or, you have a problem and need to seek help. Maybe both.
Either way, the people at the gambling site Bovada have posted the early betting odds for the ROY award for next season.
Lonzo Ball (Lakers) 5/2
Ben Simmons (76ers) 3/1
Markelle Fultz (76ers) 5/1
De”Aaron Fox (Kings) 7/1
Josh Jackson (Suns) 9/1
Jayson Tatum (Celtics) 9/1
Jonathan Isaac (Magic) 16/1
Malik Monk (Hornets) 16/1
Dennis Smith (Mavericks) 16/1
John Collins (Hawks) 20/1
Justin Jackson (Trail Blazers) 22/1
Lauri Markkanen (Bulls) 22/1
Yes, Ben Simmons is in the mix.
The two bets I like here, if I were a gambling man, are Jackson in Phoenix and Dennis Smith in Dallas. I doubt Smith wins it, but Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the draft Smith will start for them next year, which means he gets opportunities and can rack up assists feeding Dirk Nowitzki at the elbow for a year.
Jackson is going to be unleashed in an up-tempo Suns offense where he will be the defender they need on the wing, play with high energy, and get buckets in transition. Winning ROY is as much about fit and opportunity as talent, and Jackson has landed in a good spot.
Paul George reportedly wants to play with Gordon Hayward. George is also reportedly willing to join his desired team (universally accepted to be the Lakers) by means that don’t guarantee the highest salary.
Could the Celtics – who are pursuing Hayward in free agency – leverage those conditions into getting George?
Adam Kauffman of 98.5 The Sports Hub:
I don’t what George would do, but it’d be a MAJOR financial disadvantage to go this route.
There a couple ways it could happen – George getting extended-and-trade or George getting traded then signing an extension six months later. The latter would allow George to earn more than the former, but even if he pledged to sign an extension, would the Celtics trade for him knowing he’d have six months to change his mind if he doesn’t like Boston as much as anticipated?
There’s a bigger issue, anyway. Both extension routes would leave George earning far less than simply letting his contract expire then signing a new deal, either with his incumbent team or a new one.
Here’s a representation of how much George could earn by:
- Letting his contract expire and re-signing (green)
- Letting his contract expire and signing elsewhere (purple)
- Getting traded and signing an extension six months later (gray)
- Signing an extend-and-trade (yellow)
||Expire & re-sign
||Expire & leave
||Trade, extend later
Firm numbers are used when it’s just a calculation based on George’s current contract. When necessary to project the 2018-19 salary cap, I rounded.
The Celtics could theoretically renegotiate-and-extend, but that would require cap room that almost certainly wouldn’t exist after signing Hayward.
Simply, it’s next to impossible to see this happening. It’d be too costly to George.