NBA Playoffs Celtics Magic Game 1 Halftime: Celtic defense smothering all light from universe

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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.

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.