Celtics won’t attack LeBron James at point guard

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Let’s take a second here, because, guys. You guys. We have actual basketball-related stuff that actually matters to talk about. I know. I’m excited too.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled program.

Turns out the Celtics have been talking a little bit about how they’re going to defend the Heat come Thursday’s opener. Particularly, the question was brought up about how the Celtics would be defending point-guard LeBron in the sets he’s carrying the ball. Typically, the Celtics take advantage of Rajon Rondo’s tremendous on-ball pressure to try and harass the opposing point guard into turnovers. But with James, there are too many ways he can hurt you should your swipe attempt fail and he reaches the open floor.

From the Boston Globe:

“We’re going to fall back and then guard him,’’ Rivers said.

Rajon Rondo, for one, isn’t exactly bowled over by the whole “LeBron-playing-point” thing.

“They did it last year in Cleveland,’’ he said. “Wade did it for [Miami] last year. Kobe [Bryant] brings the ball up for the Lakers. It’s really no different. They’re still going to get into their sets. I just won’t be putting the pressure on the ball. It’ll be Paul [Pierce] or Ray [Allen].’’

That’s true, the best players in the league do handle the ball well. They just typically don’t have a superstar of their caliber running next to them. But then, this is the Celtics. Defending is all they do. They are militant in their discipline, ravenous in their approach, and vicious in their relentlessness. Things will not come easy for the Triad come Tuesday, especially with Mike Miller out.

You know who’s not being referenced by the Celtics here? Chris Bosh. I’m going to bet that the Celtics are going to get pretty deep into Bosh’s head and in their dismissal. The best part? We’re starting storylines in four days that last seven months.

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

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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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.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.