Tiago Splitter has blue collar first night in the NBA, expect more of that

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After seemingly years of hype, Tiago Splitter got a very cold reception to the NBA.

He was trying to cover Blake Griffin on the right low block when Griffin put a lighting-quick spin move on him, went baseline and threw down a monster dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.

There’s talent in Europe, but not the explosive athletes you see nightly in the NBA like Griffin. It was a fine how-do-you-do.

If Splitter did not come in as a hyped European player you would have said he had a solid first game. A workman like game. He had a dunk to get his first basket (assist from Manu Ginobili), finished with two points, two rebounds and a +4 in 10 minutes. Some will expect more, but Gregg Popovich warned against that.

“It’s kind of funny how this all evolves,” Popovich said. “Everybody knows he’s a pretty good player. He was an MVP in Europe and they won this and they won that and he’s experienced. Then all of a sudden it got into, ‘well, you got another big guy who can step out and shoot those threes.’ Well, this kid never shot a three in his life. Where did all this come from?

“This isn’t the next Tim Duncan, this is a blue collar guy who is a good rebounder, a good defender, high quality worker, a blue collar guy. This isn’t a throw him the ball and go score 24 tonight.”

Splitter did some nice things. He fought Griffin for a rebound and ended up with a tie ball. He ran floor well on defense with DeAndre Jordan. He got the ball in the post and a smart kickout to Ginobili in the corner, who whipped it on to Gary Neal for a three.

It was a solid, blue collar performance. And if the Spurs can get that consistently they will be much better off for it.

Jazz boost international bona fides with new minor-league coach

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Martin Schiller has been named coach of the Salt Lake City Stars, the Utah Jazz’s NBA G League affiliate.

Schiller previously served as an assistant coach of MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany and replaces Dean Cooper. He was an assistant coach for the Artland Dragons from 2010-15.

Schiller has also been an assistant coach on the German National Team since 2015, where he worked with Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen.

Schiller hails from Vienna, Austria, and Stars vice president of basketball operations Bart Taylor lauded him for his international experience and player development background.

The Jazz organization is known to have close relationships with the international basketball community. The Jazz currently have eight international players.

Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 with Celtics

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BOSTON (AP) — Newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 in Boston because the Celtics already have retired the numbers he wore in college and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving wore No. 11 at two New Jersey high schools before switching to No. 1 at Duke. He wore No. 2 with the Cavaliers for the first six years of his NBA career.

The Celtics retired No. 1 for founder and original owner Walter Brown. They retired No. 2 for former coach and general manager Red Auerbach.

In all, the Celtics have retired 21 numbers, with Paul Pierce’s No. 34 next in line for the TD Garden rafters.

 

PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ new GM aces first big test with Kyrie Irving trade

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Everyone in the NBA — heck, nearly everyone living in the Western hemisphere — knew Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. That should kill the Cavaliers’ leverage and make it hard to get enough quality back.

New GM Koby Altman — the guy thrust into the job when David Griffin was shown the door — pulled it off brilliantly.

That’s what I talk about in this new PBT Extra. With Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the East this season. The Brooklyn Nets pick gives them flexibility going forward, whatever LeBron James decides to do next season.

First time at the plate in the big leagues and Altman crushed it to straight away center field.

Cavaliers-Celtics deal first offseason trade involving players who just met in NBA Finals or conference finals

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The Cavaliers and Celtics played in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams were widely expected to meet there again.

Yet, Cleveland and Boston just completed a blockbuster trade – Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

That seemed odd.

In fact, it’s unprecedented.

That is an incredible fact, one which speaks to LeBron Jamescachet. The Cavs are emphasizing this season, LeBron’s last before a player option, by loading up with veterans Thomas and Crowder. With LeBron still reigning in Cleveland, the Celtics are delaying their peak by acquiring the younger Irving.

Adding to the intrigue: the Cavs and Celtics are still favored to meet in this year’s conference finals. At minimum, they’ll face off in a(n even more) highly anticipated opening-night matchup.