Even though the rest of the known world may use Hedo Turkoglu as a punchline, Paul Pierce — Turkoglu’s positional matchup in today’s game between the Celtics and Magic — still seems to have enormous respect for the man. From Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel (via Evan Dunlap):
“Hedo is going to be great for ’em because he already knows the players, he knows the system, he knows the coaches,” said Boston small forward Paul Pierce. “I’ve always said he’s one of the more difficult matchups for me, personally, at that position because of the way he shoots the ball, the way he handles and play-makes. And it doesn’t hurt for him to be 6-10, so it’s hard for me to get to his shot.”
Turkoglu has certainly looked more at home back in Stan Van Gundy’s offense than he ever did in Phoenix or Toronto, but this is still high praise from a tremendous competitor who isn’t quick to dole out undeserved praise. Pierce doesn’t seem the type to laud without reason, and even though he’s prone to hyperbole (lest we forget, he once ordained himself the greatest player in the world), the fact that he still thinks this much of Turk means something.
Of course, that something could simply mean that Pierce doesn’t watch much League Pass nor soak up his scouting report, but it’s Christmas. Good will toward all men; we’ll give Pierce the benefit of the doubt, just as Pierce is giving Turkoglu a hell of a holiday compliment.
The NBA has unveiled its top 100 plays of the 2015-16 season, and there’s no mystery as to what were the top two.
No. 2: Stephen Curry‘s halfcourt buzzer-beater in overtime against the Thunder in Oklahoma City during the season.
No. 1: “The Block” by LeBron James on Andre Iguodala in the final stretch of Game 7 of the Finals.
There’s plenty more, too, and if you have 25 minutes to kill, you can and should watch all of them above.
Tyler Zeller is one of the few restricted free agents left on the market who could make an actual impact next season, and on Saturday morning, he’s come off the board. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports that the fourth-year big man has agreed to a deal to stay with the Celtics. It’s for two years and $16 million, with the second season being a team option.
Zeller isn’t a starter, but he’s a nice rotation big man, especially at that price. He can play minutes off the bench for Boston, and his contract is also very movable with the second season being unguaranteed. He played just 11.8 minutes per game last season, but averaged 18.5 points and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes.
The Toronto Raptors were good last season, second best team in the East. That means the guys on Inside the NBA on TNT had to talk about them.
Which means Charles Barkley had to say “Jonas Valanciunas” a lot. Which is high comedy. While a lot of people struggle to say his name the guy is a solid NBA center who, with a little practice, you can say (and spell) his name pretty easily.
This comes from a YouTube user, via Reddit, with a hat tip to Eye on Basketball.
Argentina isn’t considered a medal contender heading into the Rio Olympics. Their golden generation — led by Manu Ginobili — has picked up a lot of speed on the downhill side of their careers at this point.
They didn’t provide much of a challenge for Team USA in an exhibition game Friday night in Las Vegas, one won by the USA 111-74. Kevin Durant impressed playing with his new teammates in dropping 23 points, Paul George had 18, and the Americans had their way in the game.
Which is what we’re going to see a lot of in Rio — the USA’s talent level is just steps above any other team in the tournament.