Fans send Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett to bench in latest All-Star balloting

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Apparently Boston sports fans have been so focused on what Tom Brady is going to do to the Jets secondary they forgot to vote for the NBA All-Star Game starters.

How else do you explain the latest release of NBA All-Star voting which drops two Celtics from the starting lineup? Chicago’s Derrick Rose has leapfrogged Rajon Rondo for the second starting guard spot in the East. At the same time, the Knicks Amar’e Stoudemire has passed the injured Kevin Garnett for the second starting forward spot.

The leads are not large — Rose is just 54,264 votes ahead of Rondo, while Stoudemire leads Garnett by a healthier 93,847 (that may be hard to make up). If the voting doesn’t change, the Celtics would have no starters in the All-Star Game. Which seems wrong.

The rest of the positions remain the same from the last round of released votes. In the East, Miami’s Dwyane Wade would start with Rose at guard; LeBron James would start at forward with Stoudemire, and Orlando center Dwight Howard remains the highest vote getter in the East overall and would start as well.

For the West, Kobe Bryant is still the guy who has gotten more votes than anyone in either conference (1,757,216) and would start with Chris Paul in the backcourt. The West forwards remain Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.

If Anthony and his 945,720 votes were traded to the New Jersey Nets or New York Knicks (or any team in the East) before the game his votes would travel with him. And that vote total would have him fourth among Eastern forwards, still well behind James, Stoudemire and Garnet. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol is third in the Western Conference forward balloting and likely would move up to start.

The other question is center for the West — word that Yao Ming is out for the season has apparently not reached China, where voters keep punching his ticket to Los Angeles for the game. He is hundreds of thousands of votes ahead of second place Andrew Bynum of the Lakers.

When (not if, when) Yao is selected, the Western Conference coach (come on down, Gregg Popovich) gets to select who will start at center. He could choose Bynum, or he could slide a forward playing a lot of center for his team — Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan — over to the slot to alleviate the log jam at Western Conference forward. Popovich is not bound by the ballot fans have when he makes his choices.

Voting is still open and will remain open for 10 more days. The fan voting selects the five All-Star game starters. The coaches then select the seven reserve players. NBA Commissioner David Stern then adds a 13th player to the roster.

NBA All-Star Weekend will take place Feb. 18-20 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.

LeBron James beautifully pass-fakes, makes layup in transition (video)

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LeBron James is a treasure.

Shaquille O’Neal’s big toe is seriously jacked up (PHOTO)

shaq o'neal
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Remember how we we all freaked out when we saw pictures of LeBron James‘ feet back in 2013?

You probably didn’t want to be reminded that it existed, but it does. Still. And apparently jacked up feet is the consequence of a lifetime of playing professional basketball. Once can only assume it has something to do with tight shoes and constant, hard changes of direction in said tight shoes.

We got yet another vision of what basketball shoes can do to feet on Thursday when TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal showed off his, er, little piggies.

Much to the horror of the Internet in general, it was Shaq’s right big toe that took social media by storm. Mostly because it’s not even close to pointing in the right direction.

I’m going to show you what it looks like. Be forewarned, it might just be NSFL.

Via Twitter:

Oh. Oh … why?

Social media reacted appropriately and proportionately:

Shaq did have issues with that toe during the course of his career, and at one point it was so bad that he had to have surgery to remove bone spurs from the toe in 2002.

That still doesn’t explain why it’s all over your TV and the Internet, but here we are. I am sorry.