Boston Celtics v Phoenix Suns

Shaq out “indefinitely” for Boston

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One of the keys to Boston being in this in June — one of the reasons that Kendrick Perkins could be traded — was that Shaquille O’Neal could do the job in the middle.

The Celtics will not have Shaq for game one against New York and maybe longer, Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge told the media Saturday. Here’s the word from our man A. Sherrod Blakely at CSN New England.

Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, made the announcement this afternoon with team physician, Dr. Brian McKeon.

“He has been making progress,” Ainge said. “We tried to get him out there to practice today, simulate the game as much as we could. He’s not ready. We don’t know when he’ll be ready.”

McKeon said the trial O’Neal was involved in consisted of him running, a test McKeon acknowledged O’Neal had failed.

“It didn’t work,” McKeon said. “It’s just too sore. We’re going to spend another … get back to tomorrow and hopefully we’ll get him back soon.”

Yikes.

They tried to have him run and shut him down due to calf and Achilles issues. Those are what have kept him off the court for all but five minutes since Feb. 1.

No Shaq makes beating Knicks more difficult — you’d like to be able to pound them inside — but if Boston’s defense is focused and Rajon Rondo gets back in his groove they should still win (the Knicks have a puncher’s chance).

To get that offense back in a groove, Rivers said he is dumbing the offense back down to the basics, as reported at Celtics.com.

“I’m cutting out literally half of our offensive playbook,” Rivers told the media after Friday’s lengthy practice, which lasted about two and a half hours. “I made a choice: I’d rather run a couple things well than a lot of things average or poor.”

Less than a week ago, when the Celtics were in Miami being trounced by the Heat, Rivers was picked up by ABC’s microphones telling his team, to paraphrase, “Keep it simple. Keep the game simple.” When he didn’t see his players return to that level of simplicity, he decided to make the decision for them.

There may be no more entertaining series than Boston and New York, which gets underway Sunday night in Beantown.

James Harden’s 12th triple-double helps Rockets end 2-game skid

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NEW YORK (AP) James Harden had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in his 12th triple-double of the season and the Houston Rockets easily ended their first losing streak of the season by beating the Brooklyn Nets 137-112 on Sunday night.

Held to 105 points in losses to Minnesota and Memphis, the Rockets bounced back with 104 after three quarters and handed the Nets their 10th straight loss.

Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 24 points and Trevor Ariza added 23. Houston made 21 3-pointers and had five players with at least 16 points.

Houston shot just 40.8 percent during its two losses, well below its 46.8 season average, while being held nearly 10 points below its season scoring average. But the Rockets had no trouble bouncing back against the Nets, who allow an NBA-worst 114.3 per game.

Joel Embiid helps bring hundreds of fans to D.C. with ‘Bus the Process’

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Joel Embiid has fans all around the NBA. Some even came out to see him during the Philadelphia 76ers game against the Washington Wizards on Saturday despite the Cameroonian big man sitting out due to restrictions on playing in back-to-back games.

#BusTheProcess was the hashtag used to get 350 Sixers fans to the game in D.C. thanks to Embiid, coach Brett Brown, and the podcast The Rights to Ricky Sanchez.

Via Twitter and ESPN:

Fun stuff for some dedicated fans, even if they didn’t get to see Embiid play.

Unfortunately for the #BusTheProcess folks, the 76ers wound up losing to the Wizards, 109-93.

Ball ricochets off Robin Lopez’s face, Bulls score anyway (VIDEO)

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31:  Robin Lopez #8 of the Chicago Bulls look on against the Brooklyn Nets during the first half at Barclays Center on October 31, 2016 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Michael Carter-Williams is still shaking the dust off after being inserted into the starting lineup, I guess. At least, that’s about what you can say when you pass the ball off your starting center’s face.

But there’s good news! The Chicago Bulls scored on this play.

Let’s take a look at the whole thing, shall we?

I think the more important question is whether Carter-Williams received a secondary or primary assists on the NBA.com tracking site.

Kent Bazemore, Mike Dunleavy pick up offense as Hawks beat Bucks

Mike Dunleavy, Michael Beasley
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ATLANTA (AP) Kent Bazemore scored 24 points, Mike Dunleavy added 20 and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-98 on Sunday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and was a tough matchup in the paint for Milwaukee, which dropped 2 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Hawks in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta has won eight of nine. The Bucks have dropped three of five.

Dunleavy, in his second game since arriving in a trade last week with Cleveland, had his first 20-point performance since a first-round playoff game for Chicago on April 30, 2015.

Antetokounmpo has scored at least 30 points in eight games in a breakout season.