About the only prediction I feel safe about making for this game is that it will be entertaining. This entire series will be.
After that, there are nothing but questions about Game 2 of Boston vs. New York, on the Knicks need on the road to even the series.
How will the Knicks deal without Chauncey Billups? The Knicks starting point guard is out with a sprained knee suffered late in Game 1. That means a whole lot of Toney Douglas, matched up on Rajon Rondo. It’s not as bad as you think — Rondo and Douglas have been on the court for 42 minutes this season and Rondo shot more often but only hit 31 percent in that situation, and he really struggled from three (thanks Statscube). The reverse also has been true — Douglas shoots just 29 percent overall and 18 percent from three when Rondo is on him. This may not be the game where Rondo takes over.
Will Carmelo Anthony heat up? Anthony was 5-of-18 overall rarely got in deep on the stout Boston defense. The result was a 4-of-15 night shooting jumpers, with plenty of key misses down the stretch. He cannot have another cold night like that again if the Knicks plan to get a win.
Will the Knicks go away from the hot hand again? This was their biggest mistake in Game 1 — Amar’e Stoudemire was on fire, killing Kevin Garnett off the dribble, yet he didn’t get a touch in the final two minutes so Carmelo Anthony could take and miss contested jumpers. Mike D’Antoni talked about this, but the Knicks have to go with what works. And they need another big game from Stoudemire.
Can Boston get Garnett going? He struggled to a 4-of-12 shooting night with Ronny Turiaf on him most of the night. As Zach Lowe pointed out at The Point Forward, Turiaf on the floor was a defensive advantage for the Celtics as that is who they helped off of all night. Turiaf’s energy will probably be able to keep Garnett in relative check on offense, but is that worth the offensive trade off for Boston. If they go with someone other than Turaif look for a lot of KG.
Can Jermaine O’Neal have another big night? Jermaine O’Neal was the kind of defensive presence, good rebounder Boston needs in Game 1 plus he went 6-of-6 from the field. Can he replicate that? History suggests otherwise, but Boston could use it.
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.