Now the Orlando/Atlanta series moves on to Game 3 on a neutral court… wait, it’s in Atlanta? Interesting. We’ll see if anyone notices.
Seriously, the Hawks fans will be into it if the Hawks are into it. And in it.
Whether the Hawks are in it may depend in part on how much run Al Horford gets, which became one of the big stories out of Game 2. Horford — the Hawks best player in the regular season — picked up two fouls in 2:10 of the first quarter and got yanked by coach Larry Drew. And never put back in for the entire first half. Stat heads are down on the idea of yanking a guy with two fouls in the first place, go ahead and debate that if you wish. Nobody was down with Horford not getting back in until the second half. Or with sitting Jason Collins — the guy who bangs with Dwight Howard and allows the Hawks to single cover on the perimeter — when he picked up a second foul with 8:44 in the second quarter. Both sat the rest of the half.
The result was Orlando made a 12-2 run and a separate 14-3 run in the second quarter while the two bigs sat. The Magic grabbed a lead they never relinquished. Collins was saved for a fourth quarter he almost never played in because the Hawks needed guys who can score.
It’s not rocket science. You’ve got to play your best players to win. Horford is as good as the Hawks have inside. Give the man his run.
The Hawks best player so far this series has been Jamal Crawford, who is averaging 24 points a game and is shooting 58.4 percent from three. In general the Hawks have had stretches where their shooters — Joe Johnson, Josh Smith — have been nailing the jumpers they too easily settle for, and they have held the lead. The Hawks expect that to last, the Magic think they can close out and shut that down.
The Hawks have a real shot here — they played poorly and had bad coaching decisions in Game 2 on the road and still were in it late. They create matchup problems that Orlando struggles to solve. The Magic have nobody who can hang with Josh Smith if Mr. Smith wishes to take over. Atlanta should open up the Mike Woodson playbook and isolate the guy.
At some point, Orlando fans and players expect their shots to start falling. Atlanta thinks that they, too, can shoot a lot better against the Magic defense.
One of them will be right. And one of them will be up 2-1 in this series come Saturday morning.
There is no timetable for Ben Simmons to step into the Philadelphia lineup, and the Sixers don’t want to put one on him. He’ll play when he plays, but the Sixers are rightfully going to take it slow and think long term with a guy coming off a Jones fracture in his foot.
That said, we could see him next month after the All-Star break. Maybe it will be March. But he seems to be on course to return this season.
Philly has won seven of their last 10, Joel Embiid looks like a franchise cornerstone, and after his impressive Summer League everyone wants to see what Simmons and Embiid look like together. Including coach Brett Brown. We’re impatient.
The Sixers are not. Nor should they be. We can see how they are handling things with Embiid still being on a minutes restriction and not playing back-to-backs — Philly is thinking about the team it could have in three or four years, not the one it has in March. Philly is not a playoff team this season, no need to push things.
However, with this latest clean bill of health, it looks promising Simmons will play this season.
When Dwyane Wade left Miami — the only team he had ever played for, the one where he won three titles — to come home to Chicago, he wasn’t thinking of being one-and-done. Already in his mid-thirties (35 as you read this), he was looking to finish his career as a Bull, however long that may be.
But Wade left himself an out, signing a two-year, $47 million deal with a player option for the second year.
With the Bulls 22-23 and barely clinging to the final playoff spot in the East, would Wade consider opting out and testing the free agent waters again? He told Nick Friedell of ESPN that how this season plays out will have a significant impact on his decision.
“I wouldn’t lie to you and say no (this season won’t impact his decision),” Wade said. “Of course. I can’t play this game forever. I just turned 35 and I have a number in my head how long I want to play. At the end of the day you want to be in a situation where it’s a competitor situation, whatever the case may be. It’s tough in this league as well because a lot of that also depends on how much money you’re willing to make. It depends on what city you’re willing to be in. So it’s a lot of variables to that, but no question about it, what happens throughout this year, as I go into my summer, I’ll definitely take a look at it. I take my career seriously and where I am and where I want to be. And I will do the same thing this summer.”
Come this summer, both Wade and the Bulls have decisions to make.
For the Bulls, in the wake of the Rajon Rondo signing that hasn’t panned out, they need to decide what kind of team they are trying to build around Jimmy Butler. Fred Hoiberg was handpicked by management because of his modern offense — spacing, shooting, ball movement — then that same front office goes out and gets Wade and Rondo, two guys opponents will let take jumpers all day. Is Nikola Mirotic part of that future? Bobby Portis? The Bulls need a long-term vision, but if they keep Wade at his current price then it likely is more stop-gap measures. Just hopefully ones that can shoot the three.
For Wade, he has to ask what he wants out of his final few years in the league. Chicago is not a contender and will not be for a few years at least. Does Wade want to stay in his hometown and be part of what is being built around Butler? Or, does he want to take less money to chase another ring with a contender? At this point in his career, what matters most to him.
My guess is Wade is back with the Bulls next season, whether he opts in or signs a new deal. And the Bulls will make more stop-gap moves. That’s what history suggests.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies will own and run the NBA Development League’s newest team starting with the 2017-18 season.
The Grizzlies and the NBA Development League announced the expansion team Tuesday.
The newest D-League team will play in Southaven, Mississippi, which is just 20 miles south of Memphis. The arena already hosts the Mississippi Riverkings in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
The move makes the Grizzlies the 19th NBA team owning and running a D-League affiliate, which expands the league to 23 teams for the upcoming season.
The Grizzlies have been affiliated with the Iowa Energy, whom were just bought by the Timberwolves. Memphis eneral manager Chris Wallace says the D-League team will practice at the Grizzlies’ facilities at FedExForum and allow Memphis to best develop young players.
Kyle Lowry is a gold medalist from Rio and a Toronto All-Star (and should be again this season), but at heart he is a Philly guy. He was born and raised in Philadelphia, and went to college right there at Villanova. He still has a home in the area.
A home that was burglarized recently, according to a report at CBS Philadelphia, who talked to local police.
A multi-million dollar jewelry burglary ring is cracked in the Delaware Valley as investigators are trying to recover all the jewels stolen from victims, including an NBA star player….
The Main Line home of Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry was hit, police sources said.
Responding to an email from CBS3, a spokesman for the Raptors said Lowry, a former Villanova basketball standout, politely declined comment for this story.
Lowry was far from alone in being targeted, and a couple of people who fell victim to the ring lost more than $500,000, according to the report.
The crew had ties to a shop on “Jewelers’ Row” in the city, which served as a front for the ring tried to move millions of dollars in stolen jewelry, according to the report. Wasim Shazad, the owner of the shop, was arrested but is now out on bail as he moves through the legal process.