Thursday night marked the 2011 D-League Draft, and to little surprise, proven NBAer Jamaal Tinsley went first overall to the L.A. D-Fenders. As much as the league itself is concerned with developing talent, a player of Tinsley’s caliber held obvious appeal to what is, first and foremost, an actual basketball organization. The D coaches up prospects and provides playing time for assignees, but the league’s coaches, players, and managers are all still vying for success on the minor league level in addition to their harbored call-up dreams. Tinsley, more than any other player in the draft pool, gave the D-Fenders the best way to tap into that success.
D-Fenders coach Eric Musselman provided the cut-and-dry explanation for the selection, via Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register:
“Our goal all along with the first overall pick was to take the player who we felt gave the D-Fenders the best chance of winning right now,” D-Fenders coach Eric Musselman said. “In this case, we were able to do just that with the selection of Jamaal. The guard position was a point of emphasis for us entering the draft, and Jamaal’s extensive experience in the backcourt provides the D-Fenders with a great foundation as we work towards our ultimate goal of winning a D-League championship.”
Supposing Tinsley has a successful D-League season without giving teams reason to doubt his ability to fall in line, it’s easy to see him filling in on an NBA team hit with injury a la Antonio Daniels. Tinsley is the more talented playmaker among them, and would fit in nicely as a reserve guard on a number of pro-level clubs — injury or no. It’s just a matter of convincing teams that he’s worth the perceived trouble at this point, a tall order considering Tinsley’s dicey reputation. Fair or not, that’s Tinsley’s current predicament.
The rest of the NBA names went early, as Alando Tucker (No. 2 to the Texas Legends), Gabe Pruitt (No. 4 to the Sioux Falls Skyforce), and Jamal Sampson (No. 5 to the Texas Legends) were all taken in short order. Beyond that group, the draftees primarily consisted of middling contributors to major college programs, relative unknowns from smaller schools, and local talent selected as a ticket draw. The D-League draft rarely seems like a gold mine on first glance, but some among these will pan out as capable contributors, with a select group successful enough for legitimate call-up contention.
Matthew Dellavedova is a hustler. Everybody knows that. Well, unless you want to argue he’s more about grit. It’s really your call.
But against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, Dellavedova came through with whatever you want to call it — hustle, grit, moxie, gumption.
As the first quarter wound down and the Celtics tried to inbound the ball, Dellavedova spied his opponents rolling the basketball in order to save time on the clock.
That allowed the Australian native to fly in and do this:
That’s a steal, a scoop, and a score all within 1.2 seconds.
Milwaukee won Game 4 and evened the series with the Celtics, 2-2.
Sunday night’s game between the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers was raucous. Bankers Life Fieldhouse was rocking, and despite Indiana’s best effort to put back seemingly every offensive board it encountered, LeBron James‘ 32 points was just too much to overcome.
Facing the possibility of going down 3-1 in the first round, the Cavaliers pulled out the win, 104-100, and sent the series back to Ohio for Game 5.
The game came down to the final period following a surge by the Pacers to end the third quarter. The teams were tied several times midway through the fourth, but a tip shot by Thaddeus Young wth 6:13 left gave the Pacers the lead as fans in Indiana went wild.
Cleveland then came roaring back. At the three-minute mark, James drove to the basket and scored. Thirty seconds later, Kyle Korver hit a big-time 3-pointer to put the Cavaliers up by four points, a mark the Pacers couldn’t recover from.
LeBron scored again with 1:52 left, and despite some weird late-game antics — featuring none other than Lance Stephenson — the Cavaliers were able to remain resolute down the stretch.
James finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists. Kyle Korver added 18 points on 4-of-9 shooting from deep, and Kevin Love had five points with 11 boards.
Victor Oladipo struggled for Indiana, scoring 17 points but shooting just 25 percent from the floor. Seven Pacers finished in double-digits, with Young notching an impressive double-double of 12 points and 16 rebounds.
Game 5 will be played in Cleveland on Wednesday, April 25.
The Toronto Raptors were far and away the best team in the Eastern Conference this season. The Washington Wizards were … well, very Wizard-y.
So considering their regular seasons, the fact that Washington was able to tie the first round series between the two teams at 2 games apiece on Sunday is pretty astonishing.
Bradley Beal had 31 points and five rebounds for the Wizards while teammate John Wall added 27 points to go along with a whopping 14 assists. Washington shot an impressive 41 percent from 3-point range as four of five starters finished in double-digit scoring.
Despite Beal’s performance, it was Wall who saved the day for the Wizards. Beal was disqualified after fouling out with around five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Beal didn’t agree with the call, and could be seen throwing a towel near the Washington bench.
For his part, Wall either scored or assisted on 10 of the Wizards’ final 14 points of the game. That helped stave off the likes of DeMar DeRozan, who led all scorers with 35 points.
The series heads back to Toronto for Game 5, which will be played on Wednesday, April 25.
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been out for some time after injuring his thumb earlier in the year. The absence of one of Boston’s most important guards has been felt even more so after Kyrie Irving went down following knee surgery.
In short, the Celtics would like to have Smart back on the floor.
We’re now close enough that Smart has begun to give solid timeframes to reporters. Speaking to media on Sunday, Smart said that his plan is to be back for Game 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Boston took on Milwaukee on Sunday in Game 4.
Right now, [a Game 6 return is] the plan and we’re still on the same track,” Smart said before Game 4 on Sunday. “I’ve been doing everything but contact, so I will be able to go and start that.”
Smart said he believes the thumb is ready for contact.
“The surgery did its job,” said Smart, who injured himself March 11 while diving for a loose ball in a game against the Indiana Pacers. “Thumb is holding up well. I feel ready, I feel strong enough to get back out there. I’m just waiting on the OK.”
The series between the Celtics and Bucks has been tumultuous, a back-and-forth affair as an injury-riddled Boston squad takes on a healthy but offensively-sluggish Milwaukee team. Smart could add a shot of life for Boston in a much-needed way.
The Bucks won Game 4 and the series is now tied, 2-2. Game 6 would be on Thursday, April 26 if need be.