NBA schedule out, here are some news and notes

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The NBA schedule is out and there is a lot to comb through. Here are some things that jumped out to us at first glance, plus the basic details you need to know.

• Games tip-off on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, with five games.

• It is a 66 game season that runs through April 26 (about a week later than normal).

• Game 7 of the NBA finals could be on June 26, again about a week later than normal. (The NBA could not push back farther due to the Olympics, Team USA is expected to open camp July 5.)

• There are 42 sets of back-to-back-to-back games (three games in three nights).

• Miami gets a soft start to the season — 11 out of their first 19 at home and they only leave the Eastern time zone once (against Dallas in the opener).

• The Lakers, on the other hand, open with a back-to-back-to-back (host Bulls, at Kings, home to Jazz). However, they stay west of the Rockies until the middle of January.

• The Lakers are on national television 29 times (counting cable games like NBA TV).

• Miami has one back-to-back-to-back, Feb. 12 to 14.

• Dallas also opens pretty easy early as well with six of their first nine at home and all in the central time zone.

• Over at Daily Thunder they report Oklahoma City has 17 back-to-backs and but only one back-to-back-to-back.

• Oklahoma City gets a soft end to the season — 10 of their last 11 games are against teams that did not make the playoffs last year.

• The league tried to schedule a lot of marquee games. For example the Celtics get the Heat and Bulls both the maximum of four times each.

• Worst schedule stretch of the year goes to the Grizzlies in April — five games in six days starting at the Thunder, home to the Warriors, at Dallas, at Miami, home again to Dallas. Brutal.

• Boston does have an April stretch (13th to 19th) with five games in five different cities and two countries in six days. It’s part of a pattern as Boston spends 18 of its last 27 games on the road.

• Boston has to play 18 of its last 27 games on the road. They also have their first three on the road against the Knicks, Heat and Hornets.

• The Orlando Magic do not come out to Los Angeles to face the Lakers or Clippers this year. So no Dwight Howard in Los Angeles, unless….

• The Bulls circus road trip kicks them out of the United Center from Jan. 29 to Feb. 12, nine straight games. Bulls also start season with seven of first nine on the road.

• The Knicks have three games in four nights in early March and it is harsh: At Boston, at Dallas, at San Antonio.

• Starting Jan. 21 Spurs will spend 13 of 17 games on the road, plus they got two back-to-back-to-backs. The schedule was not nice to the old guys.

• Denver has to play 13 of its last 19 games on the road.

Nets’ D’Angelo Russell has arthroscopy knee surgery, will miss time

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D'Angelo Russell has played well since being traded across the country and handed the keys to the Brooklyn franchise. He has averaged 20.9 points and 5.7 assists per game, been a more efficient shooter (he’s only hitting 29.7 percent from three, but he is getting to the line more than he used to, is knocking it down from the midrange, and his true shooting percentage is at 53.9, about the league average). He may not look like what teams hope for out of a former No. 2 overall pick, but he’s played well.

Now the Nets will need to get by without him for a while — what was sold as a “knee contusion” by the team has turned out to require surgery, the team announced Friday.

While there is no timetable, it likely means a month to six weeks he is out. It depends on what they found and what was done in his knee, details we don’t yet have.

The Nets are already without Jeremy Lin, who is out for the season with a ruptured patela tendon. Spencer Dinwiddie will start at the point with Russell out, and guys such as Caris LeVert and Isaiah Whitehead will need to carry more of the shot creation load.

Brooklyn is 5-9 on the season, and while not a good team they are better than many projected (and better than Sixers fans were hoping). This is undoubtedly going to be a step back for an offense already 23rd in the league.

 

Report: Adam Silver quickly shot down check of his interest in being NFL Commissioner

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Being commissioner of the NFL is a tough job right now. Television ratings are down, which is due to big picture sports viewing trends far, far more than a controversy about players kneeling during the National Anthem. Although a lightning rod issue with the President involved certainly doesn’t help. Then there are real concerns about brain damage in players long term, and how that is keeping participation from younger generations down in the sport.

Not that Roger Goodell has done a particularly good job handling any of it, which in part is why there is a palace coup trying to take place and force him out, led by Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones.

If Goodell is forced out – and that’s still a big “if” — the next question becomes who steps in. Someone reached out to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to see if he was interested, reports Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham of ESPN (hat tip Boogiewonderland13 at NBA Reddit). That went nowhere fast.

The owners, though, have considered other successors. A confidant of one owner reached out to gauge whether Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, would be interested in running the NFL, to which Silver immediately said no.

Silver is too savvy to want to step into that job right now. Silver is, by his nature, a consensus builder as a commissioner — as opposed to the more dictatorial David Stern — and good luck trying to find a consensus among these bickering NFL owners.

Silver is going to ride out a fairly lengthy term as NBA Commissioner, then retire into some fairly healthy consulting/speaking fees. He’s in a good spot. He’s too smart to blow that to try and appease Jerry Jones.

Jamal Crawford says Lonzo Ball should not change his shot

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Lonzo Ball‘s shot has become a running gag around the NBA. During pregame warmups this season it looked like LeBron James and Joel Embiid mocked/tried to imitate it. TNT’s Inside the NBA was asking if it was worse than Charles Barkley’s golf swing, and the crew on that show mocks it all the time.

Ball is shooting 30.3 percent overall this season, and 23 percent from three. He’s shooting just 42.1 percent in the restricted area (it’s not just his jumper that is off). He’s shooting 37.5 percent on pull-up jumpers. He’s shooting 22.5 percent on shots when there is nobody within six feet of him (stats via NBA.com).

Is it time to tear down Ball’s awkward release and rework his jumper? Jamal Crawford, a guy who knows something about getting buckets in the NBA, said no, speaking on CBS Sports’ Flagrant 2 Podcast.

“No, I wouldn’t (change his shot). He’s done it his whole life. Even if he struggled, I’m sure he’s struggled, but when he makes 10 in a row you won’t change it then so I’d just keep it consistent.”

Crawford also said he sees a real star in Ball.

“Star. Absolutely a star. I love watching him play. He plays the right way. He doesn’t play for stats. He’ll give the ball up early when he could easily hold it to get an assist. He’s making the right play if it was a hockey assist he’d get 20 a game cause he’s always passing up early. He seems like a great teammate. If you look at all his interviews…he’s always well spoken he’s always about the team.”

Luke Walton has the Lakers players taking and making 100 threes at each practice, and he continues to encourage Ball to shoot his way out of this slump. Magic Johnson has said the Lakers would not change Ball’s jumper during the season.

But if Ball does not find a rhythm and is under 40 percent for the season on jumpers, come next summer the Lakers have some decisions to make. And tearing down and rebuilding Ball’s shot is a long process that will take more than one summer of hard work.

PBT Podcast: Celtics win over Warriors, all things Boston with A. Sherrod Blakely

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The Boston Celtics are for real.

In case you had any doubts, they ran their streak to 14 wins in a row by coming from 17 down – twice — to beat the Golden State Warriors. The Celtics have the best defense in the NBA, and it threw the Warriors off their game, something few teams have been able to do over the past few years.

Kurt Helin welcomes in A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston to talk about what this win means to the Celtics, why their defense is so good, how Kyrie Irving is fitting in, how young stars such as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are rising up, and what is the deal with Marcus Smart. Also, there is a lot of Brad Stevens love.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.