UPDATE 12:31 pm: The league has announced this as official — Iman Shumpert has pulled out of the All-Star Weekend dunk contest and Jeremy Evans is in.
While Knicks fans are going to be bummed, the contest itself is not going to suffer — Evans is a great dunker. This should be fun (you can watch it Saturday night on TNT). The other contestants are Chase Budinger, Derrick Williams and Paul George. Not a big-name lineup, but some guys who can throw it down. So we’ll see.
10:40 am: Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert had been playing through knee pain for a couple weeks, but with the arrival of J.R. Smith and Baron Davis finally getting healthy, Shumpert was scratched Monday, is not expected to play Wednesday. He will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break.
But what about the All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest? Shumpert is scheduled to be one of the contestants.
If you haven’t seen Evans — which is possible, he’s only been in 16 games for Utah and is averaging 5.6 minutes per contest — he is a human pogo stick who can leap out of the building. Honestly, I didn’t know much about him until I saw him at the Impact Series of workouts/games this past summer in Las Vegas, and in that free-flowing setting his athleticism caught your eye.
Evans was a snub — there had been a campaign for him from Utah, so if Shumpert has to be out this is the right call.
Drake tolls Kyrie Irving on Instagram after Raptors’ latest win
“Hopefully we can get him involved,” Casey said. “Again, it depends on the lineup they have on the court. I know he’s our starting centre but it’s tough to put him out there if they’re playing Channing Frye big minutes at the five.”
“The thing about it is with our five-man, it helps us when we have to switch, especially when they’re playing Love at the five or Frye at the five,” Casey said. “It gives us the flexibility to switch Bismack. It’s a luxury that we have that.”
Toronto won, anyway. So, there’s no griping about Valanciunas remaining stuck on the bench last night.
But Valanciunas could still help the Raptors, who were outscored by three in Game 4 when Bismack Biyombo sat.
Valanciunas’ injury will probably still limit his minutes, which is fine. There’s limited opportunity for him to be effective. As Casey said, Kevin Love and Channing Frye – who already help the Cavs get so many open 3-pointers – are tough matchups for Valanciunas.
But Valanciunas can battle Tristan Thompson inside and on the glass without getting put through the ringer on the perimeter. If Casey picks his spots when Thompson plays, Valanciunas should have a role the rest of this series – at least if he’s healthy enough to play near his standards.
PBT Podcast: Thunder beating Warriors, Raps surprise Cavs, grown men kicked in nuts
The Oklahoma City Thunder went small and blew out the dreaded “death lineup” of the Warriors.
After looking completely overmatched for two games, the Toronto Raptors have evened the series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Yet all anyone seems to want to talk about is Draymond Green kicking Steven Adams in the nether regions, and how the league handled that. So in this latest NBC Sports/PBT Podcast Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports start with Green’s kick, move on to his poor play in general in Game 3, and discuss Game 4 and the rest of that series. Also covered is Toronto and Cleveland, plus a little talk about Nate McMillan to Indiana and Frank Vogel to Orlando.
Draymond Green answered the first three questions he faced today – each about not being suspended for kicking Steven Adams in the groin – with: “That is a great question,” “That is a great question” and “That is a great statement.”
I’m never going to be careful; I’m just going to be me and the game will play out the way it will play out.
Green should be more careful.
1. He’s reached the playoff limit of flagrant-foul points without being suspended. Another flagrant 1 would cost him a game and a flagrant 2 would cost him two games. Even if he didn’t intentionally kick Adams in the groin, doing the exact same thing would draw another flagrant 2. Losing Green for two games would devastate the Warriors.
2. He frequently kicks out his legs on drives. It might be more remarkable he didn’t hurt anyone before this. if you take Green at his word – and I do on this – he doesn’t want to see anyone injured. He can do his part to decrease the odds of someone getting hurt.
There’s a way for Green to play with passion/swagger/emotion/tenacity while being careful, at least careful enough to avoid being reckless. He needs to find the line.