If the NBA playoffs started today, Philadelphia would be the Atlantic Division winners and four seed taking on the Pacers. Boston and New York would be the seven and eight seeds and get the Bulls and the Heat in the first round.
Boston and New York need to move up — and the easiest way to a good seed is suddenly to jump past the slumping Sixers. Philadelphia has won just two of its last 10 games, it’s offense that shot 44.6 percent on the season has shot just 41.2 percent in the last 10. On the other side, All-Star weekend rest and trade rumors have fueled Boston to a five game winning streak — they are just one game back of Philly now. The Knicks are not out of it, either, just three and a half games back.
Wednesday night Boston travels to take on Philadelphia — a Celtics win and despite the slow start, swirling trade rumors and everything else Boston will be tied for the division lead.
It matters. A lot. Win the Atlantic and you can be no lower than a four seed. Finish second in the division and it could be very tough to get out of the first round.
The Boston veterans are all saying the right things, but Paul Pierce was honest with A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.
“This is definitely a division rival that we are going to have to overtake, and seeing as it’s going to be important going into the playoffs,” said Paul Pierce.
Right now Boston is the hot team, but it is not impossible to imagine the Knicks putting a run together and getting in this mix either.
In the NBA where seeding is done by conference usually winning the division is not that big a deal. But the Atlantic division this year could be different. Which makes this mid-season tilt in Philadelphia very interesting on Wednesday night.
Game 3 of the Hawks vs. Cavaliers series has looked a lot like the first two — the Cavaliers are hitting threes and making plays, and the Hawks are struggling to keep up.
The most impressive of those plays early was Iman Shumpert getting up and throwing down the put-back dunk off LeBron James‘ miss. Check out the reaction of the Cavaliers bench to this play.
Blake Griffin has a game well suited for what coach Mike Krzyzewski has Team USA running: he’s an absolute beast in transition, a gifted and unselfish passer, and he can knock down his midrange shot well enough that opponents have to respect him at 18 feet.
But he’s not joining Coach K in Rio this summer.
Griffin knew he was risking the Olympics by playing through the quad injury for the playoffs, and he is now paying that price the Clippers announced Friday. They said he has had a bone marrow treatment on his quadricep, but it will not allow him to play with Team USA this summer.
Griffin joins Anthony Davis as fours sidelined by injuries and not playing in Rio.
Team USA should be just fine. Other options at the four this summer are LaMarcus Aldridge, Draymond Green, Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony, and that’s not including going small and playing LeBron James, Paul George or others at the four.
Team USA will meet in mid-July for a camp in Las Vegas then do a tour of the USA with exhibition games for a few weeks, before heading down to Rio for the Olympics, which have opening ceremonies Aug. 5 (basketball tips off the next day). Of course, you can see it all on NBC, follow the video on NBCOlypics.com, and read all about it here.
“So Frank, how do you feel about the triangle?”
Frank Vogel is not going to be unemployed for any longer than he wants. Larry Bird and the Pacers dumped him, but his ability to get teams to defend is going to have suitors lined up for his skills.
That includes the Knicks, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post.
The Knicks have made contact with the agent for Frank Vogel, but have not yet requested an interview, according to a source close to the former Pacers coach.
According to the source, Knicks GM Steve Mills has done his due diligence in contacting Vogel’s reps. He expressed that Phil Jackson has not made a decision on how to proceed. The key to the exploratory phone call was finding out whether Vogel would have interest in the job, and it seems he does.
Kurt Rambis is still considered the front-runner for the Knicks job.
Jackson has said he wants someone he knows, and someone committed to running the triangle offense. The Lakers did employ Vogel as an advanced scout during the Jackson era, but don’t confuse that with any relationship between the two. Also, while Vogel’s Pacers ran some triangle action during his tenure, that was while Brian Shaw was his assistant. And that’s very different than jumping in with both feet full time.
Vogel also reportedly has interest in the Rockets job, a team farther along the path to contending and with a more stable management structure. But the Knicks are at least making the call, it’s a start.
Conditioning has never been Boris Diaw‘s strength.
That’s being kind, the man ate his way out of Charlotte. Make no mistake, Diaw is a gifted player who has surprising athleticism plus a court vision and high hoops IQ that make him perfect for the Spurs, but Gregg Popovich gave him incentives to stay thin and Tony Parker joked about Diaw’s weight.
Now Diaw is getting in on the act, speaking to Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp.
“Sometimes we’re up 30,” Diaw says, “and (Popovich is) like, ‘I’m just going to leave you on the court so you can lose some weight.’”
If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at. Diaw has a coffee maker in his locker and , he’s not too worried about his image.
Diaw only saw a little more than eight minutes in Game 2 against the Thunder, which was not about conditioning and all about the matchup. Still, expect him to get more run in Game 3, he is one of those guys who makes the ball move for the Spurs and they need to get back to that.