Eight games in a row on the road — it was supposed to do Boston in, knock them out of the playoffs. It was the biggest test of the season and the Celtics old legs were not going to be able to live up to it.
Friday night the road trip ends in Philadelphia and at the end of the night the Celtics could move into first place in the Atlantic Division.
The stage was set for that by Boston’s 100-91 win over the Bucks Thursday night. That win moved the Celtics half a game behind the Sixers for the division lead — and the automatic four seed that comes with it. Which means avoiding the Heat or Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.
Even if the Celtics don’t grab the division lead Friday, the win over the Bucks — breaking Milwaukee’s six-game winning streak — put them on solid footing to make the postseason.
The Bucks are the 9 seed in the East but are now four games back of the 7 seed Celtics — that’s a lot of ground to have to make up in just 20 games. (Which is how many games the Celtics have left this season.)
(The team that might be more nervous about the charging Bucks is the Knicks — except the Knicks have won five in a row themselves. New York is 1.5 games ahead of the Bucks. Milwaukee might have better chance to catch the 76ers who are 4.5 games ahead of them but slumping.)
The Sixers got their key win over the Bucks the old fashioned way — good defense. Well, a half of good defense. After a tight first half the Celtics held Milwaukee to 29.3 percent shooting in the second half. For the game the Bucks backcourt of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings combined to shoot 12-of-32. Which is still better than Drew Gooden’s 2-of-12.
Meanwhile Paul Pierce had 10 points in the third quarter on his way to a game high 25.
If Boston can get a performance like this on Friday night — if the old legs can do it one more time on this road trip — they will go home with after a 5-3 road trip with a half-game lead in the Atlantic. Something nobody saw coming.
Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid has a certain sense of humor, one that has embraced former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie’s motto of “Trust the Process” as a kind of personal mantra and brand.
Embiid has apparently taken it a step further, showing off custom sneakers on Snapchat of his “Trust the Process” shoes.
You read that right.
The inside tongue of a pair of kicks Embiid was rocking on Saturday read in all lowercase letters the phrase we now associate with the Cameroonian center.
Embiid famously dubbed himself “The Process” and even filed for a trademark on the language in order to sell merchandise no doubt to be with us shortly.
Keep it coming, Joel. Absolutely each and every one of these are great.
Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James is one of the best basketball players ever, and on Friday night he passed Elvin Hayes for 9th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Now, LeBron has accomplished a feat that is all his own.
During a game against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, James became the first player to log 27,000 points, 7,000 rebounds, and 7,000 assists.
Being alone in those categories is incredibly special, and is a marker to how James has played his entire career as a revolutionary point forward.
James is not only 9th in scoring, but 16th in assists. Statistical averages suggest he will end the season somewhere around 12th all-time in passing.
Timofey Mozgov is not an MVP candidate, but that didn’t stop one fan from starting a chant while the Los Angeles Lakers C was at the free-throw line on Friday night against the Phoenix Suns.
May I just say this: Bless this fan.
As Mozgov went to the line midway through the first quarter, someone within earshot of ESPN’s parabolic microphones started a chant for the Russian big man.
It was quiet during Mozgov’s first free throw, but during the second more fans at Staples joined in to the point where it was impossible to ignore it.
This is what having a fun at a basketball game looks like. Too good.
Cleveland Cavaliers veteran Richard Jefferson has a legendary Snapchat account, and I think it just got even better.
During a video posted to Jefferson’s account on Saturday, viewers were able to see a point-of-view account of what it’s like to be an NBA player practicing 3-pointers and dunking down lob passes.
Thanks to a pair of Snapchat Spectacles — a video camera in a set of glasses and paired with the social application — Jefferson gave us a taste of what it’s like to be an NBA player, if only for a moment.
I think it’s pretty cool to see from his perspective. Thanks to the evolution of wearable technology and 3D viewing equipment this is probably just a very small preview of what our viewing experience for the NBA is going to be like in 10-15 years.