LeBron, Dragic named players of the week

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From NBA.com:

NEW YORK — The Miami Heat’s LeBron James and the Houston Rockets’ Goran Dragic today were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, April 2, through Sunday, April 8.

James led the Heat to a 3-1 week with averages of 30.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.3 steals. James led Miami in scoring and minutes in all four games, and steals and assists three times each. James tallied a season-high 41 points during a 99-93 win over Philadelphia on April 3.

Dragic helped the Rockets to a 3-0 week with averages of 20.7 points, 8.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 steals. Dragic, who has reached double figures in scoring in a career-high 18 consecutive games, posted 21 points and tied a career high with four steals during a 99-93 win over the Bulls on April 2.

LeBron’s big week helped him snap out of a quasi-slump: Before the April 3rd game against Philadelphia, LeBron had not scored 30 or more points in 9 straight games, and the Heat were 6-3 in those games. The Heat are currently trailing the Bulls by 2 games for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Dragic’s big week helped Houston stay in the playoff mix: the Rockets currently have the 6th seed in the Western Conference, and would face the Lakers in a 1st-round series if the playoffs started today.

Jazz boost international bona fides with new minor-league coach

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Martin Schiller has been named coach of the Salt Lake City Stars, the Utah Jazz’s NBA G League affiliate.

Schiller previously served as an assistant coach of MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany and replaces Dean Cooper. He was an assistant coach for the Artland Dragons from 2010-15.

Schiller has also been an assistant coach on the German National Team since 2015, where he worked with Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen.

Schiller hails from Vienna, Austria, and Stars vice president of basketball operations Bart Taylor lauded him for his international experience and player development background.

The Jazz organization is known to have close relationships with the international basketball community. The Jazz currently have eight international players.

Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 with Celtics

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BOSTON (AP) — Newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 in Boston because the Celtics already have retired the numbers he wore in college and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving wore No. 11 at two New Jersey high schools before switching to No. 1 at Duke. He wore No. 2 with the Cavaliers for the first six years of his NBA career.

The Celtics retired No. 1 for founder and original owner Walter Brown. They retired No. 2 for former coach and general manager Red Auerbach.

In all, the Celtics have retired 21 numbers, with Paul Pierce’s No. 34 next in line for the TD Garden rafters.

 

PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ new GM aces first big test with Kyrie Irving trade

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Everyone in the NBA — heck, nearly everyone living in the Western hemisphere — knew Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. That should kill the Cavaliers’ leverage and make it hard to get enough quality back.

New GM Koby Altman — the guy thrust into the job when David Griffin was shown the door — pulled it off brilliantly.

That’s what I talk about in this new PBT Extra. With Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the East this season. The Brooklyn Nets pick gives them flexibility going forward, whatever LeBron James decides to do next season.

First time at the plate in the big leagues and Altman crushed it to straight away center field.

Cavaliers-Celtics deal first offseason trade involving players who just met in NBA Finals or conference finals

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The Cavaliers and Celtics played in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams were widely expected to meet there again.

Yet, Cleveland and Boston just completed a blockbuster trade – Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

That seemed odd.

In fact, it’s unprecedented.

That is an incredible fact, one which speaks to LeBron Jamescachet. The Cavs are emphasizing this season, LeBron’s last before a player option, by loading up with veterans Thomas and Crowder. With LeBron still reigning in Cleveland, the Celtics are delaying their peak by acquiring the younger Irving.

Adding to the intrigue: the Cavs and Celtics are still favored to meet in this year’s conference finals. At minimum, they’ll face off in a(n even more) highly anticipated opening-night matchup.