Thursday And-1 links: First look at NBA playoff schedule


Here is our daily look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

A lot of things are still up in the air, but the NBA released a first look at the first games of the first round of the NBA playoffs. That’s a lot of firsts but it’s all we have — the times have not been set, neither have the rest of the games. We just know what teams are playing what days (which the coaches wanted to know so they knew to rest Thursday night).

In the East Chicago will host Philadelphia or New York Saturday, and Miami will host the other half of Philadelphia/New York Saturday as well. Orlando is at Indiana Saturday. Boston and Atlanta play Sunday, we just have yet to find out who gets home court.

• In the West, Utah is at San Antonio Sunday. Oklahoma City will host either Dallas or Denver on Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers will host the other half off Dallas or Denver on Sunday. The Los Angeles Clippers against Memphis will start Sunday, although which team gets home court will be decided Thursday.

• The Bulls need to win to clinch best record through the playoffs, and Tom Thibodeau said he planned to play his starters 20-30 minutes. With it now announced the Bulls play Saturday, his thinking might change.

• I really like the Jazz’s big lineup — Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors all on the floor at once — but let’s not start thinking they can do to San Antonio what Memphis did a year ago.

• Knicks coach Mike Woodson is hopeful he will have Jeremy Lin back for the second round of the playoffs. I say that’s not going to matter.

• Etan Thomas speaks for a lot of us in asking Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter to back away from the ledge they are on.

• Sasha Vujacic does want to return to the NBA but he does not have a deal with Toronto in hand, they don’t really want him.

• Antawn Jamison is not coming back to the Cavaliers next year.

• A Miami Heat fan did not find the antics of the Phoenix Suns Gorilla mascot funny and punched the guy in the face, giving him a bloody nose.

• Arena talks is Sacramento are not dead, but the doctors still say the prognosis is not good.

When NBA halftime show tightrope walking performances go bad.

• An interview with the former ESPN editor who made the Jeremy Lin headline mistake.

Giannis Antetokounmpo to tell his story on 60 Minutes this week (preview clip)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Giannis Antetokounmpo grew up hocking wares — clothes, sunglasses, whatever — on the streets of Athens, Greece. He easily could still be living there, the tallest salesman in a poor part of a country with high unemployment and real challenges.

Instead, he is a multimillionaire living comfortably in the United States, and is one of the 10 best basketball players in the world — and still improving. In a few years we may well be saying he is the best player on the planet.

Antetokounmpo will be telling his story on the legendary television news magazine 60 Minutes this week, and the show released a clip. Check it out.

This is the best missed free throw to game winner you will ever see

Getty Images
Leave a comment

We’ve all seen this situation before at every level of basketball: A team down three points gets fouled in the final seconds and has two free throws, so the shooter aims to make the first free throw then miss the second and create a rebound he or a teammate can grab then throw back in to tie the game. It works about as often as an NFL Hail Mary — either the shooter makes the shot anyway or the defense gets the board — but what other choice is there?

Nobody has ever pulled it off as well as Paulinho Boracini of the Brazilian league team Cearense.

Intentional or not (and I lean not), he banked the second free throw off the rim toward the corner, ran it down himself and hit the game-winning three.

Damn. That’s impressive.

(If Boracini and Cearense sound familiar, you win the award for “watching too much Knicks preseason basketball” because they played New York in a 2015 exhibition.)

Giannis Antetokounmpo doubtful with ankle injury for Bulls game

AP Photo/Morry Gash

MILWAUKEE (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks say Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.

The All-Star forward got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.

Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.


Anfernee Simons declares for NBA draft straight out of high school (kind of)

AP Photo/Gregory Payan
Leave a comment

Anfernee Simons spent the last year playing high school basketball. But because he did so as a fifth-year prep after technically graduating from high school last year and turns 19 in June, he’s eligible for the NBA draft.

Following a path taken by Thon Maker and considered by Jonathan Isaac, Simons – as expected – is turning pro.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Anfernee Simons will forgo his collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA draft, he informed ESPN.

Simons informed ESPN that he will sign with agent Bobby Petriella of Rosenhaus Sports Representation

Simons looks like a mid-first-rounder, though his range is quite wide considering how large of a jump he’s making. Teams can learn relatively more about him in workouts and interviews.

A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who specializes in scoring, Simons is quick on his feet with a quick release off the dribble – with range from beyond the 3-point arc to an impressive floater game. Those floaters will be important, because Simons isn’t nearly strong enough for the NBA. He’s also a lackluster passer, though because of physicality concerns, no team will count on Simons to run an offense anytime soon, anyway. He’ll have time to develop as a distributor.

By signing with agents, Simons loses his college eligibility. Drew Rosenhaus, a big-name football agent, isn’t certified with the National Basketball Players Association. Petriella’s only NBA client has been Diamond Stone, a 2016 second-rounder who’s out of the league. They’re all in this bold venture together now.

As the NBA considers changing its draft rules for young prospects, Simons will be an interesting case study. He obviously meets the draft-eligibility requirements in the one-and-done era, but he’s also jumping from prep-school competition to the NBA. The league’s strength and nutrition programs should serve him well. His overall development could influence the wider debate.