Knicks' Anthony and Heat's James embrace after their NBA basketball game in New York

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.

Kevin Love names NBA players he thinks could play in NFL

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The majority of guys in the NBA are not built for the NFL. Blake Griffin the tight end makes a huge target for a free safety to line up. Kevin Durant is a little thin. Carmelo Anthony? Come on now.

But there are a few guys who might be able to, and on his show Dan Patrick asks Kevin Love about it today (see the video above). Then DP tries to take the obvious call of LeBron James off the table.

Nate Robinson as a DB? He’s athletic enough but at his height he would be a target for tall receivers. I like Dan Patrick’s suggestion of Russell Westbrook the free safety — he is certainly athletic enough.

Love also picked himself as a QB. Um, no. I’m not sure his outlet passing skills translate.

Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha on not guilty verdict: “Justice was served”

Thabo Sefolosha

Friday morning, a New York jury found Atlanta Hawks guard Thabo Sefolosha not guilty of misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. The charges stemmed from the night in the final weeks of last season when Sefolosha and then teammate Pero Antic went to a New York club after arriving in town, and while there Pacers’ player Chris Copeland was stabbed outside the club. In his clash with police, Sefolosha suffered a broken leg that required surgery and kept him out of the playoffs.

The New York prosecutor tried to make this go away with a plea deal of just day of community service and six months probation. But Sefolosha had the means and mind to fight the charges, got his day in court and won. This is what he said in a statement after the verdict, released by the Atlanta Hawks.

“This morning’s verdict ended a long and emotional period for me.  Justice was served and for that I am eternally grateful to the judge and jury for their quick and deliberate decision….

“It’s troubling to me that with so much evidence in my support that this case would even be brought to trial and that I had to defend myself so hard to get justice. It pains me to think about all of the innocent people who aren’t fortunate enough to have the resources, visibility and access to quality legal counsel that I have had.

“It was important to me as a man, a father to two young girls and as a role model, to stand up for what I believe in and have my name cleared of any wrongdoing.  Today’s verdict will not make up for the pain and trauma my family and I have suffered over the past six months or bring back the opportunity to have played in the Eastern Conference Finals and have a shot at an NBA title, but it does bring me some peace and closes a painful chapter in my life.

“Now I look forward to returning to the team and focusing solely on my rehabilitation for the upcoming season so that I can get back to playing the game I cherish so much.”

While Sefolosha says he is focusing “solely” on his rehab, the win in the criminal case would bode well for a potential civil case if he wanted to sue regarding his treatment and the broken leg.

Hawks’ coach Mike Budenholzer — who testified at the trial and was amused by parts of it — released this statement:

“Thabo is a man of great character and we are proud that he took a principled approach to proving his innocence. We are extremely happy for him and his family, and we are very pleased with today’s verdict in his favor.”