Thunder’s Perkins motivated by Kerr’s correct criticism

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Steve Kerr and the TNT broadcast crew called it like it was — Kendrick Perkins struggled on defense the first two games of the Thunder’s series against San Antonio. He was not able to contain Tony Parker when he showed out on pick-and-rolls, he did not recover fast enough to keep up with a rolling Tim Duncan.

If you watched the broadcast of Game 3, you heard Kerr and the broadcast crew refer to Perkins staring them down and calling them out. From the Oklahoman.

After at least two first-half defensive stops aided by his play, Perkins stared down the broadcast crew.

“Talk about that,” he yelled.

Thing is, Perkins played a lot better in Game 3. Like the rest of the Thunder defense. Because the Thunder switched everything Perkins even got isolated on Parker a couple times and shut the speedy French point guard down. Perkins blocked a Manu Ginobili jumper. That’s not his forte — OKC brought him in because they thought they’d be matching up with Andrew Bynum right now — but in Game 3 he was fantastic.

And the TNT crew acknowledged it.

Whatever you’ve got to do to get motivated. But should we really be blaming the TNT crew here? As KD at Ball Don’t Lie noted and NBA.com reported, Perkins himself admitted after Game 2 he struggled.

“In that last game Parker was able to get in there and get off his shots pretty easy,” Perkins said. “So tonight I said, ‘I want to see what you got.’ ” I wanted to challenge him. I wanted to make him really work for it.”

Game 4 in this series is going to be interesting. Very interesting.

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.