NBA schedule released, some big games on the front end

8 Comments

Would you look at that, a full 82 game schedule. Haven’t seen one of those in a while. Kind of missed it.

The NBA released the full season schedule on Thursday and clearly they had some marketing in mind. Some fans liked the big splash when the league opened on Christmas Day last year after the lockout, so the NBA put some splash up front to try and appease them. It can be hard for the NBA to make a dent in October and November, when the NFL and college football are in full swing, but they certainly are trying.

The games kick off Oct. 30 with one highlight matchup. Here are some schedule highlights at first glance.

Oct. 30 (opening night):
Wizards at Cavaliers (John Wall vs. Kyrie Irving)
Celtics at Heat
Mavericks at Lakers

The highlight of that schedule is Celtics at Heat — Boston has to go into Miami and watch them raise a banner and get their rings. Then they have to play against Ray Allen. Kevin Garnett is fired up for that game today. After that we get to see Steve Nash against one of the teams he spurned this summer.

Oct. 31
Spurs at Hornets

No. 1 pick Anthony Davis makes his NBA debut against Tim Duncan. Not a bad career trajectory if you are looking to follow one.

Nov. 1
Knicks at Nets
Thunder at Spurs

We told you about this one before, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks take the 2 line/Seventh Avenue Express over to Brooklyn to help the Deron Williams and the Nets open the new Barclays Center. (Sure, Amare Stoudemire would take the subway to a game, why not?) Biggest question, what’s the ration of Nets to Knicks fans for this one? About 70/30?

Dec. 17
Rockets at Knicks

Jeremy Lin returns to New York.

Dec. 25 (Christmas)
Celtics at Nets
Knicks at Lakers
Thunder at Heat
Rockets at Bulls
Nuggets at Clippers

Obviously the finals rematch is the marquee game and the Knicks vs. Lakers will be fun (Knicks fans can get Nash envy). But the real sleeper on that card is Nuggets at Clippers, which should be entertaining. Staples Center double-header that day.

Jan. 30
Lakers at Suns

Steve Nash returns to Phoenix. I think most Suns fans were at peace with him leaving to chase a ring — until he went to the hated Lakers. Interesting to see how they great him.

March 18
Miami at Boston

Ray Allen will hear a new sound from his beloved Celtics fans at this game.

Other notes from a first glance at the schedule:

• The Brooklyn Nets open the Barclays Center with six of eight games at home.

• Joe Johnson returns to Atlanta on Jan. 16. No bad blood there, though, even Hawks fans wanted to get rid of his contract.

• Speaking of returns, Jason Terry returns to Dallas March 22. Again, no real bad blood there.

• Soft start for the Clippers, who have 7 of first 9 at home and one “away” game against the Lakers. They will pay for that later when the Grammys kick them out of town for a couple weeks.

• The Lakers visit the Celtics Feb. 7, and Boston comes out to L.A. a couple weeks later on Feb. 20.

Joe Johnson dominates late, Jazz beat Clippers 105-98 to even series 2-2

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rudy Gobert was back at center, giving the Jazz an emotional boost and someone who can match up with DeAndre Jordan (although Gobert wasn’t moving like his normal self).

Gordon Hayward had to leave the game with food poisoning.

It didn’t matter, the Jazz had Joe Johnson. The veteran forward who knows how to get buckets scored or assisted on 20 straight points for Utah in the fourth, sparking a run that got the Jazz a 105-98 come-from-behind win.

The series is now tied 2-2, heading back to Los Angeles for Game 5 Tuesday.

When people talk about Johnson, the first thing that seems to come up is the oversized contract Atlanta gave him, but they forget this is a seven-time All-Star. He was nicknamed “iso-joe” because of how Mike Woodson’s offense used him heavily in isolation for the Hawks, but that was playing to the strength of his skill set. He can get buckets. Just ask the Clippers, as Johnson finished with 28.

The return of Gobert, a quietly strong game from Derrick Favors, plus maybe something else (like the heavy load last game) seemed to wear on DeAndre Jordan, who was not as sharp as normal in this one. The Clippers again leaned on Chris Paul — 27 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds — and Jamal Crawford who had 25 points off the bench. However, take those two out of the equation and the rest of the Clippers shot just 34.2 percent against that elite Jazz defense. In the fourth quarter, the entire Clippers’ team shot 31.4 percent total.

Utah got good performances from their role players, who stepped up with Hayward out. Rodney Hood had 18 points and some key buckets in the fourth. Then there was Joe Ingles, who defended CP3 for stretches, was a force getting where he wanted on the pick-and-roll leading to 11 assists, plus he had two key threes down the stretch.

The Clippers clearly missed Blake Griffin in some of these matchups, but Los Angeles is going to have to adjust to that in this series because he’s not returning.

This series is even and feels like it may well go seven. The Clippers have two out of the remaining three at home, and they have the best player in the series in Chris Paul. All that may not be enough if the Jazz role players keep stepping up.

Watch Paul George lose JR Smith, put Cavaliers guard on skates with crossover

Twitter
Leave a comment

Game 4 between the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers was hotly-contested in the first half. The Cavaliers led, 58-52, after two quarters.

But one special play came when Indiana’s Paul George put JR Smith on his heels, with the Cavaliers guard reeling back some 10 feet after a pull-back crossover left George alone at the 3-point line.

Via Twitter:

You might say George pushed off with his left hand, but you could also point out that Smith then turned a flop-like head kick into an actual blown defensive assignment.

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.

Kobe Bryant’s new Canvas video is brought to you by the letter O (for Obsession)

2 Comments

Kobe Bryant’s Canvas series returned to our television screen on Saturday. The Sesame Street-like videos center around finding a place to draw motivation from in order to, as the most recent video says, dominate the will of your opponent.

They’re … weird.

They are also extremely Kobe-ish in that they stay true to the former Los Angeles Lakers great’s internal vision of how to play basketball.

The last one we saw was all about finding a musecage, and using your dark thoughts to propel you to win. This one is all about obsession, and how that emotion separates those who like to win from true competitors.

I’m personally all for these videos. They are maybe a little cheesy, or single-minded, but that’s sort of the point. It accurately reflects Kobe, which is something you don’t often see from retired players trying to transition their brand from player to former player.

Isaiah Thomas scores 33, Celtics beat Bulls 104-95 to tie series

AP
Leave a comment

CHICAGO (AP) Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points, and the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 104-95 on Sunday to tie their first-round playoff series at 2-all.

Boston blew a 20-point lead, but Thomas keyed a third-quarter run that put the Celtics back on top after Chicago briefly went ahead.

Gerald Green made four 3-pointers on his way to 18 points, helping the top-seeded Celtics return the favor in Chicago after dropping the first two games at home. Al Horford added 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.

Jimmy Butler carried the Bulls with 33 points and nine assists. Nikola Mirotic and seldom-used Isaiah Canaan each scored 13 points, but Dwyane Wade finished with just 11.

Canaan made his first appearance since April 10, with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg searching for help at point guard with Rajon Rondo missing his second straight game because of a broken right thumb.

The Celtics led by 20 in the second quarter and were still up 10 in the third when Chicago scored 12 straight. The Bulls went ahead 65-63 on Robin Lopez‘s hook shot with 4:35 left in the quarter.

Thomas answered with back-to-back layups and scored 10 points in a 12-0 run that gave the Celtics a 75-65 lead, and they withstood a push by the Bulls early in the fourth.

With Thomas and Green each scoring 16 in the first half, the Celtics carried a 57-46 lead into the break.

Butler led the Bulls with 17 in the half. But the offense struggled in a big way with Rondo unavailable. Jerian Grant started and went to the bench after about five ineffective minutes. Michael Carter-Williams then picked up two quick fouls, forcing the Bulls to go with Canaan in the first quarter.

The Celtics, meanwhile, led 41-21 early in the second quarter. But things started to turn after Canaan stole the ball from Marcus Smart and scored on a layup.

Smart feigned throwing the ball at Butler. The two came nose to nose, resulting in technical fouls for both players, and the Bulls started to shoot their way back into it.

Mirotic hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight in the quarter. Bobby Portis cut it to 52-42 with his basket late in the half, and Butler hit two free throws with 22.6 seconds left to make it 57-46.

RONDO FINED

The NBA fined Rondo for attempting to trip Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder from the bench in Game 3. Crowder jawed at the Bulls’ bench after hitting a jumper and Rondo extended his leg as Crowder walked by.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Thomas was just 1 of 9 on 3-pointers but made 12 of 13 free throws.

Bulls: Butler made 19 of 23 foul shots after failing to get to the line in Game 3. … Canaan was inactive for the first three games.