Thursday And-1 links: J.R. Smith is among NBA’s injured

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Here is our regular 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 like most of the country likes watching the Yankees lose.

• Already without Iman Shumpert, the Knicks J.R. Smith has been seen around the team in a walking boot and told the New York Post that his injury  is to his Achilles tendon and not his ankle (as the team has claimed). Now it’s announced he won’t travel on the Knicks upcoming three-game road trip. Not good, Knicks fans.

• The NBA’s new, official ticket Web site is up and running.

• One of the best pieces of basketball writing the past few days — Grantland tracks the career of Antawn Jamison from North Carolina all the way to the Lakers. Fantastic stuff.

• Speaking of writing from the heart, NBA referee Greg Willard took part in his last game last week, he is leaving the NBA to fight the cancer he has been diagnosed with. Here is a fantastic look at the man and his last game, including a private moment with Kobe Bryant.

• Jeremy Lin is the focus of a feature in this month’s GQ. His teammates have seen him dress and are not sure how he landed in GQ.

• Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma wants to know why the NFL — and the NBA — are officially listed as non-profit organizations. He thinks they should be getting taxed. The league counters that each team is taxed, as are the players with special taxes.

• In a no brainer move, the Sacramento Kings picked up the options on DeMarcus Cousins and Jimmer Fredette.

• The Raptors also picked up their fourth-year option on Ed Davis.

• Kwame Brown is sitting out the Sixers preseason game Friday with a calf injury. That’s two in a row and there is no certain timetable for his return. It says something about the Sixers depth behind Andrew Bynum that they are really missing Brown and need him back when the game matter in a couple of weeks.

• The Thunder’s Thabo Sefolosha is far enough back from his quad injury he’s considered questionable to play in Friday’s preseason game.

• Al Jefferson has taken plenty of heat for his play in Utah (although it’s been what you should expect from him), but he says the Jazz’s flex offense has made him a better player.

• The Bulls have waived center Kyrylo Fesenko. He’ll land somewhere, big men always do.

• Here’s a fun list of the best names in basketball history, formed into teams.

• If you live in Los Angeles and want Shaquille O’Neal to come hang out and referee a 4-on-4 game between you and your friends, you can bid on that prize now. All the money goes to the Children’s Diabetes Foundation.

• Jimmy Goldstein is an NBA legend as a fan. He also should be a legend for his home — there is a video tour of it and the architecture is stunning. (There are a couple NSFW seconds in the pool.)

Report: Bulls expect Dwyane Wade to opt in

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Dwyane Wade said he wants to see the Bulls’ plan for Jimmy Butler and the rest of the roster before deciding on a $23.8 million player option for next season.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

I can tell you is most everyone associated with the Bulls believes Wade will pick up the option and remain in Chicago for a second season. More surprising things have happened in league history, though. So stay tuned.

This could be a tell that Wade will opt in. The Bulls could obviously be positioned to base their prediction on inside information into Wade’s thinking.

This could a tell the Bulls won’t trade Butler. If they know they’ll keep Butler, they can extrapolate what that’d mean for Wade.

Or the Bulls, like so many of us, just assume a 35-year-old Wade won’t turn down so much guaranteed money at this stage of his career.

PBT Extra: Why Derrick Rose more likely to be Spur than Chris Paul next season

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San Antonio heads into this summer looking to answer the question: What do we need to do to challenge the Golden State Warriors? Well, besides keeping Kawhi Leonard healthy.

They need to get more athletic, particularly along the front line, and they need a secondary shot creator and playmaker, that’s all at the top of the list.

One rumor that keeps gaining traction, Chris Paul to the Spurs. In this PBT Extra, I get into why that move is unlikely, and why a one-year contract with Derrick Rose is more probable. Basically, if you want to see a significant roster shift in San Antonio, wait until the summer of 2018.

LeBron James: ‘The closeout game is always the hardest, and Boston is going to make it even harder’

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BOSTON (AP) — It took 10 games and halfway through the third round of the NBA playoffs before the Cleveland Cavaliers finally encountered their first true dose of resistance this postseason.

After cruising to a 2-0 Eastern Conference finals lead over Boston, the Cavs were humbled at home in a Game 3 loss, and needed a 42-point night from Kyrie Irving to battle back from a 16-point hole and win Game 4.

The chatter about an NBA Finals’ matchup of two teams with unblemished playoff records is gone, but the challenge from the Celtics has sharpened the focus of the defending champs. Cleveland is expecting another unflinching effort in Game 5 from a Celtics team that isn’t backing down despite facing a 3-1 deficit in the series.

“The closeout game is always the hardest, and Boston is going to make it even harder,” said LeBron James, who rebounded from a playoff-low 11 points in Game 3 to score 34 in Game 4.

James had been saying that he felt like the Cavs needed to go through some adversity after a blistering 10-0 start to the postseason.

The way they responded Tuesday night – particularly on the defensive end – is a good sign for their prospects of wrapping up their third straight Eastern Conference crown on Thursday.

Boston shot 47 percent from the field and 35 percent from the 3-point line in the first half of Game 4 on their way to building as much as a 16-point lead.

While Irving’s scoring ignited the Cavs’ comeback, it was made possible thanks to Cleveland’s defensive effort over the final 24 minutes. Cleveland limited the Celtics to 41 percent from the field and 29 percent from beyond the arc.

“We have to go in with a bunker mentality that we had in Game 1 and Game 2, to go out and do what we do, but we have to defend,” James said. “We have to execute offensively. We have to have low turnovers, and we have to try to make them miss because some of those guys play a lot better at home. That’s just how the game be played.”

If the Celtics were playing with house money heading into the series, they are flush with it again as they return to the Garden.

They’ve given themselves a chance to erase the sting of their 44-point loss in Game 2. The Celtics are also guarding against ending their season by having to watch the Cavs celebrate a conference title on their home floor.

Boston lost All-Star Isaiah Thomas for the remainder of the postseason to a hip injury in Game 2, forcing coach Brad Stevens to shuffle his lineup and rotations in Games 3 and 4.

In addition, Jae Crowder suffered a strained left thigh in the third quarter of Game 4 as well, but returned to play the entire fourth quarter.

It’s an indication that despite still being in a dire 3-1 hole, the resolve inside Boston’s locker room remains strong.

“We owe our fans a better performance, and we know that, and we’re going to play hard,” Celtics guard Avery Bradley said. “You’re going to see a team playing hard, very hard, the entire game.”

It’s also why Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said that his team must keep all thoughts of being on the cusp of a return to the NBA Finals at bay for now.

“You can’t (think about it). As much as you want to, it’s not over,” he said.

If nothing else, Lue said their recent taste of adversity should help them remain humble heading into Game 5.

“I think it is making us better. And it’s making us tougher. It’s making us work,” the Cavs coach said. “Because they got a tough group over there. (Terry) Rozier is tough, Avery is tough, (Marcus) Smart’s tough. Crowder. So, they got a lot of tough guys that are going to compete so they’re making us compete, which is good for us.”

 

PBT Podcast: Celtics draft or trade? Carmelo future? All from your Twitter questions.

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What will Boston do with the No. 1 pick, keep it or trade it?

What does the future hold for Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks?

Is there a correct way to eat pizza? Actually, the answer to that one is yes, and it is not with a knife and fork, Donald Trump.

PBT’s Kurt Helin and Dane Carbaugh discuss all that that and more from your Twitter questions.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (just click the button under the podcast), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.