Tuesday And-1 links: Shed a tear, Spurs waive Eddy Curry

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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.

• Eddy Curry had actually looked better than you might expect for the Spurs this preseason, but that wasn’t enough. He was a longshot from the start. The Spurs cut Curry on Tuesday (along with Derrick Brown), the team announced. Hard to imagine a soft landing spot for him in the league.

• Speaking of guys waived in the last few days, there is Christian Eyenga (Lakers), Walker Russell (Thunder), Chris Douglas-Roberts (Lakers), and Greg Somogyi (Lakers).

Yao Ming golfing. Those are going to be some very long clubs.

• The Nuggets have exercised third year options on Kenneth Faried and Jordan Hamilton in a surprise to nobody anywhere.

• Actually less shocking, the Pistons exercised their fourth-year option for Greg Monroe.

Great post looking at how the Nets guards (Deron Williams, Joe Johnson) operate out of the post. That team has a lot of offensive options. Defense on the other hand….

An interesting interview with Jim Buss, the guy at the top of the Lakers front office food chain right now, son of Jerry Buss and the guy making the decisions. And he has his own stats formula, thank you very much.

• If you want more Lakers’ interviews, here is one with Pau Gasol.

Might the Heat decide to trade Joel Anthony?

• Paul Pierce can’t see himself in any uniform but a Celtics’ one. Have to agree there, it would look weird.

• Looks like Al Horford will be back in the Hawks lineup on Friday for the final preseason game.

• Detroit’s Corey Maggette’s has a “slight pull” in his left calf and he will be out for a while. Stunning, I know.

• Great post looking at the best minimum-salary players in the NBA. Hello Delonte West.

Some more details on how Royce White plans to get to some (most?) Rockets away games without flying.

• Lamar Odom was held out of Monday’s Clippers preseason game with what Vinny Del Negro described as a bone bruise on his knee. That does not help his conditioning issue.

• Hornets big man Jason Smith may miss the rest of the Hornets’ preseason to let his sore shoulder heal.

• Rookie Doran Lamb, who had battled an elbow injury, returned to practice for the Bucks on Tuesday.

• Wizards rookie Bradley Beal was held out of practice on Tuesday as a precaution after an ankle tweak, but it appears to be nothing serious.

• A Q&A with Dallas big Elton Brand.

Brian Scalabrine previews the Boston Celtics.

• Here is a blog post slamming the general populace of the Los Angeles Lakers fan base (some NSFW language, if that bothers you). As a guy who cut his blogging teeth on a Lakers site of my creation and who lives in Los Angeles, all I’ll say is this — I started a Lakers blog in part to be able to control the level of Lakers discourse going on around me.

• For those of you who need your occasional fix of international basketball, we have good news. FIBA and ESPN have announced a multi-year deal that has them covering the FIBA Americas Championships (2013, 2015), the
EuroBaskets (2013, 2015), the FIBA Basketball World Cup (2014). You can also add the FIBA World Championship for Women (2014) to the list.

PBT Extra: Can Toronto threaten Cleveland, LeBron James in second round?

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There are a few reasons to think the Toronto Raptors can push and maybe even upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second round playoff series that starts Monday. For one, they went six games last playoffs and this is a deeper, more versatile Raptors team with Serge Ibaka as the power forward/center, P.J. Tucker coming off the bench, and the emergence of guys like Norman Powell. The Raptors have a great backcourt in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. And, the Cavaliers were not a focused or good defensive team in the first round.

On the other side of the ledger, the Cavaliers have LeBron James.

I break down this series in the latest PBT Extra.

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.