Plenty of story lines are in play when the Thunder face the Celtics, as they will Friday night in Boston, due to the 2010 deal between the two teams that saw Kendrick Perkins and Jeff Green trade places.
Both players were thought at the time to be untouchable members of each team’s core, with Perkins being the bruiser on a championship-contender, and Green being a piece that meshed perfectly with the rest of OKC’s young talent, who was on its journey to become one.
Green doesn’t seem that interested in facing his former team, preferring instead to focus on the opportunity he has in Boston. And Perkins? He just wants to have some fun with it.
From John Rohde of the Oklahoman:
One of Rondo’s closest friends is Thunder center and ex-teammate Kendrick Perkins, who has defended the other team’s point guard on occasion this season in hopes of taking opponents out of their normal offensive flow.
Asked if Perkins was going to check Rondo tonight, Brooks smiled and said: “Absolutely. Perk is begging me to do that. That would be fun. I’m sure the fans would love to see Perk getting down in his defensive stance, pressuring the ball. I don’t know how fun that would be for me watching it.”
We’ll see how serious both Perkins and Brooks are about trying to make this happen.
While Perkins has defended point guards this season, Rondo is far above average, and would likely have his way in that matchup, while making sure to toy with Perkins in the process.
You could see it happening on a switch off of a high pick and roll or something, but lining up Perkins to check Rondo in a straight up man-to-man defensive situation — even for just a single possession — would be basketball suicide.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.