Andray Blatche, it’s time for your close-up.
Blatche will become the Nets starting center the next two games because Brook Lopez will be out with a mild sprain of his right foot, tweets Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.
This could be a bigger blow if Kris Humphries is suspended for his part in the fight with Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics that spilled into the stands Wednesday night. That would remove the entire starting front line of the Nets.
They should be okay for the first game against Orlando. The second game against Miami could be more of a challenge. Even if they had all their players.
While you have been busy mocking his new max contract, Lopez has been busy having a career year and helping get the Nets off to a fast 10-4 start. He is averaging 18.5 points a game on a career best 53.4 percent shooting. But he was always smooth on the offensive end, it was his defense and rebounding that were the knocks. Well he is more focused on rebounds, not putting up great numbers but grabbing the highest percentage of available rebounds he has in three seasons. In addition his blocked shots are at an all-time high of 2.5 a game. He’s improved. And the Nets will miss him.
But we’re all excited to see Blatche start. Because he is fully capable of either playing brilliantly or being a train wreck. And either will be entertaining to watch.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.
Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.
The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.
I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.
That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:
Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.
But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.
On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.
To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.
The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.
It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.
TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).
Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.
But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.
So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.
But at least he has that opportunity.
Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.
Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.