It’s amazing what a few wins in a row can do.
While rumors floated around that Celtics GM Danny Ainge was listening to offers for the Celtics talisman Paul Pierce, the team got Avery Bradley back and started playing better defense.The result has been five straight wins and a renewed sense of confidence around the team.
And with those wins and all that confidence, the odds of a trade seem to go down.
That’s what Ainge implied speaking with the Boston Globe.
The Celtics’ transformation into a true contender may have taken longer than expected and there may be more obstacles as the season progresses, but president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Sunday that he is content with the roster…
“I think over the next five weeks a lot will be told,” he said. “I feel like we don’t have any glaring needs when we’re playing the way we’re playing. Everyone’s playing their role; whether they’re playing well all the time is not as much of a point if they are accepting a role and giving an honest day’s worth of work.”
In Boston they are pumped about the recent run of play. As they should be. However, the rest of the nation would like to see them sustain it for more than a couple weeks in January before we say they are better than the Knicks or Pacers, before we say they are a real threat to the Heat. (If anyone in the East is a real threat to a focused Heat team.)
But making a big move never really made sense — Ainge maid the conscious decision over the summer to bring back the team (minus Ray Allen, but with Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Jeff Green) and I think you have to see that through. They could keep playing like they have and be a threat come the playoffs, and if so that’s all Celtics fans could really expect. That they had one more big run in them. Ainge can tinker with the edges of the team, but I think you have to let the run play out then decide next summer if you want to do it again.
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.