When Ray Allen left Boston to go to Miami, mixed in amongst the cries of “traitor” and Kevin Garnett losing Allen’s phone number were a lot of Celtics fans saying the future Hall of Famer would not be missed. Which actually made some sense on paper — they brought in Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, they had Jeff Green coming back, the drop off would not be that severe.
But the Celtics are 20-21 and they have not been impressive save for short spurts all season. All of New England is looking for reasons and answers.
A lot of opponents told Jessica Camerato of CSNNE.com that Boston is a lot different without Ray Allen and that the Celtics miss him. Here are a few highlights, but go read the whole thing.
Richard Hamilton (Chicago Bulls)
“They’re different. When you go into the game, you know with him, he’s coming off curls, he’s coming off pin downs. He really spaces the floor for Paul [Pierce] to go ahead and to what he do, for KG [Kevin Garnett] to do what he do. It was a guy that you never ever could not guard.”
Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls)
“It’s going to be difficult. Ray Allen takes so much attention and he gets guys shots. He made a big difference for them. You could always replace everyone. It’s just, how do you do it? It’s not going to be one guy. Don’t think that you’re going to bring one guy in and he’s going to just fill in the shoes. It takes a team effort and a team goes in a different direction, whether it’s Paul Pierce or Kevin or [Rajon] Rondo who are scoring more. I think people fall into, ‘This guy’s gone, so this guy has to be that guy.’ It’s never like that.
Tony Allen (Memphis Grizzlies)
“That’s a Hall of Fame kind of guy. So that right there just lets you know, they’re missing Ray. Period, point blank. They’re missing Ray.”
I still expect Terry to find a better groove and help bring a little of what Ray did to the second unit, something he can do more with Avery Bradley back in the lineup.
But Allen and all the little things he brought are not so easy to replace. And without him the Celtics margin for error is just that much smaller.
Come June 26, Drake will be on stage in New York City, handing out the NBA’s awards — Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and so on. (We need to set an under/over on the number of players Drake hugs that night.)
The NFL does it. The NHL does it. And the NBA has decided to follow suit with a broadcast awards ceremony where everything — except the All-NBA Team — will be announced that night. It’s happening because the broadcast partners want it.
Brandon Jennings is not a fan. Here is what the Wizards’ point guard Tweeted:
Jennings took down a Tweet that said if he had won the award he would have wanted to get it with the organization and his teammates around him. (And no, he knows he’s not winning the award. If you were going to put that in the comments be more creative.)
There’s something to what Jennings is saying. The NBA award roll out was awkward at times in previous years, but it gave the fans a chance to celebrate the awards with their favorite player. Now, everyone will watch it unfold on television from a ballroom in NYC. That feels a little colder. Also, we will get to see the reaction of those who don’t win (particularly this season, where several players can make a strong case for MVP).
It will be interesting to see how this first year goes, and how the league tweaks it going forward. The more than two month gap between the end of the regular season and the awards could feel a bit awkward. But we’re not going to knock the idea until we’ve seen it in action.
This season the Portland Trail Blazers found their center of the future (and the present) in Jusuf Nurkic.
Which makes the next step fairly obvious: Portland will not pick up the option on Festus Ezeli for next season, GM Neil Olshay confirmed at the team exit meetings Tuesday.
Portland signed Ezeli on what they thought was a great contract (one-year, $7.4 million, with a team option for the second year) because he was coming off knee surgery last summer. However, Ezeli was never healthy, needed a second surgery, and never got on the court. After taking it slow over last summer he practiced with the team twice in mid-October, there was more swelling, so he pulled back.
This summer Ezeli will not draw any guaranteed money from teams, but some teams may take a look at him. Athletic bigs get a lot of chances in the NBA.
Gordon Hayward has averaged 20.5 points a game in these playoffs — and that includes a 40 point outburst in Game 3 — but what has been more impressive is he has done it efficiently, with a true shooting percentage of 61.1. While Joe Johnson and others have stepped up, Utah will need Hayward’s shot creation if they are going to win this series.
They will have it Tuesday night in Game 5.
After missing the second half of Game 4 due to food poisoning (he tried to play but was ineffective in the first half), he is back and ready to go this time around.
So is Rudy Gobert. The Jazz will be at full health, while the Clippers remain without Blake Griffin for the remainder of the playoffs.
Having those two back is a boost for the Jazz, they need to score more consistently against the Clippers, but the bigger key will be defensively trying to deal with Chris Paul on the pick-and-roll. He has been masterful this series, and the Jazz need to keep him in check to give their offense a chance.
There are not going to be dramatic changes to the look of the NBA when Nike takes over the apparel contract for next season, replacing Adidas. Instead of the Adidas logo, there will be a swoosh, sleeved jerseys will fade away, and some teams will modify their alternate jerseys, but the league is not getting a total uniform makeover next season. Things will look basically the same.
Except in Charlotte — they will not have a swoosh, they will have the Jordan Jumpman logo.
The why is obvious — Michael Jordan is the primary owner of the Hornets and, obviously, the guy the Jordan brand was named after. The Jordan Brand is part of Nike. The Hornets made the announcement this week buried in a press release about moving the fan shop at the arena, hat tip to Sole Collector for finding this. Here is what the release says:
The re-opening of the Hornets Fan Shop will coincide with the launch of the team’s new Jordan Brand uniforms as Nike becomes the NBA’s uniform provider beginning this season. The Hornets will be the only team in the NBA wearing Jordan Brand uniforms, and with the agreement taking effect, the Hornets Fan Shop will have even more of the popular Jordan Brand Hornets merchandise than it has had previously.
While it’s not like the Lakers or Celtics are going to be changing up their traditional uniforms, even teams like the Hornets will keep a similar look under Nike.
What should be interesting to see is what the Christmas Day and All-Star uniforms look like under a Nike touch.