The race for the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference might be won by whichever team can simply stay healthy. Boston has obviously suffered big blows, but Philadelphia is right there with them. Already missing Thaddeus Young for three weeks because of a hamstring strain and Andrew Bynum for who knows how long, the Sixers received even more bad injury news today on guard Jason Richardson:
Philadelphia has actually played pretty well since Richardson last played in a game, going 4-3 during that period. Still, even with Richardson’s struggles shooting the ball, the Sixers just need capable bodies on the floor given their injury and depth issues. Richardson was averaging 10.5 points a game this year on 40 percent shooting from the field and 34 percent from 3-point land — both near career-lows — but you’d like to think he would have turned it around with more time in a new system.
At 32-years-old with a lot of recorded miles, we’ve probably seen the last of the high flying guard that was one of the league’s most underrated dunkers in his prime. Richardson had evolved his game to become a deadly spot-up shooter over the years, but with his shot abandoning him this year and his athleticism falling off, he struggled to contribute much in 33 starts for the Sixers this season.
Getting surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee is a tough break for Richardson, but it’s hard to think it’s the end of the line. Richardson has played in a variety of different systems, and he’s shown he can adapt his game for what his body is capable of doing. Here’s to a healthy recovery from knee surgery and hopefully, a few more big time dunks from Richardson in the future.
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.