We’re two games into each series of the conference semifinals, all of which are competitive and saw the higher-seeded team lose home court advantage.
The NBA says it’s the first time since the league went to a 16-team playoff format in 1984 that all four series are tied after two games. So why is the schedule blank Thursday night, with zero games being played to keep the momentum going?
Henry Abbott of ESPN’s TrueHoop has the answer:
No games in the whole league on Thursday. I’m told it’s in fact not because of the “American Idol” final, but because several first-round series ended early, moving the start of some second-round series into last weekend. Now they need to stretch out the second round a tad to reduce the risk of a long layoff before the start of the conference finals, which has a fixed start.
So essentially, like seemingly everything else, it’s the Lakers’ fault?
Well, at least partially.
The Lakers and the Bucks fell victim to the Spurs and the Heat respectively in very quick first round sweeps. Instead of extending the layoff beyond eight days for Miami and San Antonio, they started their second round matchups as soon as their opponents were ready, despite every other first round series lasting at least six games.
There would seem to have been a way for the schedule makers to have given us at least one game on Thursday, instead of having double-headers every night until this point. But with the Conference Finals scheduled to begin no earlier than May 21, and the NBA Finals set to start on June 6, the only way to avoid ridiculously long layoffs in the unlikely event we see one or more semifinal series wrap up quickly was to create a small break in the action.
After missing two entire seasons, all signs are pointing to 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid finally taking the court this season. Last week, Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Embiid has looked great in his workouts and is on track to play in the preseason, and Embiid himself echoed that sentiment over the weekend. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Marc Narducci that he feels “100 percent.”
There’s always a possibility and fear that Embiid’s recurring foot problems will come back, but for now, all indications are that he’s feeling good and will be able to contribute this season, which should make Sixers fans excited.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.