For second time in three years Cavaliers win NBA draft lottery

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You need some luck if you’re going to build a winner through the lottery (just ask the Thunder). Cleveland has gotten it’s share luck lately. Or, it’s just Karma balancing itself out, if you prefer.

For the second time in three years the Cleveland Cavaliers have got the balls to bounce their way and have won the NBA Draft lottery — they will have the top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. And just like last time owner Dan Gilbert’s son Nick was up there on the dais in a bowtie bringing the team good luck.

Orland0, which had the best odds in the lottery, came in second. The Washington Wizards had 4.8 percent chance of landing the three spot (the eighth spot was expected) slid up into the top three, a good break for an improving roster that can find some help such as power forward Anthony Bennett out of UNLV.

That means for the second straight year the Charlotte Bobcats (soon to be Hornets again) slid back in the draft. This time they will select No. 4. Tough break for the most depleted roster in the Association… except that they will struggle again and next year’s draft is much, much better.

Last time the Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving with that top pick, but this time there is nobody that good on the board. They have real needs at the three (Ben McLemore) but the bigger need is in the paint with defense and athleticism, so my first thought is they take Nerlens Noel out of Kentucky. (Yes, he’s out until likely Christmas with a torn ACL, but you don’t draft for this year, you draft for the four after it).

Or, they could trade the pick packaged with other players or the No. 19 pick they also own. Nobody loves this draft so don’t be shocked if they test the waters.

The Cavaliers also fired Byron Scott and brought back Mike Brown to coach the team next year, so he will get a say.

And if you want to know why Cleveland won

Here is the full draft order for this year.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Orlando Magic
3. Washington Wizards
4. Charlotte Bobcats
5. Phoenix Suns
6. New Orleans Pelicans
7. Sacramento Kings
8. Detroit Pistons
9. Minnesota Timberwolves
10. Portland Trail Blazers
11. Philadelphia 76ers
12. Oklahoma City (via Toronto Raptors)
13. Dallas Mavericks
14. Utah Jazz

——–

15. Milwaukee Bucks
16. Boston Celtics
17. Atlanta Hawks
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston and Brooklyn)
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers)
20. Chicago Bulls
21. Utah Jazz
22. Brooklyn Nets
23. Indiana Pacers
24. New York Knicks
25. Los Angeles Clippers
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis and Houston)
27. Denver Nuggets
28. San Antonio Spurs
29. Oklahoma City Thunder
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami, Los Angeles Lakers)

PBT Extra: Can Toronto threaten Cleveland, LeBron James in second round?

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There are a few reasons to think the Toronto Raptors can push and maybe even upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second round playoff series that starts Monday. For one, they went six games last playoffs and this is a deeper, more versatile Raptors team with Serge Ibaka as the power forward/center, P.J. Tucker coming off the bench, and the emergence of guys like Norman Powell. The Raptors have a great backcourt in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. And, the Cavaliers were not a focused or good defensive team in the first round.

On the other side of the ledger, the Cavaliers have LeBron James.

I break down this series in the latest PBT Extra.

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.