2013 adidas Eurocamp: Day 2 recap

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TREVISO, Italy — The camp’s second day was lighter on the competition for the older, draft eligible international prospects, and was focused instead on drills, coaching, and showcasing the younger teams in attendance.

There was only one game featuring the event’s main attractions, and it was used by two Brazilian players to dominate the action.

Point guard Raul Neto and big man Augusto Lima (pictured) each put in 14 points to lead an All-Star team in a blowout of the under-19 Serbian team. Neto did his damage as more of a scorer than a distributor, but it’s easy to see why he is a prospect teams will be keeping an eye on over the next year or two. His ability to create his own shot is to be valued, and he is able to cause havoc on the defensive end of the floor, as well.

Lima was especially dominant on Day 2, after a less than inspired performance the first day.

“I like to compare myself to Anderson Varejao,” Lima told me. “A lot of guys say that about me when we played together on the national team. I think in the future I’ll be able to be even more like him. I try to have more activity than him, but you know. He plays really hard. When I play with him on the international team I try to be like him, but he has much more experience so I’m not there yet.”

Lima, 22, also said this might be his last, best opportunity to show scouts what he can do for them at the NBA level, and he seemed to realize it against the under-developed Serbian team on this second day. He played with that Varejao-like intensity for most of the game, hustling for position inside and dunking the ball four times. He was playing with passion which always is nice to see, and seemed to be enjoying himself out there — even when hacked so hard that he fell awkwardly to the ground without a call from the nearby referee, he sat up with a big smile for a few moments and shared a look with the NBA executives who were sitting courtside along the baseline.

adidas Eurocamp Game #2 adidas ALL-Star vs SERBIA U19 (Day 2)

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Nemanja Nedovic is a strong, athletic point guard from Serbia who was one of the remaining players at Eurocamp that teams were most interested in getting a look at. But after suffering an ankle sprain, he won’t be participating in any more activities. Nedovic looked sharp on the camp’s first day, however, and is projected as a second round pick this year. He will likely work out with teams in the states in the next couple of weeks.

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Timberwolves executive and veteran NBA head coach Flip Saunders was the guest speaker of the day, and put on a detailed clinic that showed players some ball handling and shooting drills, as well as some fundamentals and tricks of playing in the post at the professional level.

Saunders was energetic and engaging, and the players seemed to respond well to his teachings. He got some assistance from both Omri Casspi and Kenneth Faried during his talk, which certainly didn’t hurt his credibility in the eyes of the young international players.

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Serge Ibaka was the third NBA player that adidas had in attendance on Day 2, and discussed the past and the future of his Oklahoma City Thunder team. He said he doesn’t know whether or not the team will retain Kevin Martin in free agency, and discussed how hard it was to end the season shorter than expected after losing Russell Westbrook to injury in the early stages of the playoffs.

“I mean, it was hard,” Ibaka said. “It was tough for us. To lose a player like Russell … he’s your point guard. But it’s no excuse, though. I will not give an excuse for us. It was hard for us, but we tried the best we [could]. It didn’t work, so now the good thing about it is we have all summer to get better and to be ready for next year.”

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It was a rough season for Casspi last year, averaging career lows in all relevant statistical categories, including minutes played. He enters this summer as a restricted free agent, but isn’t yet sure what the Cavaliers are planning to do in terms of making a qualifying offer in order to have the right to match any contract he may receive from another team.

“I just want to be in the right situation, play for the right team, and win — you know, compete for something,” Casspi said. “I’ve been in the league four years now and never competed really in the playoffs, or been part of a winning organization. It’s a big key choosing my next team.”

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A few more notes:

– Kenneth Faried spoke at length about the changes in Denver, and the Nuggets’ earlier than expected first round playoff exit.

– Complete BAM testing results and measurements for all of the camp’s players can be seen here.

– The USA Select team of high school players was once again overmatched, this time getting blown out by the under-20 team from France. Devin Robinson, a 6’8″ forward from Christchurch in Virginia, was the star for the USA team in this one, and did a good job using his length and showcasing his athleticism to make himself a factor on both ends of the floor.

adidas Eurocamp Game #1 FRANCE U-20 vs adidas USA Select (Day 2)

– The camp’s final day features three games in the afternoon session where NBA general managers will get a good last look at the remaining international players in attendance.

Warriors eliminate Spurs, advance to face Pelicans

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Kevin Durant drained a pull-up 3-pointer reminiscent of his signature NBA Finals shot in the final minute of the third quarter. The Spurs ended the quarter with a flurry and kept coming.

Durant made consecutive mid-range jumpers over Kyle Anderson midway through the fourth quarter. The Spurs called timeout, subbed  Rudy Gay for Anderson and kept coming.

Durant drove past Gay and dunked. The Spurs called another timeout and kept coming.

Each of those Durant shots seemed as if they could be the backbreaker. Credit San Antonio for continuing to play hard.

But without Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs were just overmatched against the superstar small forward in the Warriors’ 4-1 first-round victory – which ended with Golden State’s 99-91 Game 5 win Tuesday.

The Warriors’ next opponent – the Pelicans, who open their second-round series Saturday – could soon learn the feeling.

New Orleans relies on E'Twaun Moore, Darius Miller and Solomon Hill at small forward – not the slate of stoppers that seems ready for Durant. Even on an off night (1-for-8 on 3-pointers, five turnovers), Durant scored 25 in Game 5. He’s a tough cover. But those three Pelicans – Moore (size), Miller (fundamentals) and Hill (speed) – each have major defensive liabilities Durant can exploit.

And Durant will have plenty of help.

Klay Thompson (24 points) appears headed back on track after a clunker in Game 4. Draymond Green (17 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists) looks locked in.

And, of course, Stephen Curry is poised to return sometime against the Pelicans.

The Warriors weren’t very impressive in the San Antonio series. Nor did they need to be. The Spurs were just overmatched, unable to summon nearly enough offense.

But Golden State showed enough focus and reminders of its talent to retain favored status even against better opponents – like New Orleans, which swept the Trail Blazers. Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday lead a surging team.

The Spurs want to get back on that level, and that stars with solving the Leonard dilemma this summer.

Will they offer him a super-max extension? Would he take it? Will they trade him? Will he request a trade?

With questions like that facing San Antonio, by comparison, the Pelicans are stable at small forward.

How do you like “The Process” now? Sixers eliminate Heat, advance to second round

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It felt inevitable.

Not “The Process” from the start. There were some severe downs before the ups.

Not this first playoff series against Miami from the start, because it felt even… until Game 3 when Joel Embiid returned in his mask and tipped the scales.

No, it was Game 5’s result felt inevitable as it unfolded. Not because Philadelphia won the previous game in Miami and could close it out at home. Not because the Sixers have the two biggest talents in the series in Ben Simmons and Embiid.

Rather, Game 5 felt inevitable because the Sixers got better looks all night long. They got them with ball movement, with player movement that created mismatches or clean jumpers. It was tied 46-46 at the half because Philadelphia just missing its good looks while the Heat were struggling with hands in their face all night. Philadelphia shot 38.1 percent in the first half overall and were 2-of-12 from three.

In the third quarter, it all changed.

Philadelphia went on an early 9-0 run, shot 50 percent as a team for the quarter, all while continuing to play defense and get stops. The Sixers won the third 34-20 and held on through Miami rallies in the fourth to take the game comfortably, 104-91.

With the win, Philadelphia wins the series 4-1 and advances to the second round, where they will face either Boston or Milwaukee (Boston leads the series 3-2).

They did it behind 27 from J.J. Redick, who knocked down five threes. Embiid had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Simmons had 14 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. However, it was the defense that held the Miami to 38.6 percent shooting overall and 16-of-31 from three within eight feet of the basket that won the game for Philly.

This young Sixers team learned lessons in this first round, and maybe the biggest was how to adapt the physicality of the playoffs, and keeping your cool while things don’t go your way.

“I thought we withstood the physicality of the Heat,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “They’re a great organization. They came to mean it, we knew they wouldn’t go away easily, and we had to have that physical element to match.”

They matched that physicality, but what they had was talent that could step up.

They also savored the moment. Midway through the fourth, up comfortably and still knocking down shots, the young Sixers were reveling in the deafening crowd in the Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia was reveling in success after years of struggling through the process — the players and fans wanted to start that party midway through the fourth.

However, Heat have no chill and no quit in them, they went on a 10-0 in the fourth quarter, not-so-coincidentally after Sixers fans started chanting, “We want Boston!”

But when it mattered the Heat couldn’t get stops — the Sixers talent showed through. Redick hit threes. Embiid owned the paint. Simmons did a little bit of everything.

It was a moment of revelry in Philadelphia. One years in the making — and maybe the first in many years of future celebrations on that court.

Sixers players douse Brett Brown, present him with bell after closing Heat (VIDEO)

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The Philadelphia 76ers are moving on. Let’s just try to process that for a moment.

After beating the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, 104-91, this iteration of the Sixers experienced their first playoff series win together. It was also the first series win for coach Brett Brown as the man in charge of an NBA team.

As such, players gathered in the locker room after the win to hear Brown speak about the win, and about how the team had more to give and to learn as they moved forward together in the playoffs.

When Brown concluded his speech, he tried to hand off the victory bell to JJ Redick. As soon as Redick received it, he bestowed the honor of the bell right back upon Brown.

That’s when teammates showered Brown with whatever they had nearby, and Brown rung the bell.

Man, what a moment.

Marcus Smart returns, helps Celtics win Game 5 over Bucks

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Marcus Smart returned to the Boston Celtics after suffering a thumb injury earlier in the year, and boy was it just in time.

The Celtics guard came off the bench, doing what he does best: attacking opposing guards, grabbing rebounds, and making hustle plays for his squad. Smart thoroughly annoyed the Milwaukee Bucks, and as Giannis Antetokounmpo failed to make a push in the second half (and as Khris Middleton‘s shooting slowly deteriorated) it was Boston who came out with a win in Game 5, 92-87.

Milwaukee’s offense failed to show up early. According to NBA TV, it was the second-lowest halftime total for the Bucks this season, and the away team scored just 37 points at the break. Milwaukee struggled mightily as a team, shooting just 21 percent from 3-point range. Despite the issues, both Antetokounmpo and Middleton had 11 points by half.

Boston’s attack was balanced, with nine players scoring in the first half but none reaching double figures. Smart was effective off the bench, playing 12 minutes in the first half. Smart’s presence was felt elsewhere on the floor as well; in those minutes he racked up two blocks, two rebounds, and two assists.

The Celtics stalled to start the third quarter, at times going several minutes between baskets. The intensity level was still high, particularly during one tussle with 9:33 left in the third. Eric Bledsoe and Terry Rozier got into a bumping match on the baseline away from the ball, resulting in one player getting pushed into an official. Bledsoe earned a Flagrant 1 for his efforts, and Rozier was assessed a technical.

Milwaukee began to battle back on surprising baskets by Shabazz Muhammad. The former Minnesota Timberwolves wing dropped two 3-pointers to help the Bucks make a run at the Celtics all the way into the fourth quarter.

The critical play of the game came with 80 seconds left. With the shot clock winding down, Al Horford was allowed by officials to shoot a long jumper. The refereeing crew didn’t blow the whistle, and Boston took a second possession after a backtip.

Then, with 28 seconds left as the Bucks were trying to steal or foul the Celtics, came the play Boston fans had been waiting for from Smart. At first it appeared Milwaukee had shot at a turnover as they hustled Smart to the floor on a trap. Thinking quickly, Smart leapt on the lost ball, flipped over, and sent a pass to a wide open Horford for the basket, all but sealing the game.

Milwaukee tried to play the foul game in the final minute or so, but weren’t able to come up with a win. Antetokounmpo finished with just 16 points and Middleton with 23. Horford led the Celtics with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and three assists.

Boston now leads the series, 3-2, as they head back to Milwaukee for Game 6 on Thursday.