NEW YORK – Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel have know each other a long time. A very long time.
“I knew him before the flat top,” Carter-Williams said. “We’ll say that.”
Now, the former AAU teammates with BABC in Boston, are teammates with the 76ers.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Carter-Williams said. “We always talked about how were both going to make it to the NBA. For us to end up on the same team is a blessing.”
They’ll provide length and athleticism and plenty of excitement, though their games both need a little refining. Carter-Williams must reduce his turnovers, and Noel could used more refined offensive moves.
But they’ll go through that process how they came up: together.
Noel, drafted by the Pelicans, initially said he was happy to play with Anthony Davis, the Kentucky one-and-done center who preceded Noel. Noel might be even more pleased to join Carter-Williams, who described their relationship as “best friends.”
Both met with the media before talking to each other – in fact, Noel spoke before Carter-Williams was even picked and learned of the trade in his press conference – but Carter-Williams showed he’s so in tune with Noel, they didn’t even need to see each other to know what the other was thinking.
“I know he’s happy as ever to play with me,” Carter-Williams said.
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.