Our quick look around a busy night in the NBA, or what you missed while trying to buy some beer and pay for it with a live alligator…
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat. The last time Wade scored 30 points or more in a game it was Game 4 of the NBA Finals, so it’s been a while. Wade had to step up early when LeBron James got into foul trouble Wednesday and he had 8 points in the first quarter, helping keep Miami in it. Wade looked like his vintage self aggressively attacking the paint — he was 11-of-15 inside 8 feet on the night (his jumper was on as well, he hit 3-of-6 from the midrange). A lot of those close shots came in transition with Wade getting out and moving well on the break. He finished with 32 points. Just a reminder that if Wade is on in the playoffs the Heat are that much more dangerous.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats. He had a nice first half but he was key in the third quarter as the Bobcats came back to make this a game, scoring 11 of his 29 in that quarter. All night Walker just abused new Raptor Greivis Vasquez and was able to get by him and create good looks. Then he hit the game winner — look at how well he stops on a dime and is able to go up quickly with a balanced shot. That’s impressive.
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans. He was back a month earlier than expected after missing time with a broken hand and he looked like he hadn’t missed a step — 24 points and 12 rebounds. It wasn’t near enough to lift the Pelicans past the Clippers, but the fact Davis (and Tyreke Evans) are back means you’re going to see better play from New Orleans coming up.
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves. He had 17 points 11 rebounds and 8 assists — and that was just in the first half. Love and Nikola Pekovic (who had 30 points on the night) just dominated red-hot Portland inside and Love finished with 29 points, 15 rebounds and 9 dimes as the Timberwolves picked up a quality win at home.
Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks. I’ve knocked him the past so we need to credit him when he scores a career high 36 points. Even if he did have eight turnovers, just three assists and did all of this against the weak defense of Beno Udrih. Knight to his credit was aggressive against a weak defender and took advantage of the situation. He needs to do that more consistently. He also needs to be under more control in transition. But we’re being positive here, and Knight had a good game in the loss to New York.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Martin Schiller has been named coach of the Salt Lake City Stars, the Utah Jazz’s NBA G League affiliate.
Schiller previously served as an assistant coach of MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany and replaces Dean Cooper. He was an assistant coach for the Artland Dragons from 2010-15.
Schiller has also been an assistant coach on the German National Team since 2015, where he worked with Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen.
Schiller hails from Vienna, Austria, and Stars vice president of basketball operations Bart Taylor lauded him for his international experience and player development background.
The Jazz organization is known to have close relationships with the international basketball community. The Jazz currently have eight international players.
BOSTON (AP) — Newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 in Boston because the Celtics already have retired the numbers he wore in college and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Irving wore No. 11 at two New Jersey high schools before switching to No. 1 at Duke. He wore No. 2 with the Cavaliers for the first six years of his NBA career.
The Celtics retired No. 1 for founder and original owner Walter Brown. They retired No. 2 for former coach and general manager Red Auerbach.
In all, the Celtics have retired 21 numbers, with Paul Pierce’s No. 34 next in line for the TD Garden rafters.
Everyone in the NBA — heck, nearly everyone living in the Western hemisphere — knew Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. That should kill the Cavaliers’ leverage and make it hard to get enough quality back.
New GM Koby Altman — the guy thrust into the job when David Griffin was shown the door — pulled it off brilliantly.
That’s what I talk about in this new PBT Extra. With Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the East this season. The Brooklyn Nets pick gives them flexibility going forward, whatever LeBron James decides to do next season.
First time at the plate in the big leagues and Altman crushed it to straight away center field.
The Cavaliers and Celtics played in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams were widely expected to meet there again.
Yet, Cleveland and Boston just completed a blockbuster trade – Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.
That seemed odd.
In fact, it’s unprecedented.
That is an incredible fact, one which speaks to LeBron James‘ cachet. The Cavs are emphasizing this season, LeBron’s last before a player option, by loading up with veterans Thomas and Crowder. With LeBron still reigning in Cleveland, the Celtics are delaying their peak by acquiring the younger Irving.
Adding to the intrigue: the Cavs and Celtics are still favored to meet in this year’s conference finals. At minimum, they’ll face off in a(n even more) highly anticipated opening-night matchup.