Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins out six weeks after surgery to repair groin injury

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Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks will not be able to lean on Kendrick Perkins for the next six weeks — something that will be welcomed by a lot of Thunder fans. At least until they see the team is 0-3 without him this season and the defense suffers.

Perkins will be out up to six weeks following surgery to repair a strained groin suffered last Thursday night against the Heat, first reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman and now confirmed by the team.

Perkins was injured in the third quarter last Thursday and did not play Sunday against the Clippers, with rookie Steven Adams starting in his place. However, at crunch time at the end of the game Brooks went with a smaller lineup of Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher (the Clippers had a 13-2 run late to win that game).

Brooks has leaned on Perkins against lineups where he has nobody to really guard (the Miami Heat small lineup being the most obvious), much to the frustration of fans. Brooks goes back to Perkins at the end of games giving the opposing team an obvious guy to help off of (and a guy near the basket making it easier for the opposing big to protect the rim).

The knock on Perkins is what he does to the Thunder offense — they go from scoring 110.1 points per 100 possessions when he is sitting on the bench to 102.7 when he is on the court (because he is not a weapon, despite the fact the Thunder force feed him a few post possessions early every game). The Thunder defense gets a little worse, one point per 100, when he sits, but that doesn’t compensate for the offense. Bottom line, the Thunder and 8.2 points per 100 better with him on the bench.

That said, you can’t just plug someone in for Perkins and make it work, it’s not an accident they are 0-3 without him.. This season when you sub in Adams for Perkins with the rest of the Thunder’s usual starting five (Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Durant and Ibaka) the Thunder get 14.2 points per 100 possessions worse, mostly because their defense gives up 122 points per 100 possessions (this would be small sample size theater, as Adams has only played 82 minutes with that group). Adams has a chance here, but he is inexperienced and that shows at times, something that will cost the Thunder as he learns.

Perkins has a role on this team and in certain matchups can be crucial. The good news is this injury will force Brooks to go away from his crutch and find other rotations that work for Oklahoma City, something that can benefit them in the playoffs.

But it’s not as simple as saying Oklahoma City is better without Perkins. Reality is more nuanced than that.

Matthew Dellavedova steals pass, hits wild scoop shot at buzzer (VIDEO)

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Matthew Dellavedova is a hustler. Everybody knows that. Well, unless you want to argue he’s more about grit. It’s really your call.

But against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, Dellavedova came through with whatever you want to call it — hustle, grit, moxie, gumption.

As the first quarter wound down and the Celtics tried to inbound the ball, Dellavedova spied his opponents rolling the basketball in order to save time on the clock.

That allowed the Australian native to fly in and do this:

That’s a steal, a scoop, and a score all within 1.2 seconds.

Milwaukee won Game 4 and evened the series with the Celtics, 2-2.

Cavaliers tie series with Pacers in Indiana, 2-2

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Sunday night’s game between the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers was raucous. Bankers Life Fieldhouse was rocking, and despite Indiana’s best effort to put back seemingly every offensive board it encountered, LeBron James‘ 32 points was just too much to overcome.

Facing the possibility of going down 3-1 in the first round, the Cavaliers pulled out the win, 104-100, and sent the series back to Ohio for Game 5.

The game came down to the final period following a surge by the Pacers to end the third quarter. The teams were tied several times midway through the fourth, but a tip shot by Thaddeus Young wth 6:13 left gave the Pacers the lead as fans in Indiana went wild.

Cleveland then came roaring back. At the three-minute mark, James drove to the basket and scored. Thirty seconds later, Kyle Korver hit a big-time 3-pointer to put the Cavaliers up by four points, a mark the Pacers couldn’t recover from.

LeBron scored again with 1:52 left, and despite some weird late-game antics — featuring none other than Lance Stephenson — the Cavaliers were able to remain resolute down the stretch.

James finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists. Kyle Korver added 18 points on 4-of-9 shooting from deep, and Kevin Love had five points with 11 boards.

Victor Oladipo struggled for Indiana, scoring 17 points but shooting just 25 percent from the floor. Seven Pacers finished in double-digits, with Young notching an impressive double-double of 12 points and 16 rebounds.

Game 5 will be played in Cleveland on Wednesday, April 25.

Wizards beat Raptors in Game 4, tie series at 2-2 heading to Toronto

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The Toronto Raptors were far and away the best team in the Eastern Conference this season. The Washington Wizards were … well, very Wizard-y.

So considering their regular seasons, the fact that Washington was able to tie the first round series between the two teams at 2 games apiece on Sunday is pretty astonishing.

Bradley Beal had 31 points and five rebounds for the Wizards while teammate John Wall added 27 points to go along with a whopping 14 assists. Washington shot an impressive 41 percent from 3-point range as four of five starters finished in double-digit scoring.

Despite Beal’s performance, it was Wall who saved the day for the Wizards. Beal was disqualified after fouling out with around five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Beal didn’t agree with the call, and could be seen throwing a towel near the Washington bench.

For his part, Wall either scored or assisted on 10 of the Wizards’ final 14 points of the game. That helped stave off the likes of DeMar DeRozan, who led all scorers with 35 points.

The series heads back to Toronto for Game 5, which will be played on Wednesday, April 25.

Marcus Smart wants to be back for Game 6 vs. Bucks

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Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been out for some time after injuring his thumb earlier in the year. The absence of one of Boston’s most important guards has been felt even more so after Kyrie Irving went down following knee surgery.

In short, the Celtics would like to have Smart back on the floor.

We’re now close enough that Smart has begun to give solid timeframes to reporters. Speaking to media on Sunday, Smart said that his plan is to be back for Game 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Boston took on Milwaukee on Sunday in Game 4.

Via ESPN:

Right now, [a Game 6 return is] the plan and we’re still on the same track,” Smart said before Game 4 on Sunday. “I’ve been doing everything but contact, so I will be able to go and start that.”

Smart said he believes the thumb is ready for contact.

“The surgery did its job,” said Smart, who injured himself March 11 while diving for a loose ball in a game against the Indiana Pacers. “Thumb is holding up well. I feel ready, I feel strong enough to get back out there. I’m just waiting on the OK.”

The series between the Celtics and Bucks has been tumultuous, a back-and-forth affair as an injury-riddled Boston squad takes on a healthy but offensively-sluggish Milwaukee team. Smart could add a shot of life for Boston in a much-needed way.

The Bucks won Game 4 and the series is now tied, 2-2. Game 6 would be on Thursday, April 26 if need be.