Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while reminding yourself not to make love to a pizza….
Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards. That is why Washington needed Marcin Gorat. It may have taken John Wall a while to realize it — there were some rough patches at the start — but Gortat has good hands and can finish the pick-and-roll, which he did a lot on Thursday night. Gortat finished with a career high 31 points — 15 of those in the fourth quarter plus overtimes — and he had 12 rebounds and four blocked shots. That is six straight double-doubles for Gortat. When they get Nene back (hopefully before the playoffs) he and Gortat (and John Wall) may make the Wizards the third best team in the East.
Washington Wizards/Toronto Raptors. When two teams play this entertaining a triple-overtime game filled with highlights, we applaud them. On a night when the big nationally televised games were the kind of blowouts that had you flipping over to watch “Parenthood” the Raptors and Wizards put on a show. The kind of show I would love to see in the first round of the playoffs. That would be an entertaining series.
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat. When Wade is scoring like this next to LeBron Miami becomes almost impossible to beat. He had 10 points in the second quarter when the Heat started to pull away and finished with 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting on the night. What is most impressive is Wade is doing it with a different, old-man style game — he’s playing clever ball, not the high-flying throwing his body around Wade of days gone by. He’s got a mature game now, but it still puts up points.
Brooklyn Nets first quarter defense. I could pile on how unprepared Denver seemed for this game, but they are without Ty Lawson, JaVale McGee, Danilo Gallinari, Nate Robinson, and Darrell Arthur so we will cut Brian Shaw a little slack. Instead we’ll credit the Nets defense, which held Denver to 8 points on 3-of-18 shooting in the first quarter. In in its last 10 games Brooklyn allowed 101.9 points per 100 possessions, 10th in the NBA. It’s their defense that has Brooklyn in the playoffs, not the offense.
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.