Tuesday night NBA Grades: San Antonio with another impressive statement

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Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while thinking I never had teachers like that…

source:  San Antonio Spurs offense. The Bulls defense has forced everyone they have faced lately into an ugly, grappling fight on the ground that favors Chicago. Even Miami fell victim to it. San Antonio rose above it with an efficient night following the Popovich maxim of great not good (pass on a good shot if you can get a teammate a great one). San Antonio had an offensive rating of 112.3 points on the night with a team true shooting percentage of 60.7. They cut, they passed, and even the Bulls could not keep up. Tony Parker did most of his damage early and had 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting, more importantly he had nine assists and no turnovers. Manu Ginobili looked like a Sixth Man of the Year award candidate with 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting. No team is playing better than the Spurs right now.

source:  Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. In the fourth quarter the Thunder had the lead but the Rockets kept trying to open the door and walk on through, and each time it seemed Durant was slamming it in their face. Durant had 12 points in the fourth, 42 for the game on 12-of-22 shooting. Also, thanks to Patrick Beverly clearly waking up Russell Westbrook, there was the old Westbrook/Durant chemistry. Now we’ll see if the Thunder can carry this over to the next game.

source:  Andrew Bynum, Indiana Pacers. He looked good — eight points on 3-of-4 shooting, plus 10 rebounds. He brought some real energy to the Pacers reserves, throwing down a dunk, making a slick bounce pass in the paint, making plays over the top of the smaller Jared Sullinger, just generally providing a spark. More of a spark than we’ve seen from Evan Turner so far. We’ve all seen good games from Bynum before to be followed by him mentally checking out. Still a lot to prove here. But his debut in Pacers gold was impressive.

source:  Detroit Pistons’ defense. For one night (and likely one night only) the Pistons defended, holding the Sacramento Kings to 88 points per 100 possessions and picking up the win — a win that moved them ahead of the Knicks into the No. 9 seed in the East, three games back of the Atlanta Hawks. In the second half in particular Detroit played the kind of defense we kind of expected from them this season, and if they have playoff dreams what they need to do the rest of the season
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Jazz boost international bona fides with new minor-league coach

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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.

Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 with Celtics

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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.

 

PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ new GM aces first big test with Kyrie Irving trade

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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.

Cavaliers-Celtics deal first offseason trade involving players who just met in NBA Finals or conference finals

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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 Jamescachet. 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.