Players boycotting playoff games in protest of Donald Sterling was never a real option

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Adam Silver handled the Donald Sterling situation about as perfectly as could have been expected, imposing a lifetime ban on the Clippers owner along with detailing plans to force him to sell the team, thereby exiling him from the NBA altogether.

In case the commissioner had come down less forcefully on Sterling, the players were reportedly considering boycotting games — a move that may have seemed impactful today, but in the long run, would have been extremely short-sighted.

The Warriors detailed their plan, and on paper, it seemed incredibly dramatic. But we’ll never know whether or not this might have actually happened, and honestly, it wouldn’t have made a whole lot of sense.

Donald Sterling is the league’s longest-tenured owner, having purchased the Clippers for $12 million back in 1981. That’s more than 30 years as an NBA owner, while players are often fortunate if their careers last even a third as long.

That’s one reason a boycott would only have served to hurt the players themselves.

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have very few years where championship contention is a legitimate reality, and this happens to be one of them. The West is as wide open as ever, with teams like the Spurs and the Thunder both struggling to advance against lesser first round opponents.

L.A. already has essentially forfeited a playoff game against the Warriors by allowing all of this Sterling nonsense to become a distraction, and a boycott by ether team would only serve to make this first round series even more difficult to win by either side.

Players’ careers are finite, and the opportunities to contend for a title are even more limited. Sterling’s remarks were awful, and it has to be incredibly difficult for the players to focus under these circumstances. But no one signed up to play specifically for Sterling — he may own the Clippers, but players came there either through the draft or free agency simply to play basketball at the professional level for one of the league’s 30 teams.

Maybe in Dallas, free agents choose to sign on with the Mavericks because of Mark Cuban, and how active he is in his team’s pursuit of a winning culture. But most players have very little interaction with ownership, so in the case of the Clippers and the Warriors, they need to be a little more selfish.

The reality is that the players are playing for themselves — their personal legacy, or their personal future earning potential. Choosing to sit out of playoff games in some form of protest would only damage those goals, and would have little impact on anyone else. For that reason, a boycott of any kind was never a real option.

Thankfully, the league’s response was of the appropriate strength so that the players never needed to seriously consider it.

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.