The NBA got us hooked on close games in the thrilling first round of the playoffs, then proceeded to give us four blowouts to start the second round. Will that change on Wednesday?
Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers (Wizards lead series 1-0). David West tried to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with Roy Hibbert after Game 1, because the Pacers need Hibbert if they are going to even the series Wednesday night. Just as importably, the Pacers have to defend the three point line better — that starts with Paul George, who lost Trevor Ariza more than once. If the Pacers can do all that then we can start to talk about fixing their offense. Meanwhile, John Wall and Bradley Beal are playing with more confidence each game and if they get another combined repeat performance — 38 points, 12 rebounds, 16 assists, six steals — the Wizards will be sitting pretty going home.
Los Angles Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder (Clippers lead series 1-0). You’re going to hear some fans (and maybe some talking heads) say something along the lines of “if Kevin Durant is a real MVP he will carry his team to a win.” Which completely misses the point on why the Thunder were blown out in Game 1 — team defense. Particularly their perimeter defense. OKC packed the paint to take away easy layups and the Clippers shot over the top of them for three all night ling. The Thunder will change up their pick-and-roll defense on Chris Paul (they switched bigs on to him, Paul stepped back and nailed threes over them) but more than just that the Clippers moved the ball well and the Thunder rotations did not keep up. The Clippers got too many uncontested clean. Of course, more Durant wouldn’t hurt but what the Thunder need on that end is good ball movement and a third scorer to step up. OKC will get its points with Russell Westbrook and Durant. But they need to get stops more.
Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.
But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.
He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.
LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.
Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?
In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.
But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.
Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.
“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”
It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)
With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.
“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”
There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.
It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.
The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.
The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.
Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.
A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.