Lance Stephenson says LeBron’s trash talk in Game 3 is ‘a sign of weakness’

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Lance Stephenson has made a habit of talking to LeBron James on the court, but for the most part, James has let those words go unrecognized.

In Miami’s Game 3 win over the Pacers, however, James responded early and often. It seemed to begin during the second quarter after he was called for a charge on Stephenson, when LeBron stood over him as he sat on the floor, before shadowing him as closely as possible on the way back down the court.

Stephenson knows just how unusual it is to have James respond to his constant jabbering, and he believes he may have finally cracked the armor of the game’s best player.

From Shandel Richardson of the Miami Sun-Sentinel:

“To me, I think it’s a sign of weakness because he never used to say nothing to me,” Stephenson said. “I always used to be the one who used to be the one that say, `I’m going to get under you. I’m going to do something to get you mad’ Now he’s trying to do it to me. I feel like it’s a weakness.”‘ …

“I’m doing something right and I’m getting under his skin,” Stephenson said. “I definitely have to keep stepping up to the plate and be aggressive when he does that.” …

“One thing I’m not going to do is give y’all a storyline with LeBron and Stephenson,” James said. “I’m not going to do that. It’s the Pacers versus the Heat. I’m not going to get involved in that … I’ve already been involved in a LeBron vs. Stevenson in my playoff career.”

LeBron was of course referring to DeShawn Stevenson, who similarly engaged James when he played for the Cavaliers and DeShawn played for the Wizards during the 2008 season.

James is wise not to get into it with Lance through the media, but as far as responding on the court, a player can only take so much. And as long as it’s not a distraction to LeBron — who finished Game 3 with 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting, to go along with five rebounds, seven assists, four steals and a victory — he can say whatever he wants.

PBT Extra: Three things to watch with Boston in wake of Hayward injury

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Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.

What next for Boston?

In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.

Gordon Hayward addresses Celtics and fans from hospital bed (video)

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Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.

Hayward:

What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.

At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.

And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.

76ers coach Brett Brown: Joel Embiid’s minute restriction could quickly rise

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Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).

But good news could be on the way.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.

Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.

Report: Bucks have offered second-round pick as enticement for Rashad Vaughn trade

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John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.

Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.

It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.

But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.

Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.

This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.