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Trail Blazers trade Mason Plumlee to Nuggets for Jusuf Nurkic and first rounder

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The Portland Trail Blazers finally made a trade. Pending approval from the league office on Monday, GM Neil Olshey has sent starting center Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second round pick to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first round pick, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.

The trade gives the Blazers three first round picks in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft.

Via Twitter:

Portland had to make a move at some point thanks to deals given out this summer to Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe. Plumlee, while critical to the Blazers’ offensive attack thanks to his passing, is a liability on defense. At $2.2 million this season coming off his rookie contract, he’s also due a huge pay increase that the Blazers couldn’t afford to pay even if they wanted to.

For Denver, it’s an interesting move considering they already have a young, passing big man in Nikola Jokic. While there is a potential for either Jokic or Plumlee to play the power forward position — both have in the past — it’s not immediately clear what the long-term plan is in Denver with these two big men.

Then again, having watched Plumlee extensively in Portland, his best role at this point is as a backup center that could help destroy opposing second unit defenses. If that is the long-term plan in Denver, it could be an excellent move for a team that still has moves to make. Emmanuel Mudiay is rumored to be extremely available.

Portland, meanwhile, starts the long process of thinning out the herd. Olshey’s roster was built to be traded, and I’m frankly a little surprised that he was able to bounce Plumlee first. With a low cap figure on Plumlee and the Blazers underwater with Turner and Crabbe, my compatriots and I in the Portland media sphere thought it would be unlikely they could move him without moving either of the wings first. To get back Nurkic and another first rounder is Olshey pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

We’re almost certainly going to see another trade from Portland, whether it’s at the deadline or come draft time. They aren’t going to sit on those three first round draft picks, so it should be fun to see what they do with them.

ESPN has written that the Blazers are looking to move injured center Festus Ezeli to a team that may need to get to the salary floor. That would include the Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Brooklyn Nets.

Trade season is upon us, and two of the teams who needed to make moves have done so with a little more than 10 days to go.

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.