The trade deadline is going to shake up the Eastern Conference. One way or another.
Teams see the Cleveland Cavaliers as vulnerable (maybe the most vulnerable LeBron James‘ team since he left Cleveland for Miami). Sources around the league say that has led to teams who think they are a player away — Washington, Milwaukee, to a lesser degree Toronto — seriously testing the trade market to see if they can improve to take a swing at the King. (Boston is the one team who believes they can already beat Cleveland and is not as aggressive on the market.) For example, if the Clippers decide to move DeAndre Jordan — they are listening to offers but have made no decision, according to the buzz around the league — and the Wizards or Bucks land him, it does change the playoff picture in the East.
Unless the Cavaliers land Jordan, or some other key piece to help solidify their spot at the top. That is a real possibility, too.
However, the Cavaliers are not going to throw in the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick they possess to get a deal done, according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
To make (a Jordan) deal work on the salary cap, the Cavs would have to trade Tristan Thompson ($16.4 million) and Channing Frye ($7.4 million) for Jordan. I’ve heard the Clippers would strongly consider it if the Cavs added the Brooklyn 2018 first-round draft pick that they acquired in the Kyrie Irving deal. I’ve heard the Cavs don’t plan to trade that pick.
That Nets pick is not looking to be as high or as valuable as expected — it would go into the lottery as the No. 10 pick as of right now — but to the Cavs it serves the same dual purpose. If LeBron decides to stay in Cleveland next summer, it lets the team add the kind of young, solid, athletic rotation player they have not brought in for years. If LeBron leaves as a free agent, it helps jump-start the rebuilding process.
It’s a philosophical debate for the Cavaliers: Trade that pick and go all-in for another title while you have LeBron (and maybe with that he decides to stay); or keep the pick because they need the youth on an older roster (and as LeBron leaves insurance). They have long leaned toward the latter, that seems not to have changed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.