Dan Feldman

Kelly Olynyk historically spectacular in Celtics’ Game 7 win over Wizards

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In his first three NBA seasons, Kelly Olynyk scored 20 playoff points.

In the Celtics’ Game 7 win over the Wizards last night, he scored 26 points.

The fourth-year Boston forward came off the bench for a career game when his team needed it most. Even if they lose to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics have clinched a satisfying season by advancing this far – especially in the greater context. Boston is the NBA’s youngest conference finalist and possesses the Nets’ first-round pick, which will be slotted in tonight’s lottery. The Celtics’ future is bright.

And thanks in part to Olynyk, their present will avoid major handwringing.

“Kelly was MVP tonight,” Isaiah Thomas said. “He did it all.”

Olynyk shot 8-for-8 on 2-pointers, using the threat of his 3-pointer to drive. He also kept Washington’s defense honest by shooting 2-for-6 from beyond the arc.

Olynyk’s 26 points were the most by a reserve in a Game 7 since Leandro Barbosa scored 26 for the Suns against the Lakers in 2006. Here are the top scoring Game 7s by reserves since 1984, when the NBA adopted a 16-team playoff:

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Only Eddie Johnson (34 points for the Seattle SuperSonics against the Suns in 1993) and Sedale Threatt (28 points for the 76ers against the Bucks in 1986) scored more off the bench in a Game 7 in this era. But those performances came in losses. Olynyk aided a win.

His 26 points were also third among reserves in the 2017 postseason. Only Nene (28 points in Rockets-Thunder Game 4) and Joe Johnson (28 points in Jazz-Clippers Game 4) topped Olynyk:

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Not a bad impression to leave in a high-pressure situation entering free agency.

NBA: Warriors got away with late foul in Game 1 win over Spurs

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Zaza Pachulia‘s foul of Kawhi Leonard was the most controversial play of the Warriors’ 113-111 Game 1 win over the Spurs.

But it wasn’t the only one.

Kevin Durant got away with a loose-ball foul of LaMarcus Aldridge with 1:28 left, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Durant (GSW) grabs and pulls Aldridge’s (SAS) jersey during rebounding.

Because Golden State was in the penalty, a correct call would’ve given Aldridge – who shot 81% on free throws this season and 80% for his career – two attempts from the line.

Instead, the Warriors secured the defensive rebound and eventually the two-point win.

(Aldridge also got away with travelling with 55.7 seconds left, according to the two-minute report, but San Antonio didn’t score on that possession anyway.)

Report: Kawhi Leonard suffered no structural damage

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Andre Iguodala‘s MRI revealed no structural damage.

Ditto Kawhi Leonard‘s.

Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

Spurs:

“Doubtful” is an improvement on what Gregg Popovich said yesterday, and sometimes, that late upgrade is really a telltale sign the player will play. I don’t think that’s the case here.

A lack of structural damage doesn’t mean Leonard is suddenly healthy – or even that he’ll return to full strength this series.

But, given how well San Antonio fared with Leonard in Game 1, this at least leaves the door open for a competitive series.

Report: Kings, Celtics getting shunned in pre-draft process

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
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The Kings had trouble getting top draft prospects in for workouts last year.

Despite hiring highly respected Scott Perry, reportedly not much has changed in Sacramento – and the Kings have company.

Chad Ford of ESPN:

Multiple NBA agents told me that they were determined to keep their clients from working out for Sacramento.

“It would be malpractice to let my clients play for them,” one longtime agent said. “I’ve had clients there. It’s still the most dysfunctional front office in the league, by a mile. How can you trust those guys with one of your players? It’s going to take a long time to build that trust.”

Several agents told me that they were considering holding their clients out of workouts with the Boston Celtics as well.

The Celtics are loaded with players at every position. The fear is that — much like No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown this year — their clients would have to spend the next few years coming off the bench. That’s not what most top prospects in the draft want. They want a chance to start and lead a franchise right away.

“I have deep respect for the Celtics,” one agent said. “They may have the best GM and head coach in the league. But I’d have to understand what the plan would be for my client before I let them come. They are loaded at every position. There’s a real danger that they take a player and either he plays a limited role of the bench, or he becomes an asset to be traded to a situation that we’re uncomfortable with. It’s tough.

There appears to be at least some shift in Sacramento (tied in part to the hiring of Perry). Markelle Fultz reportedly interviewed with the Kings. Sources also told NBC’s Kurt Helin that a number of top 20 projected picks (the Kings likely will have picks 8 and 10) have scheduled workouts with the team, those have yet to be announced. That said, Sacramento’s major concerns for agents have not changed: Owner Vivek Ranadive has overseen a toxic culture, and general manager Vlade Divac keeps alienating agents. Agents fear a poor environment for young players to develop. The Kings want desperately to change that perception.

The Celtics’ situation is in the eye of the beholder. I thought Jaylen Brown’s role – a steady rotation spot with 17 minutes per game and 20 starts – was a healthy one for him. I thought it alleviated concerns about how Boston would use its high picks, not compound them. Brad Stevens has excellently helped develop players and positioned them to thrive, and I’d trust the Celtics with a top prospect.

Ultimately, players and agents have only so much control of the draft process. They can’t stop Boston or Sacramento from drafting someone, and I’d advise both teams to draft the top prospects regardless. That might be more difficult to determine without private workouts, but getting good players is the most important step to solving any problem.

The Kings, likely with two lottery picks, have more leverage than last year. Depending how the lottery lands, certain agents might rethink their approach if a client is positioned in either team’s range.

But for now I understand steering clear of Sacramento and, to a lesser degree, Boston.

David West on Zaza Pachulia injury Kawhi Leonard: ‘Just a tough play’ (video)

AP Photo/John Bazemore
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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich lit into Zaza Pachulia for injuring Kawhi Leonard. In the process, Popovich pulled Warriors forward David West – who played for San Antonio last year – into the fray: “Ask David West, his current teammate, how things went when Zaza was playing for Dallas and he and David got into it.”

So reporters asked West.

Anthony Slater of Bay Area News Group:

West:

Zaza is my teammate. He plays hard.

Just playing hard. He’s an aggressive guy. That’s who he is. That’s who he’s always been.

Just a tough play, man. A tough play.

Things happen in the league. Everybody is trying to compete. Everybody wants to win. Things happen.

West is a savvy veteran, too smart to get dragged into this and have his loyalty within his own locker room questioned.

That’s part of what drew him and the Spurs to each other in the first place.