Dan Feldman

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Marcin Gortat: Avery Bradley threatened to beat me up

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The testiness between the Wizards and Hawks has continued in their second-round series.

Marcin Gortat in Onet Sport, translated from Polish, via DJ Bean of CSN New England:

[Isaiah] Thomas said after the second game: we do not like them, they do not like us …

“Which is a popular story with the media. This hostility thing between these two teams looks a bit different, though. We play tougher, but we only care about our own team, while they want to provoke us. Avery Bradley approached me last game and said that if I set one more screen, he’s going to beat me up.”

And what was the reply?

“I laughed at him. I advised him to come to come back when he grows up and gains some weight. It really is the Celtics who get excited with this. In other words, they build their unity around their disliking of the Wizards players.”

The Wizards wore all black to a regular-season game against the Celtics, but only the Celtics want to provoke the Wizards? OK.

To be fair to Gortat, he clearly wanted nothing to do with the all-black gimmick. Via Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic that night:

But Gortat ought to own his team’s role in escalating the rivalry.

No matter who provoked whom, it’s hard to see the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Bradley beating up the 6-foot-11, 240-pound Gortat. Beyond the size difference, Bradley is basketball tough and Gortat is fighter tough.

Isaiah Thomas on Draymond Green: ‘I don’t know how he can call anybody dirty’

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Draymond Green – who has kicked dudes in the nuts a bunch of times – called Kelly Olynyk dirty.

Isaiah Thomas stuck up for his Celtics teammate, who dislocated Kevin Love‘s shoulder and set a high screen on Kelly Oubre (and got laid out for it).

Thomas on Green, via Jay King of MassLive:

“I mean, I don’t know how he can call anybody dirty,” Thomas said. “But it is what it is. Everybody’s got a comment or something to say about others, I guess.”

“It’s a joke that he said that,” Thomas added later, offering that he knows everything gets blown out of proportion during the playoffs. “We can’t worry about what others are saying or doing.”

Green then sent a tweet that appeared to be directed at Thomas, whose Celtics are tied 2-2 with the Wizards:

Thomas is the only NBA player to say what most fans though: Green is too dirty to call someone else dirty. But that doesn’t make Green wrong about Olynyk. At minimum, Olynyk has been repeatedly reckless – and, personally, I don’t see much point parsing the difference between that and dirty.

As far as Green’s retort, this is the upper-hand of playing for the Warriors, the NBA’s best team. It always provides a comeback – even when you’re the pot calling the kettle black.

NBA: Spurs got away with two key late violations in Game 5 win over Rockets

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With 1:20 left in overtime of Game 5, the Rockets led the Spurs by one and had the ball. Twenty-four seconds later, San Antonio led by two.

What changed?

LaMarcus Aldridge got a steal, and Danny Green hit a 3-pointer en route to the Spurs’ 110-107 win.

Also: Aldridge got away with two violations, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

While stealing the ball from James Harden, Aldridge should have been called for a foul with 1:19 left, per the league:

Aldridge (SAS) make contact to Harden’s (HOU) arm and affect his ability to pass the ball.

On the other end, Aldridge got away with an offensive three-second violation with 1:06 left, according to the league:

Aldridge (SAS) is in the paint for longer than three seconds.

A correct call would’ve resulted in a turnover. Instead, the Spurs kept the ball – which they had only because of the incorrect no-call on Aldridge’s steal – and Green hit a 3-pointer.

We can’t know what would have happened with correct calls down the stretch, but those were two huge swings in a game that was separated by just two points once Houston began intentionally fouling.

The two-minute report also includes three other uncalled violations – but all three were offensive, and the offending team didn’t score anyway. Those were washes. Aldridge’s uncalled foul and three-second violation were the only noteworthy missed calls in the report.

Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas fined $25,000 for swearing at a fan (video)

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Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas apparently told a Washington fan:

I’ll f— you up. You know that.

Make sure after, come right here and say it.

NBA release:

Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas has been fined $25,000 for directing inappropriate language toward a fan, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred during the Celtics’ 121-102 loss to the Washington Wizards in Game 4 of an Eastern Conference semifinals series on May 7 at Verizon Center.

The above video was posted May 5 – two days before Game 4 and the day after Game 3, both in Washington. The league described the fine as for an incident in Game 4. However, the video didn’t really catch on until after Game 4.

I’ve asked for clarification, but here’s my strong hunch: This date discrepancy just further indicates the NBA doesn’t care enough about player language toward fans enough to actively police it. The only problem is getting caught on video.

Update: The NBA confirmed the fine was for Game 3.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri: ‘We need a culture reset’

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Last year, Raptors president Masai Ujiri oversaw signing coach Dwane Casey to a new three-year contract. Shortly before this year’s playoffs, Masai Ujiri said there was “no question” he’d try to re-sign Kyle Lowry.

But after Toronto got swept by the Cavaliers, ending another underwhelming postseason, Ujiri took a different tone in his postseason press conference.

He never said he’d fire Casey or let Lowry leave in free agency. Still, Ujiri opened the door for plenty of tea-leaf reading.

On Toronto’s direction:

I take responsibility first. I blame myself first. I’ve questioned myself. Should I have made those trades? What should we have done? How could I have done better to put these guys in a better situation?

And then, like I said, it goes down. We’re going to hold everybody accountable, because we need to.

After that performance, we need a culture reset here. Like, we need to figure it out. Yeah, there’s been some success, but at the end of the day, we’re trying to win a championship here. To me, making the playoffs is nothing. That was back in the day. Now, we have to figure out how we can win in the playoffs. That’s the goal. I’m not trying to hear all this “super teams” or “super personnel” or whatever.

On losing to the Cavaliers:

The end of the year was disappointing. Let’s call a spade a spade. The end of the year was disappointing for us. That series was disappointing for us. We thought we could do better. I don’t know what it is. We’ve started to study it, and I can’t tell exactly what it is. At a point, we looked wide-eyed. We didn’t make shots, I understand. But I sometimes feel that wasn’t our team that we saw out there, to be honest.

On Casey:

There are things that I questioned. I think our style of play is something that we’re going to really evaluate.

One of the things that I discussed with Coach Casey is how we play. We’ve done it the same time over and over again. Is it going to work the next time? We have to figure that out. The one-on-one basketball we play, we have to question that.

The style of play is something that we need to change. I’ve made it clear, and Coach has acknowledged it, and he’s already thought about it. Just some of the things that we do, it’s not working anymore. I’ve just made it clear that it’s going to be difficult for me to keep changing players, just because of the way the CBA is situated. My short answer to that, honestly, is, yes, there’s commitment, but we are all going to question ourselves. We’re all going to seriously question ourselves now and figure out the best way to do it, because Coach Casey has been a phenomenal part of our success here. In some ways, we owe that to him. But I’ve told him that we all have to be accountable.

On Lowry:

It’s our jobs to try and get Kyle to come back and do it the best way that we possibly can. We want him back. He’s been a huge part of the success here.

You’ve built this thing for a while, and is there another level to it? We have to account for that and be accountable for that. And we have to decide, is this the way we want to go in terms of money spent?

There were mixed signals about Casey’s job security last year before his extension. It doesn’t sound as if he should feel safe now.

Likewise, Lowry probably shouldn’t bank on a full five-year max offer (worth a projected $205 million). Ujiri clearly wants Lowry back, but I’m not sure Ujiri is enthused to pay so much for Lowry from age 31 to 36.With Lowry sounding like he’s dropping hints about leaving, anything less than a full max could push him out the door.

Toronto’s ascent will be stalled until it answers a question: Would an offensive scheme other than Casey’s lead to more playoff success, or are Lowry and DeMar DeRozan ill-suited for postseason basketball? Or both?

There are many sub-questions: Can Casey change his style? Can Lowry and DeRozan change their styles? Who are the alternatives to the coach and players?

Ujiri enters a pivotal offseason, and as he said, there’s still more information to gather. But the early indications are Casey and/or Lowry might not like how it goes.