Dan Feldman

Watch Isaiah Thomas score 29 of his 53 points in fourth quarter and overtime (video)

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Isaiah Thomas scored a more-than-respectable 24 points through the first three quarters against the Wizards last night.

But his Celtics trailed by five entering the fourth quarter.

So, as has become custom, Thomas did more.

The 5-foot-9 point guard scored 29 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, leading the Celtics to a personally meaningful 129-119 Game 2 win.

Markieff Morris says he’ll ask whether Al Horford intentionally undercut him

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Markieff Morris injured his ankle when Al Horford slid under him while contesting his jumper.

Was that a dirty play?

Morris, who’s questionable for Wizards-Celtics Game 2 tonight, plans to interrogate Horford.

Morris, via J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

“Not sure it its intentional or not,” Morris said in the locker room afterwards. Probably not.”

“I’m not sure,” Morris said of the second-quarter incident Sunday vs. the Boston Celtics. “I’m going to ask him, though. I looked at it a couple times. It’s not really that pretty, so I couldn’t really watch it too much.”

Horford, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:

“I understand that he’s frustrated,” Horford said. “One of my strengths is on defense and challenging shots. It was a tough break. I really feel bad for him. You don’t want anybody to get hurt. He’s a great player. I hope that he’s able to play tomorrow.”

The Wizards and Celtics have a history of combativeness. Morris looked for trouble throughout a first-round series with the Hawks.

It probably wouldn’t take much to escalate this situation, no matter Horford’s explanation.

Three things to watch: Golden State Warriors vs. Utah Jazz

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1. Will the Warriors continue pursuit of fo’, fo’, fo’, fo’ postseason?

Golden State added Kevin Durant to a 73-win team.

A mere championship won’t satisfy all the outsized expectations created by that combination.

There’s a decent amount of chatter about Golden State going 16-0 in these playoffs. Sweeping the Trail Blazers kept the dream alive, but the Jazz are a much bigger test.

Sweeping Utah – a team that could beat the Warriors if it catches enough breaks – will require much more focus, and there are already signs of slippage. Will the Warriors lock down, or are they just too talented anyway?

2. Who controls the pace?

The Warriors are one of the league’s fastest-paced teams. The Jazz are the slowest.

Just how extreme is the split?

Golden State had 37 faster-paced games than Utah’s fastest. Utah had 33 slower-paced games than Golden State’s second slowest.

The Warriors can play slow, and the Jazz can play fast. But neither team wants to give in here.

It’s probably more important for the underdog Jazz to win this battle. Otherwise, they run out of areas to seek an edge.

To dictate the tempo, Utah will need to keep Rudy Gobert on the court. Golden State has excelled at running traditional centers off the floor, but Gobert has moved his feet well enough to compete in the pick-and-roll and allow his paint protection to shine. Will that hold up if the Warriors relentlessly pull Gobert into pick-and-rolls? Is Gobert healthy enough to withstand the coming onslaught?

3. Will the Warriors miss Steve Kerr?

Durant returned against Portland, and Golden State’s other player injuriesShaun Livingston and Matt Barnes – are relatively minor

Kerr is the great unknown – not just for his unclear medical prognosis, but because a great team losing its head coach in the playoffs is uncharted waters.

The Warriors cruised last season with Luke Walton, but the regular season is a different animal. Kerr can help game-plan behind the scenes to aid Mike Brown, as the head coach did for Walton.

But there will come a time in the playoffs where Golden State – with high-profile Draymond Green, Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – faces adversity within a game. Kerr has managed those personalities so well in those heated moments. Will Brown? Or will Kerr return in time to do it himself?

I’m not sure whether the test will come against Utah, but it could.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says he tried to talk Kevin Garnett out of retirement this season

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Tyronn Lue tried to talk Kevin Garnett into becoming a Cavaliers assistant coach before the season.

Garnett declined.

When Andrew Bogut suffered a season-ending injury in March, Lue again tried to lure Garnett to Cleveland – to play.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

Lue revealed that the Cavaliers reached out to Kevin Garnett — who was working as a consultant with the Clippers and Bucks after retiring last season — about coming to play backup center after Andrew Bogut suffered a season-ending leg injury.

“I was like, ‘Man, you should come back and play for me.’ He was like, ‘Man, you all have a lot going on over there,'” Lue said. “That was before we hit our stride like we’re playing well now. He was like, ‘If you and [James] Posey were still playing, I would come.’ But he said, ‘But y’all are coaching and y’all are going through what you’re going through.’ He said, ‘Ah, I’m going to sit this one out.’ I said, ‘OK. We’ll call you next year.'”

I don’t know the seriousness of Lue, who was a Celtics assistant coach when Garnett and Posey (now a Cavs assistant) played in Boston.

Garnett, now 40, looked pretty limited with the Timberwolves last season. But teams, especially contenders, sometimes overvalue over-the-hill veterans.

And it’s possible Garnett could’ve helped the Cavaliers. He probably wouldn’t have contributed less than Larry Sanders. Would Garnett have provided more value than Walter Tavares? Maybe. In a tiny role behind Tristan Thompson and Channing Frye, Garnett might have produced in spot minutes.

The risk is Lue would have been too partial to Garnett to play him sparingly enough. Or Garnett might be completely washed up, incapable of playing effectively at all.

Garnett is a big name, and him joining Cleveland would have been exciting. But it’s hard to believe the Cavs missed out by not signing a retired 40-year-old.

Raptors’ Game 1 woes continue

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The Raptors lost Game 1 last night.

Again.

Yes, I’m writing this post.

Again.

Toronto’s Game 1 struggles have reached comical proportions. Dropping the opening game of their second-round series to the Cavaliers, the Raptors have now lost 10 straight Game 1s. Their 1-12 all-time record in Game 1s is the worst among the NBA’s 30 current franchises:

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This isn’t just a result of a team overachieving just to reach the playoffs. Toronto is an unbelievable 0-6 in home Game 1s, including lost to the Bucks last round.

Maybe this is just coincidence. Maybe the Raptors have structural problems preparing for a series. But whatever it is seems not to carry into later games. Toronto is a nearly middling 27-29 in Games 2-7.

So perhaps there’s hope for the Raptors against Cleveland (though watching Game 1 certainly wouldn’t indicate it).

At least Toronto can take solace in not have the worst Game 1 win percentage in NBA history.

The Sheboygan Red Skins lost Game 1 of the 1950 Western Division semifinals to the Indianapolis Olympians then feel in three games. After its lone NBA season, Sheboygan was forced out and joined the National Professional Basketball League.