Dan Feldman

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Raptors coach Dwane Casey on Matthew Dellavedova’s Game 1 screens: ‘A lot of them weren’t legal’

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The Raptors lost yet another Game 1, falling 97-83 to the Bucks on Saturday. Toronto’s biggest problem was scoring, especially by its stars. Kyle Lowry (2-for-11, including 0-for-6 on 3-pointers) and DeMar DeRozan (7-for-21, including 0-for-2 on 3-pointers) were, in what has become a concerning playoff trend for those two, lousy.

But Raptors coach Dwane Casey turned attention to another culprit: Matthew Dellavedova‘s screens.

Casey, via Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun:

“He’s not in our minds,’’ began Raptors head coach Dwane Casey on Dellavedova. “I mean, I didn’t go to bed last night worrying about Dellavedova. No, not at all. I was worried about the Milwaukee Bucks, not him.

“But he did set 18 screens and we did talk about them and looked at them and a lot of them weren’t legal. But again, hats off to him. Credit him. Now we’ve got to make sure we counter that and make the officials make a decision. The officials were saying that we’re not hitting him or running into him or whatever. So we have to make sure we have a confrontation and make the officials (see it).

“He’s one of the great screen-setters in the league, just like John Stockton was, so there’s no disrespect in saying that. It’s a respect factor for Dellavedova that he does set hellacious screens.”

“Yeah, they (officials) feel like they are legal, but you look at them in slow time and believe me they are moving, they are grabbing, they are holding. But again, that’s his M.O., and he set a precedent with it and they are not calling it.

“Now we have to make sure we set screens the same way and we show the officials those videos. Again, it’s a credit to him that he sets screens that way and gets away with it and it helps them execute what they want to do.”

Dellavedova, via Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“All people set illegal screens in the NBA,” Dellavedova said. “If you follow it to the letter of the law, the rule is that your feet have to be inside your shoulders. I mean big men are always kind of setting it wide. That’s just how it is.

“You have to be smart and adjust to what the refs are calling.”

I thought Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker might alleviate Toronto’s years-long postseason funk, but the Raptors are down once again and sound lost. It’s almost comical to hear Casey try to convince everyone – maybe including himself – that he’s not worried about Dellavedova. Everything the coach said after indicates he is.

That said, maybe Casey is just trying to take attention off his struggling stars. Lowry and DeRozan have taken major steps back in the playoffs the last two years, and another poor start only intensifies the pressure. Casey might be trying to protect them.

Either way, I got a kick out of Dellavedova essentially admitting Casey was right. Another fun response came from DeRozan. Lori Ewing of CBC Sports:

DeMar DeRozan laughed when asked about the legality of Dellavedova’s screens.

“If you pay my fine, I’ll answer that question. Will you?” DeRozan asked.

“I probably can’t,” the reporter answered.

“OK, so next question,” said DeRozan.

Paul George on Lance Stephenson: ‘He’s got to learn to control himself’

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Another Pacers loss to the Cavaliers, another example of Paul George publicly calling attention to his teammates’ flaws.

First, George’s dismay was directed at C.J. Miles for taking the final shot – rather than passing to George – in the Game 1 defeat. Now, Lance Stephenson and Indiana’s bigs come under George’s microscope after Game 2.

Stephenson guarded Kevin Love in the third quarter, a matchup Stephenson couldn’t handle. He thrice fouled Love, reacting once by pushing Love after the whistle and another time by slamming the ball:

That didn’t sit well with George:

George:

He’s got to learn to control himself. He’s got to learn to just be in the moment. Lance is, in our locker room, is looked upon as a leader, one of our leaders. So, his body language has to improve, just for the team. We all know that Lance is an emotional guy. And a lot of it is his heart and his competitiveness that that emotion comes out on. But he’s got to channel that and put it towards making effort plays on the court and doing whatever he needs for us to succeed.

George’s point isn’t altogether incorrect, and I have no problem with players openly discussing problems.

But George ought to look in the mirror first.

Watch him after Miles’ miss to end Game 1:

I’m also unconvinced Stephenson is such a leader in the locker room. Lavoy Allen is the only other Pacer who was in Indiana during Stephenson’s previous stint there. I bet most of Stephenson’s teammates see him as a role-playing journeyman, not someone who played a central role in the franchise’s best teams in a decade.

George is unquestionably the team’s leader. When he looks upset about Miles shooting, that matters – especially when George says exactly that, even if he walks it back.

Yet, George’s teammates have mostly answered the call when Cleveland double-teams him. That still hasn’t spared them from further scrutiny.

George:

I just thought in that third quarter, they double-teamed. They trapped. And we should have did a better job of, once we got it out in the pick-and-rolls, our bigs got to make plays at that point. And we didn’t.

I’m looking for them. I’m looking for them, to try to pass out of those traps and take advantage of the three-on-twos or the four-on-threes. That’s really what it comes down to. On all of those pick-and-rolls, I’m looking for them, because that’s how you play the game. You’ve got to burn them up if they send two to the ball, getting that ball out of that trap. And we’ve got to rely on them to make plays. It’s the only way that it’s going to free me up on these pick-and-rolls, because they’re not going to want to get burned by that.

It’s very obvious that they want the ball out of my hands, and they’re going to force other guys to beat them.

Indiana’s bigs didn’t always handle those possessions perfectly, especially in the third quarter. They can do better.

But George’s complaints are misplaced.

His floormates are shooting 50%, including 36% on 3-pointers – creating an effective field-goal percentage (54%) that would have ranked fourth in the league among teams in the regular season. They’re taking fine advantage of all the attention George draws.

The Pacers’ problem is defensive. They just can’t stop Cleveland (admittedly, no easy task).

In the end, how George feels matters far more than whether he’s right. He’s on track to become a restricted free agent in 2018, and he has dropped several hints about his dissatisfaction in Indiana. Falling behind 2-0 to the Cavs surely isn’t helping. I don’t know whether George is setting the stage for his eventual exit, but it sure feels like it.

Marc Gasol head-butts in ball after whistle (video)

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Grizzlies coach David Fizdale was, entertainingly, concerned about the foul call.

But don’t get rooked and miss Marc Gasol‘s soccer skills after the whistle.

Report: Florida’s Devin Robinson entering NBA draft with agent

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Catch Devin Robinson at the right moment, and he looks like an NBA player.

The Florida junior will hope that’s how pro teams see him.

Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports Network:

Robinson is a 6-foot-8 forward with a 7-foot wingspan and supposedly top-end athleticism. He just rarely looks athletic defensively, where he doesn’t imposes his will or even show enough attentiveness.

His shot has developed a little at Florida, but it’s not nearly good enough to cover for his inability to create for himself or others.

Drafting Robinson in the second round and hoping the light comes on isn’t necessarily a bad idea. But considering he’s already 22, you have to wonder why it hasn’t already.

Report: Another woman claims Carmelo Anthony impregnated her

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Knicks star Carmelo Anthony and his wife La La have reportedly separated.

TMZ:

Carmelo Anthony was messing around with a woman who now claims she’s pregnant with his baby — and as you can imagine, his wife, La La, is pissed … TMZ Sports has learned.

Multiple sources tell us … the other woman often works at a gentlemen’s club in NYC, and we’re told she’s claiming to be 6 and a half months pregnant with Melo’s child.

Sources close to both Melo and La La are telling us the marriage has been rocky for a while — and while the pregnancy wasn’t the tipping point, it certainly didn’t help.

So far, neither side has filed divorce papers but we’re told there’s virtually zero chance of a reconciliation.

Anthony was long-rumored to prefer New York, in part, because La La wanted to be there. There was even speculation their separation was impacted by his desire to leave the Knicks.

Now, it seems there’s something else at play.

Anthony can still waive his no-trade clause and escape the Knicks, but it’s not necessarily the straight line out of New York it appeared it could be.