Kurt Helin

Bucks troll Raptors, play Barney theme song during introductions (VIDEO)


Before the Bucks went out and absolutely rolled the Raptors in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series (to take a 2-1 series lead), their game operations crew got in a creative dig at Toronto.

While the Raptors starters were introduced, they played the theme song from Barney. You know, the purple dinosaur of children’s television fame who loves you, and you love him, and we’re all a happy family. You can see it in the video above. Kind of funny stuff.

That’s not why the Raptors shot 22 percent and were down 20 in the first quarter of this blowout, but the Bucks are not going to mess with a streak, expect Barney to be back for Game 4.

Danilo Gallinari on his summer: “I would love to reach an agreement to remain in Denver”

Associated Press
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Danilo Gallinari can get buckets as a four who can space the floor — he averaged 18.2 points per game for the Nuggets last season, shooting 38.8 percent from three. He’s a solid defender. The rooster has real value in today’s NBA, if he could just stay healthy.

That value is why he will opt-out and hit the free agent market this summer. A number of teams are expected to express interest in Gallo, but he said in a recent interview with BlitzTV, Gallinari said that he wants to remain with the Nuggets. (Via Sportando)

Gallo has a $16.1 million player option for next season that he is not expected to pick. Gallinari will opt out of his contract to test free agency but his goal is to sign a new deal with the Nuggets.

“The relationship between me, the city and the organization is great. This is the reason why I would love to reach an agreement to remain in Denver. I love it here. And I would love to remain with the Nuggets” Gallinari said.

The Nuggets will want him, Denver was +8.2 points per 100 when Gallinari and Nikola Jokic were paired, with the offense clicking at a ridiculous 116.7 points per 100 possessions. However, the Nuggets also need to get players who will upgrade the defense this summer, and they know that big paydays are coming in a couple of years for Jokic and Gary Harris. How much are they willing to commit to Gallinari, and could another team come in over the top and snag him?

The Nuggets have a number in mind, but a team with cap space could see Gallinari on the move. That said, all things being equal, he could be back in Denver next summer, it all comes down to what the market dictates.

What changed for Dion Waiters in Miami? He says conditioning (using pictures)

Associated Press

Dion Waiters and his scoring were at the heart of Miami’s second-half surge, and the ankle injury that sidelined him the final 13 games of the season — when the Heat went 7-6 — was a key reason the Heat just missed the playoffs.

Waiters had a renaissance in Miami, scoring a career-best 15.8 points per game on an improved true shooting percentage of 50.6, with a career best PER of 14.5. After a career where he was a frustrating inconsistent gunner, he had the ball in his hands and was making plays, and was showing off improved catch-and-shoot skills — and filling up Waiters’ Island with converts in the process.

What changed? Waiters said it was conditioning and the reason was the Heat and their process and staff.

How much the Heat, or another team will pay the new-and-improved Waiters this summer is going to be an interesting story line (Waiters had a $3 million player option but will wisely test the market). What teams believe his transformation is permanent, and what are his scoring skills worth on the open market? The Heat liked what they saw from Waiters and Pat Riley has said he wants to bring this entire team back, but if you don’t think money will impact that think back to the Dwyane Wade negotiations. Will another team come in over the top to snag him?

Waiters island seems to have found a home off the waters of Miami, but like the island on Lost, you never know when it could be on the move.

John Wall, Bradley Beal did their thing, dropped combined 63 on Atlanta (VIDEO)

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While you were watching Russell Westbrook be brilliant then awful, the Washington Wizards were taking a 2-0 series lead over the Atlanta Hawks a few channels away.

Mostly thanks to Bradley Beal and John Wall. There were certainly other factors, but they adapted to a tightly called game — you got your wish, Paul Millsap — and combined to drop 63 points on 47 shots. That was the most the pair have combined to score in a playoff game. Many of which you can see in the video above.

The series continues Saturday in Atlanta, where it’s not mathematically a must-win game for the Hawks, but it’s a must-win game for the Hawks.


Chicago early surprise of playoffs after taking two at Boston

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CHICAGO (AP) — For a team that bickered and barely made the playoffs, the Chicago Bulls are the early surprise of this postseason.

They hold a stunning 2-0 lead over the top-seeded Celtics as the series shifts to Chicago for Game 3 on Friday night.

“The credit through this team sticking together through injuries to put ourselves in position to make the playoffs goes to everyone from the coaching staff to the leaders to the young guys, everyone did it together,” Dwyane Wade said.

The Bulls took a commanding lead in the series with Tuesday’s 111-97 victory, and they come home looking like a strong contender to become just the sixth No. 8 seed to knock off a No. 1. None has swept a top seed.

It was hard to see the Bulls in this position. They didn’t clinch a playoff spot until they beat Brooklyn in the final regular-season game. That put Chicago back in the postseason, after missing out a year ago for the first time since 2008.

The trip to the playoffs comes on the heels of a turbulent regular season for a transitioning team.

There was the big trade last summer when the Bulls sent hometown favorite and former MVP Derrick Rose to New York after going 42-40. Chicago also split with Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol, helping clear the way for young players such as Bobby Portis to get more time.

They brought in Rajon Rondo and then Wade in free agency, moves that seemed to go against the idea of getting younger. And even though they came with a combined four championships, neither veteran filled the team’s biggest need: better shooting.

There was a big flare-up in January when Wade and Butler teed off on the team following a loss. Rondo fired back while defending the younger players, and all three veterans got fined by the organization. Rondo was also suspended for a game by the team earlier in the year, and he was in and out of the rotation this season.

The Bulls sat him for five straight games at one point, but had him start 13 of their final 16 games. In Game 2, he just missed a triple-double with 11 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds. Just as important, he helped contain Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics’ dynamic, high-scoring point guard.

“He’s a confident kid and that rubs off on all the other guys,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s been in a lot of these big moments, championship experience and he’s going to continue to lead us as long as we are playing.”

At the moment, everything seems to be going right for the Bulls.

Butler is averaging 26 points through the first two games. The 35-year-old Wade is coming off a 22-point performance in which he scored 16 in the second half. Not bad, considering he missed three weeks late in the year because of a fractured right elbow.

The Bulls have also gotten big contributions from their role players and have pounded the Celtics on the glass, outrebounding them by 22 through the first two games.

Chicago got 19 points and nine rebounds from Portis in the opener. In Game 2, Robin Lopez chipped in with 18 and eight, while Paul Zipser scored 16.

“I’m just trying to shoot it with confidence,” said Lopez, who hit several midrange jumpers. “I’m sure Bobby told you the same thing. Whenever we’re passing the ball we’re told shoot it if you’re open. That makes it easy to shoot the ball. It makes it easy for it to go in.”

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