Kurt Helin

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Can Boston win Atlantic Division?

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Toronto won the Atlantic Division last season by nine games; they were the only team in the division above .500.

But Brad Stevens guided his Celtics to a 20-11 record after the All-Star Break, he’s got a young team that’s a year more mature, and they made a quality addition in free agent Amir Johnson. This season, could Boston finish ahead of Toronto and win the division?

I don’t think so, and lay out why in this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado. Toronto may be transitioning to a new style but that is still a team with the best talent level in the division, and that’s going to be tough for Boston to overcome. But they could make the Atlantic worth watching.

Celtics fans who are Comcast Sportsnet subscribers in the Boston area, you can stream today’s Celtics preseson game against Real Madrid by following this link.

At trial, NBA’s Sefolosha describes struggle with NYC police

Thabo Sefolosha
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NEW YORK (AP) — A professional basketball player has described how he was kicked in the leg and taken to the ground after a testy exchange with a New York City police officer.

The Atlanta Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha testified in his own defense Wednesday in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The 31-year-old guard-forward has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges.

The case stems from an April 8 struggle outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub following the stabbing of another NBA basketball player.

It was then that police say Sefolosha and others ignored repeated instructions to move off the block.

But Sefolosha testified he was moving when a confrontational officer yelled profanities at him. He says one kicked and injured his leg in a subsequent struggle.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Sixers’ Jahlil Okafor to win ROY?

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Jahlil Okafor is the first player the Sixers have gotten on the court during this seemingly perpetual rebuild that can be a true cornerstone player for a franchise. He may not develop into a transcendent player, but he’s going to be good and should be a big part of the Sixers’ future.

That brings us to the prediction of a Sixers fan in this latest PBT Extra bold predictions preview with Jenna Corrado:  Is Okafor the Sixers best player already and can he win Rookie of the Year?

Yes and yes.

He’s going to have to show growth as the season goes on; he’s going to have to adjust to NBA defenders plus plenty of double teams. But Okafor both has the skill and is going to get the touches to potentially win Rookie of the Year. It’s likely him or Emmanuel Mudiay of Denver.

All of this makes the Sixers more interesting to watch this season. Not good, but interesting.

Looks like Donovan to keep Andre Roberson, Steven Adams as starters

Los Angeles Clippers v Oklahoma City Thunder
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Billy Donovan was given the head coaching job in Oklahoma City to bring their offense into modern times — and it seems to be working, Russell Westbrook said he feels a lot more space in the system.

But if the Thunder are going to contend for a title, they need a top 10 defense as well — and to do that Donovan is going to keep a Scott Brooks move and continue to start  Andre Roberson and Steven Adams. Check out the starting lineup for their first preseason game Wednesday.

There also was this report via Anthony Slater in the Oklahoman yesterday about a scrimmage at practice.

Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson all started for the White team. Nick Collison joined them, but that was only because Steven Adams sat out with back soreness….

Donovan said the teams weren’t split by accident. That’s how they’ve been divided in practice. So at this point, it seems Roberson is this team’s starting shooting guard and Adams is the team’s starting center.

Yes, that means the Thunder signed Enes Kanter to a $70 million max deal this summer (matching Portland) to come off the bench.

This is the smart move. Last season the lineup of Westbrook, Roberson, Durant, Ibaka and Adams was +13.4 points per 100 possessions over their opponents. Roberson and Adams are there for defense — neither brings much offensive game to the floor, but when you have Westbrook and Durant and only one ball between them, you don’t need more offensive threats. You’re going to get plenty of points.

If they can just stay healthy, Oklahoma City is a team to be feared.

Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88

Harry Gallatin
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The Hall of Fame player behind the original iron man streak is with us no more.

Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88, the team confirmed Wednesday.

Gallatin led the Knicks of the late 1940s and into the 1950s, when he set a then record playing in 610 consecutive games. Nicknamed “The Horse,” he was a beast on the boards who averaged 15.3 rebounds a game one season and averaged 11.9 boards and 13 points per game over the course of his 10-year career. He’s still fourth all time in total rebounds in Knicks franchise history.

Gallatin was a seven-time All-Star and twice All-NBA selection. After his playing days, he spent many years as the athletic director at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.