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Draymond Green to play with Warriors Friday in Detroit (and against Cavs)

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Draymond Green left the Golden State Warriors, missing their game Thursday night in Brooklyn (and it showed in the first half when the team struggled defensively) because his son — Draymond Jamal Green Jr. — was born that same day. The team told Green to take his time and come back when he was ready.

He’s ready.

Green will be back in the lineup Friday night when the Warriors take on the Pistons in Detroit, as Green himself let the world know on social media. Here’s the story via CSNBayARea.com.

Late Thursday night, the Warriors forward took to social media to let everybody know he was en route to Detroit.

Via Snapchat, Draymond posted a video of a private plane waiting for him with the caption: “Wheels up to the mitten.” He also looked into the camera and said: “Back to the grind.”

Obviously, this also means he’ll be available for the Christmas Day game against the Cavaliers.

Rajon Rondo admits Bulls “not going to be probably the most athletic team out there”

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The Chicago Bulls are a .500 team, 14-14. They should be a little better than that record-wise, they have a top-10 defense and a good enough offense, they just tend to have bad fourth quarters, and it’s cost them (as it did against the Wizards Wednesday night, when the Bulls shot 7-of-24 for the quarter and lost the game by 10).

Part of the problem in that loss — the Wizards turned those misses into transition buckets the other way. That’s easier to do when you have John Wall, arguably the fastest player end-to-end with the ball in his hands in the game (Russell Westbrook is in that conversation).

Rajon Rondo was honest about the other half of that — the Bulls are not the most athletic team in the league. They are vulnerable to athletic teams they let get out and run. The Bulls need to get by more on high IQ plays and veteran instincts, something he discussed with K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

“We’re not going to be probably the most athletic team out there on the floor every night,” Rajon Rondo said after Thursday’s practice. “Out of 30 teams, we might be bottom three or four in athleticism. But we can make that up with intelligence. We can make that up with game-plan discipline. We have to do the little things, the intangibles to get back in transition in the fourth quarter.”

Also, just making some shots so the other team has to take the ball out of the basket helps.

The Bulls front office talked about getting more athletic in the wake of the Derrick Rose trade last summer, but this team is not that. It can still win a lot of games, but come the playoffs that lack of athleticism could be an issue depending on the matchup.

In the short term, the Bulls need to keep executing to make sure they make the playoffs. Right now they are in the middle of the clump of teams in the East — only 2.5 games separate the four and 11 seeds in that conference. The little things (and health) will determine who even gets into the dance.

Bucks’ Khris Middleton still plans return late in season, to play in playoffs

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The Bucks remain on the fringe of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but they show flashes of great promise. Take their recent home-and-home against the Cavaliers — LeBron James took them seriously enough to play on the second night of that back-to-back despite logging 47 minutes the first night. The Cavs won both, but the games were hard fought. After the second night, James said this to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

“The next several years they could be really, really good,” James said.

The Bucks are long and defend. They have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, plus a good core of role players. What they miss right now is their glue guy.

They miss Khris Middleton, their starter on the wing who tore his hamstring before the season in a workout. Middleton can defend multiple positions, averaged 18.2 points a game last season and shot 39.6 percent from three, has the handles to run the pick-and-roll, and is the guy who can give the Buck whatever they need on a given night, in a given matchup.

Middleton told reporters that he’s making progress and plans to be back late this season, as reported by the Journal-Sentinel.

“I’m making good progress within the last couple weeks but I’ve still got a long way to go,” Middleton said before the Bucks played the Cavaliers on Wednesday.

“A hamstring is definitely nothing to play with. There are chronic hamstring injuries where guys think it is fine and they go out there and try to run and pull it again. That’s something I definitely don’t want to go through.”

Middleton said the earliest he thought he could return was around the all-star break in mid-February, which would give him a chance to play the final two months of the regular season.

Even if he missed that deadline but got to play the last month of the season, that would make the Bucks a far more dangerous playoff team.

Providing they make it. Right now they are in that big clump in the middle of the East — Charlotte is the current four seed but just 2.5 games ahead of 11-seed Detroit. The East is wide open, and teams that get healthy (or stay healthy) and going to be the teams that make the playoffs.

Dirk Nowitzki to return to court for Dallas Friday vs. Clippers

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Quietly, the Dallas Mavericks have started to get healthy and play better — they are 4-4 in their last eight games after beating Portland on the road Wednesday. Deron Williams is healthy, Harrison Barnes continues to take steps forward…

And now they get Dirk Nowitzki back.

After missing 14 games with a sore Achilles, the Hall of Fame-bound German will play Friday night in Los Angeles.

Dallas’ offense has been the team’s weakness (despite the better-than-expected play of Barnes) and the return of Nowitzki will help that. Heck, just the threat of Nowitzki’s shooting on the court will opening things up for Dallas.

at 8-21 this season, the Mavs have dug too big a hole to make the playoffs. But they are evolving into a tougher team to beat on a nightly basis, which sucks for their opponents. Starting with the Clippers, who will without Blake Griffin for sure and likely Chris Paul for this game.

PBT Extra: Looking ahead to Warriors at Cavaliers headlining Christmas games

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Christmas day the NBA brings out its best and brightest — and biggest television draws — and the lined up and interesting set on ABC and ESPN this Sunday.

This game everyone wants to see the NBA Finals rematch/preview as Golden State visits Cleveland — now withKevin Durant. But there are other exciting games: Boston at New York to start the day may be the most competitive game of the day. The Spurs vs. the Bulls is a game filled with intriguing matchups. Can Minnesota even slow down Russell Westbrook? Who wins the battle of Los Angeles?

I talk about all of them in this latest PBT Extra.