What a NBA lottery win would mean for five teams

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wall_dunk.jpgWith the NBA Draft Lottery upon us, we thought we’d prognosticate upon five teams with a wide range of chances to gain the best choice tonight.

New Jersey Nets: They have more on the line than any other team in tonight’s drawing. Drawing the top slot gives them not only the best player in the draft in John Wall, and a better shot at drawing Wall-friend LeBron James, but it means they can use Devin Harris as a trade chip to augment the rest of their roster. That’s a pretty huge chip with how point guards are at a premium in this league. Wall brings legitimate star power, which New Jersey desperately needs. Even if they strike out in free agency, Wall plus Brook Lopez and the spoils of a Devin Harris trade would set them up nicely for the future.

Washington Wizards: Winning Wall would mean a reboot of the franchise, like it was a Batman flick. The Wizards say they’re committed to Gilbert Arenas, but with a detonated roster and Wall on the way, wouldn’t it make sense to trade Arenas for some younger pieces to fit in around Wall? Arenas could slide to shooting guard pretty easily but it leaves an opportunity to plan rightly for the future and not try to force anything. Plus, there’s no way of knowing how Arenas will react to the debacle of last year, let alone finding out he’s getting bumped to second tier status.

Utah Jazz: What would this mean? Outside of a massive run on arsenic for Knicks fans in the greater tri-state area? It means Evan Turner goes number one, is what it means. You don’t bench John Wall. You just don’t. And you don’t trade Deron Williams, who many call the best point guard in the league. So what are you left with? Take Evan Turner, slide Wesley Matthews back to the bench creating a formidable second unit, and sign and trade Boozer for another frontcourt asset. Boom, you’re reloaded for another six years.

Los Angeles Clippers: See ya, Boom. A Wall-Griffin tandem could be something special if Griffin comes back healthy, and putting Baron on the block could possibly garner some opportunities, if his contract doesn’t completely repulse teams. That’s a more likely option than going with Evan Turner and pushing Eric Gordon to the bench, or trying to squeeze Turner in as a small forward. Of course, this will all be rendered moot when Wall contracts some sort of bizarre condition underwhich he cannot play basketball. Because, well, Clippers, curse, yada yada yada.

Houston Rockets: The least likely team to win the lottery. If this were to somehow magically happen, the Rockets would all of a sudden look terrifying. When your starting point guard who was arguably your best player on roster goes to your sixth man, you bring in an all-world point guard and get back a seven foot, albeit slightly damaged All-Star center?  THE MOREY MATRIX. RELOADED.

BONUS: Minnesota Timberwolves: “More point guards! More! More! Mwahahahahahahaah!” – David Kahn

Cavaliers cruise past Celtics in Game 3, change complexion of Eastern Conference finals

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The Cavaliers were heavy favorites over the Celtics entering the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron James has dominated the East for years, and Cleveland appeared to hit its stride in a sweep of the Raptors last round. Boston was shorthanded and inexperienced.

Were the Celtics’ two wins to open the series, as impressive as they were, really enough to override everything else we knew about these teams?

The Cavs walloped Boston in Game 3, 116-86, Saturday. Cleveland now has four of the NBA’s last five 30-point playoff wins – two against the Celtics last year, one over Toronto last round and tonight. (The Cavaliers lost the league’s only other 30-point game between, to the Pacers in the first round.)

Boston still leads the series 2-1, and teams up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series have won it 80% of the time.

But the team up 2-1 is usually the one seen as better entering the series. That isn’t the case here, not with LeBron on the other side. And the leading team usually isn’t so woeful on the road, which will remain a major storyline entering Game 4 Monday in Cleveland.

The Celtics bought themselves margin for error, but they blew a lot of it tonight.

It’d be an oversimplification to say the Cavs just played harder, but they did, and it went along way. They chased loose balls, tightened their defense and moved more off the ball offensively. Cleveland jumped to a 20-4 lead, led by double digits the rest of the way and spent most of the game up by at least 20.

LeBron (27 points, 12 assists, two blocks and two steals) dazzled as a passer and locked in as a defender. He received help from several players:

In a low-resistance effort, Boston didn’t goon up the game at all.

The Cavaliers still have plenty of work ahead to reach their fourth straight NBA Finals, but tonight, they showed a path to advancing. Climbing out of their early series deficit now looks far less intimidating.

Luka Doncic named EuroLeague MVP at age 19

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Luka Doncic, the likely top two pick in the upcoming NBA draft, has led his Real Madrid team to the EuroLeague finals at age 19.

Now he has been named the youngest player ever win the EuroLeague MVP.

For those unfamiliar, EuroLeague is the equivalent of the Champions League in soccer — the very best club teams from around the continent face off against each other. On this biggest of European stages, Doncic has been a force. He is a gifted passer with great court vision. He can take his man off the dribble. He can hit threes. And he knows how to be a floor general and run a game. Did we mention he’s just 19?

Doncic said before the start of EuroLeague that he hasn’t decided what he is going to do about coming to the NBA or going back to Real Madrid. Don’t buy it. This is like asking a major college basketball star right before the NCAA Tournament if he is coming back to “State U” next year, they don’t want to say “no” right before the tourney so they give a non-committal answer. Same here. He’s not leaving millions on the table, he’ll be in the NBA next season.

And he’ll bee good.

Playoff losses wearing on LeBron James: ‘I lose sleep’

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Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost one game before reaching the NBA Finals. The season before that, two. The season before that also two. In Miami before that, the last couple of years they went to the Finals the Heat lost three and four games before reaching the Finals.

This year, the Cavaliers have lost five games already and find themselves down 0-2 to the Boston Celtics heading into Game 3 Saturday night in Cleveland.

The losses do weigh on LeBron, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I mean, I lose sleep,” James said after shootaround Saturday morning. “I mean, at the end of the day, when you lose any game in the postseason, [you lose sleep], so it’s never comfort. Playoffs is never comfort. There’s nothing about the playoffs that’s comfortable until you either win it all or you lose and go into the summer.

“So, for me, it’s always [a] day-to-day grind to figure out ways that you can be better.”

Cleveland has a lot to figure out to win the next two games because if they don’t and go down 3-1 in this series, it’s hard to envision how LeBron can drag this roster back to the Finals (what would be his eighth straight trip).

Offensively Cleveland has to get consistent play from guys other than LeBron (and to a lesser extent, Kevin Love) — J.R. Smith has been awful and needs to find a rhythm at home, George Hill needs to make some plays, Kyle Korver needs to get open and knock down some looks, and some help from the bench is needed.

But that’s not even the end of the floor that is the Cavs real problem. Defensively the Cavaliers recognition and communication has been dreadful, and the passing and player movement of the Celtics has carved them up. Cleveland has outscored teams and not defended all that well for a long time now — that’s how they made the Finals a season ago — but it’s not enough now. The offense and LeBron can’t carry them all the way.

We’ll see after Game 3 if LeBron is going to be able to get any sleep Saturday night.

Bulls’ Paul Zipser has surgery to repair broken left foot

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CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Bulls forward Paul Zipser has had surgery to repair a broken left foot.

The team said Friday the operation was performed in his native Germany. The Bulls gave no timetable for his recovery.

Zipser averaged 4.0 points in 54 appearances before sitting out the final nine games last season.