On the record, everyone tries to keep a brave face. Basically every last person involved in the new Collective Bargaining Association talks say that a lockout can be avoided. They then say that will happen when the other side caves to their demands. But on the record they hold out hope.
Off the record, nobody is optimistic about avoiding a lockout. In fact, plenty will say its inevitable. There are some hardline owners who want a radical change in the economics, the players say that it is more about the owners sharing revenue and not the contract system, and they will not be easily moved.
So it was a refreshing bit of honesty to read what Carmelo Anthony told Sports Illustrated and its senior NBA writer Ian Thompson:
“I’ve been sitting in meetings with the owners and seeing what is their problem with everything,” he said. “I’ve been in several of the meetings to know what the problem is and what’s going on. It’s going to take some time to get the owners and the players on the same page.”
Is there going to be a lockout?
“Oh, without a doubt,” he said. “Without a doubt.”
So that’s another reason to sign the extension now, I said.
Come July 1 you can bet there is a lockout. That’s not the real drop-dead date though. For most fans, if there is a lockout in July that gets solved in August so that training camps open on time and no games are missed, all will be forgotten and forgiven. If games are missed — especially in this economy — fans will not be forgiving and the impact on ticket sales and the NBA’s popularity will linger for years. Both sides know this, but both are digging in their heals. It could get ugly.
But a lockout is coming. Without a doubt.
If you want to make the case that the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the driver’s seat of the Eastern Conference Finals after sweeping two games at home, you’re in a good space. It’s a best-of-three and Cleveland has the best player on the planet on their side.
However, I still like the Celtics to hold on and win in seven.
I get into it in this PBT Extra, but the Celtics looked like a team that figured things out in the final three quarters of Game 4 (they just couldn’t make up for a disastrous first quarter), and they still have two games at home.
Either way, this feels like a series going the distance.
The Warriors beat the Rockets by 41 (!) in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Sunday.
Biggest playoff win in Golden State franchise history.
Biggest playoff loss in Houston franchise history.
Biggest playoff loss ever handed to any team as good as the 65-17 Rockets.
“At the end of the day, it’s one win,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “It doesn’t matter if you win by 40 or if you win by one.”
Maybe it matters more than Green is letting on.
Golden State was the 17th team to -win a playoff game by more than 40 points. Of the previous 16, 15 – including the last 14 – won the series:
The only exception came in my favorite playoff series of all-time, the best-of-three 1956 Western Division semifinals:
- Game 1: St. Louis Hawks 116, Minneapolis Lakers 115
- Game 2: Minneapolis Lakers 133, St. Louis Hawks 75
- Game 3: St. Louis Hawks 116, Minneapolis Lakers 115
So, teams to win a playoff game by more than 40 are 15-0 in best-of-seven or best-of-five series. Will the Rockets buck the trend?
They can make adjustments. Maybe Houston’s strong regular season – better than any above blown-out team’s – indicates a rare capability to recover from this. Andre Iguodala‘s injury hurts Golden State. Teams sometimes make historic comebacks from blowouts, including against the Warriors.
But that Golden State ran toppled the Rockets so decisively in Game 3 suggests the Warriors are hitting a gear Houston won’t keep up with.
The 76ers’ Ben Simmons, Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma were locks for the All-Rookie first team.
The final seemingly up-for-grabs spot? It went to the Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen, and it wasn’t close.
Here’s the full voting for All-Rookie teams (first-team votes, second-team votes, total voting points):
- Donovan Mitchell, UTA (100-0-200)
- Ben Simmons, PHI (100-0-200)
- Jayson Tatum, BOS (99-1-199)
- Kyle Kuzma, LAL (93-7-193)
- Lauri Markkanen, CHI (76-21-173)
Others receiving votes:
- Bam Adebayo, MIA (0-44-44)
- De'Aaron Fox, SAC (0-34-34)
- O.G. Anunoby, TOR (2-21-25)
- Jarrett Allen, BRK (0-18-18)
- Dillon Brooks, MEM (1-12-14)
- Jordan Bell, GSW (0-5-5)
- Royce O'Neale, UTA (0-4-4)
- Milos Teodosic, LAC (1-1-3)
- Zach Collins, POR (0-3-3)
- Luke Kennard, DET (0-1-1)
- Frank Mason III, SAC (0-1-1)
- Malik Monk, CHA (0-1-1)
- Frank Ntilikina, NYK (0-1-1)
- Semi Ojeleye, BOS (0-1-1)
- Sindarius Thornwell, LAC (0-1-1)
The first team matches our choices.
Dennis Smith Jr. and Josh Jackson are the only selections I’d quibble with. Those two were just so destructive with shooting efficiency and defense. To be fair, they were pressed into larger roles than they were ready for on bad teams. But if the goal is picking the rookies who had the best seasons (what I aim to do), Smith and Jackson didn’t cut it.
However, some voters give more credence to long-term potential, and Smith and Jackson both have plenty of that. Other voters are drawn by bigger per-game numbers, which Smith and Jackson produced in their larger roles. So, it’s minimally surprising they made it.
That one first-team vote for Jackson, though? That’s odd – and it was enough to get him on the second team by one voting point over Heat center Bam Adebayo.
Georgia Tech sophomore shooting guard Josh Okogie nailed the combine. He aced his athletic testing, posting some of the best quickness numbers in the event’s history, and impressed even more with his 5-on-5 play.
Now, it’s time to capitalize.
Okogie appears to be a borderline first-round pick. NBA teams covet versatile wings like him.
Just 19 until September, Okogie is younger than freshmen like DeAndre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba and Michael Porter Jr. So, Okogie looks better on the aging curve than the typical sophomore.
At 6-foot-5 with a 7-foot wingspan, he can defend three – maybe four – positions. He freelances a little too much defensively, but at least he’s active.
Okogie was probably miscast as a go-to offensive player at Georgia Tech. NBA teams won’t similarly lean on his deficient areas – court vision, ball-handling and finishing. He’ll probably be more efficient just spotting up and cutting.
The biggest variable in Okogie’s game is 3-point shooting. Will he reliably make NBA 3s? His form offers reason to believe, but not reason to be convinced.