Ray Allen chooses Miami Heat over Boston Celtics

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If you can’t trust the team owner to break news, who can you trust?

Miami Heat owner Micky Arison tweeted this Friday night:

Its 2:30am in London and I was just woken up with great news. Welcome to the family #20!!

Ray Allen has chosen the Miami Heat over the Boston Celtics for next season. He sacrificed a larger paycheck and familiarity to go after a ring in South Beach.

Allen has called the Celtics to inform them of his decision, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (and the NBC Sports Network). Allen’s agent has confirmed the decision to the Associated Press. It’s as official as it can be until Allen signs a contract on July 11.

This is a huge free agent get for the Heat — they have spent two seasons trying to find a consistent three-point threat to go around LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Shane Battier struggled last season (but was better in the playoffs). Mike Miller has been banged up for two seasons, but you saw what happened in Game 5 of the NBA finals when the Heat had him knocking down open looks — they were an unstoppable offensive force. The penetration and threat of LeBron and Wade give guys at the arc time to set their feet — plus pretty much pitch a tent, light a bonfire and make some smores — before they have to shoot.

Allen, the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers made and shot 45 percent from beyond the arc last season, should thrive in that setting. Which was why he was the Heat’s top free agent priority. LeBron and Wade were tweeting him, and Pat Riley was working his magic. Riley’s sales job was impressive and really helped sway Allen, Wojnarowski reports. He sold him the same way he sold Wade and Bosh (and the way the Celtics sold free agents to come during the big three era) — shared sacrifice to chase a bigger goal.

Miami could only offer half has much money as Boston — $3 million to take his talents to South Beach vs. $6 million to stay in green — but this wasn’t really about money. Allen has made a lot of money, $178 million over the course of his career. It was about the chance to win a ring. It was also about how he fit in — Boston wants to expand Avery Bradley’s role and just agreed to terms with Jason Terry as a free agent (who is an upgrade over Allen at this point in their respective careers). Allen’s role there was shifting.

You can bet this adds some fire to the rivalry on the court and in the stands between the Heat and Celtics. Allen has left his home for the last five seasons and where he won a ring in 2008 for a hated rival. Some Boston fans will turn on Allen now. Be ready for plenty of “Judas Shuttlesworth” jokes. But he was a free agent who played out his contract and had the right to make his call. How much of a role his reportedly strained relationship with Rajon Rondo, or how much he was frustrated about the Celtics shopping him around at the trade deadline, played into his thinking are good questions we may never know the answer to. But there seemed to be something after all the trade rumors around Allen — he asked for three years, $27 million to stay in Boston, reports the Herald. Boston would go no higher than two years, $12 million.

With the Heat he plays a key role with a great shot at another ring, and that seemed to matter.

Bucks fans greet team, Giannis Antetokounmpo at Milwaukee airport (VIDEO)

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The Milwaukee Bucks season is over. Giannis Antetokounmpo and his supporting cast couldn’t get things done in Game 6 on Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors in Canada. Now it’s Kawhi Leonard who is heading to the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

This season was a magical one for Milwaukee, one in which they took the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference and likely have the league’s MVP in Antetokounmpo.

As you might expect, Bucks fans are happy about that fact, and showed up to the Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport to greet their returning team.

Via Twitter:

It has to be nice for athletes to get this kind of treatment. Although some may want to just go home and languish in their defeat, the unwavering support of fanatics has to take the bite out of the sting, even if just a little bit.

Nets hire Hawks’ Peterson as assistant general manager

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets have hired Jeff Peterson as their assistant general manager.

Peterson replaces Trajan Langdon, who was hired as the New Orleans Pelicans’ GM.

Peterson spent seven seasons in the front office of the Atlanta Hawks, the last three as assistant general manager. He worked there with Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson, who was an assistant to coach Mike Budenholzer.

Nets general manager Sean Marks says Saturday that Peterson is an “innovative basketball executive” whose “extensive scouting and front office experience” will be assets to a Nets team that lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Warriors open as big betting favorites to win NBA title over Raptors

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Kevin Durant is going to be out to start the series, with no exact timetable on his return.

The Toronto Raptors were very impressive — with Kawhi Leonard leading the way and a fantastic halfcourt defense — in eliminating the Milwaukee Bucks.

None of that changes the overall picture — the Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the NBA Finals.

The Warriors are -320 to win the NBA title, the Raptors +260 at the Ceasars Palace sportsbook. What that means for non-gamblers is you have to bet $320 to win $100 on the Warriors, while a $100 bet on the Raptors wins $260.

The Warriors are also 1.5 point favorites to win Game 1 on the road without Durant and coming off a nine-day layoff where rust is to be expected.

Toronto won both regular season meetings between these teams, but both games also were before Christmas.

These lines are the respect the Warriors have earned with two straight titles, three in four years, and a sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers. The Warriors are a dynasty led by Stephen Curry, the Raptors in their first finals, these betting lines were to be expected, and they will follow general public sentiment.

Charles Barkley, on the other hand, picks the Raptors in an upset. Do with that information what you will.

Giannis Antetokounmpo walks out of postgame press conference

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Giannis Antetokounmpo wants to win, wants to make the NBA Finals. Badly. As in he could walk if the Bucks don’t do that in the next couple of years.

Antetokounmpo already showed he was willing to walk — he did so right out of his postgame press conference Saturday night after the Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs by the Raptors.

Khris Middleton‘s “you just leaving me here” face is the best part of this video.

Chalk that up to frustration, on a couple of levels. The question is legitimate — how much this experience helps the Bucks grow and fuels their offseason will say a lot about where they are as a team in a year — but it’s also understandable that in the moment the Greek Freak doesn’t want to talk about it. Or, really, in that spot have the perspective to do the question justice. Middleton went on to say, “hopefully, we learn from this.”

The other part of this is that the reporter, Malika Andrews, wrote a story at ESPN about how Antetokounmpo making the Finals would play a big role in if he stays or not in Milwaukee past this contract. That is not the narrative Antetokounmpo wants out there about him, and sometimes this is how players deal with reporters who write things they don’t like.

Antetokounmpo is one of the league’s good guys, don’t expect this to become a trend.