Wednesday And-1 links: Plenty of playoff injury, playing time notes

1 Comment

Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points. Consider this the playoff injury update edition (with a few other things thrown in as a bonus).

• The Nets Joe Johnson missed practice Wednesday with a case of plantar fasciitis in his left foot and is a game-time decision for Thursday night.

• Kevin Garnett tweaked his hip on Tuesday night, but is still expected to go in Game 3. Of course, anything that slows KG down is more bad news for a Celtics team that already has had plenty.

• By the way, Doc Rivers didn’t like those foul calls on Garnett in Game 2. Shocking.

• Jodie Meeks is expected to play for the Lakers in Game 2, and Jordan Hill also is available for them.

• After a pretty miserable Game 2, look for Denver’s  Kosta Koufos to come out of the starting lineup. Kenneth Faried would get those minutes, although he didn’t look that strong, either.

• While he said his foot injury “sucked,” Joakim Noah is expected to play in Game 3 about the same number of minutes as he did Game 2.

• Mike Woodson says that if Amare Stoudemire returns (and I wouldn’t bet on that) it will not impact the playing time of Kenyon Martin. And it shouldn’t, Martin has been a huge pickup for them.

• Rip Hamilton seems to be out of the Bulls plans and out of the rotation.

• Whichever coach losses in the Grizzlies vs. Clippers series — Los Angeles’ Vinny Del Negro or Memphis’ Lionel Hollins — could be looking for a job this summer.

• If you want to see what NBA players have been wearing lately, here is a good look. Can’t believe that sweater LeBron James wore the other night isn’t on this list.

• Pau Gasol commented on little brother Marc winning the Defensive Player of the Year:

“It’s a great award to receive, great recognition, great accomplishment for him and I’m just very proud of what he’s been able to do and what he’s become as a player and a person,” Pau said. “I’m a proud big brother.

“He gets it done on both ends of the floor. He’s a great anchor for their team. On the defensive end, he gets a lot of deflections, a lot of steals, gets blocks. He makes critical defensive plays and helps them be the defensive team that they are.”

• People in the Sacramento Kings marketing and business arms have been told by the league to prepare for next season in Sacramento. What does that mean? That the league is being practical because this is a close call. Read into it what you want, I could spin this argument either way on a bigger picture meaning. The NBA’s sale and relocation committees will meet soon and what they recommend could swing this vote by the owners.

• The guys in charge of the new Sacramento Kings arena — to be built if they get to keep the team — released drawings of what the arena will look like.

• JaVale McGee’s reactions in a Benihana are the best.

• Russell Westbrook is the focus of the NBA’s newest ad for the playoffs.

Fast start, LeBron James enough for Cavaliers to hold on to win, even series

Getty Images
7 Comments

For the first time in 11 days, we had an NBA playoff game that finished with a single-digit margin. Barely.

It didn’t look like it would be early — Boston missed lay-ups and dunks all through the first quarter, LeBron James was being LeBron James, and the Cavaliers had a 16 point first quarter lead. It was 15 at the half.

But these Celtics would not go quietly.

Boston started to find it’s offensive groove — hunting Kevin Love incessantly — but in the end couldn’t get enough stops because, well, LeBron James. He finished with 44 points on 17-of-28 shooting, his sixth 40-point game of these playoffs. He got wherever he wanted on the floor all night, carving up the top-ranked regular season defense of the Celtics like a surgeon. No other Cavalier had more than 14 points (Kyle Korver), but the supporting cast played enough defensive and made hustle plays to hang on.

@realtristan13 with the swat and @kingjames with the finish!

A post shared by NBA (@nba) on

Cleveland got the win, 111-102, and evened the series at 2-2. Game 5 is Wednesday night back in Boston.

What Celtics fans can feel good about is their team’s resilience and grit. Down big for the second-straight game on the road in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics fought back from as much as 19 down earlier in the game to get it to single digits and make the fans in Quicken Loan Arena nervous in the fourth quarter. That is something the team can carry over to Game 5, as they can some defensive tweaks that shut down opportunities for Korver and the rest of the supporing cast.

What should bother Celtics fans was another night where they struggled to generate offense in the face of more intense defensive pressure.

That came from the opening tip, with the Celtics missing a few layups and a couple of Jaylen Brown dunk attempts — all of which allowed the Cavs to get early offenses and mismatches going the other way. Those missed shots fueled a 10-0 Cavaliers run that had Cleveland up 19-10 early. The Celtics shot 3-of-10 at the rim in the first quarter, shot 26 percent overall, and trailed 34-18 after one.

The second quarter saw the Celtics start to find their offense — they scored 35 points on 50 percent shooting — but they only gained one point on the Cavaliers lead because Boston couldn’t get stops. LeBron had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half to pace a Cleveland team that shot 61.5 percent overall and hit 6-of-11 threes. That’s why the Cavs were up 68-53 at the half.

The Celtics energy was better than Game 2, but in the first half they looked like a young team, one that made a lot of mistakes.

In the second half, the Celtics started to figure things out — they started making the extra pass, they got stops for stretches, they looked more like a young team figuring things out. They finished the night with 25 from Jaylen Brown, 17 from Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier had 16 points and 11 assists.

They just couldn’t completely close the gap because they couldn’t get consistent stops — the Cavaliers shot 60 percent as a team for the game, and a ridiculous true shooting percentage of 59.6. Cleveland mercilessly hunted Rozier on switches — forcing him on to LeBron or Kevin Love then attacking — and the Cavs got enough from their role players. Tristan Thompson did what he needed to bringing energy in the paint and some defense, plus he had 13 points. Korver was diving on the floor for loose balls. Larry Nance Jr. had his second good game in a row. George Hill had 13 points.

And whenever the Cavaliers needed a play, they had LeBron to turn to. He set another NBA record on Monday night, most playoff field goals made for a career.

LeBron is what needs to worry Boston most of all. The Celtics will be better at home in Game 5 — they have not lost in TD Garden all postseason — but if this thing goes seven, it’s a dangerous thing when the other team has the best player on the planet.

LeBron James passes Kareem to become all-time leader in playoff made field goals

Getty Images
7 Comments

LeBron James is already the NBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer, having passed Michael Jordan last postseason.

However, LeBron racked up his buckets in the era of the three-point shot (as did Jordan, to a lesser extent), so Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the all-time leader in field goals made in the postseason. A lot of them beautiful skyhooks that still give Celtics fans nightmares.

Monday night, LeBron made history passing Abdul-Jabar for the top spot in NBA playoff made field goals.

Just add that to the already insane resume.

Kevin Love with insane touchdown outlet to LeBron James for bucket

8 Comments

Not sure what part of this was better.

Was it Kevin Love‘s length-of-the-court outlet touchdown pass that was right on the money, where only the receiver could get it?

Or was it LeBron James, with a catch in a crowd that would make Julio Jones’ draw drop?

Either way, this first quarter bucket from the Cavaliers may well be the play of the game.

Spurs disbanding all-female dance team in favor of co-ed hype team

Getty Images
6 Comments

Is this the wave of the future?

Since then newly-minted owner Jerry Buss started the Laker Girls’ in 1979, all-female dance teams have become standard around the NBA. However, with how things are now viewed through the prism of the #metoo movement, and reports on how NFL cheerleaders were treated in places such as Washington and Miami, a lot of professional sports teams are re-thinking the concept of female dance teams.

The Spurs are apparently doing away with theirs, to be replaced by a 35-person co-ed “hype team.”

The Spurs have not said officially that this is the end of the Silver Dancers. “Lack of interest” is an odd reason to give — is there suddenly less interest now than there was five years ago? A number of teams have both female dance teams and co-ed “spirit” or “hype” teams.

Far more likely, this is about perception in what is a conservative state and marketplace.

The question is will this become a trend, both around the NBA and professional sports. As the teams try to evolve and make more dynamic their in-arena experiences, are the dance teams going to fade from view?

Just something to keep and eye on going forward.