Spurs certainly are rested, but are they rusted?

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Back in 2001, the Lakers finished off a sweep of the Spurs 111-82 on May 27. Then they had to sit around with nine days off until Game 1 of the Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers. Those Lakers lost just one playoff game that season (15-1) — that first game after the long layoff. It was a combination of a rusty Shaq, Kobe (7-fof- 22) and the rest of the Lakers, and a 48-point outburst from Allen Iverson.

The San Antonio Spurs finished off the Memphis Grizzlies in a sweep on May 27, and just like those Lakers they off until June 6, waiting for a winner out of the East (it eventually was the Heat). The exact same break those Lakers had.

Will they come out rested or rusted?

Some rest is certainly good for a banged up Spurs team. For example, Manu Ginobili told the San Antonio Express News this is the best he has felt since training camp.

“Now, to tell you the truth, I even forgot about what happened during the season,” he said. “I am feeling good now, we are in the Finals, who cares (about previous injuries)? No one’s going to remember I missed 20 games during the regular season.”

The Spurs had at least a week off in 1999, 2005 and 2007 — all years they won they opening game of the Finals and went on to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. It doesn’t bother them much.

Still, there could be rust. The Spurs are going to go from inactivity to facing one of the most aggressive and athletic defenses in the league in the Heat — they trap, they jump passing lanes and they use their athleticism to force turnovers.

The Spurs, with their ball movement and movement off the ball, might have the perfect antidote for that style, but after nine days off to jump right back in against this Heat defense will be an adjustment. You can’t simulate what the Heat do in practice.

Even if it takes just a half to get their flow back, which may put San Antonio in a hole they can’t dig out of in Game 1. Just something to watch.

Report: Add Kings to the list of teams interested in trading for Jeremy Lin

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The Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, and New Orleans Pelicans have all expressed interest in trading for Atlanta Hawks veteran point guard Jeremy Lin.

Now, we can add the Sacramento Kings to the list of teams exploring a trade for the 30-year-old.

After starting the season with an unexpected record, the Kings are suddenly in the chase for the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Sacramento beat Portland, 115-107, on Monday, and now it appears they’re sniffing around Lin.

Via Twitter:

The Kings have the expiring contracts of Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos to help offer in return for Lin’s services. The Hawks point guard could fit in perfectly with Sacramento’s fastbreak attack, especially considering how much Lin has thrived in transition in seasons past.

Hawks are reportedly asking for a hefty sum in exchange for Lin’s services. A first-round draft pick is what Atlanta is currently looking for, which is a little much for a player who is an expiring deal himself.

The NBA trade market is heating up, and Lin could be a solid get for a team looking to bolster their guard rotation. The real question is whether anyone can get the Hawks to back down on their demands.

Kevin Durant says Luka Doncic ‘didn’t have to go to class, study hall’

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Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic Has been a professional basketballer since he was 16 years old, first appearing with the top-tier Real Madrid squad in the ACB in 2015. Doncic has been a resident of Spain since he was 13, and as such he has needed to complete specific schooling as required by Spanish law.

Nobody told Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant that.

In a recent comment about Doncic to media, Durant said that he felt as though part of the reason the Mavericks rookie has a leg up is because he has been able to focus on basketball for much longer than some of his American compatriots.

Via ESPN:

“He played in Europe last season. The rest of the rookie class played in college. So he’s in the second best league in the world learning how to play the game. He didn’t have to go to class, study hall, none of that extra stuff the rest of the guys had to go through, he was just focusing on his game probably since he was 14 years old. So that’s an advantage for him and you could tell that he’s not shy, he’s not afraid of the moment. And he’s going to be a force.”

Durant’s information about Doncic doesn’t appear to be based in fact. Doncic completed his Spanish schooling according to Eurohoops.net, which would mean he’s had to participate in academics up until last year. While Doncic has been a professional — and has been getting paid above board longer than other rookies — it’s not as though he hasn’t had to complete schooling.

This also raises some comparative questions about what Durant thinks goes on for kids in high-level AAU programs, top high school academies in the U.S., or even for players like Durant himself, who played just one year in college. That’s before we even get into semantics about the rigor of academics for sports phenomenons, home and abroad.

The mystery of European prospects has started to fade, but international players still have some kind of shroud hanging around them for people in the U.S., and that includes NBA players. It’s best to get out of this type of thing early and dispel it with the facts we know and have available to us. Durant was being complimentary, of course, but the Warriors forward saying Doncic has been focusing on nothing but basketball since he left middle school is a bridge too far.

In any case, there’s no doubt Doncic is going to be a force. We all picked him for Rookie of the Year, and unless someone stops him that’s exactly what he’s going to be.

Report: Lakers to change up lineups in lieu of LeBron, wins

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The Los Angeles Lakers are not a good basketball team without LeBron James. This is fairly obvious, and we knew the ultimate test heading into this season would be if James suffered an injury that kept him out for a significant period of time.

Of course we have been able to test this theory firsthand this season as LeBron has not played since a 127-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. The Lakers have lost seven of their last 10 games, and so head coach Luke Walton has decided to switch up his starting lineup.

Both Josh Hart and JaVale McGee will find themselves in the reserve rotation moving forward for Los Angeles.

Via Twitter:

McGee started the season strong but has seen a downward trend in subsequent months. McGee’s rebounding numbers and have been disappointing as of late, but most shocking has been his field goal percentage. He’s been hovering in the low-60s all season long but in the month of January McGee has dipped to just 47.4 percent.

Hart has been relatively steady, although January has been hard on him from beyond the 3-point line. Typically a reliable outside shooter, Hart has shot just 17.5 percent from downtown since the start of the new year.

No doubt Walton is hoping that a change in the lineup will help alter some of the scouting opponents have against the Lakers, as well as revitalize both McGee and Hart individually.

Terry Rozier on Celtics’ challenge: “Too talented, yeah. Too talented.”

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Too many mouths to feed.

Among the many “what is wrong with the Celtics?” theories the idea that there are too many players who want touches and shots had a lot of traction around the league. Last playoffs, then rookie Jayson Tatum, second-year player Jaylen Brown, and “scary” Terry Rozier had increased roles — and thrived. They were the alphas (along with Al Horford), the guys with the ball in their hands leading a team to the conference finals, and they liked it — these are young players trying to carve out a role (or, in Rozier’s case, prove to other team’s he’s a starting point guard) and they didn’t want to take a step back. But that’s what had to happen with the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to the rotation. The result was a lack of a pecking order on offense, uncomfortable sacrifices, and precious little of the fluid play that got them within a game of the Finals a year ago.

Rozier seems to agree with that theory, speaking to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports in a story about Kyrie Irving’s adjustment to being a leader.

“I don’t think we’ve all been on a team like this,” Rozier told Yahoo. “Young guys who can play, guys who did things in their career, the group that was together last year, then you bring Kyrie and Hayward back, it’s a lot with it.”

When asked if the roster was too talented, Rozier didn’t back down.

“Too talented, yeah. Too talented.”

If everyone buys in, if everyone sacrifices (including Irving), if guys are willing to accept a role, all that talent can make the Celtics versatile and the team everyone expected. The team to beat in the East.

To get there will require Irving to be a leader — in words and actions. That’s more than just calling out the young core, it’s getting them involved and feeling like contributors so they are willing to make sacrifices. It’s doing the little things yourself. Can Irving do all that and turn Boston into the conference favorite we expected.

Or were Nets fans right, he is going to get frustrated and leave this summer?

The second half of this season in Boston is going to be fascinating.