Monday And-1 Links: Ronny Turiaf returns to Minnesota rotation, not so for Shabazz Muhammad

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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.

• One of my personal favorites around the league, Ronny Turiaf was back on the court for Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night, recovered from elbow surgery. Good to see it. He played 22 minutes and pulled down 9 rebounds.

• In other Timberwolves news the team is expected to soon send first-round draft pick Shabazz Muhammad to the D-League where he can get some minutes.

• RIP to Pacers co-founder, ex-president Chuck DeVoe who passed away at age 83.

• Remember when Jan Vesely got drafted, kissed his girlfriend Eva Kodouskova, and that became a thing. Well, they have broken up. It almost makes you lose faith in love.

• Russell Westbrook talks about his latest knee surgery. He says he wasn’t feeling any pain but wanted to do what was best long-term for his knee.

• Clippers blogger (and my occasional pickup ball partner) Steve Perrin on how the Clippers have done historically without Chris Paul.

Chris Paul arrived in Los Angeles to join the Clippers in December of 2011 just after the NBA lockout ended. In two plus seasons since then, the Clippers have played 184 games — 164 with Paul, and 20 without him. As it happens, the team has won almost exactly two in three games with Paul (109-55) and exactly one in two games (10-10) without him.

• If you’re really enjoying these Toronto Raptors… well, know they may not be kept together that long.

• DeMarcus Cousins is up to 10 technical fouls this season. At 16 he gets a mandatory one-game suspension from the league.

• Kevin Durant has opened a restaurant in OKC. All the items on the menu are less than the NBA road per diem, in case traveling players are looking for a place to eat besides Chipotle.

• A  number of NBA players are copying Dirk Nowtizki’s one-legged fade away.

• The Pelicans have told D-League guard Pierre Jackson (they own his draft rights) to go ahead and look for a trade if he wants.

• Former UNLV star and NBA player Jackie Robinson is heading up a plan to build a new NBA-ready arena in Las Vegas on the strip (by the SLS Las Vegas hotel-casino). It would open at the end of 2016.by 2016. They would love to get an NBA team in the building at some point but they don’t need one to get it built, there are enough events. There are actually two NBA-caliber arenas being built on the strip right now.

• If you care, apparently Dwyane Wade fathered a child with another woman while he and finance Gabriel Union were on a “break.” Sounds like the plot of a “Friends” episode to me.

• Dwight Howard was asked about the Lakers and had this response:

• Finally, my man Coach Nick with a Kurtis Blow basketball parody video:

Celtics top Cavaliers in Game 5, setting up Game 7 in Boston?

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LeBron James and a couple Cavaliers teammates left the court well before the Celtics dribbled out their 96-83 Game 5 win Wednesday.

The Cavs are already moving on.

Game 6 will be Friday in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers – down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals – must win to avoid elimination. The way Boston has played on the road, it’s even easy to look ahead to Game 7, which is scheduled for Sunday in Boston.

Still, the Celtics bought themselves leeway with their decisive win in Boston tonight. They led by double digits the final 20 minutes, breaking the Cavs’ momentum after two straight wins in Cleveland.

“It’s tough going on the road, playing against somebody else in their house with their crowd,” said Jayson Tatum, who had 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks tonight. “So, we were just comfortable. We came back home and defended home-court like we have all playoffs.”

Boston is now 10-0 at home this postseason – but just 1-6 away. Fueled in part by that historic split, no game in this series has been close. All five have been decided by at least nine points, and the average margin of victory – 18 – is in the 97th percentile for largest ever in a 3-2 best-of-seven series.

So, just as two big Celtics wins in Games 1 and 2 didn’t deter the Cavaliers, this one likely won’t, either. The Cavs should be heavily favorited in Game 6.

Beyond, if it gets that far? That’s a much bigger tossup.

Teams up 3-2 in a best-of-seven series have won 85% of the time. But Boston is missing a key reason it secured home-court advantage, including a chance to break the 2-2 at home rather than on the road – Kyrie Irving. And LeBron James is downright scary in a Game 7, even on the road.

The Celtics at least took care of business tonight, showing a far greater sense of urgency than Cleveland. Brad Stevens changed his starting lineup, inserting Aron Baynes for Marcus Morris, and tightened his rotation to just seven players until garbage time. Boston ran the floor much harder than the Cavs, decisively outrebounded them and beat them to loose balls. Even in altercations, the Celtics had a man advantage.

LeBron (26 points, 10 rebounds five assists and six turnovers) never made his presence felt in the way usually necessary for the Cavaliers to win. Cleveland’s four other starters combined to score just 24 points, two fewer than LeBron did himself.

After Boston seized control early, the Cavaliers made few adjustments in strategy or effort – as if they’re saving those for later.

LeBron James says we don’t know full story of his upbringing, but he’ll reveal it after retirement

AP Photo/Ron Schwane
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LeBron James was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in high school – as a junior.

He has been in the spotlight ever since, somehow living up to the outsized expectations set while he was a teenager. His story has been told and retold – how he and his mom moved around Akron as she struggled to provide for him, how his athletic ability lifted himself and those around him.

But are we missing key details?

Upon passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most shots made in the playoffs, LeBron reflected on his journey.

LeBron:

To know where I come from, you guys know a little bit of the story. But you guys don’t know the full story about where I come from and the struggle that I had. You guys know about the single-parent struggle, and y’all done heard that story. But there’s a lot more to it, which I’ll talk about when I’m done playing ball.

But to know where I come from, small city 35 miles south of here, and to hear I’m in the same category or talked about and jumping these greats in the playoffs — it’s like I was a kid and I watched the playoffs so much and I was like, I would love to be a part of that, that moment, that atmosphere. I think it’s pretty cool. You hear the scoring, the field goals made, and for a kid that really doesn’t care much about scoring.

Like with LeBron’s secret motivation a couple years ago, I’m totally intrigued. When LeBron decides to share, I’ll be all ears.

Larry Nance Jr., Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier exchange shoves after whistle (video)

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Marcus Morris fouled Larry Nance Jr. in Celtics-Cavaliers Game 5 tonight. Nance didn’t like that, got up and shoved Morris. Morris and Terry Rozier didn’t like that, and both shoved Morris.

All three received a technical foul, which seems fair.

Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala questionable for Game 5

AP Photo
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Andre Iguodala missed the Warriors’ Game 4 loss to the Rockets with a leg injury.

It’s not certain he – or Klay Thompson, who played through a knee injury suffered in Game 4 – will be available for Game 5 tomorrow.

NBC Sports Bay Area:

Klay Thompson, who suffered a left knee strain during the first half of Game 4, is listed as questionable, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

Iguodala missed Game 4 with a left lateral leg contusion and is questionable for Game 5.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Iguodala:

He’s feeling a little better today, and he’s out on the floor. Not doing a whole lot, but making progress.

Kerr on Thompson:

Klay is moving around really well. I think Klay is going to be fine.

That sounds better than “questionable” for Thompson.

The Warriors need one, maybe both, of those two on the court. Golden State’s depth, especially on the wing, is looking shaky.

In Game 4, Golden State outscored Houston by 20 in the 31 minutes Stephen Curry, Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green played together. In the in the 17 minutes they played without even one of those stars, the Warriors got outscored by 23. Nick Young, who received more playing time when Thompson left the court area due to his injury, looked particularly overwhelmed.

James Harden‘s defense is a huge bellwether in this series. The Warriors spend a lot of focus trying to exploit him, and if that fails, the shot clock gets low before they move into another action. If Thompson is even just slowed, that’d make it easier for Harden to keep up.