Wizards reportedly to sign Drew Gooden

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Since acquiring Nene two years ago, the Washington Wizards have gone 60-61 when he plays and 8-34 when he doesn’t. In their scheme, he’s a steadying force on both ends of the floor, practically essential to their success.

Needless to say, with Nene out four to six weeks, the Wizards will almost assuredly use their open roster spot on a big man. They can’t just skate by on what they have.

Most likely, it seems that big man will be Drew Gooden. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

NBA free-agent forward-center Drew Gooden is expected to sign a 10-day contract with the Washington Wizards following the loss of Nene, sources told Yahoo Sports.

J. Michael of CSN Washington confirmed Gooden is the most likely free agent the Wizards will sign, but Michael also says Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin will be more instrumental in replacing Nene. Booker started when Nene missed games earlier this season, but Seraphin played every meaningful minute after Nene got hurt in the third quarter of Washington’s win over the Cavaliers on Sunday, and Booker played none of them.

Michael:

Seraphin can produce the offense lost without Nene, who averaged 14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, but where the Wizards tend to suffer without him is their basketball IQ as they like to play through the Brazilian in the low post.

Booker can provide better defense and make the hustle plays, such as drawing charges, but he is undersized. Wittman likely will have to mix and match his lineups and hopefully find the personnel that works best.

With Washington’s other starters – John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gorat – the lineup has meshed with Nene, underwhelmed with Booker and excelled with Seraphin (albeit in extremely limited minutes).

Nene (37 games 482 minutes):

  • Offensive rating: 106.4
  • Defensive rating: 95.7
  • Net rating: +10.7

Booker (25 games, 242 minutes):

  • Offensive rating: 101.9
  • Defensive rating: 105.4
  • Net rating: -3.5

Seraphin (5 games, 18 minutes):

    • Offensive rating: 117.0
    • Defensive rating: 52.5
    • Net rating: +64.5

There’s no clear-cut best option for Washington. Gooden provides another chance for someone to click, but he was terrible with the Bucks last season. At 32, he can no longer be counted on.

The Wizards are 28-28, and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs was definitely within their grasp before Nene’s latest injury. Overtaking the 29-26 Bulls – and holding off all challengers – will be an uphill battle now.

Figuring out when to play Booker and when to play Seraphin will be key for the Wizards down the stretch. If Gooden provides anything, that’s just a bonus.

Really, Washington is treading water until Nene returns – hopefully in time for the playoffs.

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.