Three things to watch tonight in NBA Playoffs: Will Curry play for Warriors? Does it matter?


From now through the end of the playoffs, each day the team at PBT will give you a little preview of what will be coming that night and what to look for on the court. For Monday, the things to look for starts with the very basic question of whether Curry is even on the court.

1) Will Stephen Curry play for Warriors? Will it even matter? Stephen Curry has said he wants to play in Game 2 Monday. However, he did not go through practice with Golden State Sunday and is officially listed as “questionable” with a sprained ankle suffered in the Warriors blowout Game 1 win against Houston. Considering Curry’s ankle injury history (he’s had two surgeries on that same ankle) and his importance to their playoff run, Steve Kerr may be leaning toward having Curry sit out Game 2.

The real question is, can Houston do anything about it if he does sit? Technically Houston outscored Golden State by six points when Curry was on the bench through the first three quarters of Game 1 (which eliminates the garbage time of the fourth when Curry sat), but this will be different. The bickering Rockets tried to get James Harden going (17 points on 19 shots), but the Warriors did a great job of not fouling (zero free throw attempts for Harden), and the Rockets lack the shooters to prevent help from getting in the way of Harden. J.B. Bickerstaff has work to do looking for ways to get Harden playing downhill and back to being Harden.

This is simple for the Rockets: If Curry sits this is the road game Houston needs to steal to have any shot in this series. If the Rockets’ can’t, go ahead and start booking tee times.

2) Will DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry show up for the playoffs in Game 2? Toronto was the No. 2 seed in the East on the strength of their backcourt — the second best in the NBA — but the Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan who terrorized the league for much of the season didn’t show up for Game 1. They combined to shoot 8-of-32 from the floor overall, 1-of-10 from three, and they had nine turnovers. Credit the Pacers physical defense with some of that — they contested 20 of those shots and Lowry/DeRozan hit just four of them — but Toronto’s All-Stars are better than this.

Lowry and DeRozan — and coach Dwane Casey — said all the right things Sunday about them not being rattled by the pressure of history (the Raptors haven’t advanced out of the first round since the Vince Carter era), now they need to back that up. In part, that means coming up with play designs to create space for the guards, but then the duo just needs to hit shots. The Raptors didn’t play to their strengths or identity, that needs to change..

By the way, the Raptors don’t just need to adjust on the offensive end. DeRozan was assigned Paul George defensively much of Game 1 and was torched — George had 27 of his 33 points in the second half and keyed the Pacers’ win. Specifically, expect a change in who is on Goerge (Norman Powell?) from the Raptors, as well as how they deal with George on the pick-and-roll. Expect hedging and traps.

3) What can Rick Carlisle do to get Dallas buckets? Other than get back to playing Justin Anderson more. Dallas has far less talent than Oklahoma City. That’s not up for debate. The Mavericks’ only hope to make their first round series interesting was for brilliant coach Rick Carlisle to come up with some masterful stroke that neutralized Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and the talent gulf. We’ve come to expect him to do just that. Except it didn’t happen in Game 1. Not even close, OKC won in a blowout.

For all the talk of the OKC offense it was the team’s defense that owned Dallas and decided that game. It was the best Thunder defensive performance in some time, they were active and aggressive. Carlisle has to find a way to get players not born in Germany some buckets to open up the floor — one way would be to play Justin Anderson more. The rookie started the six-game winning streak Dallas had to make the playoffs, and then Carlisle went away from him to get more minutes to trusted veterans. Stop it, go with what worked. To add to Carlisle’s challenges, for Game 2 J.J. Barea is out injured and Deron Williams is questionable. So that talent gulf just got bigger. What I’m saying is I do not envy Carlisle today.

Celtics lock-up Al Horford with two-year, $20 million extension

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Brad Stevens has locked up the core of this Celtics team — the one that reached the Finals last season and has the best record in the NBA to start this one — through the summer of 2025.

They did that with a two-year, $20 million extension (that kicks in next season). The story was broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and later confirmed by the Celtics.

Horford, 36, is making $26.5 million this season, the final year of a four-year, $109 million deal he signed in Philadelphia. While he never fit well as a stretch four next to Joel Embiid, he has worked well as a role player in Boston’s front line. The Celtics have locked him up at a deal closer to the league average and about his value now, at an average of $10 million a season (both years are fully guaranteed). It’s a fair deal for both sides, and a low enough number that if Father Time starts to win the race it doesn’t hurt Boston much.

With Robert Williams still out following knee surgery, Horford has seen his minutes increase to start this season but he has handled it well, averaging  10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds a game, shooting 55.5% overall and 48.8% from 3-point range. Joe Mazzulla will likely try to get Horford some rest down the line when he can, but for now he’s leaning on the veteran.

And the team has rewarded him.

Donovan says Lonzo Ball’s recovery has ‘been really slow’

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Watching the finger-pointing and heated moments between Bulls’ defenders on Wednesday night as Devin Booker carved them up to the tune of 51 points, one thought was how much they miss Lonzo Ball‘s defense at the point of attack.

Ball had a second surgery on his knee back in September and the team said he would be out at “least a few months.” It’s coming up on a few months, so Donovan gave an update on Ball and his recovery, and the news was not good for Bulls’ fans. Via Rob Schaefer at NBC Sports Chicago:

“It’s been really slow,” Donovan said when asked about Ball’s rehab. “I’m just being honest.”

Donovan added Ball has not necessarily suffered a setback. The Bulls knew this would be an arduous process. But he also noted that Ball is “not even close” to being cleared for contact or on-court work.

Ball had his first knee surgery in January and the expectation was he would be back and 100% by the playoffs. However, Ball’s knee didn’t respond well, and he was eventually ruled out for the season. Things didn’t improve over the summer, which led to the second surgery. How much do they miss him? The Bulls were 22-13 with him last season, and he averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists, a game. However, it was his defense that was most crucial.

There is no timeline for his return. Which is not good news for Chicago.

PBT Podcast: Timberwolves without KAT, get Luka some help


Minnesota has stumbled out of the gate this season, and now they will be without Karl-Anthony Towns for around a month with a calf strain. Just how much trouble are the Timberwolves in?

Corey Robinson from NBC Sports and myself discuss that and then get into Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Team USA vs. Team World matchup — does Evan Fournier get the world team in trouble? Who guards whom?

From there, it’s time for Corey’s Jukebox and some New Orleans jazz for Zion Williamson. Some Mavericks’ talk follows that — Dallas has put a big load on the shoulders of Luka Doncic, and while he’s playing like an MVP it’s a long-term concern for the Mavericks and their fans.

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

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LeBron calls out reporters for asking him about Kyrie Irving but not Jerry Jones


Within days of Kyrie Irving being suspended by the Nets in the wake of a Tweet promoting an antisemitic film (and his initial refusal to apologize for it), Irving’s former teammate LeBron James was asked about it. He had to deal with the controversy, saying, “I don’t condone any hate to any kind. To any race.”

At the end of his press conference Wednesday night after the Lakers beat the Trail Blazers, LeBron scolded the assembled press for not asking him about the 1957 photo that surfaced of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones outside North Little Rock High School while white students protested the integration of the school when they had been quick to ask about Irving.

“When I watched Kyrie talk, and he says, `I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we’re talking about my people and the things they’ve been through,’ and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America. And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, someone with power and with a platform, when we do something wrong or something that people don’t agree with, it’s on every single tabloid, every single news coverage. It’s on the bottom ticker. It’s asked about every single day.

“But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, the photo, and I know it was years and years ago, and we all make mistakes, I get it. It seems like it’s just been buried under, like, `Oh, it happened. OK. We just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question from you guys.”

Irving and LeBron were teammates in Cleveland and won a ring together, there was a direct connection (plus Irving had been linked to the Lakers in trade rumors over the summer).

However, there was a connection between LeBron and the Cowboys as well. LeBron was for many years a very public Cowboys fan (despite growing up in Browns territory). It came up as recently as October, when LeBron was on Instagram Live promoting his HBO show with Maverick Carter “The Shop” and he said he had stopped rooting for the Cowboys in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests, “There’s just a lot of things that were going on when guys were kneeling. Guys were having freedom of speech and wanting to do it in a very peaceful manner…. The organization was like, ‘If you do that around here, then you will never play for this franchise again.’ I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”

When asked about the photo, Jones said he was a curious 14-year-old who was watching and didn’t understand the magnitude of the moment or situation.