Only one game on the docket tonight but it’s from probably the best series of the first round — can the Atlanta Hawks close out the Boston Celtics on the road? Atlanta is up 3-2, and here are three things to watch:
1) How well is Isaiah Thomas moving? Thomas tweaked his ankle during the ugliness that was Game 5 for Boston, and the Celtics need him for Game 6 if they are going to extend this series. He has always said he was going to play, the question is how well he can play — Boston needs near 100 percent Thomas.
He’s the one Celtic who can create his own shots and set up others. In Game 5 the Hawks did a good job trapping and swarming Thomas off every pick-and-roll, taking it out of his hands and daring anyone else to beat them. Nobody did. In Game 6 look for Brad Stevens to do something Terry Stotts started doing for Portland vs. a swarming L.A. Clippers defense on Damian Lillard — isolations. It’s a break from what the Celtics did during the season, but Thomas himself mentioned the idea after the last game. Why bring another defender up into the play? If Thomas’ ankle is healthy enough for him to blow by guys in isolation, the Celtics offense is more likely bounce back.
2) Can Atlanta knock down its jump shots? The Xs and Os of this series are more complex, but in a lot of ways it comes down to this: Boston is daring Atlanta players not named Kyle Korver to shoot jumpers and beat them. In their Game 5 blowout win, the Hawks shot nearly 50 percent and had 13 three pointers total from seven different players. When those shots fall, when there is offensive balance like that, they are going to win. Can they do that on the road under pressure?
3) Can these Celtics summon the Garden magic? Closeout games are hard. Closeout games on the road are harder. But there is something about the Garden — the crowds, the ghosts, whatever it is this will be a tough one for the Hawks to win. That said, they have the right tools — including the Mike Scott/Paul Millsap lineups up front that have been very successful this series. Expect Scott to be the first big off the bench, subbing out Al Horford, again in this game. But can Boston get a huge game from Marcus Smart and Evan Turner, can Amir Johnson own the paint for a night, can Jae Crowder get back to doing his thing.
Historically, a series where the home team wins the first five games (as has happened in this series) sees the road team win Game 6 57 percent of the time. Boston needs everything in its bag of tricks to force a Game 7.
NEW YORK (AP) The WNBA has suspended Los Angeles Sparks guard Riquna Williams 10 games for a domestic violence incident.
The WNBA handed down the suspension Tuesday. Williams was arrested on April 29 and charged with two felony counts, one involving the assault of an individual with whom she was in a relationship and the other involving a threat to another person with a firearm. Her criminal case is ongoing.
The league conducted its own investigation and consulted with a panel of experts in the field of domestic violence. Among other factors, the WNBA said it took into account the nature and seriousness of the allegations, including the involvement of a gun.
The WNBA also will require Williams to participate in counseling.
Williams’ suspension will begin with Thursday’s game against the Dallas Wings.
Just three 7-footers have averaged 3.5 3-pointers per game and made 35% of them each of the last two seasons:
The Bulls will now have most of them.
Markkanen is Chicago’s top young player. Kornet will join him with the Bulls next season.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
I’m a little surprised Kornet got more than his minimum ($3,383,360 over two years). But it’s worth taking a flier on him.
In addition to his outside shooting, Kornet has shown good timing as a shot-blocker in two seasons with the Knicks. The 24-year-old must get stronger and improve as a rebounder to play major minutes.
But the Bulls won’t have to press him into action. They also have Thaddeus Young, Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Daniel Gafford and Cristiano Felicio as bigs.
The Bucks waived Christian Wood late last season to ensure avoiding the luxury tax. The Pelicans claimed him. Wood had played well in limited minutes with the 76ers, Hornets and Bucks and in the NBA’s minor league since going undrafted in 2015.
New Orleans gave him his biggest opportunity yet. In 24 minutes per game over eight games, he averaged 17 points and eight rebounds.
But the Pelicans filled their roster for next season and waived Wood.
Detroit will take advantage.
The Detroit Pistons announced today that the team has claimed forward/center Christian Wood off waivers.
Wood’s $1,645,357 minimum salary is unguaranteed until the regular season. So, Detroit could still waive him before the season. But it seems he’ll at least go to training camp and get a shot at a regular-season roster spot.
The Pelicans also could’ve kept him through the preseason then waived him before the regular season. They seemingly did him a favor of allowing him to get somewhere he has a realistic chance of sticking.
Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond will start in the frontcourt for the Pistons. Markieff Morris and Thon Maker appear to be first in line is backups.
But don’t be surprised if Wood earns playing time. At minimum, the 23-year-old should provide nice depth at both power forward and center.
The Pistons have also now acquired four members of last year’s Bucks – Tony Snell, Thon Maker, Tim Frazier and now Wood.
Reggie Bullock had his agreed-upon salary cut by more than half with the Knicks. He’ll reportedly miss at least a month of the regular season.
All because of a mysterious health issue.
The Knicks have finally disclosed what’s happening.
Reggie Bullock underwent successful surgery today at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York for a cervical disc herniation. The team will plan to provide an update on his rehab and progress around the start of training camp.
Bullock is a good shooter from the wing. New York could use him. Many teams could use him.
But Bullock must get healthy first.
At this point, we probably shouldn’t expect much from him any time soon. The best indication: how eagerly his agent praised the Knicks for their handling of this situation. Again, Bullock settled for less than half his initially agreed-upon salary.