Lakers’ Luol Deng posts letter: “I am a proud refugee”

12 Comments

Luol Deng was born in Wow, a city in what is now South Sudan. It was then, as it is now, a war-ravaged nation with a majority Muslim population. Deng left there at the age of five and now has dual citizenship with England and the Sudan, plus he has lived and worked in the United States for many years.

Sudan is one of the countries listed in Donald Trump’s executive order that suspended entry to the United States for 90 days for people from certain nations with mostly Muslim populations. The NBA had concerns and reached out to the State Department about what might happen to him or the Bucks Thon Maker (also of the Sudan) should they leave the country then try to re-enter.

Monday, Deng posted this letter on Twitter.

Deng has support, the NBA family — a global family — has universally condemned Trump’s travel ban: Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy, Raptors president Masai Ujiri, Kyle Lowry, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jeremy Lin, Enes Kanter, Kenneth Faried, Stanley Johnson, and former players such as Steve Nash have all come out against the ban.

Celtics try to play down postgame yelling, things thrown in locker room

Leave a comment

“You’re not supposed to be happy when you’re down 0-2. Nothing out of the ordinary, just talking about the game.”

Jayson Tatum is right in his postgame comments, to a point. The Boston Celtics should be frustrated after blowing a 17-point lead and losing to the Miami Heat Thursday night, putting the Celtics in an 0-2 hole.

However, that part about “nothing out of the ordinary” and “just talking” in the locker room postgame? That’s not what went down, according to multiple reporters on the scene in the bubble.

After the game, the Celtics tried to play it all down. That started with coach Brad Stevens.

“Guys were emotional after a hard game, hard loss.”

Kemba Walker wouldn’t even discuss it.

“It was nothing. It was nothing. I’m not speaking about it.”

Enes Kanter took to Twitter to echo the comments of several Celtics, that they are still a family.

Boston may have just been venting postgame, but if they don’t bring the fire from the locker room out onto the court Saturday for Game 3, or this may be a very short series.

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Dates, times, matchups for all games

Leave a comment

And there were four.

The NBA is down to the conference finals — and the bubble has provided us with upsets galore. There are some unexpected teams in the NBA’s Final Four, but of course LeBron James is still there. The Lakers are the heavy favorites now.

Here are a few notes on the NBA playoffs schedule 2020:

• The NBA is continuing to push the pace with games every other day — except in the East, when ESPN wants a break not to clash with the NFL. The fast pace of games will return with the NBA Finals.
Families for the players, and with the final four now the coaches, are in the bubble.
• The NBA has released an NBA Finals schedule to teams and their target is still a Sept. 30 Game 1. If either conference finals goes seven games that date will need to be pushed back.

Here is the NBA playoffs schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern):

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 3 Boston Celtics vs. No. 5 Miami Heat

Game 1: Heat 117, Celtics 114, OT
Game 2: Heat 106, Celtics 101 (Miami leads series 2-0)
Game 3: Sept. 19, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4: Sept. 23, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 5: Sept. 25, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game 6: Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game 7: TBD (ESPN)*
*If necessary

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 3 Denver Nuggets

Game 1: Sept. 18, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 2: Sept. 20, 7:30 p.m. (TNT)
Game 3: Sept. 22, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 4: Sept. 24, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 5: Sept. 26, 9 p.m. (TNT)*
Game 6: Sept. 28, TBD (TNT)*
Game 7: Sept. 30, TBD (TNT)*
*If necessary

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Second Round results

Eastern Conference

No. 3 Boston beat No. 2 Toronto 4-3

No. 5 Miami beat No. 1 Milwaukee 4-1

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston 4-1

No. 3 Denver beat No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: First Round results

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat No. 8 Portland 4-1

No. 2 L.A. Clippers beat No. 7 Dallas 4-2

No. 3 Denver beat No. 6 Utah 4-3

No. 4 Houston beat No. 5 Oklahoma City 4-3

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee beat No. 8 Orlando 4-1

No. 2 Toronto beat No. 7 Brooklyn 4-0

No. 3 Boston beat No. 6 Philadelphia 4-0

No. 5 Miami beat No. 4 Indiana 4-0

Boston zoned out in second half, Miami comes back to take 2-0 series lead

Leave a comment

Miami loves bubble playoff games — the Heat are 10-1 in the NBA’s self-created, concentrated basketball environment (and the one loss was by three in overtime to Milwaukee).

Miami also loves its zone defense, something it broke out regularly during the regular season but sat on and didn’t show in the first two rounds of the playoffs (literally zero zone defensive possessions against the Pacers and Bucks, according to Synergy Sports). In Game 2, they went to it for 36 possessions, most in the second half.

Boston was thrown off by the zone, scoring 17 points in the third quarter, shooting 4-of-14 from three in the second half, and watching Jimmy Butler make plays like this.

And this, reading a Brad Stevens pet out of bounds lob play to seal the win.

Miami came from 17 down to beat Boston 106-101, giving the Heat a 2-0 series lead. Game 3 is Saturday.

After the game, there was reported yelling by Marcus Smart and throwing of things in the Boston locker room.

“Guys were emotional… after a hard loss,” Boston coach Brad Stevens delicately put it.

The Boston coach also wasn’t buying into talk of the Miami zone defense being the story of the night.

“This isn’t about zones and defenses or offenses. We just need to be better,” Stevens said.

Boston did do better in the first half. After getting outscored by 22 in the paint in Game 1, the Celtics came out in Game 2 and attacked the rim, brought Enes Kanter and his inside scoring off the bench early, shot 10-of-13 at the rim, and won the points in the paint battle 32-18 in the first half.

Then in the second half, with the Heat often in a zone, the Celtics just tried to shoot over the top of it rather than get into the middle of it.

Miami just kept making shots and making plays. Goran Dragic led all Heat players with 25, Bam Adebayo had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Duncan Robinson had 18 going 6-of-12 from three (and keeping Miami close in the first quarter).

Boston had 23 from Kemba Walker, who bounced back with a strong offensive game after a rough first game of this series. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown each had 21.

The Celtics are by no means out of this series, but right now they are not executing their game plan with the grit and intensity the Heat bring.

Boston needs to bring the fire they showed in the locker room postgame to the court in Game 3, or the Celtics will find themselves in a hole they cannot get out of.

NBA maps out virtual pre-draft workout process for prospects, teams

Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Welcome to 2020, when everything is virtual — including the 2020 NBA pre-draft process.

With a Nov. 18 date for the daft locked in, the league office sent a memo to teams outlining the pre-draft process, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Here is what we know of the process:

• There are 85 prospects going through this process (there are 60 draft slots).
• Between September 21 and October 16, players will drive to the nearest NBA team market for the first step of the process.
• There, league officials will guide the player through strength and agility testing, plus they will undergo medical testing.
• Players will take part in eight shooting drills as well.
• The league will use footage of this to make a 45-minute (or so) “pro day” style video of the player.
• No team personnel from that market will be involved in the testing, and the league will make the information available to teams.
• Players also will go through a couple of days of virtual interviews with teams: Up to 30 minutes long, with up to 20 teams.
• This is phase one. Phase two is expected to involve in-person interviews for teams, but there will be no individual, in-person workouts.

It’s not ideal, but front offices around the league spent the hiatus pouring over college and other film of players, plus doing background research on prospects. Despite the lack of a traditional Draft Combine and workout, this may be the most scrutinized draft class in history. Front offices and coaching staffs had the time to do it this year.

Minnesota won the NBA Draft Lottery and will have the No. 1 pick, if they keep it.

There still is no date set yet for the start of free agency or next season.