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Celtics, Lakers, and Magic headline 2017 NBA Draft Lottery winners and losers

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The 2017 NBA Draft Lottery is over, and the Boston Celtics — a team in the Eastern Conference Finals — hold the No. 1 overall pick. The Los Angeles Lakers will pick at No. 2, and the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3. Who will take Markelle Fultz and who will take Lonzo Ball isn’t yet clear, but they seem slated to go right next to each other at the top of the draft.

A dizzying amount of picks changed hands thanks to protections and swap rights, but the final order ended up looking like this:

1. Boston (via Brooklyn)
2. L.A. Lakers
3. Philadelphia
4. Phoenix
5. Sacramento
6. Orlando
7. Minnesota
8. New York
9. Dallas
10. Sacramento (via New Orleans)
11. Charlotte
12. Detroit
13. Denver
14. Miami

We won’t know who really wins this thing until we get deep into next season, but an initial reaction of winners and losers thanks to aforementioned pick swaps and ping pong balls I think looks pretty clear.

Winners

Celtics
Boston traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen during the summer of 2007, then took home the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2007-08. The Celtics then traded Garnett and Pierce in 2013 for three of Brooklyn’s first round picks as well as the right to swap picks in 2017.

Boston traded for a championship, then traded those guys to either add the best player in college basketball or to be able to swap for an existing superstar. They’re doing all that with a team that was already the No. 1 seed in the East and is in the conference finals. That is getting some serious run out of the Big 3. Paul Pierce even thinks so himself.

Celtics fans have to know they came up huge on this one, and even though there might be some overlapping talent with Isaiah Thomas and either Fultz or Ball, that also gives them more weapons to be able to take down LeBron James and the Cavaliers in coming seasons. Or, as Celtics GM Danny Ainge hinted at after the lottery, they might be looking to use that pick to trade for a guy like Jimmy Butler or Paul George.

Lakers
Los Angeles didn’t get the pick they wanted, but they got the next best thing. It’s entirely possible that Ball is a serious talent and missing piece for LA, and they have burgeoning young talent on the roster. Couple that with rumored interest from 2018 free agent Paul George, the Lakers could be on their way back up.

They also keep their 2019 first round pick, which would have gone to Orlando, so things definitely worked out well for Lakers fans.

Sixers
Philadelphia didn’t get the top pick, and someone like Fultz would fit in nicely especially as the 76ers look to add competent ball handlers. But without Fultz or Ball on the board, the Sixers can look at guys like Josh Jackson and De'Aaron Fox to fill out their roster as they add a healthy Ben Simmons next season.

The important thing is that the 76ers still wound up in the Top 3, with the availability to now use that pick to keep building on The Process or to swap for veteran talent, something not many have talked about. The other good news here is that because of pick swaps, the Sixers not only got a high selection this season but have the Lakers’ first round pick unprotected for next year.

Losers

Magic
A serious blow here for the Orlando Magic, who wound up with the No. 6 pick and do not get to keep the Lakers’ 2019 first round pick. Orlando is without a GM at the moment, and finished just 29-53 this season. Their roster is in flux, they’re back toward the bottom of the league, and their new GM will need to knock it out of the park with that No. 6 pick if they want to be able to capitalize with the young talent they already have.

Heat
Miami wound up with the No. 14 pick, which is right where they should be. The Heat had a 98 percent chance to end up at the end of the lottery, but I still think that’s some kind of bummer. Miami had an awful start to the season, but finished 30-11 to tie the Chicago Bulls for No. 8 in the East, just narrowly missing the playoffs. The up-and-down nature of Miami’s season combined with missing out on the postseason and getting the last pick in the lottery sort of sums up a weird, frustrating season in Florida.

Ty Lawson dropped by team, reportedly banned from Chinese league after social media posts

Ty Lawson China
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Ty Lawson’s off the court challenges were among the reasons he was playing in China and not the NBA this season. He signed for good money in China instead.

That era of his career after some social media posts, apparently of him at a strip club in China, has him dropped by his team and rumored to be banned from the league.

Lawson’s team, the Fujian Sturgeons, apparently gave this statement to Chinese news agency Xinhua:

“His inappropriate words are inconsistent with the social responsibilities and values abided by our club and have brought serious adverse social impacts to the club and the league. We will not sign him for the new season.”

Emiliano Carchia, the CEO of Sportando, reports that Lawson is out of the Chinese Basketball Association for good.

Lawson’s quickness and ability to create space and score could help some NBA teams, but incidents like this make it less likely an NBA team would roll the dice on the 32-year-old point guard. Lawson spent eight seasons in the NBA then the last two in China.

Mike Brown reportedly on list of Indiana coach interviews

Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown
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The buzz for a while has been the Indiana coaching job is Mike D’Antoni’s to lose — the Pacers want to update their offense, and no one is more qualified to do it.

But other names are circulating and people being interviewed: Dave Joerger, the Spurs’ Becky Hammon, Miami’s Dan Craig, Dallas’ Stephen Silas, Milwaukee’s Darvin Ham, Minnesota’s David Vanterpool, Philadelphia’s Ime Udoka, Brooklyn’s Jacque Vaughn, Portland’s Nate Tibbetts, and don’t forget Chauncey Billups.

Now add veteran coach Mike Brown to the list, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Brown was the head coach of both the Cavaliers and Lakers, leading the Cavaliers to the Finals in 2007 and being named Coach of the Year two years later. Brown has been the lead assistant under Steve Kerr for a few years now and has undoubtedly soaked up knowledge on setting up a modern NBA offense.

Whoever fills Nate McMillan’s shoes in Indiana has a tough job. Expectations may be high from ownership, but McMillan’s Pacers’ teams played hard and defended, making them difficult to play against. Their offense also was old school, which is why McMillan was fired after the Heat swept the Pacers in the first round, but it wasn’t terrible. How big a leap this team makes may rely less on the style of play and more on if Victor Oladipo has returned to his All-NBA form.

Don’t write of Boston off yet despite 0-2 deficit to Miami

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — If there was a sliver of consolation for the Boston Celtics on Friday, it probably could have been found within the understanding that a 2-0 lead for the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals doesn’t guarantee anything.

The Celtics learned that two years ago against Cleveland.

And Milwaukee learned the same last season against Toronto.

Dropping the first two games of the East finals to the Heat, obviously, isn’t the ideal scenario for the Celtics. But they’ve had chances to win both games – and might be getting Gordon Hayward back Saturday night for Game 3, when they’ll have the opportunity to get right back into this series.

“I think this series is far from over,” Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said.

Those aren’t fighting words. The Heat agree with him.

“We haven’t done anything. We haven’t,” All-NBA pick and Heat forward Jimmy Butler said. “We can’t get excited that we’re up 2-0 because as good as it is to be 2-0, it could easily be 4-2 Boston. So, we’re going to come into the same way knowing that we’ve got to be better and stay humble about it.”

The Celtics were up by 14 in the fourth quarter of Game 1, then were up by 17 in the first half of Game 2 and lost both games. Seeing a 17-point first-half lead get erased in the NBA is no big deal anymore; the wasted lead that truly bothered Boston was the five-point edge they had with 4:25 remaining. They got outscored 17-7 the rest of the way, and tempers flared in the Boston locker room after the game.

“We feel like we could have won,” Brown said. “Should have won, and we didn’t. So just a lot of emotions flying around. That’s it.”

The Heat got some great breaks in Game 2, plays like Kelly Olynyk banking in a 3-pointer late in the third quarter to help finish off a 37-17 Miami run – and Butler getting a steal and then whipping the ball behind his back as he saved it from going out of bounds in the fourth, a play where not only did the Heat maintain possession of his heave but where he wound up getting a layup.

But the comeback had important tactical elements as well, such as Miami going to zone defense and stifling the Celtics with that scheme. If Boston gets Hayward – who hasn’t played in a month because of a bad ankle – back on Saturday, his shooting and passing ability will help when Miami tries the zone. Hayward was listed as questionable for Game 3 on the injury report that Boston submitted Friday to the league.

“This isn’t about zones or defenses and offenses and stuff like that,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said. “This is, we just got to be better.”

Boston led Cleveland 2-0 in the 2018 East finals before losing in seven games; Milwaukee led Toronto 2-0 in the 2019 East finals before losing in six games. Momentum can change just that quickly in a series, and the Heat know that to be the case.

“You get to this level, in the conference finals, it’s not going to be easy for either team – and it wasn’t,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who got his 81st postseason win Thursday to tie K.C. Jones for eighth on the all-time list. “Both teams are laying it all on the line. That’s the way it should be.”

Some of what else to know going into Saturday:

THE DRAGON

Goran Dragic, Miami’s 34-year-old point guard, has led the Heat in scoring in each of the first two games, 29 points in Game 1 and 25 in Game 2. “He’s a winner, man. That’s my guy,” Butler said. The only other player this season, age 34 or older, to have multiple 25-point games against Boston was Toronto’s Kyle Lowry – in the East semifinals.

FROM 3

Brown and Marcus Smart are a combined 13 for 27 from 3-point range in the two games for Boston; Celtics teammates Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum are a combined 9 for 34. Tatum knows he has to be more aggressive, after not taking any shots in the final 4:56 of Game 2. “Not looking at we got to win four out of five … just win the next one,” Tatum said.

CELTICS DEFENSE

Even after giving up 223 points in the first two games of the East finals, Boston still leads these NBA playoffs in points allowed per game (101.8; Miami is second at 104.4), opponent field-goal percentage (.413) and opponent 3-point percentage (.317). But after a 6-0 start to the postseason, the Celtics are only 2-5 since. That matches Boston’s worst seven-game stretch from any point this season.

Watch Rajon Rondo hit ridiculous behind-the-backboard floater

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Everything was going right for the Lakers Friday night. They made it look too easy.

On their way to a 1-0 series lead, some may have tuned out before the shot of the game — a Rajon Rondo floater from the baseline, over the backboard and in.

Incredible. You can end a HORSE game with that shot.

Rondo had seven points on 3-of-7 shooting but also dished out nine assists. Maybe not vintage playoff Rondo, but he fit in with a Lakers team that dominated the Nuggets in Game 1.

Game 2 is Sunday evening.