Report: Raptors and Celtics discussing boycotting Game 1

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NBA players are upset. Upset police shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, seven times in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Upset they’re in the bubble while all this is happening outside it.

Raptors guard Norman Powell and Celtics guard Marcus Smart – whose teams are scheduled to play Game 1 of their second-round series tomorrow – even said a boycott was being discussed.

Apparently, those talks are advancing.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Tim Bontemps of ESPN:

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

The NBA Players Association executive committee is in active discussions with players who are seeking guidance on the logistics of potentially boycotting games, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Players began reaching out to the committee in recent days, sharing that they’re not in the right frame of mind to play basketball, sources said.

Sources said there is a sizable faction of players who are psychologically distraught by the video of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot in the back multiple times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as he tried to get into his vehicle.

The hearts of players are heavy, with some feeling intense guilt for playing and that they’re providing entertainment that is drowning out the injustices that are plaguing this country, sources said.

Boycotts are designed to spark change and are naturally more effective when more people participate. That’s different than individual players personally deciding they just can’t focus on basketball right now.

Are some players trying to organize larger boycotts? Are some players considering individual boycotts? Are some players just pondering a personal decision not to prioritize basketball right now?

Each is different.

All are understandable.

With a heightened awareness of injustices like racism and police brutality, many people feel the desire to do… well, something. It can be difficult to determine what that something is. Kneeling during the national anthem, wearing corporate-approved social-justice messages on jerseys and speaking up during press conferences haven’t solved the problem. So, NBA players are looking for something that will. Maybe that’s boycotting.

But there are no simple answers, because racism is not a simple problem. It is embedded into so many elements of our system and will take years to properly address.

It’s easy to imagine an alternate universe where players boycotted the NBA’s resumption at Disney World. Police probably still would have shot Jacob Blake. In that universe, players might be regretting not playing and using their platforms to advocate for change.

Players shouldn’t feel guilty for playing. Basketball is not that important to the world. People who want a distraction will fine one. Many people are paying attention to both the NBA and the push for racial justice. NBA players are aiding that cause through their messaging.

However, even if basketball isn’t that important to the world, players securing their salaries can be very important to them.

Of course, money isn’t everything. Many people feel disillusioned with their normal jobs while more important things are happening in the world. Why should NBA players be any different? The desire to step away from something trivial like basketball is very relatable. Yet, earning an income remains important.

It’s a lot to balance.

Boston and Toronto players boycotting Game 1 would raise many questions. What are their demands for ending the boycott? Can those demands be met? How quickly? How would that affect logistics of playing the series?

Players leaving the bubble would cause even greater complications. Could the Raptors lose enough players to be disqualified from the playoffs? Would they be given time to add replacements?

A boycott would be extreme in the scope of the NBA.

Enough to make a dent in the greater world? That’s more questionable.

Report: Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown bickered in Celtics’ locker room

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After their Game 2 loss to the Heat last night, the Celtics – especially Marcus Smart – made a commotion in their locker room.

What actually happened?

Apparently, Smart and Jaylen Brown got into it.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown had a heated confrontation inside that locker room after the Game 2 loss and needed to be separated by teammates, multiple sources told The Athletic.

Sources told The Athletic that Smart stormed into the Celtics postgame locker room saying that other players needed to be held accountable and not simply point the finger toward him when things are going wrong. As Smart continued and his voice grew louder, sources said Brown snapped back and shouted that Celtics players must stay together and that their actions must come as a team, not individually, and that Smart needed to cool off. Those sources added Smart had verbal exchanges with a couple of the assistant coaches during the game.

None of this is new for Smart. Not jawing with a Boston assistant coach during a game. Not getting hot after a loss. Not even clashing with Brown.

This is who he is – sometimes for good, sometimes not. But the same reasons Smart thrives as a feisty player are the same reasons he was going off last night.

Brown, via Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston:

“He plays with passion, he’s full of fire, and that’s what I love about him most, to be honest. He has that desire and that will and we need him to continue to have that. There’s ups and downs with families all the time. But we embrace each other for who we are. And who Marcus is, I love him for it.”

Brown doesn’t mind a little chaos if it serves a greater purpose. He’s emotionally mature enough to handle this.

But will last night’s incident actually help the Celtics? Maybe it’ll light a fire under them to keep their foot on the gas when leading.

Offensive sets that can beat a zone defense would probably go further, though.

Gordon Hayward reportedly feels good, hopes to return for Game 3

Gordon Hayward return
Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images
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After a frustrating come-from-ahead loss to Miami to go down 0-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics need a boost.

Like the return of Gordon Hayward.

That is on track to happen in Game 3, although nothing is official, reports Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

Hayward has been sidelined since he suffered a grade III ankle sprain in the first game of the playoffs against Philadelphia. He left the bubble for a time to get treatment, but has been back with the team, working out and going through a practice.

Gordon Hayward could be Boston’s X-factor in the conference finals — and his return may be the lift it needs. He gives the Celtics another versatile wing player — along with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum — who can create his own shot and knock down open looks. Throw in Kemba Walker, and Hayward would be the fourth scoring option for Boston, making the Celtics deep and difficult to defend. Hayward also spent time guarding Butler during the regular-season matchups.

 

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

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“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

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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