Celtics put playoff tickets on sale before they’ve clinched a spot


The Celtics have announced that they will hold a pre-sale for playoff tickets on Tuesday, where fans can gain early access to purchase them simply by signing up to be on an e-mailing list.

One problem: Boston has not yet clinched a spot in the playoffs.

As of Monday, the Celtics are currently holding down the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. But it’s far from confirmed that they’ll get into the postseason, with the Pacers and the Heat each just a game back in the standings.

Boston has five games left in the regular season, few of which are easy. The team’s next two games are at Detroit and at Cleveland, then they’ll host Cleveland and Toronto, before finishing the season at Milwaukee on the second night of a back-to-back set.

Boston fans desperate to get in on this ground floor opportunity of sorts have nothing to fear if their team ends up missing the playoffs entirely, which, again, is a real possibility. The refund policy, as posted:

The Celtics’ Round One opponent and the dates and times of games will be posted on when they are determined.
If any game is not played refunds will be processed at the point of purchase. Fans who purchase online will receive an automatic refund from Ticketmaster for the face value of each ticket, facility charge and per ticket service charge. Delivery charges will not be refunded.

There’s no financial risk for fans to jump the gun if they so choose. But karmically, it might not be the wisest of choices.

Warriors’ Steve Kerr sets record for wins by first-year head coach


When Mark Jackson was fired as head coach of the Warriors at the conclusion of last season, part of the reason was the fact that the front office believed that the team should be better with the talent in place on the roster.

Jackson said as much following his dismissal.

“We accomplished a lot in three years and we should be proud,” Jackson said at the time. “I wish them nothing but the best. But to me, now the pressure’s on for them to get a championship. It’s not the time for them to be patient any more. This is a championship-caliber team. We were in the playoffs without David last year, and we were without Bogut this year.

“When this team is healthy, it is a legit contender. That’s something that we’re all looking at going forward.”

Jackson’s words turned out to be prophetic.

The Warriors aren’t only contenders for the title, they’re the favorites. Steve Kerr may have inherited a whole bunch of talent, but he’s guided the group to what is likely to be the league’s best record before the season is finished.

Whether that ultimately happens or it doesn’t, Kerr has already solidified his place in the record books as the winningest ever first-year head coach.

From The Associated Press:

The victory pushed him past Paul Westphal (Phoenix in 1992-93) and Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau (2010-11). The players gave Kerr the game ball and a Gatorade bath in the locker room.

“Great scene in there, and I wasn’t really thinking about the significance of the record,” Kerr said. “Those guys were. They presented me the ball, and how lucky am I to coach these guys in my first year? Ridiculous.”

Ridiculous, indeed.

Jackson may not have been the best fit to coach these Warriors, for a variety of reasons. But he was spot-on with his analysis of the talent the team has on the roster, and what it should be capable of when playing at 100 percent.

Jeff Van Gundy says Spurs’ record streak of winning 50 games 16 years in a row ‘will never be touched’


The San Antonio Spurs crossed the 50-win plateau after beating the Nuggets on Friday, and by doing so kept alive an almost incomprehensible streak of winning at least 50 games in 16 consecutive seasons.

That even includes the lockout-shortened, 66-game campaign in 2012.

The consistent level of greatness the Spurs have achieved is remarkable, to say the least. While other NBA franchises have had their stars burn bright, winning championships in clusters before ultimately flaming out, San Antonio has legitimately been in the mix season after season.

That type of consistency is beyond rare in professional sports, and it’s why Jeff Van Gundy believes that the Spurs’ current level of success will go unmatched by anyone else.

From Fran Blinebury of

“I used to say the 33-game winning streak of the Lakers was the most unbreakable record in the game,” Van Gundy said. “But hey, the Heat got to 27. Now I’m convinced this one by the Spurs will never be touched.”

Analysts are paid to make wide-ranging, grandstanding statements that can cause outrage with a single sound bite.

But in this instance, Van Gundy is absolutely right.

The ever-changing NBA landscape makes it almost impossible for a team to continue on this type of run for this many seasons. The fortunes of a franchise can change instantly on the whims of a free agent superstar, and it takes a special kind of head coach to groom a special group of players to buy into a team-oriented system that values winning above all else.

Normally, declarative statements like these made in the present come across as short-sighted. But it would take an overly-optimistic visionary to see things in the future turning out even close to as positively as they’ve happened for these Spurs over the past 16 (and counting) NBA seasons.

Byron Scott says Nick Young likely done for the remainder of Lakers’ season


The Lakers are seven games away from seeing their second consecutive worst season in franchise history come to its merciful conclusion, and, for a variety of reasons, Byron Scott isn’t all that interested in seeing Nick Young try to return for any of those contests.

Young has been sidelined with a knee injury since late February, and has missed his team’s last 20 games.

But whether he ends up being healthy enough to go or not before the season is finished, Scott doesn’t anticipate him being able to get back on the floor the rest of the way.

From Joey Ramirez of

“I haven’t even even talked to (head athletic trainer) Gary (Vitti), to be honest with you,” Scott said. “My feeling really is that, with seven games left, he probably won’t play the rest of the season. Like I said, the last report that I did get on him — which was when we were on the road — was that he really wasn’t making much progress.” …

“Being out as long as he’s been out with seven games to go, I don’t really see how he can probably play,” Scott said. “He’s got to get back into game condition and things like that. So I don’t think there’s a chance he’s going to play in the next week.” …

“It’s just a matter of him getting healthy … and understanding going into next year his priorities need to be a little different,” Scott said. “He’s a home run or a strikeout type guy on the offensive end. Just like I told him: He has to elevate his game.

“He has to grow as a basketball player if he wants to continue to play in this league for a long time. He has to get better moving without the ball; being able to defend people a little bit better; and be a better off-the-ball defender as well.”

Scott is a realist for the most part, at least when it comes to evaluating the overall talent level of his players. He and Young have clashed at times over Young’s style of play, which is to some extent completely understandable.

But what’s indisputable is the fact that no good can come of Young returning this season, in any capacity.

The Lakers already have earned wins over the Sixers (twice) and the Timberwolves in their last eight games, which could potentially be damaging to their chances of retaining their pick in this summer’s draft.

L.A. only gets to keep the pick if it lands in the top five, and beating up on other bottom feeders only works against that cause.

Adding Young back into the fold would similarly work against that unseemly but necessary goal, which may be at least part of the reason that Scott is so eager to rule Young out for the remainder of the season.

Kevin Love will return to Cavaliers lineup Sunday vs. Bulls

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From Dave McMenamin of

Cleveland forward Kevin Love went through a full practice Saturday and says he will return to the lineup Sunday when the Cavs host the Chicago Bulls. …

“I still felt good (Thursday), I just wanted to take a game (to rest),” Love said after practice Saturday. “But I’ll be good and ready to go tomorrow.” …

“A lot of our April is, I shouldn’t say ‘easy,’ but as far as the schedule goes, we have a few days in between games,” Love said. “For me, I haven’t played in a game as of tomorrow in a week, so yes, I would probably say it’s one of the best I’ve felt all year.”

Sunday’s home contest against the Bulls is an important one for the Cavaliers, in terms of being able to solidify their place in the playoff picture. Cleveland leads Chicago by three games for the two-seed in the Eastern Conference, and a win would put them up four with just five games remaining in the regular season.

Love got essentially a full week to rest, but only missed one game thanks to the way the schedule shook out.

The Bulls, meanwhile, have officially listed both Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich as out for Sunday’s contest. Rose is getting close to a return, but no date has been set. Hinrich suffered a hyperextended knee in Wednesday’s loss to the Bucks, and sat out of the Bulls’ Friday night win over the Pistons.