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Report: Isaiah Thomas injury “significant,” happened first in Game 6 vs. Wizards

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Boston’s leading scorer Isaiah Thomas struggled for two games against Cleveland — he was 0-of-6 for two points shooting Friday night — before leaving at the half with a hip injury. He did not play in the final 24 minutes.

The question now is will he play again this series?

The injury in question first happened in Game 6 against the Wizards, and he seemed to aggravate it in Game 2 Friday night, reports Chris Mannix of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports, and also of Comcast Sportsnet New England (which broadcasts Boston’s games during the regular season).

His status for Game 3 is unknown.

However, in a series where the Celtics are clearly outmatched, what is the point of risking further injury? (If that can happen, we’re not sure exactly what the injury is yet.) I would not be surprised if Boston shuts Thomas down for the series, likely against his wishes.

Boston is down 0-2 to Cleveland, via two blowouts, with Game 3 Sunday in Cleveland.

Cavaliers embarrass Celtics 130-86, take dominant 2-0 lead in series

Associated Press
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Are we sure the Cavaliers are not the Monstars?

Boston switched up their starting lineup, putting Gerald Green in the mix. The Celtics gang rebounding a focus and switched up their defensive coverages. They played with more energy.

It didn’t matter. Boston started the game shooting 0-of-7 from the floor, trailed by 14 after one quarter as the Cavaliers went on a 28-6 run spanning the first and second, and by halftime Boston had scored just 31 points and trailed by 41 (an NBA record for largest halftime deficit in a playoff game).

“It was honestly just embarassing,” Avery Bradley said after the game. “They came out not only playing harder, they knocked down shots, and I think that made it that much worse.”

Actually, things still got worse: Boston’s Isaiah Thomas strained his right hip late in the first half and missed all of the second half. His status going forward is unknown, but the injury is considered “significant” according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical (he also works for Comcast Sports Net which broadcasts Celtics games). Thomas was 0-of-6 shooting for two points in this game and was again completely smothered by the Cavaliers defense.

The Cavaliers won 130-86 to take a commanding 2-0 series lead as the series now heads to Cleveland for Game 3 on Sunday.

LeBron James had 30 points, his 18th career and eighth straight 30-point playoff game (the latter of those tying Michael Jordan for the most all time). And he didn’t even play the fourth quarter. Kyrie Irving added 23, Kevin Love had 21 points and 12 rebounds.

“We’re very focused,” Irving said in a televised interview after the game, and maybe understating things a bit. “We have a lot of confidence in what we have as a team and when we come out and play like this, anything’s possible.”

This loss had to devastate Boston’s confidence. It’s hard not to imagine this ending in a sweep. Right now the Cavaliers are 10-0 so far this postseason.

In Game 2, we could talk about how Boston had no answer for the LeBron at center lineups, or how Cleveland’s passing was crisp while Boston was slow to recover, or a host of other things, but the real issue for Boston is they just cannot find a way to score on a suddenly-focused Cavaliers defense. They had no flow to their sets, everything they tried they got taken out of by the Cavaliers. The Celtics had an offensive rating of 75 points per 100 possessions in the first quarter, and the second quarter was worse. Things like this kept happening.

There has been a lot of talk this week about the Celtics future, especially with them now holding the No. 1 pick in the draft. As ugly as the losses have been for Boston in this series, they validate GM Danny Ainge’s decision to not to trade that pick and other players at the deadline for Paul George or Jimmy Butler — they would have not changed the outcome of this series. Made it closer, maybe gotten Boston a win, but that’s it for what would have been a high price. Boston has been patient and now you can see why, and you can see the path forward: Draft Markelle Fultz, make a hard run at Gordon Hayward in free agency, but if he decides to stay in Utah then make a run at someone else in 2018. Make sure the fits are right, find some guys who can be stronger inside and on the glass, and continue to improve. Boston made a step forward this season to get the No. 1 seed and reach the conference finals, just continue to build off that. Don’t panic and rush things.

For Cleveland, just stay healthy. The biggest test is yet to come.

From bad to worse: Isaiah Thomas leaves game with sore hip, will not return

Associated Press
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It had been such a good few days for the Boston Celtics, but Friday night just keeps going from bad to worse.

First, the Celtics were getting run out of their own building by the Cavaliers — Cleveland was up 41 at the half — then came this news.

Thomas injured it late in the second quarter and seemed to be hobbling a little after it, but it was hard to tell how serious it was.

With the game well out of hand, there was no reason for Boston to risk further injury by keeping him in for the second half. It’s unclear how serious the injury was or if he will be available for Game 3 Sunday.

Report: Hawks made pitch to talk to Blazers’ GM OIshey for their job, got shot down

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Portland’s Neil Olshey is one of the more respected and aggressive team president/GMs around the league. When Portland makes a move, rarely does it not have sound logic behind it (even if it doesn’t always pan out as hoped).

Atlanta has a vacancy at the GM spot, so they decided to be aggressive themselves and see if Olshey — who is under contract — was available. Turns out, no.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports broke the news.

Atlanta’s new GM is in an interesting spot, Paul Millsap is a free agent, and the team is at a crossroads: re-sign him to a max deal and likely be a 4-6 seed, good but not great team for a few years, or start the rebuild now. Mike Budenholzer, the coach and now former GM, stepped down because of a disagreement about the future direction. He was down with the rebuild, which means ownership may not be.

At least it sounds like ownership is willing to spend on someone who has done the job before.

Westbrook, Harden, Leonard MVP top three as NBA announces award finalists

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We are not going to know who is MVP — or any other NBA award winner, outside of the All-NBA Team — before the June 26 award ceremony. That’s after the Finals, and after the Draft.

But we do know who the top three finalists are in the major individual categories, those were announced on Friday on TNT. Here are all the finalists (listed in no particular order).

Most Valuable Player
Kawhi Leonard
James Harden
Russell Westbrook

Defensive Player of the Year
Draymond Green
Kawhi Leonard
Rudy Gobert

Rookie of the Year
Joel Embiid
Dario Saric
Malcolm Brogdon

Sixth Man of the Year
Andre Iguodala
Eric Gordon
Lou Williams

Coach of the Year
Erik Spoelstra
Mike D’Antoni
Gregg Popovich

Most Improved Player
Rudy Gobert
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Nikola Jokic

Remember, the votes were turned in before the playoffs started.

I don’t see any real surprises in there. Certainly not with MVP where Westbrook/Harden/Leonard will be the top three vote getters, with LeBron James fourth, then a pretty wide open race for fifth. Some people will argue LeBron was snubbed, but while he had a strong regular season his Cavaliers took the month of March basically off, particularly on defense, and in a close race that matters.

On down the list, those likely are the top three vote-getters in each category, and while you can try to make a case for people outside this group to be included (was Isaiah Thomas one of the most improved? Scotty Brooks for Coach of the Year?) there are no shockers in there.

Drake will host the NBA’s first ever awards ceremony on June 26, shown live on TNT from New York City. I doubt they do it, but the NBA should treat this like the Golden Globes, with big round tables and flowing alcohol for the nominees and others in the audience. It would make a more lively show.