There are high hopes for the Canadian national team at FIBA Americas, which is a qualifying event for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Canada has qualified for just one of the last six Olympics (they finished seventh in 2000), but with an improved roster that includes Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas, and six other NBA players, they are a team on the rise. And hope north of the border is rising with them.
FIBA Americas starts Aug. 31; Canada opens the next day against Argentina (which is without Manu Ginobili).
This is good news for the Celtics and Olynyk as well.
Boston is loaded at the four — Jared Sullinger, David Lee, Jordan Mickey, Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder — all can get some run at that slot. Any setback for Olynyk is not good, but this seems to be a minor one.
Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk injures knee in Canadian exhibition
Kelly Olynyk faces plenty of competition for playing time this season. Jared Sullinger, David Lee, Kelly Olynyk, Jordan Mickey, Jonas Jerebko, Perry Jones III, Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder could all see minutes at power forward.
So, even the smallest setback could put Olynyk behind the eight ball with the Celtics.
It seems that’s what Olynyk faces after playing for Canada in an FIBA Americas tuneup against Argentina.
Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun:
Kelly Olynyk banged up (left knee) and Nocioni jawing with refs and coaching staff. Olynyk limps off. Not great for Canada
Crowder’s defensive versatility is key in Brad Stevens’ system. Crowder has the strength and tenacity to defend in the post, and he’s probably more natural covering on the perimeter. He’s more raw offensively, but he can handle the ball and knock down jumpers.
At 24, Crowder has shown plenty of promise and production, and his best days are probably ahead of him. Ideally for the Celtics, he’ll grow into a larger role as their financial commitment to him shrinks relative to the salary cap.
Because Crowder has a cap hold of just the minimum salary, Boston will probably delay officially signing him until using the rest of its cap space.
Jonas Jerebko re-signing with Celtics for two years, $10 million
Jerebko played well for the Celtics after they acquired him in a midseason trade with the Pistons. He’s an energy forward with 3-point range, and Brad Stevens used him well. That’s a big reason Jerebko is getting this healthy payday.
As Boston looks to make splashier moves going forward, Stevens should be a major selling point.
For now, the Celtics should get the 28-year-old Jerebko through his prime on a reasonable deal. Then, they can take it from there.
LeBron James lifts Kyrie Irving and Cavaliers to 3-0 lead over Celtics
BOSTON – LeBron James saw Kyrie Irving, who’d just gotten decked while shooting, laying on the floor and wasn’t going to let anyone get in his way of helping up his teammate – including Jae Crowder, who stood directly between the two Cavaliers.
LeBron grabbed Crowder to move him out of the way, and Crowder took offense. LeBron looked at Crowder, pointed to a sprawled-out Irving and continued toward Irving while Evan Turner pushed LeBron.
The Celtics scratched and clawed and successfully limited Irving, but they couldn’t stop LeBron (31 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks) from lifting Cleveland to a 103-95 Game 3 win Thursday. Up 3-0 in his fourth playoff series against Boston, LeBron will seek his first sweep in Game 4 Sunday.
Asked the plan for defending LeBron, Crowder refused to divulge for a fear of giving LeBron helpful information.
“Because it’s definitely been working,” Turner said wryly.
Not only do the Celtics lack an answer for LeBron, they can’t limit enough of his teammates.
Kevin Love (23 points, nine rebounds and three assists) played a strong No. 2. J.R. Smith (15 points on 12 shots) broke out of his funk. And Tristan Thompson came up with timely offensive rebounds.
Even with Irving – who led Game 1 with 30 points and scored 26 in Game 2 – not making a shot until midway through the third quarter and finishing with just 13 points on 3-of-11 shooting, that was enough to best Boston.
Not that the Celtics made it easy.
Instead of LeBron’s old nemeses like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, it was Crowder, Turner and Avery Bradley providing resistance. But this group of Celtics, while pesky, couldn’t sustain it.
Boston gained momentum late in the first half. Cleveland ended it on a 12-0, capped by six straight LeBron points.
Brad Stevens opened the second half with Crowder and Jonas Jerebko instead of starters Marcus Smart and Brandon Bass, and the Celtics scored the third quarter’s first eight points to tie the game. A late 8-2 run featuring five Crowder points and Crowder assisting a Turner triple got Boston within three. The Celtics never led after halftime.
“We’ve got finishers on our team,” Cavaliers coach Blatt said.
Even when the Cavaliers were out of rhythm, LeBron isolated and scored. Boston – like most teams – just don’t anyone who can match what he does, which he rubbed in at one point:
“Boston’s not going away,” Blatt said. “They haven’t up to this point, and they won’t.”
That may be true.
But as long as Cleveland has LeBron, it probably doesn’t matter.