Brief NBA Thoughts and Real GM NBA Headlines (Insert Comment): January 1–5
Around the NBA
The Boston Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavs without much drama on Wednesday night. One surprising nugget: 9 of Boston’s 12 threes came from Terry Rozier (4), Marcus Smart (3) and Daniel Theis (2). Smart and Theis are a combined 61 of 205 (29.7%) from deep this year. It was an anti-climactic, but satisfying, win for Celtics fans. Another “big game” that wasn’t: the Warriors-Rockets on Thursday night. Isaiah Thomas, having just returned the game before on Tuesday night, did not play. The Cavs are smartly easing him back into the rotation. The Cavs were also on a back-to-back while the Celtics (for the first time in a month) had two straight days off. Boston is no doubt a legitimate contender in the East, as their 31–10 record shows. Still, Toronto’s (26–10) superior Net Rating (7.5) is more than two points better than Boston’s (5.1). Some of that is due to the schedule crunch (41 games played leads the NBA, while the Raptors have played 36) and some of that is due to Toronto’s newfound ability to move the ball a little bit. Serge Ibaka, who arrived via Orlando mid-way through last year, is quietly having a very good season.
Warriors-Rockets would have been fun…if either team were completely healthy. No Harden and no Durant meant this was just another regular season game. 82 of them. Should be 66 or 70. But you know that.
The East/West imbalance isn’t as extreme as people expected, thanks in large part to all the injuries suffered among West teams. However, since December 1, four of the NBA’s top five teams (according to Net Rating) are in the West.
Since December 1:
GSW (9.3), TOR (7.3), MIN (5.2), OKC (4.7), HOU (4.2)
*Dan Gilbert Asked LeBron James To Commit To Staying With Cavs Beyond 17–18 (LeBron Responded By Emailing Gilbert Curt Flood’s Memoir)
*Russell Westbrook: Sales Pitch to Paul George Will Come After Winning Title (Title of Best NBA Team in Oklahoma)
*Al Horford: All The Guys That Aren’t Here Anymore Sold Me on Celtics (And Then Ainge Sold Them For Kyrie)
*Markelle Fultz Cleared To Begin Final Stage of Rehab (Though the Ninth and Tenth Steps Are Often the Hardest)
*NBA Net Rating: Nuggets Enter Top 10 (Good for them…Though It Doesn’t Matter Much to Warriors, Rockets or Spurs)
*George Hill: First Months With Kings ‘A Little More Difficult Than I Anticipated’ (Nobody Told George That Vivek Ranadive Would Constantly Be Texting Him)
*Spurs Tried Really Hard to Trade For Kyrie Irving (Popovich even sent a case of his favorite red wine, and Kawhi reminded Kyrie that their names both start with “K”)
*Austin Rivers Out At Least Two Weeks With Right Ankle Impingement (There Goes the Clippers Season!)