First, birthday shout out to this guy! Happy 26th and wishing you many more wonderful years to come.
Second, it has been reported that Kyrie will be having a minimally invasive procedure on his knee Saturday. He hasn’t played since March 11th, so if his knee is bothering him that much, then that’s that.
There is no time table as everyone has said, but I don’t think it matters. Personally, I think it’s time to call it. The majority of the team is super banged up right now with Theis not returning and Smart probable. Jaylen is out on concussion protocol too so, yeah.
The guys that have stepped up in the absence of the core have been great, and this had been a great opportunity for them to show what they can do/get in a rhythm playing together. There is nothing wrong with calling it this season. Not when there’s so much to look forward to next season (having a healthy Gordon Hayward, Kyrie and Al all in the line up at once!?!).
Bottom line: rehab and rest up (a continuation for some). The young guys will be able to get some experience in a playoff series so that when the time comes again, they won’t be so green (no pun intended).
Pic cred: NBC Sports
I developed a fondness for Donovan Mitchell when he came out of the draft as the 13th pick. He knew his stock was worth a much higher pick, but he used that frustration to show teams how wrong they were for passing him up. One thing’s for sure: the Jazz are happy and I don’t think they’ll be giving him up any time soon.
Mitchell Proving Them Wrong
When I was writing for Boston Sports Extra a few months back, I wrote an article about Jayson Tatum possibly being up for the award. But he has since hit his rookie wall and is now working his way back to early season form. Donovan Mitchell however, had his struggles early and has since been on fire:
- He averages just about 20 pts, 4 reb, and 4 ast this season
- Shoots 84% FT, 44% FG, 35% 3PT FG
- He’s recorded two 40+ point games
- He led his team on a 10 game winning streak, which included wins against TOR, GS, SA (2x) and NO
- He won the Dunk Contest at All Star Weekend
This kid makes too much of a difference for this Utah team not to take notice. Gobert has been off the court
most of the season dealing with injuries and Rubio has been inconsistent at PG. He does well on assists at roughly 5 per game, but is only averaging 12 pts this season. All I’m saying is it would be hard to compensate for those 20 points that Mitchell provides should he sit out.
Possible Playoff Push?
The Jazz currently sit 10th, just two spots out of the playoff race. The Clippers sit in front of them at 9th and the Nuggets hold the 8th spot. But I think the Jazz may have a shot considering how fast the standings have changed in the West lately. If Denver, OKC and Minnesota can’t hold on down the stretch, the Jazz just may have a chance. Plus, their schedule looks pretty manageable, with a few tough teams throughout—all which they’ve beaten at least once before.
Donovan Mitchell’s ability to carry this team while consistently being a difference-maker speaks to his maturity. For most rookies, it’s hard to come in with that chip on your shoulder, hoping to live up to the expectations others have put in place for you. However, Mitchell’s situation is quite different in that he is the one who set his own expectations. While everyone was focused on Fultz and Ball, he showed them all that hype isn’t everything.
Continue that push for the playoffs Mitchell. Nothing is impossible!
The Celtics are officially on a four-game win streak, making them perfect since coming back from the All Star break. They took down the Pistons and the Knicks in a back to back, then came home and got the two easy wins they needed. This team is rejuvenated!
Contributions from Everyone
This Celtics team is looking more and more like the team we saw in the beginning of the season. You know, the one that went streaking? But actually, they may be slightly better than that team, as it appears that EVERYTHING is clicking for these guys on both ends of the ball. The defensive spark has been provided by Smart and Irving has once again proven himself a leader and true PG by breathing life into the offense. Just last night, the Cs provided a good old- fashioned butt-whooping, smashing the Hornets 134-106. Irving had 34 of those points in just 25 minutes of play (UNREAL) going 4-6 from three. Baynes also stepped up with 12 points and some grade-A defense. Monroe filled in for the injured Theis and went 6-9 with 14 points and 4 rebounds. Brown, Smart, Rozier and Morris continue to do what they do of course. And although Horford and Tatum only recorded a combined 12 points, they were a +27 and +18, respectively. THIS is a team you don’t want to see in a 7-game series!
Next Up: Houston
The Houston Rockets haven’t lost a game since January 26th… holy crap. They are rolling and leading the defending champ Warriors in the West by .5 game. The last time they played the Cs it looked like it was over in the first half, scoring 62 points in the first half. They unfortunately didn’t hold up in the scoring department, nor in defense. The Cs out scored them 61-36 in the second half to take it 99-98. But the Rockets won’t make the same mistake twice. They will be on their home court this time with a healthy Chris Paul. And I don’t if anyone has been paying attention, but when Harden AND Paul play, this team doesn’t lose. Well, they do, but it’s extremely rare. Both teams are better this time around, but both will definitely have their hands full.
Can The Celtics Win This Match-up?
They can win any match-up they want, as long as they fight for it. But they need a few things to happen if they want to take the series against Houston.
- Defense! They must defend the Rockets like they defended the last four teams they played. Giving up those easy baskets in the paint will get them beat, as well as the three. Make Harden, Paul, Ariza and Capela work for their shots.
- Bench. This group has made quite the turnaround. The production of the bench is key here. The Rockets seem to depend heavily on their starters so if our second unit can outscore theirs, we’ll be in business.
- Starters. They have to continue to do their job too. Stifling the Rockets Starters on defense and outscoring them as much as possible will be tremendous. I’m not worried about Irving or Brown, but Tatum has been in a bit of a slump lately. I want him to have a big game, or at least get back on track offensively.
Watch the three-game road trip begin this Saturday when the Celtics take on the Rockets in primetime. Tune into ABC at 8:30 pm, with pregame coverage starting an hour before on NBC Sports Boston.
It’s no secret that the relationship between the NBA players and the referees this season has been contentious. Just recently, Kevin Durant was ejected in his team’s win over the Knicks. He initially accused the refs of ‘picking on him’, but after having time to cool off he apologized for his remarks. But really, this is nothing compared to what’s been happening all season.
Technicals and Ejections for Everyone!
So far this season, we have witnessed some new faces become a part of the technical foul and ejection club. An emotional Steph Curry was ejected earlier this season for throwing his mouthpiece in the direction of an official. Durant has also been ejected a number of times this season after having some outbursts over foul calls. Even LeBron James has been ejected this season for ‘charging’ at an official. Russell Westbrook was recently ejected for arguing a no call when he clearly got fouled. I know this isn’t all of them, but they are notable to say the least. I’m sure Draymond Green and Boogie Cousins are also shocked, considering they are usually the ones who lead the league in technicals and ejections. Though, Green has expressed his frustration with the refs, saying basically they should all be fired. He isn’t the only one; many of the players have been vocal about the refs, but out of respect for Commissioner Silver they have tried to rein it in.
Tension with Refs Leads to Tension with Each other?
All of this pent up tension with the refs has to be released somehow right? Well, maybe that’s what we can attribute all of the altercations among the players to. There has been a lot of chippy play (and pettiness) going on around the league, leading some ‘fights’. NBA players don’t really fight; they just exchange words and get in each other’s face, except for Aaron Afflalo of course. Anyways, it seems most of that pent up emotion was released on MLK Day. In just about every game someone had an issue, but the most memorable was the Rockets-Clippers showdown. Only two people out of the possible five that could have been punished were suspended. The whole situation makes you wonder: do players take it out on one another because they can’t fully express themselves with the refs? I think that may be the case.
There is obviously no type of trust or understanding amongst the new refs and the players. The players no longer have that group of refs that they’ve built relationships with over the years, which means they can no longer get by on minor violations, like travelling or a double dribble. These new refs call EVERYTHING, but they sometimes miss the big ones, and that’s where the frustration comes from. Hopefully this meeting at the All-Star break will result in some positive changes from both parties.
Friday night’s NBA action saw a team make history, a surprising loss, some hopeful wins and continued disappointments.
The Celtics won their seventh straight game last night and became the first team in NBA history to do so after losing their first two games. It wasn’t easy, as they were down 55-37 at halftime. They came back and scored 64 points in the second half, with Irving scoring 22 of his 25 total points and Horford coming through with some clutch threes in the fourth quarter.
The Magic lost to the Bulls at home by 22 and fell to 6-3. Aaron Gordon only scored 11 points in the game (he has an average of 19.3). The Cavs won their matchup against the Wizards and LeBron scored 57 points. This win ended a four game losing streak and they look to continue rolling against the Hawks on Sunday. The Spurs beat the Hornets, ending their four game losing streak. Forbes and Gay were the heroes, scoring 22 and 20 points, respectively.
The disappointment continues for the Mavs, who just can’t seem to get it together. They lost their fifth game in a row, falling to the Pelicans 99-94 (probably because Nowitzki went 2-9 with 7 points). This team used to be a contender, so it’s hard to see Nowitzki spend his final years on a team like this. But I know his loyalty won’t allow him to go anywhere else. I would just like to this team get back to their winning ways.
Mitchell watch: although his team lost to the Raptors 109-100, the rookie scored 25 points off of the bench (he led the team in scoring). That’s two 20+ point games in a row. I’m telling you, don’t sleep on this kid.
Celtics should be the story this coming week: without Gordon Hayward, this team has won seven straight games and have held their last seven opponents to less than 100 points; talk about defying expectations! But unfortunately, I have a feeling that LeBron’s 57 point performance and the Cavs first win in four games will take center stage. Why do people feel the need to praise this team for something they were expected to do in the first place? Whatever, because Derrick Rose’s weak knees and ankles won’t make it through the season (they never do) and IT won’t be the same. D-Wade’s old knees can’t last much longer and hasn’t LeBron already confessed to feeling his age? It is a new era; move over LeBron!