The Celtics’ season is not over

A tragic event occurred on Tuesday night. The Celtics new star forward, Gordon Hayward, suffered a brutal injury to his ankle.

Many people are counting this year as a complete loss for the Celtics, and while it is certainly not ideal, the Celtics could still make something out of this. Obviously, the Celtics rally in the second half was electric. Call me an optimist, but I saw enough from that second half team to be able to say they could yet be a top two seed in the Eastern Conference.

When it comes to personnel, I am only going to break down players I think will play an integral role in replacing Hayward in Boston.

Coaching

Brad Stevens

There is a legitimate argument to be made that this man is a better head coach than Steve Kerr, which would make him the second best head coach in the league. That exemplifies just how good he is at his job. While the GM’s of the league may think otherwise, I would say Brad Stevens is the best coach in the league at making adjustments, and he’s only getting started.

The team defense he has designed has even been able to hide Isaiah Thomas on that side of the ball, so Kyrie Irving’s lack of defensive skill should be no problem. With more offensive weapons at his disposal, it will be interesting to see what he comes up with on that side of the ball.

Personnel

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart was the biggest surprise to me on Tuesday, as he stepped up on the offensive end once Hayward left. His post work looked very good, like a budget Chris Paul almost. Not to mention his high effort, high-level defense and pretty decent court vision. A stellar performance from the young man, the Celtics are gonna need a lot more where that came from.

Jaylen Brown

Welcome, Jaylen Brown. A fantastic performance from the second-year man, leading his team in scoring with 25 points. His outside shot still needs work, however, his athleticism really overshadowed his lack of an outside shot.

He looked fierce in this outing as he carved up the inside, with 14 of his 25 points coming off of layups or dunks. His defense was also pretty good in this one, as he was putting up a good fight on every possession, and came away with two steals. He can step and make a difference in Boston.

Marcus Morris

While Gordon Hayward is gone, Marcus Morris should be back soon. Morris is a solid defender, and decent 3-point shooter, with a career 35.5 percent from beyond the arc. He is a great asset, especially for a team like the Celtics, as floor spacing for Kyrie Irving is key. He also brings that toughness when defending on the low block that someone like Al Horford just doesn’t seem to have.

Jayson Tatum

His offense looked very good in the second half of this game after a shaky start. I hope he blossoms quickly, as he has a similar skillset to Gordon Hayward, and could be a great sixth man, or a decent starter.

Aron Baynes

He showed some real value on Tuesday, playing decent interior defense, and grabbing quite a few offensive rebounds. He could log some serious minutes.

This Celtics roster cannot take another injury. With one more hit, even to a role player like Aron Baynes, could be enough to kill them. Though at the moment, I think they still have all they need to seriously challenge for the East crown, even if they will almost certainly fall short.


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NBA injuries

Eight NBA players that absolutely, positively, cannot get injured

After watching Gordon Hayward go down with a gruesome ankle injury, it got us thinking. Who in the NBA can absolutely, positively, not go down with a serious injury?

Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons, the favorite for Rookie of the Year, is an Australian prodigy with an immense amount of talent. After being shut down last year because of a foot injury, Simmons is more motivated than ever. While being the best rookie would be nice, Simmons is focused on being the best player in the NBA.

Physically, Simmons is perfect for the “positionless” trend in the NBA. His size, athleticism and length are unparalleled to many. A gifted passer, Simmons has been called upon by Philadelphia to be their starting point guard. Keep in mind that he is 6-foot-10.

The NBA needs this man to stay healthy. He is one of the most hyped up players in a while, even drawing comparisons to LeBron James, due to his selfless style and high basketball IQ. In five preseason games, Simmons averaged 11.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

Joel Embiid

The GOAT on social media (Twitter.com)

Not only is Twitter better with a healthy Joel Embiid, but the NBA is a joy to watch when this man is on the court. Recently, we saw Embiid get into a Twitter fight with Miami Heat star Hassan Whiteside. The exchange was over a preseason game. I can’t even imagine what this guy is capable of over an entire season, both on and off the court.

In just 25.4 minutes per game last year, Embiid averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. His season was sadly cut short due to a left knee injury.

Recently, the 76ers told Embiid that he will be on minutes’ restriction to start the year. Embiid had a few harsh words to say on the decision, but you can’t not love this guy. He is absolutely hysterical and backed up his clown behavior with incredible numbers in his first 31 career games.

The 76ers could easily make a playoff run with Simmons and Embiid healthy. I will be praying to the basketball gods on a nightly basis to keep Embiid on the floor and all over social media. The NBA needs personalities like this, which is why Embiid’s health is so crucial.

Lonzo Ball

Big Baller Brand for life! If Lonzo were to get hurt, that means less LaVar. Is this a world you would want to live in? Actually, don’t answer that. Seriously though, the Lonzo Ball hype train has been full for months and itching to take off.

Because of his father’s comments, Lonzo is walking into the league with a target on his back. He is considered to be extremely calm and laid back, yet players already don’t like him. People are tired of hearing about him and he has yet to play a minute of meaningful basketball. Can he shoot? Will he get bullied? Does he have what it takes to bring the Lakers to the playoffs? LaVar believes so, but we can only wait and see.

If Zo were to get injured, we wouldn’t be able to see what shoe he will predominately be rocking on the court. If you watched any of the Summer League, you would know that the cameras were more focused on Ball’s footwear than the actual game.

Kyrie Irving

Headlining the biggest breakup saga of the summer, Irving is ready to be the man, and the point guard he knows he can be. Without Irving, the East would be a total joke. The only team that poses a threat to LeBron and the Cavs in the East is Kyrie’s Celtics.

Can Kyrie keep the Celtics afloat? (Photo from SI.com)

Say what you want about Washington and Toronto, but if Hayward comes back, the Celtics are the only team that could give the Cavs a run for their money. The NBA needs Uncle Drew on the floor.

Kyrie vs. Lebron in the Eastern Conference finals is a dream waiting to happen. We don’t really know exactly how they feel about each other, but we do know that they are not on talking terms.

The rivalry between Boston and Cleveland was growing, but now it has risen to another level. Irving could also make a serious run at MVP, so we can only pray as his injury history is rather suspect.

Lebron James

An NBA without LeBron James doesn’t seem possible, as he has never missed a significant amount of time, but you just never know.

LeBron, the obvious face of the NBA, is so vital it is not even funny. He now has beef with Kyrie, which gives the Eastern Conference some serious drama. And, of course, James and the Cavs always have their eyes on Golden State.

This season, James is looking to become the youngest player to reach 30,000 points. He will turn 33 in December and needs 1,213 points to eclipse 30,000. The youngest to 30,000 is currently Kobe Bryant, who accomplished this at 34 years and 104 days.

James could also become the first forward to ever achieve 8,000 career assists. The NBA would probably burn down if this man was out, but I really don’t think the basketball gods would let that happen.

Russell Westbrook

Mr. Triple-Double, Russ is a must-see on TV. He is arguably the most exciting player to watch, and now has serious talent around him. They told Russ it wasn’t possible to average a triple-double in today’s NBA, and he responded with a simple “why not?”

It’s not just his style of play that is exciting. Westbrook’s fashion game is out of this world. The man never wears an outfit twice, and has quite a peculiar taste in clothing. His postgame interviews are always a joy to watch, as he has no problem with making a reporter look foolish.

Also, the KD vs. Russ battle just got more interesting with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Could we see these two duke it out in the Western Conference finals?

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Last season, the “Greek Freak” led the Bucks in scoring, assists, rebounding, steals and blocks. Antetokounmpo became the first player to ever finish top 20 in all five major statistical categories. He’s arguably the most lovable guy in the league.

Recently, Kevin Durant spoke extremely high of him, claiming Antetokounmpo could be the “best player to ever play if he really wanted to.” Durant would go on to say that Antetokounmpo is his favorite player to watch.

The best part is that he is only 22 years old. The sky is the limit for this kid. While Milwaukee won’t win the championship, they could be an interesting team. In a lot of insiders’ minds, Antetokounmpo is a dark horse for MVP. He has an incredible backstory and is the most innocent guy in the league.

Kristaps Porzingis

How great would it be if basketball was relevant again in New York? The “Unicorn” has a chance to make this happen. With Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony out of town, Porzingis has the opportunity to become a star in the Big Apple.

NBA injuries

Will the Unicorn make New York relevant? (Photo from ESPN.com)

Much like Antetokounmpo, Porzingis is young at age 22 and extremely likable. On at least two occasions, the Knicks star has slid into the “dm’s” of Instagram models. While the conversations may not have went as Porzingis hoped, you have to respect the game.

It’s a rebuilding year for the Knicks, but expect Porzingis to elevate his game. Last season, he averaged 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and two blocks a game. If Porzingis were to go down, people might forget that New York has professional basketball in their state.

 

 

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Hayward

Gordon Hayward fractures ankle in season opener

Tuesday night the Boston Celtics traveled to Quicken Loans arena to face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers. With less than seven minutes left in the first quarter of the season opener, Gordan Hayward suffered a horrific injury.

Hayward fracture

After attempting to catch an alley-oop from Kyrie Irving, Hayward collided with LeBron James and Jae Crowder. The small forward landed on his leg, which folded under his body.

The instant Hayward hit the floor the six-foot-eight guard slid over and grabbed his leg. With six minutes and 40 seconds left in the first quarter, players from both teams were showing immense concern for their fellow NBA brother.

The medical staff would place an air cast on his foot to secure the fractured ankle.  After the training staff and medical staff secured Hayward, he was carted off of the court where he was met by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and others.

Aftermath

Fans gave Hayward a standing ovation as he was carted off to the locker room for further evaluation.

Hayward’s injury sucked the energy out of the Quicken Loans Arena and from both teams. After the devastating injury, Celtics center Al Harford was encouraging Irving to keep pushing, while Jaylen Brown was caught with his mouth open searching for words.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had to pull his troops together and encourage them to move on. Later you would see Irving huddling with Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum.

Moments later the former Butler Bulldog would receive X-rays from both team staffs. The Celtics arranged for the former Jazz forward to be flown back to Boston.

During the post-game interview, Boston coach Brad Stevens explained to the reporters that Hayward had a dislocated tibia and a fractured left ankle.

Despite a heroic comeback, the Celtics would lose to 102-99.

The 27-year-old signed a four-year, $128 million contract with the Celtics during the summer. This is a horrific blow for the Celtics.

The franchise was expecting to implement a one-two punch with Irving and Hayward. The two would lead a team with young talent.

Despite this injury, it’s nice to know that the league supports one another. Throughout the coverage of the injury, other players sent well wishes, thoughts, and prayers for the small forward.

Cleveland head coach Tyron Lue tweeted his well wishes to Hayward.

Featured image taken by Gregory Shamus 

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2017 Eastern Conference predictions: 76ers and Celtics

With what feels like the most compelling offseason in NBA history, there will be no lack of storylines to follow this season. There is a ton of grey area when it comes to how things are going to shape up in the Eastern Conference so here are two bold predictions for the East this season.

Philadelphia 76ers make the playoffs

2017 Eastern Conference predictions: 76ers Celtics

(MetroUS)

Trust the process has been the motto in Philly for what feels like an eternity and fans in the area haven’t seen a winning product since the 2011-2012 season where they made it to the conference semi-finals. Since then there has not been any hope or optimism surrounding the franchise besides receiving the number one pick a few a times, but this year feels much different.

The 76ers have been plagued with injuries and mismanagement for five seasons but the process is finally coming to fruition. With what seems to be a healthy Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons the world will be able to see how this team of high picks will be able to play together. There have been reports of minutes restriction for Embiid but for this case were assuming he will start.

Being in the Eastern Conference gives this young team a chance to be in contention for a playoff spot and they’re going to sneak into the eight or seven spot. With players like Dario Saric and Robert Covington stepping up last season and the influx of the young guns like Fultz, Simmons and Embiid, this team is much more interesting.

After finishing in the bottom of the barrel last season, they have a chance to completely turn around the entire identity of the franchise. Adding free agents like J.J. Reddick and Amir Johnson brings important veteran leadership to one of the youngest teams in the league that will have a huge impact on them moving forward.

With many teams in the Eastern Conference getting worse like the Pacers, Knicks, Bulls and of course the Nets, there is no reason to think that the 76ers don’t have a shot to make the playoffs this season and finally give Philly fans something to be proud of.

Celtics No. 1 seed again

2017 Eastern Conference predictions: 76ers Celtics

(Sporting News)

After the blockbuster trades and the huge free agent signings, the Celtics are poised to be one of the top dogs of the Eastern Conference. After the Celtics managed to lock up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season, they are in an even better position to repeat that this year as well.

There are only three other teams that are in the discussion for the No. 1 seed: The Cavaliers, Raptors and Wizards. The reason  the Celtics have the best chance is simple. They got better while everyone else more or less stayed the same besides the Cavs.

The reason the Cavs won’t be able to win the Eastern Conference this season is because the injuries to Isaiah Thomas, and the fact that they really don’t care where they end up. I still think a fully healthy Cavaliers have the edge in playoffs against the Celtics, so they just don’t care whether they’re the first or second seed.

Don’t get me wrong, I would not be surprised if the Cavaliers still manage to get the one seed, but with Isaiah out until the All-Star break and the Cavaliers being one of the oldest teams in the league, they won’t be taking every game as seriously as other teams.

The Cavs basically want to get one of the top three seeds and will plan for the playoffs because the regular season is essentially a formality to them. Knowing LeBron, he will be looking to send a message when they play the top teams in the league but he won’t mind taking a few games off like he did last season.

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NBA opening night predictions: Celtics vs Cavs, Rockets vs Warriors

It’s been a while since we have had regular season basketball. On Tuesday night, the NBA regular season kicks off. The two games slated are the Boston Celtics on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Houston Rockets on the road taking on the Golden State Warriors.

These two matchups have a possible conference final feel to them to tip off the season. They also have a little bit of bad blood in them as well.

The NBA season has finally returned and with a lot of Allstars changing teams this season should make for an interesting one.

Celtics and Cavaliers

Everyone knows about the bad blood between Kyrie and the city of Cleveland. That is going to be the best kick off to the season that could possibly happen. Kyrie gets to travel to Cleveland and hear all the boos and possibly lead his new team in a win over his former team.

The Celtics and Cavaliers finished one and two in the East last season and if these teams didn’t already know each other before, they certainly do now.

Both of the teams’ new guards are feeding into the fire as well. Isaiah Thomas said he may never talk to Danny Ainge again. Kyrie Irving has been quoted numerous times comparing the two cities now that he has found a new home.

So what does this mean for this game? It means that it will be chippy for sure, there will be a lot of booing of Kyrie Irving and there will probably be some technical fouls. All in all it will be a tough game that is a perfect way to open up the NBA season.

I think that the Cavs still win this one by near double-digits. The crowd will be fired up and LeBron James still seems to be frustrated with the way Kyrie left things. The Cavaliers take a statement win at home. These two teams will continue to give us great matchups moving forward.

Rockets and Warriors

NBA opening night predictions

James Harden guarding Steph Curry, Photo Courtesy of Trashtalk.co.

The Rockets acquired All-Star guard Chris Paul this summer from the Los Angeles Clippers. The Rockets have now built a starting lineup that many think can compete with the loaded Golden State Warriors.

In a possible Western Conference finals matchup, both the defending champs and a team predicted in the top five in power rankings square off. The Warriors add different pieces to their bench and can deliver blows to the Rockets.

The Rockets traded Sam Dekker, Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley and depleted their depth. They look to get big minutes out of their key guys heading into this season. Look for Eric Gordon to carry the bench scoring load as the season moves forward and be a front runner for the Sixth Man of the Year again.

Ultimately I think the season starts off with the Warriors winning by around 16. The Warriors are too deep and the Rockets are a team that will take a little time to gel. It’s also extremely difficult to win at Oracle and there’s no doubt it will be rocking on opening night.

The Season as a whole

Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Chris Paul, Paul Millsap and others have switched conferences, which will create the most exciting season in recent memory.

The young players who have entered the league are creating a large amount of buzz. Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum are all set to take the NBA by storm.

Teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers who haven’t made the playoffs in a few years are set to make a playoff run. A shifting of the power has made it more interesting and a less predictable narrative.

This new season will be one of the best and Tuesday night we get to kick the season off. Look for a lot of entertaining games and a lot less rest from star players. In summary, the NBA is back and it’s not a moment too soon.

 

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NBA season preview: Atlantic Division

The NBA basketball season is quickly approaching, so the balance in many of the divisions has shifted. The Atlantic division doesn’t seem to be one of those conferences, however.

In a weak Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors are the only teams out of the Atlantic that were playoff bound. There are teams on the rise, and teams also falling, but the Atlantic division is on the rise as a whole.

Here are my predictions for the five Atlantic division teams going into 2017-18 NBA season.

Boston Celtics:

2016-2017 record: 53-29

2017-2018 prediction 55-27

Well the rich just keep getting richer. The Boston Celtics added two All-Star guards this summer but they also lost their leader and defensive star. Isaiah Thomas was the heart and soul of the Boston Celtics and now he plays for a conference rival.

They also lost Avery Bradley who was a star in the playoffs when Isaiah Thomas went down. He also was the Celtics’ most consistent player throughout the entire season.

What they got in return far outweighs their loses. Even though the Celtics lost nearly their entire roster from last year, keeping just Rozier, Brown, Smart and Horford, they managed to get better this summer. With the big additions of Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes and Jayson Tatum the Boston Celtics are going to be building firmly on where they were just a year ago.

The Celtics may not be the best team in the East, but they at least will have a shot at it.

Brooklyn Nets:

Photo Courtesy of Nothingbutnets.com.

2016-2017 record: 20-62

2017-2018 prediction: 29-53

Well there’s no way around it. The Nets were the worst team in basketball last season. They have gotten better this summer by adding D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mosgov and DeMarre Carroll but it’s hard to see them as anything better than a 30-win team heading into this season.

The bright side is that there are teams out there who are worse than them on paper as of now, but no one knows what happens come October when the season starts.

They have a long way to go in Brooklyn and with the Celtics having all of the Nets’ first round draft picks from the last couple years, there have been some tough times in Brooklyn.

New York Knicks:

2016-2017 record: 31-51

2017-2018 prediction: 34-48

The Knicks have had a strange offseason. Their two best players were both mentioned in trade talks and then Phil Jackson was let go.

Obviously it’s hard to see the Knicks getting a ton better with the loss of Derrick Rose, but it’s another year for Porzingis to grow and for Melo to continue to be the scorer he always has been.

The Knicks did make some interesting moves this offseason. Frank Ntilkina is not someone you can judge at all because he hasn’t played against NBA guys but Phil Jackson passed on Dennis Smith Jr. and he had an incredible summer.

The contracts to Ron Baker and Tim Hardaway Jr. seemed a little heavy for the production that they put forward, but the Knicks will win games.

All in all I think the Knicks win a few of the close games they didn’t last season, and set themselves up well for the future.

Philadelphia 76ers:

Photo Courtesy of Sportsrageous.com.

2016-2017 record: 28-54

2017-2018 prediction: 37-44

The 76ers are a young and talented team on paper who can only get better as time wears on because the core group of stars have never played together.

Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons are both viable candidates for Rookie of the Year and Joel Embiid and Dario Saric played great basketball over a short timespan last season. The key here is injuries, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.

Saric, Embiid and Simmons were all hurt at length last season but if all four of these key guys, combined with a shooter like J.J. Redick can all stay healthy, this should be a playoff team.

Toronto Raptors:

2016-2017 record: 51-31

2017-2018 prediction: 46-36

It’s tough to think the Raptors got much better this offseason. They kept their backcourt duo in check but lost Patrick Patterson who did a lot of dirty work for the team. They didn’t gain any star players, as they are just looking to develop more.

Even though the East is weak and the Atlantic is certainly weak, the Raptors are still less superior to quite a few Western Conference teams and at least three Eastern Conference teams.

It will certainly be an interesting season for the North, but I think it’s hard to find them winning as many games as last season.

 

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Breaking down the Cavaliers and Celtics blockbuster trade

Just when the NBA offseason seemed over, one of the biggest moves shook up the top of the Eastern Conference.

Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets pick were shipped away for Kyrie Irving Tuesday night and it shocked the NBA. Kyrie was obviously demanding a trade, however most people didn’t view the Boston Celtics as a landing spot, even if they could offer the best package.

As the top two teams in the Eastern Conference last season, the Cavaliers and Celtics didn’t seem like ideal trade partners. This trade is unique because both teams have gotten better in their own ways.

The Celtics

Cavaliers Celtics Blockbuster Trade

Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, Photo Courtesy of inquisitr.com.

Ultimately there were two big problems here. Isaiah Thomas is one offseason away from a new possible max contract, and Jae Crowder would contribute to a log jam at the small forward position.

When the Celtics made this trade, they were looking for stability, and that comes with Kyrie Irving. Irving has at least one more year on his contract and he is obviously not coming off a hip injury.

Jae Crowder is a guy who would ultimately interfere with the development of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Crowder would receive minutes that could be going to Tatum and Brown, which are important minutes that would speed up their development.

Based on this season’s summer league (obviously not that important), Zizic was at least one step slow. He seemed to be a few years away from translating his skills to contribute to an NBA rotation.

The biggest part of this whole deal is the Brooklyn Nets draft pick. The Nets haven’t recently been a powerhouse, and because of that the chance of that pick being high in the lottery is more likely than not.

The 2018 NBA Draft will be a loaded draft without a doubt, but with the additions of D’Angelo Russell and DeMarre Carroll, the Nets might not be in the cellar anymore.

The Cavaliers

Cavaliers Celtics Blockbuster Trade

Kyrie Irving, Photo Courtesy of Image Arcade.

Listen, there really wasn’t a choice for Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers here. Kyrie had voiced his frustration and if he had stayed on the Cavs to start the season, who knows how it would’ve played out.

The Celtics ultimately had the most to offer, but sending one of your stars to a conference rival is always messy. I don’t think the Cavaliers get to the Warriors level with this move, but they do close the gap.

Isaiah Thomas’ production-wise is nearly even with Kyrie and much cheaper, but the big key here is Crowder.

Richard Jefferson seems like he’s been playing in the NBA for 30 years, but for a fair amount of Finals minutes he chases Kevin Durant around. Jae Crowder adds another wave of defense to try and contain Durant.

In turn, Jae can attempt to guard Durant and give LeBron more minutes to rest.

The trade also opens up the idea of life after LeBron or could even get him to stay. The 2018 Nets pick could very well be a star.

There has been a lot of speculation on what LeBron will do next summer in regards to where he will play. If LeBron does walk, the Nets pick could be a player to build around. At the same time, LeBron could look at that as a reason to stay, and another playmaker to compete with the Warriors down the road.

The East moving forward

Oddly enough, these players were viewed differently by their former fan bases. Thomas was loved by the Celtics for putting it all on the line every night. Kyrie made the biggest shot in Cleveland Cavaliers history, but he also demanded to be traded out of that same scenario.

Both of the primary players in this trade are below average defenders and that’s a given, but both guards have unique skills that will be better suited for their new locations.

Kyrie is a pure playmaker who loves to finish around the rim and is possibly the best finisher in our game today. He comes to a Celtics team looking to help stretch the floor and finish when team don’t collapse, something he is better than Thomas at.

Thomas has the ability to spot up and also slash to create for others. Sharing the ball with LeBron will mean he will be off the ball much more than he was with the Celtics.

His spot up shooting was at 40 percent from three last season and that is with a large sample size. Thomas’ statistics will diminish without being the primary offensive weapon but he will still score well.

Both the Cavaliers and Celtics got better, and neither team lost this trade as the teams just filled different needs. The two top teams in the East just got a whole lot more interesting. Keep a lookout for opening night where Kyrie will get his nice warm welcome by Cavalier fans.

 

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Welcome to Boston, Kyrie Irving

Just when you thought the Boston Celtics were done with their off-season journey, they strike again. Boston has acquired All-Star guard, Kyrie Irving, from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Boston has agreed to trade All-Star guard, Isaiah Thomas, Ante Zizic, Jae Crowder and 2018 Nets First Round Pick.

Its been over a month since Kyrie Irving openly talked about his urge to get out of Cleveland. Well, welcome to Boston: home of 17 NBA Championships.

Boston has made the biggest decisions this NBA off-season. They have acquired Gordon Hayward from the Utah Jazz. They have traded Avery Bradley to the Pistons. They drafted Jayson Tatum. What more can they do? Oh yeah, pick up the one of the best guards Kyrie Irving, if not the best, in the NBA.

Kyrie Irving averaged 25.2 points-per-game last season, while helping lead the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals for the third straight year.

Photo Courtesy of (NBA.com)

Isaiah Thomas will be truly missed in Boston. His determination to make this team succeed was impeccable. Thomas averaged 23.3 points-per-game last season, bringing the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Ante Zizic is a 7-foot rookie-center, who is on his way to Cleveland now. Zizic made the Boston roster just weeks ago.

Jae Crowder is entering his fifth season in the NBA, after averaging nearly 14 points-per-game for Boston last season. Crowder was originally drafted by Cleveland in 2012.

After this trade, Boston is a definite favorite for the Eastern Conference champions. They fell to Cleveland last year 4-1. Kyrie is ready to play for Coach Brad Stevens, making him a great fit in Boston.

Mark the calendars for October 17th, as Boston travels to Cleveland for the first game of the season. Kyrie will be in the Celtic green.

 

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Top five NBA coaches heading into the 2017-18 season

Every NBA team is chock-full of talent. Each team needs a good coach to shuffle a lineup and find the players that mesh the right way. Sometimes some of the best teams in basketball don’t work well in a bad coaching system.

Coaches also have to deal with large egos, injuries and the grueling 82-game season filled with scheduling obstacles. It is easy for a coach to let a city, the players or even the fans get the best of them. Here are the top five coaches heading into this NBA season.

Number five: Rick Carlisle

Listen, let’s just forget about this past season and remember the body of work here. Carlisle in his lengthy career as a coach has only had two teams fall under the .500 mark.

He is 28-30 coaching in the playoffs and has an NBA championship thanks to beating the LeBron James led Miami Heat.

Carlisle is 694-520 in regular season games and will become just the 18th coach to hit 700 wins this upcoming season. He also won the Coach of the Year award in the 2001-02 season.

Carlisle has had the pleasure of coaching guys like Shawn Marion, Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki throughout his tenure and has found a way to get the best out of them.

Number four: Erik Spoelstra

top five NBA coaches

Erik Spoelstra, Photo Courtesy of SI.com.

Spoelstra has risen from a video coordinator to two-time NBA champion and a spot in the top five.

In his first years he obviously benefited from having LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but some of Spoelstra’s most impressive coaching came in the last 41 games of last season. He coached his team from what was a 11-30 season and turning it into 41-41.

Spoelstra has an impressive 70-40 playoff record and has won 61 percent of his regular season games.

Spoelstra will continue to be tested moving forward as his team is no longer the front runner in the Eastern Conference.

Number three: Brad Stevens

Stevens has had a short amount of time coaching in the association and came on board with the Celtics mid-rebuild.

Stevens is 11-17 in the playoffs, but has run into the Cavaliers in two of the last three times he has made it to the playoffs.

The first season he took over as head coach, the Celtics had 25 wins and last season had 53. He also continues to build moving forward with the recent addition of Gordon Hayward.

Stevens has won 51 percent of his games and will continue to improve that mark moving forward.

Number two: Steve Kerr

top five NBA coaches

Steve Kerr, Photo Courtesy of chicagotribune.com.

Winning two out of the last three championships will absolutely win you credit.

Steve Kerr has been fantastic for the Golden State Warriors. He has led the to the best NBA regular season record of all time and has gone 207-39 in three years at the helm. Kerr has proven that lots of talent doesn’t just translate to wins but also to championships.

Kerr has been fantastic, but it has been too small of a sample size to propel him into the top spot. It also doesn’t help that during the playoffs last year Mike Brown stepped in and coached the Warriors extremely well.

This Warriors team has a ton of talent and if Kerr sticks around and can stay healthy, he will quickly approach the top spot on this list.

Number one: Gregg Popovich

Pop has created a way of life in San Antonio. He has created a system that works with nearly all selfless players.

He has created a platform for Kawhi Leonard to grow into a star and successfully passed the torch from Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker to Kawhi Leonard and Lamarcus Aldridge almost without skipping a beat.

Pop has 1,150 wins which is more than three of the other four coaches have total games.

He has five NBA championships and some electric in-game interviews. Coach Popovich, if he retired tomorrow, goes down as the best coach in NBA history, but for now he just gets to improve on the most impressive resume we have seen in the game today.

There used to be a day in which people said once Duncan, Ginobili and Parker retire the Spurs will drastically struggle. As Ginobili and Parker begin to pack it up and follow Duncan, the Spurs were the two seed in last year’s NBA Playoffs.

Popovich has created an incredible winning culture and the Spurs don’t seem to be slowing down.

Summary

Good coaches are hard to come by. Many of the best teams have the best coaches to lead the players they have.

Six of the last seven NBA championships have been won by a member of this list. The only one who hasn’t is Brad Stevens.

A good coach creates a culture and can get players to buy into a system. Nearly all of the coaches listed have created a winning foundation and atmosphere during their tenures in the Association. We will see just how good each coach will perform in the 2017-18 NBA regular season and beyond.

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of sportsworldnews.com

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NBA regular season change: Will it work?

The NBA schedule has been changed for the 2017-18 season, and the main theme seems to be rest.

The regular season has been expanded by a week and the preseason has been cut short by a week. Ideally the NBA is trying to have stars playing in more games in general and play in more televised games.

By expanding the NBA season, there won’t be as many harsh road trips, or back-to-back games on short rest. With the NBA season shifting slightly, stars will get to play in meaningful regular season games with more rest.

There is also a new rule penalizing teams for sitting healthy star players. What if a star is listed as injured with “shoulder tightness” when in reality, he is just a healthy scratch due to wanting rest? Commissioner Adam Silver is going to have a tough time actually enforcing the rules he is doctoring up this off-season.

The NBA regular season issue

NBA regular season

Resting Cavaliers bench, Photo Courtesy of bcsn.tv.

Players across all sports have been doing it for years: being healthy scratches with bogus injury titles as an excuse. Now that there is a penalty for being a healthy scratch, there could be even more illegitimate injuries.

Obviously throughout last season there were many problems with resting stars. The Cleveland Cavaliers finished in the two spot in the East, but beat the one seeded Boston Celtics in five games in the Eastern Conference finals. Most people knew the Cavaliers were significantly better, but chose to rest stars and prepare for the postseason versus playing out every game.

The NBA has tried to solve the problem of teams playing back-to-back games. LeBron missed eight games in the 2016-17 season, five of them were due to back-to-backs.

The problem is the media partnership with the NBA. Money is being put into the NBA because fans want and expect to see superstars play in primetime games. Ultimately, many playoff teams have made it clear that they would rather coast through the regular season and be healthy and rested for the playoffs than have home court advantage for certain series.

With the new rules, teams will be forced to rest players a lot less.

Will it work?

Honestly it might deter resting players for the most part, but everyone needs rest. If a team knows they can coast through the regular season and still win in the playoffs, there’s no reason to not rest players.

The solution

The NBA season is long and grueling. If the best competition is coming in the playoffs, all the players should be healthy. The mutual agreement should be that stars are rested gradually and not all at once. For instance, if Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and Gordon Hayward all want to skip a game to rest up, they should sit out different games so that fans can still get to see stars in every game.

That would also mean that there is still a very competitive product on the court for primetime games. The solution to resting is to spread it out and make it less immediate.

Fans will always complain no matter who they get to see, but if they get to see the majority of their favorite players, they will be more happy than seeing none of them.

The idea of limiting rest makes sense for the league, but if Silver doesn’t enforce his rules right, he could lose some credibility league-wide. If the NBA wants to put strict restrictions on resting players, then there’s a chance some of the best players will be hurt come playoff time.

Extending the regular season will help improve the condition of the players, but if Silver puts in place a gradual resting for stars and starters, not only the players will be happy, so will the league and the fans.

 

Featured Photo Courtesy of Carolinablitz.com.

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