We have that and more in Monday’s NBA newsletter.
We have never stopped debating the James Harden trade, even though it’s clear at this point that you should never trade a talent like James Harden, even if you have talents like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and even if you still nearly make the NBA Finals a few years later.
I fear we may never stop debating the Paul George-Victor Oladipo trade, either.
I mean, it’s a victory for the Indiana Pacers and GM Kevin Pritchard that we call the Paul George-Victor Oladipo trade now — anything less would be rude, and who wants to be rude to Victor Oladipo? Sunday was a perfect distillation. First, Oladipo led the the Pacers to an 18-point beatdown of LeBron James and the Cavaliers. It was LeBron’s first loss in the first round since 2012. And it felt nothing like a fluke. The Pacers are good, and Oladipo had 32 points on 11-19 shooting with 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals.
This result gave those disposed to criticizing the Thunder’s offseason and Russell Westbrook’s leadership an opportunity to grandstand … until like 10 minutes later when Oklahoma City took the court in Game 1 against Utah and Paul George transformed into Playoff P before our eyes.
Playoff P had 36 points on 13-20 shooting (8-11 from three!) and 7 rebounds in a big Thunder win over the hot Jazz. George was the best player on the court throughout and gave the OKC faithful a reason to hope that the Thunder could be competitive beyond the first round.
And here we are, still debating whether the Pacers fleeced the Thunder or vice versa. The truth is, obviously, somewhere in the middle. Heck, this debate might eventually be settled by the development of Domantas Sabonis … assuming Playoff P sticks around beyond this summer.
(Psst, while you’re here: did you know you could have gotten this post in your email inbox early this morning? And you can get a post like it every day through the playoffs, NBA Draft, and free agency? All you have to do is stick your email address in the box below and we’ll sign you up.)
Celtics 113, Bucks 107 (OT)
Recaps: Celtics Blog | Brew Hoop
Pacers 98, Cavaliers 80
Recaps: Indy Cornrows | Fear The Sword
Thunder 116, Jazz 108
Recaps: Welcome to Loud City | SLC Dunk
Rockets 104, Timberwolves 101
Recaps: The Dream Shake | Canis Hoopus
Heat at 76ers, 8 p.m. ET, TNT
Philadelphia leads 1-0
Spurs at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Golden State leads 1-0
Links on Links Links on Links
Me on Monday morning after a weekend of good playoff basketball.
The Rockets, other than James Harden and Clint Capela, weren’t very good on Sunday. They still won, largely because Harden is unstoppable. The Wolves weren’t close to playing their optimal offense, though — feed Karl-Anthony Towns, for heaven’s sake!
The end of that game was completely bonkers thanks to a very strange free throw rebound fast break (yeah), a terrible Chris Paul turnover, and a … uh, flawed Jimmy Butler buzzer beater attempt.
Also bonkers: the close of Bucks-Celtics, Sunday’s most competitive and, let’s be real, ugly game. Here are the seven best moments from the finish. The Terry Rozier Experience is the scariest funhouse I’ve ever entered, and I’m not sure I ever want to go back. My brain’s grasp on reality isn’t survive enough to withhold such torque.
Seerat Sohi on how the Pacers were free to live in their own lights, leading to their shocking success this season.
In what is definitely my favorite tiny little storyline of the postseason so far due to my prior biases, apparently when the Pacers took the Oladipo deal instead of whatever the Cavaliers were offered for Paul George, Cleveland majority partner Dan Gilbert declared that Indiana “could have done better.” The comment got back to Oladipo, who flatly acknowledged being aware of it after Sunday’s game. Dang. Oladipo is cold.
It sounds like Kawhi Leonard is officially out for the remainder of the postseason, which means the Spurs’ postseason is going to be over in a week.
Nine things that happened the last time LeBron lost a game in the first round. It blows my mind that LeBron has won all three of his titles since the last time he lost a game in the first round.
Zito Madu on the essence of Ben Simmons’ dominance.
I wrote about Anthony Davis finally being unleashed in the NBA playoffs for real.
Much respect to Serge Ibaka, who flawlessly answers post-game questions in three languages.
The Knickerbockers appear to have a list of candidates for their coaching opening. In order from most serious to most hilarious: David Fizdale, Jerry Stackhouse, Mark Jackson, David Blatt, and Mike Woodson, who previously coached the Knicks!
The Hornets, meanwhile, have received permission to talk to Ettore Messina. That’d be interesting.
Strong John Schuhmann breakdown (is there any other kind?) of the Sixers’ developing offense.
Shaq claims his credit card got declined at 2 a.m. at a Phoenix-area Walmart as he attempted to furnish his apartment after being traded to the Suns. He was trying to charge $70,000 worth of stuff.
It appears Big Baller Brand might soon have a player not named Something Ball wearing BBB on the court. That man is Jordan Crawford, who jumped on the Pelicans for the playoff run. As they say, first Jordan Crawford then the world.
David French in National Review on why the NBA is ascendant in one word. Interesting piece.
Be excellent to each other.