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Tag: Avery Bradley

Wizards Must Overcome Road Woes to Advance, Featuring Chase Hughes & Michael Pina

The Celtics and Wizards won’t be friends any time soon, but they certainly have produced one memorable postseason series (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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Chase Hughes of Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and Vice SportsMichael Pina (also host of The Big Three Podcast) deliver back-to-back interviews in which they delve deeply into the captivating Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics. While the Celtics lead 3-2, the home team has won every single game of the series. No love between the teams has been lost either.

Wednesday was a crazy day for D.C. sports fans as the Washington Capitals hosted a Game 7 in which they fell to the Penguins, sending the Caps home early for yet another summer. Also in the nation’s capital, the talented Nationals roared back from four runs down to defeat the Beltway rival Orioles on a walk-off single. That same night, the Wizards lost a one-sided road Game 5 to the Celtics. As the series shifts back to D.C., the Wizards hope to keep their home magic alive just long enough to get one more crack at that elusive road victory in a decisive Game 7. Our guests expertly detail what to look for the remainder of the series, beginning with Chase Hughes who is followed by Michael Pina in the final segment. Continue reading

Dan Devine: Pelicans’ “Bully Ball” Could Take Toll on Warriors in Postseason (Trade Deadline Special)

Alongside new addition DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and the Pelicans hope to rise up the Western Conference standings and cause problems for the Warriors in the playoffs (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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Less than 24 hours before the NBA’s annual trade deadline, Yahoo! Sports NBA editor Dan Devine (Ball Don’t Lie) fits us into his busy schedule. Dan breaks down the league’s biggest trades to date (chief among them, this past weekend’s DeMarcus Cousins deal), hints at what may be on the horizon and touches upon the Clippers’ postseason prospects and two dark-horse contenders in the Rockets and Wizards. He even provides a glimpse into New Orleans cuisine. What a guy! What a show!

7:57-9:15: Dan explores how the DeMarcus Cousins acquisition will likely affect the Pelicans’ position in the race for the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed:

“Adding Boogie to the lineup, giving them that core three with Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, gives them, from a talent perspective, maybe the best core that you can offer in that group. It’s also worth remembering that New Orleans is three games back of Denver in the loss column right now, and they’ve got to leapfrog both Portland and Sacramento…They’ve got some work to do…and they’re going to have to integrate a gigantic piece with 25 games left in the season. Continue reading

Miami Is Seriously Heating Up (Power Rankings: Feb. 6, 2017 Edition)

In his first season in Miami, Dion Waiters is playing an outsized role in the Heat’s active 10-game winning streak (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

Up is down and down is up in this tumultuous edition of the power rankings, which features the most movement of any edition so far, with mighty teams struggling and lowly teams rising up. The Cleveland Cavaliers, still the consensus pick to come out of the Eastern Conference, went just 7-8 in January, giving LeBron James his first losing month since his rookie year. The Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets, both in last edition‘s top five, have lost eight of 11 and eight of their last 14, respectively. Even the seemingly unstoppable Golden State Warriors, who have occupied the No. 1 spot in our rankings every single edition except for our first, have dropped games since last edition to the Miami Heat and the Sacramento Kings.

On the other side, the Washington Wizards were just 13-16 before Christmas and have since gone 17-4, steadily climbing up the Eastern Conference standings to the third seed, and up our rankings to fourth. The Dallas Mavericks, at one point dead last in our rankings, have won six of their last seven games, their one loss coming to the Miami Heat. And finally, the twice-aforementioned Heat, unquestionably the NBA’s biggest story right now, were 11-30 and 29th in our previous power rankings, before rattling off 10 straight wins, a streak that is still active. These are some exciting times in the NBA.

Biggest Jumps: Miami Heat (+15), Washington Wizards (+8), Dallas Mavericks (+8)

Biggest Falls: Philadelphia 76ers (-8), Milwaukee Bucks (-8), Toronto Raptors (-8) Continue reading

Michael Pina: Celtics Should Keep Current Core, Resist Butler Trade

In addition to reigning over the fourth quarter most nights, Isaiah Thomas averaged 32.9 points per game in January, the fourth most prolific scoring month in franchise history (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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As Massachusetts readies for another Super Bowl appearance by its Patriots, the Boston Celtics are playing terrific basketball, guided by two-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas, who turned in one of the most prolific scoring months in franchise history this past January. To help us praise IT and get to the bottom of swirling trade rumors and Boston’s defensive woes, Michael Pina is on the scene. Pina, who covers the Celtics for Bleacher Report, hosts The Big Three podcast and writes about the league elsewhere, delivers a frank, spirited analysis of the team. In addition, this wide-ranging discussion hits on how Al Horford is fitting with this squad, how Brad Stevens’ coaching enhances Marcus Smart’s game, what the Celtics see in 20-year-old Jaylen Brown and why the Cavaliers and Tristan Thompson pose very specific problems for the postseason Celtics, among other topics. Oh yeah…the longtime Patriots fan also provides his Super Bowl prediction. Enjoy some excerpts below: 

7:38 – 8:04While Michael acknowledges Isaiah Thomas’ shortcomings on defense, he also highlights the diminutive point guard’s many defensive strengths:

“For all the bad things about Isaiah Thomas’ defense, I think his effort is always there despite the high offensive usage. He’s extremely tough, extremely physical, he does not die on screens, he fights over them, and really makes ball handlers work really hard, and he knows where to be. He gets up into guys, even when teams force switches and he’s up against a much larger player.”

11:47 – 12:13If Boston is able to hold the East’s No. 2 spot through Sunday’s games, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens will be coaching this season’s Eastern Conference All-Star squad:

“He deserves to coach an All-Star team. I think he’s one of the better overall coaches in basketball, let alone someone who’s that young, commands respect from everybody on the team. He’s fair to the players, and they appreciate that. He’s a great communicator. Since he was hired, he’s done a fantastic job of putting guys in positions where they can succeed, not asking too much of his players.” Continue reading

Beantown Basketball Banter and the East No Longer the Least

Avery Bradley's development has been a big part of Boston's success this season (Mark Runyon/BasketballSchedule.net)

Avery Bradley’s development has been a huge part of Boston’s success this season (Mark Runyon/BasketballSchedule.net).

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Following Loren’s interview with Red’s Army’s John Karalis earlier in the week, the boys are back together serving up Beantown basketball banter. Among the appetizing topics on the menu are Jared Sullinger’s beastly rebounding, Marcus Smart’s return from injury and the Celtics’ chances of representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Speaking of the East, what is this parity madness? Are Eastern teams really as good as the Western Conference squads all of a sudden? In the final segment of the episode, our co-hosts make sense of this surprising dynamic and discuss its importance to the league. 

Music: “Who Likes to Party?” by Kevin MacLeod

John Karalis: Regarding Preparation, Coach “(Brad) Stevens Is at Another Level” for Celtics

John Karalis (right) alongside the statue of Bill Russell in Boston's City Hall Plaza

John Karalis (right) alongside the statue of Bill Russell in Boston’s City Hall Plaza

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Danny Ainge and the youthful Boston Celtics are a fascinating study in team-building. On this week’s exhilarating interview episode, Loren is solo with Red’s Army’s John Karalis for a discussion of the Leprechauns’ current and future. Are they contenders or pretenders in the East? Among a number of topics, John explores in great detail the emergence of Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas’ adjustment to his starting role, team synergy and Brad Stevens’ superb coaching. Delectable sound bites can be found below:

3:38-4:13: “I still worry about them in the playoffs. I don’t think they have the type of makeup that will be a very successful playoff team, because rotations shrink, the game slows…it just becomes about talent overcoming other talent. So they’ve got enough to win a first-round series. I wonder how they’ll do in the later rounds, because they don’t have that one takeover guy.”

4:17-4:54:  “When Isaiah Thomas gets into hero mode, then the Celtics tend to have a little bit of a problem. It’s his greatest strength but his greatest weakness, because it’s that chip on his shoulder that makes him play so well at his size with his flaws, but when the game gets down to the last couple of minutes and the Celtics are down two or three, sometimes I think he plays a little outside of himself…and eliminates the ball movement that makes the Celtics so good.”

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