Playing The Point – April 10, 2017

Kevin Durant; Credit – Getty Images

By jay Colby,

1. Durant returns to the Warriors – Kevin Durant made his return to action Saturday night against the New Orleans Pelicans. Kevin Durant had his moments of feeling down, unable to play the sport he loves while watching his teammates initially struggle then, later, shine without him.
This was Durant’s first game action since he suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise five weeks ago. Durant played 31 minutes and finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Durant was 6-of-15 from the field and 0-of-4 from 3-point range, and he knocked down all four of his free throws in a 123-101 victory over the Pelicans. With Durant’s return is seems likely that nothing will stop the Warriors on their way to a 3rd straight finals.

2. Lebron dominates in Cavs win over Boston – Lebron James finished with 36 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in a 114 – 91 victory over the Celtics. In this highly anticipated mid-week matchup with both teams fighting for the NO. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics had hoped to prove to the league and themselves that they are a viable threat to the Cavs. However, Lebron James and the Cavs had different plans dominating the game from start to finish. Boston had no answer for the 3-time champion as he had his way in the post against whoever tried to defend him. After the game, Kevin Love told reporters “We put together a good string of basketball for just about 48 minutes, and it felt like us… It had been a while since we’ve put together a game like that, and we needed that.”Love finished the game with a solid 15 points and 16 rebounds. For the Celtics, the sad truth became apparent that they are still a star player away to compete with the Cavs in a seven-game series. The Cavs are now 2 games up on the Celtics with two games left in the regular season.

3. Russell Westbrook clinches Triple Double average for season – Russell Westbrook is the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season. Westbrook accomplished this in a 120 – 99 lost to the Phoenix Suns finishing the game with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assist. Westbrook is the first player since the Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson to average a triple double for an entire season. Although achieving this all-time record some people still question Westbrook’s game and the validity of his stats this season. After taking over a Durant less team Westbrook has proven that he is a legit Superstar in this league and deserves to be in the MVP discussions.

4. Celtics secure No.1 spot in 2017 NBA draft lottery via the Brooklyn Nets – The Boston Celtics got a huge win late last week without even playing a game. With the Phoenix Suns’ victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder last Friday night. The Brooklyn Nets clinched the worst record in the league this season. Thus, meaning that there is a 25 percent chance of having the No.1 pick in what is supposed to be a loaded draft. The pick belongs to the Celtics, via their trade of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn in 2014. Even though the Celtics will likely end the season with a No.1 or No.2 seed in Eastern Conference they are still missing one star player to become a viable threat to the Cavs. If the Celtics win the lottery and get the No.1 overall pick there will certainly be some debate on who they should draft. In this loaded draft, many experts predict the likely pick we be either Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball or Josh Jackson.

5. NBA to expand criteria for Last Two Minutes reports in 2017 playoffs – The NBA announced last week the standards for “Last Two Minutes” officiating reports will increase for the playoffs which begin Saturday, April 15. The league will continue to release play-by-play reports of all calls and material non-calls in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter or the last two minutes of any overtime period for all games within five points at the two-minute mark of the relevant period. In an extension to the criteria for this year’s playoffs, Last Two Minute Reports will also be issued for all games within three points at any stage in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter or the last two minutes of any overtime period. The change continues recent efforts to bring additional transparency to the NBA’s officiating program.

6. Kawhi Leonard makes strong case for MVP–Since the 2011 draft Kawhi Leonard has always been driven to be a great player. Two years after being drafted he was named the 2014 Finals MVP, the next season he won his first of two back to back Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards. Now this season Leonard has taken his game to another level averaging a career high 25.7 PPG this season. He stellar play has made him alegitimate MVP candidate just slightly behind Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson injures right thumb -Tristan Thompson’s “Iron Man” streak is over. The Cavaliers’ run of bad luck when it comes to injures seem like it will never end.Thompson sprained his right thumb last week and has not played since the injury occurred. The relentless rebounder got hurt during the third quarter of Tuesday’s win over Orlando, and Thompson didn’t travel with the team. The Cavs officials have accounted it is indeed a sprain.Ending his consecutive games played streak at 447 a team record and the longest active stretch in the league. Thompson’s streak dated back to Feb. 10, 2012, during his rookie season. Channing Frye has replaced Thompson in the starting lineup, but doesn’t have the defensive capabilities that Thompson provides.

8. Derrick Rose has knee surgery, New York Knicks say 3-6 weeks for recovery – Derrick Rose has had his latest knee surgery and the New York Knicks say he could resume basketball activities in three weeks. Rose had arthroscopic surgery Wednesday to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. The former MVP has been plagued by knee problems in recent years and has had surgery on both knees. This procedure was performed in Chicago by Dr. Brian Cole, who collaborated with Knicks team physicians. The Knicks said it was “uncomplicated” surgery and that Rose would have a full recovery and could resume basketball activities in approximately three-to-six weeks.Rose will be a free agent this summer following his first season with the Knicks after they acquired him from Chicago.

9. NBA will spend more time on issue of teams resting players –Over the past few weeks there have many discussions and debates on resting star players who are not injured. This week commissioner Adam Sliver called the issue the most critical issue in the NBA at the moment. “There is no more important issue in the league right now, it goes to the heart of what we do and the core of competition,” Silver said after the NBA’s Board of Governors meetings convened in Manhattan. “It is something that we will be spending a lot more time on.”Next season, the NBA will add a week to the schedule to spread games out more. Silver is confident that the prospects of teams playing four games in five nights will almost be completely eliminated and that back-to-back slates will be reduced.

10. Has Jeff Green played his last game with the Magic? – The 8 year veteran has not played since March 20 because of what the Orlando Magic are listing as a sore lower back. When speaking with reporters, Green said he will not play the remainder of the season. Green told the Orlando Sentinel. “I wanted to finish out the games, but I’ve got to make sure I’m right before I step out on the floor. But it was the team’s decision to shut me down…”If it was the playoffs, I could play. But it makes no sense at this point to try to come back and force the issue.”

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