Playing The Point – April 17, 2017

Jimmy Butler; Credit – Getty Images

By Jay Colby,

1. Jimmy Butler Lead Bulls rally to beat Celtics 106-102 in series opener – In surprising fashion the Chicago Bulls comeback to beat the Boston Celtics behind Jimmy Butler 30 points and 9 rebounds. The Game 1 loss was an emotional night for Boston’s star Isaiah Thomas grieving the tragic loss of his 22-year-old sister Chyna Thomas. Who died in a car accident in Washington the day before game 1 of the series. Isaiah Thomas led Boston in scoring with 33 points. However, it was not enough and Chicago takes control of the series. Game 2 in the first-round series is Tuesday night in Boston.

2. Joe Johnson gives Jazz 1-0 series lead with game winner – When Rudy Gobert went down just a few seconds into the game. No one would suspect the Jazz would have a chance to upset the L.A Clippers in game 1. However, seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson came up with another game winning shot as the clock expired. This came right after All-Star point guard Chris Paul hit an amazing layup tie the game up with 13 seconds left. But just enough time for Johnson to send the Clippers home with a game 1 lost.

3. Russell Westbrook vs James Harden – Despite having an all-time great season Russell Westbrook will not be a unanimous MVP. Oppose to last season MVP Steph Curry was the 1st player in history to a unanimous MVP. James Harden who has also had an amazing season and lead his team to the 3rd best record in the NBA. With the NBA season over and the playoffs have started the debate over the MVP has not. The votes are already in, but the winner won’t be announced until June. However, their 1st round matchup will certainly have both of the All-Stars and former teammates going head to head. After game one it is easy to say James Harden has the better blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder 118-87. Harden lead both teams in scoring with 37 points. Westbrook finished the game with 22 points shooting 6-23 from the field.

4. Cavs survive in Game 1 of Pacers series – Going into the playoffs there were questions of the Cavs ability to return to another NBA Finals and perform on the defensive side of the ball. These questions still remain, but the Cavs did come out with a game one victory over the Indiana Pacers. The Cavs survive their first playoff game in defense of their title. Cleveland showed a few flashes of the team that won the Larry O’Brien Trophy last June. They came away with a 109-108 win. Lebron James finished his 200th career playoff game with 32 points and 13 assist.

5. Warriors beat Blazers, 121-109 – Even after McCollum scored a playoff career-high 41 points, and Damian Lillard added 34 the Warriors still prevailed with a 121-109 victory. The Warriors made the crucial big plays on both ends down the stretch. Durant had 32 points and 10 rebounds in his Golden State playoff debut, Curry scored 29 points, and the Warriors withstood that sensational day by the Trail Blazers’ dynamic backcourt duo to win Game 1 of the first-round series Sunday afternoon.

6. Phil Jackson admits the Knicks wants to trade Carmelo Anthony – Late last week Phil Jackson held a press conference to discuss the Knicks season and Carmelo Anthony’s future. This was the first- time Phil Jackson spoke to the media since February. Instead, of speaking around the subject of Melo’s future with the Knicks. Phil stated “I think the direction with our team is that he would be better off somewhere else,” referring to Anthony future in New York. He went on to. Since Phil arrival in New York the Knicks have not met expectations or even made the playoffs.

7. Lakers’ late season winning streak hurts their NBA draft odds – The L.A Lakers lackluster season has finally ended with the 3rd worst record in the NBA. The Lakers went on a perplexing 5 – 1 to end the season during a year when most people have written off this season as a rebuilding year. This results in the Lakers will enter the draft lottery on May 16th a 47 percent probability of winning a top-three pick. That means the Lakers have a 53 percent probability of losing their 2017 pick and a 2019 first-round pick entirely. The Lakers have a lot riding on this year lottery, they owe a first-round pick to the Sixers (via the Suns) due to the Steve Nash trade in 2012. That pick remains protected in 2017. If it lands in the top three, the Lakers keep it.

8. Minnesota Timberwolves underachieved in 1st season under Tom Thibodeau – Going into this season the buzz around the league was the Timberwolves had a great opportunity to end their playoff drought in the league. With so much young talent and new head coach Tom Thibodeau Minnesota seemed poised to show real progress this season. Instead, they’re headed to the lottery for their 13th straight season after winning just two more games (31) than last year. This was a big disappointment especially with rise in play from young big man Karl-Anthony Towns. Over the final 41 game Towns averaged 28.4 points and 12.7 rebounds while shooting 59 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range, proving he was worth the NO. 1 pick in 2015. This summer off-season moves will tell us a lot about the future of the Timberwolves and how much longer will it take them to become a playoff contender.

9. Dirk Nowitzki set for 20th season, needs more star power help in Dallas – Dirk Nowitzki decided a little while ago that he would play a 20th season for the Mavs. The big German has a potential future replacement in Harrison Barnes who lead the team in scoring this season 19.2 PPG. However, the Mavs had their worst record (33-49) since 1997-1998, the season before Nowitzki was drafted. Dallas has missed the playoffs twice in five seasons after qualifying 12 straight years and has not won a playoff series since winning the franchise’s only championship in 2011. After the past few off-season’s failures to sign any big name free agents, this summer the Mavs are desperate to sign at least one star player.

10. Despite NBA’s worst record, Brooklyn Nets say steps toward the future – The Brooklyn Nets have been a mediocre franchise over the last few years. The front office has showed its bad personal decisions by overpaying players who never live up their contract. This season the Nets finish with a 20-62 record worst in the league and has no lottery pick to show for it. The only bright spot on the team this season was Brook Lopez who showed he could fit into the new style of play that new head coach Kenny Atkinson wanted to implement. Lopez the only player who is still with team after their move from New Jersey survived the trade rumors this season that have been consistent since his New Jersey days. Brooklyn will need an improved direction by the front office and General Manger Sean Andrew Marks to start the rebuilding process. That has seemed more like a tanking job season after season.

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