The Dallas Mavericks are in playoff mode right now as they fight to stay out of the Play-in Tournament, and on Thursday night at American Airlines Center, Dallas defeated the Brooklyn Nets(43-24) 113-109.
With the win and the Lakers’ loss to the Clippers on Thursday night, Dallas(38-28) has sole possession of the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Dallas has a one-game lead on both the Lakers and Blazers.
Dallas was led by Luka Doncic’s 24 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists, while Tim Hardaway Jr. added 23. Kyrie Irving had a season and game-high 45 points for Brooklyn.
“We’ve got a little momentum here; we’ve got to keep it going,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “The game tomorrow is obviously very, very important because of everything that is going on with the standings. We’ll get some rest and do our best to be ready.”
Doncic had 19 points in the first half but only had five points the rest of the way, including 2-11 from the field, but according to Carlisle, Doncic, who had seven rebounds and five assists in the second half, was able to impact the game in other ways.
“The thing, when Luka [Doncic] goes through periods where he’s not scoring, he finds other ways to impact the game,” Carlisle said. “He was rebounding really well during that stretch. He moved it to some guys for some really good shots. And he kept playing the game — that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Dorian Finney-Smith, who had 17 points against the Nets, did an excellent job against Kevin Durant and Dallas held him to 1-10 shooting from the field with four points in the second half. Durant finished the game 7/21 from the field with 20 points.
After the game, Finney-Smith discussed his defense against Durant.
“Man, he’s just one of those guys you try to make him uncomfortable because he can shoot anytime he wants (because) he’s so tall,” Finney-Smith said. “Sometimes you feel like you’re there. You feel like he just plays like he’s in front of a cone. He’s doing the cone drill, but you got to try to make it tough for him, and we did a good job tonight.”
Dallas has won eight of their last 10 games, and Finney-Smith believes that Dallas can beat anybody if they play as they did against Brooklyn on Thursday night.
“Sometimes when we play teams not as good as Brooklyn, we don’t come out with that fight,” he said. “If we come out how we did tonight, we can beat anybody.”
Dallas, who again was without Kristaps Porzingis(right knee), seem to be putting it together at the right time, but they must not play down to the opposition, and that would be put to the test when they battle the Cavs(21-45) at home in the second half of a back-to-back on Friday night.
He’s back and better than ever! After missing five games due to a sprained ankle, Cavaliers G Collin Sexton returned on Wednesday night against the star-studded Brooklyn Nets, who had their Big 3 of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving together for the first time.
However, Sexton was the biggest star on Wednesday night. The third-year guard scored 20 straight points, including 15 points in the second overtime and finished with a career-high 42 points as the Cavaliers(7-7) defeated the Nets(9-7) at home 147-135 in double overtime.
Sexton out-dueled Irving last night, who returned after missing seven games and scored 37 points for Brooklyn. Sexton took over the game in OT, and according to his head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, not many players in the NBA could have done what Sexton did against Brooklyn.
“Collin(Sexton) has proven time and time again against all his doubters is he’s not afraid of the big moments,” Bickerstaff said. “He likes pressure-filled moments. Not everybody in our league has the courage to do what he did tonight. Not everyone in our league have the ability to do what he did tonight…
“Collin Sexton brought us home tonight, and again, people can say what they want to say about him, but there’s a small group of guys in this league that can do what he did tonight.”
Cavs’ Cedi Osman, who scored 25 points on Wednesday night, added this about Sexton: “That was a hell of an effort, man. He had 20 straight points. He played great; he played out of his mind. It was amazing. I don’t know what to say.”
Even Irving enjoyed what he saw from Sexton.
“You gotta love NBA ball, though,” he said. “I was smiling when Collin Sexton was making those shots.”
Irving and Sexton will forever be linked. The former Cavalier was traded to Boston in 2017. In that deal, Cleveland was able to secure a first round pick, which turned into Sexton. After the game, Sexton acknowledged his connection to Irving.
“I am in Cleveland,” he said. “I wear number 2, and I do wear Kyrie’s(sneakers), so you know that’s definitely going to be linked together, so I just gotta take it.”
Sexton was terrific last night, and before the injury, was playing at a high level. What he is doing thus far this season is not a surprise. However, the way Cleveland is playing this season, especially when you consider the injuries, is impressive. Once they get fully healthy(Darius Garland and Kevin Love), they could be a team in the mix for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Kevin Durant is going to Brooklyn. Durant made the announcement via Instagram. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s a four-year, $164 million deal. Durant is expected to miss all of next season due to a torn Achilles tendon.
Also, according to Wojnarowski, Kyrie Irving is expected to sign with the Nets. It will be a four-year, $141 million deal, according to the report.
Both Durant and Irving’s deals won’t be official until July 6.
With Irving and Durant in the fold, the Nets will be formidable for years to come. However, next season, they are probably not a championship caliber team because Durant is expected to miss next season, but it’s still happy times in Brooklyn.
The Boston Celtics are one of the favorites in Eastern Conference, especially with the return of their two best players, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. With LeBron James out of the East, and if Boston stays healthy, there is a good shot they get to the NBA Finals.
Arguably, the Celtics best player is Irving, and the five-time All-Star can become a free agent at the end of the season, but the 26-year-old Irving recently told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he wants to stay in Boston.
However, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, even though Irving is happy in Boston, he should still test free agency.
Last season, Irving missed the playoffs due to a knee injury.
It would not hurt for Irving to see what is out there, especially if he confident in his ability to stay healthy. In my opinion, he should test free agency. It’s always good to have options in life, and by becoming a free agent, Irving would have options.
Ever since the NBA season ended, the most talked about subject in the league is what’s next for LeBron James. James is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent very shortly.
Where James will play next season is pretty much a mystery at this time, but you get the sense that certain teams have the edge over others. According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, there are seven teams in the mix: Cavs, Warriors, 76ers, Celtics, Rockets, Lakers, and Heat, but we won’t know until James starts meeting with teams.
One team that is on Stephen A.’s list is the Boston Celtics, which could make for an unusual situation. If James were to go to Boston, he would be reunited with Kyrie Irving. As we all know, Irving, who was traded from the Cavs to the Celtics, wanted to leave to get out from underneath the shadow of James. So, if LeBron went to Boston, what happens to Kyrie?
Former Celtics star Antoine Walker thinks if Boston has a chance to get LeBron they must choose him over Irving.
“If I got a chance to get LeBron James, Kyrie gotta go,” Walker said on the SouthSide Heat podcast.
The Boston Celtics are making a lot of noise in these NBA playoffs. Without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Boston Celtics found a way to beat the Bucks in round one, and currently, Boston is up 2-0 over the 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Terry Rozier, who has filled in for the injured Irving, has been a revelation for the Celtics in these playoffs. Rozier is averaging 19.1 ppg in the playoffs and is playing some great basketball.
Conversely, the San Antonio Spurs were eliminated by the Warriors in round one. The Spurs were without their best player in Kawhi Leonard, and there have been rumblings that Leonard may want out of San Antonio.
The fact that Rozier is balling and Leonard may want out of San Antonio led ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith to think about the possibilities of an Irving for Leonard swap.
Here’s what Smith said on First Take today:
If the Spurs want a star, maybe trading Leonard for Irving is not a bad idea. Plus, you keep Leonard out of the Western Conference.