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Around the NBA: Cavs sweep Raptors, Sixers assistant Lloyd Pierce interviews with Hawks, WCF are set

Checkin in on league news

NBA: Playoffs-Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Playoffs

The Cleveland Cavaliers have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals after eliminating the Toronto Raptors in Game 4 on Monday, May 7th. The Cavs were able to sweep the Raptors, which has to leave an especially bad taste in the mouths of Raptors players and their fans alike as LeBron James has been knocking the Raptors out of the playoffs since the dawn of time. Maybe next year, he’ll do so in a Sixers’ uniform.

  • For the series (4 games), LBJ averaged 34 points, 8.3 rebounds, 11.3 assists and 2.8 stocks (steals + blocks) per game. Unhuman.
  • The Pacers took the Cavs 7 games in the first round while the Raptors couldn’t pull out a single win. The Pacers were good, much better than I anticipated their playoff performance to be. But the Raptors are a better team than the Pacers. What gives? It’s almost like LeBron just knows Toronto too well.
  • Garbage time is apparently beneath Rodney Hood. In Game 4, with the Cavs up 30, Tyronn Lue called on Hood to finish the game in place of LeBron James. Hood straight up refused to go in, and Jose Calderon subbed in instead. This infuriates me and I’m not even a Cavs fan. Who the f*ck does Rodney Hood think he is? (H/T ESPN’s Dave McMenamin)
  • Where do you go from here if you’re the Raptors? I mean, eventually this has to get old, right? Both DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, the two main pieces in Toronto, are making some serious coin but have value. Maybe the could be traded, and the Raptors could start a quick rebuild as they already have some nice pieces (OG, Siakam, FVV if they retain him). Listening to Zach Lowe’s podcast from Monday, May 7th, he spoke on the situation saying that he had a hunch that between DeRozan, Lowry and head coach Dwane Casey, one would be gone by the start of next season. Lowe reiterated that this wasn’t any inside knowledge or coming from any tip/source, just that he would expect some sort of change. That was Monday. Well, Tuesday May 8th, Josh Lewenburg of TSN reported, “With his team fresh off another disappointing postseason exit, Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri has some hard decisions to make over the coming months. Head coach Dwane Casey is expected to be the first domino to fall.”

The Houston Rockets eliminated the Utah Jazz in Game 5 on Tuesday, May 8th. Houston is looking really good, and from the parts of games that I’ve watched, it seemed Houston just had too much talent on both sides of the ball for the Jazz to keep up. The Rockets advance to the Western Conference Finals with their win over the Jazz.

  • I’m still not ready to say the Rockets are better than the Warriors.
  • I know we Sixers fans have engaged in some trash talking with Utah Jazz fans, but I do really, really like the Jazz. They need 1 more piece, but Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are great pieces to build around. I love ROY-runner-up-to-be Donovan Mitchell’s game. Also a fan of Dante Exum, hope the kid comes back healthy next season.
  • Mitchell left the game with an injury to his left foot. X-Rays are negative and more tests are to be done.
  • I don’t have a ton of fun watching the Rockets.

Reigning champs, the Golden State Warriors, knocked off the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday May 8th in Game 5 of the series between the two. Golden State will face off against the Houston Rockets for the right to represent the Western Conference in the NBA finals.

  • Let’s take a moment to appreciate Anthony Davis’ season. He averaged 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 4.1 stocks per game this campaign. In the playoffs, his per games were 30.1 points, 13.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 4.4 stocks. He’s probably the best big in the league at this point.
  • Former Sixer Jrue Holiday had a solid playoff performance, which makes me happy. He made a difference on both sides of the ball, and was crucial to New Orleans’ sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round.
  • Why are we even doing any of this? The Warriors are winning the Finals.

Coaching Carousel

The Charlotte Hornets have got their man (a Gregg Popovich disciple), hiring former Spurs assistant James Borrego to be the head coach in Charlotte. Borrego was with the Spurs from 2003 to 2010, and then back again with San Antonio from 2015 until his hiring as head coach of the Hornets. From 2012 to 2015, he was with the Magic as an assistant and served as the interim head coach in 2015.

David Fizdale and the New York Knicks have agreed to a 4-year deal for Fizdale to be the head coach of the Knicks, replacing former coach Jeff Hornacek. Fizdale was fired as the head coach of the Grizzlies earlier this season after straining his relationship with longtime Grizzlie Marc Gasol. But Fizdale seems to widely have a good reputation in league circles. I’m not sure anyone can fix the Knicks, but I like this approach.

The Phoenix Suns have hired Igor Kokoskov as head coach. Kokoskov was an assistant under Quin Snyder with the Jazz. Kokoskov will be the first European born head coach in the NBA.

The Atlanta Hawks have interviewed Sixers assistant Lloyd Pierce for the Hawks head coaching vacancy. If hired, it will leave a significant hole for Brett Brown to fill in his staff, as Pierce has done wonders as a defensive specialist coach for the Sixers.

Stan Van Gundy and the Detroit Pistons have parted ways.

  • “When it came down to this, I was perfectly willing to only go in one role and to give up the front office and go into coaching… I didn’t fight to hang on to that at all. I was more than willing to just move over into the other role.” - Van Gundy
  • Detroit is left a train wreck.

All coaching updates per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Player News

Klay Thompson, scheduled to be a free agent in the summer of 2019, says, “It would be hard for me to envision going anywhere else.” Many Sixers fans have had fantasies of Klay Thompson receiving drive-and-kicks from Ben Simmons for a corner 3. It’s a long way off, but it seems Klay doesn’t want to be anywhere but the Bay Area. (H/T Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher)

Kristaps Porzingis, according to Knicks owner James Dolan, could miss the entirety of next season.

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