The Philadelphia 76ers have earned themselves a week off as the only team to sweep their opponents in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Meanwhile, the rest of the opening round continues around the league, bringing with it injuries, drama, coach firings, and even some future trade rumors.
While the Sixers get some rest, let’s take a look at what’s happening around the rest of the league.
Portland Trail Blazers’ star Damian Lillard trade rumors
The prospect of a Damian Lillard trade away from the Portland Trail Blazers has recently caught fire online after the star was spotted courtside for Game 3 between the Brooklyn Nets and Sixers. ESPN’s Frank Isola threw more fuel on the flames on Monday morning, claiming he thinks Lillard will be traded and specifically into the Eastern Conference.
“I think he’s gonna be on the move. I think he’s gonna end up in the eastern conference.”— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) April 24, 2023
- @TheFrankIsola mentions Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Toronto and Brooklyn as potential landing spots for Damian Lillard pic.twitter.com/Dr2htqSRDv
Super early rumors, of course — and we’ve been here many times before — but something to watch as the postseason and offseason progress.
Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo to return for Game 4 vs. Heat
After being spotted at morning shootaround, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Greek Freak will return to the Bucks lineup after missing both Games 2 and 3 with a lower back contusion suffered in Game 1.
Sources: Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo will return to the lineup in Game 4 vs. Heat tonight barring any setbacks. Antetokounmpo missed Games 2 and 3 with a lower back contusion.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 24, 2023
Antetokounmpo exited Game 1 of the Bucks-Heat series in the first period after colliding in midair with Kevin Love and taking a hard fall onto his lower back. Since then, the Bucks have fallen to a 2-1 series deficit.
Game 4 is set to tip off on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. ET in Miami.
Atlanta Hawks’ Dejounte Murray takes issue with ref
Following the Hawks’ Game 4 loss to the Boston Celtics, video surfaced of Atlanta’s Dejounte Murray getting in the face of a referee at the conclusion of the contest.
Dejounte Murray appeared to say something to a ref after the Hawks’ Game 4 loss.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 24, 2023
(via @creatorjordan23) pic.twitter.com/2KdiRpZqed
Following the video going viral, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps reported that the NBA would be looking into the incident.
The NBA is investigating Hawks guard Dejounte Murray’s actions toward officials at the end of Game 4 Sunday night, a league source told ESPN.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) April 24, 2023
The Hawks currently trail the Celtics 3-1 in the series.
No word from the NBA so far on if a similar incident from earlier in the game will be reviewed, where Boston’s Jayson Tatum appears to bump a ref while yelling at another.
Jayson Tatum pushes one ref and yell at another one but they focus on Trae Young ♂️ pic.twitter.com/z9TVkss2yS— Roy Harris (@Brotha2ThaNite) April 24, 2023
Nick Nurse fired by Raptors, top candidate for Rockets’ job
As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania on Friday morning, head coach Nick Nurse has been fired after 10 years with the organization (five as an assistant coach) as of last Friday.
Nick Nurse is out as Raptors coach, sources tell ESPN. pic.twitter.com/HEKwTAdfUH— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 21, 2023
The decision comes just weeks after Toronto failed to make the playoffs after a 41-41 campaign. They also missed the playoffs in 2021. Last season, the Raptors clinched the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, but fell in the first round in six games to the Philadelphia 76ers.
However, opportunities appear to be on the horizon for Nurse, who is reportedly a top candidate for the head coach opening in Houston:
Nurse will immediately become a prominent candidate in the Houston Rockets’ coaching search, sources tell ESPN. He won the 2019 NBA title as Raptors coach, and was voted the 2020 NBA Coach of the Year.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 21, 2023
As far as the void left in Toronto is concerned, reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggest that former Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka is strongly being considered for the slot:
ESPN story on Nick Nurse’s dismissal in Toronto clearing the way for a serious Ime Udoka candidacy: https://t.co/8Hhy1i494J— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 21, 2023
In other coach search news, the Detroit Pistons recently received permission to interview New Orleans Pelicans assistant coach Jarron Collins for their open head coach position:
The Pistons have received permission from New Orleans to interview Pelicans assistant Jarron Collins for their head coaching job, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Detroit is expected to begin interviews this week. Collins was a three-time championship assistant with Warriors.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 17, 2023
Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks avoids suspension, whines to media about being a villain
Dillon Brooks has avoided suspension by the NBA after receiving a Flagrant 2 foul for this groin shot to Los Angeles Lakers’ star Lebron James.
Dillon Brooks was ejected after receiving a flagrant 2 for this hit to LeBron. pic.twitter.com/LL9CLRAryy— ESPN (@espn) April 23, 2023
After a practice on Sunday, Brooks decided to hop on his soapbox about how him being a “villain” is basically everyone’s fault but his own:
Dillon Brooks, speaking after practice today, said he thinks the perception of him influenced the flagrant 2 call in Game 3. “The media making me a villain, the fans making me a villain, that just creates another persona on me.”— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 23, 2023
Forget the fact that Brooks led the league in technical fouls this regular season with 18. It’s all just a persona the media and fans are painting on Brooks. I think this says it best:
https://t.co/qG9qjNVkoj pic.twitter.com/a1RkbYdxkZ— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) April 23, 2023
Brooks and the Grizzlies currently trail the Lakers 2-1 in the series. Game 4 is set for Monday night at 10 p.m. ET.