No. 1 Reports: Iguodala questionable for Game 2 -- The San Antonio Spurs will be without their star small forward, Kawhi Leonard, for Game 2 of the Western Conference finals tonight (9 ET, ESPN). One of the players tasked with guarding Leonard and the Spurs' other wing players, Golden State's Andre Iguodala, is questionable with an injury of his own. Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle has more on the status of Iguodala's knee as Game 2 nears:
Warriors forward Andre Iguodala is listed as questionable for Game 2 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday.
An MRI on his left knee Monday revealed no structural damage, according to multiple reports.
Iguodala sat out the second half of Sunday’s Game 1 win with left knee soreness. After averaging more than 28 minutes over Golden State’s first eight playoff games, Iguodala had two points and one assist in 10 minutes Sunday.
Iguodala, 33, has had past knee injuries. Being without the Sixth Man of the Year candidate, even for one game, could be a significant blow for the Warriors. A versatile defender, Iguodala regularly guards opponents’ top scorers.
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No. 2: Wizards have work to do to build on promising season -- Losing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, as the Washington Wizards did last night, can put an unwarranted coat of gloomy paint on a bright season. The Wizards won their first division title in 38 years and were one win away from their first conference finals since 1979. As the Wizards recover from their loss to the Boston Celtics, Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post assesses the season and what needs to happen next:
When their season ended, the Washington Wizards walked over to the Boston Celtics with white towels draped over their shoulders. The players from both teams hugged, their new bitter rivalry deferring to mutual respect. They had beat up each other enough, at least for one year.
In Game 7, the Celtics triumphed at TD Garden, 115-105, outlasting a Wizards team that didn’t have enough defense or balanced scoring when it mattered. And so the Wizards, who lived by the comeback this season, finally fell into a hole they couldn’t claw and climb out of. It was another one of those nights for a D.C. pro sports team — close, but only close enough to feel the blade slashing at the wound once more.
When the Wizards are able to look back, they’ll realize they didn’t really lose the series in Game 7. They were defeated amid all their lapses in focus and herky-jerky play in the other three games they lost. Having to win a series clincher here, where the Celtics are now 19-4 all time in home Game 7s, was a predicament they could have avoided if they didn’t leave so much on the court so often. If the core of this team wants to advance past the second round, it must continue to mature and gain the missing consistency or grit or depth or whatever that has created this wall the Wizards haven’t penetrated during three postseason appearances over the past four years.
For the city, the 19-year curse continues. The Wizards joined the Capitals, who lost in Game 7 last week, as the latest D.C. teams to come up short of a conference finals appearance. For just the Wizards, this marked the closest they had come to a conference finals berth since 1979, but their 38-year drought remains. This setback comes with several harsh facts attached, none worse than this reality: In the final 19 minutes, John Wall didn’t score, but Celtics reserve forward Kelly Olynyk had 14 points.
You could consider this the beginning of a fresh Wizards run, but it’s hard to be certain. They know better than any team how stingy life is with guarantees. Yes, most of their core is young. They are years from their prime, in fact. Yes, this was the first season under Brooks, and he resurrected an underachiever and led perhaps the greatest in-season comeback in NBA history, turning a team that started 2-8 into a 49-33 squad that came about one quarter shy of the Eastern Conference finals.
But right now, there is disappointment. There is disappointment because the Wizards’ season didn’t have to end. Not here. Not on this night. But they’re still a little too unstable in some areas to pull through and play to the level of their talent.
So after 11 games against each other — four in the regular season and this seven-game test of mettle — the Celtics proved better by the slimmest of margins. They won the Eastern Conference semifinals, 4-3, and the season, 6-5. In a matchup in which the home team won every time, the Celtics played one more home game. And they made it count.
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No. 3: Report: Jackson's comments damaging Anthony's trade stock -- In his nearly hour-long media availability in mid-April, New York Knicks president made it clear that Carmelo Anthony's days with the team are nearing an end. The caveat with this thinking, as always, is that Anthony holds a no-trade clause in his deal. According to Fred Kerber of the New York Post, trade talk surrounding Anthony and Jackson's comments about Anthony as a player are damaging what he could command in a trade:
You want to trade in or sell your 2003 car and get a better model. Chances are you do not initiate sale talks with:
“Well, the car stalls and it never got me where I wanted to go. Essentially, it’s a lemon, so let it be someone else’s headache.
“But I want the top Blue Book price and then some for it.”
Now substitute “Carmelo Anthony” for “car” and you get an idea why some opposing executives scratch their heads at how Knicks president Phil Jackson appears to be handling Anthony’s situation.
“Phil made a statement basically that Carmelo’s a losing type of player. Well, if he’s a loser for the Knicks, he’s going to be a winner someplace else? That obviously didn’t help,” one Eastern Conference executive said.
“Tremendously,” another exec said when asked how much Jackson may have damaged Anthony’s trade value. “He essentially said, ‘I want to dump this guy.’ ”
“Most owners would just roast you if you said something like that,” the Eastern exec said, theorizing the return for Anthony could be “a protected first-round pick. It sure sounds like the Knicks want to get rid of him, so teams won’t give up any of their core to add him. That would be defeating the purpose.”
One opposing talent evaluator said Anthony is not the player he once was, but believes the soon-to-be 33-year-old forward deserves better.
“This kid has never really said anything horrible in the press where I look and say, ‘… I can’t believe he said that,’ ” the evaluator said. “He got a little sour at the end of the year. Who wouldn’t? All the stupid crap Stephon Marbury said and others. He gets — I don’t want to say bad press — but people have a bad opinion of him.
“He’s a go-to player. That’s what go-to players are: You throw them the ball. They score. He still can do that,” the exec added. “He played hard. He’s never been a good defender, but it’s not like [guys] they put on the other team’s worst player and they stand next to the guy. He actually has to guard his position.”
“People have done their homework and watched Carmelo and how he interacts and plays,” the first Eastern exec said. “Carmelo obviously needs a change of scenery, probably does a better job in a different city, but you’ve got to look at how he would fit. But I don’t think people are going to break the bank and give New York what they initially want.
“Carmelo can fit in with anybody with the right role. Hell, he’s a talented guy. Not many guys can score like him, but he’s not the All-Star he was. He’s a very talented player, and if he goes to the right team and they tell him what role they’d like him to play, he could figure it out. … He has to accept, ‘OK, I’m not going to be the star, but I can play off a couple guys.’ ”
And if the Knicks can’t find a deal?
“He’s not going to help them, that’s for sure,” one veteran scout said. “If I’m him, I’d say, ‘These are the teams I’ll go to. This is where we want to live, so buy me out and I’ll make my own deal.’
“What are the Knicks going to say: ‘We want you to stay’? After Phil basically told him, ‘We don’t want you. Go somewhere else.’ ”
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No. 4: Kimmel tries his best to recruit Pacers' George -- Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel is an unabashed Los Angeles Lakers fan. Like many of that sort, he's hoping the team's rebuilding efforts can include the addition of a superstar player this summer (perhaps one Paul George from the Indiana Pacers). With George visiting the "Jimmy Kimmel Show" last night, Kimmel put the pressure on the L.A. native George to find his way back home. Scott Horner of the Indianapolis Star has more:
The Indiana Pacers star visited 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' on Monday night, and Kimmel didn't just plant a seed about George joining the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kimmel introduced George by saying, "We would really like him to become a Laker," and also played a clip from earlier this year of Magic Johnson's visit to the show.
Johnson, who is part of the Lakers' management group, told Kimmel he can't tell George he wants him to join the Lakers because George is under contract to the Pacers. Johnson said, however, if he ran into George somewhere, he'd go "wink, wink," and that George would know what that means.
George has one year remaining on his deal with the Pacers, but there is a lot of talk of the many possibilities about his future.
Kimmel asked George what would happen if Johnson tried to influence him this summer.
PG: "No effect. I love Magic. Great dude."
JK: "Good, because you're going to be working for him."
PG: "I'm an L.A. kid. Kobe (Bryant) is the biggest person in my house. Not even me."
JK: "You talk to Kobe about coming to the Lakers?"
PG: "Not yet. I plan on working out with him (over the summer)."
JK: "Are you nervous about that?"
PG: "Oh, yeah. I'm in training now to get ready to work out with him."
JK: "I hope you tells you to come to the Lakers. For people in Indiana, this is the worst case scenario."
PF: "I love Indy, though."
Kimmel concluded the interview with: "We're going to have a lot fun when you get here."
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