The Knicks and Pacers have each gotten the best of each other once during the Eastern Conference Semifinals, with the series tied at one game apiece heading into Saturday. Another factor will likely be thrown into the equation soon, as Al Iannazzone of Newsday reports that Amare Stoudemire is expected to make a return for Game 3. The 6'11 forward - who has been recovering from knee surgery - says he expects to play at a high level and figures to be under a 10-15 minute limit under the discretion of coach Mike Woodson. Here's more out of Manhattan tonight:
Adi Joseph of USA Today discusses why Amare's return might not necessarily help the team against Indiana, arguing that it could cause the Knicks to go away from the small lineups that have been successful for them.
Almost a year ago, then-promising rookie Iman Shumpert suffered a debilitating ACL injury during the first round of the playoffs that sidelined him for several months. Zach Schonburn of the New York Times compares the 6'5 sophomore guard's rust and timid return in January to now, arguably playing his best basketball as a Knicks player since being drafted at such an important time of the year.
There aren't very many games left in the regular season, and the playoff picture in both conferences could look drastically different by mid-April with plenty of teams close together in the standings as of today. While it's not usual for us to focus on injuries, we have a few significant notes worth mentioning tonight:
Pistons rookie big man Andre Drummond could be close to returning after a 21-game absence, says David Mayo of MLive. Although the Pistons aren't in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, a few more regular season games couldn't hurt the former UConn product's development if healthy.
Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times tweets that Lakers forward Antawn Jamison has ligament damage in his right wrist. Although he'll try to play through it, Jamison probably faces surgery in the offseason.
According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports (via Twitter), the Grizzlies have announced that center Marc Gasol will be out indefinitely after re-aggravating an abdominal tear last night against the Hornets. Though they are ahead of the sixth place Warriors by a comfortable margin in the standings, Memphis is separated from the third place Nuggets by one game and the fourth place Clippers by just half a game.
Joakim Noah will sit both of the Bulls' games this weekend as he continues to deal with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, says Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago. The team is currently one game behind the fifth-place Hawks and a half game ahead of the Celtics.
Greg Payne of ESPN Boston says that both Courtney Lee and Kevin Garnett are individually recovering from sprained left ankles. There doesn't appear to be a sense that those injuries are expected to keep either out for an extended period of time, but with just 14 games left and Boston currently on a three-game slide, missing two key rotation players can't necessarily help.
Knicks center Tyson Chandler has already missed six straight games due to a neck strain, and is still considered day-to-day (Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York reports). New York still remains atop the Atlantic Division, and while they are only one game behind the Pacers for second place in the East, the fourth place Nets aren't too far behind in their rear view mirror (1.5 games).
With the Knicks set to face the Clippers during what has been a dreary road trip and the Nets hosting the Hawks in Brooklyn, both teams could find itself in a virtual tie for first place in the Atlantic Division tomorrow if Los Angeles wins and Atlanta loses. While Manhattan deals with the uncertainty of Carmelo Anthony's knee, Brooklyn finds Deron Williams in the middle of what appears to be his second wind, as Newsday's Roderick Boone observes that the point guard looks to be past the ankle pains that limited him early on this season. Here's more out of New York tonight:
Tyson Chandler, who joins Anthony in recovering from an injury, views this as an opportunity for both of them to get enough rest to prepare them for a last season push, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. In addition to calling it a "blessing in disguise," Chandler also told reporters: "I feel like (Carmelo) will fully heal and be back over the next couple of games...I know I will be back in the next couple of games. So we won with this lineup at the beginning of this year. That's when we went on our tear, and there's no reason why we can't get right back to that."
In reading a Wall-Street Journal piece about Carmelo, Marc Berman of the New York Post points out the impact that the Knicks star had on J.R. Smith, who credits Anthony for reigning in his focus this year (Sulia link).
Despite the two teams being finished with their regular season meetings, Howard Beck of the New York Times breaks down the remaining challenges that the cross-town rivals face in the race for the Atlantic Division.
Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston delves further into what today's roster moves meant for the Celtic green, noting that the $275K the team saved by waiving Kris Joseph is nearly the amount it will cost the team to sign a veteran-minimum player late in the season. He also points out that Boston must wait for Joseph and Jarvis Varnado to clear waivers before being able to offer 10-day contracts. As for the now-former Celtics, Forsberg writes that both will have the option of returning to the D-League while awaiting their next opportunity. Here's the rest of what we've heard out of the Atlantic Division tonight:
In a Q&A with readers that covered a variety of miscellaneous topics, Doug Smith of TheStar.com said that with a full roster, the Raptors aren't currently inclined to waive anyone in order to sign someone to a 10-day contract. With regards to their point guard situation, Smith thinks that Toronto should stand pat for now and seems confident that the team will eventually have discussions next summer to try and keep Jose Calderon.
Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com looks at some implications that the two vacant roster spots have for the Celtics, namely the flexibility to go after a player like Kenyon Martin for a minimum deal down the line and the ability to take in more players in a potential trade.
Despite his offensive struggles since returning from injury, Celtics guard Avery Bradleyhas been making enough of an impact defensively to earn significant playing time (Gary Washburn Boston.com writes).
Efficient three-point shooting, the ability to get to the free throw line at a high rate, and versatility at power forward are just a few of the reasons why it has been a career year for Carmelo Anthony thus far, opines Tommy Beer of HoopsWorld.
Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao received as good a vote of confidence as one can get from head coach Byron Scott, who called the Brazilian big man "the best center in the NBA right now." Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio writes that Varejao's statistical production makes Scott's statement a difficult one to disagree with, also mentioning that some fans have wondered if Cleveland should take advantage of his value and trade him. With that being said, Amico asserts that Cavaliers brass currently has no intention of dealing their most tenured veteran. For the rest of tonight's tidbits from the Eastern Conference, you can find them below:
Bill McCandless, the agent of Mickael Pietrus, told Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com about the other teams that that had been under consideration while they had waited for the right opportunity in free agency. Whereas the Rockets and Timberwolves were potential destinations in the West, McCandless listed the Bulls and Hawks as the other Eastern Conference teams which had been in the hunt along with Toronto.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers offered a poignant comment about Rajon Rondo and the current state of his team, telling reporters: “I don’t know if I want to rally around my 6-foot guard being the enforcer. That’s nice but at the end of the day, if that’s the threat you’re sending, the other team has to feel [good]" (Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com reports). Although we heard Rivers say earlier that the team is in no rush to make any changes to the roster, Petraglia hypothetically mentioned Kenyon Martin as a possible target if Boston decided to look into free agency for help.
It has been nearly 18 months since the Mavericks beat the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals, but if you take a look at their current roster, it sure seems longer than that. Forced to change their offseason approach after missing out on Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, the Mavs overhauled their roster by adding much cheaper veteran alternatives like Elton Brand, Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo and Chris Kaman. At 4-1 through their first 5 games, their strategy looks like a stroke of genius so far.
However, accoring to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Tyson Chandler said today that he thinks that by blowing up the 2011 title team, Mark Cuban cost himself a second championship. With Jason Kidd now also in New York, Chandler addressed Cuban's post-title decision-making:
"I'm glad because I'm here. It's a great situation. I'm very happy with the situation. I definitely think we had an opportunity to win back-to-back. Unfortunately things were blown up. That's the business side of it."
So what do you think? Had Cuban opted to retain Chandler and Jose Barea, among others, would the Mavericks have won a second title?
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston points out that not only did Heat guard Ray Allen turn down more money over a shorter contract length from the Celtics (compared to Miami's offer), he also left a no-trade clause on the table. She also delves into Allen's thoughts on the constant trade rumors and his reactions to them, Boston's efforts to re-sign him, and the feeling of rebirth in Miami. Here are more of tonight's Atlantic links:
While Celtics coach Doc Rivers notes that having days off could have an effect on a team's ability to remain sharp, he likes having a week for his players to recuperate before the season starts (says A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com).
We're about 40 more days away from Brooklyn hosting their home opener against the Knicks, which should be one of the more exciting games to start the regular season. The NBA has not seen both of these teams make the post-season simultaneously since the 2003-04 playoffs, in which the regional rivals met in the first round. We've got some links to relay, including two that include young guards who could find themselves matched up against each other in a competitive cross-town rivalry for several years to come. Here's what we've heard out of New York tonight:
Nets GM Billy King, who team owner Mikhail Prokhorov believes will win GM of the year, talks about his thought process while constructing this current roster and the challenges that it entailed (Roderick Boone of Newsday reports).