Pacers Rumors

Cavaliers Notes: Thompson, LeBron, Leonard, Oladipo

Most of Tristan Thompson‘s recent headlines have been for his off-court behavior, but that isn’t why he has fallen out of the Cavaliers’ playoff rotation, writes Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report. Thompson, who played just two minutes at the end of the Game 1 loss to Indiana, is coming off his worst statistical season since he was a rookie and may still be hampered by a torn calf muscle he suffered in November.

According to Swartz, Thompson’s playing time has declined because of his inability to handle the two priorities of a modern center: protecting the rim and shooting from long distance. He averaged just 0.3 blocks per game this season and hasn’t made a 3-pointer in his seven-year NBA career.

Kevin Love has taken over as the starting center, with Jeff Green at power forward. The back-up minutes in Game 1 went to Larry Nance Jr., who was acquired from the Lakers in a February trade. Thompson is a huge expense to keep on the roster if he doesn’t play, with two seasons and more than $36MM left on his contract.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • LeBron James believes the Cavaliers’ roster uncertainty throughout the season may have impacted them in the playoff opener, relays Dave McMenamin on ESPN Now. “I think we spent so much time trying to figure out who we were in the regular season and getting the right lineups and guys in and out and things of that nature, we could never build for the playoffs,” James said. “It was kind of like, build for the next game. So the postseason finally hit us and it hit us very well. And I think that can be the best teacher for us to know exactly what we should be ready for tonight.”
  • If the Spurs decide to trade Kawhi Leonard, that could affect James’ strategy in free agency, suggests Brian Windhorst of ESPN. In a video posted on Twitter, Windhorst says if the Cavaliers fail to reach the NBA Finals, James and Leonard will have about six weeks to discuss their future and plot a way to end up on the same team. Windhorst names the Sixers and Lakers as teams with the assets to acquire both.
  • With Victor Oladipo shredding the Cavs for 32 points in Game 1, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets that Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert wanted Oladipo instead of Anthony Bennett with the top pick in the 2013 draft, but decided to listen to the front office. Bennett, who is now out of the NBA, played just one season for the Cavaliers before being traded to Minnesota.

Pacers A Fit For Tyreke Evans?

  • The Grizzlies made a surprising move at February’s trade deadline when they held onto Tyreke Evans rather than dealing him to a contender. The Grizzlies have maintained that they want to re-sign Evans, but they’ll likely face competition for his services. Frank Urbina of HoopsHype speculates that the Trail Blazers, Pacers, and Sixers could be fits for Evans this offseason.

Victor Oladipo Fueled By Gilbert's Comments

Despite Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweeting that Pacers guard Victor Oladipo was not the primary object of Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert’s frustration over the failed trade that sent Paul George to Oklahoma City last summer, Oladipo implied that Gilbert’s comments add some extra motivation for Indiana in its first round series against Cleveland, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“You could say it added fuel to the fire, I guess you could say,” Oladipo said after the Pacers win in Game 1. “But that was so long ago. It came up recently, obviously, because we were playing the Cavs in the series, but I’m aware of what he said. Can’t control his opinion. All I’m focused on is myself and becoming the best Victor Oladipo possible.”

As for the series itself, many observers declared Oladipo to be the best player on the floor during Game 1, even with LeBron James on the other sideline. Oladipo credits his team’s effort – something seemingly often lacking for Cleveland – for his and the Pacers’ success this season.

“We’ve been playing like this all year,” he said of the Pacers. “Been playing hard on both ends all year. It just hasn’t been magnified. So it’s the playoffs now, we’ve been doing this all year. Now everybody sees, so it’s like, it’s kind of shocking to everybody, I guess you could say. But we’ve been playing hard. We’ve been playing our butts off on both ends of the floor all year.”

Community Shootaround: Possible First-Round Upsets

Game 1 is in the books for all eight of the NBA’s first-round playoff matchups, and several of those games set up potentially fascinating series. Six of the eight higher seeds held their home-court advantage in the first game, but some of those favorites looked a little shaky in their victories, leading to plenty of speculation about first-round upsets.

We’ll start with the weekend’s biggest upset, which took place in Cleveland, where the Pacers dismantled LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Game 1. It won’t be a surprise if the Cavs eventually pull out this series, but their 98-80 loss on Sunday was something we haven’t seen since James returned to Cleveland in 2014. In their last three first-round series, the Cavs have swept the Celtics, Pistons, and – one year ago – the Pacers.

Of course, these Pacers are a much different team than the squad swept out of the postseason a year ago. Victor Oladipo looked like the best player on the floor on Sunday, and players like Myles Turner, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Lance Stephenson looked great in supporting roles. This Pacers team was overlooked and underappreciated all season, and appear poised to give the Cavs all they can handle in round one.

The other Game 1 upset occurred in Portland, where the Pelicans edged out a two-point win over the Trail Blazers. Anthony Davis (35 points, 14 rebounds) was the best player on the court in that game, but Jrue Holiday‘s impact shouldn’t be understated. Besides posting 21 points and seven assists, Holiday also locked up Damian Lillard on the other end of the court — Lillard made just six of 23 shots.

The Pelicans don’t have a whole lot of standout talent behind Davis and Holiday, but Nikola Mirotic (16 points, 11 rebounds) stepped up as a reliable third option on Saturday. If he – or another Pelican – can continue to support Davis and Holiday throughout the series, New Orleans should have a chance.

Elsewhere, the Raptors, Rockets, and Thunder had to battle to the end to hold off the Wizards, Timberwolves, and Jazz, respectively, but came away with Game 1 victories. The Bucks pushed the Celtics to overtime before losing Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo to foul problems and ultimately losing the game. None of those four favorites is a mortal lock to advance, though Houston is probably close.

The Warriors and Sixers took care of business with comfortable wins over the Spurs and Heat, respectively.

What do you think? Will we see an upset – or multiple upsets – in the first round of the postseason? Which lower-seeded teams do you think look like the best bets to advance to round two?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

2018 NBA Draft Order Tiebreaker Results

After a series of tiebreakers were conducted Friday night, the lottery odds for the NBA Draft have been finalized. Similarly, the draft order for teams outside of the lottery has been decided as well.

While a total of four two-way ties and one four-way tie were all broken by coin toss, the biggest winner of the night would have to be the Mavs who will now officially boast the third-greatest odds when the lottery is drawn on May 15.

Although the Hawks equaled Dallas in futility, both teams limited to 24 wins on the year, they’ll slot in one spot behind them at No. 4. That means, if neither team secures a top-three pick when the lottery results are revealed, they’ll just pick after them, the same as if they had won one more game. Both teams, however, will have nearly identical odds (13.7% versus 13.8%) of securing a top-three pick in the lottery.

The Bulls also won big today, edging out the Kings for the No. 6 spot. Sacramento will have an identical shot at landing at top-three pick, however.

The four-way tie between Utah, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Indiana ended with the Thunder at No. 20, the Jazz at No. 21, the Pelicans at No. 22 and the Pacers at No. 23.

That Oklahoma City pick will head to Minnesota while the 22nd pick will go straight to the Bulls as part of the Nikola Mirotic deal.

The Heat won the tiebreaker for the the 16th pick, ahead of the Bucks, and will send that to Phoenix as part of the Goran Dragic trade back in 2015.

Milwaukee claiming the No. 17 pick is particularly interesting since, had they won the tiebreaker, they would have had to flip the pick to the Suns as part of the Greg Monroe trade. Since they didn’t, they’ll keep the pick and send a protected first-rounder in 2019, so long as it falls between 4-16.

The Spurs won the coin toss between themselves and the Timberwolves and will now pick at No. 18. Minnesota’s 19th pick will go to Atlanta as part of a 2015 Adreian Payne trade.

As is always the case, the loser of any tiebreaker will end up with the better pick in the second round. In the event of the four-way tie, all four teams will simply be flipped, giving the Pacers the 50th pick and so on.

Here’s a rundown of what the draft order currently looks like, prior to the results of the May lottery.

Pick Team
1 Suns
2 Grizzlies
3 Mavs
4 Hawks
5 Magic
6 Bulls
7 Kings
8 Cavaliers
9 Knicks
10 76ers
11 Hornets
12 Clippers
13 Clippers
14 Nuggets
15 Wizards
16 Suns
17 Bucks
18 Spurs
19 Hawks
20 Wolves
21 Jazz
22 Bulls
23 Pacers
24 Trail Blazers
25 Lakers
26 76ers
27 Celtics
28 Warriors
29 Nets
30 Hawks

Details On Traded Picks, Upcoming Draft Tiebreakers

With the 2017/18 NBA regular season in the books, the postseason matchups are set in both the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference.

More importantly for fans of most non-playoff teams, the end of the regular season means that the 2018 NBA draft picture is clearer than ever. The 2018 draft order is close to being set and – with a small handful of exceptions – most of this year’s traded draft picks with protections on them have now officially changed hands or officially stayed put.

However, there are still some major question marks surrounding the draft order, since several clubs finished the regular season with identical records, and draft tiebreakers don’t work like playoff tiebreakers do. In order to break these ties, the NBA will conduct random drawings this Friday, as Jonathan Givony of ESPN notes (via Twitter).

[RELATED: 2017/18 NBA Reverse Standings]

For lottery teams, such as the 24-58 Mavericks and Hawks, who finished tied for third in the lottery standings, the implications of those drawings are huge. Whichever team wins that tiebreaker will have ever-so-slightly better odds at the first overall pick (13.8% to 13.7%), and will be in position to claim the higher first-round pick if neither team lands in the top three.

For instance, if the Suns and Grizzlies remain at No. 1 and No. 2 in the lottery and another team leapfrogs the Mavs and Hawks, the winner of the tiebreaker between Dallas and Atlanta would claim the No. 4 overall pick — the loser would get No. 5. For the second round, the loser of the tiebreaker would receive the higher selection.

Here are the draft tiebreakers that will be conducted on Friday:

  • Mavericks vs. Hawks for Nos. 3, 4.
  • Kings vs. Bulls for Nos. 6, 7.
  • Bucks vs. Heat for Nos. 16, 17.
  • Spurs vs. Timberwolves for Nos. 18, 19.
  • Pacers vs. Pelicans vs. Thunder vs. Jazz for Nos. 20-23.

Several of those tiebreakers will also affect this year’s traded picks. Most notably, the Bucks/Heat drawing has massive implications for Milwaukee and Phoenix — the Bucks’ first-round pick will head to the Suns if it lands at No. 16, but Milwaukee would keep it if it ends up at No. 17. In other words, each team has a 50/50 shot at the pick. If the Bucks keep it, they’d owe their 2019 first-round selection to Phoenix, albeit with somewhat similar protections.

Here’s a breakdown of the traded first-round picks for 2018. A check mark indicates the pick will definitely be sent to the indicated team:

  • Nets pick to Cavaliers (✔️): Eighth in lottery standings
  • Lakers pick to Sixers (97.1%) or Celtics (2.9%): 10th in lottery standings
    • Note: Celtics will receive pick if it lands at No. 2 or No. 3 via the lottery.
  • Pistons pick to Clippers (97.5%): 12th in lottery standings
    • Note: Pistons will keep pick if it lands in top three via the lottery.
  • Heat pick to Suns (✔️): No. 16 or 17 (tie)
  • Bucks pick to Suns (50%): No. 16 or 17 (tie)
    • Note: Bucks will keep pick if it lands at No. 17 via a random drawing.
  • Timberwolves pick to Hawks (✔️): No. 18 or 19 (tie)
  • Thunder pick to Timberwolves (✔️): No. 20, 21, 22, or 23 (four-way tie)
  • Pelicans pick to Bulls (✔️): No. 20, 21, 22, or 23 (four-way tie)
  • Cavaliers pick to Lakers (✔️): No. 25
  • Raptors pick to Nets (✔️): No. 29
  • Rockets pick to Hawks (✔️): No. 30

Here’s a breakdown of the traded second-round picks that will change hands in 2018:

  • Bulls pick to Knicks (✔️): No. 36 or 37 (tie)
  • Nets pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 38
  • Knicks pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 39
  • Lakers pick to Nets (✔️): No. 40
  • Hornets pick to Magic (✔️): No. 41
  • Clippers pick to Nuggets (✔️): No. 43
  • Bucks pick to Nets (✔️): No. 45 or 46 (tie)
  • Heat pick to Rockets (✔️): No. 45 or 46 (tie)
  • Nuggets pick to Lakers (✔️): No. 47
  • Trail Blazers pick to Mavericks (✔️): No. 54
  • Cavaliers pick to Hornets (✔️): No. 55
  • Celtics pick to Thunder (✔️): No. 57
  • Warriors pick to Nuggets (✔️): No. 58
  • Raptors pick to Suns (✔️): No. 59
  • Rockets pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 60

Eastern Conference Playoff Seeding

9:38pm: The Heat have beaten the Raptors, meaning we know the playoff pairings and seeds for the Eastern Conference.

  • Raptors (No. 1) vs. Wizards (No. 8)
  • Celtics (No. 2) vs. Bucks (No. 7)
  • Sixers (No. 3) vs. Heat (No. 6)
  • Cavaliers (No. 4) vs. Pacers (No. 5)

9:32pm: The Magic have beaten the Wizards.  We now know the following.

  • The Wizards are the No. 8 seed, which means the only seeds still up for grabs are the 6 and 7 seeds.
  • If MIA wins, they are the No. 6 seed and MIL is No. 7.
  • If TOR wins, MIL is the No. 6 seed and MIA is No. 7.

9:05pm: Philadelphia now leads Milwaukee by 34 points with less than eight minutes remaining. Safe to say, the Sixers aren’t losing this game. As such, we now know the following.

  • The Sixers are the No. 3 seed.
  • The Cavaliers are the No. 4 seed.
  • The Heat will be the No. 6 seed with a win over the Raptors.

8:18pm: At halftime of both games, the Knicks lead the Cavs by 20 and the Sixers lead the Bucks by an all-but insurmountable 36 points. Barring an epic turnaround, the Sixers will be the No. 3 seed and the Cavs will be the No. 4 seed.

6:07pm: While not as undecided as the Western Conference, the Eastern Conference still has some seeding implications in tonight’s games as well. Like the top two seeds in the West, both the Raptors and Celtics are locked in to the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the East, respectively.

Likewise, the Pacers will be the No. 5 seed regardless of tonight’s results. However, seeds three, four, and six through eight are still up in the air, as follows:

Sixers: 3 or 4

Cavaliers: 3 or 4

Bucks: 6, 7, or 8

Heat: 6, 7, or 8

Wizards: 6, 7, or 8

As we did for the Western Conference, here are some initial notes that are not conditional upon other game results:

  • The Sixers will be the No. 3 seed with a win over the Bucks.
  • The Cavs will be the No. 4 seed with a loss to the Knicks.
  • The Bucks will be the No. 6 seed with a win over the Sixers.
  • The Wizards will be the No. 8 seed with a loss to the Magic.

We will be updating the Eastern Conference playoff seeding scenarios as the night goes on, so stay with us throughout the evening. The playoff seeding should be set by the time we sign off.

Postseason Incentives In Play For Victor Oladipo

  • Kyle Lowry (Raptors) and Victor Oladipo (Pacers) would get sizable bonuses if their teams make deep playoff runs. Lowry would receive $500K for reaching the Eastern Finals, another $500K for winning the East, and another $500K for a title. Oladipo would earn $250K if Indiana reaches the NBA Finals.

Kevin Pritchard Has Case For Executive Of The Year

Victor Oladipo is the strong frontrunner for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, and his play this season may indirectly result in another award landing in Indiana. As Dakota Crawford of The Indianapolis Star writes, Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard has a strong case for Executive of the Year, in large part due to how his much-criticized trade for Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis has worked out.

Bogdanovic's Role Living Up To Expectations

  • Offseason addition Bojan Bogdanovic has thrived for the Pacers this season and is filling the role he expected when he signed with the club over the summer. “I was not looking for the money. I was looking for the opportunity that I was going to be a starter and play a decent amount of minutes,” Bogdanovic, who averages a career high 30.8 minutes per game for the Pacers, told J. Michael Falgoust of The Indianapolis Post. “Talking to the coaching staff during the summer in free agency they told me exactly it was going to be this way I didn’t have any doubts signing with the Pacers.