SH Blog: Al Jefferson has foot injury; NBA salary cap set to increase by $5M

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Nothing in the NBA playoffs is going like it’s supposed to. The Pacers look like they’re all done, the Spurs struggled to get past the Mavs, the Warriors-Clippers game was a mess of missed free throws and turnovers, the Wizards are winning games… yeah, it’s a little weird.

Of course, we’re only one game in. There’s going to be lots more. But right now, if I were a Pacers fan, I’d be worried. Losing to a Hawks team without Al Horford, a Hawks team that finished the regular season with a losing record, on your home court is not the way #1 seeds should be opening the playoffs.

The last two years, top contenders have had their star point guards go down to knee injuries in the first round. Russell Westbrook recovered, but we’ve barely seen Derrick Rose since. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen this year. The playoffs are better when the stars play.

There’s still one game to go tonight, and it should be a good one. Can the Rockets guard Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge? They’re considering bringing back a strategy they tried briefly for this series. Read on to find out what it is.

First, though, let’s get to the rest of the NBA’s latest news:

SH Blog: Andre Miller back in Denver, this time as a Wizard

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I had boatloads of schoolwork to finish (one more week!), so I didn’t get to watch any of the NCAA tournament games before the last one of the night, which hasn’t been a great contest.

SH Blog: Jabari Parker uncertain over pro future; will next Knicks coach have to run the Triangle?

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harvardNot that anybody should care, but my bracket is looking pretty good. Not only did I manage to get through the first round without losing a Final Four team (one year I lost two on the first day), but I haven’t even lost an Elite Eight team yet. Of course, four of them still haven’t played their second game yet, but things are looking pretty good. Not as good as last year, when I called Louisville over Michigan in the final, but good enough. This year, I’ve got Arizona over Iowa State. It’s published now. I have proof.

Anyway, the NCAA Tournament is a lot of fun even if you don’t watch college basketball, because the storylines unfold all at once, and you only really need to pay attention to the teams that are winning. Also, it’s pretty much nonstop basketball for four straight days, and who doesn’t love that?

Here’s your latest news from the NBA and NCAA:

DUKE, PARKER BOUNCED FROM NCAA TOURNAMENT

275px-Jabari_ParkerI didn’t shed too many tears when Duke lost to 14-seed Mercer, but this could have major implications on the draft this summer.

Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune:

So distraught after the Blue Devils’ one-and-done exit from the NCAA tournament, Parker barely could speak.

The South Side native and four-time Simeon state champion said the 78-71 loss to 14th-seeded Mercer would influence his decision whether to turn pro.

Speaking barely over a whisper, Parker twice summarized his feelings with this word: “Incompletion.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said.

A few feet away, teammate Amile Jefferson called Parker “a great kid, an amazing person. It was an honor to play with him this year. … (Mercer) did a good job of packing it in on him. He didn’t really see any daylight.”

Parker finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, four turnovers and zero assists. He shot 4-for-14, failed to draw iron on two off-balance shots close to the rim, committed an obvious goaltend and declined to close out on Jakob Gollon’s 3-pointer late in the first half.

This was the first NCAA tournament game for Parker and Duke’s second-best player, Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood, and it showed. They combined to shoot 6-for-24.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski made it sound like both would depart for the NBA. Everyone, it seems, expects Parker to enter the draft and get picked in the top three.

“I’ve loved coaching them and I feel bad for them,” Krzyzewski said. “We all have to live with that (result).”

WILL THE KNICKS RUN THE TRIANGLE?

photo (3)Mitch Lawrence of the Daily News looks at some of the candidates for Phil Jackson’s first hire as coach of the Knicks, and whether or not they run the Zen Master’s famed Triangle offense.

At his welcome-back presser this past week, Jackson did what he had to do and supported Mike Woodson. But Woodson isn’t part of his clique and Jackson is almost guaranteed to have one of his closest allies take over the coaching duties.

Will that person be required to use the Triangle? Jackson said no at his presser — something he has also told associates, privately — but he will demand that his coach installs some kind of offensive system.

We all know what kind of success Jackson had with the Triangle when he coached Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. But it didn’t work for Rambis during his two seasons as head coach in Minnesota; or for another member of Jackson’s circle, Jim Cleamons, when he was coach for 98 games in Dallas; or for Quinn Buckner, when he coached the Mavs for one season, in 1993-94.

Shaw hasn’t used the Triangle in his first season in Denver, but not because the aforementioned coaches all had dismal records employing system. He has told former colleagues with the Indiana Pacers, where he was No. 2 to Frank Vogel, that he would be running it now if the Nuggets had the right personnel.

EMBIID OUT VS. STANFORD

joel embiidOne of tomorrow’s big NCAA matchups pits 2-seed Kansas vs. 10-seed Stanford, who looked great in their first game. Kansas could boast the top two picks in the NBA’s draft, with Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, but they’ll be without Embiid tomorrow.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com:

Jayhawks coach Bill Self told ESPN.com on Saturday that Embiid, who is nursing a back injury, has been ruled out of Sunday’s third-round contest against the Cardinal. Embiid sat out the final two regular-season games and Self had maintained it was a “long shot” that he would be able to play in the team’s second game this weekend.

Self also told ESPN.com that Embiid remains questionable for a Sweet 16 matchup, should Kansas get past Stanford. The second-seeded Jayhawks knocked off Eastern Kentucky on Friday night.

The Cameroon native averaged 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds this season, but suffered a back injury in Big 12 play that he aggravated toward the end of the regular season.

NASH RETURNS, HAS 11 ASSISTS

nashDane Carbaugh of SBNation:

Steve Nash took the NBA by surprise on Friday night, not just by returning to action for the Los Angeles Lakers, but by returning to action as the old Steve Nash. No, not that one. The other old Steve Nash. In just 19 minutes off the bench, the former Suns and Mavericks point guard dropped 11 assists, adding five points on 2-of-4 shooting with four rebounds and three steals.

Nash went through non-contact practice on Thursday and joined the Lakers for shootaround before the game on Friday. Coach Mike D’Antoni had previously ruled him out for the rest of the season back on Mar. 13. His career has been in question since ongoing nerve issues in his leg forced him out of action in February, with Nash himself saying that if he isn’t playing for the Lakers next season that he would retire.

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Dan Malone is in his fourth year as a journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent last summer as a features intern at the Cape Cod Times. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.

Bernucca: Jackson’s Resume Alone Not Nearly Enough To Fix Knicks

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220px-Isiah_ThomasPhil Jackson won’t be awful as president of the New York Knicks. He certainly won’t be as bad as Isiah Thomas was in running the club. And he will almost certainly be better than David Kahn, Bryan Colangelo, Joe Dumars, Otis Smith and Geoff Petrie have been in recent years.

But Phil Jackson isn’t Isiah Thomas, or David Kahn, or Bryan Colangelo. He’s Phil Jackson, with a reputation of all things basketball that he touches turning to gold.

And that’s exactly what Knicks fans – now with three generations of folks waiting for another NBA title – will expect from Jackson.

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Bernucca: Feeling the Heat, Pacers Had To Make a Move

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Lance StephensonAll season, the Indiana Pacers have maintained that homecourt advantage for the Eastern Conference playoffs, and their chemistry will give them a great chance to dethrone the two-time NBA champion Miami Heat.

Are both slipping away?

In the last two weeks, Indiana’s grip on the East’s best record has loosened considerably. And the Pacers’  big move at Thursday’s trading deadline, acquiring Evan Turner, illustrated that their belief in chemistry may have been overstated.

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