May: The Future of Four Floundering Flagship Franchises

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We are about to witness what may be a first in the long history of the NBA. For the first time, four of the JacksonKnicksleague’s flagship franchises could well be out of the playoffs.

OK, the Knicks aren’t technically out of the race in the Hindenburg Conference, but they have a lot of ground to make up on Atlanta – four games in the loss column with 13 to play. The Celtics, Lakers and 76ers all are making plans for the 2014 draft lottery and the riches it may (or may not) provide.

Twenty years ago, the Celtics, Lakers and Sixers all missed the postseason, but the Pat Riley-coached Knicks made it all the way to the NBA Finals, losing in seven games to the Houston Rockets. That remains the best Knicks’ playoff run since the 1973 championship season (moreso than their surprising appearance in the 1999 Finals, where they were decided underdogs to the Spurs and lost in five.)

But at no time since 1949, when the Lakers entered the NBA in Minneapolis, and the 76ers came in as the Syracuse Nationals, have all four of these marquee teams been on the outside looking in when the playoffs arrived. (The Celtics and Knicks started in 1946.)

SH Blog: Pistons fire Cheeks; Stotts hasn’t talked extension yet

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Jennings CheeksHave you ever read something so intensely negative about someone that, regardless of how credible it is, you have a hard time dissociating it from your perception of that person?

I’m not talking George Zimmerman or Woody Allen here, of course. More of a rumor, possibly not even based in fact, that just sticks around in the back of your mind forever.

Rookie Rankings, Week 11: Sizing Up the Sophs

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With the midway point of the regular season approaching, we thought it would be a good idea to give the rookies a Anthony Bennettbreak and rank the sophomores for two reasons.

1. It is a nice change of pace and gives the reader something new.

2. This rookie class is god-awful and we are running out of ways to describe how bad it is.

At the end of the season, NBA coaches are asked to vote for five players for an All-Rookie Team. We defy anyone who has watched this season to go five-deep into the rookie pool.

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Tweet of the Night: Rockets May Have Asik Deal In Place

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Omer AsikLast week news broke that the Houston Rockets were planning to trade center Omer Asik by December 19th. Tonight, ESPN’s Marc Stein provided an update, suggesting that the Rockets already have a deal in place, but may hold out until the 19th to see if anybody can top it.

Sprung: Celtics aren’t tanking, they’re building

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200px-Brad_Stevens_on_Butler_sidelineIf the Boston Celtics are actually tanking, they are doing a really bad job of it.

The Celtics played three very different kinds of basketball games over the previous five days – I was at two of them – that showed a lot about the way this team is operating.

And giving away wins for ping-pong balls isn’t part of the plan.

On Friday, Boston scored the first 14 points against Denver and led 39-15 after the first quarter. The Celtics nearly gave away all of that lead but regrouped and came away with a 106-98 home win.

Boston learned from that and made its fast start stick two days later in New York. The Celtics had leads of 12-0, 18-1, 25-3 and 35-11 in the first quarter. They were never threatened in a 114-73 rout, the largest margin for any game this season.

It was Boston’s sixth win in eight games, pushing the supposed tank into first place in the abysmal Atlantic Division, which still gets an automatic playoff berth.