Scotto: Nets Want Raptors, Not Bulls in Playoffs

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1909fuhgeddabouditThe Nets and Bulls are on course for a potential rematch of last year’s first-round playoff series.

Is this the ideal scenario for Brooklyn? As they say in the borough, “Fuhgeddaboudit!”

It’s been a frigid winter in Brooklyn, and a trip to the “Windy City” could dampen any hopes of the Nets springing ahead to the next round.

Raptors soaring and succeeding since Rudy Gay trade

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DeMarDeRozanSH1The Toronto Raptors had no intention of making the playoffs this season.

Head coach Dwane Casey admitted as much earlier in the season, but the talent on the team turned out to be above average in an Eastern Conference that turned out to be historically subpar. So general manager Masai Ujiri sent the overpaid Rudy Gay to Sacramento on Dec. 8 with the team in first place at 7-12, and the Raptors have turned into one of the East’s best teams.

Toronto is 29-15 since the seven-player Gay trade was announced, a move that allowed their other core players to expand their roles and help the Raptors become an unexpected lock for the Eastern Conference playoffs at this point in early March.

Point guard Kyle Lowry was mired in trade rumors but emerged as an All-Star snub and an overwhelmingly positive force, and with room to operate on the wing, he is the unquestioned primary scorer, DeMar DeRozan flourished and became an All-Star for the first time.

Tweet of the Day: Ben McLemore Gearing Up For Slam Dunk Contest

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dunks

Engrave today’s date in your head, as tonight’s slam dunk competition could be worth remembering.

NBA All-Star 2014 marks only the second time that the Sprite Slam Dunk competition will feature three All-Star Game participants.

In recent years, fans have become accustom to doing a web search on half of the players in the competition.

Dwight-Howard

In the year 2000, Vince Carter rocked the rims and probably had the best dunk contest of all-time. In 2003 we saw Jason Richardson score perfect fifties. A few years later the era of Lil Nate, Nate Robinson, shook the stage and brought many fans back to the Spud Webb days. In 2008 Dwight Howard became Superman and flew across the court throwing down one of the most memorable dunks in the history of the competition (without even touching the rim). And in 2011 Blake Griffin jumped over a Kia, that’s cool too.

But looking at the last two dunk contests, what do you remember? Nothing! Exactly.

The calibre of talent in this event had seemed to diminish and the dunk contest became less exciting than the celebrity game without Kevin Hart.

Maybe we owe a thanks to new NBA commissioner Adam Silver, or maybe it’s great timing, but this year’s dunk contest is almost an All-Star lineup itself.

Paul George, Damian Lillard, John Wall, Harrison Barnes, Terrence Ross and Ben McLemore are preparing to highlight NBA All-Star Weekend’s most popular event.

The Sacramento Kings rookie is looking to give fans something to talk about. McLemore turned 21 last week, (in New Orleans I’m sure he’s keeping busy) he is excited about this and legitimately wants to win.

 

Saturday night these six players will have a worldwide audience on them. And for a player like McLemore, who’s still unknown to many, can make a name for himself with just one dunk.

The league has a chance to save the legacy of the slam dunk contest. This event was on life support, it’s not where it should be yet, but this is a very good start at rebuilding.

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Brett Poirier is a contributor to Sheridan Hoops.

SH Blog: Pierce and Garnett Return to Boston; Miami too Hot for San Antonio; T-Ross Goes Off

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To say it’s been an eventful 24 hours of basketball is a major understatement. NBA fans were treated to emotional tributes, heavyweight tilts and massive scoring outputs.

Pierce Garnett

In addition to all the fun, NBA Sunday Showcase also returned. For the remainder of the season (with the exception of Super Bowl Sunday) fans can watch top teams in the league go head-to-head during the daylight hours.

Let’s go to Boston, where two highly anticipated returns brought many to tears.

Kevin Garnett: six years, one ring. Paul Pierce: 15 years, one ring. Together along with Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins were one of the best starting units ever assembled. An elite passer at the point, deadeye sharpshooter at the two, dynamite scorer at SF, one of the toughest competitors in history at the four, and a rugged intimidator down low. When healthy, they were unstoppable, and in 2008 they won what “The Big Three” had been desperately searching for.

Sunday marked a very special day for Celtics fans – it was Boston’s chance to say thank you.

Nearly eight months after being traded from Boston, The Truth and The Big Ticket return to TD Garden as members of the Brooklyn Nets.

If you’re looking to see players getting booed out of the building, don’t bother watching, because it’s far from that.

A packed house gave both players standing ovations and many fans didn’t sit for several minutes after. “KG” and “Paul Pierce” chants we’re sporadic throughout the first quarter.

During game breaks the Celtics organized video tributes for each player. By this point, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Like I’ve always said, the city of Boston is the best sports city in North America. The fans are competitive but know how to keep it classy. It’s been a rough 12 months for Boston but they still stand tall and they’re always Boston Strong.

Brooklyn ended up leaving with a W, 85-79 was the final score. Garnett and Pierce each scored six in the return.

To other NBA news: the Miami Heat are still really good at basketball.

During an NBA Finals rematch Sunday afternoon in Miami, the Heat took care of business against the San Antonio Spurs with a 113-101 win. Keep in mind, it was really a much more lopsided game but Miami cleared its bench after going up by 25.

LeBron James had a quiet night by his standards, finishing with 18 points, seven rebounds and six dimes. But Chris Bosh came to play, in just 26 minutes he recorded 24 points and five rebounds. Dwyane Wade was essentially a nonfactor with eight points and five assists.

Duncan Manu Parker

Tim Duncan led the Spurs charge with 23. Tony Parker had 11 points and seven assists. Meanwhile, Manu Ginobili had another dismal game against the Heat, in 25 minutes he only managed three points on 1/7 shooting.

Although a poor performance, Ginobili’s play isn’t the main concern. With the loss, San Antonio falls to 1-10 against the NBA’s elite.

Yes the Spurs are missing three starters, but those are all injuries that occurred in January. Even with a healthy Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter, they couldn’t get the wins that mattered most.

A Spurs fan will blow this off as nothing and maybe they’re right. Defeat sub .500 teams every night, great. But San Antonio probably won’t have the luxury of playing the Utah Jazz in the playoffs.


Terrence Ross

Terrence Ross scored 51 points Saturday – wait, who?

That’s right, the dunker on the team from Up North.

Unfortunately for the Toronto Raptors, they couldn’t cap off the perfect night with a win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Although, the final score could’t take anything away from his historic game.

Ross tied Raptors legend Vince Carter for most points in a game and also broke a few records of his own. Obviously a personal scoring best, but more impressively he broke an all-time NBA record.

 

I follow the Raptors very closely and I’ve watched Ross in every NBA game he’s ever appeared in. This kid is special. Thinking he’s a one dimensional player who only goes for high flying dunks it totally wrong.

Ross is 22-years-old, he can’t even rent a car yet. When his skill catches up to his athleticism, watch out.

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Brett Poirier is a contributor to Sheridan Hoops.

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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