Published on Monday, 5/1/17, at 3:19 p.m. Eastern.
—Updated odds to win the 2017 NBA title from Sportsbook.ag:
Warriors -260 ‘chalk’ (risk $260 to win $100)
Cavs +350 (risk $100 to win $350)
—Updated Series Prices:
Cavs -480, Raptors +380
Spurs -245, Rockets +205
Celtics -320, Wizards +260
Warriors -1000, Jazz +2000 (20/1 odds)
–With Sunday’s 123-111 home win over Washington as a four-point home favorite, Boston won its fifth straight game both straight up and against the spread. The Celtics tied a postseason franchise record with 19 made 3-pointers on 39 attempts (48.7%). Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 33 points and dished out nine assists compared to only one two turnovers. Al Horford hit 10-of-13 shots from the field, finishing with 21 points, nine rebounds, one block and nine assists compared to just one turnover. Jae Crowder drained 6-of-8 from downtown in a 24-point effort, while Avery Bradley contributed 18 points, five boards, four assists and four steals.
–Washington raced out to a 16-0 lead, only to see that advantage trimmed to five by halftime. The Wizards’ starting power forward Markeiff Morris hurt his ankle with 7:16 left in the second quarter and didn’t return. He said after the game that he will play in Tuesday’s Game 2 at TD Garden.
–The Wizards shot the ball well, making 50.6 percent from the field and 43.5 percent from long distance. However, they were only 13-of-22 at the charity stripe (59.1%).
–Isaiah Thomas’s teams through the years are 13-3 against John Wall. Bradley Beal scored a team-best 27 points, while John Wall had 20 points and 16 assists. But Wall did cough up eight turnovers. Marcin Gortat had his best game of the postseason with 16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists without a turnover.
–When Boston fell into a 0-2 hole against Chicago in the opening round, much was made of Brad Stevens’ 3-10 career record in the playoffs at that time. That ledger is now up to 8-10.
–Loyal readers know I was furious when my Hawks ignorantly decided to sign Dwight Howard. Although they made an effort to also keep Horford in the fold, the latter wasn’t keen on playing with Howard and opted to go to Boston (for less money) instead. Predictably, the Celtics are still playing and the Hawks aren’t. Howard saw his minutes heavily reduced in the postseason and wasn’t happy about it. Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says this homecoming was doomed from the start.
–Paul Millsap just completed the second season of a three-year contract, but he has a player-option for the third year. Following Friday’s Game 6 loss to the Wizards, Millsap said he will opt out but wants to remain with the Hawks. Millsap led the Hawks in scoring (18.1 PPG) and minutes (34.0), while ranking second in rebounds (7.7 RPG), assists (3.7 APG), steals (1.3 SPG) and blocks (0.9 BPG). Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.5 PPG) enjoyed a breakout campaign, although he struggled with his shot for most of the series against Washington. He’s a restricted free agent, so the Hawks can match any offer sheet he receives. Thabo Sefolosha is an unrestricted free agent and barely touched the court against the Wizards. He bolted without showing up for his end-of-the-year meeting with Mike Budenholzer, so conventional wisdom says he’ll be leaving. Mike Muscala, Ersan Ilyasova, Jose Calderon and Kris Humphries are also unrestricted free agents, so Atlanta is going to underdog a major overhaul of its roster this summer.
–Hardaway has also expressed his desire to stay in Atlanta. He told the AJC, “I want to be here, point blank. They brought me here because they believed in me and believed in what I’m capable of doing. I’m thankful for it. … As of now, I’m still here. This is my team. I’m an Atlanta Hawk still. There is no other team right now. My mind and my focus is with the Atlanta Hawks.”
–It was just two seasons ago that Atlanta wrapped up the top seed in the East with more than a month left in the regular season and could’ve won a lot more than 60 games had it not rested starters often in the last six weeks of the regular season. If Millsap leaves, all five starters from that team will be gone.
–Paul Pierce’s career ended yesterday with the Clippers’ loss to Utah in Game 7 at Staples Center. Although the drama-queen theatrics with the wheelchair in the NBA Finals was the sort of thing that people like me can never forget (and understandably so!!), it’s impossible not to recognize his sensational career. He made dozens of clutch shots (and I’m just talking about the playoffs) and finishes as the NBA’s 15th all-time leading scorer. Here’s a tip of the cap to Paul Pierce.
–Game 7 at home vs. Utah and Chris Paul goes 6-of-19 from the field. Ouch. He still hasn’t been to a conference championship in his otherwise brilliant career. Granted, many of Paul’s best postseason chances have been demolished by injuries to him and/or Blake Griffin, but it’s always going to be a stain on his resume until he gets there.