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The Starting 5 | The Celtics are starting to understand playoff basketball

Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) hits the floor as he takes control of a loose ball during the second quarter of a first-round NBA playoff basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in Boston, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. Thomas scored 24 points as the Celtics defeated the Bulls 108-97. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the internet

1. “Al Horford proves worth to Celtics again, thinks team is starting to understand playoff basketball” – Jay King of MassLive.com

Let’s be clear here — the Celtics probably wouldn’t have won the last three games by at least nine points if Rajon Rondo hadn’t have gotten injured. That Bulls’ talent at point guard is just hilariously bad.

That said, Boston has played with a lot more fight since Game 2. Horford thinks the team is learning how to adjust to the differences of playing basketball, and King gets some good quotes from him and other Celtics. The team is now on track to win its first playoff series since the days of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

2. “The Wizards proved in Game 5 they are just fine” – Tim Cato of SB Nation

Are the Wizards the top Eastern Conference threat to dethrone the Cavaliers right now? There’s certainly a good argument for it. Washington isn’t dominating a pesky Hawks squad, but it has the firepower in its starting lineup to take advantage of Cleveland if its defense still isn’t up to snuff by the Eastern Conference Finals. Beating the Celtics or Bulls in the second round (probably the Celtics) is doable.

Cato takes readers through Game 5, which was mostly a back-and-forth affair. Washington needs Bojan Bogdanovic to continue to play well in reserve in its road Game 6 (he scored 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting with six rebounds in Game 5).

3. “Steven Adams comes clean on why Russell Westbrook is ‘legit dude’ and great teammate” – Marc Hinton of Stuff.co.nz

You may have strong feelings one way or the other about Westbrook’s character. He’s certainly given us a lot of headlines to base our opinions on.

After this article from Hinton, it’s pretty clear where Adams falls on the spectrum. He talks about what it’s like to be a teammate of the triple-double maven, and gives an interesting story that offers insight into Westbrook’s care for teammates.

4. “Rest in Peace NBA D-League 2001-2017” – Adam Johnson of D-League Digest

The NBA’s official minor league season wraps up tonight. When it comes back in the winter, there will be many changes. The biggest change is the name (NBA Developmental League to NBA Gatorade League, or D-League to G-League), which causes many branding-related changes for nearly all aspects of the league.

Johnson laments that the new name and some new institutions still do very little to take care of its players compared to the extravagance of the NBA, though. He has several intriguing thoughts here that deserve a read.

5. “NBA Free Agency: Waiters, McGee among 32 fascinating players to hit market” – James Herbert of CBS Sports

 Would you like it if your favorite team signed Dion Waiters to a long-term deal this summer? How about JaVale McGee? Both of these guys are interesting cases (for different reasons) that will be fun to track throughout the coming months.

Herbert dives into the situations of a variety of free agents hitting the market this summer. Th playoffs are obviously more fun to follow than the rest of the year, but Herbert reminded me how much I enjoy player movement season, as well.

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