The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the internet
It’s not quite time to break out the trumpet and start playing “Taps” just yet, but if the knee injury that Stephen Curry suffered in Sunday’s win over the Houston Rockets is serious, then the Golden State Warriors’ chances of repeating as NBA champions takes a major hit. Considering all anyone wanted to talk about last season — and even in the beginning of this season — was how lucky the Warriors got last year by not suffering any major injuries, Curry’s struggle to stay healthy over the last couple of weeks stings. If he’s unable to play, or even play at his MVP pace, the greatest team in NBA history will more than likely not be able to put the cherry of a championship on top of their 73-win season.
In a move that surprised no one, the Los Angeles Lakers fired Byron Scott on Sunday night, officially declaring their readiness to move on from the Kobe Bryant era and all that it entailed. While the Lakers still aren’t in a position to succeed with the way their roster is currently constructed, they have a ton of cap space, some good young players and the allure of being the Lakers. It usually doesn’t take this team too long to bounce back from a stretch of struggling, which led CBS’s Matt Moore to looking at potential candidates who could help turn this organization around.
Down 2-0 with Avery Bradley out for the remainder of the playoffs, it looked as if the Boston Celtics’ 2015-16 season was all but over. Falling down 62-46 in the third quarter of Sunday’s Game 4, things looked even worse for the Celtics, until Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart took over and willed their team to a win, tying the series with the Atlanta Hawks at two games a piece. Thomas has been phenomenal all series, so the bigger story emerging out of the weekend was Smart, who not only scored 20 points for the first time since January, but also kept Paul Millsap in check down the stretch of Sunday’s game. Sports Illustrated’s Jake Fischer does a great job writing about Smart’s breakout game.
As unlikely of a hero as Smart may have been for the Celtics, rookie Frank Kaminsky was another huge story this weekend, helping his Charlotte Hornets avoid falling down 3-0 against the Miami Heat. After a quiet first couple of games, Hornets head coach Steve Clifford relied a bit more heavily on Kaminsky, especially in the second half of Game 3, where he scored all 15 of his points. With Nicolas Batum’s return uncertain this series, the Hornets will continue to ask Kaminsky to play a role, which should bode well with team owner Michael Jordan.
Whether it’s a mental issue for the Toronto Raptors, or just terrific perimeter defense from the Indiana Pacers, the playoff struggles of the Raptors’ backcourt are once again a very real thing. The seventh-seeded Pacers tied up the series at two games apiece this weekend after DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined to go 8-for-27 from the field, combining for 20 points and nine turnovers in Game 4. Again, Paul George and George Hill are fantastic defenders, but this isn’t the first postseason where this Raptors backcourt has struggled. If they don’t get it together soon they could be looking at another first-round exit.