THINGS HEATING UP IN THE NBA PLAYOFFS-CELTICS HANGING AROUND-SPURS MAY LOSE LEONARD

Some NBA fans may have been surprised to see No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz benched in the first game of the Philadelphia 76ers‘ playoff series against the Boston Celtics. By Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer

In a disappointing and potentially franchise-altering first-round series loss, Russell Westbrook used up 38 percent of Oklahoma City possessions with a shot, drawn foul or turnover — a larger share than LeBron James accounted for in almost single-handedly dragging Cleveland past Indiana. Westbrook’s usage rate was almost the same as LeBron’s in the 2015 Finals, when James carried an injury-riddled misfit crew within two games of the championship. By Zach Lowe, ESPN Senior Writer

Maybe we should stop being surprised by these Celtics, this Al Horford-fronted, Terry Rozier-led, Jayson Tatum-supported, Marcus Smart-inspired group. Maybe we shouldn’t be astonished when Boston, down another man — Jaylen Brown, he of the 18-point scoring average in the first round and the sore hamstring, is the latest to join the Celtics’ walking wounded — beats up on a team with superior talent. Maybe we should accept that Boston can win with whomever it has on the floor because of whom it has coaching on the sidelines. By Chris Mannix Yahoo Sports

Next man up. It’s a time-honored cliché in the sports world that is, for the most part, bogus. To suggest that when a star player goes down, the “next man” can just step right into the same role and do the same things is nuts. It doesn’t work that way in the real world. Unless, of course, you’re the Boston Celtics, in which case no rules apply. By 

When Stan Van Gundy took a coaching job with the Pistons, it was largely because he wanted control in a front office environment. Detroit gave him that, but because he’s had one playoff appearance and struggled to add talent to the roster, the results as coach and president of basketball operations have been underwhelming. By 

 It’s silly to look at the first game of a playoff series and draw many big conclusions from it. The NBA playoffs is all about feeling out your opponent and making adjustments over the long haul. Look no further than the first round of these playoffs, when Paul George and Oklahoma City came out firing at home and controlled Game 1 against the Utah Jazz from start to finish, only to get dominated in the next three games and eventually lose to the Jazz in six. By 

Throughout the Cleveland Cavaliersfirst-round series, one of the main storylines was Lance Stephenson’s attempts to pester LeBron James. Now, it appears that Fred VanVleet will be taking on that role for the Toronto Raptors. By 

It feels like the Knicks coaching search has linked them to every available coach under the sun. Names like David Fizdale, Mark Jackson, David Blatt and even former New York coach Mike Woodson have all been listed as potential interview candidates. This is the first coaching hire made by front office tandem Steve Mills and Scott Perry, and they wouldn’t be doing their due diligence if they didn’t cast a wide net during the search. By 

No one really knows what’s going to happen with the incoming Kawhi LeonardSan Antonio Spurs standoff. It’s been a long, arduous season full of misinformation regarding Leonard’s return and status with the Spurs, but a new report from Ramona Shelburne and Michael C. Wright of ESPN on Tuesday has provided at least some insight into both the Spurs and Leonard’s situations. By 

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