Morning shootaround — April 17




VIDEO: The Fast Break — April 16

NEWS OF THE MORNING
It’s all about Curry’s ankle | Brooks eyeing Lakers | Familiar Raptors headache | Bradley injury could doom Celtics
No. 1: All eyes are on Stephen Curry’s ankle — Yes, the Warriors dominated, owned, locked up and threw away the key on the Rockets from the moment they walked onto the court at Oracle on Saturday. But after a 104-78 thumping in Game 1 all that anybody in the Bay Area — and all around Dub Nation — could think about was Stephen Curry limping off the court with a “tweaked” right ankle. Our own Scott Howard-Cooper says Curry seems to be the only one not worried about the injury, but Warriors coach Steve Kerr was taking no chances:

It was Stephen Curry and ankles, it was the first 48 minutes of what could be months of playoffs, and it was every bit the rout that could have been expected in a 1-8 matchup. He was lucky the Warriors hadn’t wrapped him in a mass of down pillows and called the cops to escort him home at halftime.

“Well, he saw I was writing the five players’ names on the board who I’m sending out there and he saw his name wasn’t on there and he was incredulous,” Kerr said. “And I said, ‘I don’t like the way you’re moving right now.’ He said, ‘No, I’ll be all right,’ and of course he’s going to say that. He’s a competitor. He wants to play. But we’re not going to let him play if there’s any risk of making it worse. Obviously we’re hoping that we’re going to be in the playoffs for the next couple of months. So we don’t want to make any chances.”

Including in Game 2 on Monday. More will be known as the Warriors gather for a workout Sunday morning at their practice facility, namely whether the joint stiffens and swells overnight, but Kerr is calling him questionable for now with Golden State obviously wanting to avoid an ankle that remains problematic for weeks.

“Right now I don’t see a scenario where I’ll be out,” Curry said after scoring a game-high 24 points despite playing just 20 minutes, making eight of 13 attempts overall and five of seven behind the arc. “Obviously if it’s not right and at risk of further injury and what not, that’s the only thing that I think we have to worry about. Pain tolerance and all that stuff, I kind of know what I can deal with on the court. But you don’t want anything more serious to happen favoring the ankle or what not. So that’s what we’ll pay attention to the next few days.”


VIDEO: Curry tweaks ankle

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No. 2: Brooks has sights set on Lakers job — We know that Byron Scott wants to stay on as coach of the Lakers. We know that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak says it will take some time for postseason evaluation to take place and any decisions in moving forward. But if the Lakers decide to change the man at the helm, Scott Brooks is ready and wants the job, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. And, oh yeah, he might be able to bring along some old friends:

The Lakers would be better off parting ways with Scott, looking instead at free agent coaches like Scott Brooks or Tom Thibodeau.  Brooks, in particular, should be the replacement.

Brooks, according to people close to the 2010 NBA Coach of the Year, has interest in a position with the Lakers should it become available.  A number of teams are expected to pursue Kevin Durant’s former coach (and Durant himself), including the Washington Wizards.

The Oklahoma City All-Star will be a free agent this July; teammate Russell Westbrook will be available in 2017.  If Brooks gives the Lakers an edge at landing either All-Star, or both, that’s the move to make.

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No. 3: Same old song for Raptors — After six consecutive losses in playoff games, after getting bounced out in the first round for the past two seasons, after a total re-dedication by stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, everything was going to be different for the Raptors this time around. That is, until Paul George and the Pacers arrived in Toronto and gave everybody deja vu all over again. Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star was there to chronicle the familiar misery:

The pressure was here anyway, and it showed. DeRozan was swallowed up by Paul George, who is longer and stronger and better, and DeRozan never found an answer. Lowry said his elbow was “fine,” but if that’s the case he just played a sloppy, tentative, out-of-control game. Jonas Valanciunas was a roaring beast when he wasn’t in foul trouble, but he was in foul trouble more often than he wasn’t. Terrence Ross was floating somewhere in space, but Dwane Casey, on a jumbled afternoon for him, came back to him. The Joey Graham jersey in the crowd could have been a tribute.

It felt like history repeating, and maybe it’s because history was in the building. The core of this team — Lowry and DeRozan and Valanciunas and Patterson and Ross, and Casey as the coach — has lost seven consecutive playoff games over the last three years.

“As a whole I thought we were tight offensively, and that frustration carried over to the defensive end, and you can’t do that,” Casey said. “I don’t think the seven games or whatever had anything to do with it. I think it was the Indiana Pacers, and then the moment of the playoffs got us tight. I don’t think it had anything to do with the previous games.
“It wasn’t us. I hadn’t seen us play that tentative on the offensive end all year.”

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No. 4: Bradley injury hurts Celts more than one loss — It was painful enough for Celtics fans to see their team rally from 19 points down in the playoff opener and not be able to seal the deal. It ached to see the Hawks get away with a 102-101 win. But the loss of Avery Bradley to a hamstring injury that could keep him on the sidelines for the rest of the first round series against Atlanta could wind up hurting Boston most, says Ray Glier of USA Today:

If you are a Boston Celtics fan your level of alarm should be pretty high.
Bradley, the Celtics’ second-leading scorer, went down in a heap on the sideline in the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the Celtics’ Eastern Conference series with the Atlanta Hawks. He was helped off the floor with a hamstring injury after scoring 18 points in 33 minutes in Boston’s 102-101 loss to the Hawks.

Bradley said he will go for “a test” Sunday morning. He also anticipated having treatment through the night. He left the locker room using one blue crutch to walk with. Game 2 is Tuesday at Philips Arena.

“I just want to get treatment and take it day by day and hopefully I can be back by next game,” Bradley said. “I’m not worried at all, I have faith, I know my teammates and people are praying for me.”

Asked if he was concerned he could be lost for the series, Bradley said, “I’m taking it day by day. I don’t really know. Could be, but I’m hoping it’s not.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Monty Williams surprised the Thunder by making an appearance for Game 1 of the playoffs … Rockets owner Leslie Alexander says he’ll take a more hands-on approach evaluating his team this summer … Jerry Colangelo says his role with the Sixers hasn’t changed … The Bucks will definitely be searching for 3-point shooters to bolster their offense … Keith Smart is back with the Heat after his battle with cancer … J.J. Barea is questionable for Mavs in Game after suffering a groin injury.

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