Should NBA writers around the country help determine how much a player can make in his new contract? Absolutely not. But one idiotic portion of the new collective bargaining agreement does just such a thing. To make a long story short, if a player is voted to one of the three All-NBA teams he can sign a super-max deal with his current team. That's relevant this year for Utah's Gordon Hayward, who is set for free agency, and Indiana's Paul George, who isn't a free agent until after next season but can sign a new deal now. Those "designated veteran players" who land on the All-NBA team, win an MVP Award in any of the three seasons before signing, or win Defensive Player of the Year the season before signing or both of two seasons before that can receive a starting salary of 35% of the salary cap. We're talking tens of millions of dollars difference here. I mention this because there was an image going around the Internet recently that purportedly was the All-NBA voting result. That has been tabulated already, but the league now has an awards show June 26 where it will reveal everything like that. The NBA office swears this image is fake news. For what it's worth, neither Hayward nor George was on one of the All-NBA teams. That could be the difference of them staying put or not. Here's a look at Thursday's playoff games.
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Game 3: Celtics at Wizards ( -5, 219)
An 8 p.m. ET tip on ESPN as the series shifts to Washington with Boston leading 2-0 and now -475 on the BetOnline series line. On what would have been his late sister's 23rd birthday, Celtics star Isaiah Thomas went nuts in Game 2 on Tuesday with 53 points - the second-most in Boston playoff history - as the C's won a game they probably shouldn't have, 129-119 in overtime over Washington. Thomas had 29 of those points in the fourth quarter and OT. Washington had 30 combined points in the fourth and OT. Thomas became the first Boston player to record a 50-point game in both the regular season and playoffs. Think about that for a minute. Do you realize how many Hall of Famers have played for the Celtics? The single-game playoff record for Boston is 54 points by John Havlicek in 1973.
Washington led much of Game 2 but fouled Thomas with 14 seconds left and the Celtics down two. Thomas hit both free throws. The Wizards wanted to make sure they go the last shot so John Wall milked it to about three seconds remaining and wasn't close on an 18-footer. The NBA's fastest player simply must drive to the basket there. Bradley Beal got the rebound around the free-throw line but was well short on a fadeaway. One it went to OT, you knew Boston was going to win. Wall was excellent otherwise with 40 points and 13 assists. Beal wasn't good, shooting 4-for-15 for 14 points. Markieff Morris did play after severely spraining his ankle in Game 1 and had 16 points, six rebounds and a team-best plus-10 rating. Bojan Bogdanovic, who had been so good during the season off the bench after being acquired from the Nets, was scoreless in just eight minutes. Same old story: the Wizards' bench blows.
Key trends: The Celtics are 3-7-1 against the spread in their past 11 Thursday games. The Wizards are 5-2 ATS in their past seven after allowing at least 125 points in their previous game. The home team is 6-0 ATS in the past six meetings. The "over/under" is 4-1 in the past five.
Early lean: Washington easily beat visiting Boston twice during the season, so give the points. Neither team plays much defense, thus go over.
Game 2: Jazz at Warriors (-12.5, 204)
Also on ESPN with a 10:30 p.m. ET start. I like the Jazz and think they have a bright future, but they just don't have enough offense to win this series. Hayward is a fine player and will get the max this summer from either the Jazz or someone else, but he should be a No. 2 guy and not the primary option. The Jazz played a fine defensive game Tuesday in losing 106-94 but you are never going to beat Golden State without reaching triple digits. Hayward, hounded all night by guys like Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant, had just 12 points on 4-for-15 shooting. Rudy Gobert with 13 points was the team's leading scorer, but he pulled down only eight rebounds. The Jazz got to the free-throw line a scant 12 times.
All five Warriors starters scored in double figures in Game 1, led by Steph Curry's 22. Green was everywhere as usual with 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals, two blocks and a rating of plus-19. Reserve guard Shaun Livingston did play after missing the final three of the Blazers series and chipped in nine points and five rebounds in 20 minutes. The Warriors were off from deep (7-for-29) but had just seven turnovers and shot 19-for-21 from the free-throw line. Golden State also had 29 fast-break points to Utah's 6. The Warriors are now 28-0 this season when scoring at least 25 on the break. They became the first team to have five players with five or more assists in a playoff game since the Seattle SuperSonics did it against the Phoenix Suns in 1993. No Jazz player had five assists.
Key trends: The Jazz are 6-0 ATS in their past six road games. The under is 6-1 in the Jazz's past seven away from home. The under is 4-1 in the Warriors' past five at home.
Early lean : Jazz (they'll lose by 8-10) and under.
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