Mirotic Making NBA Rookie of the Year Race About More Than Just Wiggins

March 24th, 2015 by Kelly Scaletta No comments »
As we headed into the All-Star break, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves was going to win the Rookie of the Year. But the Chicago Bulls' Nikola Mirotic is making this a far closer—and more unconventional—race than we’ve ever had before. We can distill the conversation down to one simple question: Is the award intended for the rookie who accomplishes the most or the one who plays the best? On the surface, it might not seem that there is no distinction here, but there is. The reason they seem similar is that on most occasions they have the same answer. The players taken at the front of the draft tend to be the best rookies. The most promising prospects are drafted to bad teams, so they play more minutes. Because they are better players, playing more minutes, they do more. As a result, the fewest minutes ever ...

NBA Coaches on the Verge of Losing Their Job by Season’s End

March 24th, 2015 by Dan Favale No comments »
Not every NBA head coach wears an ax-proof suit. A lot has changed since we last discussed which head honchos were fighting for their jobs. Brian Shaw is out for the Denver Nuggets, George Karl is in for the Sacramento Kings, the Orlando Magic fired Jacque Vaughn, and Lionel Hollins' suit, as it turns out, is ax-proof. Don't confuse these developments for closure. There is still much to discuss. A select few coaches remain—or are now just sitting—on hot seats, trying to ensure they have a job next season. Certain situations are the product of rumors. Others are the speculative offshoot of poor team performances. Some clipboard-wielders are even here because they're battling technicalities.  Whatever the reason, their future appears to be in flux, their jobs unsafe. And so, they're here, appearing in order of increasing profile. These coaches will now form an orderly queue and march toward the Judgment Day scaffold, all while knowing ...

Are Heavy Minutes Finally Wearing Down James Harden?

March 24th, 2015 by Jonathan Feigen No comments »
The question seemed reasonable, even routine. Rockets guard James Harden had played more minutes than anyone in the NBA. He had carried at least as heavy of a load. Was he tired? Harden gave the sort of look that Kobe Bryant sent to Jimmy Kimmel when Kimmel asked if the Lakers would have celebrated a losing streak-busting win like a bunch of silly goofballs had Bryant been around. Harden shook his head, barely said, “No,” then pointed to the road games in Portland and Salt Lake City, when he scored less than 20 points in consecutive games for the only time this season. The topic was at least fair game. “I feel good,” Harden said. “I just had two terrible games. It’s all learning experiences. It’s a long season. You’re going to go through droughts like that where you have bad games. You just try not to make it three, four in a ...

Biggest Issues the Washington Wizards Must Fix Before the NBA Playoffs Begin

March 24th, 2015 by Carl Little No comments »
The Washington Wizards were abysmal on their latest West Coast road trip, casting a pall over what was a bright start to the season and raising questions about what changes the team must make in order to make a deep run in the NBA playoffs, which start in three weeks. What's more, if the Wizards don't pull out of this tailspin and live up to the real expectations that are attached to their season, they could wind up hurting their rising reputation as an attractive free-agent destination and miss out on the chance to land coveted players, such as Kevin Durant, when they become available in 2016. The Wizards went 1-3 on their West Coast trip, which concluded Monday with a 107-76 dismantlement by the Golden State Warriors. They started out with a victory over Utah, but subsequently got blown out by an average of 22 points against the Los Angeles Clippers, ...

2015 NBA Draft: Risers and Fallers Among the Top Prospects, Sweet 16 Edition

March 24th, 2015 by Jonathan Wasserman No comments »
Some of the top prospects have used the early rounds of the NCAA tournament as a platform to build their case for the 2015 NBA draft. We've seen a couple of attention-grabbing performances—ones that could have potentially tipped the scale for previously hesitant scouts or decision-makers.  After that spectacular all-around showing against San Diego State on Sunday, I'm not sure anyone has made a stronger impression than Duke freshman Justise Winslow.  On the other hand, there have also been a handful of noteworthy names who've faded as the stakes have risen.  These are the prospects who've either helped or hurt their draft stock based off their postseason play.Begin Slideshow

Craig Sager Says Erik Spoelstra Sent Him Hooters Care Packages During Recovery

March 24th, 2015 by Dan Carson No comments »
One of the greatest stories about the resilience of the human spirit over the last year was Craig Sager and his fight—and eventual victory—over cancer.  After being diagnosed with leukemia in April 2014, the TNT sideline reporter became a rallying point for the NBA and with the help of his family and friends survived the disease and returned to work this March. Sager’s return was met with an outpouring of love from players and coaches, many of whom kept in touch and mailed gifts to the reporter as he underwent treatment. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich expressed his well-wishes in a sideline interview with Craig Sager Jr., Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett sent flowers and, as Sager revealed during a recent interview with CBS Radio in Miami, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra sent him some get-well mementos from Hooters. WQAM’s Josh Baumgard reports that Sager dropped an interesting tidbit on the Marc Hochman Show with ...

Eastern Conference Playoffs: Why the Boston Celtics Will Claim the Eighth Seed

March 24th, 2015 by Bobby Krivitsky No comments »
With fewer than 15 games left in the NBA season, the race for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs remains wide open. The Celtics are the incumbent, but they lead Charlotte by just half a game, Indiana by only a game and they are just one-and-a-half games ahead of Brooklyn. However, a closer examination shows why Boston will be able to hold off its competition and reach the postseason for the first time under head coach Brad Stevens. Let's start with the fact that the Celtics are the only one of those four teams playing above .500 in their last 10 games. The Pacers have dropped their last six games, the Hornets are just 2-6 in their last eight games and the Nets are 4-6 in their last 10. Furthermore, according to basketball-reference.com's simple rating system, which takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule, the Pacers are the only ...

DeMarcus Cousins Calls Sacramento Kings’ Season a Complete Circus

March 24th, 2015 by Alec Nathan No comments »
There haven't been any clowns or trapeze artists, but the Sacramento Kings' 2014-15 season has resembled a circus. At least, that's what All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins thinks, according to The Washington Post's Michael Lee:  It’s been a circus, man. It’s been a complete circus. We got off to a hot start. Unfortunately, I got sick, so it ruined the look of the team. I take some blame for that. I know for a fact, if I wouldn’t have gotten sick, things wouldn’t have happened the way it happened. It was no way it could. At the same time, a lot of it is not my fault and we all know why. But this has been a disappointing year. Between Cousins' battle with viral meningitis, a shocking coaching change and the midseason implementation of a new regime, the big man's career-best numbers have been overshadowed by the Kings' inability to establish a comfortable equilibrium.  After exceeding expectations ...

San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks: Live Score, Highlights and Analysis

March 24th, 2015 by Tristan Thornburgh No comments »
The Dallas Mavericks beat the San Antonio Spurs, 101-94, behind a monster performance from Monta Ellis!Ellis broke out of a slump in a big way, tying his season-high with 38 points. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green led the Spurs with 19 and 17 points, respectively. Thanks for sticking with Bleacher Report for your NBA coverage. Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

Ranking Every NHL Team’s Top Line in 2014-15

March 24th, 2015 by Jonathan Willis No comments »
Which team in the NHL has the best No. 1 forward line? That's the question that inspired this slideshow. We weren't interested in hypothetical, super-powered combinations; we wanted to actually look around the league and see which players teams were actually putting together on their top units. We wanted to get a feel for what the top lines looked like (including the effects of injuries) across the NHL as the playoffs approach. To do that, we turned to DailyFaceoff.com, which tracks NHL line combinations on a day-by-day basis. The lines in this slideshow are all based on that site's reported combinations and as a result should give us an accurate feel for what the lines look like right now. For context, we've also included total goals scored by the three players on each top line. Goals scored doesn't provide a full picture, and in many cases, our evaluation deviates from the order suggested ...