NBA Draft trade vibes, Nick Nurse calling his shot(?) and Jamal Murray torches Lakers

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If you don’t watch “The Town” obsessively, you’ll never be the Celtics’ coach.

Flurry in Fourth

Jamal Murray buries L.A.

The Lakers were hoping a spirited Game 1 second half had solved all their problems. And even though the idea of Rui Hachimura being the great Nikola Jokić equalizer never really had any legs, the Lakers’ top defense uglied up plenty of Game 2.

It had Jamal Murray out of rhythm. It treated Aaron Gordon like he’s Ben Simmons. LeBron James as a primary defender on Jokić throughout big portions of this game helped keep the two-time MVP out of rhythm. He turned the ball over and missed jumpers and just wasn’t as crisp as we’re used to seeing.

However, the Lakers suffered their own offensive woes. Denver’s defense was giving up great opportunities to Hachimura, who posted 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting off the bench. But the Nuggets defense shut down Anthony Davis, lived with deep LeBron jumpers and held D’Angelo Russell and Dennis Schröder to a combined 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting and five assists.

Both teams were slogging through this game. But in the fourth, Murray went supernova and damn near outscored the Lakers by himself. Thanks to some free throws at the end, Murray had 23 of his 37 points in the final 12 minutes. The Lakers had 24 in the quarter. And Denver won 108-103.

Murray helped the Nuggets survive the non-Jokić minutes (minus-2 in 6:03), and even though Jokić was “off” in this game, he still finished with 23 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists and three steals.

Now the Nuggets are up 2-0 headed back to L.A., as Michael Malone fabricates more motivation for his team. Hey, Michael: Subscribe to The Athletic! We have a great deal for you!

Also from Game 2:

Read more: Sam Amick’s notes from Lakers-Nuggets 

Latest From Shams

Carousel keeps spinning

As the playoffs roll on, five teams remain in search of their next coach: the Bucks, Sixers, Suns, Raptors and Pistons.

The process is ongoing and fluid for all five clubs that are doing their due diligence to select the coach who best fits their organization. I’m continuing to track each of those situations, and you should expect much more news here at The Athletic in the coming week as the process enters the final stages for each of the teams.

One major name on the carousel is Nick Nurse, who was let go by the Raptors after five seasons that included Toronto’s first NBA title. He is expected to begin his formal process with meetings with Milwaukee, Phoenix and Philadelphia and is expected to be in high demand and could possibly have his job to choose from, essentially his own selection process.

We’ll have much more as things develop. Back to you, Zach.

The Town

Mazzulla’s movie must

Don’t get me wrong: I love to rewatch movies. I’ve seen “Horrible Bosses 2,” “My Cousin Vinny,” and the “John Wick,” “Fast & Furious,” and “Mission Impossible” franchises more times than humanly possible. It’s a great time waster to reset my mental state.

This GQ profile on Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla revisits the revelation from January that he watches “The Town” regularly.

As was first reported in January, Mazzulla screens the 2010 Ben Affleck crime drama The Town, which has a runtime of two hours and four minutes, four times a week. When asked how that relates to the Celtics, he said that it’s “just a Boston mindset.”

This is an insane thing to 1) admit and 2) flat-out do. He’s owning up to spending eight hours and 16 minutes of his week watching this movie. I have so many questions.

  • Are all of these viewings at home?
  • How many are at the office?
  • How much popcorn is involved?
  • Is he watching intently or walking around doing chores?
  • Is he splicing clips into every film session?

We always hear about coaches sleeping in their office or getting to work at 4 a.m. to grind out film. I didn’t think Ben Affleck was involved in this. But here we are.

I don’t know how this affects Game 2 tonight against Miami. Maybe he can cut “Whose car we gonna take?” into coverage of defending Jimmy Butler. But since the season started, we’re talking 62 hours of “The Town.” That’s roughly 30 games of basketball time.

Draft Dealing

Are these non-Spurs teams definitely picking?

I’m going to break some news here: The Spurs are going to select Victor Wembanyama with the first pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. I have no reporting on this. I have no sources. But that’s the news.

After No. 1, it’s a mystery.

Charlotte has the second pick, Portland has the third pick, Houston has the fourth pick, and Detroit unlucked out with the fifth pick. What does all that mean, and are we certain these teams are keeping their picks? Does it make sense to lock them in? Let’s take a look at what might make sense for each team:

Charlotte: A Scoot Henderson-LaMelo Ball backcourt is compelling and works. Have Brandon Miller be the pick instead, and I’m in. But if Michael Jordan is going to sell soon, maybe the Hornets want to usurp the teams behind them to maximize trade return for the second pick. It’s time to pair Ball with another star.

Portland: In a near-future edition of The Bounce, we’ll get into the idea of the Blazers exploring a Damian Lillard trade. But Portland is stuck in limbo with the third pick. Do the Blazers have the ability to get enough in return to start building a proper West contender around Lillard? We don’t know if a return for Brandon Miller or Scoot Henderson brings in enough for this front office. Portland is at a crossroads of what it should do versus what is easy to sell to the public. Surviving the PR nightmare of a Lillard trade is tough but doable.

Houston: If James Harden’s return is imminent, then maybe this pick could bring in quality veterans to help the Rockets look like a winner again. Maybe someone like Cam Whitmore or Amen Thompson entices Houston enough, but a trade here could net them a lot of necessary help for a potential Harden reunion.

Detroit: This one is a little trickier for the Pistons, who may need to start adding veterans to their core if they want to start looking serious. They have Bojan Bogdanović to trade if they want, but the Pistons are also in a state of minor regression with how they finished last season. They’re bringing in a new coach, and this core is exciting but very bad at winning basketball games. They don’t need another young guy, especially if the high ceiling drop-off is significant.

Bounce Passes

Joe Vardon offers one up one idea to fix the NBA’s regular season.

Why did the third quarter go so poorly for the Celtics in Game 1? Jay King has the answers.

Britney Griner is back in the WNBA. How will this presentation look on ESPN?

Who was to blame for the Sixers’ collapse? Daryl Morey has answers to their end of the season.

Mikal Bridges is adamant about there being an All-Defense Third Team.

The Celtics’ third-quarter collapse in Game 1 was epic.

(Photo: Ron Chenoy / USA Today)

2023-05-19 14:39:36