10 Jan

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown says NBA needs to do an ‘investigation’ into controversial overturned call vs. Pacers

Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown said a controversial overturned call in the final seconds of his team’s 133-131 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Monday night “doesn’t make any sense” and “should be investigated” by the NBA. With time winding down in the fourth quarter, and the scored tied at 131-131, the Celtics, who were playing without Jayson Tatum, put the ball in Brown’s hands and let him go to work.

He drove baseline and tried to pull up for a a jumper, but was fouled by Buddy Hield — at least according to the initial call on the floor. That would have given him two potential go-ahead free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining in the contest. Take a look:

The Pacers challenged, however, and after a review, the call was overturned to a clean block. And because the Pacers had imminent possession, they were awarded the ball. On the ensuing play, Bennedict Mathurn was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made two of his three attempts at the line to give the Pacers the win.

Everyone on the Celtics’ side was furious at how the game ended, both in real time and after the fact. Brown appeared to mouth “that’s bullshit,” on the court, while Celtics announcer Brian Scalabrine lost his mind on the broadcast. Replays show that while Hield did hit the ball, he also hit Brown in the back of the head.

The explanation given by crew chief James Williams at the time was “after review, the backside defender, Buddy Hield, hits the ball, therefore the call on the floor has been overturned.”

Jaylen Brown — and an irate Scal — have a legit gripe. This was a foul on the floor. You can’t watch that video and see clear grounds to overturn pic.twitter.com/jUE95m5Y5c

— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) January 9, 2024
There was no pool report conducted after the game, but Brown, who finished with a season-high 40 points, didn’t need one. Here are his extended thoughts on the situation:

“I think he obviously hit me in the head. I think they definitely need to do some investigation, that’s all I’m going to say. I think that was an obvious one. I’ve never heard of head, part of the ball. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

“I went up and asked like, ‘Did I get hit in the head?’ [The official] looks me straight in the face and he says, ‘No, you didn’t get hit in the head.’ I’m like, ‘OK.’ Then you come down on the other end, that cost our team the game. Then you expect us not to be frustrated. We’re trying to build good habits. We’re trying to win as many games as possible, and we just dropped one because of that.

“I feel like we have the right to be upset. The league should understand. Of course, we’re going to say something about it after the game. So I don’t think there should be any fines. But I definitely think that one should be investigated.”

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla didn’t go as far as Brown, but he noted that even the Pacers knew the call was wrong.

“I’m not bothered,” Mazzulla said after the loss. “Just, Buddy Hield told me that he fouled [Jaylen Brown].”

Hield, for his part, admitted as much, though he said it’s ultimately up to the refs to make the call.

“I mean, I told Joe what I told Joe,” Hield explained. “But they have three refs out there and they had the replay center, and that’s what replay is for, I guess. I was thinking I might have hit [Brown] a little bit, but they have three refs out there and they have cameras and they slow down the angles of it. I felt like it was not excessive contact. I know I touched the ball, I maybe nicked Brown in the head a little bit. I’m not too sure.”

Lakers superstar LeBron James chimed in on the call Tuesday morning, saying Brown “clearly got hit in the back of the head.”

See what I’m saying! 🤦🏾‍♂️. JB clearly got hit in the back of the head. They reviewed the play, just to reverse it and say he didn’t. MAN WHAT!! Good ass game to have an ending like that. And yall see why I be going 🦍 💩 out there when it happens

— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 9, 2024
Despite the loss, the Celtics, now 28-8, still have the best record in the league. As for the Pacers, who improved to 21-15, they have bigger things to worry about than the call or the result. Tyrese Haliburton injured his hamstring against the Celtics and is expected to miss at least two weeks.

10 Jan

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander sits atop Clutch Player ladder, Celtics strong bet to win East

We’re just over a week into 2024 and the markets for some future bets have shifted quite a bit since 2023. Are you looking to find value as the back half of the season approaches? We’ve got you covered with one player-based award prop and two team bets worth considering.

It’s unclear what it takes to win this award, as SGA is the odds-on favorite despite being nowhere close to where De’Aaron Fox was in terms of volume scoring in the clutch en route to winning this honor in 2022-23. Kyrie Irving led the league in fourth-quarter points last season and finished outside the top 10 while Fox racked up 91 of the 100 first-place votes as the league’s top clutch scorer.

Stephen Curry (+500) leads the league in clutch points now and could be worth watching, but SGA has a much better outlook right now. The Oklahoma Thunder guard is averaging 3.1 points on 63.3 percent shooting in the clutch and will have opportunities to go on a big shot-making spree in the back half of the season to seal the deal. He went on a ridiculous run last season and could do so again in a season where there have been just three game-winning buzzer-beaters. Another dark horse worth considering is Tyrese Haliburton (+1500) should his hamstring strain not hinder him too much moving forward. These odds for this award are available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Eastern Conference winner: Boston Celtics (+130)
The Boston Celtics suffered an overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday but still have a league-high 28 wins on the year. The Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers are the two teams that could give the Celtics a run for their money. Joel Embiid has been dominant, but his team is 2-6 without him this season and it’s unlikely that he’ll play every game for the rest of 2023-24. The Bucks are looking to clean things up defensively but have lacked consistency on that end since swapping Jrue Holiday out for Damian Lillard. Boston’s plethora of scorers and capable defenders makes this bet seem like free money at this point.

New Orleans Pelicans to make play-in tournament: (+100)
The Pelicans are a respectable 22-15 and rank seventh in the Western Conference. Zion Williamson has been relatively healthy and Trey Murphy III is back in the mix after suffering a knee injury ahead of the season. But knocking off more than one team down the home stretch will be challenging. The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers are looking to climb up while the new-look Phoenix Suns are finally getting to work on making their big three mesh. New Orleans appears destined to finish seventh or lower with teams like the Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings and piping-hot Los Angeles Clippers directly ahead of them.

10 Jan

DraftKings, FanDuel daily Fantasy basketball picks for Tuesday, Jan. 9 include De’Aaron Fox

Less than a month removed from his reinstatement following a 25-game suspension to begin the season, Ja Morant’s basketball season is over following a torn labrum that will require season-ending surgery. The electrifying 24-year-old ended up only playing nine games with the Grizzlies this season. Morant’s return certainly took shots away from others in the Memphis offense, so could Morant’s injury actually elevate Grizzlies like Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marcus Smart when forming an NBA DFS strategy for Tuesday when Memphis plays the Dallas Mavericks?

Smart had 25 points and eight assists on Sunday with Morant out of the lineup after averaging 14.9 points over seven contests since Morant’s return. Does that signal Smart could provide value to NBA DFS lineups starting on Tuesday? With only five games on Tuesday’s NBA schedule, how should daily Fantasy basketball players form their NBA DFS strategy to differentiate from others? Before making your NBA DFS picks, be sure to check out the NBA DFS advice, player rankings, stacks, and top daily Fantasy basketball picks from SportsLine’s Mike McClure.

McClure is a DFS professional with more than $2 million in career winnings. He’s also a predictive data engineer at SportsLine who uses a powerful prediction model that simulates every minute of every game 10,000 times, taking factors like matchups, statistical trends and injuries into account.

This allows him to find the best NBA DFS values and create optimal lineups that he shares only over at SportsLine. They’re a must-see for any NBA DFS player.

On Thursday, McClure highlighted Bucks power forward/center Giannis Antetokounmpo as one of his top picks in his NBA DFS player pool on both sites. The result: Antetokounmpo had 44 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, returning 80 points on DraftKings and 79.3 points on FanDuel. Anybody who included him in their lineups was well on the way to a profitable day.

McClure has turned his attention to NBA action on Tuesday and locked in his top daily Fantasy basketball picks. You can only see them by heading to SportsLine.

Top NBA DFS picks for Tuesday, January 9
For Tuesday, one of McClure’s top NBA DFS picks is Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox, who is listed at $9,300 on DraftKings and $9,600 on FanDuel. Fox is coming off an abysmal 1 of 10 shooting performance with four assists compared to four turnovers, totaling just three points over 26 minutes in a 133-100 loss to the Pelicans on Sunday. McClure expects a motivated Fox and a significantly more efficient performance from the point guard averaging 28.3 points per game this season.

Fox was averaging 27.8 points over his prior six games before a poor shooting effort on Sunday. Tonight, the Kings play the Pistons, who are allowing 133.5 points over their current four-game losing streak. The Pistons have lost 32 of their last 33 games, and this appears to be a strong opportunity for Fox to rebound after a tough contest.

Another part of McClure’s optimal NBA DFS strategy includes Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson ($9,100 on DraftKings and $9,000 on FanDuel). Brunson had 33 points and eight assists in a 121-105 win over the Wizards on Saturday. He’s averaging 26 points and 6.4 assists this season, including 31 ppg over his last three contests.

The Knicks play the Trail Blazers, who are allowing 125.8 points over their last five contests. Mikal Bridges scored 42 points against the Trail Blazers after Luka Doncic scored 41 points against Portland on Wednesday. McClure expects Brunson to follow the trend and put another huge performance together against Portland. See McClure’s other NBA DFS picks right here.

How to set your NBA DFS lineups for Tuesday, January 9
McClure is also targeting a player who could go off for massive numbers on Tuesday because of a dream matchup. This pick could be the difference between winning your tournaments and cash games or going home with nothing. You can only see who it is here.

10 Jan

‘I don’t mean no harm’

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green has been reinstated by the NBA after being issued an indefinite suspension following a flagrant foul against Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic. He revealed Monday via his podcast how “pissed” he initially was when former Warriors teammate Kevin Durant said he hoped Green “gets the help he needs” in the aftermath, but has since gotten over it. Durant insists he didn’t mean to offend his former Golden State teammate.

“I’m glad he’s back. I’m glad he can move past that. Draymond is an incredible teammate.” Durant told reporters on Monday. “He got his times where he loses temper, but everybody has those times and I’m sure they all [are] happy to have him back. But I didn’t mean no ill will by what I said. I know some people look at me as this malicious snake, passive-aggressive. I know how people feel about me sometimes, so when I say shit, I don’t mean no harm by nobody. I don’t mean to disrespect him or his family if he felt that way. I’m just glad he’s back on the court.”

Durant thinks the public and Green could’ve misunderstood his response and provided clarity on his thought process.

“You got to look at it from my perspective, like before I had made those comments, [people were] saying Draymond’s going to therapy and shit,” Durant said. “Like what am I supposed to think? They say somebody going to therapy, I’m hoping he gets better from that, and hope he learned from whatever he feels like he needs to learn from going to therapy.”

Green said that though he was initially “pissed,” Durant’s comments helped him have a “breakthrough.”

“I was like maybe you shouldn’t hear ‘help’ so negatively,” Green said. “Like maybe you’re listening to the word ‘help’ with the same mindset that the word ‘help’ meant when you were 15 years old. So maybe you shouldn’t hear that negatively, so negatively, and maybe he’s not saying that as negatively as you’re taking it. And even if he was, I made a decision in that moment that I wasn’t going to take it that way.”

Green’s one-week ramp-up could help him return to the hardwood as early as Saturday for a matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks.

10 Jan

Knicks’ Julius Randle tops trio of strong daily fantasy plays for Tuesday

Tuesday’s NBA slate will feature five games, beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Several key players have suffered injuries since the weekend, so fantasy managers should be on the lookout for who’ll increase value in the coming weeks.

Are you looking to sort through all the options on DraftKings and FanDuel? We’ve got you covered. Here’s who you should keep an eye on as you look to build optimal lineups on both sites:

Stud: Julius Randle
Randle has been on an absolute tear since the New York Knicks sent RJ Barrett to the Toronto Raptors in a deal that brought OG Anunoby to the Big Apple. The big man is averaging 30.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists in January. Randle took at least 23 shots in three of those contests and should look to take advantage of his physicality in a head-to-head matchup with Portland’s Jerami Grant. Fantasy managers should be salivating over Randle’s bump in shot volume.

Mid-tier: Marcus Smart
The Memphis Grizzlies lost Ja Morant to a season-ending shoulder injury, so Smart is set to serve as the full-time starting point guard. The former Boston Celtics floor general didn’t have spectacular numbers before Morant returned from suspension but has tallied 27.0 points, 6.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds over his previous two outings. He also erupted for 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the team’s previous matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, whom the Grizzlies play tonight. Derrick Rose is dealing with a thigh injury that should help Smart see a very healthy workload.

Value: Chris Boucher
Boucher’s productivity for the Toronto Raptors is up and he could be in for another boost while Jakob Poeltl is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Boucher has totaled 31 points and 18 rebounds off the bench in his previous two outings and could move into the starting lineup for the Raptors’ Tuesday meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers. He’ll have a tough matchup against Anthony Davis, but Toronto’s options are limited. Boucher and Jontay Porter will likely split most of the backup center minutes if the Raptors don’t just opt to go small.

10 Jan

Pascal Siakam leads three-pack of rebounding player props for Tuesday

Six NBA games are set to tip off on Tuesday. The action will begin at 7 p.m. ET and the final game of the night will begin at 10:30 p.m. ET. Are you looking to find an edge on sportsbooks ahead of the action? We’ve got you covered with three plus-money rebounding props worth considering here.

Pascal Siakam over 7.5 rebounds (+100)
Jakob Poeltl is out indefinitely with an ankle sprain so Siakam will have to step up and play big against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Toronto Raptors forward is averaging less than 7.0 rebounds per game for the first time since 2019-20, but will have no choice but to help out heavily on the glass in a matchup that’ll feature Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Chris Boucher and others will split center minutes, but bettors should expect Siakam to stay on as a small-ball center as well for stints. He’s tallied at least nine rebounds in four of his previous meetings with James.

Jalen Duren over 11.5 rebounds (+102)
Duren has been on a tear without Isaiah Stewart and has snared at least 12 rebounds in five of his last seven games. The Detroit Pistons big man grabbed just five boards against Nikola Jokic his last time out and will face a prolific rebounder in Domantas Sabonis on Tuesday. However, the second-year big man posted 14 rebounds in his first-ever matchup with the Sacramento Kings center. I’ll keep rolling with him as he continues to hold down his team’s frontcourt.

Jalen Brunson under 3.5 rebounds (+110)
Brunson’s playmaking is up since the OG Anunoby trade and his rebounding is down. The New York Knicks point guard is averaging just 3.9 rebounds per game and has grabbed three boards in his previous three games. Isaiah Hartenstein has carried a heavy workload and has racked up 54 rebounds in four games for the new-look Knicks. If he continues to dominate the center minutes so heavily, it’ll be hard for Brunson to make an impact on the glass.

10 Jan

Heat sign Erik Spoelstra to record-breaking $120 million contract, per report

Erik Spoelstra is widely considered to be one of the best coaches in the NBA, if not the best, and now he has a record-breaking contract to go with his lofty status.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Miami Heat have signed Spoelstra to an eight-year extension worth more than $120 million, which, per ESPN, is not just the highest amount of money that has ever been committed to an NBA coach, but any North American coach of any sport.

Gregg Popovich, who signed an $80 million extension with the San Antonio Spurs this past summer, makes the most per year with an average annual salary of $16M, but the length of this extension gives Spoelstra, who will make roughly $15M annually, the total-money title.

Next on the list is Detroit’s Monty Williams at an AAV of just over $13M ($78.5 million over six years), and Golden State’s Steve Kerr at $9.5M per year.

Unlike Williams, who is getting paid a ridiculous amount of money to lead a Pistons team that is 3-34 and just got off a 28-game losing streak, Spoelstra has consistently justified this kind of commitment over his 15-plus-year career as Miami’s head man.

Spoelstra, who is 53 years old, has led the Heat to six NBA Finals appearances and two championships. He consistently squeezes the absolute most out of whatever roster he is afforded — injuries and/or key-player departures notwithstanding.

People have tried to write the Heat off damn near every season since LeBron James left, and all they’ve done is go to two more NBA Finals. This year, after they fell short on a Damian Lillard trade and lost their Finals-starting backcourt of Gabe Vincent and Max Strus without replacing either of them, Miami was the popular pick for regression again.

Nope. They’re 21-15, tied in the loss column with the Knicks for a top-four seed, despite Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo missing a combined 22 games.

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Nobody develops players like Spoelstra and the Heat. Duncan Robinson, who is enjoying a resurgence this season, was undrafted. Same for the aforementioned Vincent and Strus as well as Caleb Martin, who was instrumental in the Finals run last season by outplaying Jaylen Brown in the Eastern Conference finals.

Whatever, or whoever, you give Spoelstra to work with, he’s going to turn it into a winning team. He is an incredible coach, everything from his demeanor and professionalism to the way he handles star players and undrafted players alike, to his in-game adjustments, rotational decisions and timeout usage. Literally, everything that bugs fans of other teams about their coach, Spoelstra does it right.

Again, he’s one of the best coaches in all of sports, and now he’s got the money to prove it.