Barring a setback in pregame warmups, there’s significant optimism within the Boston Celtics that forward Gordon Hayward will make a return to the lineup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat on Saturday night, sources told ESPN. Hayward has missed a month with a right ankle sprain, but has progressed in recent days to the cusp of a return on Saturday with the Celtics trailing the Heat 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
At 34 years old, Miami Heat point guard Goran Dragic is setting a historic pace with his scoring average this postseason. The Slovenian ball-handler is pouring in 22.2 points per contest over 11 playoff games this year for Miami, which is the best playoff scoring average for a point guard who’s at least 34 years old since 1972-73. The only floor general with a higher postseason scoring average at 34 than Dragic? That would be Jerry West, a Hall-of-Famer and one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen.
This is Utah’s main use of finding a guy who can slide into its rotation. Obviously, there is significant Derrick Favors speculation here. Here’s the deal. There is mutual interest. Favors would not mind a return to Utah, even if it means coming off the bench as Gobert’s primary backup. But, at this point, that’s all it is … interest. The Jazz have to decide whether Favors would be the right place to spend their most significant chunk of offseason money, especially considering finding a 3-and-D wing is of greater priority. Favors will have multiple suitors on the market, including his incumbent team, the New Orleans Pelicans. So, there’s a lot that can happen between now and the opening of free agency.
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens held a late-night hotel meeting with the team’s leaders on Thursday to talk through the frustration and emotions that spilled into the locker room after a Game 2 loss to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals, sources told ESPN. Stevens met with Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart starting around 1 a.m. ET, and he let those players talk through the issues that had led to significant yelling and outbursts in the postgame locker room, sources said.
According to league sources, Golden State is believed to be higher on Avdija than on Ball and perhaps even Wiseman. But if the Warriors decide they want Avdija, they might be best-served trading back to the 5-to-8 range, where most experts expect him to go.