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Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: ‘I don’t see how [Cavaliers] can win’ NBA Finals despite series lead

06.10.15 at 10:30 am ET
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Jeff Van Gundy

Jeff Van Gundy

With the Cavaliers knocking off the Warriors in another exciting NBA Finals game Tuesday night, ABC/ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss the series. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Warriors were heavy favorites heading into the series, but the Cavaliers have a 2-1 lead as LeBron James has outperformed MVP Steph Curry. With fellow stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving out, James is attempting to pull off what many thought was impossible.

“There won’t be a bigger upset, I know that,” Van Gundy said. “Listen, I’m going to say this: [James] getting his 2007 Cavaliers to the Finals, beating a great Detroit team, scoring 29 of the last 30 points in Game 5, that to me was his greatest accomplishment until now. Even surpassing winning championships in Miami.

“Getting to the Finals with this team and now winning two games in the Finals, already to me it’s his greatest accomplishment. If he can pull this off, it’ll be one of the greatest accomplishments for any individual player in my recollection.”

That said, Van Gundy isn’t convinced James will be able to deliver Cleveland’s first-ever NBA championship this year.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a guy in the Finals have to shoulder a burden like this,” Van Gundy said. “Now, I don’t think they’re going to be able to pull it off. I don’t see how they can win two more games. But if they do? To me there’s never been a greater feat or accomplishment in the NBA.”

Added Van Gundy: “In the end, the better team wins. There are very few upsets, Talent prevails. And Golden State certainly has the most talent. Listen, if you did a draft you would take James No. 1, and then the next probably four picks would be the Warriors. And then maybe [Timofey] Mozgov gets in there.

“I just really believe that Golden State has been the best team all year. They’ve been dominant in the playoffs up until now. They got in the same predicament against Memphis and were able to win the next three. So I think they’ve going to find their way out of it. But that does not detract at all from what Cleveland has been able to do. I’m just so impressed with James and their grit.

“And you know what? David Blatt, for whatever reason, the media is so reluctant to give him credit. They give credit to a lot of coaches. Blatt is not on their list for getting credit. But what he’s been able to do with his team and the body blows that they’ve undertaken throughout the playoffs and that they’re still playing so well, it’s a credit to him as well.”

Read More: David Blatt, Jeff Van Gundy, LeBron James, Steph Curry

NBA draft prospect profile: Kansas PF Cliff Alexander

06.10.15 at 9:45 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the first two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

CLIFF ALEXANDER

Position: Power forward

School: Kansas

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 250 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-2

Key 2014-15 stats: 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 56.6 field goal percentage

Scouting report: With his wide wingspan, Alexander excels at rebounding, averaging a little over five per game this past season with the Jayhawks. He also brings a lot of energy to the court and is able to affect the game whether or not he’s handling the ball. Though his height is not ideal for a physical NBA power forward, Alexander makes up for it with his bulk and overall length, helping him protect the rim well. As his career progresses, he has the frame and power to become a mature, strong player at the professional level.

Alexander’s offense needs more work, though, as he has trouble shooting from more than 10 feet out and could stand to work on his footwork by the post. He got a late start to his basketball career, as he did not begin playing until high school. This can cause Alexander to be a little bit predictable in one-on-one situations and highlight some in-game instincts that might not be there. Scouts have tabbed Alexander as someone who is strong and good from one end of the court to the other but certainly has areas that need improvement, and he knows it.

“When I was playing [at Kansas], I wasn’t very dominant,” Alexander told DraftExpress.com. “I didn’t live up to my expectations, the way I was supposed to, and then when the suspension came, it just made me go downward.”

Notes: Alexander ran into some trouble toward the end of the 2014-15 season as he encountered an NCAA eligibility issue that caused him to miss Kansas’ last three regular-season games, the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA Tournament, which totaled eight games. Alexander’s mother, Latilla, had ties to a financial company that specialized in loans to professional athletes, according to a Yahoo! Sports report. Regardless, he still finished tied for the team lead in blocked shots, was second in rebounding and led Kansas in field goal percentage with .566. Alexander, projected to go late in the first round or early on in the second, worked out for the Celtics in a predraft session on May 28.

Related articles:

SB Nation: Introducing Cliff Alexander, college basketball’s most entertaining player

ESPN: Kansas freshman has big shoes to fill

Yahoo! Sports: Public filing ties Cliff Alexander parent to financial firm

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Cliff Alexander,

NBA draft prospect profile: Duke F Justise Winslow

06.10.15 at 6:40 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the first two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

JUSTISE WINSLOW

Position: Forward

School: Duke

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 222 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-10

Key 2014-15 stats: 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 41.8 3-point percentage

Scouting report: Winslow, predicted to be a top-five pick, shows a lot of promise on both sides of the ball. He showcases good speed, athleticism, versatility in scoring and use of his good body, but could afford to do so more aggressively, according to NBAdraft.net. CBS Sports cites his athleticism as what really makes his game stand out, as the combination of strength and explosiveness impacts both his offensive and defensive capabilities.

“He does everything,” teammate Jahlil Okafor told the Los Angeles Times. “Steals, blocks, obviously he can score. He can defend pretty much one through four. Five if necessary.”

The only real area of his game that could require significant attention is his free throw shooting since he drained just 64.1 percent of his attempts last season.

Notes: Selected to the All-Final Four team, All-ACC Freshman team and the USBWA All-District 3 Team, Winslow was the third-highest scoring freshman in the ACC last season and recorded 31 double-digit point games, second in the conference only to Okafor, who had 35. The forward’s 6.5 rebounds per contest also ranked second among ACC freshmen, and he was just coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s second player 6-foot-6 or shorter to average at least six rebounds a game. Winslow managed seven double-doubles on the and year and even recorded three in a row from Jan. 28 to Feb. 4. During the NCAA Tournament, Winslow averaged 14.3 points and 9.3 boards and shot 50.9 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from deep, helping the Blue Devils win the championship.

Related articles:

SB Nation: Duke’s Justise Winslow is the do-it-all wing for a new generation

Los Angeles Times: Justise Winslow has become more than just Duke’s other freshman

Sports Illustrated: Emerging star Justise Winslow guides Duke past Gonzaga, into Final Four 

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Justise Winslow,

NBA draft prospect profile: Washington C Robert Upshaw

06.09.15 at 7:55 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

ROBERT UPSHAW

Position: Center

School: Washington

Age: 21

Height: 7-foot-0

Weight: 258 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-5.5

Key 2014-15 stats: 10.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.5 blocks, 59.3 field goal percentage, 43.4 free throw percentage

Scouting Report: Upshaw has the right body and dimensions to be an NBA big man. His height, length and big hands give him the profile of a center and make him an imposing rim-protecting presence. He can alter shots inside (4.5 blocks per game last season) and rebound at both ends of the floor. He drew a lot of fouls and can finish above the rim offensively with his massive frame. “With Rob back there, it’€™s like having a security blanket. You know big guy has your back if you make any mistakes,” Huskies guard Andrew Andrews said of his teammate. With Upshaw on the floor, opponents had much more trouble scoring. On two-point attempts, opposing teams shot 49.7 percent with Upshaw on the bench and just 38.5 percent with him on the court.

He will need to adjust to the faster pace and larger front court competitors at the NBA level. He won’€™t be able to get by solely on size at the next level. He struggled mightily at the free throw line, shooting an abysmal 43.4 percent. Mock drafts project Upshaw to be picked anywhere from the tail end of the first round to the middle of the second. USA Today’s mock draft v.10.0 (from June 1) has the Celtics gambling on Upshaw with the 28th pick.

Notes: Upshaw has had more than his share of troubles off the court. He spent his freshman year at Fresno State and was dismissed from the program in August 2013. He then transferred to Washington and played 19 games last season as a redshirt sophomore before being dismissed for what Washington coach Lorenzo Romar called a violation of team rules. ESPNs Jeff Goodman reported that Upshaw failed drug tests at both schools. At the combine, Upshaw was flagged for a heart issue and suspended his workouts and training. His agent said he has had similar test results in the past and was cleared to resume playing. These issues have complicated his draft stock despite his potential lottery-level talent.

Related articles:

NBA.com: Robert Upshaw offers intrigue despite past transgressions

Yahoo: Washington dismisses troubled NBA prospect Robert Upshaw

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Robert Upshaw,

NBA draft prospect profile: Brazil PG/SG Danilo Fuzaro

06.09.15 at 4:38 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

UPDATE, June 15: Fuzaro withdrew from the draft.

DANILO FUZARO

Position: Point guard/shooting guard

Country: Brazil

Age: 21

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 180 pounds

Wingspan: N/A

Key 2014-2015 stats (with Minas in the Brazilian league): 20.4 minutes, 9.0 points, 1.8 rebounds, .543 FG percentage, .419 3-point percentage

Scouting report: Fuzaro is a combo guard with a tendency to playing the two. He’s an explosive athlete with the size and potential strength to match up at either point guard or shooting guard. He has above-average court vision and he makes good passes coming off of the pick and roll. However, one rap against Fuzaro is that he tends to put scoring ahead of open teammates and takes too many difficult shots in the lane. Though he may be a tad selfish, Fuzaro is a talented finisher, and with a dynamic first step he is a fierce attacker of the rim. On defense, he looks to get run-outs and lead the fast break, where he is at his best and most aggressive. While his percentages are high, Fuzaro’s shot needs work, especially from beyond the arc.

Fuzaro describes his game as most like Michael Carter-Williams’. In an interview with NBAdraft.net, the potential first-rounder said of himself, “I’m a combo guard. I usually play PG and SG. Being 6-foot-5, I can take advantage of my size and strength playing at the one. I’m very aggressive and I can use my first step to beat my defender. I can finish strong with dunks and layups. I have good vision of the court and I can find the open man. I do have a good shot and I like to run the court and put my team in situations to score in easy ways on fast breaks. I love to defend. I can defend smaller players because I’m quick for my size, and taller players as well because of my body. I am a winner, I practice hard and I work hard to improve my weaknesses, like having more consistency.”

Notes: During the Brazilian league playoffs, Fuzaro averaged 20 points per game. Though he was born in Brazil, he has an Italian passport His full name is Danilo Fuzaro Siqueira.

Related articles:

NBAdraft.net: Danilo Fuzaro interview

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Danilo Fuzaro,

NBA draft prospect profile: UC Santa Barbara C/PF Alan Williams

06.09.15 at 12:54 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

ALAN WILLIAMS

Position: Center/power forward

School: UC Santa Barbara

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 260 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-1.75

Key 2014-15 stats: 17.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks

Scouting report: Williams led the nation in rebounding the past two seasons and is Santa Barbara’s all-time top rebounder. Offensively, he’s known for his good hands and post-up ability. Although he worked on adding a jumper to his game this season, Williams makes a living in the paint, backing his defender into the post before shooting from close range. Williams, who missed seven games as a senior with a shoulder injury. is expected to be drafted late in the second round by a team willing to take a chance on a monster rebounder who lacks size and athleticism.

Williams is confident his rebounding prowess will continue in the NBA. “I think rebounding is a statistic, and it’s been proven, that translates well to the next level,” he told the Arizona Republic. “I think my ability to go out and get rebounds outside of my zone and outside of my area is huge. And also to take on the challenge of taking a great defensive rebounder out of their game by putting a body on them and boxing them out and kind of limiting what they do is something I’ll be able to do at the next level.”

Notes: Williams was the Big West Player of the Year in 2014 after averaging 21.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. He was named All-Big West first team the past two seasons. Williams’ father is an elected judge in Phoenix, and his mother is the chief of police in Oxnard, California. In his bio on the Santa Barbara website, Williams lists the Celtics as his favorite NBA team.

Related articles:

Bleacher Report: Meet Alan Williams, the best college basketball player you’ve never heard of

Arizona Republic: Phoenix-bred Alan Williams banks on boards for NBA draft

Read More: 2015 NBA draft, 2015 Potential Celtics, Alan Williams,

Report: Celtics losing interest in Kevin Love

06.09.15 at 10:59 am ET
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While the Celtics may still have some interest in Kevin Love, their affection for him has waned since last offseason, according to the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett.

Love has stated recently that he intends to return to the Cavs, but he can still hit free agency next month. Were Love to test the market, the Celtics are anticipated to be among the list of suitors. However, according to Bulpett: “The Celtics will very likely wind up an afterthought as Love examines his options in the next two months.”

Celtics‘ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was reportedly enamored with Love last offseason, wanting to pair the All-Star power forward with now-departed point guard Rajon Rondo. Last offseason, Ainge reportedly offered the Timberwolves a deal for Love, yet they were not amused by the offer. Instead, the Celtics went on to make the playoffs without Rondo and Love.

Based on reports, Love has raised some red flags due to persistent health issues. With weak knees and back issues, many in the NBA do not expect his career to last as long as the average player.

“I think he wants to be in a good situation,” one league exec from outside the area told Bullpett. “But I also think he’€™s concerned about his health, so he wants to get a good long-term contract. I still think he stays in Cleveland.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Love,
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