First Cup: Thursday

  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: The Celtics are not expected to have Avery Bradley for the rest of the season because of a left shoulder injury. A source close to Bradley told the Globe that the percentile is in the "high 90s" that Bradley will be shut down and will perhaps need surgery. The source said that it's "highly likely" Bradley's left shoulder would pop out again -- it has popped out twice in the series against the Philadelphia 76ers -- and playing further would put him at risk of "serious structural damage." Bradley has missed the past two games with soreness in both shoulders, and the team's brass along with Bradley's representatives appear close to deciding to sit him for the remainder of the playoffs. Celtics coach Doc Rivers called Bradley's injury "day to day" but said he was not sure when he would return.

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: So the teams will reconvene on Saturday at the Garden to conclude the series in a Game 7. But if that’s going to be anything like what we witnessed in Game 6, you kind of wish they’d have just settled it on penalty kicks last night. All the talk of how the Celtics will match up in the next round has been replaced by the club’s mortal fear that its season could be over on Saturday. And it almost certainly will be if they don’t find it in them to move the ball better. Key stat comparison: Rajon Rondo came into Game 6 averaging 14.6 assists in the series, but last night the Celts had 14 as a team. The Bostonians couldn’t hit the ocean from the end of the pier for most of the night, shooting a whopping 33.3 percent. And this was particularly problematic because they took 55 outside shots and just 23 in the paint. ... It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but anyone -- beyond Sixers types understandably happy to survive another day -- finding pulchritude here needs to visit an optometrist forthwith.

  • John N. Mitchell of The Philadelphia Inquirer: The Sixers have looked for Evan Turner to go to the glass and grab rebounds, start the fastbreak whenever the opportunity presents itself, and score more, something that coach Doug Collins has implored him to do. But one of his more pressing assignments going intoWednesday's win-or-go-home Game 6 victory over visiting Boston was to play a major role in helping to slow mercurial point guard Rajon Rondo. Not an easy task in this series, which has seen Rondo, on top of averaging 14.4 points and 14.6 assists through five games, mostly control the tempo in just about every contest. A huge part of Turner's Game 6 responsibility was to spread his 6-7 frame for long stretches of the game and - along with Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams at times - impede Rondo's progress wherever he went on the floor. Mission accomplished. Rondo was pedestrian at best, finishing with nine points on 4-for-14 shooting. His nine assists marked the first time this series he has not finished with at least 13, which goes back to Boston for Game 7 on Saturday. Collins gave assistant coach Michael Curry a lot of the credit for formulating the defense that finally stopped perhaps the best pure point guard in the league.

  • Linda Robertson of The Miami Herald: NBA commissioner David Stern had no choice but to punish Haslem and Pittman. They were lucky it wasn’t worse. Pittman’s foul, which sent Stephenson to the X-ray room, was arguably as malicious as Metta World Peace’s elbow to the head of James Harden, who sustained a concussion. World Peace was suspended seven games. Stern doesn’t want to see the NBA sink to the level of the NFL, where the bounty scandal and the concussion issue have cast football in a mean, inhumane light. Nor can Stern allow the NBA playoffs to devolve into the mayhem that hurt the early part of the NHL playoffs. The NHL didn’t react quickly, but it did react correctly by ordering a 25-game suspension of Phoenix enforcer Raffi Torres for going after the head of Chicago’s Marian Hossa. There is no place for goons in sports today, not when the athletes are bigger, stronger, faster and able to inflict long-lasting damage. Haslem wasn’t trying to injure Hansbrough, but he took his payback role too seriously. ... If anything, the bruising nature of this series has dispelled the notion of Miami as the glamour team. This is a team Pat Riley and Alonzo Mourning can be proud of. Instead it was Pacers president Larry Bird bemoaning, “I can’t believe my team went soft. S-O-F-T.” There will be nothing soft about Game 6. But keep it clean.

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: For all of those counting out Indiana, my question is this: What have you been watching all year? This team has been tough-minded and resilient all season. It has had some bad performances, but the bad basketball hasn’t lingered. Pacers coach Frank Vogel said the other day, “They haven’t seen our best game.” Tonight, with the season on the line, the Heat will get the Pacers’ best game, even if it means Granger plays on one leg. ... The big problem for the Pacers is, they finally have the Heat’s attention. Maybe it was some of the pre-series talk. Maybe it was Stephenson’s foolish “choke” gesture. Probably it was the fact the Pacers were going toe-to-toe with them and pushing the Heat to the brink of utter desperation. Now the Pacers are in that spot. ... If these teams played with gloves, they would have dropped them already. But this shouldn’t be about evening the score on the stitches scoreboard. It should be about evening the score in this series, and making Miami sweat a seventh game in a series that deserves a seventh game.

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: The Western Conference finals are sure to bring about comparisons between a pair of super subs: Oklahoma City’s James Harden and the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili. Both are left-handed. Both have NBA Sixth Man of the Year awards on their mantles. Both play with a herky-jerky style that can be murder to defend. Harden, however, is the one with The Beard. “Mine doesn’t get that good,” Ginobili said. “I’ve tried.” One other key difference between the two: only Harden will enter Game 1 on Sunday with soaring confidence. Ginobili is coming off his second straight poor-shooting series, going 17 for 42 in the second-round sweep of the Los Angeles Clippers. That included a 6-for-21 showing from 3-point range that dropped his playoff percentage to 25.7 percent (9 of 35). Asked after practice Wednesday to gauge his confidence level in his jump shot, Ginobili said: “Not the best it’s been.” ... For the second time in this postseason, Ginobili is hopeful the start of a new series will change his luck. “This is a whole new story, a new series, and we don’t care about what happened against Utah or the Clippers,” Ginobili said. “Hopefully, I start off on the right foot."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Kevin Durant on Wednesday shared his feelings on the violence that overshadowed Monday night's Game 5 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. “Anytime violence is involved it's unfortunate,” Durant said of the shooting that left eight people wounded. “But the only thing I can do is pray for the victims and hopefully everything gets resolved.” Russell Westbrook was finishing postgame interviews when word spread of the shooting but said just before the announcement was made that the Thunder Alley watch party would end that he'd be disappointed to see it go. “It's crazy how many people were outside and how many people come and support,” Westbrook said. “So I think they'll be a little disappointed. So hopefully they don't cut it off.” Forward Serge Ibaka said he was amazed at the size of the crowd outside when he saw live footage of the gathering flash on the Jumbotron during the game. “I appreciate the fans and their support because it's something amazing. I've never seen it in my life,” Ibaka said.

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: ESPN reported Wednesday night that Shaquille O'Neal will meet with Orlando Magic officials next week to discuss the team's vacant general manager job. ... The notion of O'Neal as the Magic's general manager seems absurd at first blush, second blush and third blush. He played his first four NBA seasons for the Magic, leading the team to the 1995 Finals, but he left the franchise via free agency in 1996. One of the first tasks for the new Magic general manager will be to try to convince Dwight Howard to remain with the team for the long term. That could be difficult. SheridanHoops.com, citing an anonymous source, has reported that Howard wants a trade. O'Neal's relationship with Howard has deteriorated in recent years. O'Neal has hurled barbs and veiled insults in Howard's direction in recent years. And O'Neal has said he thinks Howard should remain with the Magic.

  • Tony Bizjak of The Sacramento Bee: Restaurateur Patrick Mulvaney got a shock a few weeks ago when he contacted a client, the Sacramento Kings, to discuss last-minute details for a banquet at his midtown eatery. A Kings executive told him they were canceling the lunch at Mulvaney's Building & Loan. They had just seen Mulvaney's signature on a letter from 21 Sacramento businessmen to the NBA urging it to push the Kings owners to sell. Mulvaney's name also appeared on a separate list of businessmen attending the press event where the letter was signed. But Mulvaney says he wasn't at the event and had not signed the letter. His signature was forged. The man who organized the April 12 letter signing was Greg Hayes, a local business consultant and member of Mayor Kevin Johnson's Think Big Sacramento arena task force. Hayes admitted when contacted by the Bee last week that five of the signatures were not signed by the people whose names are listed. Hayes declined to say who put their names on the letter. ... A spokesman for the Kings, Eric Rose, declined to comment on the private investigator, but characterized Hayes' letter as part of "relentless unwarranted attacks" on the Kings ownership since the arena deal fell through several weeks ago. ... Restaurateur Mulvaney, a proponent of a downtown arena, said the Kings ultimately set up another lunch at his restaurant after Hayes' apology, and after Mulvaney talked with Gavin Maloof. "My relationship with the Kings is still solid," he said. "I don't have any right to tell someone else how to run their business."