Heat Check: Raptors, Rockets face major offseason decisions; Celtics frustrated after Game 2 loss

Brandon Ingram (14) takes a shot over San Antonio Spurs’ Dejounte Murray (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game at The Field House. (Photo: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports)

By JOHN LIKANJE

Heat Check is a weekly recap of the best basketball writing and analysis the internet has to offer.

  • The Toronto Raptors sputtered offensively in their Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics last Friday. Three key players of their core the last two seasons (Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet) are now free agents. But one unlikely free agent that they should keep in mind is Brandon Ingram. I broke down why the Raptors should consider stealing the Most Improved Player from the Pelicans this offseason.
  • The Houston Rockets stunned the Los Angeles Lakers in the opening contest of the second round. Then they proceeded to lose the next four games in disappointing fashion. This is an essential offseason for the Rockets because they’ve now been eliminated in the second round back-to-back years as the No. 4 seed after winning 65 games two years ago. Mike D’Antoni has already opted out as head coach. The only way for the Rockets to improve will have to be internal, including trading Eric Gordon or P.J. Tucker.
  • The Los Angeles Lakers are the most dominant team remaining in the postseason. The Denver Nuggets have been the epitome of the “Comeback Kids” thus far. FanSided writer Jared Dubin breaks down the series ahead of Friday night’s opener.

  • The Boston Celtics have advanced to the Conference Finals for the second time in three years. Although they are the favorites this time around, dropping the first two games in close fashion has players frustrated. Marcus Smart was heard screaming in the locker room after Thursday night’s game (via FanSided writer Alicia de Artola).
  • Despite multiple reports of Smart expressing his frustration with the team, the Celtics were in full denial mode of the situation. Enes Kanter, who is known for being candid and honest, defended his teammate and the rest of his squad in his postgame interview (via Artola).
  • Khris Middleton can’t seem to catch a break. Not only did the Milwaukee Bucks forward finish five field goals short of a 50-40-90 season, he didn’t qualify for the All-NBA teams because of a voting error (via FanSided writer Mike Luciano).
  • The basketball world was turned upside down, Tuesday night, because of the Nuggets’ victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers couldn’t overcome their chemistry issues to win one more game in the series. According to Yahoo Sports reporter Chris Haynes, the chemistry dilemma stemmed back to an argument between Montrezl Harrell and Paul George after Game 2 (via Luciano).

You can also find John on FanSided and YouTube.

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