The 2021 NBA playoffs begin May 22nd. First round matchups are as follows …
(1) 76ers vs. (8) Wizards
(2) Nets vs. (7) Celtics
(3) Bucks vs. (6) Heat
(4) Knicks vs. (5) Hawks
(1) Jazz vs. (8) Grizzlies
(2) Suns vs. (7) Lakers
(3) Nuggets vs. (6) Trail Blazers
(4) Clippers vs. (5) Mavericks
The story ahead of the games might be more unexpected than that of any prior season. Absences and injuries determined much of the season for many teams. Trades, coaching changes and player improvements resulted in leaps forward by the Nets, Suns, Knicks, Bulls and Hornets. Significant injuries will alter playoff hopes for the Celtics, Warriors and Nuggets as for each of them one of their stars won’t be available for the games which follow.
Denver’s star put the league on notice, and three of the greatest teamed up on the Nets. The Bucks and Sixers shored up their defenses and look to battle whatever offense comes at them. The Clippers added Rondo giving them the solid experienced leader and crafty penetrator-disher they needed to be less predictable offensively. The Warriors without Klay were led by Curry who had arguably his best season. They will play the hobbled but apparently playoff ready Lakers in a play-in to determine the 7th seed in the West. In some odd sort of symmetric way, the Wizards with Westbrook playing perhaps is best ball ever will face the hobbled Celtics in a play-in to determine the 7th seed in the East.
The Nets are the favorites going in, partially because the Lakers haven’t proven healthy yet. Harden will be at the Nets helm. He hasn’t played much this season due to an apparent hamstring issue, but when he has played he was masterful and consistent and MVP worthy. Durant seems to magically be the same player he was prior to the Achilles rupture, and Kyrie has played with flashes of brilliance and efficiency. If all three are healthy, this season may be the first where a champion is decided by excellent offense and below-average defense winning simply because the offense is more efficient than any prior. It’s possible, but the defenses they’ll face in the Sixers and Bucks are outstanding and whatever team comes out of the West will get there largely because of their all around games including excellent defense.
In their final games the Lakers look ready, but the only way to know will be to watch them in the first round assuming they can win one of their next two play-in games. We wait and see. Meanwhile Denver looks to be a Western Conference Finals contender led by Jokic’s consistent production and presence at both ends, MPJ’s outstanding improvement, Aaron Gordon’s all around game and plenty of depth at the other positions even with Murray out.
Philly by virtue of outstanding defensive effort, talent, coaching and size will be a threat against any team, but always with the caveat that Embiid needs to show some consistency. Even so, the Sixers have shown huge improvements largely due to the surprising play of Thybulle and rookie surprise Tyrese Maxey. If healthy Sixers are deep and talented and complete, even if they aren’t the best shooting team in the league. If Embiid chooses to play big then Embiid will probably play big leaving opponents with no choice but to figure out the defense in at least 4 games per series.
The Bucks have added Jrue who has shown to be the missing piece in the starting lineup, but the Bucks look thin as DiVincenzo has apparently plateaued leaving them at a scoring and size disadvantage when he’s on the court. It may be a simple as stating that the Bucks are one shooter short of contending. That is, assuming their shooters aren’t good enough. Middleton certainly can be, and maybe that’s what it will take to get to the conference finals.
The Suns and Knicks are easily the biggest surprises this season and possibly for similar reasons: both teams have leaders in Paul and Randle that control the game offensively in several ways which involve teammates. both teams have been coached to enforce tight structure which leads to excellent team and perimeter defense. But the Suns have a different look than most teams, in that the idea every game is to out-execute and out-efficient the opponent at both ends while giving Booker enough rope to either quickly pull them ahead or to hang himself when trying. As Paul has had a consistent and MVP like season at both ends of the court, and the team makeup is built for consistency it will be up to Booker to decide how far they can go. The Knicks have a different look that isn’t quite as clear. No one knows what Randle’s ceiling is yet, nor how their younger players will show up. They look ready however, and there’s no reason to count them out versus anyone.
Utah may be the biggest question mark going in. Mitchell will play, but no one can know if he’s ready after a significant ankle injury. Regardless, Jazz have the best record in the league, the best defensive center, one of the best off the bench in Clarkson and outstanding shooting from everywhere in the half court. Mitchell at his best can get them to the conference finals. They’ll need him to be at his best, because the rest of the West will be too good in a 7 game series otherwise.
335 thoughts on “
2021 NBA Playoffs”
Eastern Conference play-in games start tonight.
9 vs. 10: Pacers are hosting Hornets, but Pacers have big problems. Miles Turner (12.6 ppg) and TJ Warren (15.5 ppg in only 4 games) have been out for awhile. Caris LaVert has been declared out because he is entering the COVID protocols. Sabonis and Brogdon are both questionable for the game, so even if they play, they may not be at 100%. The Hornets are still missing Hayward, but gotta think that Ball, Rozier, Graham, et al. can manage to win this one, despite losing their last 5 games of the season which dropped them into the 10th seed hole.
7 v. 8: Celtics are hosting the Wizards and you can not find two teams with such different trajectories. The Celtics lost 9 of their last 13 and Jaylen Brown is out for the playoffs. The Wizards won 17 of their last 23 games and are not missing anyone significant. They haven’t played each other since early March and much has changed since then. I’m looking for the Wiz to upset the Celts tonight.
I wrote a small section about the Bulls and the Bobcats but it was lost. I may re-write it if the Bobcats win their next game.
not sure why this got by me before: bobcats have a good chance at the 8th seed. somehow I thought they didn’t, but in all likelihood they won’t need to play the Wizards which is probably what I didn’t notice.
the bobcat game starts soon!
So much for the Hornets. Pacers just blew them out from the get go. Despite being questionable, both Sabonis and Brogdon not only played, but made major contributions on defense and ball distribution on offense. They shut down LaMelo really well. If the Pacers play like this against the Celtics-Wiz loser, they’ll be in the playoffs.
Sabonis was awesome.
I was wrong about both of the play-in games today. No Jaylen Brown? No problem for the Celts. Jayson Tatum was great, but the Celtics defense caused a lot of poor shooting by the Wiz, particularly from long range. They also forced a bunch of turnovers. On the Wiz side, Westbrook was shooting terrible. I mean open shots not even hitting the rim.
So this means the Wiz will host the Pacers on Thursday. Based on the end of the season, I would figure the Wizards would win that match-up. Based on today, I’d say the Pacers.
Western Conference Play-In Games:
9 vs. 10: Grizzlies hosting the Spurs. The Spurs lost Derrick White on April 28 and then proceeded to lose 10 of their last 12. Meanwhile, Memphis won 5 of its last 6. The Grizz aren’t real deep, particularly if Grayson Allen remains out, but Triple J (Ja, Jonas, Jaren) and Brooks are humming pretty good right now. I expect Memphis to win as the Spurs look done.
7 vs. 8: Lakers host the Warriors. The Lakers are getting the 2nd highest odds to win the championship, which is crazy for a 7th seed, but isn’t surprising with LBJ and AD. With those 2, Gasol, Kuzma, Harrell, Drummond,and Morris, the Lakers have a huge height advantage against the Dubs. Pretty much the only chance the Warriors should have is if Steph goes nuclear. However, the Lakers have held Curry relatively in check this year (26, 16, and 27 pts in 3 games), have the 2nd best defense in the league and have held opponents to the 4th worst 3-pt% this year. All this points to the Lakers winning. But I’m gonna pick the Dubs because they are 16-6 in their last 22 games, one of the best records in the league in that time and seem to have gelled.
I see the Dubs v Lakers as even odds, but mostly because of Wiggins and Poole. If they both play at or near their best the Dubs will probably win. With Wiggins you just never know.
Of course Dray needs to stay in the game one way or the other. Will be interesting to see how many minutes he plays. I’m hoping 42+, but there are fouls and techs and Dray will be Dray. You know Drummond will try to mess with him.
Yes, I know Dray hasn’t played that many minutes for a long time. This is my point.
All season long, Steve Kerr has been adamant about keeping Steph and Dray’s minutes in check to keep them healthy. However, I think the leash is off now. In Sunday’s game against the Grizz, Kerr played it like a playoff game. Steph played 40 minutes, nearly 6 more than his season average. Dray played 38 minutes, also about 6 more than his season average. I expect more of that tonight. I agree with you that Wiggs and Poole will be key. The Lakers will be selling out to stop Steph. That should create a lot of open shots for those two. If they are hitting those shots, it should be a good game for the Dubs.
I’m not sure I understand why Green played only 18 minutes in the first half. He has 0 fouls. I’m guessing it’s this. Let me know …
Green needs to sit, I completely get that. So Kerr sat him with the intent to put him back in. But Toscano, Poole and Wiggins look good and he didn’t want to mess with what Looney had going.
Still, I must be missing something because I’d expect him to have played at least 20 in the first half.
conditioning? it can’t be that, can it?
Green is banging against some big bodies. That’s gotta wear him out some.
Freaking LeBron James. Had no business making that shot, but does. That’s greatness right there.
Great defense by both teams for most of the game. Suns get the Lakers.
Some more thoughts on the game:
1. Warriors strategy was clearly to run, run, and run some more to wear out the Lakers and possibly create issues for LBJ and AD coming off recent leg injuries. That worked very well in the 1st half, but even when playing fast, you have to play under control. In the 3rd quarter, the Warriors looked like they were trying to turn it up a notch and they started playing out of control, which caused turnovers. Steph and Dray each had 6 TOs and the Dubs’ team had 20 overall, many of them in the 3rd.
2. Kevon Looney was terrific on the boards in the 1st half getting most of his 13 rebounds then. He started the 3rd quarter and came out about half-way through. Then started thee 4th quarter, but was subbed out after less than a minute. He wasn’t in foul trouble, so I’m not sure why he played so little in the 2nd half after his great 1st half. The Lakers killed the Dubs on the boards when Looney wasn’t in the game.
3. As Dub Nation has been repeatedly pointing out since the game ended, there were some questionable fouls called on the Warriors down the stretch. Kerr challenged a particularly bad charging foul that was overturned and changed to a blocking foul against LBJ. Both Looney and Green were charged with very questionable illegal screen calls. I’d say the Warriors turnovers were a far greater reason for the loss.
4. Gotta think the outcome would have been different if the Warriors had Oubre, Paschall, and/or Damion Lee available.
My takeaways are simpler, and maybe not very objective since I haven’t watched the Dubs much this year …
Bazemore isn’t ready for prime time. Not a decision maker and yet he was in positions to try and do so. I have to think that Paschall or Oubre would have been at least slightly better.
Warriors game plan seemed fine to me otherwise with maybe one exception: Curry should have been shooting more inside the arc. He’s clearly in outstanding condition – he could have run around like crazy more than he had already. I’d like to have seen him with more shot attempts, more FT attempts and with less focus on trying to make the extra pass.
The Eastern Conference play-in games were all blowouts. The Wiz woke up after getting crushed by the Celtics and the Pacers went to sleep after crushing the Hornets. Both the Celtics and the Wiz are likely to get crushed by the Nets and Sixers.
So while I was rooting for the Warriors, as I have mentioned before, losing to the Grizzlies is better for their future. The Warriors were not going to go far in the playoffs anyway and this gives them more rest, which may be particularly helpful for Steph if decides to play on the Olympic team this summer. In the draft, the Warriors pick will be no worse than 14th (instead of 17th) and it will have a chance to advance into the top 4 if they get lucky in the lottery.
As for the game, Ja Morant really had his coming out moment. He has obviously been great up to this point, RoY last year and all, but this was him showing off how good he is in a nationally televised game against “the greatest shooter of all time” in a make or break game to get into the playoffs. Though he was just a 30% 3pt shooter this season, he hit 5 of 10 in this game, including some big ones late. And despite the Dubs’ defense, he repeatedly proved unstoppable driving the lane.
As seems to be often the case lately, Memphis did a really good job defending Steph early on (largely Dillon Brooks with help), but as they got tired later in the game, Steph went off late. Jordan Poole hit a big-time 3pt shot late in OT, but then made a costly turnover soon thereafter. Thankfully, Kerr played Poole and JTA more than he played Bazemore tonight. Despite starting on this team down the stretch, I really doubt Bazemore is on the team next year unless he’s willing to take the veteran minimum. He doesn’t seem to hit shots when it counts and his defense is lacking.
Like the last game vs. Lakers, the play-in loss to the Grizz is easy to summarize …
The end-of-2021-season Warriors are thin-as-heck both size and talent wise, but Curry, Green and Poole are somehow THAT excellent they can go out and almost beat world champions and/or teams loaded with talent, size and depth.
It’s easy to believe they deserved to beat the Lakers thereby sneaking into the playoffs.
It’s hard to understand how they deserved that last spot in the West when a team like the Grizz has so much potential and talent and depth. But they did almost win in OT, and that would have meant they not only deserved to get in but they’d be good enough to challenge almost any team in the first round. Go figure.
Last night it took outstanding performances from rookie Xavier Tillman and back-from-injured-status Grayson Allen to push the surprising Warriors into the post season. Hard to believe, when the Grizz also have 4 potential all stars in their starting lineup. While I doubt it will be enough vs the Jazz in the first round, there’s something to be said regarding their new play-off (in this case play-in) experiences going in. How good are the Grizz? They haven’t looked good enough to me. They don’t seem cohesive nor well coached. But that was yesterday and well … Tillman and Allen.
And to your point, if I’m going to criticize Kerr (and I have criticized him these last 2 games), was he really of the mind set that the playoffs were his #1 goal? I’m not so sure. Goal #1 had to be keeping Dray and Curry healthy going into next season. Curry is now so frickin active in traffic and moreso at the rim than usual (at least per possession) that I’d be worried about him going forward in these playoffs, especially since getting to the Conf finals seems so absurdly unlikely for them.
Of course, Kerr et al wouldn’t ever reveal such thoughts publicly. The results are what they are which, as Kerr stated them, all lead to a success of a season and a great primer for 21-22 primarily because of the surprising advent of the new Dubs composition which will include Poole and Toscano-Anderson going forward. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Warriors are considered one of the deepest and even best defensive teams at this time next year. I’m expecting it in fact.
Prediction: before the playoffs end people start calling Jokic “Big Magic”. It’s long overdue.
Maybe I just need to start circulating that on twitter.
LOL! I will be impressed if you can make that happen.
1 assist. Maybe not.
next prediction: Nuggets get serious and close out faster on the Portland shooters and rout them in game 2. no way portland gets so many great looks next game.
So Sixers just beat the Wiz in game 1, hardly surprising, but this has to be pointed out about Ben Simmons. He had a very Dray-like game, 6 pts, 15 assists, 15 rebounds. And he went 0-6 at the free throw line after hitting just 61% on the year (60% for his 4-year career). Its bad enough that Simmons cannot shoot the 3 and is afraid to shoot the 3, but he has got to be able to hit free throws. He is the Sixers best ball handler, but in close games, you don’t want him handling the ball because other teams will just foul him. This will not cost them the series with the Wiz. It probably won’t cause them a problem with the winner of the Knicks-Hawks series. But it could be a big problem against the Nets or Bucks.
what sucks for the Sixers and now for Rivers is that they probably can’t tell him he can’t be the primary ball handler. i think Maxey should be for instance, but he played only 7 minutes? and thybulle only 14 minutes? That’s not right at all, and if that’s the plan they won’t get to the conference finals that way.
Devin Booker picked a good time to get hot. More than that though, it looks like they did a good job defending AD and LBJ (a combined 11 for 29) and the 3-pt line (Lakers shot 27%). I only saw a few highlights so I look forward to your thoughts, but a good beginning. I’d love nothing more than to see the Suns take out the Lakers.
BTW, have to mention that I’m getting sick of LBJ and his soccer flopping. Against the Warriors, Draymond goes up to try to block his shot and may or may not have gotten a finger in his eye, but LBJ went down like he had been shot. I’ve been poked in the eye before–while playing basketball–and I managed to stay on my feet and blink until my eye felt better. I highly doubt that LBJ was seeing three baskets and shooting for the middle one when he hit the game winning shot moments later.
Then in the Suns game last night, LBJ goes soaring over CP3 to get a rebound while CP3 is trying to block him out after LBJ’s missed free throw. Yes, CP3 pulled a little on his arm–not too surprising given 280 pounds of LBJ basically going up on his back–and again LBJ goes down like he was shot and then milks it by writhing around on the floor. I don’t believe for a second that he was hurt. He was just selling the foul like he did against Draymond and like soccer players do all the time. I don’t know if LeBron was trying to get a technical called on Paul or what, but only a common foul was called (it was the same with Draymond’s foul) and LeBron looked just fine in the game after that.
These flops by LBJ are just in the last two games, but I’ve seen a bunch of instances of him doing it in the past as well. The league won’t take action against him for flopping, just like they didn’t take action against him this week for violating COVID protocols, but I’d like to see it stop.
Also, so I’m not accused of bias here, Steph also flops A LOT, though Steph typically doesn’t fake like he got injured. I’d also like to see Steph stop doing it.
i agree. none of the other greats did that. maybe jordan a little bit but not really. not sure why he thinks it’s ok even if he is just trying to give his team the best shot at winning.
As for the other games…
Saw the end of the Knicks-Hawks game. Ja Morant was simply fantastic down the stretch. He is as quick as anyone I’ve seen and he just kept bombing the lane, forcing the Knicks to either crowd the lane to stop the drive and leave others open for Ja to find or defend the others and hope Ja misses. Further, when Ja is driving, he can stop on a dime and put up a mid-range shot. If Ja starts making 3-pt shots at better than his 30% rate this year, he is going to be in that MVP conversation in coming years.
So the comment above is obviously for the Grizz-Jazz game. That being said, Trae Young was doing much the same to the Knicks and was the difference in that game. However, I doubt that Randle will shoot as badly next time out. Capela and Collins did a good job defending him, but I expect Randle will have better games.
Not much of a reply here re the Suns win, because I only saw about 2 minutes of it, and by then Suns were looking dominant. Ayton is so much better now. I would never have guessed he’d become such a defensive anchor, and yet he was that vs Drummond and Davis in 37 minutes and only 3 fouls. Anyhow, we wait and see about CP’s shoulder and also how Booker comes out next game.
I didn’t watch much Grizz Jazz either, but enough to see that Mitchell’s absence is huge. Regardless, not good news for the rest of the league that both Morant and JJJ seem to be having too much fun out there. I haven’t been watching halftime on TNT, but I imagine Shaq and Charles are both saying that teams need to toughen up and start knocking those two around. Especially Morant going to the basket. If he’s going to keep trying that acrobatic slithering stuff w. Gobert in there he’s probably going to get hammered pretty hard. How good can he be when he’s even better at getting fouled in the lane?
Morant 4-4 FTs. He averages 6 FTs per game. Hey young fella, how about 8?
And yeah, shooting above 36% 3 PT? If Lonzo can do it …
Apparently Mitchell was pissed that the Jazz ruled him out for the game. I know he’s coming back from an ankle injury, but if they’re not gonna play him when he thinks he’s ready, they may not be in the playoffs very long.
The First Take guys this morning were raving about the way that Ayton dominated AD. Maybe these playoffs are his coming out party.
no comment other than really enjoying nuggets beat down on blazers
Also fun to see the Bucks crush the Heat. Bucks-Nets is going to be a fun second round series to watch. Hopefully, we’ll see the Suns go 2 up on the Lakers tonight.
Really surprising to hear Kenny Smith dis Aaron Gordon last night, insinuating that Gordon had no effect on Lillard’s play once he started covering him. That’s absurd, and Barkley corrected the stupidity of the idea.
Gordon is huge in almost every way an all around player can be. I’m not sure how Smith can possibly miss that while Murray was lost, Gordon and Campazzo were added AND Morris gets tons of minutes now. He did miss it completely though, and kept going on about how the team is completely new therefore implying there’s no reason to believe they’re as good as last year in the bubble.
That’s some horrible logic, observation and judgement Kenny!
Suns could really use Haliburton right now.
But, but…Jalen Smith! LOL! We’ve hashed this out before. Think how much better this Suns team would be with Halliburton (and how much better Halliburton might be with veteran guidance from CP3). I doubt Smith sees a minute of time in this series unless there’s a blowout happening.
Maybe the Clips shouldn’t have been trying to avoid the Lakers in the 2nd round and instead should have been trying to avoid the Mavs in the first round. Clips got next to nothing outside of Kawhi and PG. Didn’t playoff Rondo use to be a thing? Mavs go home with a 2-0 lead. I’m not counting the Clippers out, but it doesn’t look good. And if they flame out in the 1st round, does Kawhi opt out of his contract and look to find another championship situation?
So Suns didn’t draft Haliburton. No one will care if they sign Kawhi;-)
That’s some wishful thinking. LOL! Suns are already over the cap, so unless Kawhi is willing to sign for the midlevel exception or a sign-and-trade deal is made–which would mean trading either Paul or Booker or everybody on the team not named Paul, Booker, or Ayton–it ain’t gonna happen. The Lakers, also over the cap, could trade Kuzma, Caldwell-Pope, and Harrell (plus draft picks) to get Kawhi. If Kawhi wants to stay home in L.A., you can bet that will get explored. The Warriors, who are way over the cap, could trade Wiggins and Wiseman to get Kawhi. Gotta think though that Ballmer ain’t gonna facilitate Kawhi going to one of the Clips’ Pacific Division rivals.
I’m ok with trading Booker or Ayton, which is the point of the comment.
Of course if the Suns had Haliburton for the exact purposes that I ranted about on draft night (i.e. outstanding trade chip because his skills are in huge demand) then you could package Bridges and Haliburton for about 90% of players in the league. Simple math that somehow got by the Suns front office.
Bridges and Haliburton for a sign and trade gets the conversation started with the clippers. It means Suns are serious. If Clipps would rather have Ayton fine. Booker fine, but they’d probably be better with Bridges and Haliburton.
i’m a little surprised that the popcorn sprinkling thing happened in philly. that crowd is pretty serious about hoops in general. that’s the kind of shit I expect from phoenix.
Not surprising to me at all. Philly sports fans are notorious for outrageously bad behavior at sports events. Everything from booing Santa Claus, to throwing beer bottles to vomiting on an off-duty cop and his 11-year-old daughter. Things got so bad at Eagles games that they built a jail cell and courtroom at the stadium. But you can find examples in every sport.
Let me add that two years ago, Isaiah Thomas, then with the Wizards, went into the stands in Philly to confront two fans who were directing obscene gestures and profanities at him. While there was no physical confrontation, Thomas was suspended for two games and the fans were banned from Sixers games for a year. The reason for the incident is hilarious. Wendy’s ran a promotion in Philly that fans could get a free Frosty if an opposing player missed both free throws after a foul in the second half of games. After a foul, Thomas missed the first free throw, so fans were rooting for him to miss the second so they could get a Frosty. Thomas made the second free throw and these fans got upset about it. Thomas didn’t go after them physically, but just told them to be more respectful. One of the fans apologized to him and said he just wanted a Frosty.
I’m sure you’re right. What I’ve seen at Sixers games are by far the most knowledgeable hoops fans around. That was way back when though. I expect Warriors fans have surpassed them.
But you can be knowledgeable on average and also be extremely rowdy. I get it.
hell of interesting that morant follows booker’s 17 FTs with 20.
i’m wondering who’s next?
Ja’s signature move seems to be driving at full speed at the basket and then stopping on a dime for a pull-up 3-5 foot easy shot (he’s also great going all the way to the basket). Defenders can’t defend that. If he keeps getting foul calls on those drives, he can be a scoring champion. He only averaged a little under 6 FTs attempted this year.
Oh and to actually answer your question…next has to be Trae Young, right? He already averaged nearly 9 FT attempts per game during the regular season. He had 9 FTs in game 1 and 4 in game 2 at the Garden. Now he goes home to Atlanta. I see double-digit FT attempts for him.
I’m guessing Doncic, Jokic or Trae, but it really should be Harden. The thing is he’s could be averaging 12+ a game for his career, but apparently he has little interest in that even when it’s do or die time.
I’m sure you’ve seen this. I never did. Awesome …
I didn’t see it at the time, but I saw it referenced somewhere recently. Rapaport is a big fan of these Warriors despite being a New York guy (he has regularly made appearances on local sports radio over last 5 years to talk Warriors and shows up frequently for games) and apparently got to know KD a little when he was here. Last year, KD did an interview with Charles Barkley where he gave nothing but one-word responses. Afterwards, Rapaport called out KD for that on social media. That resulted in a heated direct message exchange between the two that never would have seen the light of day except that Rapaport released the exchange months later. KD was forced to apologize publicly for the things he said, but I thought it was a really weak move by Rapaport to publicly share private messages.
i heard about that and other stunts Rappaport has pulled. Pretty sure he’s been beaten up a few times, or if he hasn’t been he will be. Hilarious but he tends to pick the wrong guys to mess with. Although I’m glad he picked out KD who doesn’t seem to realize he’s just a basketball player. One of the greats, but still just a basketball player who wouldn’t have any of what he has if it wasn’t for fans and media.
Nuggets appear to be working fast to figure out how to defend the perimeter in the absence of Murray. I’m seeing some progress there, and expect to see more in game 4. Rivers helps – can’t believe that’s my opinion but I’m sticking with it.
I don’t like his decision making with the ball in his hands though. I’m not sure why he’s being trusted with PG duties when there are so many options. Of course the 3 pt shooting is nice:-)
Campazzo, Morris, Jokic and Gordon going to the hole is how to beat the Blazers: Nurkic is too slow to react and clearly not a referee favorite. Just keep going at him and this will be a 5 game series regardless of the Lillard and Melo heroics.
I’m puzzled by all the chatter around Doncic. What the hell did all these self-proclaimed “experts” think he was going to do? What’s so surprising about his performances lately? He dominates, stuffs the stat sheet, wins games and turns the ball over. That’s his game. Always has been.
Are the people paid to write about the NBA (I hesitate to call them journalists) also required to watch games outside of the major markets? In particular, how can ESPN be so consistently bad with their judgement year after year? Aren’t they able to hire better talent that understands the game?
What’s really interesting is that he didn’t play very well last game. Like 35% FT shooting. 7 TOs which is more than usual. It’s hard to imagine what else people were expecting, other than more solid stats to go with the win.
It’s weird. And an embarrassment.
Vegas should have a banner day today with big $$ shifting away from the Nets to … where though?
The Nets are supposed to be unbeatable, at least by the lesser teams (and Boston qualifies without Brown). But they lost last night, even with Harden and Durant having outstanding playoff performances. Kyrie not a bad game even though not his usual. All that and Nets were down 12 going into the 4th quarter.
How do you hedge if you went all in on the Nets? I’m pretty sure you’re screwed. I don’t see how they’re ready for the Bucks or Sixers, much less the Lakers or whoever in the finals. And you can’t move the $$ to just one or even two teams to try and break even or at least not lose much. You’d have to bet on the Bucks, Sixer and Lakers and then probably one more team from the West. Take your pick out of about 3 other teams.
REALLY looking forward to reading about how much $$ was bet on NBA playoffs this year. I’m guessing more than twice that of any other year. Maybe 4 times is a better guess.
I left out something above so I edited it.
Is DeAndre Jordan hurt? I see the Nets started Blake Griffin and Jordan didn’t play at all. The Nets got essentially nothing outside of their big 3 last night. Harris shot poorly, which can’t happen when defenses are concentrating on KD, Kyrie, and Harden. Griffin makes more sense to me off the bench, rather than as starting center (or PF with KD at center). I don’t understand why they would move Griffin to the starting line-up in the playoffs unless Jordan is hurt. Jeff Green is hurt, which is problematic since he can provide defense. I still expect the Nets to win the series. But you’re right that they could have real problems with the Bucks (who polished off the Heat today) in the next round.
Jordan didn’t play again. Not sure what’s up there.
Am just now seeing that Anfernee Simons played only 11 minutes last game. Interesting decision, unless it was simply a result of Melo playing well enough to stay in the game. That has to be good news for the Nuggets. Also,
even though I’m not surprised I see Nuggets went 22-27 FTs last game to 11-13. I’m not sure what’s more interesting: that Nuggets shot 14 more than the Blazers or that Blazers shot only 13. Or that Nuggets had so many guys shooting them.
Aaron Gordon went 4-5 from the FT line on a team laced with scorers. I saw two of those fouls. They came off of outstanding feeds into traffic from Jokic. I don’t see how Blazers stop that without fouling. Looking forward to more of the same today.
Two big surprises yesterday. For me anyhow …
Nuggets shot 34% for the game. That’s just not playoff worthy regardless of the defense. Clearly Denver defended Lillard well, and other than Norman Powell’s performance there’s nothing about the Blazers that was great about that game. But MPJ with 3 points in what looks like a lot of empty minutes … he had only 2 fouls on him. Jokic needs to figure out how to engage him slashing to the hoop like he does Gordon.
The other surprise is I had zero expectation that Memphis could take the lead yesterday with 5 minutes to go vs. Jazz. It was an excellent team effort, and could have gone the other way with just slightly better shooting overall.
Note from yesterday’s Clipps/Mavs … Ibaka didn’t play for second game in a row, and yet Lue started with Zubac on the bench who eventually played only 18 minutes and fouled out. With Morris and Batum shoring up the front court that’s an interesting look against the Dallas bigs who actually played well: Porzingas, Marjanovic and Powell combined for excellent shooting overall. However with only 5 fouls total among them … that’s a concern even if Doncic had his best game.
I wonder how Ibaka fits in when he gets back. Not sure he’s needed in this series.
Basically, Ty Lue has taken a page from the Warriors playbook and gone with a small ball line-up. That makes some sense given Porzingis and Kleber like to shoot the 3. With Ibaka hurt and Zubac a terrible defender outside of the paint, Lue has gone with 4 guys who are 6’7″ or 6’8″ and Reggie Jackson. Now with Luka playing through his injury, Dallas is even more limited. I’d like to see Dallas really work the ball inside a lot more. Boban was 5 of 9 against the smaller Clipper line-up. Porzingis and Powell have the size to post these defenders up. Luka’s pinched nerve looks like it has really affected his shooting, so the Mavs might as well work the paint.
The Powell I remember pre-injury would feast on Morris + Batum. I guess Carlisle knows best and isn’t going to ask him to be that same guy. Maybe he simply can’t move and jump like that anymore. If he could he’d be playing 35+ minutes a game.
I don’t know how much AD will be limited with his groin injury, but the Suns need to ratchet up the running and just wear out the older Lakers, particularly if AD tries to play through the injury. Loved watching Book and CP3 and Payne continually push the pace yesterday and dribble by Lakers defenders. Even defensively, their quick movement led to a lot of steals and turnovers. Ayton was a monster on the boards and again, that’s because he’s quicker and more agile than the Lakers bigs like Drummond and LeBron. I’m unclear why the Lakers seem to have removed Montrezl Harrell from the rotation, but they need his energy.
Same here. When they signed Harrell I was thinking “Suns killer”. Still seems like he’s the best bet for getting Ayton in foul trouble, even if he fouls out doing it.
AD is not expected to play tonight. The Suns must win this game. They can’t let the Lakers get by at less than full strength.
That was exactly the game I wanted from Phoenix. Constantly pushing the pace. Book, CP3 and Payne frequently attacking on the dribble. They ran the Lakers right off the court. The most impressive stat was the Suns having 29 assists with only 4 turnovers.
The Lakers did play Harrell a little more tonight, but it was all garbage time with the Suns up 30. He’s the reigning 6th man of the year and only 27 years old. The Lakers were dying for some younger energy tonight and didn’t turn to him until it was already over. They gave more time to the rookie Horton-Tucker and journeyman Ben McLemore.
Really hope that the Suns put the Lakers home in game 6.
Devin Booker. ‘Nuff said. 15 of 22, 8 of 10 from 3. 12 rebounds. The series win maybe isn’t that unexpected given that the Lakers didn’t have AD for basically the last 3 games, but still. First time an LBJ team got eliminated in the 1st round of the playoffs. Suns get the Nuggets next. That ought to be a fun series.
Can’t fault Dame Lillard for that loss. Freaking 55 points on 17 of 24 shooting, including 12 of 17 from 3. 10 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 BLOCKS!! But the Nuggets got big games from the Joker, MPJr, and Monte Morris. You’d think with Dame going off like that from deep, the Blazers would have had a big advantage from the 3-pt line in the game, but the Nuggets only had 1 less made three and made the deep ball at a higher rate. The Nuggets will likely win this series, but it’s a damn shame that we may never get to see Lillard in the finals.
Lillard didn’t shoot as well in game 6 and the Nuggets had Jokic, MPJr, and Morris all coming up big again. With first round exits in 5 of the past 7 years and no Finals appearances in that time, you gotta wonder if the Blazers are coming close to either a coaching change or blowing things up. They are way over the salary cap and don’t have any real promising young talent, so there is little they can do to improve without moving Dame or CJ.
Well that didn’t take long. The Blazers have gone the get rid of the coach route. Stotts and the Blazers “mutually” parted ways today. This doesn’t preclude doing a roster makeover too, but I suspect that they will try to add a few pieces and run it back with Dame and CJ.
This is one time that I think management obviously made a mistake. Stotts may very well have been the reason they did so well and had a chance to advance. How is it Stotts fault that Nurkic and Covington just aren’t as good as they need to be? Or that Melo and McCollum simply don’t give them enough to support Lillard and Powell?
They’ll need to trade McCollum and Covington – it’s just so frickin obvious. Powell and Lillard are awesome, and it looks like Anfernee Simons can step into McCollum’s role. McCollum has trade value and could garner them a defensive wing that’s better than Covington at all aspect of the game. Oubre would be better for instance.
It’s a shame that Jerami Grant has chosen to stay in Detroit. A team like Portland really needs him to help get to the next level. Denver kind of lucked out to have replaced him with Aaron Gordon. Suns need Grant to advance. Mavs. Lakers. Celtics. Hot commodity if he was available. Makes me wonder if some of the 2020 draftees will grow into what Grant is now. Patrick Williams and Bey and Okoro have a chance to be that sort of guy. Who else?
I realize they may not need to trade for Oubre by the way.
Woj is reporting this morning that Danny Ainge is going to step down as GM of the Celtics and that Brad Stevens is going to resign as coach and become GM. At the end of the regular season, there was talk about whether the Celtics would fire Stevens because of their underwhelming season. Now, despite no front office experience, he’s getting bumped up to GM and will pick a new head coach. Not sure that this is good for the Celtics.
Embiid has a small lateral meniscus tear in his right night. He will miss tonight’s game and will be day-to-day after that. I’m sure the Sixers are hoping to polish off the Wizards tonight without him and thereby give Embiid a bunch of days off before they face the Knicks-Hawks winner. We’ll see if Ben Simmons and the crew can do that.
Even though I think Doncic has a long way to go to mature into some sort of standard bearer after LeBron, he did something tonight that may go a long way toward getting positive attention (much like LeBron gets) …
In a close out game he smacked Kawhi inadvertently thereby gaining an advantage on the play. It was a foul but wasn’t called. Doncic paused play and appeared to consider stopping it even. Then proceeded when he noticed no foul would be called.
Doncic really needs to clean up his sloppiness before continuing anything meaningful once LeBron moves on, but if he’s able to do that and be this cool dude that he seems to be then I think he’s a great look for the NBA for the next decade.
If he cleans it up. I’ve seen too much slop decision making and reaction so far this postseason. Not good enough. Not LeBron at the same age and not close.
Embiid has been cleared to play?? I don’t believe it – makes no sense!!
Looks like he had 39 points in 38 minutes with 9 rebounds. So guess he was okay. Too bad for the Sixers that it wasn’t enough with the Hawks stealing a game in Philly.
was the meniscus tear thing a hoax?
It was described as a slight meniscus tear, so he may be playing through it. I didn’t see the game, but I’m guessing he wore a knee brace. There is some danger of making the injury worse, but athletes have apparently played through slight meniscus tears before. The normal recovery time if they did surgery now would put him out for the playoffs. So I suspect he has decided to play through the pain and see if he can help the Sixers win the title.
The meniscus tear was reported in some circles as in a bad place and likely to get worse.
A young athlete would never be cleared to play through such a thing, because if it gets worse it may end his career. Whatever report was circulating must have been wrong – I’m guessing a rumor to throw off the Hawks.
I only saw the 4th quarter, but it was fun to watch CP3 just take over and put the game away. Beyond that, this is how you win games:
Bridges: 8 of 12
Ayton: 9 of 13
Paul: 8 of 14
Booker: 8 of 12
When your big guns shoot 65% from the field, they will be tough to beat.
That was a strange game. No reason Denver should have had so much trouble scoring. defensively they probably need to shift Gordon over to Paul, but offensively there should be no trouble with Jokic and Morris and probably Campazzo scoring almost at will in the paint. Or getting fouled. I’m not sure Denver was really trying very hard that first game.
Saw most of the game tonight. What I’m seeing is that the Suns play a lot faster than the Nuggets on both offense and defense. It’s not that Nuggets like Jokic, Porter, Gordon, Campazzo, Millsap, and Green are slow, but the Suns are both quicker and faster. This seems to be causing the Nuggets to run and work a lot harder than they are used to. They are able to keep it relatively close for a half, but in the second half of each game, the Nuggets have looked worn out. Denver will have to figure out how to slow down the Suns. It may require them to be more physical on the court.
Nuggets seem to be so focused on the Suns offense that they’re forgetting how to score themselves. Is there an actual plan when Morris has the ball for instance? Was the idea yesterday for MPJ to shoot his way out of his back issues? Why is he even playing at all for that matter?
Camapazzo had some good ideas and good shots but nothing fell for him. Barton looks to be ready to go. Gordon looks great, but needs to stop taking 3 pt shots even if he’s wide open.
Defensively Gordon needs to be on Paul. I’m not sure why that didn’t happen early and often last night. Get MPJ out of the lineup. Barton can cover Booker.
Was just realizing something. Of the final 8 teams in the playoffs, we have 5 teams that have never won a championship before (Jazz, Suns, Nuggets, Clippers, and Nets), 1 team that hasn’t won a championship since the 80s (76ers, 3 championships overall), 1 team that hasn’t won a championship since the 70s (Bucks, only 1 championship), and 1 team that hasn’t won a championship since the 50s (Hawks, only 1 championship). This is surely the least amount of championship winning teams (3 with 5 overall championships) left at this point in the playoffs in a long time. Whoever wins the Western Conference will be a team that has never won a championship and if the Nets win the East, both finalists will be teams that have never won before. I like how this is shaping up.
Although the Sixers won last night, largely because Embiid just took over the game and Shake Milton was a sparkplug off the bench, the Ben Simmons foul shooting woes are getting worse. After going 3 for 10 in the game 1 loss, last night he looked reluctant to drive to the basket knowing that the Hawks would be all too happy to foul him. Simmons took only 3 shots in the game and missed both the free throws that he had. Simmons still provides a lot of value with his passing and defense, but the Hawks’ fouling him a lot in game 1 seemed to have taken him out of his normal aggression on offense in game 2.
I love all the chatter around Ben Simmons being a first ballot hall of famer. Complete BS but I love how it might distract them from what needs to be done to win it all. I’d really like the champion to come out of the West, so if it’s vs the Sixers I hope they think Simmons should be shooting as part of the plan.
The Pacers fired Nate Bjorkgren after one season as head coach. Allegedly he had “lost” the locker room. The Pacers front office isn’t looking very good right now after firing Nate McMillan after 4 winning seasons and then hiring a first time head coach with so little coaching experience and experiencing their first losing season in 6 years. Meanwhile, McMillan went to Atlanta as an assistant, then got bumped up to head coach at mid-season and totally turned the Hawks around, going 27-11 in the 2nd half of the season.
Besides finding a new coach, the Pacers have to decide if they want to keep the same basic core or blow things up. They are already over the salary cap for next year, so unless they nail a gem in the draft (they won’t be in lottery), they’ll need to make deals to possibly bring in a superstar to play alongside Sabonis, who I assume is untouchable. Brogdon, LaVert, Turner and Warren are nice pieces, but I don’t know that any of them are All-Star quality players. Hopefully they can figure something out as it would be a shame for them to waste Sabonis’ prime years.
I doubt you want LaVert and Warren together so am guessing one of them will be traded. I’m a little surprised that Brogdon hasn’t improved more, so maybe you package him and one of the other two for a better fit with Sabonis and Turner. I know there was talk of trading Turner but I don’t see the point of it.
A few things to recap …
– Mavs look to be one player away from contending. Porzingas may not be tradable but if he is then he has to go. They’re in dire need of a much more active player on both ends to fill that PF spot.
– Interesting how well Reggie Jackson is playing for the Clipps. They’re playing their best ball at the right time. Unless Conley comes back or Clarkson gets more minutes and more shots Jazz will lose this series. Would be great for Jazz fans to see Mitchell shoot like that every game, but 30 shots when you have Bogdanovic and Clarkson? Good luck with that.
– I need to start watching the Hawks once Hunter gets back. They sure look like a complete team with him in the lineup.
– Suns are great of course, but without being able to write in 30+ points on efficient shooting for Booker every night I don’t see CP3 being able to continue in the cleanup role. Mostly because Booker needs to be taking the bulk of the shots, and if he’s missing it means a hell of a load to put on Paul.
– MPJ seems lost. A bit like Porzingas. Everyone else in the league is working their asses off. Time to step up young man!
There has to be a team or teams that need Porzingas as a 4th or 5th scoring option. i.e. I’m sure he has some trade value for the right team. It’s kind of nauseating to keep bringing this up, but this is the kind of thing that should have forced the Suns to draft Haliburton. Not that the Suns would trade him for Porzingas, but having Haliburton on any team gives you tons of wiggle room to play around with trade scenarios because you can keep him around to do just about anything you can ask a tall versatile guard to do, or you trade him to a team that wants such a guy and is willing to part with some talent.
As an example of what the Suns could be thinking this offseason (assuming they don’t get past this round), they would have the luxury of keeping Haliburton and putting together a package of a few players not named Ayton, Booker or Bridges. Heck, if you had Haliburton you could immediately take a chance on Porzingas by trading Saric and Cam Johnson which should be enough + whatever else is needed to balance it out.
I’d love to see Haliburton alongside Doncic though. Seems like the perfect combo. Or changing the topic a bit how about McCollum? Can Portland trade McCollum to Dallas for Brunson, Richardson and Porzingas?
To answer that last question, McCollum and Porzingis make virtually the same amount of money, so a trade would be very easy as long as you make the salaries match among other players involved. Same would be true of a theoretical Porzingis for Wiggins trade with Golden State.
If you want Porzingis on the Suns, would you do this: Porzingis for Crowder, Saric, Smith, Johnson & Payne (plus whatever picks are necessary to get it done)?
Crowder would be necessary for the deal to make the salaries work.
not if they had haliburton he wouldn’t;-)
what bothers me the most about not drafting haliburton is that his floor is the same now as it was on draft day: a very smart player with a handle who moves well without the ball, does what coaches want, works hard enough on defense so at very least his height is an excellent commodity for any team at the guard position, but doesn’t shoot well. That’s the *worst* any team would expect from him on draft day. Compare with Suns-bust Ty Jerome and at worst you’d have a better defender than Jerome who is faster and works harder. maybe the biggest difference between Jerome and Haliburton is that every team in the league was looking to draft Haliburton or at least scouted him as a valuable draftee. THERE WAS A REASON FOR THAT!!
In the worst case Suns could have had an asset that every team could use on the bench. In the worst case Suns could have considered that Haliburton would be an excellent trade piece to sign a player that’s better than Jalen Smith and that wants to play with Paul and Booker.
In the worst case Suns could have simply looked at data and the league-wide talent bloat and come up with the simple logic that a guy like Haliburton is much more likely to be highly valued by other teams than Jalen Smith. That’s worst case. What a crazy fucking decision.
Crowder (and Saric) would be needed in any deal for Porzingis with or without Haliburton’s rookie contract in order to make the salaries work. But totally agree Phoenix’s decision to draft Smith instead of Haliburton was crazy. In addition to everything you mentioned, look at the team the Suns have built. They play fast and really push the pace with good decision makers. Between Smith and Haliburton, who fits that style better? So you’ve got one player who fits your style and is a MUCH better trade chip or another player who doesn’t fit your style because he is a poor passer/decision-maker who can’t guard the pick and roll and is not a great trade chip. Of course, every team that drafted 4th through 11th passed on Haliburton that might be better off with him.
Sorry Arnold. I wrote a lot so I see how it’s hard to get the point I’m making or trying to make …
If suns had Haliburton there would be no issue at all trading Crowder and/or Cam Johnson and /or Saric. Without Haliburton the Suns can’t afford to lose the versatiity that Crowder and Saric are providing. Unless they land a versatile player, but Porzingas isn’t that.
See CP3 talking to McGee last night?? Any coincidence that McGee is very close to the kind of guy the Suns need? Case in point is how well Torrey Craig fits in and helps around the basket. Now take that same kind of presence and add about 5 inches and a lot more wingspan. I can definitely see Ayton stepping out a lot next year. Not sure about 3pt shooting but he looks primed to start practicing that Duncan bank shot from 12 feet out and once that gets going I can see wide open 16 footer for him all day long. McGee would be a nice luxury to have once all that starts.
And of course McGee would be what they need vs. AD, Nurkic, Jokic, Wiseman, Giannis, Adebayo, Embiid, Valanciunis, Vucevic. Suns have Saric to do that dirty work right now. Worked well last night but not sure he’s the right piece for a championship team if he’s the first off the bench at that position.
Funny that you mention McGee as I was thinking the Warriors might be interested in bringing him back to fill that back-up big role. Warriors have been talking a lot about how they intend to bring in some veteran players for their bench this off-season. Warriors are even further over the cap than the Suns, so both teams are going to be looking at players willing to take the veteran minimum or mid-level exception to fill in their benches. Since the Warrior and Suns play similar styles, they may be looking at the same players. McGee makes perfect sense as a bench big.
Another player both teams should be looking at, assuming the Heat decline his $15 million dollar option–which I think is a real possibility–is Andre Iguodala. Warriors may have a leg up on that chase because he likes the players and front office here, but if the Heat cut him loose, CP3 should be chatting up Iggy to try to get him to come to the Valley.
I haven’t started really looking at this summer’s free agent possibilities, but I’ll bet the Suns and Dubs are going to be looking at a lot of the same guys.
Tonight’s Nets-Bucks game was UGLY to watch. Poor shooting (36.2% and 37.8% respectively) overall, even worse from the arc (25% and 19.4% respectively, and very physical, chippy defense (Tucker and Durant looked close to blows at one point). It was like an 80s-era Pistons game. The Freak couldn’t hit free throws, Joe Harris couldn’t hit 3s, and the teams COMBINED for 27 assists, which would be an average or so game for the Warriors by themselves. I thought the Bucks were going to blow it down the stretch, but they managed to hold the Nets scoreless for the last minute and a half. In 3 games, the Bucks haven’t looked good yet, so they should be happy to just be down 2 games to 1 right now.
Has Shaq apologized to Donovan Mitchell yet? Do any of us outside Utah know how good he is?
I thought I did, but I’m wondering how much and how fast he’s improving. Before Lillard became the game winner guy no one knew how good he was outside or Oregon. How many years before he was an all-star?
I don’t really want Mitchell to be the next big name though, because his passing game isn’t close to others of that stature. but he’s getting there. where does he rank currently of all top players in the league is a good question. is he top 10?
Lebron, KD, Jokic, Doncic, Curry, Embiid, Giannis, Zion, Kawhi, Harden
That’s 10 players without mentioning AD, Lillard, Tatum, Paul, Morant, Westbrook, Booker, Trae
I’m not sure where to put Mitchell, but am tempted to say he’s improving so fast he may be as good as Lillard or better.
what a crazy list above. all these guys either are top 20 all time or are headed in that direction …
Lebron, KD, Jokic, Doncic, Curry, Zion
Little early to say Doncic or Zion is headed that direction. I like their chances, but injuries and poor teams could derail that easily. Jokic is closer to being headed that direction, but few big men have long careers (Kareem being one big exception). LeBron is already top 5, KD is already top 10, and Curry is already top 20.
Mitchell is definitely one of the breakout stars so far in this playoffs. If he gets the Jazz into the Finals, he may cement himself into the current top 20.
well, in the same way that people were saying such things about lebron only a couple years into his career … absolutely Zion and Doncic belong.
I don’t remember when people started talking about LeBron perhaps becoming one of the greatest players ever. Certainly by his 2nd year, he was putting up great numbers. I suspect that after year 4, when he put the Cavs on his back and carried them into the NBA Finals, that chatter was beginning. However, if LeBron is the early benchmark for all-time great talk, Doncic and, particularly Zion, have a ways to go. LBJ got MVP votes in his rookie season and, if I’m not mistaken, almost every year since then. LBJ took an otherwise terrible team to the finals in his 4th season. Thus far, Doncic got MVP votes in years 2 & 3 and hasn’t gotten his team out of the first round of the playoffs yet. Zion hasn’t received any MVP votes in his first 2 years, missed 2/3rds of his rookie season and another 11 games in year 2, and hasn’t gotten his team into the playoffs yet.
Doncic is closer and I like his trajectory so far, but its too early for me to think about him in terms of an all-time great. As for Zion, frankly, I don’t think he will ever become an all-time great because I think his body will fail him and he will miss too much time with injuries in his career. I hope I’m wrong, but that’s where it looks like he’s headed. I do like Jokic’s chances of getting to all-time great status, particularly since he lost a bunch of weight and muscled up since his first few years.
good points. maybe most important is that I don’t remember anyone but me saying that LeBron would challenge kareems stats before his 4th year. i was just guessing of course, but that’s where my argument comes from. so not very solid. and i said the same thing about doncic last year. again, without much solid argumentation. so it all needs to be couched in terms of the likelihood of longevity.
Doncic looks the part, but he’s shown some sloppiness as well that the other greats haven’t shown. unless he cleans it up he’ll need to stop putting up the big numbers and defer more. and to be one of the greats his defense needs to start picking up soon.
Zion is a completely different argument. I’ve never been more sure of any player being one of the greatest of all time, but he needs to be healthy. I’m not sure who to compare him to regarding young greatness. Probably Barkley, Wilt, Kareem, Walton or Shaq.
Unfortunately, maybe the best ‘eye-test’ comparison is Bo Jackson, so yeah … need to wait and watch.
Still, Wilt and Kareem and Shaq had similar hugeness to them and lasted forever. Zion accelerates more though, so pretty serious impact on ligaments and cartilage. Such a freak of nature I guess there’s really no good example in the NBA world.
And re: Jokic, as long as Richard Jefferson is calling games he’ll be talked about as an all time great. Kind of like how Mark Jackson called attention to the Splash Bros and Reggie Miller to Jayson Tatum. The difference between Jokic and Zion and Doncic is that I don’t think any of us really know how good he’ll be. If he’s this much better after a year with the weight off then how good will he be two years from now?
I agree about Jokic, but I also agree with what Richard Jefferson was saying on the broadcast last night. One of the greatest big men in history already. But to your point, Walton didn’t have it easy and could be in the discussion otherwise. The good news is that Jokic seems to be extremely healthy unlike the other big men not named Wilt, Kareem, Russell, Hakeem, Duncan, Shaq.
I’d like to think the Nuggets-Suns series would be better if Murray were playing, but frankly, I think the Suns would be winning this series anyway. Suns are playing really well right now. I like their chances of getting to the NBA Finals. Once they polish off the Nuggets, a foregone conclusion at this point, they will likely get the Jazz, who they swept during the season. Even if they get the Clippers, I don’t think the Clips can keep up with the Suns’ pace.
Malone should be fired, and I’m pretty sure he will be. So many things about last nights game are squarely on Malone’s shoulders. Aaron Gordon should never be settling for long shots – that’s horrible and starts with Malone. Gordon should be all over Paul from the get go, but Malone clearly thinks he needs to be on Booker. If that’s not a scouting error then it’s a logic error which is worse. Guys not named Morris and Jokic were sloppy with passes – that includes Campazzo who probably shouldn’t be playing in front of Morris if turnovers are the result.
Jokic missed a couple 3 pointers that would have kept the game in reach toward the end. With those shots and better coaching the Nuggets are still in the series.
given that billups is available for the celtics job, it’s time to get billups back to CO for interviews as soon as the series is over.
I like that idea, though I suspect Nuggets management won’t be hiring a new head coach with only one year of assistant coaching experience.
So the Suns finish the sweep. It was all but done once Jokic received the flagrant 2 and was thrown out of the game, but the Suns were beating the Nuggets even before Jokic left. I think the Suns match up well with either the Jazz or Clippers and they will be my rooting interest for the remainder of the playoffs.
I couldn’t tell if Payne put on somewhat of an act on that wild arm chop that Jokic threw at him. It looked like a glancing blow at best, but it did look like he got Payne’s nose and I know that can be quite painful depending on how much nose Jokic got. Whether Payne was acting or not, Jokic can’t be making stupid plays like that. I’m guessing he was really frustrated at how poorly his team had fared in the series.
Malone, “I just didn’t feel like it warranted a flagrant 2 ejection because he’s making a play on the ball,”
That’s absolutely right! The rules are NOT intended for an ejection on that play! An absolute screwup and embarrasment on the NBA’s part. Right up there with Stoudemires ejection and inability to play back in 2007 (I think) costing the Suns a good shot at a championship.
Nuggets were fine and in position to wear down the Suns in the paint. Jokic had exactly the right mind set – exactly the kind of thing Charles and Shaq talk about all the time and they’re right – get pissed off and take over the game. Be aggressive.
Jokic was all that and more. He made a play on the ball and nothing else. Happened to contact Payne’s nose which is the problem.
But to be ejected because of that? No way did anyone who wrote up the rules intend that!! Complete bullshit.
We see players “winding up” and making super aggressive plays on the ball all the time. The issue was NOT the wind up, and that’s where I think the wording of the rule is screwed up. It’s ok to wind up. It’s ok to wind up and make contact with a player also. AS LONG AS IT’S A PLAY ON THE BALL!! Sure, a lot of time a flagrant 1 is the result. This is why there is a flagrant 1 vs a flagrant 2. That was a flagrant 1 because the wind up was NOT part of the issue!!
Reminds me of something really stupid that happened to me when I was about 8 years old. I was waiting at a bus stop with a younger girl who was taught that you should never throw rocks. She saw me throwing rocks while I was standing about 60 yards away from her and I was throwing them in the opposite direction from her into an open field with absolutely no one around around for 100 yards. So she told the principal I was throwing rocks.
No one at the school even thought to ask – they assumed that she meant I was throwing them at HER so I got swatted badly. I wasn’t an MVP but I was the teachers pet and the best student in my classes. Rules. People can be really stupid when it comes to interpreting them.
I might not have ejected Jokic, but I understand the call. Stop this video at the 13 second mark.
The only way for Jokic to get his hand on the ball is to basically go through Payne’s head. You do not chop down through a player’s body to try to knock the ball away. Jokic may have been trying to make a play on the ball, but you can’t be stupid like that. As I said it looks like a frustration play with the way Jokic winds up with his hand and swings it down against Payne’s head to the ball.
I agree it was iffy, but in real time one can easily make the claim that jokic was going for ONLY the ball and didn’t expect Payne’s nose to be where it was. it’s still a play on the ball 100%.
in slow mo it’s not so easy to tell what jokic was intending.
there’s a lot of precedence here. usually when this happens during blocks at the rim the criteria isn’t the windup but whether it was a play on the ball. that’s where the rule starts : play on the ball or not play on the ball. then you interpret the rule from there.
in this case they decided to interpret the rule differently: they considered the two ideas (wind up and play on the ball) to be of the same importance. that’s a mistake. one interprets the wind up differently depending on the question of play on the ball or not.
Great case in point: quote from today’s The Athletic … “Was it a Flagrant 2 foul?
Zach Harper, NBA staff writer: Yes. I get it. Twenty-five years ago, this would’ve been a common foul and never considered for a flagrant. In fact, someone would’ve retaliated on Jokic and everybody would have moved on.
But in today’s NBA, it’s a reckless and unnecessary play and it was a basketball moment. Jokic was frustrated at the officiating and he threw a tantrum with that foul.”
“reckless and unnecessary”
yep. totally agree. that’s the criteria for considering the bordeline between flagrant 1 vs 2.
but how you get from the borderline to deciding there’s no wiggle room with the rules and it *must* be called a flagrant 2?
that’s complete bullshit. a shame and an embarrassment.
Posted in wrong thread initially:
Confirmed interviews so far for the vacant Trail Blazers coaching job are: Mike D’Antoni (who has openly advocated for the job); Becky Hammon, and Chauncey Billups. With the Nuggets out of the playoffs now, I expect we will learn quickly if they are keeping Malone.
You wrote (in response to my post mistakenly placed in regular season thread): “Another reason I think Malone gets canned is that the Nuggets need to do everything possible to convince Jokic to stay. Keeping Malone is a bit like putting a limit on “everything possible”, because in the realm of “the very possible” are better coaches that are available now. To keep Malone is to tell Jokic that Malone is the best available. And taking the chance that Jokic disagrees or will disagree.”
Jokic has two years left on his contract, BUT will be eligible to sign a supermax extension in the summer of 2022. So Nuggets have one year to convince him that they are on the right path. The question management must answer…does Jokic view the current team/coaching staff as being able to pull it off but for Jamal Murray’s injury or does Jokic believe that Malone is the wrong man for the job? I don’t know what the relationship between Jokic and Malone is like and that will have to be something they take into consideration.
I think there are several reasons to question if Malone is the best available for the Nuggets. In particular, there looked to be a huge difference between how tightly the Suns play as a unit and how loosely “woven” the Nuggets are team-work wise. I saw the same thing last year in the bubble even with Murray playing at his best – just really hard to tell if there’s a game plan in place when Murray had the ball in his hands.
Except for the Clippers I think every other team left plays more as a tight unit. Malone should have his team much further along by now. I think there are obvious things that Jokic is likely to question by just re-watching the last two series, so unless Jokic stands up and tells everyone he really likes Malone and wants him to stay … I think at the very least management needs to consider what other coaches are out there that promote teamwork as a tight unit.
So maybe Jokic likes Malone. We should know soon enough.
quick note to remind myself to add a not as quick note about how playoff expectations have changed because of …
the Bucks size …
and the Suns’ ability to operate over a stretched out playing field …
and Reggie Jackson
the Bucks size:
starts with Holiday at a position where his defender will almost always be smaller than him. he’s aggressive enough and looks the part of more prolific scorer on that team – should be scoring in the paint more IMO. Middleton should also have an advantage as a passer or scorer depending on who is covering Tucker & Holiday. That Middleton-Holiday combo should be dominating offensively. At the other end they have what it takes to get stops, and they seem to do that well. seems like he should be dominating
the Suns’ ability to operate over a stretched out playing field:
it’s not just Paul but his influence that tends to blast huge holes in the defense inside the arc. it’s allowed everyone else to run around from the arc to the rim and keep moving and looking for a pass from inside or outside and then around. what surprised me the other day was an excellent pass from Saric just after he himself received an excellent pass as he was slashing to the rim. seemingly without thinking he made a pass at what might normally be a dangerous angle and could easily have been intercepted if it wasn’t done so automatically. those two passes probably took less than a second and the result was 3 guys on the perimeter with tons of space. and then with all that space any one of them is ready to crash the boards and/or protect the rim: both things they’re doing remarkably well all of a sudden. Playing Craig good minutes is paying off for this reason I think. Give the athletes room to move and they (especially Craig and Crowder) are becoming monsters at the rim. And meanwhile Ayton plays like David Robinson or Ralph Sampson at the rim with what’s been an awesome display of his excellent hands and excellent touch and quick release.
He’s more than what they wanted him to be. He can run the show if needed, and makes sense that he’d get the bulk of the minutes over Rondo. He pairs up nicely with Kawhi but not sure if that’s the case with George with Kawhi out. I assume Kennard gets big minutes. We’ll see how those three fit together vs. the Jazz tonight.
Speaking of playoff expectations, the expected crowning of the Nets may get derailed by injuries. First Harden’s hamstring. Now Kyrie’s sprained ankle. Both have been ruled out for tomorrow’s game 5. Can KD beat the Bucks on his own? Unclear how long Harden and Irving will be out.
So the Warriors are hiring Dejan Milojevic, a Serbian coach, though it is not clear yet in what capacity. Why might this be important? Milojevic was Jokic’s coach in Serbia before the Joker was drafted and came to the U.S. Milojevic is a former Serbian center who apparently taught Jokic the footwork skills he has today.
Now the speculation begins. Are the Warriors hiring Milojevic in order to make a run at Jokic when he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2023? They would need Steph Curry’s help to do this because if Curry is signed past the 2022-23 season, they will not have cap room to sign Jokic. However, if Curry signed a one-year extension on his current contract, the Warriors could sign Jokic as a free agent and then re-sign Curry with his Bird rights.
Alternatively, maybe there is word that Jokic wants out of Denver and the Warriors have signed Milojevic in an attempt to get Jokic to insist on a trade to Golden State. The Warriors could package Wiggins, Wiseman, their 1st round pick this year, the T-Wolves 1st round pick that will be either this year or next year, and probably another future 1st round pick. Obviously, Denver has no interest in trading Jokic, but he could force their hand by threatening to walk when his contract is up. Jokic would be an amazing fit in the Warriors offense. None of this is likely to happen, but I can dream.
I’m finding that I’m such a Warriors fan that I care more about your post then I do the Suns future. Unless Jokic signed with Phoenix of course. Or some other top 15 stud.
With Poole, Toscano-Anderson and Green all playing well together, the possibility of big trade value with draft picks and the Wiggins contract, a healthy Wiseman …
even without Klay healthy it’s going to be one of the big stories to see how all the pieces fit. Seems to me that’s what the Warriors org is better at than any other: bringing in new pieces and making them fit well.
I guess I’m mostly wondering about Wiseman though. If healthy he and Green are an incredible front court defensively, athletically and court-vision-wise. It could be their identity and something to build around with a couple more veterans as I assume they need to try and get back to the finals in 22 instead of waiting a year with more young guys.
Wiggins really seems like the odd man out. He doesn’t seem like a guy that should get big minutes with them.
As much as I was having fun with the idea of Jokic ending up on the Warriors, I suspect the real reason for the hiring is to have Milojevic teach center footwork to Wiseman. While Wiggins name gets thrown out into any trade possibilities, that is largely because a big salary is needed to make the trade work. While Wiggins will never be an explosive scorer, there is something to be said for his steady 18 pts per night and great defense. Here’s what the Warriors’ roster looks like next year without any moves.
PG: Curry, Poole
SG: Thompson, Damion Lee, Michael Mulder
SF: Wiggins, Paschall
PF: Green, JTA
C: Wiseman, Looney
This doesn’t include the possibility of bringing Oubre back or signing and trading him to some other team and getting a useful piece back. It also doesn’t include what will be at least one and likely two lottery picks. If you supplement these with a veteran on the mid-range exception and another on the veteran minimum, this is contending team without trading Wiggins for another big name.
Two notable players that may now be out for a bit. Chris Paul got exposed to COVID and is now in the COVID protocols for an undetermined amount of time. He’ll be hoping that the Jazz-Clippers series goes the full 7 games, but he’ll still like miss some of the conference finals series. Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard tweaked his knee in game 5 of that Jazz-Clippers series and has been ruled out for game 6 and likely for game 7 if that occurs.
Gotta note the fantastic game by KD, but the way the Bucks played, well, let me have Chuck explain it for me…
When the Nets had the big 3 playing, I understand letting Tucker take on the bulk of defending KD, but last night? No Kyrie and Harden clearly not healthy (not driving to the basket, settling for 3-pt shots that he couldn’t make), so why not throw more double-teams at KD? Why not have your former DPOY, who has the height to match-up with KD spend some more time defending him? Offensively, way too much Greek Freak backing out beyond the 3-pt line and then driving to the basket, where multiple defenders would meet him almost every time. Effing Budenholzer is not making the adjustments that are needed. The Bucks had a 16-pt half-time lead that should have been 30, and then proceeded to allow 71 second half points because they can’t make the adjustments to guard KD.
Fantastic game by KD. He played the full 48 minutes and had a 49-pt triple-double. He was a one-man wrecking crew last night.
KD was the best I’ve seen last night. Just amazing.
What I don’t get about coach Bud is why not tell Middleton he’s the closer? There has to be a lot of confusion at times when Giannis has the ball and is going one-on-one. When that happens it’s hard to tell what his teammates are supposed to do other than to prepare for the rebound or get back on a fast break. If Middleton was in that role though … everyone gets involved and can benefit from the triple threat of Middleton penetrating. Or if not Middleton then Holiday. Either one. Why Giannis?
I think you hit upon what the Bucks need to do. While Giannis is a great scorer, he is not that great a shooter. Middleton shoots 3s much better than the Freak (41% to 30% this season) and is a terrific FT shooter (90% compared to Giannis at 69%). This doesn’t even account for the fact that in the playoffs, Giannis’s shooting is even worse historically–29% from 3, 61% from FT–which probably results from some combination of tougher playoff defenses and increased pressure. Given that knowledge, other teams are going to foul Giannis in critical situations and dare him to shoot the long ball. Maybe its an ego thing with Giannis being the big star of the team, but Budenholzer needs to tell Antetokounmpo that, come crunch time, Middleton gets the ball. Maybe instead of the Freak doing the one-on-one drives, Middleton can do some pick-and-roll with Giannis rolling to the basket. Either way, it has to start with Middleton having the ball.
I think the main thing I see is that when it’s crunch time and Giannis has the ball near the arc almost everyone knows that he’s about to drive and by doing so hampers his and his teams ability to move the ball to open men. And since he’s going to draw so much attention, there’s no room for his teammates to slash or flash anywhere near the paint.
What’s most strange about it is that Middleton is an excellent player, teammate, scorer and a good enough facilitator. Why would you run plays when it really counts that exclude him at least 50% of the time? Why wouldn’t you make sure he’s included in the play almost 100% of the time?
A couple more coaching moves. The Pelicans fired Stan Van Gundy after one season. Apparently he has what is charitably called a very demanding coaching style. I think that translates to meaning that he does a lot of yelling. He had one good season coaching the Heat in 2004-05 before getting fired the next season and having Pat Riley return to the bench and take the Heat to the championship. Then he had 4 straight 50+ win seasons with the Dwight Howard Magic, but was never able to get them into the finals because, well, LeBron James. Beginning with his last season in Orlando, he has basically coached six straight disappointing teams. I can’t imagine he gets another head coaching job.
Meanwhile, after 5 seasons with the Wizards, Scott Brooks and the organization have decided to “part ways.” Basically, through the first four seasons there, Brooks’ teams have had a decreasing number of wins each season, until a little bit of a bounce back this year. Obviously, a big reason for that was John Wall’s health, but Brooks coached a lot of disappointing Thunder teams when he had KD, Russ, Ibaka, and even Harden for some of them. When your teams annually disappoint with failures in the playoffs, eventually the coach will get blamed. I do see Brooks getting another chance at some point though.
Here’s one I didn’t see coming. Rick Carlisle is stepping down as coach of the Mavs after 13 seasons. I wonder if this is truly voluntary or if there were some in-house issues between him and Doncic.
More intrigue related to the Stan Van Gundy firing. Apparently Zion’s family is unhappy with the direction of the team and Zion was “irritated” that the Pels traded JJ Redick midseason because Redick was his closest friend on the team. Zion also didn’t like Van Gundy which further explains the Pelicans dumping him after one season. We’ll see if the Pelicans can make Zion happy this offseason. They’ll have $20 million or so of cap room to play with, but also have to make decisions on Lonzo and Josh Hart, who are free agents.
I’m not sure what’s going on with the Pels. It seems that Griffin thought there was value in Bledsoe which really surprised me at the time unless he was dealing Lonzo or Bledsoe. He didn’t. I still don’t get it or why they didn’t turn their talent around in a sizeable trade. I was sure that had to be the plan. I assume that happens asap?
Nuggets should hire Carlisle I think.
Hmm, I don’t remember trades starting to happen during the playoffs before, but Woj is reporting this one:
Celtics get: Al Horford, Moses Brown & 2023 2nd round pick
Thunder get: Kemba Walker, 2021 1st round pick (#16 overall) and 2025 2nd round pick
I do not get what the Celtics are doing here. I get that Kemba didn’t seem to be a great fit alongside Tatum and Brown this year and perhaps they didn’t want to pay his huge salary anymore. But you give up Kemba AND a 1st round pick and only get Horford (way past his prime now) and a useful back-up center??? Basically, the Celtics paid a 1st round pick to get the Thunder to take Kemba’s salary. Was this really the best deal they could get for Kemba?
Apparently the 76ers have come to terms with what needs to be done in close games. Down the stretch of tonight’s game, they would have Simmons in the game for defensive purposes and then remove him from the game on offense, even calling a timeout in order to take him out of the game. That way, the Hawks couldn’t foul Simmons with the game on the line. If they were unable to remove Simmons after a made Hawks basket, Simmons was the one inbounding the ball. I don’t know if Simmons’ ego is taking a hit over this, but Doc Rivers has decided that he won’t let Simmons cost him a close game.
There’s something about Simmons that keeps people from being objective. He’s barely a top 20 player in the league if that. It seems like everyone in Philly thinks he’s top 10. I’m not sure why it’s taken this long for Rivers to sit him more – they have outstanding options on the bench but those guys get few minutes because there’s this idea that Simmons needs to be on the court.
It reminds me of Carmelo when he was with the Knicks. He gets all star treatment because of some idea about who he is rather than who he actually is. That’s the fans, the city, GM, owner and eventually the coach I guess.
Sixers have so much going for them but they won’t win it this year even if Embiid is healthy. Unless Simmons plays way fewer minutes that is. He just needs to be traded, but I don’t see that happening because of all the above.
Umm, are the Clippers a better team without Kawhi? Or is PG a better player without Kawhi? I don’t understand how the Clippers took the series without Kawhi these last two games, including a big comeback in tonight’s game. I didn’t see either game, just highlights, so not sure how the Clippers pulled this off.
First, George gets them into precarious situations in surprising ways – it seems like when they need to play their best ball he feels to pressure to do it himself and forgets he has teammates. It’s Jackson who plays differently because of that I believe. Jackson seems to understand that he’s the better scoring option with Kawhi out. And of course last night Mann was unbelievable. George has delivered of course, but I don’t see any reason to think he can do it reliably and consistently like Kawhi and Jackson seem to be doing. He’s just way too heads down, blinders on selfish.
Kawhi is right there with Chris Paul as the best players left in the playoffs. From what I’ve seen Kawhi is playing the best ball I’ve seen him play. If anything, Kawhi and Lue are the ones responsible for ensuring Jackson stays involved throughout these playoffs, and that seems to be what is setting the Clippers apart from their regular season. Maybe it’s Rondo’s influence as well, but Jackson is flourishing at just the right time.
The Clippers have three guys playing like all-stars in their primes: Kawhi, Jackson & George. If Kawhi gets healthy and no one else is injured on that team then they look unstoppable offensively.
Jazz lost because Mitchell was injured. He doesn’t play well injured. Better would have been for him to not play at all in my opinion.
It seems like Kawhi must be unable to go anytime soon. Whether George meant to let it out or not, he seems to be indicating that he’ll need to carry the team going forward, I assume because kawhi won’t be playing at all anytime soon.
Both Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard have been ruled out of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. However, they’ve been hinting at Kawhi missing potentially the rest of the playoffs since he got injured against the Jazz. At the same time, they haven’t ruled out his return, so not sure if they simply don’t know or trying to fool the Suns into preparing for Kawhi even though he won’t actually play.
Good point about the possibility of misinformation. I don’t see him missing the rest unless it was a meniscus or ligament tear. He can wear a brace and still be effective as hell with those mitts.
I’ll just say this since it needs to be said: with their season on the line the Nets played a great game at both ends and got themselves exactly what they wanted – a great uncontested shot from perfect range from one of the best that’s ever been in KD … and he missed it. Totally unexpected. Wow.
With Kyrie and healthy Harden (he was apparently playing with a grade 2 hamstring strain, so no wonder his explosiveness was gone), the Nets win that series. KD nearly won it for the Nets on his own. The shot he missed in OT was very similar to the one he made to force OT.
Your NBA champion will be one of the Bucks, Hawks, Suns, or Clippers. There’s just 2 prior NBA championships in that group and none since 1971. There’s not even a finals appearance from that group in almost 30 years. I’m guessing a Bucks-Suns final, but not very confident in that. You could have made really good money at beginning of season, or even mid-season if you bet the Hawks to be in the Eastern Conference finals.
Off topic but worth asking right now since trades are happening …
if Zion’s not happy what do the Suns give up to get him? I’d consider letting Booker go for instance. I know that’s a huge contract. What else is needed from Pels to make it work?
If Suns win the title then no need to do anything like this of course.
Zion makes $10 million per and Book make nearly $30 mil per. New Orleans would have to include Bledsoe ($16 mil) and some other small contract to make salaries work.
yeah. nevermind. it doesn’t make sense.
Gotta figure that Philly will at least consider moving Ben Simmons after the Hawks made him totally unusable in clutch moments. The hack-a-Ben strategy in game 5 killed Simmons confidence so much that he passed up an easy dunk or lay-up in game 7 because he was scared of being fouled. That was the play that Joel Embiid said was the turning point in his post-game presser. Embiid didn’t call Simmons out by name, but that comment was him throwing Simmons under the bus. There have been rumors that Simmons does not work on his game as hard as others do in the off-season. Doc Rivers straight out said that he didn’t know if Simmons could be a key part of a championship team. These comments and rumors tell me that Philly wants to move on from him. Simmons still provides great defense and passing, but not sure Philly could get full value for him in a trade.
Observations re the Suns …
Williams has both the challenge and luxury of this weird sort of triad: Crowder, Cam Johnson and Craig.
The Suns have improved rapidly in obvious ways (Ayton mostly) but recently the change has been around the rim. The speed that the Suns get to the rim at either end. Sometimes it’s just one guy but that guy gets there fast.
Bridges is in the game most (or should be – yesterday puzzles me a bit). He gets there fast and has done so for two years now. But these other guys are aggressively turning up their presence at the rim as a big time threat. Mostly defensively. It’s at both ends, but defensively they’re killing opponents because of it.
I don’t think Williams can know which 1 or two of this triad needs to be on the floor. I do question if it makes sense to not ever have one of them out there.
Suns have so many looks. I’m realizing there is no such thing as the Suns best lineup or even their best two lineups. I do know I really like Bridges and Craig out there together.
With the speed that the Suns play at, even if Kawhi does return at some point, he will be severely hampered with the pace. Fortunately, with Payne playing for Paul, the pace can be even faster. CP3 ain’t slow, but Payne is a lightning bolt out there. I will not be surprised if the Suns sweep the series. I wouldn’t bet on it, but I wouldn’t be surprised by it.
To that last comment … Booker played the way he needs to play for Suns to win the title. The thing is, that game is probably only a one out of ten game for him and yet the Clippers still had a good shot at the win. The point being that the only way the Suns sweep is if Paul is back asap. I don’t see the Suns winning today without him for instance. Jackson, Morris and Batum also do an excellent job of moving and spacing and the young guy (forgetting his name) seems to be the perfect teammate doing exactly what he’s told. Rondo as well when he was out there, and he was out there a bit. I’m not sure what lineup is right for the Clippers either. I’m tempted to say they might need to play without Zubac when George in on the court. Those two together slow them down which isn’t sensible vs. the Suns. I think Batum, Morris or even George can put some muscle and weight on Ayton enough to keep him honest.
All to say Clippers are really good even without Kawhi. Sweeping them would be an amazing feat. Possible especially without Kawhi, but amazing. We’ll see!
kawhi: windhorst says ACL
But they are being coy about whether it is a Grade 1 or Grade 2 knee strain, i.e., partially torn ACL. Also, Ibaka definitely out for not only rest of playoffs, but may miss the start of next season.
That’s one injury that confuses me a bit unlike Embiid’s injury where the only confusing thing was the decision to let him play at all. The ACL, if you don’t know, isn’t something used very often or rather it isn’t needed very often. When it is needed it doesn’t do much and there isn’t much strain on it typically. It’s a lot like a loose rubber band that’s meant only to keep something in position, but not tightly. If you still have half an ACL it might be ok, but here’s the issue: once you start trying to baby it and move differently you may do the very thing you’re trying to prevent: stretch it more than usual. Is that ok if it’s a weak stretch? I don’t know but I’m sure the docs do.
Here’s what I do know: if you have a brace on and you keep the knee bent quite a bit then you don’t need the ACL much at all. Hard to do though. You can still run at full speed and you can still jump, but cutting and slowing down and landing… I think a knee brace needs to be incredibly tight and perfectly fitted to Kawhi’s joint and the surrounding area. It would be uncomfortable, but might be enough to allow him to play.
Now that the coffee has settled in I think I know what the Clippers are doing. First, they’ve been taking time to discuss and prepare or even design-and-make this brace. Second, they’ve probably told Kawhi to relax and think about what he wants to do given the discomfort of a brace and limited mobility and likelihood that he’d tear it more even with the brace.
One last thing, the reason for a brace may not be to protect the ACL much at all, but rather to protect the knee if the ACL tears. I had a bad ACL tear 22 years ago and it resulted in both a bone bruise and a meniscus tear. Those other things might represent a greater threat to Kawhi’s career than the ACL issue.
All to say that I’m guessing this is Kawhi’s decision to make. We will see!
Two things …
1. Draft Lottery Day – go wolves!!
2. ESPN is so frickin ridiculous to all of a sudden right now jump on the Booker Bandwagon. His game this weekend was extremely similar to about 1/3 of his games during the 19-20 season. I’ve seen him play that way so many times, that except for hitting such a high % he just looked like Booker to me. In fact, it’s BECAUSE of games like that I’ve called him better than Beal – he’s just done it so often it looked like Signature Booker starting mid way through the 18-19 season all the way to the bubble last year.
ESPN and Stephen A need to frickin wake up and start watching other teams outside of the major markets. It’s clear to me that most writers for ESPN almost never watch the Nuggets or Suns or even Mavs. based on a lot of things I’ve read.
Re: draft order – besides the Warriors possibly ending up with 2 lottery picks, Orlando could also end up with 2 lottery picks. They get the Bulls pick as long as it isn’t top 4. Orlando’s own pick will have the best possibility of landing in the top 3 (the 3 worst teams have an equal shot at the top pick) and can fall no worse than 7th. Chicago’s pick will be 12th unless they win the lottery and land in the top 4.
Best case scenario for the Warriors is ending up with the 1st and 4th picks, which would only happen if they win the lottery with their own pick landing at #1 and Minnesota winning the lottery with its pick landing at #4. I believe there is less than a 1% chance of either happening. Worst case scenario for the Warriors is the T-Wolves getting a top 3 pick, thus not conveying to Dubs, and Warriors’ own pick staying at #14. More likely, however, is Dubs staying at #14 and getting a T-Wolves pick that is somewhere between 6 and 10, depending on how many teams leapfrog them in the lottery.
This draft will be the beginning of the makeovers of the Thunder and Rockets, who each have a huge number of #1 picks in the coming years. This year, the Rockets have 3 1st round picks, though if they are extremely unlucky in the lottery, those picks could be 18th, 23rd and 24th because OKC can swap the 18th pick for Houston’s pick if it falls to #5. If that happens, OKC’s 3 picks in the 1st round would all be in the top 16 with potentially two in the top 5.
When the draft lottery starts, we will know immediately if the Dubs have moved up. The first card opened up will be the 14th pick, which will belong to the Warriors unless they have moved into the top 4.
Totally agree with you about ESPN jumping on the Booker bandwagon late, though to be fair, Max Kellerman has been calling Booker “Baby Mamba” all year. The others have only now realized how good Booker is. I remember some months ago when you and I were wondering if there was a problem with Booker, but he turned it on as the season closed and turned it up a notch in the playoffs. Its not only the scoring, but his rebounds and assists are up from his season averages. Getting his first ever triple-double in a playoff game showed not only that he is thriving under the playoff spotlight, but also his leadership ability with Chris Paul out of the game.
He’s playing exactly like he did just before COVID hit and then in the bubble. The only thing that was different about him in Sunday’s game is that he hit almost every shot. If he had missed say … 3 more shots I would have said he was the same as I saw over a year ago.
What’s changed is his team and teammates. Because of that he had a little more space and better shots, but that’s all I saw that was different.
Regarding earlier this year … still not clear why he struggled so much. Likely because with CP3 on the team he wasn’t in rhythm as often, but I can’t think of any other reason. Maybe he lost too much weight. I don’t know, but the guy I see now is the exact same Booker from 2020
Kobe was often a ball hog who couldn’t shoot as well as Booker. Eventually he got his teammates involved more, but still wasn’t great at that. But seriously, Kobe was both an assassin and a constant threat to finish fast and hard and athletically at the rim. He was stronger than Booker and more athletic. Kobe was a much greater threat driving in the lane, so I’m not seeing that comparison.
Booker looks more like Curry to me. He’s a shooter first and he’s able to see the floor well. I think he sees the floor better than Kobe. He’ll never be Curry but as he gets better he’ll approach that more than he will Kobe who, although a good shooter, wasn’t in this category.
here’s a comparison Kobe to Booker. I chose their best shooting seasons to compare. It really isn’t very close …
I think the Kobe comparison was more of an attitude thing than the similarity of their games. Both have a killer instinct and the ability and willingness to go off at times.
I get it, but Kobe brought that every night. I don’t see that in Booker yet.
NBA draft order after lottery:
1. Detroit Pistons
2. Houston Rockets
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (moved up from 4th/5th spot)
4. Toronto Raptors (moved up from 7th spot)
5. Orlando Magic (down from 1st-3rd spot)
6. Oklahoma City Thunder (down from 4th/5th spot)
7. Golden State Warriors (from Minnesota, down from 6th spot)
8. Orlando Magic (from Chicago)
9. Sacramento Kings
10. New Orleans Pelicans
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. San Antonio Spurs
13. Indiana Pacers
14. Golden State Warriors
15. Washington Wizards
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Boston)
17. Memphis Grizzlies
18. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Miami)
19. New York Knicks
20. Atlanta Hawks
21. New York Knicks (from Dallas)
22. Los Angeles Lakers
23. Houston Rockets (from Portland)
24. Houston Rockets (from Milwaukee)
25. Los Angeles Clippers
26. Denver Nuggets
27. Brooklyn Nets
28. Philadelphia 76ers
29. Phoenix Suns
30. Utah Jazz
And 2nd round:
31. Milwaukee Bucks (from Houston)
32. New York Knicks (from Detroit)
33. Orlando Magic
34. New Orleans Pelicans (from Cleveland)
35. Oklahoma City Thunder
36. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Minnesota)
37. Detroit Pistons (from Toronto)
38. Chicago Bulls
39. Sacramento Kings
40. New Orleans Pelicans
41. San Antonio Spurs
42. Detroit Pistons (from Charlotte)
43. New Orleans Pelicans (from Washington)
44. Brooklyn Nets (from Indiana)
45. Boston Celtics
46. Toronto Raptors (from Memphis)
47. Toronto Raptors (from Golden State)
48. Atlanta Hawks (from Miami)
49. Brooklyn Nets (from Atlanta)
50. Philadelphia 76ers (from New York)
51. Memphis Grizzlies (from Portland)
52. Detroit Pistons (from LA Lakers)
53. New Orleans Pelicans (from Dallas)
54. Indiana Pacers (from Milwaukee)
55. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Denver)
56. Charlotte Hornets (from LA Clippers)
57. Charlotte Hornets (from Brooklyn)
58. New York Knicks (from Philadelphia)
59. Brooklyn Nets (from Phoenix)
60. Indiana Pacers (from Utah)
You can copy and paste the above into the off-season post when it begins. Here are totals for each team (in reverse order of record):
1. Houston Rockets: 3 first round picks; 0 second round picks
2. Detroit Pistons: 1 first round pick; 3 second round picks
3. Orlando Magic: 2 first round picks; 1 second round pick
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: 1 first round pick; 0 second round picks
5. Oklahoma City Thunder: 3 first round picks; 3 second round picks
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: 0 first or second round picks
7. Toronto Raptors: 1 first round pick; 2 second round picks
8. Chicago Bulls: 0 first round picks; 1 second round pick
9. Sacramento Kings: 1 first round pick; 1 second round pick (both their own)
10. New Orleans Pelicans: 1 first round pick; 4 second round picks
11. San Antonio Spurs: 1 first round pick; 1 second round pick (both their own)
12. Charlotte Hornets: 1 first round pick; 2 second round picks
13. Washington Wizards: 1 first round pick; 0 second round picks
14. Indiana Pacers: 1 first round pick; 2 second round picks
15. Boston Celtics: 0 first round picks; 1 second round pick
16. Memphis Grizzlies: 1 first round pick; 1 second round pick
17. Golden State Warriors: 2 first round picks; 0 second round picks
18. Miami Heat: 0 first or second round picks
19. Atlanta Hawks: 1 first round pick; 1 second round pick
20. New York Knicks: 2 first round picks; 2 second round picks
21. Portland Trail Blazers: 0 first or second round picks
22. Los Angeles Lakers: 1 first round pick; 0 second round picks
23. Dallas Mavericks: 0 first or second round picks
24. Milwaukee Bucks: 0 first round picks: 1 second round pick
25. Los Angeles Clippers: 1 first round pick; 0 second round picks
26. Denver Nuggets: 1 first round pick; 0 second round picks
27. Brooklyn Nets: 1 first round pick; 3 second round picks
28. Philadelphia 76ers: 1 first round pick; 1 second round pick
29. Phoenix Suns: 1 first round pick; 0 second round picks
30. Utah Jazz: 1 first round pick; 0 second round picks
If I’m the Warriors, I’m thinking that the team really doesn’t have room for 2 rookie players, so I’m trying to package both first round picks and perhaps a player–Paschall is the only one that makes some sense–to try to move up to the 3rd or 4th spot. Both Cleveland and Toronto are in need of multiple good young players, so perhaps they’d be willing. Ideally, I want Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs on the Dubs.
What’s the latest on Wiseman’s injury and how it might affect him going forward?
Wiseman is expected to be ready for training camp and is hoping to work out this summer with Kevin Garnett. So his injury shouldn’t be a concern.
By the way, there are reports that both Cleveland and Houston are interested in trading their high 1st round picks. Warriors should be on the phone with Cleveland to try to get the #3 pick.
I won’t hold my breath.
Big win for the Suns for a number of reasons:
1. They managed the win despite just an average game from Booker and despite Booker having to get stitches in his nose after the head bumping with Beverley.
2. They managed the win despite shooting badly from the arc (just 23%).
3. They managed the win despite just 9 points from Crowder, Bridges, Craig and Moore in a combined 90 points.
4. They won because players like Ayton, Payne, and Johnson stepped up showing that players other than Booker and Paul can lead them to win.
5. With the win, the Clippers would need to win 4 of the next 5 games to take the series and Chris Paul will be back sometime soon. Because Paul was vaccinated back in February, his quarantine can be shorter than the mandated 10-14 days for unvaccinated players. He could return as soon as the next game.
It was a nice design on the winning play with Booker screening Zubac off of Ayton for the alley oop. The Clippers look really bad because even the announcers knew exactly what was coming–they spoke about it incessantly during the timeout before the play–but still couldn’t design a defense to stop Ayton. Of course, if Paul George had managed to hit either or both of his free throws at the end, this is a very different series.
By the way, nice name for Ayton’s game-winning shot….the “Valley-Oop.”
Here is the courtside view of the Valley-Oop. Gives you a good view of just how good a pass it was from Crowder.
It is a bad angle to be making that pass to the far side of the rim. The backboard is partially blocking the where the ball needs to go and the pass needs to be timed perfectly for Ayton’s leap. Just really well executed.
And then there’s this:
That is a priceless reaction from Smith and Wilbon.
Other reasons I can think of …
Crowder and Saric are signed with the Suns for the next two years. I think it was reasonable to question whether the Suns were big and skilled enough with those two plus Ayton representing the Suns’ size in the front court. It’s still hard to know the answer – how would they do vs. Philly for instance or some other teams with big athletic front courts? But gradually it’s starting to look like all that activity from all three of those guys plus Craig and Johnson is a difference maker and especially when the all aspects of the Suns (but especially Ayton) appear to be improving game after game. I think last nights game forces one to ask if the Suns would actually be better by swapping out the ayton-plus-big-wings-by-comittee for ayton-plus-an-all-star-big. It’s not nearly the question it was just a couple weeks ago or even last week. For instance, not long ago I was thinking the Suns would be much better with John Collins or Jaren Jackson alongside Ayton adding some toughness and skill down lower. Now I doubt that’s where you look to try and improve.
Also, if Paul could bring a player like LeBron or Kawhi to the Suns (forget the details of it for now – just speaking hypothetically) would that make them any better? It’s a different question if Kawhi is injured but assuming he’s not, how much better is this lineup vs. the mega headed monster they have now: Paul, Booker, LeBron-or-Kawhi, Ayton and say … Crowder and Craig (assuming Saric, Johnson, Bridges and Payne are needed to make the deal happen)?
From a purely hypothetical standpoint it seems the answer to the question isn’t nearly as cut-and-dried as it was just a couple weeks ago. If the Suns not only win the title, but do it by going through the much bigger Bucks. And assuming that next year the Nets, Sixers, Bucks, Warriors, Clippers and Suns are all at full strength and represent the NBA’s best teams … what needs to be tweaked on the Suns in order to have an advantage or at least match the others? Prior to these last two games I would have said they needed a big name like Collins or JJJ or even Adebayo, or in the best case scenario a Kawhi instead of Bridges. Now I’m not sure if you do anything with Ayton projected to be more than just an all star next year, and the likelihood of Cam Johnson and Cam Payne both improving as well.
Another thing that’s changed for me is a question about how much better the Suns would be right now with Haliburton getting minutes instead of Moore and probably taking minutes away from Payne, Booker, Paul and Bridges. Just a few days ago it seemed obvious that the Suns would be much better. Now, even though Haliburton would be an improvement, I’m not so sure how much any more.
From what I’ve seen from James Jones so far, I doubt he makes any big changes. I can see Craig and Kaminsky moving elsewhere, but that might be it. And now with all the changes about the happen in Houston, I can see Olynyk replacing those two for instance. But with the way all these guys are playing together, even if a guy like Olynyk improved on what they have … how many minutes would he be on the floor to make much of a difference?
Saric is playing his best ball, and I don’t see the Suns parting with him unless there is big interest. And that’s another point to bring up – which player or players on the Suns have improved their stock enough to be highly valued by other teams across the league? Saric has to be a surprise for any team that needs a strong and tough stretch four who can put the ball on the floor. Here’s a question I would never have asked prior to these past two weeks: would the Suns be better with Jarrett Allen (for instance) instead of Saric? That I need to even think about that says a lot.
I guess the main question to be answered is “with one more year of Monty and CP3 and a skyrocketing Ayton, just how much better will the Suns be from the 20-21 team with the second best record in the league?” I’m guessing a lot better and I assume Jones and Williams think the same.
It would be tough for the Suns to make any major changes because of cap reasons. They’ve got Crowder and Saric on reasonable $9 mil per contracts and obviously won’t be trading Book, CP3 or Ayton. Bridges and Johnson are still on relatively cheap rookie contracts and I doubt there is much of a market for Smith or Carter. Payne and maybe Craig are free agents that the Suns will want to re-sign.
All that being said, the Sun’s success will make them an attractive destination for veteran players looking for a ring on the mid-level exception or veteran minimum contract. Chris Paul has a lot of friends in the league and can maybe talk some into coming for something a little less than the open market would command. PJ Tucker, Wes Matthews, Nic Batum, Markieff Morris, and Reggie Jackson are all players that could fit that mold. These are all players that the Warriors may look at too. Both the Suns and Dubs are teams with very solid cores that could use some veteran bench presence.
Oh, I definitely disagree with that! Suns could mix and match many players to make a big trade. In fact, the only players I see that are off limits are CP3, Booker and Ayton. Ayton because of his skyrocketing value for the price.
Great if Suns win the title this year. They’re clearly the favorites now – don’t even have to look at the latest Vegas odds to know that. But if all these injured players weren’t injured they wouldn’t be. So realistically Jones needs to consider that the Suns probably aren’t complete enough to challenge the Nets with a full year under their belt. Or the Warriors which I expect to be more talented and just as well coached. Or the Clippers that are just a better team with a healthy Kawhi and Ibaka given how many playmakers they have.
Bridges could go to any team and start. A Bridges + Johnson package would bring a ton of interest across the league. Suns should at least look toward getting another playmaker like Portland did in getting Powell and drafting Simons. I think there’s so much young talent out there that you definitely look to see what’s possible. And what’s possible is going to change in a big way once Houston and OKC and Warriors and Pels start making moves that will put some unexpected talent on the market. Memphis has all that talent. There are guys across the league that should be playing more but aren’t. There’s the Ben Simmons situation that needs to be tweaked, and hard to know how – Maxey and Milton will almost certainly be a big part of that team next year.
And then you have to wonder if the Clippers keep their core. Someone needs to just lay it on the line (maybe West or Balmer) and deal George knowing he’ll be devastated. And then we’ve talked about McGee and what about Dwight Howard who still looks great.
I think there will be so much shake up league wide that there will be playmakers available that the Suns can’t ignore.
I may not have been clear, but I was talking about a move to bring in a superstar-type player. The Suns just don’t have the contracts to move to do that. There are certainly a good deal of younger players with smaller contracts that the Suns should look into, but it is unlikely that they could put together a package to bring in, say, Ben Simmons. Maybe, however, they could do a sign-and-trade with Toronto to bring in Kyle Lowry, whose $30 mil contract is expiring and he won’t command that kind of dough at his age. Perhaps get Lowry to agree to something like $15 mil/per and trade either Crowder or Saric with either Bridges or Johnson to get him. Or maybe Sacto is ready to move Buddy Hield with the emergence of Halliburton. Perhaps a sign and trade to bring in Lonzo. I agree that there is plenty of lesser possibilities, but it would be really hard to bring in a superstar.
McGee and Howard are two other veteran players that could be enticed into coming to the Valley for veteran minimum contracts.
Got it. I guess what I’m thinking is that there are some stars out there that haven’t even become all stars yet. For instance, Blazers need help badly. Suns would love to have either Simons or Powell either of which has a chance to be an all star one day. Grayson Allen may not ever be an all star but who knows? Suns could definitely use that guy. I’d trade Cam Johnson for him in a heartbeat because he makes plays and might be a better defender.
Just some examples. Kyle Anderson really surprised me a month ago. Weird player but heady and can also make plays. Just seems like there will be a lot of playmakers available this offseason.
The Celtics announced they are hiring Nets Assistant Ime Udoka as their new head coach. I hadn’t even heard that he was a possibility for the job. But he does have 7 years experience on Pop’s staff in San Antonio before a year with Philly and then this year with Brooklyn. Strikes me as a good, under the radar hire.
And today the Pacers have announced that they’ve hired Rick Carlisle on a 4-year, $29 mil deal.
Apparently Jason Kidd will be the next head coach of the Mavericks, though its not official yet. Kidd might be a good fit with Doncic. Luka is like a bigger, better version of Kidd.
Looks like Chauncey Billups will be the next Trail Blazers coach. I think that’ll be a good choice. I’d like to see what Billups can do with Dame.
Billups has been hired as head coach in Portland, but there’s already a backlash because of a sexual assault allegation that occurred when he was 19 and for which he paid to settle it (there was a lesser backlash over the Kidd hiring because of the time he hit his wife). Not a good look when Becky Hamman was also a finalist for the job. On the other hand, the allegation is over 20 years old and Billups is married with 3 daughters now. Is Billups forever forbidden to get a head coaching job?
A bigger problem for the Blazers is that Dame is apparently upset that he wasn’t really consulted during the head coaching search. He is signed long-term, so he doesn’t have a lot of leverage right now, so we’ll see just how upset he is. He hasn’t pressed the button on the nuclear option (publicly asking for trade) yet. My guess is that Billups is able to smooth things over with him.
i hadn’t really considered that cuban would hire kidd. i never thought the kidd was that great, but i have tons of respect for cuban so there must be something I’m not seeing. i’m sure kidd will be great for doncic though.
I understand the Kidd hiring. He was a primary reason for why Cuban and Nowitzki (now a special advisor to Cuban) have the one championship. However, Kidd certainly didn’t prove enough in his first two head coaching gigs to suggest that he can do well. Perhaps he learned enough as a Lakers assistant these past two years to be better this time around.
It’s a great hire by the pacers. i wonder what else will be happening there. something needs to change, and there are so many ways to build around Sabonis and LeVert. I assume the next issue they need to deal with is Warren’s health after foot surgery for a stress fracture – not even sure what that means but it sounds innovative in some way. If he’s ready to go can you play him big minutes and at the same time as LeVert?
Whatever the plan they’re not getting any younger. They need to make some moves now to challenge the up and comers out east. I guess you’d need to add strong perimeter defense in order to defend the Nets.
Pacers are in desperate need of better outside shooters. LeVert is their shooting guard and he only hit 32% of his 3s last season. Brogdon does okay at 39%, but they really need a starting wing player or two who can stroke the 3s at better than 40%. Before his injury, TJ Warren looked like he could be one of those wings, but either LeVert has to get a lot better or they need to bring in someone who can shoot better.
Sorry I didn’t clarify …
Warren has become a much better shooter since leaving Phoenix – that he wasn’t back then is the only reason he was traded. This doesn’t mean he’s now going to be a more consistent shooter for the rest of his career.
LeVert will probably become a much better shooter, but there’s been no great need for it since he gets to the rim with ease. He can be an incredibly efficient scorer regardless.
The point I was making is that if you keep Warren (assume he’s healthy) then questions need to be answered starting with the first one I posed: can both of these guys get significant minutes on the floor together? Yes, shooting is among the biggest issues but if one scores efficiently and the other doesn’t (seems likely on average) that’s not much of a problem. The issue I wonder about is the combination of having two guys that don’t exactly stretch the floor on the offensive end while simultaneously not providing the best defense on the other.
If the Pacers hold onto Sabonis and Turner they’ve provided half of what the team needs defensively. Assuming the plan is to retain those two and play Warren and LeVert also with big minutes then a shooting and defending PG is needed along with at least one other perimeter defender as well that can spell one of the starters.
Pacers should be able to get good value in a trade including Brogdon as long as he’s healthy, but unless they fill that spot with both a defender and a shooter then Warren likely needs to go since I really doubt they test the market for LeVert. We’ll see. Possible some team out there really likes him and makes them an offer they can’t refuse.
Pacers will be in big trouble if they keep Brogdon, Warren and LeVert. It’s not just shooting though. Brogon isn’t a space maker and isn’t much of a threat going to the rim either. At least one of those three needs to be replaced by a dynamic scorer that can also dish and defend. Finding a good or great shooter as well is big, but if you’re keeping Brogdon and hoping to give Warren and LeVert minutes Pacers will be in big trouble.
I think what confuses me a bit is why no big moves were made last season or at latest the most recent deadline. LeVert was a great pickup, but why do it while retaining Warren and Brogdon unless you have big trade plans in the future. And if you have those plans why wait so long taking a chance that someone will get injured. That’s exactly what’s happened. Just seems really dumb given the competition.
I’ll move this offseason stuff over to a new thread eventually. Works better here for now …
First, pretty sure it’s too late for Nuggets to can Malone unless they do it today or tomorrow. Or, unless like the Clippers signing of Doc Rivers there’s some kind of strange “trade” involved. Otherwise not fair to Malone to put him on the market after the coaching slots are filled up. Putting it more strongly, unless the Nuggets already have something in the works (like discussions with the Blazers being finalized) then Malone isn’t going anywhere.
I think that’s a huge mistake, because I can’t imagine a plan going forward that counters all the moves by other West teams that are about to happen. Not only are the Warriors going to be improved and projected to be top 6 in the West, but Suns and Blazers will get better and probably Clippers as well. I can’t see the plan in Denver at all right now without a good shakeup starting with some kind of solution for the MPJ disaster this last month. A healthy Murray doesn’t solve much for a team that struggles to move the ball and score well.
Anyhow, moving on …
One of these off seasons I think there will be a threshold overcome whereby teams start to trade their super-young superstars for other super-young superstars. Maybe that’s already happened, but I can’t recall. Something like the Wolves moving Edwards for Zion or some such thing. I understand why it hasn’t happened (or has it?), but eventually there has to be some point where so much talent has improved over their first 2 or 3 years that franchises move players for either positional needs or hopes for better chemistry or just because they need more bodies. Although I give the Wolves about a 1% chance of thinking this though, I do think they’re a great example of a team needing more bodies that result in better chemistry as well. Not a trade for Zion, but say a trade with Portland for Simons and McCollum and whatever else needs to be thrown in by the Wolves to make it happen (I guess it would need to be a several contracts). Not suggesting that trade, but am wondering if there’s been any precedent for this kind of thing. I realize one obstacle (there are several on par with this one and a couple that are greater than this one) is the difficulty or rather complexity of the discussions.
As I wrote the above and came up with several obstacles there is one in particular that I think outweighs all the others: the likelihood that one of the owners involved is some mixture of too-conservative, un-informed, dis-engaged or as I believe is the case all too often … much less intelligent then they think they are. I guess you’d need to have several more teams like the Clippers, Celtics, Warriors, Heat, OKC, Sixers and probably Grizzlies who appear to have ownership that trusts management implicitly. Maybe this will happen soon as more owners look around the league and see what teams like Chicago and Orlando are doing by going all in on big trades. Unfortunately there are still too many owners that just wouldn’t consider allowing management such autonomy.
Houston, Orlando and Detroit are all in enviable positions going into the off-season. It’s almost certain Houston and Detroit ownership will make almost no huge moves with all their possibilities, while I expect Orlando will do something almost opposite although all three teams are pretty much on the same timeline with some good promise going forward.
Here’s a name that absolutely needs to be considered in a trade but I’m guessing won’t be even mentioned: Jerami Grant. I couldn’t own a team without talking to my GM to see what the interest is around the league. I’m guessing Grant would be coveted by at least 20 teams across the league willing to part with excellent talent in order to fit him into a badly needed slot. A completely random idea would be Paul George to Detroit for Grant with Balmer doing what’s needed to match the balance sheet – maybe throw in Marcus Morris or some such name. I’m not proposing this, but rather pointing out how reasonable trade discussions can be killed before they even start because one owner is simply unwilling to look beyond themselves.
I’m actually surprised that there hasn’t been a huge ownership shakeup since Balmer’s. Puzzling as hell that owners for Phx, Minnesota, Detroit, Indiana, Cleveland, New York, Sacramento, Denver haven’t accepted offers to sell when they would make bank by doing so. Indiana – there’s a great example of a franchise that has had so many possibilities for trading and mixing and matching talent but somehow have decided they’re going with the present group to challenge the rest of the league? From where I sit the obvious move for them is to package Warren, Turner and Brogdon for at the very least an athletic, scoring and heady PG. Or a draft pick that gets them someone like that. Maybe that’s just a management issue they have, but if that’s the case why is the owner sticking with the management?
My gut tells me these owners consider themselves engaged and informed and rely on those closest to them (like lawyers I assume) to guide their decisions rather than management alone. And of course that they consider the teams to be only one of their personal “toys” that no one else gets to play with.
I left out Atlanta as a team with an owner willing to deal. A bad omission. So maybe half the teams in the league have owners willing to delegate authority and the other half don’t.
If Cleveland is so willing to deal, move Sexton. Consider what they could get from the Pacers for him.
There’s a case of talks not even getting started, probably because owners for both teams aren’t likely to be interested for completely stupid reasons.
Sexton to Toronto for Anunoby? Sexton replaces Lowry in the Raptor backcourt with VanVleet. Anunoby becomes the wingman that Cleveland needs.
makes sense to me!
With regard to your completely random idea of trading Paul George for Jerami Grant. I’ll skip the fact that the Clippers wouldn’t do this since PG and Kawhi were a tag team, so Clipper front office can’t do this without Kawhi’s blessing. In any event, PG makes $35 mil/per while Grant only makes $19 mil., so Pistons would have to put a lot more contracts in the deal to make it work. However, I get where you are going. Pistons are a long way from contention in a complete rebuild mode right now. Jerami Grant is their best asset and is 26 years old. He may not be around for the end of their “process” anyway, so trade him now when his value is at its highest. They should also be getting rid of Delon Wright, Mason Plumlee, and Cory Joseph for whatever they can get. They should be building around their 3 first round draft picks from last year (Hayes, Bey, and Stewart) to which they will be adding Cade Cunningham in this year’s draft.
By the way, I think Detroit’s ownership/management is willing to make major moves, even with young talent. Last off-season, they dealt Christian Wood. They incurred a major money hit by releasing Blake Griffin this season. Are they willing to take it a step farther by dealing Grant? I think they would definitely consider it if the right deal is presented to them.
I didn’t think the Wood move was very substantial. Detroit has had years to shake things up and have buried themselves so far that the only option now is to start over. The fact that a 27 year old Grant doesn’t fit with the timeline tells a lot.
I’m sure some would say that players just don’t want to play in Detroit, but that’s a cop out. It’s true for OKC and Indiana and Cleveland etc as well. That has nothing to do with the Piston’s issues, so either ownership isn’t willing to foot the bill or ownership isn’t willing to fire management. It’s very similar to what Phoenix looked like prior to Jame Jones. No one seemed to have any clue what they were doing.
I’m assuming Kawhi would suggest it! If the price tags matched that is. He was obviously wrong about George being the right teammate.
I also think Grant fits extremely well with the Clippers and he would have an excellent shot at a championship. With a healthy Kawhi and all that talent Grant is ideal. I’m sure Kawhi knows this.
furthermore … if i’m one of the brainiacs with Golden State or Clippers management I’d realize what a joke of a franchise Detroit has become and try to work them. like the clippers did to phoenix when unloading bledsoe. Detroit has funny ideas about talent: who to trade or trade for. Who should be the coach. What exactly were they thinking with the Blake Griffin pick up? How the heck does Reggie Jackson end up with the Clippers anyhow, and why couldn’t he flourish there?
i don’t think they have a clue. Grant went to detroit simply because he wanted to be there. i think detroit is the perfect example of an owner choosing management that agrees with him. and then getting too involved by thinking he knows basketball. like phoenix, it took years to right the ship and that’s only because eventually there has to be some talent that comes around. it took phx awhile and it’s taking the knicks awile in the same kind of process for the same reasons. detroit should be further along, but at least now they have a shot at doing some really good things. my guess is that they hold onto grant thinking they can get more for him later. that would be typical of owners who are used to calling all their own shots in business their entire lives, constantly being affirmed and having their egos stroked by those around them.
What do you think of the Warriors considering sending Dray to Philly for Simmons? An idea simply based on the age differences and considering that Curry may still be going full strength 5 years from now but Green is likely to be a bench player at best. I have no idea what Kerr et al would think about the fit though. Maybe they wouldn’t touch Simmons with a long pole, or maybe they’ve made promises to Green that this kind of thing won’t happen.
What do you think?
Now wait a minute – after thinking it through some Seth Curry would fit well with the Warriors also. Heck, maybe the Dubs send a draft pick to the Sixers, keep Green and grab both Simmons and Curry in the process:-)
While on the surface, Green and Simmons are similar–poor shooters, great passers and defenders–the offensive problems are deeper for Simmons. Draymond is a 71% FT shooter, while Simmons is only a 60% FT shooter and passes up shots because he is afraid he might get fouled. Draymond is a much better 3-pt shooter, 31.6% to 14.7% and, more importantly is willing to actually take the 3-pt shot, which Simmons refuses to do (34 total attempts in 4 seasons). Simmons is so afraid of any shot longer than a few feet that it is hard to see him fitting well into the Warriors offense. Furthermore, the word out of Philly is that Simmons doesn’t work hard, which doesn’t fit the Warrior ethos. So I’m probably not making that deal.
I think Seth Curry prefers to stay out of his big brother’s shadow. He’d be a good fit with the Warriors, but if he has any say in the matter, he’s not coming here.
makes sense. i wonder if there’s a coach or GM both creative and hard-nosed enough to implement Simmons in the right way on a team. 60% is bad, but it’s greater than 50% and Hack-A-Ben shouldn’t get a team into trouble unless he’s in there and the wrong time of the game.
i heard he didn’t work/practice hard a couple years back. if that’s still the case then I don’t see any team wanting him unless it’s in a fire sale and a team wants to try him out with the firm understanding that his role and minutes will change until he changes.
Phoenix needs another playmaker that can defend. Would have helped last night I think. They wouldn’t give up much though, so doubt they’d win a bidding war for him. I think other teams that shoot well and have a good infrastructure could use him. Utah maybe. If Warriors can get a couple more shooters and maybe get rid of Wiggins in the process, I can see Simmons play both when Green sits and/or when they want to go small ball without Looney.
That Looney is probably a much more valuable player than Simmons kind of says it all, doesn’t it?
Stephen A was reporting this morning that the Warriors had contacted the 76ers about Simmons. Stephen A is very well connected in Philly, but I’m not sure I believe that. I’ll wait for someone like Woj to report it. Stephen A has also been harping on Simmons’ lack of good worth ethic all week, but others have been reporting that as well.
Another Warriors rumor swirling is that they are apparently talking to the Pistons about a deal that may involve the #7 and #14 picks AND Wiseman for the #1 overall pick. While Cade Cunningham looks like a solid bet to go #1 and would be a good fit on the Dubs, that seems like an awful lot to give up to get him.
Some early observations from tonight’s game:
1. The Clippers did one of the best jobs I’ve seen at slowing the Suns down. The Suns ended up in their half-court offense far more.
2. Chris Paul looked a little rusty, not surprising given that he probably hasn’t even gotten any practice in during his quarantine.
3. Booker looked off. I’m thinking that had something to do with wearing the mask to protect his nose.
4. The officiating wasn’t great. Booker was repeatedly complaining about Beverley grabbing his shirt that wasn’t getting called. The foul that Crowder fouled out on was ridiculous. He was pushed by a Clippers player into the player with the ball. Is that not reviewable. All that being said, the officiating was not why the Suns lost.
5. Ayton was a monster in the paint in the first half, but the Suns seemed to go away from him in the second half for some reason. Not sure if the Clippers figured out something defensively to rein him in or the Suns just were looking to other players for some reason.
I know it was reported that Booker didn’t get general anaesthesia for the nose, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was need for some painkillers that he wasn’t accustomed to. He looked a half step slow mostly.
Saw Booker talk about it. His nose was broken in 3 places and he had to go through a procedure where they rebroke it to set the pieces right. Between getting the procedure done, traveling to LA, and learning how to get by with the mask, it really isn’t surprising he was slow and off. Apparently, he talked with Rip Hamilton, who had to wear a mask for a long time. Hamilton told him that he needed to wear the mask all the time–while eating, while practicing, while going about normal life–so that he would be used to it for games.
I haven’t heard yet how serious Cameron Payne’s ankle injury is. If he can’t play, that is a big loss. Chris Paul will have to get fully back up to speed quickly without Payne to spell him.
So Payne played and Book ditched his mask in the 2nd half of the game. Ayton’s offense disappeared again in the 2nd half after a big 1st half. The Suns were terrible with the deep ball and only scored 84 points. Still they managed the win. It was all about the defense. Ayton and Bridges cleaned up the boards and they hounded the Clips into even worse shooting than their own. The Suns keep finding ways to win, even when some things go wrong for them.
I watched the game with my sister who is a doctor. She kept mentioning that Booker probably had a concussion from the blow. If that’s true I’m guessing that plus any kind of painkiller has thrown him off. He was terrible.
So you said previously that Middleton needs to be the Bucks closer. From your lips to Coach Bud’s ears. Tonight, Middleton was the closer and went off for 20 4th quarter points to lead the Bucks to the win. Of course, Trae Young’s sprained ankle in the second half in a freak accident (he stepped on ref’s foot), may have also contributed to the Bucks comeback as Young didn’t look right after he returned to the game. The status of Young’s ankle going forward will have a big impact on the outcome of this series.
Barkley said something that surprised me. Before I made my comment about Middleton I had assumed he was supposed to be the closer fairly often but was somehow not doing it well. Either that or he was pulled away from that role by Giannis and sometimes Coach Bud. And I did see him try to take over late in the previous series and be pretty ineffective. But Barkley said something about how Middleton hadn’t been willing to take on that role. That’s the way I interpreted it anyhow. If that’s the case the Bucks offense makes sense to me now – they haven’t felt they can rely on him perhaps? If true that probably starts with Giannis.
If Middleton is all of a sudden feeling confident in that role then I hope Young’s ankle heals fast because if the Suns make it to the finals I don’t think they want to see both that defense and that kind of closer with all that talent and good enough shooting around him.
I will take this with a grain of salt considering the source, but Skip Bayless is reporting that Kawhi is at odds with the Clipper medical staff and the team’s apparent unwillingness to admit that he won’t be playing anymore this season and needs surgery. If this is actually true, it is reminiscent of his issues with the Spurs medical staff. Kawhi can opt out of his contract after this season. Only eight teams are projected to be under the cap with the Knicks potentially having over $50 million in cap space. Adding Kawhi to the crew that just finished 4th in the East this year would create an instant contender.
I’d be surprised if such a rumor never started, but assuming there is some small smidgen of truth to it, I’ll wait until a teammate speaks up. It really doesn’t make much sense regardless – if he has a partial ACL tear then no doctor is going to advocate that he plays! If he doesn’t have a partial ACL tear then it’s illogical for him to claim that he’s done for the season.
If there is going to be a parallel with the Spurs situation it will start with some announcement that Kawhi’s personal physician disagrees with the Clippers docs. I haven’t heard that yet.
The only issue worth noting is that Kawhi isn’t on the sideline with the team, or rather that Kawhi apparently hasn’t told anyone why he isn’t on the sideline. My guess is that he has a better view of the game and that he can help the team more from a better vantage point with replay and a better view. Also, since I’ve been there before with a bad knee sprain, there’s no way I’d take a chance of a fan doing something or getting in his way that might further injure the knee.
In any case, it does seem ridiculous that he’s not speaking up at all. Maybe this rumor will cause him to say something.
There are reports today that the Warriors are very interested in trading Wiseman and the 7th pick for a superstar and one name “to keep an eye on” was Pascal Siakam. Given Siakam’s salary, Andrew Wiggins would have to be involved in that deal too. Until Siakam proves that he is okay after his knee surgery, I wouldn’t do that deal and not sure I’d do that deal even if Siakam is healthy. Wiggins, Wiseman and the #7 pick is too much to give.
We had a prior discussion about why I don’t think Ben Simmons is a good fit on the Warriors, but apparently the T-Wolves are hot for Simmons. Simmons for D-Lo works, though obviously Philly would want more players/draft picks before they’d do that deal. Simmons setting up KAT and Edwards on offense might work well.
Another Simmons possibility would be to trade him for the apparently disgruntled Dame Lillard in Portland. Again, their salaries work, so it would only be a question of how much more in picks/players would Portland ask for to make the deal. Could you imagine Dame and Embiid together in Philly?
And as long as we are talking about superstar swaps that include Simmons, how about sending him to Denver for Jamal Murray? Again, salaries work, so it is only a matter of adding picks/players to the deal to satisfy one side or the other.
Simmons to Wolves … that would be such a different move for them. It would involve some pretty deep thought and a detailed plan for how the offense will be structured. They typically seem to think on the surface only, almost always missing the bigger picture. Simmons wouldn’t be a fan favorite and a lot of fans wouldn’t understand why you’d trade for a bad shooter that was kicked off a good team. A lot of front offices wouldn’t be swayed much by that issue. The Wolves seem to make decisions (or not) because of things like this.
I like Simmons in Denver a lot, but not sure how that works with Gordon and Simmons getting big minutes when neither shoots well. On the other hand Gordon + Simmons would have changed that Suns series where Denver’s defense was often hapless and porous. Murray, if healthy, is a much better player that Simmons is anyhow I think.
It will never happen, but IMO Gordon is about as good and sometimes better than Simmons. And remember how Morey changed the Rockets’ future by surprising everyone and working a trade for Battier who wasn’t highly coveted by many teams. I could see the plan being to go after a modern day Battier. I’m positive Morey is interested in Mikal Bridges for instance but then he’d be in a bidding war with almost every team out there.
This is exactly the kind of eventuality that should have been so obvious to James Jones when drafting last year. This is why you select Haliburton so you can consider trades that you couldn’t otherwise. If Suns had haliburton then they could trade him or bridges for simmons (and throw in whatever other contracts are needed – philly would be stupid to not just buy out simmons in order to land bridges for instance). As it is the Suns can’t do that trade because losing Bridges gives up too much.
I’ve thought this before but I guess never as strongly as now so I’ll state it …
Warriors need Mikal Bridges. He’s the next best thing to Klay in the league, and if the Warriors want to play the same way that got them championships they either need a healthy Klay or they need Bridges. I’d be shocked if they weren’t trying to discuss something with James Jones or rather are waiting for Jones to become available so they can discuss options. Suns can certainly use Poole for instance, and while I doubt the Warriors would trade those two straight up I can see scenarios that work for both teams with Simmons or Poole possibly ending up on the Suns.
Would you take Poole and Paschall for Bridges?
OK, I just configured a 3-team deal that the ESPN Trade Machine says will work:
Phoenix Suns get: Ben Simmons and Eric Paschall
Philadelphia 76ers get: Andrew Wiggins and Jevon Carter
Golden State Warriors get: Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, and Dario Saric.
Obviously the 76ers aren’t going to give up Simmons to get just Wiggins and Carter, so the Suns will have to juice this deal with some future draft picks (two #1s?). Meanwhile, the Warriors get Bridges as their new starting SF and the veteran big men they need to spread the floor. Philly gets a wingman who can shoot and play good defense and some future #1 picks. I’m guessing Philly still says no to this deal, but it could be enticing.
Saric is too much I think
For the Warriors to get that smokin deal including Saric, they’d need to give up Poole.
Poole is excellent, but IMO it’s close to a wash losing Wiggins and Poole and gaining Bridges, Crowder and Saric.
Not sure why I wrote “close to a wash”. That’s three players for two. All three added from the Suns are super reliable and heady. Wiggins is neither. So you’d give up one solid player for three.
In any case, if Warriors are even considering moving Poole then I’m sure there are 15+ teams ready to bid. Suns wouldn’t be willing to give up as much as other teams since they have no big weaknesses. I’m guessing that if the Suns make a deal this offseason it’s because some team out there is over-valuing Bridges or Johnson. It’s very possible, especially in Johnson’s case. I’m starting to wonder if he’s better than Robert Horry – at very least there are some strong similarities.
The deal still works (according to the Trade Machine) if Poole is substituted in for Paschall. If Phoenix is interested in acquiring Simmons, they have to give up both Crowder and Saric to make the money work (this assumes they won’t get rid of Book, CP3 or Ayton). You value Saric higher than I do. Crowder and Saric are back-ups on the Dubs, not starters like Crowder has been with the Suns. I assumed that by giving up Bridges, Crowder, and Saric, Phoenix would prefer a big man back in the deal, hence Paschall instead of Poole.
I don’t know that the Dubs would consider moving Poole specifically, but I think they’d move anybody not named Curry or Thompson if they thought it would make the team better. They are pretty much on record as saying they intend to add some veteran back-ups to their bench this off-season. A trade is the only way to get a back-up as good as Crowder or Saric. More likely they will net some lesser back-ups with the vet minimum or the mid-level exception.
I value Saric above Crowder for the Dubs, and I think given a year under Kerr’s guidance he becomes just as valuable or more than Looney. Sitting Green becomes much less of a weakness if Saric can spell him rather than Looney.
I also think the Dubs move in the direction the Suns are going with a multi-headed monster attack. So if Bridges, Curry and Green are your foundation (hopefully with Klay also) then you move other guys in and out constantly. Works as long as those guys move the ball well and even better if they shoot well.
The problem is that the Suns need Poole just like the Warriors need Poole: as another valuable playmaker. Adding Simmons and Poole solves that problem for the Suns. For the Dubs I think there needs to be a trade that gets them a big time playmaker. Not sure who though. Lonzo or Brogdon. Beal???
Would prob need to be a draft pick and poole.
First Ice Trae, now the Greek Freak. The Eastern Conference finals are becoming a war of attrition.
There will be more known after tests today, but the Bucks fear that Antetokounmpo suffered an ACL injury. Seems doubtful that he will play again in the playoffs. Can Middleton step up to lead the Bucks past the Hawks?
what a crap playoff season. i guess the suns are lucky it’s just a broken nose for them.
knock on wood.
No structural damage to Antetokounmpo’s knee after the MRI. However, his timeline to return is uncertain and he is listed as doubtful for Game 5 tomorrow.
i wrote something here and somehow didn’t save it. about how williams may shorten the rotation with Craig’s value possibly rocketing. something like that.
The good thing about the Suns clinching tonight is that they will get rested before the Finals with Bucks-Hawks guaranteed to go at least two more games. Cam Johnson missed tonight’s game with an illness, so he’ll be better in time.
You are correct about the rotation getting shortened. Williams was already doing it tonight, playing Ayton for the entire second half until the game was over and the benches were emptied. Craig and Payne were the only bench players to get significant minutes tonight. I’d expect Book, CP3 and Ayton to all get around 40 minutes a game in the Finals unless games get out of hand and they can get some rest. Figure an 8 or 9 man rotation in the Finals with only Johnson, Payne, Craig and Saric getting any time off the bench.
Craig earned those minutes. It certainly wasn’t the plan with Saric playing a huge defensive role for the little he played in the first half and Crowder and Payne being pests. But Crowder was so good on a night when Johnson was out and Bridges was tentative for the lack of a better word. Great learning experience for Bridges to sit and watch by the way. He could have been in there but not if it meant taking Craig out.
A question Williams might be asking is if he can go super small when Ayton is out. As great as Saric was in the few minutes, it’s worth asking if the Suns can get away with Crowder or even Craig at center for several minutes a game. Maybe even Johnson?? I don’t want to sit Saric but the shortened rotation helped with continuity I thought and someone needs to sit more while Johnson keeps his minutes. I’m sure Bridges will share minutes with Craig now. Maybe that’s the takeaway: new rotation with Bridges-Craig going in and out for one another and same with Crowder-Johnson. And then Saric is in only when Ayton is out which shouldn’t be for more than 6 minutes a game IMO.
One thing I predicted last night and I’m a little surprised it actually happened: in order to get more physical williams played Paul, Booker and Payne together as long as it took to bust everything wide open. It looked like Craig made that happen, and maybe he was mostly responsible but I think those three guards for Phoenix threw the Clippers off making things a bit easier for Craig to expose the disarray.
Huge win for James Jones and Monty Williams last night. Well done!
So I assume you saw Patrick Beverley lose his cool and shove Chris Paul in the back last night. If not, you’ll see it in this clip.
From the replays, it doesn’t look CP3 said anything to Beverley, just looked at him as he walked to the bench during the timeout. Beverley was rightfully ejected from the game, which was basically already over at that point, so his ejection did not change the outcome. Seems to me that the NBA has to come down with a further punishment on Beverley. A fine and/or a suspension at the beginning of next season. There has to be zero tolerance for an intentional assault and battery on another player.
Should also remember that Beverley committed a crazy, hard foul on Ayton earlier in the game, seen here:
I don’t know how Beverley didn’t get a flagrant foul on that one. He goes leaping onto Ayton’s back, with a full wind-up of his arm that he slams down on Ayton’s head and the ball. Jokic got ejected for a much less severe wind-up and chop earlier in these playoffs. Beverley could have caused serious injury to both Ayton and CP3 last night. He is a hard-nosed tough defender, but takes it too far at times.
the league needs to look at that and explain it to the Nuggets.
Beverley has been hit with a one-game suspension to be served in the first game he is eligible to play next season for the shove to Chris Paul’s back.
he’s a weirdo. played an outstanding game – best i’ve seen from him. some team is going to grab him from the clippers just so they won’t need to deal with him.
Has Scottie Pippen gone off the deep end? Don’t know if you saw the Dan Patrick interview or read the GQ interview that preceded it, but seems like Scottie is looking to take down on all the key players in his basketball career. The big one is calling Phil Jackson a racist because of the play he designed for Kukoc which resulted in Pippen refusing to play. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the whole Dan Patrick interview:
He feuded with Barkley when they were on the Rockets and he is calling Jordan selfish for going to play baseball. But I don’t get calling Jackson a racist for designing a play for Kukoc, who was a better shooter, albeit not nearly the total player that Pippen was. Apparently Scottie has an autobiography coming out in the fall, so I suspect he’s being controversial on purpose to sell books and his new liquor.
I’m sure he’s right about Jordan at least;-)
Really stupid comment about Jackson, but I get it to some extent. I really don’t like that guy at all, and I doubt most players did either. Compared to how players talk(ed) about the greats (Auerbach, Riley, Pop, Larry Brown, Daly) … they give Jackson respect but rarely adulation and I’m not sure any of them really liked him.
Bucks-Hawks is such a weird series. Trae Young gets hurt, so you expect the Bucks should be able to rather easily win the next game, but no, the Hawks are winning even before Giannis gets hurt. Then with the Freak out, you expect the Hawks may have an advantage in the next game, but no, the Bucks tear them apart. Even with the Bucks holding a 3-2 series lead right now, I really have no idea how it will turn out. If Middleton, Lopez, and Holiday keep playing like they did tonight, they ought to win, but we’ll see if tonight is who they are or an anomaly.
Without Giannis, what the Bucks did was just punish the Hawks in the paint. Lopez, Portis, and even Holiday just kept posting up and the Hawks appeared helpless to stop them. Capela and Okongwu are a little undersized at the Hawks center position, but they’ve got to do better defending the post. Nate McMillan will have to figure out a new scheme to stop the Bucks’ post scoring.
Someone asked me yesterday if Giannis is a center. I said no, because he’s definitely not. They said he plays center sometimes though. I’m sure that’s right, but I think I didn’t realize how often he’s at that position. If I have a point (not sure yet) it’s that the entire team is built around this false idea that Giannis is a sort of Bill Russell re-incarnate. Even though Russell couldn’t run the court as fast, and maybe couldn’t get from the arc to the paint as fast as Giannis, in today’s game Russell would be awesome playing the Giannis role, but starting inside of course. There’s an enormous difference …
Russell, if I understand his career, was more than just the consummate team player. Giannis is pretty close to that as well, but Russell was efficient as heck. They both were/are defensively because of all the space covered, but offensively completely different animals. Throw to Russell in the post and something good almost always happened, because he was an outstanding passer out of that position. Giannis is a good passer at best from there. Russell at the arc with the ball: while he’d be able to put it on the floor he would do so only to try and efficiently get the ball to the right location and/or man. In today’s game I could see Russell play the Dray Green role from the top: superfast thinking and ball movement with the knowledge that holding on to the ball so far from the basket means taking valuable seconds per possession away from teammates. That’s not Giannis.
Green and Russell don’t/didn’t need to do that because they had/have outstanding offensive options in their teammates. So why does Giannis do it? Is that really Budenholzer’s strategy – to know that precious seconds stolen from Holiday and Middleton mean less time for them to develop offensive “chemistry”?
I’ve considered the Bucks unwatchable on the offensive end for years. Predictable and slow. Giannis with the ball means slowly developing and predictable offense. Mostly just inefficient for such a veteran team with a great coach. Would it work better if he could actually BE a center offensively – playing from the inside out on most possessions where the idea would be that when the ball is punched into him he first looks at who he can kick it out to? I think that works but here’s the rub: it would only be an option. First option would be Holiday penetrating to find space or an open man or a cutter. Second option would be waiting for Giannis to get position against single coverage down low and then punching it in early in the clock so he can look to pass out or take the easy shot. Third would be Middleton playing the Holiday role, albeit with the idea of shooting whenever he feels he has a good shot.
Obviously this doesn’t work well with Giannis not really knowing how to play from inside out well enough. He doesn’t seem to have that natural ability to know where teammates are or where they should be. And of course you can foul him. So throwing it to him in the paint takes seconds away from teammates who may be running and cutting for no reason. It doesn’t work. What does work offensively though? Passing to him posting up where the idea is to almost ALWAYS kick it straight back out or look for cutters? If he passes out of the post do you throw it back to him though?
It just seems like a horrible mess for Coach Bud. How do you tell an MVP in their prime that they’re always the 4th or 5th option on offense. Or that you’re not going to call any plays for them? It annoys me that Giannis hasn’t mandated this himself actually. If he really wants to win, why in the heck does he dominate precious offensive seconds with at least 2 all league teammates ready and able to create and score?
If it’s an ego thing then I can understand it somewhat. But if Giannis really thinks this is the best way for the Bucks to win … kind of stupid IMO.
I don’t disagree with that. It always bugs me when Giannis probes into the paint, doesn’t find an opening and then backs up beyond the arc to get another running start into the paint while his teammates wait around the perimeter for him to do his thing. This can’t be the way that Middleton, Holiday, and Lopez want to play. Middleton won game 3 when they allowed him to be the closer in the 4th. Lopez and Portis showed how good the offense can be in game 5 when they are posting up to provide an option for Middleton and Holiday. With Giannis’ size and athletic ability, he would dominate the paint against the smaller Hawks if he simply played that role instead of primary ballhandler.
You posed the right question. Are the Bucks this way because this is what Bud wants or because this is what the Freak wants? How can either of them think a Giannis-dominated offense is the right way after seeing the end of game 3 and all of game 5 in this series? I have always liked the idea of Giannis joining the Warriors offense, but Kerr, Curry, Green, and Thompson would indoctrinate him into their style of play and wouldn’t let him play like he does with the Bucks. I assumed that Giannis could adapt, but now I have my doubts as to whether he could do so.
Hopefully, Bud and Giannis have learned something from last night’s game and adjust going forward.
Giannis has bee ruled out of Game 6 tonight, but the Bucks say that if the series goes to 7 games, he may be able to suit up for game 7. Using the word “may” suit up for game 7 sounds pretty wishy-washy to me. Wonder if they are trying to hide the fact that he is out for the rest of this series.
So Bucks v. Suns. It is hard to get a read on the series because we don’t know if Giannis will play. Based on the reports that he might have suited up for game 7 in the series with the Hawks, you would believe that he’ll be ready for the Suns series, but that could have been subterfuge. If the Bucks play like they did without the Freak, it’ll be a good, hard-fought series. But ultimately, the Suns are a deeper team that plays good defense. I think they prevail whether Giannis plays or not.
I agree mostly because I don’t think Holiday can penetrate with good results the way he did vs Hawks. IMO this is what was so surprising about Reggie Jackson’s performance: Suns wouldn’t let him do what Holiday just did and what Chris Paul does for a living: take their time penetrating and acting on decisions. But Jackson was incredible anyhow by both shooting from outside and taking it to the hole.
I don’t see how Holiday can match what Jackson did. I was thinking Holiday should post up trying to get Suns into foul trouble. I think that works without Giannis out there. With Giannis it would work if Giannis was far away from the play but I doubt he knows how to be.
Holiday or Middleton. I assume they’ll take some attempts at posting up the Suns smaller backcourt and maybe Bridges as well.
At 8:09 into this video …
I know Holiday is capable of this and have seen him do it before, but mostly earlier in his career. I’m wondering why we don’t see this from him a few times a game though
I’ve been watching vid.
Bucks have two below average aggressors as their best scoring options. Middleton and Holiday. Better shape up fast!!
I’m not sure what this is from the Heat series. Holiday is in control here. Very weak choice I think.
@ 3:33 in …
I see two keys to the series that both are favorable for the Suns. Both teams shoot very well, among the best in the league. However, the Bucks do not defend the arc very well, they allowed the 2nd highest 3pt% in the league this year, while the Suns allowed the 5th lowest 3pt%. Milwaukee does defend the paint very well, but that is with Giannis. Ayton is far more athletic than Lopez and should find some room to maneuver inside without the Freak there while doing a better job defending inside than the Hawks were able to do.
The second key is free throw shooting. The Suns are a great free-throw shooting team, 83.4% on the year. The Bucks, on the other hand, shot a middling 76% from the line and when Giannis plays, he is even worse. Further, the Bucks not named Antetokounmpo just aren’t good at getting to the line. Giannis took one-third of all their free throws this year. Middleton will have to do a much better job drawing fouls to make up for the free throw shooting gap between the teams.
The Freak will play. I hope he is fully ready to go and not limited like Trae Young was in game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
By the way, how psyched are you to have the Suns in the finals? I know I was really hyped up when the Warriors went to the 2014-15 finals and then won. Winning the first one had a bigger impact than the ensuing ones Hoping you get to see your Suns do the same.
I’m getting more excited as it rolls on, but I’m not going to forget that this really shouldn’t be the Bucks they’re facing and even though they might have been fine if Murray wasn’t injured they wouldn’t have beaten the Clippers with Kawhi.
I’ll be more than happy with a Suns championship of course, but especially if it happens with Ayton staying on this skyrocketing trajectory. Ideally he benefits from tighter defense on Paul who will probably find all kinds of crafty ways to get it to Ayton somewhere around the basket. What a luxury for Paul to throw it in to Ayton instead of DeAndre Jordon who was still pretty effective but nothing like this.
After game 1 I’m surprised at how little pressure the Bucks put on Paul. Clearly they need DiVincenzo but I’m puzzled as to why Holiday can’t move faster. Maybe Tucker needs to be on Paul then?
So if Suns win the title in a hard fought 6 or 7 game battle with Ayton getting finals MVP? Oh yeah. Ask me if I’m psyched then:-)
And now onto the Torrey Craig topic …
What’s happening with Craig’s shoring up of the defense is probably the best news for the Suns overall. Sure, if Ayton rises to the level we all think he will and if Paul sticks around then Suns have their Big Three for as long as Paul wants to be part of it. That’s no way to build a dynasty though since it’s really just hope that Paul remains uninjured. Really really doubt it.
Craig shows how a team built on super-efficient execution can use a guy that doesn’t exactly fit the mold. Forget that he’s been scoring well – I doubt that would matter much and they’d still be rolling because of his physical play and ability to cover tons of space for a guy his size. If the Suns plan on being contenders for awhile to come they *may* be able to do it with big minutes from Craig (assuming they lock him in longer term) for 2 or 3 more years, however if I’m Craig I’m going after the $$ after all this win or lose. And if I’m the Suns??
Are the Suns the kind of team that rewards role players that got them there? We’re going to find out, but no idea how you pay all these guys: Bridges, Johnson, Craig and Payne when a huge contract is coming for Ayton soon. Does it make better sense for the financial long term to pay one or two instead of 4? I can’t imagine a scenario where the Suns part with both Johnson and Bridges. Not yet anyhow.
Maybe best to approach it from this angle: think about the best affordable guy out there who plays like Craig. Let’s call him Tim. And then start by asking “just how much better can the Suns be by swapping Craig and 1 or 2 other guys for Tim?” Or maybe a better way to state the issue is “Just how much better do we expect Tim to be than what we have in Craig et al?”
Jones is now exec of the year. LMAO at idiots 2 years ago saying he baffled them because he didn’t seem to do anything regarding scouting or meetings or some B.S. Now he’s gets to try on the head honcho hat for size this offseason. I think he’ll want to listen to everything and everybody out there, even if there aren’t any big moves made. And there’s this …
one thing I’ve learned just recently is that having too many guys to pay isn’t necessarily a problem. if I understand sign and trades at all, it seems to me this allows the deal makers to be creative in many more ways than without the possibility.
by the way, i started this post writing about how Jerami Grant is “very likely” a better player than Craig on the Suns. then as I wrote and did some research that “very likely” became a “likely” and then I realized I just can’t know for sure how much better Grant would make the Suns if any.
You asked if I’m psyched about the Suns. There are very very VERY few guys in the Suns history that resemble Craig in any way. That I need to consider Raja Bell as a comparison says a lot since he’s not close to Craigs size. Jason Kidd was similar in ways, but very different role with the team. Marion could do a good Craig impression at times, so there’s a good comparison although Marion could have been and probably should have been much more physical. Suns had a guy named Ron Lee going WAAAY back but even still he was much smaller.
If I’m Jones this is where I’m going with an identity. Paul is tough. Booker is tough. Craig is tough. Payne is tough. Ayton … someone made some comparison to Mourning yesterday. Can Ayton ever become that kind of tough? Gotta wonder.
So maybe you keep Craig for this reason no matter what. And now starting next year your core are tough guys and maybe Craig sees the bulk of minutes from now on out of Bridges, Crowder and Johnson?
Will any of these guys even care? Maybe that’s what I should be asking. They’re probably going to get rings this year and have a great several months off partying and then ready and excited to be part of a pretty incredible group of guys. Are any of Payne, Johnson, Bridges or Craig going to care THAT much about their contracts if they consider this their window to bank some titles?
FWIW, Craig and Payne are the only two that the Suns have to worry about this off-season. Both are playing on veteran minimum contracts that are expiring and have likely command bigger contracts. Craig in particular will be looking for as much money as he can get because he is already 30 years old and has only played in the league for 4 years at small salaries. Payne, on the other hand, already has 6 years in the league, is only 26 years old, and earned more than twice as much money as Craig in that time. All the other key Suns components are locked up through at least next season. I do believe though that the Suns are allowed to extend Ayton this off-season. If I’m the Suns, I’m definitely considering that.
The Suns are already mildly over the salary cap for next year, but isn’t at the point of incurring the repeater tax like the Warriors. Win or lose the Finals this year, they should be willing to go even further over the cap to keep Craig and Payne and add whatever new pieces that they can. They cannot go into economical mode now.
Great info. Thanks!
Really liked the way the Suns were attacking the basket tonight. They picked up a lot of fouls that way and then hit all their free throws until Crowder missed one at the end of the game. The Bucks had no answer for CP3 and Book drives and dish or shoot. CP3 was taking advantage of Lopez on switches. Ayton was his usual efficient self on offense and had another monster game on the boards. Book wasn’t shooting well from the arc, but compensated with drives to the basket and shots in the paint.
Defensively, the Suns were clearly told to go ahead and foul Giannis instead of letting him get an easy bucket. With Giannis playing (he looked healthy enough), the Bucks reverted to their “let Giannis do his thing” offense. They gotta get back to Middleton and Holiday handling the ball more and Giannis has to be willing to give up the ball early in the shot clock if he isn’t staring at an easy basket.
I meant to predict before the series began that if the Suns win, CP3 will be the MVP. He justified that tonight.
I’m with you that Paul is most likely Finals MVP, but I rooting for Ayton to just keep improving because at this rate he’ll be just as dominant as Paul in games 6 and 7 if there are those.
Dario Saric limped off the court last night. Suns announced today that he tore the ACL in his right knee. He will be out for the remainder of the series. That’s a tough loss, but one I think the Suns can survive.
I’ve been google searching for Ron Lee stuff for a few years and nothing of interest turned up. There’s some great stuff here …
The “Ron Lee Floor Burn” contest. Classic! Sounds like a hustle guy that every team needs even if he isn’t putting up the type of counting stats that the stars do.
Lot of chatter that the Detroit Pistons want to trade down out of the top spot of the draft, but probably do no want to drop any further than the 3rd or 4th pick. Not sure if they are unconvinced that Cade Cunningham is worth the top pick or if they just figure they can get a huge haul out of trading the pick. Or maybe they still think that Killian Hayes will be a star PG in the future. The local basketball writers were suggesting the Warriors should offer both of this year’s 1st round picks, Wiseman, and a future 1st round pick to trade up. As good as Cunningham looks to be, that seem like too much to me. And Houston with the #2 pick and OKC with the #6 pick can offer up tons of 1st round picks in this and the coming years to trade up. This situation is exactly what the Rockets and Thunder should be using their stockpiles of 1st round picks for.
All of a sudden I have way more respect for the Pistons. They have one heck of a player in Jerami Grant and will be receiving trade proposals for Grant and the pick from all directions. An awesome position to be in because there’s no great reason to move Grant. There are good reasons but none of them great. Regardless, Grant and the pick will bring just about everyone to the table. Obviously, if they move Grant it needs to be for a star so they can move down in the draft and pick up a star in the process. I think it’s huge because they can draft for just about any position instead of thinking that they’re already set at PF. As an example, why not find out who is going after Zion and then work a 3-or-4-way with the #1 ending up with the Pels. Just an example of the kinds of conversations that are likely to take place and every combination of players under the sun discussed.
I also wonder how many of these top teams are waiting for the playoffs to end so they can start speaking with James Jones about Cam Johnson in particular, but also Bridges. It occurs to me that Johnson would also look great in a Warriors uni. Also just occurred to me that Dray Green would fit perfectly with the Suns. Maybe too well in fact. Can’t see Kerr asking for that kind of punishment though, so yeah … nevermind.
More of the same in game 2. Booker, Paul, and Bridges did a great job of putting pressure on the Bucks defense with aggressive drives which opened up a lot of good looks for 3s. Seems like the Bucks decided to pay some additional attention to Ayton on defense, but the Suns adjusted to that fairly smoothly.
On the Bucks side, Giannis was very aggressive on offense, but again the Suns were content to keep fouling him and sending him to the line. He shot 61% from the charity stripe tonight. The Suns will take that every time. I still don’t understand why Middleton and Holiday seem to be so timid on offense, constantly settling for long jumpers. Budenholzer needs to take the offense out of the Freak’s hands and implore Middleton and Holiday to do more. I also don’t understand why they barely played Bobby Portis tonight. He played well against the Hawks when Giannis was out. But it appears that Bud is going to ride and die with his 5 starters and Connaughton.
I haven’t heard yet how serious Torrey Craig’s injury was. Giannis really steamrolled him. Hopefully, he is okay and will be ready to play in Game 3.
The MRI on Torrey Craig’s knee showed no structural damage and he’s been listed as day-to-day. Probably a good thing that they have two days off before Game 3.
I’m just gonna post this link with Kendrick Perkins talking about the Milwaukee Bucks without comment.
ha. i only watched some of that – it was too hard to continue after awhile.
i’ve never known a star player to have so many “experts” interpret his game differently. i can’t listen to some of these guys anymore that think you go the simple route of “giannis needs to take over on offense”. especially when that comes from big men not named perkins. these guys all claim to know something of bill russell’s career but somehow aren’t seeing the extremely strong comparison. they wouldn’t want Russell to be doing all this hesitate and drive on every possession would they?
Russell wouldn’t care what anyone said including the coach. He’d get everyone involved on offense, which is the exact opposite of what Giannis and I assume Budenholzer are thinking. Why Bud Why?!
LOL! I cracked up when I heard Perkins say the Bucks were the dumbest team in the history of the NBA finals (and Suns one of the smartest). While a bit of hyperbole, it is what we’ve been saying about how the Bucks aren’t using what they have correctly.
I actually agree with that, because the suns are so deep with quick thinkers that perkins is right about the IQ statement. only the recent warriors and spurs would be in that conversation. the spurs weren’t as deep and the Warriors have Looney who hasn’t fit the description until recently. same with 80s celtics where Parrish wasn’t exaclty a brainiac.
In contrast Ayton is coming out as a thinking athletic big man. Johnson is similar but not as big of course. It says something that Crowder may be your least cerebral guy on the team.
I’m not sure about Craig, but then he has an uncanny way of always being in the right place on both ends.
Good for him. Looks like he may have a career in an NBA team’s front office after his playing days are over.
i was concerned that johnson had a dizzy spell or something like that and never thought it made sense that he “got the wind knocked out of him” on this play here.he flopped!!
Great first half. I loved those Holiday 3s and hope he keeps shooting them.
Bucks had an excellent game plan with Giannis facilitating early. Then spreading the floor and then a lot of activity near the basket and everywhere else as well. Bucks moved faster with purpose and didn’t let up. They hit shots early and seemed to use the activity to get more good looks and continue from there.
Booker may be playing mind games with himself. At least I hope he is because it’s not like the Bucks screwed up his shooting that badly. In fact, I don’t think the Bucks did anything at all to keep him from going off. Maybe he puts too much pressure on himself, I don’t know but I saw no good reason for him to have anything but his average game. Whatever it was he needs to get it together next game.
I rolled my eyes during the game when Mark Jackson was praising Bud for making the adjustment in his game plan to let Middleton be the main driver of the offense. That’s been an obvious adjustment to make for a long time and one we’ve specifically discussed throughout these playoffs. The fact that it took Bud this long to make the adjustment doesn’t speak well of him.
Book had a bad game shooting. I chalk it up to the travel and different court. He’s had other poor shooting games in these playoffs, but seems to get over them pretty quick. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t shooting much better in game 4. The bigger issue for the Suns will be how to quiet down the Bucks offense if they continue with this Middleton-led offense.
There’s been a couple more coaching hires in the past few days.
The Orlando Magic hired Mavericks assistant coach Jamahl Mosley. I don’t know much about him, but he’s been coaching in the league since 2006, first with Denver, then Cleveland, and then with the Mavs for the last 7 seasons. Seems like someone who has earned a shot at a head coaching gig.
The Pelicans meanwhile have plucked Willie Green off the Suns assistant coaching staff to be their new head coach. Obviously the Suns’ success this year has something to do with that, but Green only has 3 years of coaching under his belt. As with Mosley, I don’t know much about Green, other than he coached one year with the Dubs and 2 with the Suns. You might know more about him from stuff written about the Suns.
Green is really interesting to me. I think he’s another one of these guys that is able to connect with players well.
Griffin still has strong ties to the Suns I believe and the Pels of course, so am guessing he feels there’s an obvious fit with Zion and Ingram based on how Williams is connecting with the younger Suns players.
The Clippers finally announced the extent of Kawhi’s injury. He had a partially torn ACL, which he recently underwent surgery for. Typically, the time line for a fully torn ACL is a year, but since his was only partially torn, it might not take as long. Nonetheless, it is extremely doubtful that he will be ready to go for the start of next season.
I think this is what Dinwiddie had also. Interesting injury, in that not only might these two recover fully but the ligament might be stronger than before. And because a surgeon went in with a scope and a scalpel these guys might have knee joints free of other things that might cause issues. For instance, there’s no reason for a team to announce that a slightly torn meniscus was found and yet it may have been snipped or sewn up in the process. Aslo there’s this: since these guys have so long to recover they probably undergo both stem cell “treatments” of some sort as well as different types of steroid treatments that promote cell growth or blood flow or what have you.
But all that depends on how badly an ACL was partially torn. I don’t see how a partial tear can involve a substantial amount of the tendon though. If that was the case I think the entire tendon would give since what’s left wouldn’t be enough to support the joint during the event that caused it. I’m sure there are exceptions though.
Here’s where I land on this … every team has a medical staff with at least one person that knows their shit. Some much better than others I’m sure. If either of these guys had slight partial tears and full recoveries they may be considered as good as new. Dinwiddie’s trade value (once he proves he can run and cut at or near full speed) might be enormous. We’ll see what Nash’s and Mark’s plans are. And Kawhi, while I don’t see why he would want out this year, might come back at 100% this injury might not even be a blip on his career (except for the playoff exit).
Anyhow, since their x-rays and mri’s aren’t going to be made available to the public we’ll probably never know the full extent of the injuries.
I guess I saw this before but forgot about it. Not a great article – kind of fluffy but informative. Strange the the author didn’t find it significant to convey whether he tore the same ACL as before or the other one!
Dinwiddie was the comp in the articles I was reading about Kawhi. But without knowing the extent of each’s “partial” tear, it is impossible to know if Kawhi’s recovery will go as quickly as Dinwiddie’s recovery seemed to go.
For Kawhi, the injury complicates his decisions for this off-season. He has the right to opt out, but will he do so now? Given his injury history, other teams will have to be a little leery about committing big, supermax bucks to him for the long-term. However, the Clippers are already committed to him , so they would probably be willing to re-sign him to a new max contract. However, if Kawhi wants to leave the Clippers, will he find a good enough deal now as opposed to healing, playing the last year of his contract with the Clips and taking off to a new team next summer?
“Complicated” is a great word. If both the Clippers and Kawhi are convinced that the injury isn’t a big deal then maybe he should opt out as a way to advertise that all is well. But then, regardless of what he says (assuming he speaks at all) people will assume he’s opting out because he wants to leave.
On the other hand, maybe not opting out sends a message to other teams that there might be a problem?
i corrected something above in case you read it before the correction
Didn’t see it before the correction, but you explained the complications perfectly. Decisions on whether to opt out of contracts must be made by August 1st, so we’ve got about two and a half weeks until we find out.
JJ Redick’s latest podcast guest is Andre Iguodala and it is well worth listening too.
Many good things in the podcast, but one of the best, from early in the podcast, is Dre saying that one of the things that great teams have is players who root for and work toward the success of their teammates. Obviously, that is one thing the Warriors had, but I think the Suns have it now too. I’m not as convinced that the Bucks have that.
Another good nugget from the end of the podcast. Iggy was asked to tell them something about Duncan Robinson. His response was that Robinson was “the dumbest smart man in the league.” He gives a good explanation as to why.
But for Booker getting in foul trouble (and probably should have fouled out in the 4th quarter) and Chris Paul being a little loose with the basketball, the Sun win that game last night. The Bucks continued with the Middleton-led offense and it worked well. Somebody other than Booker needs to be guarding Middleton. This was a problem for the Suns because Cam Johnson was hot on offense, so the Suns wanted him in the game, but he can’t guard Middleton, so Booker was getting that defensive responsibility with Johnson in the game. Bridges probably needed to play more so that he could guard Middleton.
I don’t know what’s going on with CP3. He’s made some really bad passes that are out of character for him. He’s got to be better in Game 5.
A lot has been made about Giannis’ block on Ayton’s dunk attempt and yes it was a great play. However, if Booker’s alley-oop pass was better, that doesn’t happen. Ayton had to reach back to grab the pass. If the ball is in front of Ayton as he is jumping toward the basket, the block never happens.
That it took an outstanding game from the Bucks – maybe the best I’ve seen them ever play, to barely beat the Suns when they weren’t anything close to their best because of Paul … Bucks have no business seeing another win in this series *unless* Paul doesn’t straighten out his shit. I heard that he has a wrist injury from game 2. Prior to hearing that the best theory I had is that he was drugged before the game. I’m going with wrist injury.
Meanwhile, Holiday is the guy that scares me the most even with Giannis and Middleton playing outstanding ball. There was a play last night just like one I pointed out from a month ago where Holiday for some reason all of a sudden decides to take on two or three defenders en route to the rim. He scored and may have been fouled in the process. I guess the good thing (from Suns point of view) of having Giannis on the Bucks is that it keeps Holiday from building confidence with these kinds of drives. I hope that remains the case for at least a couple more games.
A wrist injury may explain some of CP3’s turnovers, but there has been a couple of times when he did an around the back pass to nobody. It seems like he may not be reading his teammates’ movements as well as he usually does. Also, when Booker was on the bench because of his fouls, Paul went into hero mode a little too much causing the Suns’ offense to stagnate a bit. He’s got to get Bridges and Johnson more involved in the offense as they are more consistent shooters, as opposed to Crowder who is streaky. Not having Saric hurts their ability to defend the interior. They tried using Kaminsky in Game 3, but he can’t handle the Bucks’ bigs, so last night, they went to an 8-man rotation with only Johnson, Payne, and Craig coming off the bench.
Maybe he’s overconfident. As to the around the back, that’s exactly the kind of thing that a messed up wrist would screw up. Maybe the better question is, if he has a bad wrist why would he even try that? Or maybe it’s all the same thing. In any case, I’ll never forget that he did something just as bad or worse in a playoff loss to OKC about oh … 8 years ago maybe? I couldn’t believe it. In my mind that’s always been the worst mark on his career. Hopefully he doesn’t add something else like that to the list.
I’m sure you remember this, but it’s so timely as to warrant another look. Not the first turnover but the second. Looks all too familiar.
Unfortunately, Chris Paul teams have a history of coming from ahead to lose playoff series. Not CP3’s fault each time.
2018: Rockets ahead of Warriors 3-2, lose 4-3.
2016: Clippers ahead of Trail Blazers 2-0, lose 4-2
2015: Clippers ahead of Rockets 3-1, lose 4-3
2013: Clippers ahead of Grizzlies 2-0, lose 4-2
2008: Hornets ahead of Spurs 2-0 and 3-2, lose 4-3
Again, not CP3’s fault each time, but it is a troublesome track record.
when is the draft? i wonder if I’ll be in SF for it.
It is happening Thursday, July 29th.
Don’t know if you’ve been following what’s been going with the Olympic basketball team. Besides losing to Nigeria and Australia (before beating Argentina), the team just lost Bradley Beal because he tested positive for COVID. Then Kevin Love, who was trying to play through a calf issue, voluntarily withdrew from the team so they could get a more healthy player. Jeremi Grant is also in isolation right now as part of contact tracing, I’m guessing due to Beal’s positive test. Assuming he tests negative though, he’ll remain on the team.
To replace Beal and Love, which requires that the player’s name already be on a 57-name list submitted to the IOC, they’ve selected Spurs wingman Keldon Johnson and Nuggets center JaVale McGee. Johnson is obviously familiar with Popovich and has been playing on the select team that has been scrimmaging with the Olympic team, so he’s already with the team. Losing Love meant that the team needed a big man. Names available on the 57-man list included Dwight Howard and Mitchell Robinson. However, Robinson is coming off an injury and Howard is not the most mobile guy these days. So they picked McGee because he runs the court well. I suspect though that neither Johnson nor McGee will get many minutes at the Olympics.
yeah. i’m waiting for playoffs to end before taking this seriously because of booker and middleton and … one other guy who i’m forgetting. maybe it was beal. i’m not sure why it’s so hard to fill a big man slot though. is adebayo on the team?
Yep, Adebayo is on the team. So are KD, Lillard, Draymond, Lavine, Tatum, and Grant (unless he doesn’t get thru his contract tracing isolation period). Keldon Johnson and JaVale were just added to replace Beal and Love. And Booker, Middleton, and Holiday will be joining the team when the Finals are over. If the Finals go 7 games, those 3 will only have 3 days between the end of the Finals and the first Olympic game on July 25th.
Yeah. I knew about most of the others. I’m wondering where the big man talent will come from though. Seems like they need one more just in case Adebayo goes down for some reason.
I mean other than McGee although he’s definitely a huge addition.
The 2016 Olympic team only had DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus Cousins as big men, though, as with this year, KD provides a great deal of length. The thinking is that with the bigger lane in the international game, true centers are not as important. So they want shooters, slashers, and wing defenders.
And Adebayo is unbelievable so that’s huge. But if you’re relying on KD and McGee only … I guess you could just move KD to the 3 and give Dray big minutes at 4 and be fine.
I imagine that, as with the Warriors, we’ll see the Olympic team play some small ball with Draymond at the 5.
So disappointed with the way the Suns played tonight. For part of the 2nd quarter, all of the 3rd quarter, and part of the 4th quarter, their offense was simply giving the ball to Booker most of the time and letting him work his way to a shot. There was no movement of the ball and players other than Booker or Paul weren’t touching the ball. Crowder was hot in the 1st quarter, but not sure he took another shot the rest of the game. Cam Johnson and Mikal Bridges were a combined 5 for 5 from the arc, so why weren’t they getting more shots? It’s fine to have Booker or Paul drive the offense, but they ‘ve got to pass out to the others some of the time like they did in the 1st quarter. I just don’t understand why they got away from what was working.
I guess I disagree with this, and think that offensively there would have been no difference. Booker was incredible and gave them an awesome chance. One of the best games I’ve seen from him at both ends except for the two critical shorter range jumpers he missed. He hits one of those and very possible the Suns win instead of lose.
The Bucks defense everywhere else was incredible. Paul was a liability. Bridges was starting to do things out of his comfort zone. Holiday was freaking out everyone with his superhuman play – I’m not sure who else on the Suns has the experience and composure to both handle the ball and not turn it over. Without Paul being the MVP Paul I think Booker was their best shot.
Once again Bucks played at the highest level they could. Holiday had more than a career night. Giannis was amazing. And Suns *still* almost won. They just couldn’t stop Holiday.
But here’s where I do agree with your assessment: Suns as constructed are Booker’s team and of course Paul’s as well. If Paul was 6′ 4″ or taller then you have two guys that are impossible to defend on their average nights. But the Bucks are huge, and Paul has been neutralized in this series because of it (and the Bucks defensive mindset of course). Cam Payne is the only other guy that can create plays for himself and others. Cam Johnson looks like he’s able as well, but he’s not quite there yet. So Suns as constructed really only have one guy in Booker that can handle the ball and do everything else well offensively unless Paul is engaged.
Bucks and other teams can do that to Paul because of his size. Suns as constructed aren’t complete enough, and maybe that means Bridges needs to be replaced by a defender that can put the ball on the floor and be a scoring threat against anyone. This is where my Bridges-Klay comparison fails: If Bridges was just a bit more like Klay offensively then the Suns have another dimension offensively and the threat of turning the ball over goes way down while the promise of more efficient offense goes up.
I think there are a lot of guys in the NBA that can do the things that Bridges can’t. Unfortunately none of them are on the Suns. Regardless, even with this handicap the Suns still almost won again, and would have if Paul didn’t go away from what was working and if Booker hit both of those shorter jumpers.
If you guessed that I’ve got Haliburton in mind then you’re absolutely right.
one more point that I think is critical to why I disagree with your take: CamJ wasn’t out there enough when Booker was out there. So definitely not Bookers fault that CamJ wasn’t involved. This is probably Monty Williams feeling the need to not go away from Paul, but in the process went away from what worked extremely well last year when Booker and the other guys had great chemistry. These last two games are on Williams for screwing with Booker who should be creating and moving the ball to shooters and especially Johnson IMO. I blame Williams because, *as I’ve been saying all season long* CamJ needs minutes and more minutes. If that had happened we’d be seeing the old booker doing his poor man’s Steph exactly like he did last year.
Williams has me really worried that if they don’t win this series then Booker will be off to Portland in a trade for Lillard. That would be completely fucked.
And I didn’t get why they went away from Crowder either. That was bizarre, but I know it wasn’t Booker’s fault. He did everything he could to get the win. He and Holiday were amazing.
Rereading everything I’ve written I realize that the Suns would not have been better going away from Booker. He was their only chance. Those two missed short rangers were as high % as any of Ayton’s lobs. So, say they moved the ball and got everyone involved like in the first quarter *prior* to those two high % booker jumpers … the Suns did just as well as they would have getting everyone involved. He just needs to make those a la KD and Steph. A learning moment for Booker.
Bucks took all that stuff away that was working in the 1st Q. Suns scored what, 5 points in the first 5:00 of the 2nd? Something like that? That had nothing to do with the Suns offense which didn’t change one bit.
Nothing was working when Bucks gained huge momentum and looked to start blowing Suns out when Booker took over. He stopped the blowout single handedly and got fouled as well even tho Holiday didn’t stop scoring.
IMO Suns lose by double digits if not for Booker being Kobe.
You may have misunderstood my point. I don’t mind Booker being the primary ball-handler, but for long periods of time, he was the only ball-handler. He wasn’t passing out of tough situations and double-teams. He simply penetrated as much as he could and put up tough shots without involving others. On the final, crucial possession of the game, Booker dribbled into the lane where he was cut off by two defenders, turned with the ball to find a third defender, Holiday, behind him who tore the ball out of Booker’s hands. With 3 guys around him, there were at least two teammates who were open, but Booker wasn’t looking for open teammates. Booker being the primary ball-handler and Booker taking the most shots is all good, but there needed to be some ball movement in the offense and there wasn’t any during the time that the Bucks built up their lead.
I don’t think I did misunderstand, as long as we don’t include that last play which I see as a result of the plan falling apart because Paul (and maybe Williams?) screwed with what was working. They put Booker in a situation that simply sucked, but yes absolutely Booker screwed that up. But if I understand you then we’re really talking about everything before that ….
If Cam J isn’t on the floor then I don’t blame Booker for not wanting anyone else to touch the ball. First, he needs to get it to them hoping they make the right decision. The only guy that I feel it’s ok for Booker to pass to under such pressure is Ayton as long as he goes straight up or is diving to the hoop. If I haven’t addressed that point I meant to: all year long I’ve watched as the Ayton-Paul connection flourished and I’ve wondered often why Monty doesn’t give Booker equal time trying to perfect that same connection. I’ve never understood that, and last night it was evident that Booker and Ayton don’t necessarily always know where each other is at or are going to be.
If Booker gives the ball up under that kind of defensive pressure I don’t see why he’d have any confidence that his teammates will make the right play or decision, which really should be to either get it back to him or lob to ayton or hopefully find an open cutter. But the Bucks were taking everything away, which is why I felt the highest % chance at no turnovers and a good shot were with Booker.
Jones needed to select Haliburton and Williams needed to play CamJ more in the regular season and Williams needed to make sure Booker had equal time perfecting that connection with Ayton. To me it’s amazing how well Booker performed these last two games given how badly Jones and Williams and Paul have messed with what was working extremely well last year.
But if it’s the horrible Booker TO that we’re discussing I just think it’s a completely different conversation we’re having about Booker forgetting fundamentals under duress. That’s a problem, but I didn’t see it being a problem at any other time. Other than that he was trying to protect the ball by not turning it over: check – did that well. He was trying to get good looks: check – did that well. He was trying to draw contact: check – did that EXTREMELY well and I have no clue as to why he didn’t go to the line more often. In fact he should have had at least four more FTs and made one of those two short rangers and today no one would be talking about any of this.
If that’s Kobe or KD or Curry refs are calling more fouls and Booker gets to the line more often. Suns win.
Booker went 17-33 with only 4 3 pt shots and only 5 FTs. That’s ridiculous for all the contact he was drawing. Refs and Silver need to take a look at that.
And hope you understand I’m speaking theoretically and am stating an opinion about all this even though it’s a strong one. I guess if I was to back off a bit I’d simply point out that I didn’t like what Paul did when he came back in. If he wanted to move the ball then why not a two man game with Booker instead of acting like Booker wasn’t even on the floor. I honestly thought those two had a conversation that Paul would take over to give Booker a few plays off. Maybe they did, and if that’s the case, well ….
wouldn’t have been needed if Haliburton had been out there with them
I guess I don’t get how Booker playing hero ball and ignoring his teammates was the right thing to do when the Suns fell far behind while he was doing so. In the 1st quarter and towards the end of the game, the Suns were playing their usual ball movement offense–the offense that they’ve been playing all year long–and built a big lead in the 1st quarter and came back in the 4th quarter. Bridges and Johnson hit every 3-pt shot they took in the game, so why aren’t you trusting them to take shots or even just involving them in the offense?
Again, this isn’t about using Booker instead of Paul as the primary ball handler. I agree that needed to be done because Paul is committing far too many turnovers, whether it’s because of an injury or not. The Bucks have had Holiday picking up CP3 full court and that has clearly disrupted him. So yes, getting the ball out of Paul’s hands was the right move. But you also can’t simply ignore Paul on offense either. And you can’t just simply ignore Ayton, Crowder, Bridges, and Johnson on offense either. Booker cannot just go it alone, no matter how good he is playing.
OK. Then I did misunderstand you. You’re saying that they fell behind WHEN he didn’t share the ball. I don’t remember that at all, and in fact remember the opposite: Suns couldn’t score at the beginning of Q2 even though the played the exact same way they did in Q1. Bucks took over defensively stopping all that ball movement and scoring off rebounds and loose ball. Game proceeded like this for quite some time then Bucks started surging ahead. That surge stopped immediately when Booker stopped sharing.
If I’m wrong then maybe I walked out of the room and didn’t watch some plays that you’re referring to, but I don’t know how because I only missed about 5 minutes of the game at most. I guess I could just watch it again, because it seems to me you saw something completely different than I did.
I guess we were seeing different things. It was most apparent to me in the 3rd quarter when the Bucks were building a big lead. Booker went 6 for 11 in the 3rd quarter and was dribbling the ball up the court and looking for a shot without involving his teammates much of the time.
You are correct that the Suns couldn’t score at the beginning of the 2nd quarter. In an indirect way that also comes back to Booker. With Booker on the court, he draws a lot of defensive attention, leaving his teammates open for good shots. With Booker on the bench for the first 6 minutes of the 2nd quarter, his teammates weren’t as open while shooting, though a few of them did miss very makeable shots. The Suns offense works best with ball movement. It is what got them to the Finals, so not sure why they got away from it for large swaths of time in Game 5. Through 5 games, Bridges is shooting 45%, Crowder 46.7%, and Johnson 47.4% from 3. The Suns need to get these guys some more shots.
Well … they tried it and almost did it in game 6. I’m amazed they still almost won vs. such an historical performance – historical from Giannis as in Bill Russell-esque, but also from the team with outstanding contributions from everyone. Amazing because it *still* took near-perfect execution from Portis and some of the worst shooting from the Suns when it mattered. Worst as in great looks from great ball movement and wide open shots simply missed too many times.
Everyone was tired at the end of game 6, but still just about every bucks player looked fresh to me. I wouldn’t have expected that at all. Suns were running them around from the start and I kept thinking “wait until Booker time in the Q4”. Nope. He actually looked more tired than anyone to me, and for good reasons. But to see Giannis going so fast and strong til the end … one of the greatest finals performances of all time from someone that absolutely should be compared directly to Russell at least for this series.
Bucks should be back in the finals next year and if not I’m looking forward to seeing how another team can get past them. Since the Suns showed the way and had outstanding chances (but simply squandered them), I think we’ll see just about every contender in the East trying to emulate what Monty Williams architected. Not that it’s necessarily going to help them.
Suns are obviously one player away from a championship and he doesn’t have to be an all star. IMO Booker’s decision making is the Suns weakest link and needs to be addressed well before playoffs next season. And they need to find their bigger body on the perimeter. Finding that guy shouldn’t be hard. Bridges is now a known commodity, and Suns will be entertaining offers. Let’s see if one of the offers is good enough to get them their final piece.
This from a text thread going with 3 other died in the wool suns fans. Seems we all agree …
The bulk of the minutes on the floor should come from Booker, Ayton, CamJ, Bridges and Crowder with Craig spelling one of the wings and Paul spelling Booker. Cam Payne should be done for this series.
Before CP3 arrived Booker had become masterful at penetrate and dish to his shooters. Way better at this than Kobe and of course not quite Steph but that’s the idea albeit with turnovers. You live with those but get CamJ going especially and hope booker et al can figure out how to setup and lob to Ayton.
I’m really annoyed at how Paul came in last night and completely ignored Booker and tried to take over. He’s frickin 5′ 11″ or 6′ 0″ at most and Holiday is superconfident. Yes Paul made good plays but the team concept was working even though it was Booker with the handle. My annoyance is the lack of a game plan which I think absolutely needs to be Booker setting up his shooters and ayton while getting into the lane. It frickin works. just does.
Congrats to the Bucks. Although I was rooting for the Suns, I am happy for Antetokounmpo and Middleton.
As for the game, both teams shot terribly from long range, some of it due to great defense, but both teams missed a bunch of wide open looks from the arc. The difference in the game really came down to the Hack-a-Freak strategy not working. Somehow, Giannis made 17 of 19 free throws. He also had 5 blocks and 50 points. Clearly the Finals MVP. Hopefully the Suns can keep the core together and add a piece or two and be right back in it next season.
Can’t argue with that, but the shooting disparity was enormously in favor of the Bucks. They aren’t meant to win with their shooting unless it comes from middleton, Brooks or Conaughton. On the other hand, the Suns *are* meant to win by setting each other up for outrageously wide and easy open looks and easy dunks. That last game was the Suns to lose AND win despite some poor decisions and TOs from Booker and Paul. Game 6 was (in a sense) proof that you can beat outstanding defense played at the highest level by simply hitting the shots that your team has been constructed to make at a high rate. That’s how Suns won all season. That’s how they got to the finals. That’s the game plan that was going to beat the Bucks and it looked more than good enough to get game 6.
Ayton and Crowder simply missed the shots that the Suns were built to setup. Bucks missed shots that they sometimes make. Suns got great shots surprisingly well under duress and they missed them. They clearly weren’t the better team in game 6, but they still could have won that one as well as game 5 by simply doing what they were constructed to do.
The series should have been a Bucks win in game 7 with Suns simply doing what they do. That the Suns still could have gotten there with such poor execution is a huge win for Williams and Jones. One more piece and they’ll be ready and likely with an advantage over every team in the West. Let’s see what the Warriors do in the coming weeks and go from there.
Time for that draft and offseason thread. There’s some posts above that can be copied and pasted into it.
keep reminding me if i don’t get to it. up in tahoe on my first vacation in over 1.5 years so i could forget.
maybe this question will remind me to start the other post … assuming jerami grant wants to play with the Suns, and assuming a multiple team trade scenario, is it even possible if it means keeping Booker, Ayton and Johnson? I assume Paul *will* be on the Suns team next year, but if James Jones finds a team that wants Paul and the only way to get Grant is to trade Paul and Bridges in a multi team trade while keeping Book, Ayton, CJ then are there any ways to get that done or is Grant too expensive?
Grant for Bridges, Saric, and Jalen Smith would work salary cap wise. Can’t really use the trade machine right now to figure out a trade that would send Paul to a 3rd team because Paul is untradeable right now until he picks up his option or not.