Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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ginobili_game.jpgOur game recaps from Monday, or what you missed while taking the day off to visit Dunder Mifflin

Cavaliers 97, Spurs 95: Got to start with this — Manu Ginobili is a beast right now. Beast. Best player suited up for this one. Scored 38 points and was killing it from the outside — 7 of 11 from downtown. Attacked and got to the line seven times (hitting every one). This is the player opposing coaches feared in 2007 but had been slowed by injury. He is back.  But it still wasn’t enough as the Cavaliers gutted one out while LeBron was in street clothes, Shaq was still out, and Jamison had to leave early because of his knee.

First Cleveland with without LeBron in three years. In honor of that three other guys of note: Delonte West just makes smart plays for the Cavaliers — he had his hand in the final five Cavaliers baskets. Tim Duncan was up against a small lineup and only had 13. The Spurs should get more out of him in this one. Finally was Roger Mason — he was 0-8 on a Spurs bench that shot 27% on the evening. That is what lost the game more than anything, Cleveland’s backups stepped up and San Antonio’s did not.

Knicks 99, Hawks 98: I really have no idea how Atlanta ha lost three times this season to the Knicks. I think you’d have a better chance of explaining how a particle accelerator works to me than this.

This one got exciting because the predictable Knicks late game collapse made it so. With five minutes left and the Knicks up 10, it was just a matter of time — the bad shot choices, missed open looks and turnovers were coming. And they did. And he Hawks took advantage. But this time the Knicks survived a horrific late-game turnover by Toney Douglas (who played very well otherwise) thanks to a dramatic game-saving block by Wilson Chandler on Josh Smith. Came from the weakside and just shut down one of the best finishers in the game. Al Harrington’s only contribution — other than taking away shots from the hot hand of Danilo Gallinari (8 of 12 from the outside) — was a clutch late jumper. David Lee also had a nice dunk late.

The Hawks struggled against the Knicks zone defense. They got sucked into settling for jumpers rather than attacking the soft middle of a zone. The Hawks had the advantage along the front line and didn’t exploit it.

Grizzlies 107, Nets 101: You cannot waste the rare good shooting night by Mike Conley, who just dominated the first half like he was still feeding the ball to Greg Oden at Ohio State (Conley finished with 21). Memphis took the second half off so this one got close, but it was never really in doubt.

Mavericks 125, Timberwolves 112: This game was played at a blistering, Golden State in the late 1980s pace, 108 possessions. (That’s eight possessions more than the Warriors average this year, and they are the fastest-playing team in the Association.) The Mavericks are built to handle that kind of pace much better than the Timberwolves, and it showed. Minnesota turned the ball over on 24 percent of their possessions, which fueled Dallas. Shawn Marion felt at home and dropped 29, Kidd had 10 dimes. Great night for Al Jefferson though, attacking that soft inside of the Mavericks, scoring 36 on 15 of 21. Wasn’t nearly enough at that pace, though.

Hornets 135, Warriors 131: Another fast paced game (101 possessions) but as always, it was about the Warriors getting dominated inside — New Orleans grabbed the offensive rebound on 44 percent of their missed shots. David West had more offensive rebounds (six) than the entire Warriors team (4), and West finished with 28. Another big night for Darren Collison — 20 assists and 16 points. 

Marcus Smart wants to be back for Game 6 vs. Bucks

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Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been out for some time after injuring his thumb earlier in the year. The absence of one of Boston’s most important guards has been felt even more so after Kyrie Irving went down following knee surgery.

In short, the Celtics would like to have Smart back on the floor.

We’re now close enough that Smart has begun to give solid timeframes to reporters. Speaking to media on Sunday, Smart said that his plan is to be back for Game 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Boston took on Milwaukee on Sunday in Game 4.

Via ESPN:

Right now, [a Game 6 return is] the plan and we’re still on the same track,” Smart said before Game 4 on Sunday. “I’ve been doing everything but contact, so I will be able to go and start that.”

Smart said he believes the thumb is ready for contact.

“The surgery did its job,” said Smart, who injured himself March 11 while diving for a loose ball in a game against the Indiana Pacers. “Thumb is holding up well. I feel ready, I feel strong enough to get back out there. I’m just waiting on the OK.”

The series between the Celtics and Bucks has been tumultuous, a back-and-forth affair as an injury-riddled Boston squad takes on a healthy but offensively-sluggish Milwaukee team. Smart could add a shot of life for Boston in a much-needed way.

The Bucks won Game 4 and the series is now tied, 2-2. Game 6 would be on Thursday, April 26 if need be.

Manu Ginobili leads Spurs over Warriors

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Although the San Antonio Spurs were outmatched against the Golden State Warriors, Manu Ginobili was an integral part of the Spurs staving off elimination against the reigning champs on Sunday. San Antonio beat the Warriors, 103-90, to put the series at 3-1.

The 40-year-old wingman scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter in San Antonio as Ettore Messina logged a playoff win at the helm of the team. Gregg Popovich, who sadly lost his wife this past week, did not coach.

Ginobili was 5-of-10 off the bench, adding five assists and three rebounds in the win. LaMarcus Aldridge led all Spurs scorers with 22, notching a double-double with 10 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the only Warriors player to score more than 12 points was Kevin Durant, who rose above all scorers with 34 points to go with 13 rebounds. Klay Thompson shot an embarrassing 25 percent from the field, scoring just 12 points.

Ginobili put the dagger on the Warriors with 90 seconds to go, hitting a spinning flip shot over Draymond Green to give San Antonio a 10-point lead.

The series heads back to Oakland for Game 5 with the Spurs trailing, 3-1.

Kevin Durant on Giannis Antetokounmpo: ‘I would tell him to play for himself’

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Kevin Durant was once the big star in a little city. The former Oklahoma City Thunder star now plays for the Golden State Warriors, and has a championship ring to his name after making a switch in 2016.

So Durant has at least some experience similar to that of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is currently leading the charge for the Bucks against the Boston Celtics in the first round, and he’s seen as the future in Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo signed a 4-year, $100 million contract in the summer of 2016, so presumably he’ll be in Wisconsin for some time.

Meanwhile, Durant had some advice for Antetokounmpo, should he ask for it. In a feature on ESPN, Durant was quoted as saying he felt Antetokounmpo should be sure to have fun, and to play for himself.

Via ESPN:

What I would say to him, I would tell him to play for himself,” Durant said. “Because he’s the one out there putting in the work, he’s the one out there getting up in the morning staying committed to the game. Obviously [the comments about staying put] sounds good to the fans in Milwaukee and to the ownership, because he cares so much about wanting to please them and play well for them, and I get it. But his career is about him; it’s about whatever he wants to do and however he feels is right for him. And what type of basketball does he want to play? He’s not going to stay in Milwaukee if he’s not having fun playing the game.

That’s some pretty good advice, although factors surrounding Antetokounmpo will likely weigh the same as they did on Durant in OKC. The Bucks presumably need a new coach once their season ends. They’re currently helmed by interim coach Joe Prunty, who took over when Jason Kidd was fired earlier this year.

The Bucks also need to fill out their roster and find a way to stay healthy. The Thunder famously had roster issues (read: the James Harden trade) and eventually the lack of playoff success drove Durant to switch teams.

Milwaukee doesn’t seem close to that kind of juncture, although eventually things will flip for the young Bucks and fans and management will expect some kind of production in the postseason.

Giannis Antetokounmpo beats Celtics with late-game tip-in; series tied 2-2

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It was an exciting finish in Milwaukee on Sunday, where the Bucks took home a win on their home court to level the series against the Boston Celtics, 2-2.

The game came down to the wire, with 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon giving the Bucks the lead after a corner 3-pointer with just 33.5 seconds left. The Celtics responded with a sideline out of bounds play that resulted in Al Horford tying the game with free throws.

On their final possession, the Bucks again went to Brogdon, who missed on a layup driving to the left side of the floor. Luckily, Giannis Antetokounmpo was there to follow with the tip-in with just five seconds left.

Via ESPN:

Boston was unable to convert on a final play, and Milwaukee grabbed the win, 104-102.

Game 5 will be in Boston on Tuesday.