Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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What happened Wednesday, while you were asking “What’s That Song?“…

Bobcats 100 Thunder 92: Raymond Felton is probably better than you think he is. He’s been a huge part of the Bobcats’ success this year, and his ability to create chaos in the offensive set now that teams can’t collapse because of Stephen Jackson is letting him tear things up. He was a huge part of the run tonight, 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting, 7 assists and zero turnovers.

This was a rare loss that actually looks bad for the Thunder. The Bobcats played with payoff toughness, and the Thunder didn’t really know how to respond. They can execute when they need to, but if you rough them up a bit, their inexperience shows. Kevin Durant needed 26 shots for 26 points and got blocked five times.

Cavaliers 99 Pacers 95: This LeBron James taking over late thing has gotten out of control. The Pacers made a run on a coasting Cavs team, and so James scored 6 points, got 2 blocks and 2 assists in the final four minutes. That’s just absurd.

Roy HIbbert was mighty fine in this one, and he’s looking more and more like a great center for years to come. If he gets a good point guard to pair with this summer next year could be huge for him. Of course, Larry Bird will probably draft Jon Scheyer or something, but whatever.

Celtics 109, Knicks 97: Boston has maybe the tallest, longest front line in the NBA. The Knicks starting center is 6’9″ and is not a center in any real sense of the word. The Celtics are not a stupid team. They pounded the ball inside early and often, were up 13 after a quarter and the only reason this one was just a little close was the Celtics packed it in five minutes before the game ended.

The very wise Kelly Dwyer says the game is always teaching you. This game is the exception that proves the rule. Nothing much to take away from this one.

Sixers 108 Nets 97: The Net can’t beat the Sixers without Devin Harris. Obviously.

The Sixers won this battle behind Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday, but the Nets will win the war because they have legitimate hope for next year and the years after.

Raptors 106 Atlanta 105: Atlanta’s picked a bad time to go to pieces.

The Hawks have been coasting for too long and you can tell they’re bored, and they didn’t put the effort forward to stop the Raptors’ terrific offense. They took this game lightly, allowed the comeback, and let Chris Bosh bury them.

Andrea Bargnani had 11 rebounds, and the Raptors won. These two things are not unrelated.

Magic 110 Spurs 84:The Spurs stopped Dwight Howard. Got him frustrated, limited, invisible. That’s how you’re supposed to stop the Magic, right? 

And that’s why the Magic got Vince Carter. Carter was en fuego, and between that and the Magic’s defense this wasn’t much of a contest. The Spurs pulled within 10 in the third and you thought it would be tight. Then the Magic rattled off another run. Goodnight, San Antonio. Have a nice night.

Rockets 107 Grizzlies 94: The Grizzlies don’t play great defense to start with. If the other team is on fire, they don’t have the defensive personnel or know-how to make adjustments. The result? Aaron Brooks was 7-7 from the arc, finished with 31 points and all of a sudden the Rockets’ backcourt looks downright terrifying.

The Grizzlies’ playoff hopes aren’t technically dead, but this was the night they turned off the respirator.

Mavericks 113 Bulls 106: Yeah. Another night. Another Bulls team with almost none of its starters. Another loss to a good team. the Mavericks owned this. They knew they should win and decided tonight was a night they wouldn’t screw around.

Caron Butler is SCARY good on this team.

Jazz 122 Wolves 100: Good news, Wolves fans! You gave up 30 fewer points than you did against the Suns!

This team. Is. Terrible.

Clippers 101 Bucks 93: The Clippers used, get this, zone. And it positively boggled the Bucks. Couldn’t get penetration, couldn’t get open looks, couldn’t create any of the switches they depend on. Bizarre development that may cost them in the playoffs.

Drew Gooden had 16 and 11, and looks good on the Clippers. Which makes a lot of sense in some ways.

Warriors 131, Hornets 121: New Orleans just got beat by a D-League team. Seriously. Three D-League callups by the Hornets — Anthony Tolliver, Chris Hunter and Reggie Williams — combined for 69 points on the night. On 66 percent shooting and 8 of 14 from three. (More on this to come later.)

The trio (and sparked one of the biggest comebacks of the year — Golden State was down 21with 5:30 left in the third. The game should have been over. All they had to do was stick with the game plan that had been working — don’t turn the ball over and keep pounding it inside against the small Warrior front line. Apparently that is too much to ask. Meanwhile Golden State (without Stephen Curry) just got hot from the floor. The result was a damn entertaining, if not fundamentally sound, rare Warriors win.

Sixers’ Joel Embiid upgraded to “probable,” will decide after warm ups

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Everything you saw in the first two games of this Miami/Philadelphia playoff series you can throw out in the trash.

Joel Embiid is back and is now “probable” for Game 3, the Sixers announced, upgrading his status from “doubtful” earlier in the day. Embiid had been out with a concussion and orbital bone fracture.

Embiid will go through warmups — trying out both a mask and goggles — then will make a formal decision. However, he is expected to go. He certainly wants to play.

This changes the Sixers and the series. Yes, Philly has likely Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons and high quality role players such as J.J. Redick and Robert Covington, however, is Embiid that makes it all work. Put simply, when Embiid is on the court the Sixers are 15.2 points per 100 possessions better — their defense is elite and their offense is outstanding.

The Sixers will be better with their best player back in the fold, but don’t think this makes the series a cakewalk for Philly. It changes everything about matchups, but things are not all positives. When Embiid is on the court, the up-tempo, ball-movement style that the Sixers built around Simmons slows down and stops at points. The Sixers have played Hassan Whiteside and his rim protection off the court with floor spacing shooting bigs, now he has a place to be in the matchups. There are things the Heat can do now that may work for them.

It just may not matter — Philadelphia just got a lot better.

PBT Podcast: NBA first round playoff series breakdowns

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LeBron James‘ Cavaliers looks to be in a battle royal in the first round — and they could lose to Victor Oladipo‘s Pacers.

Miami’s defense and versatility is challenging the Sixers and shaking the faith of all those that just jumped on the bandwagon.

Utah stole a game in Oklahoma City showing great grit and resolve, not to mention a lot of Donovan Mitchell.

Anthony Davis has done everything but walk on water for the Pelicans.

The first round of the NBA playoffs has been filled with fascinating storylines — and we are just two games into each series. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break down all eight first-round series in this podcast, starting in the East and the tight races there, then move into the West. There’s even some “who wants to pay Jabari Parker this summer?” talk thrown in.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

James Dolan says Knicks must build around ‘great’ Kristaps Porzingis, offers fair rebuke of meddling charges

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Phil Jackson received a standing ovation in his first game at Madison Square Garden as Knicks president. Don’t forget how excited New York was for Jackson, who coached the Bulls and Lakers to 11 championships and played for the Knicks’ last title team. He was welcomed as a potential savior.

The common refrain: Jackson would have a chance to succeed if Knicks owner James Dolan didn’t meddle.

Immediately, Dolan said he would cede control to Jackson “willingly and gratefully.” Dolan later pledged to honor Jackson’s full five-year contract.

But fans turned on Jackson as he did an awful job and the Knicks struggled. Dolan opted into the final two years of Jackson’s contract, anyway, as he said he would all along. Fans got angrier. When Jackson publicly flaunted Kristaps Porzingis trade talks, outrage reached a fever pitch. Finally, Dolan stepped in to fire Jackson.

Dolan, via Larry Brooks of the New York Post:

“A great player in hockey is the difference, but a great player in basketball is the team.

“And I think we have a great player in Porzingis. We just have to build around him.”

“Everybody who wants to talk about the Knicks wants to ask me about Phil Jackson,” Dolan said, smiling and shaking his head. “The entire market wanted to me to hire him and when I did, the entire market said it was a great move. The only thing was, everyone said that I shouldn’t interfere with him.

“Three years later, everyone wanted to know when I was going to do something about Phil. The same people who told me not to interfere wanted me to interfere. But that’s OK. I just think that Phil underestimated the job.”

Dolan makes a salient point about how people perceive his involvement. The problem isn’t that Dolan meddles. It’s that he makes poor decisions.

Hiring Jackson – an out-of-touch former coach with no front-office experience – was a poor decision. I’m not enthused about Steve Mills as Jackson’s replacement, either, though we’ll see how that plays out.

Building around Porzingis is a better decision. He’s an extremely talented 22-year-old.

But it’s hardly a foolproof plan. Porzingis is recovering from a torn ACL. Dolan said Porzingis could return in December – or miss next season entirely.

Either way, the Knicks must surround Porzingis with better teammates. Dolan will and should be a part of that process. Whether he’ll positively affect it is another matter.

76ers: Joel Embiid doubtful for Game 3 against Heat

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MIAMI (AP) — Joel Embiid remains listed as doubtful by Philadelphia for Game 3 of the 76ers’ Eastern Conference playoff series at Miami on Thursday night.

Embiid was on the floor with the 76ers for their morning shootaround practice, but coach Brett Brown says there’s no change in the All-Star center’s status.

Embiid has missed Philadelphia’s last 10 games while recovering from a concussion and surgery that repaired a fractural orbital bone around his left eye. He’s no longer in the NBA’s concussion protocol.

He took to social media after the 76ers lost Game 2 of this series to the Heat, saying he’s tired of being “babied.”

Embiid has averaged 22.9 points and 11 rebounds in 63 games for the 76ers during the regular season.