There are a couple of ways to beat the Suns in a playoff series. One is to simply shut down Steve Nash, and stop his pick-and-roll with Amare Stoudemire. What could be simpler?
Not fond of option one? Well, option number two is to pound the ball inside on offense, score in the paint, and dominate the boards on both ends of the floor. That sounds a little bit easier, doesn’t it?
It’s been even easier with Robin Lopez sidelined as he has been for the last eight games with back problems. The Suns have gone 6-2 in that stretch, but not exactly against the toughest of competition (the Spurs and Thunder were the only real quality teams they faced).
When the playoffs start Saturday, the competition will be tougher. And the Suns are planning for life without Lopez, coach Alvin Gentry told FanHouse.
“He’s going to be evaluated [Monday], then we’ll see from there what happens,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “He’s making some progress, but we have to assume that he’s not going to be with us. And then if he ends up being with us, then that would be a huge bonus for us.”
Lopez is scarcely a part of the Suns high-powered offense. But he is their defensive anchor inside. The guy that makes it hard to just beat the Suns by pounding on them. Robin Lopez is not the most gifted of centers, but he’s tough.
And the Suns need tough. Especially in the first round of the playoffs when they could face Utah or Denver, two teams that love to pound. But the Suns may well have to get by without him, and that may mean an early exit.
This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.
Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.
Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.
Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings — this season the team gets outscored by 10 points per 100 possessions when he is off the court — and with that team’s playoff chances have taken a hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers). Don’t be surprised if the Kings look to add a scorer at the trade deadline.
Gay was not happy in Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.
That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.
Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.
Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.
Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.
That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?
It just won’t die.
Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.
Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.
76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.
It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.
The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.
Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).