It was a no-win situation for Phoenix tonight. Lose, and they’re down 0-2 headed to the Rose Garden, facing a very real chance of being swept. Win, and they still can’t erase the poor performance they gave in Game 1. So the only real option is to win a no-decision by blowing the Blazers out of the water, off the map, into the void. And that’s exactly what they did.
You can point to Jason Richardson with 29 points on 16 shots. You can throw it at the feet of Steve Nash with 16 assists. But the real hero tonight for the Suns? Grant Hill. The old man came through in every possible way tonight, in what may have been the best performance of the last five years of his career.
Hill was 10-11 for 20 points, with 8 rebounds, a block, and zero turnovers. But his biggest contribution was in all the little ways that really changes a game. He contained Andre Miller, and when Miller did get by him, his team had man-help defense (gasp) to close things off. He drew charges. He brought consistency and confidence. He was a pro among amateurs on both sides of the ball.
Which is not to say that Steve Nash didn’t play brilliantly. It was one of those nights where Nash could get whatever pass he wanted. The Blazers just didn’t have it.
The Blazers likely don’t care. They got what they wanted, home court advantage back. The question will be how Nate McMillan adjusts to the adjustments of Gentry and what they do to free LaMarcus Aldridge, who was often swarmed high as soon as he got the ball. The Suns may not be a good defensive team, but they can get it done if they’re all locked in. Too bad for Phoenix they’re 1-1 in locked-in-ness in this series.
The Bucks spent most of the summer trying to trade Greg Monroe, and the asking price was rumored to be so low most of the buzz around the league was a deal would get done. Except to trade Monroe another team had to want Monroe, and therein lied the rub.
Monroe was at Bucks media day on Monday, and coach Jason Kidd announced he plans to bring Monroe in off the bench. That got interesting. From Gery Woelfel of the of the Racine Journal Times:
It shouldn’t be news, Kidd brought Monroe off the bench for part of last season, too.
If Monroe doesn’t start, it means John Henson or Miles Plumlee will start (unless Kidd wants to go crazy small and start Mirza Teletovic).
The real takeaway here: Don’t draft Monroe on your fantasy team. And expect him to get traded at some point this season.
I’ve said this before: while there will be national anthem protests once the NBA starts playing games in a couple of weeks, don’t expect it from the biggest names — the guys with the biggest international brands to promote. At the same time, expect all those guys to back Collin Kaepernick and others who have done these protests.
The latest example came from the Golden State Warriors media day and Draymond Green. Here is what he said in a passionate talk about the protests, via Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News.
I respect Colin for that because he took a stand, that he knew would probably create some controversy. And he didn’t care. And I respect that because sometimes controversy is needed in order to get the point across. And I think he’s gotten his point across. But my question is like what’s next?…
And of course if everyone wants to talk about Colin, and he’s disrespecting America. No, we’re going to talk about what he’s doing and try to sweep what he’s really talking about under the rug. I think it’s quite ridiculous, to be quite frank. Am I going to kneel down and put my fist up, no I’m not. That’s no disrespect to Colin or anybody else that’s doing it. But they’ve gotten the point across. I don’t think I need to come out and do a National Anthem protest. Because it’s already been started. There’s already a conversation.
What Green is asking is what a lot of people — athletes, activists, people who care about this country — are asking: What kind of actions, what kinds of change can come out of the start of this conversation? Because the question isn’t about respect for the flag or lack thereof — that’s a side issue, a distraction from people who don’t want to talk about race in America and the challenges we still face as a nation in that area. Some of these police shootings are a brutal reminder of how far this nation has to go, but they are just part of a broader issue.
Stephen Curry — whose hometown of Charlotte has experienced rioting after a police shooting in recent days — also was asked about the protest issue and struck a similar tone. Here’s his answer via Sam Amick of the USA Today.
“I respect everybody’s voice, everybody’s platform, and their opportunity and right to protest what they feel in their heart is something they want changed. I’ve said that plenty of times about Colin. I respect what he’s doing. I respect the message that he’s fighting for, and I hope all the spotlight is on that particular message and the things we can do to make changes that are blatantly obvious we need change, so I hope going forward it’s not about who’s raising their fist, who’s kneeling, who’s standing, who’s doing this or that. It’s about what Colin and other guys – what the message is, and what we don’t want to stand for any more.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Wizards guard John Wall will be limited at training camp after undergoing knee surgery over the summer and the team has no timeline for his return.
The 26-year-old All-Star says he’s feeling great and has been able to play 1-on-1 and 3-on-3 with teammates. Coach Scott Brooks doesn’t know if Wall will play in any preseason games.
Wall and Brooks insist they’re “in no rush” with the focus on the point guard getting fully healthy. In May, Wall had a procedure on the patella tendon in his left knee and an arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
The Wizards open training camp Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia. Brooks says Wall will participate in segments of each practice as he works to get back to 100 percent.
In the middle of last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers let go of long-time Cav and fan favorite Anderson Varejao to make room for Channing Frye, a stretch four they thought would be more valuable in the playoffs. In hindsight it seems the right move.
After a cap clearing move in Portland, Varejao ended up on the bench of the Golden State Warriors. We all know the story from there, including Varejao getting some meaningful minutes after Andrew Bogut went down, but it wasn’t enough for Golden State.
Which brings us to the awkward championship ring conversation. Usually, an iconic team player like Varejao would get one from the Cavaliers, but will Varejao want this one? From Marc Stein of ESPN:
Good on the Cavaliers for offering.
Is there a correct answer for Varejao? A wrong answer? I can’t blame him either way.
He is on the Warriors roster again this season, and he once again could get meaningful minutes (now behind Zaza Pachulia). Does he decide that one with this team is what he wants (and will bet is going to happen)? Nobody can answer all these questions for him.