NBA Playoffs: Grant Hill is moving on for the first time

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The Phoenix Suns, despite what they will tell you, must be feeling a sense of dread. They’ve seen this script so many times, it’s etched into their memory like a bad family movie stuck on repeat. Robert Horry. The hipcheck. The Duncan Three. Parker bloodying Nash’s nose. Michael Finley. Burce Bowen. The hipcheck. The hipcheck. The hipcheck.

Sure, there are new players, mostly new rosters. But the franchise histories remain the same. So you can understand a certain amount of dread for the Suns as they approach the Spurs.

But Grant Hill? He’s probably a pretty happy old dude.

Something lost in the Suns’ elimination of the Portland Trail Blazers and subsequent advance in the 2010 NBA Playoffs is that this marks the first time Grant Hill has made it out of the first round. After Fif.Teen.Seasons.

15 years Grant Hill’s been playing in the NBA, and he’s never made it past the first round. The reasons are ones you can probably scream out instantaneously, a laundry list of injuries always seeming to crush any chance he would have of living up to his enormous potential. But in Phoenix he’s found a home, with the best trainers in the league (seriously, what do they put in the water down there?), and he’s not just some old player, providing coaching assistance and hoping for a few minutes. He’s starting for a Western contender (as much as any non-LA team is a contender), and making huge plays.

In the Portland series, he brought a defensive intensity at age 37 that the Suns may have never had. And granted, he was part of the crew that fell to the Spurs, so he’ll know exactly what he’s up against. But the fact is that Hill is more a reason to believe in the Suns than to doubt them.

Hill is known widely as a likeable player,and a locker room leader. For him to have had at least some level of success is a feel good story for these playoffs. And if, somehow, someway, the Suns can finally get over the hill? Grant will have made himself a legend in Phoenix, and finally found the NBA home he’s been searching for and has lost so many times in fifteen years.

Old man still got game.

Report: Clippers take Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor ‘very seriously’

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Want to laugh off that Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor?

The Clippers aren’t joining you.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Clippers should be concerned. Losing Paul would unravel their entire foundation, dropping them from the fringe of championship contention to out of the title picture completely. It could even help usher out Blake Griffin, who will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer. (To be fair, Paul leaving could also help convince Griffin to stay.)

About a month ago, the Clippers reportedly expected Paul to stay. They even reportedly struck a verbal agreement with him to re-sign before that. But they can’t officially sign him until July, and that leaves the door open for him to leave.

The Clippers should be heartened by their advantages – a prime market and a projected max offer of $205 million over five years.

The most another team projects to be able to offer is $152 million over four years, and San Antonio will have a hard time doing that. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to shed two of those players to clear max cap space.

So, never say never, but the Clippers’ concern might be rooted more in the dire consequences of Paul leaving rather than the likelihood of it.

Report: Raptors, Magic can’t trade with each other for a year

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The Magic will send the Raptors a 2018 second-round pick for hiring Jeff Weltman, who was Toronto’s general manager.

But that’s not the only consequence of hire.

Yahoo Sports:

The move invoked the NBA provision that Toronto and Orlando are not permitted to trade players with each other until the earlier of May 24, 2018, or the conclusion of the 2017-18 season for either organization, league sources told The Vertical’s Shams Charania.

The NBA made a similar ruling when the Clippers sent the Celtics a first-rounder to hire Doc Rivers, and I don’t like it now, either. It’s needlessly restrictive, preventing talent from flowing to the optimal locations.

At least Orlando isn’t a logical destination for the Raptor most likely to be dealt: Jonas Valanciunas. The Magic already have enough centers with Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo – a lesson that influenced their last trade with Toronto, dealing Serge Ibaka.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.