Brandon Roy as Keyshawn Johnson: “I want the ball a lot more.”

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Two seasons ago, when Brandon Roy exploded onto the NBA scene the way those of us who watch a lot of Pac-10 ball expected he would, the ball was in his hands. You could define the positions however you want, Steve Blake was out there with him and may be the true point guard, but Roy was making the decisions.

Last season, Andre Miller was on the floor, Greg Oden was trying to be fit in (the first part of the season) Roy was slowed by injury and it just wasn’t the same. The Blazers were not the same.

Roy told Jason Quick of the Oregonian it’s time for him to have control again — that means a little Keyshawn Johnson, “give me the damn ball” time.

“I want the ball a lot more,” Roy said…

Roy said he has spoken with coach Nate McMillan about returning the offense to resemble the 2008-09 season, when he handled the ball on command, which included for much of the fourth quarter. Roy averaged a career-high 22.6 points that season and the Blazers won 54 games.

“I want to be maximized every game,” Roy said. “That’s a position that I’m strong with, with the basketball, and I’m extremely confident with it.”

What does that mean? Here is what Roy said before the game, as reported by Blazers Edge.

More pick and rolls. More isolation plays. Right now we’re doing a lot of powering, a lot of coming off screens. A lot of crossing. I think that’s going to be more of the second string’s offense. And the starters will play something different.

Roy is both right and shows the maturing he needs to make the next step.

Roy should have the ball more — he is the team’s biggest threat. He makes good decisions. He should be the focal point of the offense and have control of it with the rock in his hands.

But that is a separate issue from having good screens, crossing and off the ball movement. That is good, too. Look at the Lakers, who are a far more deadly offense when they are running the triangle, when guys are moving off the ball and spacing the floor. When it’s an isolation Kobe night, the Lakers are defendable and struggle. Same was true of Jordan’s Bulls. Of virtually every championship team of the last couple decades. It’s true of the Blazers.

Roy himself shot 44.3 percent in isolation last season and scored 0.99 points per possession that way last season. Off cuts it was 76.7 percent and 1.49 per possession. Roy even shot better coming off screens than he did in isolation. (Stats via Synergy Sports)

There needs to be both — more Roy and more movement off the ball, more continuity and less isolation. They can coexist. And for the Blazers to get where they want, they need to.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.

 

Paul Millsap says the expected, he will “most likely” opt out of contract

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This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:

Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.

Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.

“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.

Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).

By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).

But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.