Blake Griffin

Dunk Contest preview: What’s with all the big guys?

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You know why Nate Robinson and Spud Webb won the dunk contest? Because we love to see the little guys who can get up. We mere mortals identify with guys who are not quite six foot jumping over Dwight Howard and throwing it down.

This year’s Saturday night Dunk Contest? Battle of the big guys. Blake Griffin and Serge Ibaka are 6’10”, JaVale McGee comes in at 7’0” even. The “little guy” this time around is 6’7” DeMar DeRozan.

It’s a little surreal,” McGee told PBT Friday. “I never thought I’d be in the dunk contest, especially being as tall as I am….

“I feel big guys can do the same thing little guys can do, it just looks easier, and maybe that’s why it’s lower scoring. But it’s just as hard for big guys, we’ve got more weight and a lot of stuff.”

Of course, the Dunk Contest might have gone the way of the Dodo if not for a big guy — Dwight Howard revived it with a combination of power and creativity a few years back. Maybe we are in for a show. Griffin gives us all hope.

Let’s break it down.

Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers): He’s the favorite, the viral video sensation that pretty much owns YouTube by now. (Well, him and cats that play the piano.) The guy is ferocious in game, running the break and pointing for the ally-oop. Not letting any mere mortal — say, Timofey Mozgov, for example — get in his way. He can dunk with either hand and leap of two feet or one. He’s got all the skills.

Here’s what we don’t know: How creative will he be? Shannon Brown is a great in-game dunker who fell flat last season when it came time to do staged dunks in an exhibition. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Griffin enjoys this kind of stage. If so, it could be one for the ages.

DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors): Do not sleep on this guy — he came in second last year in what was a disappointing contest. Did he learn anything from that? He has the athletic skills, and we do love the little guy (even if the little guy is 6’7”).

JaVale McGee (Washington Wizards): He has the leaping ability, the athleticism, the length to put on a show for the ages. He’s also not exactly know for focus. ESPN’s John Hollinger had the best line: “He could win this thing or he could pull up for a 17-foot jumper.”

Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder): He certainly can jump, but it’s usually to block shots. He doesn’t have the power or pure athleticism to outdo the others in this competition, his only hope is to go Carrot Top and become a prop dunker.

Spurs demolish Thunder to take Game 1 of second-round series

SAN ANTONIO,TX - APRIL 30: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs scores over Steven Adams #12 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during game one of the Western Conference Semifinals for the 2016 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 30, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.

Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?

Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.

It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.

Hawks get another playoff shot at King James and Cavaliers

at Philips Arena on April 1, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.

Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.

Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.

The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.

Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.

Report: Warriors to replace Luke Walton from outside the organization

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 12: Interim Coach Luke Walton of the Golden State Warriors talks on the sideline during the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 12, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.

Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.

Report: Luke Walton’s Lakers contract is for 5 years, $25 million

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 13:  Interim head coach Luke Walton of the Golden State Warriors leads the team against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on January 13, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Warriors 112-110. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.

This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.