Tyson Chandler sees home loss to San Antonio as a turning point for the Dallas defense

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Last Friday, the San Antonio Spurs went into Dallas and rocked the Mavericks on their home court. The final margin was just six points after a late-game flurry from the Mavs, but the Spurs were in control throughout. San Antonio put together an impressive offensive showcase, as the Spurs’ “Big Three” combined for 80 points on just 61 shot attempts. Every Maverick run was met with an equal or superior response, and though Dallas was able to execute a few strategies that were effective on a micro level, the game was ultimately a defensive failure.

Maverick center Tyson Chandler still sees the value in such a letdown, though. In an appearance on The Ben and Skin Show on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio in Dallas, Chandler reflected on the Mavs’ poor defensive performance of late, and how their reached something of a nadir in the game against San Antonio:

“…we were going into a stretch where we had been playing some bad basketball defensively and it went right into the San Antonio game. Sometimes it takes a wakeup call like that so you can say okay we can’t win that way and we have to get back to the things that we saw in training camp and that’s the way that we’re going to win. Even though they hurt sometimes when you take a loss it’s actually better for the team.”

Transcription via Sports Radio Interviews.

Chandler could be right. I’m sure the loss to Spurs was a wake-up call in a sense; if nothing else, it was a crystallization of the Mavs’ regression on defense that was impossible to ignore. It also definitely served as some kind of alert for Chandler on a personal level, as the Maverick center fouled out after just 22 minutes, finishing the game with only three points and five rebounds. That’s not quite good enough for a big game against one of the top teams in the league (and a rival, to boot).

Yet Dallas followed up their bounce-back win over Golden State with another poor defensive effort against Minnesota. Anthony Randolph, who has spent most of this season riding the bench for the Knicks and then the Wolves, dropped a career high 31 points on Chandler’s Mavs on Thursday night while shooting 14-of-20 from the field. That’s not exactly indicative of a defense that’s fully woken up from its in-season nap.

Perhaps that outing was an aberration for the new, post-Spurs-loss Mavs, but we have every reason to be skeptical. Dallas has been trending downward defensively since January, and though Chandler once had his team performing at an elite level on that end, they have yet to really recapture that early season magic.

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.