Portland and Memphis to decide something Tuesday night

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There’s a lot on the line when Portland takes on Memphis Tuesday night.

But it’s kind of a Let’s Make a Deal problem — you don’t know what you’re getting once you pick the door. The new car or the goat.

This game may well decide sixth seed in the West — Portland gets it with a win; Memphis gets it with a win and knocking off the Clippers Wednesday. The problem is the other side of that door — the six seed plays the three seed, but we have no idea who that will be. Could be Dallas, could be Oklahoma City, could be the Lakers. The loser of this game could get any of those three as well.

So, big game with something on the line. You could win the new car, you could win the goat.

These teams have not met since December, a Memphis win. But that was during the “Brandon Roy is going to play through the knee pain” part of the season in Portland and he was 3-for-16 shooting. Portland also struggled in that game on its spot-up shooting (usually 20.3 percent of their offense, according to Synergy) and that hurt them. They will have to knock down jumpers on Tuesday night.

Things to watch in this game:

• How well does Portland defend the paint? Memphis has Zach Randolph, as good a low block scorer as there is in the league, and the versatile Marc Gasol. Portland cannot let them get easy buckets in the paint — if you can force Memphis to shoot jumpers you will be happy. Portland likes to double in the post (particularly with their small lineups) and they will need to be aggressive with that, forcing passes out to the aforementioned jump shooters.

• Who controls the tempo? Portland generally wants it slow (not as slow as the numbers suggest, but they are still seven seconds or more). Memphis, with their lack of jump shooters, wants to run and get transition points.

• Toney Allen on Wes Mathews. Best perimeter matchup in this game (Andrew Miller vs. Mike Conley is close) and if Allen can keep Mathews in check Portland has a harder time scoring.

• Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez against the Grizzlies bench. Portland has some guys who can take over games off the bench, can the Grizzlies contain them?

Watch Hassan Whiteside beat the Pistons at the buzzer with tip-in (VIDEO)

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The Miami Heat took until the final moments on Tuesday night to beat the Detroit Pistons, but it was worth it. With just a handful of games left to play, the Heat need to stave off the Chicago Bulls for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Thanks to a tip at the buzzer by Hassan Whiteside, they’re one step closer to achieving that goal.

The play came with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. James Johnson missed a shot with six seconds to go, and the Heat grabbed the rebound. Goran Dragic then tried his hand, but he couldn’t get it to go, either.

That’s when Whiteside came back with a tip at the buzzer that ended the game.

Via Twitter:

Miami now sits at 36-38, a game above the Bulls for the No. 8 seed.

Whiteside, meanwhile, is never going to wash that hand again:

Kobe Bryant says LeBron James has earned the right to take a rest (VIDEO)

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Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a pretty consistent player in the NBA. Save for his final injury-laden seasons and the lockout year of 2011-12, Bryant played in no fewer than 65 regular season games in a single season.

Coaches also had no reason or want to ask Bryant — a notorious worker — to sit out in order to rest. That wasn’t really on the menu, and Bryant knew that.

Speaking to ESPN’s First Take, Bryant said no coach really asked him to ever take a rest, “I’ve never been approached by a coach and asked to rest.”

Bryant remarked that he took queues from Michael Jordan during tough stretches of the season — back-to-backs or four games in five night scenarios — where he could switch his game up, floating from perimeter to post, in order to save energy during those matchups.

Bryant also said during the same interview that he understands the complexity of the modern game, and that players like LeBron James deserve to take a rest if they’ve earned it.

“LeBron has done so much for the game. He’s earned the opportunity to take a rest,” said Bryant.

The debate on this subject will continue, it seems.

Phil Jackson’s reaction to Kristaps Porzingis getting turned upside down feels about right

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New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis is the future of the franchise, so any time he’s upended and nearly lands on his noggin it’s a cause for concern. To say the least.

That’s what happened on Monday night, as Porzingis got turned upside down during a play near the basket during a game against the Detroit Pistons.

Porzingis was OK on the play, and Detroit big man Andre Drummond did his best to help catch him so nothing too scary happened.

Still, Knicks president Phil Jackson had a pretty hilarious reaction to the whole thing. I guess that’s what happens when you watch your basketball life flash before your eyes.

Porzingis was unhurt and played a full 37 minutes. New York beat Detroit, 109-95.

Jimmy Butler won’t pick LeBron over Durant as toughest matchup in NBA, and for good reason

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Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler is a smart dude. He’s spent years of offseason work turning himself into a max-level player, and that shows he knows not only how to work but how to attack the game of basketball.

He’s also smart enough to know he shouldn’t go poking the bear when it comes to two future Hall of Fame players in LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

When asked whether the Cleveland Cavaliers star or the Golden State Warriors scorer was the toughest matchup in the NBA, Butler made sure he wasn’t adding any kind of blackboard material to rile up either player.

Via Twitter:

The best way to defend LeBron or Durant: don’t make them angry.

Smart move, Jimmy.