NBA Playoffs: Manu Ginobili playing in Game 2 for Spurs

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Manu Ginobili is back. With a rather cumbersome looking brace on his sprained right elbow, but he is back.

And that could make Game 2 between the Grizzlies and Spurs a lot different than Game 1.

In the first game, the Grizzlies focused their defensive efforts on Tony Parker (4-of-12 shooting), tried hard to stop kick-outs to three-point shooters (even if it meant fouling) and dared Gary Neal and George Hill to beat them in the midrange. They Spurs as a team shot just 21 percent (7-of-33) on midrange shots. Good looks that normally fall for San Antonio clanked out.

This game will be different. Ginobili changes how the Grizzlies have to defend on the perimeter, particularly on the pick-and-roll, and they can expect better shooting from the Spurs.

Memphis still has a real chance, because they can be dominant with their big men. Last game Marc Gasol was 9-of-10 and Zach Randolph could not miss a midrange jumper. That matchup will not change, but the Grizzlies need to get similar, monster effort from their big men. Yes, the Spurs have that Duncan guy (and he was big in Game 1) but inside is where Memphis has to own this series.

The Grizzlies also have O.J. Mayo and Shane Battier, who can have big games. Battier really did, posting up smaller Spurs guards most of the game then draining the game winning three.

Expect a much better game from the Spurs. We’ll see if it’s a game with as many fouls and free throws as Game 1 (80 trips to the line combined), as that also seemed to throw the Spurs off their rhythm.

Game 1 was huge for Memphis and it’s confidence, but Game 2 is a lot more what this series is going to look like.

Rich Cho on Trail Blazers getting swept: ‘Being a previous Portland GM, that didn’t disappoint me’

AP Photo/The Charlotte Observer, Jeff Willhelm
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In 2011, the Trail Blazers surprisingly fired Rich Cho after only season as general manager.

Cho – since hired and fired by the Hornets – seems to be holding a grudge.

John Canzano of The Oregonian:

That’s a sentiment many people hold toward their former employer. Few say so publicly. That Cho did indicates just how strongly he feels.

Under owner Paul Allen, the Trail Blazers have run through numerous executives. It’s part of the culture in Portland, and it leaves a lot of outgoing people bitter.

Current general manager Neil Olshey ought to be mindful of that.

Josh Allen’s old tweet: ‘I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks’

AP Photo/Margaret Bowles
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Josh Allen, a quarterback from Wyoming, could be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NFL draft. But his recently unearthed high school tweets – which include using the n-word with an ‘a’ at the end – are the sports story of the day.

And there’s an NBA tie.

Via Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports:

I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks

— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) June 7, 2011

Damian Lillard went down this same road with LeBron James, and they got past it.

But it would be a little more awkward if the Cleveland Browns – who have the Nos. 1 and 4 picks – take Allen. Then, Allen will face more scrutiny over this tweet – the most innocuous of the bunch.

Donovan Mitchell tells Thunder fans, Jazz teammates Utah not returning to Oklahoma City this season

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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The Jazz blew a 25-point second-half lead in Game 5 last night, extending their series with the Thunder. Up 3-2, the Jazz are still in control. They can close out in Game 6 tomorrow in Utah. Blow that, and they must return to Oklahoma City for Game 7 Sunday.

But Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell is making it abundantly clear he doesn’t plan to do that.

Gabe Ikard of The Franchise 107.7:

Jake Edmonds of KUTV:

A confident proclamation that rallies his team or youthful exuberance run amok?

The narrative will be decided after Game 6. That’s just how this is done.

Report: Grizzlies moving toward keeping J.B. Bickerstaff as coach

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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From the moment Robert Pera opted to retain control of the Grizzlies and end a prolonged ownership saga, it seemed interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff would remain Memphis’ coach.

Lo and behold…

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Bickerstaff did a decent job before the Grizzlies started tanking. But that was a small a sample, and his prior work as Rockets interim coach was uninspiring.

To be fair to Bickerstaff, those were both difficult situations. He’s an experienced assistant who might be ready for this challenge.

To be less fair to Bickerstaff, this looks like Memphis taking the cheap route. The Grizzlies didn’t appear to conduct much of a coaching search, if any. Nor has Bickerstaff been mentioned with other openings. It probably won’t cost as much to hire him as it would a more-established option.

Memphis seems to be operating under the belief that a healthy Mike Conley and Marc Gasol will right the ship next season. And they might. But given the age and injury history of those two, I wouldn’t assume they stay healthy and productive all season. Even if they do, they’d have to carry an underwhelming supporting cast – with limited room for upgrade this summer – in a deep Western Conference.

The Grizzlies want Bickerstaff, who’d be a first-time non-interim head coach, leading that team trying to win now? That doesn’t seem like the right risk-reward balance – at least until considering his salary, and even then.