Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers - Game One

NBA Playoffs: It’s not all about the Lakers… but it’s close

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I don’t want to write that Game 2 is really about the Lakers — how they adjust, what effort they bring, whether they stick with their game plan. Because that is dismissive of a very good Mavericks team. This version of Dallas is different — past Mavs teams would have lost Game 1, not taken advantage of the Lakers many miscues down the stretch. These Mavs are not soft (Tyson Chandler sees to that).

But really, it’s about the Lakers.

Because it was about those miscues. About being clutch. When these two teams play their best games, the Lakers will win. And while Dallas was not at its best, the Lakers were farther away from that ideal Monday. If Los Angeles acts like the veteran team, comes out and plays with some real desperation and passion, Dallas will not be able to stop the series from being tied 1-1.

But we don’t know what we will get from the Lakers. What’s more, this year’s Lakers have been so inconsistent that to expect a switch to be flipped would be the big mistake. The question is how many chances does Dallas get and can they capitalize on enough? If they capitalize on Game 2 they will be a long way to a huge upset.

There will be a few adjustments for Game 2. One is talk that the Lakers may give Ron Artest some time on Dirk Nowitzki, who put up 28 and looked like he could get what he wanted for much of Game 1. Pau Gasol struggled to slow Dirk, Lamar Odom was the better matchup. Artest is physical, maybe that bothers Nowitzki, but the fact is a 7-foot guy who can shoot rainbow fadeaways cannot be stopped on a hot night. Doesn’t matter who is on him. But the Lakers will try some different looks.

As for the Lakers, look for them to return to getting the ball inside. They did a reasonable job of that in the first half (Gasol had 9 points on 5 shots, plus 6 rebounds in the first 24 before his error filled ending) but after a Lakers run at the start of the third Los Angeles fell in love with the jumper and stopped feeding the beast in the paint. Look for Los Angeles to assert Andrew Bynum early and often, to go right at Tyson Chandler.

Also, look for Kobe Bryant to attack off the dribble and try to draw contact, not just shoot jumpers. Well, unless his ankle is worse than everyone lets on.

None of these adjustments are really a surprise. It’s a matter of execution and focus.

For the Lakers, they better have enough to get the win. If they go down 0-2, there should be real desperation in L.A.

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.