Observations from Drew/Goodman payback game

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It was fun.

At the end of the day, that’s all you can really take away from the Pyramid on the Long Beach State campus and the Drew League vs. Goodman League rematch. John Wall and Kevin Durant and Nick Young had monster dunks. There were 195 points scored. Fun is all it should be. You can’t read much into the basketball being played, which is some blacktop hoops just moved indoors for a larger crowd (and they sold out the building). It got a little more serious in the fourth quarter, more intense, but this was still street ball.

Really, this is a game where you need to see the video, and we will bring you some highlights later. All that said, here are a few observations from the game.

• Kevin Durant seems more comfortable and able to create his own shot than I remember from previous years. His handles seem smoother. We’ll see how that translates against defenses stacked against him (even the Drew League brought hard and fast doubles at him at times to get the ball out of his hands) but again he looked like the best scorer in the league. Also, when Durant cradles the ball on his drive it is impressive — his stride is so long he can cover an amazing amount of ground with the step the rules allow him. That and a steady jumper with insane range make him just a scoring machine.

This summer of pro-am games has been good to him, he’s enjoyed the grass roots style publicity.

• James Harden played with him step for step and played that kind of feisty, smart basketball you expect of him.

• John Wall was a force of nature, had 55 points and some highlight dunks. hH is still the fastest guy in the league end-to-end with the ball, he’s like roadrunner while everyone else is the coyote fast. These free flowing games are made for him, but his jumper seems steadier than it was last season, he has a confidence with it now. If that gets going and he can stay healthy next season, he could explode.

• Rudy Gay said after the game he felt like he is at 85 percent after the shoulder surgery, but he looked strong and quick out there. He had some real rust — he missed a few gimmes — but his smooth scoop shot driving to the rim was still there. He also just spun around a good defender in Trevor Ariza a few times.

• Michael Beasley fouled out with two points in a game where little defense was played. He missed a lot of layups. He was just bad.

• JaVale McGee should have dominated this game — there was nobody his size on the court. Instead he was just average. So, this was a lot like most Wizards games.

• Matt Barnes got a technical, as did John Wall, which was pretty funny. They also had trouble with the 24-second clock all night long, which was just annoying because nobody took longer than 10 second to shoot all game.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.

 

Paul Millsap says the expected, he will “most likely” opt out of contract

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This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:

Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.

Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.

“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.

Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).

By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).

But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.