It didn’t take a scout’s eye the last few games to realize that when Ramon Sessions was on the floor, the Lakers offense was much, much better. We’ve covered all this before — with Sessions on the floor the Lakers offense has been as good as any in the league.
That situation led to calls all over Lakersland to start Sessions over Steve Blake. Which is kind of a moot point — Sessions played nearly 29 minutes against the Mavericks last game and Blake 17. The old coaching axiom is it doesn’t matter who starts a game, it matters who finishes — Sessions played in the fourth quarter and Blake sat against Dallas.
But still, usually you want to start your best players. And so Sessions is getting the start Friday night against Portland, Brown told the media at shootaround.
It’s the smart move. The Lakers with Sessions starting could get out to an early lead and get a comfortable win against a slumping Portland team. But take them lightly, start slow and you can end up losing like Memphis did Thursday night.
This is the rotation everyone knows the Lakers would have in the playoff, better to get guys comfortable in roles and rotations now to build good habits for the playoffs. Or, at least that’s what Mike Brown is hoping.
Jonas Valanciunas was active in Game 4, but he didn’t play.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey, via Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic
“Hopefully we can get him involved,” Casey said. “Again, it depends on the lineup they have on the court. I know he’s our starting centre but it’s tough to put him out there if they’re playing Channing Frye big minutes at the five.”
“The thing about it is with our five-man, it helps us when we have to switch, especially when they’re playing Love at the five or Frye at the five,” Casey said. “It gives us the flexibility to switch Bismack. It’s a luxury that we have that.”
Toronto won, anyway. So, there’s no griping about Valanciunas remaining stuck on the bench last night.
But Valanciunas could still help the Raptors, who were outscored by three in Game 4 when Bismack Biyombo sat.
Valanciunas’ injury will probably still limit his minutes, which is fine. There’s limited opportunity for him to be effective. As Casey said, Kevin Love and Channing Frye – who already help the Cavs get so many open 3-pointers – are tough matchups for Valanciunas.
But Valanciunas can battle Tristan Thompson inside and on the glass without getting put through the ringer on the perimeter. If Casey picks his spots when Thompson plays, Valanciunas should have a role the rest of this series – at least if he’s healthy enough to play near his standards.
The Oklahoma City Thunder went small and blew out the dreaded “death lineup” of the Warriors.
After looking completely overmatched for two games, the Toronto Raptors have evened the series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Yet all anyone seems to want to talk about is Draymond Green kicking Steven Adams in the nether regions, and how the league handled that. So in this latest NBC Sports/PBT Podcast Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports start with Green’s kick, move on to his poor play in general in Game 3, and discuss Game 4 and the rest of that series. Also covered is Toronto and Cleveland, plus a little talk about Nate McMillan to Indiana and Frank Vogel to Orlando.
As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes, download it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.
Draymond Green answered the first three questions he faced today – each about not being suspended for kicking Steven Adams in the groin – with: “That is a great question,” “That is a great question” and “That is a great statement.”
Then, he got a little more revealing.
Green, via Tim Kawakami of Talking Points:
I’m never going to be careful; I’m just going to be me and the game will play out the way it will play out.
Green should be more careful.
1. He’s reached the playoff limit of flagrant-foul points without being suspended. Another flagrant 1 would cost him a game and a flagrant 2 would cost him two games. Even if he didn’t intentionally kick Adams in the groin, doing the exact same thing would draw another flagrant 2. Losing Green for two games would devastate the Warriors.
2. He frequently kicks out his legs on drives. It might be more remarkable he didn’t hurt anyone before this. if you take Green at his word – and I do on this – he doesn’t want to see anyone injured. He can do his part to decrease the odds of someone getting hurt.
There’s a way for Green to play with passion/swagger/emotion/tenacity while being careful, at least careful enough to avoid being reckless. He needs to find the line.
The Rockets were reportedly considering Mike D’Antoni or Stephen Silas (with Lionel Hollins as lead assistant) to be their head coach.
Then, they interviewed James Borrego and Adrian Griffin.
Apparently, those late interviews carried weight.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Leslie Alexander is getting involved in this process, apparently kiboshing Jeff Van Gundy. If Borrego is meeting with Alexander, that means something.
Borrego failed to impress during his interim stint with the Magic, but that might mean nothing more than that. Running a team from the start is different than taking over midseason.
The Rockets will surely ask about his experience in Orlando, and he’s getting a couple chances to explain it – and why his experience with the Spurs prepared him for this opportunity.