Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker

Spurs cruise past Trail Blazers, earn top seed in West


San Antonio wanted to wrap up the top seed in the West so they held nothing back Monday — they came into Portland and played all the big names, they came in with a real focus on the job.

The blew the doors of the Trail Blazers. The Spurs led by 13 after one quarter and it got a whole lot worse from there for Portland fans, until it mercifully ended 124-89. It was new vintage dominant Spurs this season, with an impressive offense in the lead role.

With the win the Spurs are the top seed in the West. They are tied with Chicago for the best record overall in the NBA, but the Bulls have the tiebreaker. Earlier this season it looked like the Thunder would run away with the top seed in the West but they have stumbled and been inconsistent for more than a month and that opened the door for a Spurs team that does not let opportunity pass it by. Oklahoma City will be the two seed in the West.

With this done, you can bet Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are done playing until the playoffs start this weekend.

What the Spurs do not know yet is who they face in the first round — Utah or Phoenix. Or maybe, but not likely, Denver. The game between the Jazz and the Suns Tuesday night in Utah will tell us a lot. Whichever of them it is, they will get steamrolled by a Spurs team whose offense is nearly an unstoppable machine right now.

Gordon Hayward goes behind Jordan Clarkson’s back with dribble

Gordon Hayward, Nick Young
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Utah’s Gordon Hayward abused the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson on this play.

First, Hayward reads and steals Clarkson’s poor feed into the post intended for Kobe Bryant, then going up the sideline he takes his dribble behind Clarkson’s back to keep going. It all ends in a Rudy Gobert dunk.

Three quick takeaways here:

1) Gordon Hayward is a lot better than many fans realize. He can lead this team.

2) It’s still all about the development with Clarkson, and that’s going to mean some hard lessons.

3) Hayward may have the best hair in the NBA, even if it’s going a bit Macklemore.

(Hat tip reddit)

Could Tristan Thompson’s holdout last months? Windhorst says yes.

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

VIZZINI: “So, it is down to you. And it is down to me.”
MAN IN BLACK nods and comes nearer…
MAN IN BLACK: “Perhaps an arrangement can be reached.”
VIZZINI: “There will be no arrangement…”
MAN IN BLACK: “But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.”

That farcical scene from The Princess Bride pretty much sums up where we are with the Tristan Thompson holdout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, minus the Iocane powder. (Although that scene was a battle of wits in the movie and this process seems to lack much wit.) The Cavaliers have put a five-year, $80 million offer on the table. Thompson wants a max deal (or at least a more than has been offered), but he also doesn’t want to play for the qualifying offer and didn’t sign it. LeBron James just wants the two sides just to get it done.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN thinks LeBron could be very disappointed.

Windhorst was on the Zach Lowe podcast at Grantland (which you should be listening to anyway) and had this to say about the Thompson holdout:

“I actually believe it will probably go months. This will go well into the regular season.”

Windhorst compared it to a similar situation back in 2007 with Anderson Varejao, which eventually only broke because the then Charlotte Bobcats signed Varejao to an offer sheet. Thompson is a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavaliers can match any offer, but only Portland and Philadelphia have the cap space right now to offer him a max contract. Neither team has shown any interest in doing so.

And so we wait. And we may be waiting a while.