Any discussion of Game 2 between the Clippers and Grizzlies has to start at the end of Game 1, when a 28-3 run by Los Angeles led to an improbable comeback win.
It was devastating to Memphis. Can the Grizzlies put that behind them and bounce back?
If the Grizzlies can, will the Clippers be able to alter the course of the first 40 minutes of that game when they were owned by Memphis? Can the Clippers overcome the loss of Caron Butler with a broken hand?
You can bet you will see a desperate Memphis team that knows it cannot go down 0-2 at home. You can bet the Clippers will be motivated now and make this a closer contest throughout:
Three things to watch:
1) How do the Clippers defend Rudy Gay now? Caron Butler gave the Clippers a veteran, physical wing defender, although the Grizzlies did a good job of forcing bigs to switch onto Gay off picks, then Gay took advantage. But Butler broke his hand. Now? At the three it may be Nick Young, who brings a lot of offense but not much defense. Vinny Del Negro’s other options is the steady but unspectacular Bobby Simmons. Either way the Grizzlies can’t let Memphis switch him into mismatches that he can exploit. Although Young is already a mismatch. Basically, Gay may have a big day and the Clippers have to counter it
2) Can the Clippers get Blake Griffin going, too? Chris Paul is the guy who make s the Clippers offense go. He’s the man. But Griffin is a tough defensive matchup — he has moves and can score out of the post, and if you bring the double he’s a better passer than you think. The Clippers need to counter what Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol can do by making them work on defense and getting Griffin going is key. They need more than just him dunking in transition.
3) Can Zach Randolph get going? Last season he was the reason the Grizzlies upset the Spurs — he was a force in the low block. He has fantastic footwork that creates space for a guy with an amazingly soft touch. But he is not yet 100 percent and it has looked that way. They need him, they need him to make Blake Griffin work (or get in foul trouble), they need his buckets. He will be key.
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.
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.
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.
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.