It was what made Dallas’ run to the championship last year so special — at the end of games they always seemed to make the right play, Dirk Nowitzki always seemed to hit the shot.
In two games against Oklahoma City, it has been the opposite. In Game 2, Nowitzki had a wide-open look at a three and missed it. He is 0-3 in the final two minutes of this playoff series when the score is within five points (according to the NBA’s on stats database). Jason Terry is 1-3 in that same situation.
At the other end of the court, Kevin Durant is 2-3 in that same situation, even if one of those shots had to touch a lot of the rim to go down. Serge Ibaka is 2-2 and James Harden has gotten to the free throw line four times (and hit them all).
This has been an incredibly close and entertaining first round playoff series, which is was last year but now the roles have reversed on who can close out well. All season Dallas has been pretty pedestrian at the end of games (which is being kind, they are one of the worst shooting teams at the ends of games this year by the NBA’s own stats), but if they don’t do it Thursday night in Game 3 they can start booking their family vacations for next week.
The real hero in this series for Oklahoma City has been Russell Westbrook, averaging 28.5 points per game. Westbrook is a tough defensive match for Jason Kidd but Dallas has done a good job forcing Westbrook to be a jump shooter. The problem is he is 15-27 (55.6 percent) from 10 feet out to the arc (according to Hoopdata). When a guy that fast is knocking down his jumpers, he’s impossible to stop.
And at some point, you know Kevin Durant will find his shot (he is 15-44 this series). Part of the credit there should go to Shawn Marion for his defense, which has been so good he mmay get time on Westbrook in Game 3, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.
Jason Terry has called this the Game 7 for the Mavericks, which it is in a lot of ways. Lose and they are done. But can these Mavericks find that old spark, especially late in the game? Maybe. You know it’s going to be close if the first two games are any indication.
With trade rumors swirling, Goran Dragic told the Suns in February 2015 that he wouldn’t re-sign the following summer. Dragic said he no longer trusted Phoenix’s front office.
So, the Suns traded him to Miami.
But did they have to?
Then-Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek apparently got Dragic to change his stance.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
Within days of Hornacek having a heart-to-heart with Dragic and securing a commitment from the Slovenian point guard to re-sign with the Suns as a free agent the following summer, the Suns shipped him to Miami in a three-team trade, a person familiar with the situation told CBS Sports.
This substantially changes how we view that trade. At the time, it seemed the Suns got a tremendous haul for a player they were going to lose anyway. But if they could’ve re-signed him, it changes the equation.
Maybe not enough to say Phoenix erred, though.
Dragic was clearly wavering in his thinking. He later said he regretted his harsh comments about the front office. Just because he told Hornacek he’d re-sign doesn’t mean he was bound to re-sign
And Phoenix got solid return – a top-seven protected 2017 first-rounder that becomes unprotected in 2018 and an unprotected 2021 first-rounder. Picks with so few protections rarely move anymore. The Heat look solid right now, but they’re fairly old. That far into the future, anything can happen – giving those picks great upside.
So, maybe the Suns still made the right move. But maybe just keeping Dragic was more on the table than we previously realized.
Kyle Lowry popularized the late-night workout in these playoffs, but he’s not the only one to practice until the wee hours.
Raptors teammate DeMar DeRozan shot until about 1 a.m. Monday, according to Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com, preceding Toronto’s Game 4 win over the Cavaliers.
But the funniest part came when DeRozan arrived at the arena earlier.
Upon entry into the bowl area, a female security guard spotted him and stopped him. She asked what he was doing there and even went as far to ask if he worked at the arena.
DeRozan just chuckled and kept walking down the 100-level steps and onto the court where his backcourt teammate Kyle Lowry was waiting. The security guard called for backup, assuming a possible trespasser was on the scene.
Once help arrived and saw who was on the court, he said to his colleague, “That’s our two best players.” He was not quite accurate. On Monday night, those two were the two best players on the court.
“That was the first time that ever happened,” DeRozan said of the incident. “I just laughed about it. You know me. I wasn’t tripping. You can call the whole security team in here and obviously somebody is going to know, but she was just doing her job.”
Jeremy Lin ought to feel better now.
This is putting the “carousel” in coaching carousel.
Hornets assistant Stephen Silas (a Rockets head-coaching candidate) and Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts (a Grizzlies head-coaching candidate) are also both interviewing to become the Warriors’ lead assistant. If Tibbetts gets the job, Portland would have a vacancy, so…
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Portland also was granted permission Sunday to talk to Silas about being its top assistant, league sources said.
Working for Steve Kerr in Golden State – which propelled Alvin Gentry to Pelicans head coach last year and Luke Walton to Lakers head coach this year – is probably preferable. But Silas’ star is rising, regardless. He’s a highly regarded assistant coach.
Terry Stotts, contract extension in hand, could add Silas without fearing being undermined. That’s the value of giving head coaches security. Hiring good assistants becomes more tenable.
Why would Silas leave another good coach, Steve Clifford in Charlotte, for the Trail Blazers? I don’t know for certain, but in these situations, there’s usually one place to start: money. Portland’s willingness to spend could pay off.
While a couple of the big chairs have yet to be filled — Houston still hasn’t settled on a coach, neither has Memphis — the assistant coaching spots around the league are starting to fill up.
Marc Stein of ESPN dropped some nuggets about the bench of Nate McMillan in Indiana and Dave Joerger in Sacramento:
Bayno, the former UNLV head coach, had not been in the NBA this season but had been with Dwane Casey in Toronto the two seasons before that, and before that had been an assistant with Minnesota and Portland.
Corliss Willamson had been popular with players in Sacramento, as had Nancy Lieberman — but she also had a big fan on owner Vivek Ranadive. She is one of only two full-time female assistant coaches in the NBA (along with Becky Hammond in San Antonio).