NBA Playoffs: Clippers dominate 4th quarter, win Game 7

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Through 27 quarters of basketball, the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers played each other to an absolute standstill. The two teams had traded blows throughout the playoffs, and the Clippers came into the final quarter of Game 7 with a 1-point lead in a hostile arena.

Then, after 36 minutes of profoundly ugly basketball, the Clippers finally got some offense going — and it didn’t even come from Blake Griffin or Chris Paul. Los Angeles’ two superstars combined for a grand total of two points and zero assists in the fourth quarter, and those two points came when Paul was intentionally fouled with the Clippers up eight points with 28 seconds remaining in the game.

The Clippers won game 7 by beating the Grizzlies at their own game — the team known as “Lob City” forced the Western Conference’s best defensive team into an absolutely abysmal offensive performance.

The numbers are ugly for the Grizzlies, who only managed to score 72 points on 32.5% shooting from the field. The team didn’t make a single three-pointer all game, and Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, and Zach Randolph combined to shoot 6-36 from the field. Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay both had solid games, scoring 19 points apiece, but the Grizzlies really had no chance of getting any offense going with Randolph and their entire backcourt shooting so poorly. Through most of this series, the Grizzlies looked like a better team than the Clippers, but they simply melted down on their home floor when it mattered most. After their fantastic 1st-round upset last season, this is a team that will have a lot to stew over this offseason.

The Clippers now have a date with the Spurs, who will, to be frank, tear through them like a wet napkin if the Clippers don’t bring their absolute A-game. That means that Paul and Griffin have to get back to 100%, the role players will have to step up, they will have to get tough on defense, and they’ll most likely have to get a little lucky. The Spurs will go into their series with the Clippers as heavy favorites, but the Clippers showed in this game, which they were heavily favored to lose, and the 4th quarter of Game 1 that betting against them isn’t always the best idea.

Jazz boost international bona fides with new minor-league coach

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Martin Schiller has been named coach of the Salt Lake City Stars, the Utah Jazz’s NBA G League affiliate.

Schiller previously served as an assistant coach of MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany and replaces Dean Cooper. He was an assistant coach for the Artland Dragons from 2010-15.

Schiller has also been an assistant coach on the German National Team since 2015, where he worked with Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen.

Schiller hails from Vienna, Austria, and Stars vice president of basketball operations Bart Taylor lauded him for his international experience and player development background.

The Jazz organization is known to have close relationships with the international basketball community. The Jazz currently have eight international players.

Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 with Celtics

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BOSTON (AP) — Newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 in Boston because the Celtics already have retired the numbers he wore in college and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving wore No. 11 at two New Jersey high schools before switching to No. 1 at Duke. He wore No. 2 with the Cavaliers for the first six years of his NBA career.

The Celtics retired No. 1 for founder and original owner Walter Brown. They retired No. 2 for former coach and general manager Red Auerbach.

In all, the Celtics have retired 21 numbers, with Paul Pierce’s No. 34 next in line for the TD Garden rafters.

 

PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ new GM aces first big test with Kyrie Irving trade

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Everyone in the NBA — heck, nearly everyone living in the Western hemisphere — knew Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. That should kill the Cavaliers’ leverage and make it hard to get enough quality back.

New GM Koby Altman — the guy thrust into the job when David Griffin was shown the door — pulled it off brilliantly.

That’s what I talk about in this new PBT Extra. With Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the East this season. The Brooklyn Nets pick gives them flexibility going forward, whatever LeBron James decides to do next season.

First time at the plate in the big leagues and Altman crushed it to straight away center field.

Cavaliers-Celtics deal first offseason trade involving players who just met in NBA Finals or conference finals

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The Cavaliers and Celtics played in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams were widely expected to meet there again.

Yet, Cleveland and Boston just completed a blockbuster trade – Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

That seemed odd.

In fact, it’s unprecedented.

That is an incredible fact, one which speaks to LeBron Jamescachet. The Cavs are emphasizing this season, LeBron’s last before a player option, by loading up with veterans Thomas and Crowder. With LeBron still reigning in Cleveland, the Celtics are delaying their peak by acquiring the younger Irving.

Adding to the intrigue: the Cavs and Celtics are still favored to meet in this year’s conference finals. At minimum, they’ll face off in a(n even more) highly anticipated opening-night matchup.