Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Heat put together a complete game. That will beat anyone.

25 Comments

Welcome to PBT’s roundup of the day in NBA action. Or, what you missed while watching the video of the worst free throw attempt ever

Spurs 134, Rockets 126 (OT): There was a Linsanity flashback in Houston. Jeremy Lin took charge in the third quarter, slashed into the defense, hit rainbow jumpers and looked like the Lin of those few weeks in New York. Then the Spurs were the Spurs and just out executed everyone. Tony Parker had a triple-double. We broke it all down here.

Miami 101, Atlanta 92: Atlanta played well in this one, but when Miami puts together a complete game it’s not going to matter. Miami shot 58 percent as a team — Dwyane Wade was 11-of-13 shooting (26 points) while LeBron was 10-of-16 (27 points). Miami also had a better defensive game than they had recently forcing turnovers that let them get out and run.

As well as Miami played Atlanta took a 65-63 lead on a deep Jeff Teague three with 6:30 left in the third quarter. Miami had been sloppy with the ball for a stretch and it cost them. But then the run came. Wade hit a 17-footer coming off a screen. Chalmers with a steal and LeBron with the fast break finish with authority. Wade, as the ball handler off pick and roll, gets to free throw line and pulls up for two. LeBron drives the lane and kicks out to Battier for a corner three. Suddenly it’s 72-65. Atlanta’s Jeff Teague tried to stem the flow w with a runner high off the glass, but next time down Wade drew the foul and hit two free throws. Following a Teague turnover, Lebron made a pass to a cutting Wade in transition. It was a13-2 Heat Run. After a Hawks illegal defense, and it was Heat by 10 and they never really looked back. Any time Atlanta made a push, LeBron answered.

Mavericks 119, Kings 96: Dallas went on a 22-2 to start the second quarter and that was pretty much it for the competitive portion of this one. This was a solid, professional win for the Mavericks. That and the Kings were awful. O.J. Mayo led six Mavs in double figures with 19 (he hit three of four from three point land), while DeMarcus Cousins and Francisco Garcia each had 25 for Sacramento.

Sixers 104, Pistons 97: This game was close most of the way, it was It was tied 80-80 with Detroit doing a surprising amount of running to stay in it (the Pistons had 20 first half fast break points). Detroit cut it to 98-95 late in the fourth quarter — but a Jrue Holiday three was the dagger. Holiday had 25 points, Turner had 18 on 8-of-13 shooting, Thaddeus Young added an efficient 20. The Sixers won this in the second half when they scored 58 points. Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight each dropped in 22 points for the Pistons.

Warriors 94, Bobcats 86: The Bobcats were trying to avoid losing their 8th straight while snapping the Warriors 3 game winning streak, but were unsuccessful. The Dubs jumped on the ‘Cats early with David Lee (17 first half points, 25 for the game) the catalyst to an 18 point Golden State lead at the half. Lee was joined by the dynamic play of Stephen Curry (27 points, 7 assists), whose all around game kept Charlotte off balance all evening.

The Bobcats, led by Kemba Walker’s 24 points, did make a push in the 2nd half by holding the Warriors to 46 points (11 in the 4th quarter), but the hole they dug themselves in the first 24 minutes proved too much to overcome.
—Darius Soriano

Trail Blazers 92, Raptors 74: The big news out of this was Amir Johnson fighting with the law. And the law won. He was ejected.

But maybe the second biggest news was Portland setting an NBA record for futility going 0-of-20 from three. That is quite a feat in its own right.

As for the basketball game surrounding that show, the Blazers took control in the third with an 13-2 run, sparked in part by LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 30 points and 12 boards. The Blazers may not have hit threes but they owned the paint and got 54 of their points in there. J.J. Hickson was part of that getting 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting. DeMar DeRozan had 20 for Toronto.

Serge Ibaka, Giannis Antetokounmpo trade massive blocks during Raptors-Bucks (VIDEO)

AP
Leave a comment

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a long dude. So is Toronto Raptors big man Serge Ibaka. The two faced off in Game 6 at the Bradley Center on Thursday night, so it makes sense the two wound up using one of their most impressive physical assets against each other.

Let the battle of length begin!

Via Twitter:

That’s Ibaka blocking the Milwaukee Bucks star on an attempt at the rim, on a dunk no less. That was impressive, no doubt, but just a minute later, it was Antetokounpmo coming through with a big time block on DeMar DeRozan:

But DeRozan got his revenge later in the fourth quarter, throwing down a dunk over the Bucks defense that was perhaps the finger in the wall needed to stop the leak that was Toronto’s disastrous final period.

DeRozan and the Raptors got the last laugh, winning the closeout game on the road, 92-89. Toronto will go on to play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semi finals.

Should the Trail Blazers go after Pacers star Paul George? CJ McCollum says yes

AP
1 Comment

The Portland Trail Blazers need to do something drastic this offseason. Fans in Oregon should be expecting something big with a roster of players prime for the trade market and three first round picks in GM Neil Olshey’s pocket for the 2017 NBA Draft.

Who should Portland go after? That is a tough question to answer.

The Blazers are not exactly a huge free agent destination, although the city is changing its reputation toward NBA players in recent years with the help of star players Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who have fully embraced Oregon’s largest city.

McCollum, in fact, has his own opinion on who the Blazers should go after this summer: Indiana Pacers star Paul George.

Via Twitter:

George, who is under contract for 2017-18 but has a player option for 2018-19, has been rumored to desire playing in Los Angeles. In any case, fans around the league are looking at George as a potential trade candidate.

He would certainly do well on the Blazers, who had a disappointing 41-41 season in 2016-17. After a surprising effort last year, the Trail Blazers were slotted to expand upon their finish in 2016. But a sluggish start from Damian Lillard mixed with one of the worst defensive rosters in the NBA found them battling for the No. 8 seed come the end of the season. Even still, a miraculous stretch of good play after the All-Star Game was what it took for the Blazers to beat out the likes of Denver, Dallas, and Sacramento for the final playoff spot.

We know now that the Blazers were swept by the top-seeded Golden State Warriors, and up here in the Northwest it only solidified the fact Portland needs to get better on the wing.

Last season, Al-Farouq Aminu showed he could shoot a league average percentage from 3-point range, which helped relieve some pressure off Lillard and CJ McCollum. But Aminu regressed to shooting 33 percent from deep in 2017, and although Maurice Harkless did an excellent job as a young starter he’s not yet the kind of dynamic offensive player the Blazers need to be a Top 4 team in the West.

Aminu projects for Portland better as a 4, and with Jusuf Nurkic now anchoring the center position, the goal for Portland will be to strengthen the wing and flesh out the bench.

George would be an excellent get, but the Blazers would need to have the salaries match in any trade with Indiana. Allen Crabbe seems the most likely option, given his RFA match for Portland was a clear move to retain an asset. Evan Turner occupied a lot of guard minutes for Portland, and it seems the Blazers aim to keep him.

Meanwhile, you have other players like Meyers Leonard and Ed Davis who still have some value and could help Portland’s cap situation or work as part of a trade with Indiana.

Having watched Portland closely the past six seasons or so, and seeing how parts of this roster has developed, it would make the most sense to add a third star to this team. Turner hamstrings the bench unit with his gargantuan $17 million salary next season, so building out the bench unit under him still won’t put the Blazers in a position to compete with the top teams in the West without another star.

I think the clearest way to capitalize on the prime part of the careers for Lillard and McCollum is to grab another star right now. George might be out of reach — and he reportedly wants to play in LA anyway — but I think the Blazers should think big this offseason. Whether that means trading for George or doing something else bold remains to be seen.

Report: Clippers’ management remains committed to re-signing Blake Griffin

Getty Images
1 Comment

Maybe Friday night in Utah, maybe not for a few weeks, but the Clippers season is going to end before they reach the conference finals, and with Blake Griffin sidelined by injury. It’s an all-too-familiar scene. It will be six seasons of the Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Griffin experience in Los Angeles, and they will not have gotten out of the second round (unless you think they can come back on the Jazz from down 3-2, then beat the Warriors).

That has come with a lot of talk about the Clippers breaking up the core. Jordan remains under contract, Paul would be too hard to replace, and that leads to a lot of speculation — inside and outside the league — that Griffin could be on the move this summer, when he becomes a free agent.

That’s not what the Clippers want, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports in a video essay.

Management remains committed to signing him to a long-term deal this summer, league sources tell me.

Doc Rivers has said he wants to bring back this core. Multiple times. His argument is that this is a 50+ win team that is one of the better teams in the NBA, why would you take a big step back rather than look for the tweaks that get the team to a title?

Steve Ballmer has the checkbook deep enough to pay both Paul and Griffin max money (although keeping fellow free agent J.J. Redick as well would be difficult). The Clippers will have one of the highest payrolls in the NBA, and is this team worth that? Especially in a conference where the Mount Everest of Golden State is not going anywhere for a few years, not to mention the Spurs and Rockets will remain good, Utah is on the rise, and so are teams like the Wolves. The Clippers will be a good team that needs a lot of breaks to go their way to really contend — how much would Ballmer pay for that?

The Clippers need to do some soul searching this offseason.

Just don’t be shocked if the result of that is them running this team back again.

Playing through sore knee, Jimmy Butler says “I’m good,” will go in Game 6

Getty Images
1 Comment

At this point in the season, everyone is banged up. It’s just a matter of degree.

But with Rajon Rondo listed as out for Game 6, the Bulls’ need a big game from Jimmy Butler if they are going to extend this series to a Game 7. And he is not near 100 percent.

In Game 4, Butler banged knees with a Celtic and it impacted him during Game 5, as Vincent Goodwill detailed at CSNChicago.com.

But he could only muster two shots and barely seemed to push off on his left foot—his lead foot, and it hampered what the Bulls could do late as he was their prime fourth-quarter performer.

He couldn’t even go straight up on a jumper over the diminutive Isaiah Thomas without pump-faking, throwing off his rhythm. He wouldn’t elaborate on the injury, although he said it happened during the second half of Game 4 on Sunday night when he collided with a Celtics player.

“I’m good. Everyone’s a little nicked up; I’ll be all right,” Butler said in the locker room.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune added this detail.

Boston has done a good job of limiting the number of times Isaiah Thomas is exposed on defense, having to cover Wade or Butler. Essentially, the Celtics switch in sort of a matchup zone to keep IT covering a shooter on the wing, even if his man goes up and sets the pick. Zone’s can be exposed (there’s a reason they’re more a change-of-pace rather than a basic set defense in the NBA), but it involves getting into the middle, getting into the paint. Which comes back to driving the ball and pushing off, things that Butler is struggling to do at his usual level.

There are a lot of other factors favoring Boston in Game 6, but if Chicago is going to force a Game 7 Sunday they need Butler to be an All-NBA level player.