The Spurs visit the Thunder tonight in a rematch of the thrilling Western Conference Finals from last spring.
The Thunder come into the game having won their last 10 games and in possession of the conference’s best record. The Spurs enter the game winning six of their last eight games and have the conference’s second best record.
What the Spurs won’t have, however, are three of the best perimeter players, including Manu Ginobili who injured his quadricep against the Celtics on Saturday:
Ginobili was considered doubtful to play tonight, so this isn’t that big of a surprise. Gregg Popovich will not rush players back from injury, even if it’s a big game against a major conference rival.
That said, when you combine Ginobili being out with Kawhi Leonard (missed the last 16 games) and Stephen Jackson (missed the last 14 games), the Spurs are extremely thin on the wing. Luckily they’re not facing a team with several great players on the perimeter to take advantage.
Oh, that’s right. The Spurs are facing the Thunder with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Martin on the wing. This will certainly not end well for San Antonio who will look Danny Green and Gary Neal to raise their games tonight.
And while no team gets more out of their role players than San Antonio, facing this specific Thunder team will be a tall task. So while it’s typically foolish to doubt the Spurs, this is one of those games you can do so safely.
Did LeBron James lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2012 and 2013?
If you haven’t already gotten your fix of laughing at children, here’s a kid who guessed that happened:
The question, as you surely know, is who are the Miami Heat?
The Warriors signed Kevin Durant.
The Celtics claimed they finished second for the superstar free agent.
And the bronze medal goes to…
Doc Rivers on The Vertical Podcast with Woj, as transcribed by CSN Bay Area:
And we were in it. We were in the Top 3 at the very end
We asked a simple question, and the first question I asked was, ‘Are we in the Top 3?’ And they said ‘Yes.’ So that made us feel good. My next question was, ‘Are we in the Top 2?’ And we had made the decision if they say ‘No’ then we go, if they say ‘Yes’ we stay. And they said ‘No.’
This is all obviously quite silly. It mostly matters only where Durant plays, not where he came closer to playing. Golden State won. Everyone else lost.
But teams are fighting for perception, trying to send a message to the next superstar free that they’re a legitimate destination.
I just have a hard time believing the Clippers were actually third and ahead of re-signing with the Thunder. The Clippers didn’t have enough cap space to keep Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and give Durant a max contract.
I believe Durant could’ve told the Clippers they ranked third because he liked their pitch and the statement was largely superficial. But if it actually came down to it, would Durant have taken a reduced salary or joined a team depleted by losing one of its stars? Those were the only two options for picking the Clippers.
I have my doubts, but at least Rivers has a narrative he can sell. And sell it he will.
A Malawian newspaper, writing about Michael Jordan’s statement on race, used the Crying Jordan photo accompany the article.
How did that happen?
A page designer who didn’t understand the meme? A joke never fixed before printing? A staff-wide ignorance of the photo’s cultural relevance?
Justin Block of The Huffington Post:
As it turns out, the newspaper is called The Nation, or The Malawi Nation. When reached for comment on Thursday afternoon, The Nation Senior News Analyst Joy Ndovi stated that using the Michael Jordan Crying meme was intentional, and said Sports Editor Garry Chirwa picked the photo.
Chirwa told us that when he read the story, he felt that the emotions packed within Jordan’s quote, “I could no longer keep silent,” were represented in the Michael Jordan Crying meme.
“I just imagined him crying,” Chirwa wrote via WhatsApp.
Ndovi echoed Chirwa’s sentiments:
The article on Jordan reacting to the violence in U.S. was just the perfect one for the meme to be used. It depicts the emotional state of the former NBA star. Though it might seem unconventional, what other photo could be more suitable than the infamous Crying Jordan meme?
I can think of a few.
Before signing with the Knicks to retire, Amar’e Stoudemire reportedly wanted to sign with the Suns this year and last.
He essentially confirmed both accounts.
Stoudemire, via Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:
“The last two years, we made phone calls to Phoenix but I wasn’t getting any positive response,” Stoudemire told azcentral sports on Thursday. “That would’ve been the perfect way to go out. I didn’t want to beg Phoenix. My heart was in two places – Phoenix and New York. I just went where I was wanted.”
According to the report, Stoudemire wanted to play for Phoenix next season — not just retire as a Sun. If that’s the case, I see why the team passed. The Suns have 15 players (the regular-season roster limit), are rebuilding and already have Tyson Chandler as a veteran big.
But if Stoudemire wanted sign an unguaranteed deal with the Suns then retire as a ceremonial move, it’s a little harder to explain Phoenix’s reluctance. Perhaps, the Suns were caught off guard by such a request. Nobody in memory had done something like that in the NBA. The gesture is far more common in football and baseball.
Either way, Stoudemire retiring as a Knick wasn’t designed to show a long-standing bitterness toward the Suns.
A recent bitterness toward the Suns? Maybe.