Who’s next on the Brooklyn hot seat? Here’s a list of recycled coaches they may call.

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It may be a while before we know who will be the next coach for the Brooklyn Nets in the wake of Avery Johnson’s sudden firing on Thursday. As in 2013. Sam Amick of USA Today reports the Nets don’t plan to really jump start the coaching search until after the first of the year.

Whichever coach takes over the Brooklyn Nets next had better like the roster as it is now because they are pretty much locked into it for a few years. Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and even the hustling Gerald Wallace would be hard to trade with their deals. And nobody wants to trade Deron Williams, they just need a coach who can get through to him (and shake him out of his shooting slump.

And he better like pressure, because Johnson’s firing shows this is not a patient ownership — Mikhail Prokhorov wants to win now. They want the expectations high.

So, who is it going to be?

You can bet on an experienced coach and ideally a big name to fit in with the Brooklyn market. Someone who can get this roster to play better defense (good luck) and find an offensive identity.

Here are the big names that are out there:

• Phil Jackson. You can bet they will make the call and Prokhorov can write a large check to entice him, but his agent told David Aldridge of TNT he is not interested in the job at this time. Jackson seemed serious about the Lakers job less than two months ago, but that was a franchise he was comfortable with and players like Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol who already knew his triangle offensive system. The Nets roster isn’t nearly as talented as the Lakers and as a former Knick the Nets don’t hold the same allure. Jackson isn’t itching to come back to coach, it has to be a perfect situation for him to walk into a contender, and this isn’t it. This team isn’t that good.

• Stan Van Gundy. This should be their first call and the guy on top of the list. But it may not matter, Van Gundy has no interest reports the Orlando Sentinel. Brooklyn should call anyway. Why? Because his system in Orlando can fit in Brooklyn even if the Nets lost out in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes — a good offensive center in the middle (Lopez), a point guard who can penetrate and run the pick-and-roll (Williams) and guys who can knock down threes and just generally make shots (Johnson, to start with). More importantly, Van Gundy gets his players to defend. Finally, and most importantly, with some locker room turmoil Brooklyn needs a coach who can stand up to a star player like Williams and tell him how it is. Van Gundy can and would do that.

• Nate McMillan. This would be another good hire, a guy players respect that deserves another chance. He would bring a slowed-down, grind-it-out style that worked with Brandon Roy and could work with Williams and the Nets. It may not be “showtime” fun, but it has worked and gotten a lot of wins. He has a relationship with Williams from Team USA where McMillan was an assistant coach the past Olympics.

• Jeff Van Gundy. They may call to see if there is interest, but do you think he’s leaving the comforts of the broadcast booth and lifestyle to coach this roster? He will just give them Stan’s number.

• Jerry Sloan. Oh, this would provide some real entertainment. Terrible idea for the Nets, but great for bloggers everywhere. Sloan and Williams had issues in Utah, but now Williams is pining for the days of the flex offense. That would come in and Sloan would not put up with the selfish attitude that seems to have come over the team. He’s not young and he might not want to deal with the New York media, but man this would be entertaining.

• Larry Brown. While it seems like a longshot, Brown would jump at it and he is an old friend of GM Billy King. Still, don’t bet on it.

• Mike Brown. No, that’s not happening. And as Mike Brown is still getting fat checks from the Lakers while watching his son play high school ball, he’s probably good with that.

Hawks battle back to knot series with Wizards, 2-2

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Paul Millsap shoved Markieff Morris out of the way, grabbed an offensive rebound in the middle of the paint and pushed through a shot while Marcin Gortat bumped him to the floor.

The Wizards knocked down Atlanta. They didn’t stop the Hawks.

Millsap and Atlanta showed plenty of fight, topping Washington 111-101 in Game 4 Monday to tie their first-round series 2-2 after falling behind 2-0.

Have the Hawks seized meaningful momentum? History says no.

Teams that have won the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home then lost the next two on the road have won 81% of the time. The Wizards’ regular-season superiority still speaks loudly, and up to two more home games – starting with Game  5 Wednesday – also help.

Still, credit Atlanta for making the series competitive after digging such a big hole.

Millsap (19 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals) soundly outplayed Markieff Morris (nine points on 3-of-10 shooting, -10) in the latest round of their personal feud. Millsap also got plenty of help with seven Hawks scoring double digits.

Kent Bazemore (16 points, seven assists and three steals) played meaningful defense and hit a couple big shots. Jose Calderon (10 points, five assists, +29 in 20 minutes) provided a huge spark. Dwight Howard (16 points and 15 rebounds) asserted himself for the first time this series. Taurean Prince (11 points on 5-of-7 shooting) picked his spots well. Dennis Schroder (18 points on 6-of-15 shooting) had his ups and downs. Tim Hardaway Jr. (15 points) at least offset some of his defensive shortcomings.

This was a total team win.

Washington, on the other hand, got little outside its starting backcourt. Bradley Beal (32 points) thrived, and John Wall (22 points and 10 assists) was still good in an off-by-his-standards performance. But the Wizards crumbled when either sat – especially with both on the bench in the late third/early fourth quarters. Erasing those few minutes with staggering would’ve helped, though it wouldn’t have been the answer tonight.

This has become a far less certain series than Washington hoped, but the Wizards don’t need a wild fix. They just need their top players to play better. Maybe going home will help.

Raptors break out best game of postseason, rout Bucks 118-93 to take 3-2 series lead

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Norman Powell was draining threes, throwing down dunks that would have won the contest All-Star weekend, and he finished with a career playoff-high 25 points on just 11 shots. Plus defensively he caused Khris Middleton trouble.

The Raptors finished with 28 assists, the most in a playoff game since Dwane Casey took over as coach.

Toronto shot 57.7 percent overall, a franchise playoff best.

The Raptors bench played well pitching in 27 points and growing the lead when they were in, part of an overall strong night from the role players in Toronto.

Combine that all with the expected good nights from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and you get the Raptors best game of the playoffs. It looked like a different team than the one in Milwaukee.

Toronto raced out to an early lead and went on to rout the Bucks 118-93, giving the Raptors a 3-2 series lead.

This was a game where the Bucks tried to force the ball out of the hands of Lowry and DeRozan as much as they could, using their length and athleticism. However, Lowry had 10 assists, and DeRozan would get the ball off pindown screens and feel the double coming, move the ball, and another quick pass or two later the role-playing player Raptors were getting good looks and knocking them down. Or throwing it down like this.

Or this.

Toronto just looked more comfortable against the Bucks pressure, having seen it for so many games in a row, than they have all series.

Powell had 25 points for Toronto, Serge Ibaka had 19 and three blocks, Lowry had 16 points and 10 assists, DeRozan had 18 points and six assists, even DeMarre Carroll had 12 points on six shots.

The question for the young Bucks team is how does it bounce back from this kind of loss in the biggest NBA game most of them have ever played? Can they get their defensive edge back?

“We’re going to miss some shots, and we can’t let our offense dictate our defense,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said postgame. “And also the turnovers, again. Right off the bat we had three…

“Our defense kind of got hit there in the first quarter, we knew that they were going to come after us, we had to expect that. And we just couldn’t respond.”

The Bucks had some runs in the second quarter and got the lead to nine at one point, but the Raptors always seemed to be in control.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had another strong game with 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting, and rookie Malcolm Brogdon pitched in 19 points on 11 shots, but for the most part the Bucks struggled with their offense in this game. As their coach noted — and as often happens to young teams — they let their offensive woes impact the other end of the court.

At home, the Bucks will likely feel more comfortable, and they will fight for their playoff lives.

The question is, can the Raptors be this sharp again and close them out? Or will the yo-yo nature of this team continue?

 

Kevin Durant will play in Game 4 for Warriors vs. Trail Blazers

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In case you were curious how serious Golden State was about closing out Portland in four…

After missing the last two games with a strained calf, both Warriors wins to put them up 3-0 in the series, the Warriors are bringing back Kevin Durant for Game 4.

Steve Kerr is also out tonight for Golden State, Mike Brown will coach the team.

There was buzz that Durant could have gone in Game 3 if needed, but the Warriors felt confident they would win without him and they don’t want this injury to linger. There’s no more holding him back now.

Durant averaged 25.1 points a game, and thanks to the space created by the other stars on the team had his most efficient season, with a true shooting percentage of 65.1. He also pulled down 8.3 rebounds a game, dished 4.9 assists, and had his best defensive season in a long time as well. If not for an injury after the All-Star break that had him missing games, he would have made a lot of voters’ All-NBA team.

He adds to Golden State’s size advantage against Portland. The Warriors would like to close out the series tonight and get additional rest before facing the Clippers or Jazz in the next round.

Serge Ibaka is dunking and Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t going to stop him. Twice. (VIDEO)

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The Toronto Raptors had their best half of their first-round series against the Bucks, taking an early lead and, despite a little shooting slump midway through the second they were up nine at the half.

That was all topped off by two emphatic Serge Ibaka dunks. Ones Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn’t going to stop.

Ibaka dunked around him more than over the Greek Freak, but still.