Three Stars of the Night: Manimal Style

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There are only two food items on the menu at the west coast burger chain In and Out — burgers and fries — but there’s something called “Animal Style” where they put…heck, I don’t even know what they do, but it’s messy and it involves mustard-grilled something or other and it’s just all over the place. Kenneth Faried’s “Manimal Style” brings on a whole different set of sensory stimulation, but it’s just as fulfilling. Faried is always diving for loose balls, sprinting up the floor, and crashing into things at a frantic pace. It’s delightfully chaotic, and here at PBT, we just can’t resist a double-double Manimal Style. To the stars!

Third Star: Kyrie Irving – (33 points, 18-point third quarter)

The Atlanta Hawks were hanging around in Cleveland, but Kyrie Irving sent them packing in the third quarter. It’s hard to quantify, but Irving is one of those players who can get hot in a hurry, especially when it comes to his 3-point shooting. Irving’s 18-point third quarter had a few long bombs, including a crushing one to beat the buzzer at the end the quarter. Irving was 5-for-6 from behind the arc on the night, 11-for-15 overall, and scored 33 points in 33 minutes. It’s pretty amazing that Irving can stay so incredibly efficient on such a bad offensive team (without Anderson Varejao). This isn’t a guy just putting up numbers at all costs — he’s shooting almost 46 percent from the field on the year, something not even the great Chris Paul did in his second year on a better team. The sky is the limit here.

 

Second Star: Kenneth Faried – (19 points, 19 rebounds)

Faried seemed to be involved in every big play down the stretch in the Nuggets nine-point fourth quarter comeback against the Orlando Magic. Faried scored 9 points in the fourth quarter as the beneficiary of a few nice passes at the rim, he chased down a loose ball in a tie game to help the Nuggets retain possession and take the lead on the ensuing play, and he crashed the offensive glass with reckless abandon, as per usual. Faried couldn’t be a more perfect match for Denver — he just wears you down in that high altitude with his relentless pursuit of the basketball off the rim. He’ll need to expand his game more going forward, but for now, it’s hard to complain about the effort he brings every night.

 

First Star: Brandon Jennings – (35 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists)

It’s not easy to drop 35 on the Bulls defense, but Nate Robinson playing 42 minutes makes that task a little easier, I suppose. That’s not to take anything away from Jennings, who did a lot of his damage in transition with the pull-up 3 and even off the ball spotting up in the corners. With the Bucks in a state of uncertainty after firing Scott Skiles, and with Jennings ready to hit restricted free agency next offseason, it makes you wonder what a talented 23-year-old point guard who shoots 40 percent from the field will demand on the open market. Will Milwaukee want him back at a max deal? At 10 million a year? Some clarity might be provided based on where the Bucks finish this season, and if the Jennings-Ellis backcourt can heat up at the right time in the postseason.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.

 

Paul Millsap says the expected, he will “most likely” opt out of contract

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This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:

Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.

Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.

“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.

Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).

By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).

But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.