Baseline to Baseline recaps: Portland, Dallas end in a shootout

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Welcome to PBT’s roundup of yesterday’s NBA games. Or, what you missed while spending way too much time on the Stacy King soundboard….

Lakers 111, Hornets 106: The renaissance of the Lakers offense continues — Kobe Bryant had 11 assists, Dwight Howard rolled to the rim for 24 and the Lakers played beautiful basketball. But then they blew an 18 point fourth quarter lead as the Hornets, who missed a lot of shots early, started to hit them. We broke it all down in another post.

Trail Blazers 106, Mavericks 104: Simply one of the best endings of the season. Dallas was running away with this, up 21 in the third quarter, but you knew a Portland run was coming — there always is one at the Rose Garden. It came in the later stages of the third quarter and by the end of the third the lead was down to 6.

Dallas led through the fourth until a late 7-0 Portland run capped off by a Nicolas Batum contested three tied the game at 101-101.

Next Dallas possession Shawn Marion gets pass from Vince Carter as he cut to the basket, fumbles it, gathers it and makes an ugly rainbow pass to Dirk Nowitzki who hits contested three with 11.4 left.

Portland answers when their play seems to break down a little, the ball comes to LaMarcus Aldridge and he calmly steps back and hits his first three of the season to tie the game at 104-104.

On the Dallas possession O.J. Mayo is called for charging although it was pretty clear the defender slid under him. Bang-bang play.

Then with just 1.4 seconds left, the Blazers are able to inbound the ball to Aldridge in the mid-block and he hit the turnaround as time expired to win it. What a great win for Portland.

Warriors 108, Cavaliers 95: No Stephen Curry (ankle), no Andrew Bogut (not playing back-to-backs), no Harrison Barnes (calf) and yet the Warriors raced out to an early 13-4 lead playing free and easy. But almost instantly Kyrie Irving started doing Kyrie Irving things and it was a close game.

With all the regular scorers out Golden State became the Klay Thompson show — 32 points on 13-for-24 shooting and he hit his first six threes. He was in the zone and Cleveland had no answer. Jarrett Jack added 26 points and 12 assists.

But a lot of credit has to go to the Warriors bench — them and David Lee sparked a 21-7 second quarter run when the Warriors pulled away and they held separation the rest of the way. Lee finished with 20 points and 13 boards.

Irving just did not have it, finishing 5-of-17 shooting. Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson led Cleveland with 18.

Bucks 117, Pistons 90: The start of this game would give you no idea about the ending — Detroit raced out to 15 point lead. Milwaukee came back in the second quarter to retake the lead then just ran away with this thing in the third when Brandon Jennings got hot and went on a personal 16-0 run. Jennings finished with 30. ‘

Everyone was pitching in for the Bucks: Mike Dunleavy had 17 points, Monta Ellis 14, even Samuel Dalembert had 12 and 10 boards.

Andre Drummond led the Pistons with 18 points and 18 rebounds off the bench. Which once again leads to the question: What is Lawrence Frank’s fascination with Jason Maxiell?

Report: Clippers take Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor ‘very seriously’

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Want to laugh off that Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor?

The Clippers aren’t joining you.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Clippers should be concerned. Losing Paul would unravel their entire foundation, dropping them from the fringe of championship contention to out of the title picture completely. It could even help usher out Blake Griffin, who will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer. (To be fair, Paul leaving could also help convince Griffin to stay.)

About a month ago, the Clippers reportedly expected Paul to stay. They even reportedly struck a verbal agreement with him to re-sign before that. But they can’t officially sign him until July, and that leaves the door open for him to leave.

The Clippers should be heartened by their advantages – a prime market and a projected max offer of $205 million over five years.

The most another team projects to be able to offer is $152 million over four years, and San Antonio will have a hard time doing that. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to shed two of those players to clear max cap space.

So, never say never, but the Clippers’ concern might be rooted more in the dire consequences of Paul leaving rather than the likelihood of it.

Report: Raptors, Magic can’t trade with each other for a year

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The Magic will send the Raptors a 2018 second-round pick for hiring Jeff Weltman, who was Toronto’s general manager.

But that’s not the only consequence of hire.

Yahoo Sports:

The move invoked the NBA provision that Toronto and Orlando are not permitted to trade players with each other until the earlier of May 24, 2018, or the conclusion of the 2017-18 season for either organization, league sources told The Vertical’s Shams Charania.

The NBA made a similar ruling when the Clippers sent the Celtics a first-rounder to hire Doc Rivers, and I don’t like it now, either. It’s needlessly restrictive, preventing talent from flowing to the optimal locations.

At least Orlando isn’t a logical destination for the Raptor most likely to be dealt: Jonas Valanciunas. The Magic already have enough centers with Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo – a lesson that influenced their last trade with Toronto, dealing Serge Ibaka.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.