DeAndre Jordan, Brandon Knight

Monday And-1 links: Should we be praising Brandon Knight for trying to make a play on DeAndre Jordan?

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• Brandon Knight became a trending joke on twitter after the Clippers DeAndre Jordan dunked all over him — R.I.P Knight. But Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports says we got it backwards — most guys would have ducked out and not gotten in the poster at all, just let the dunk happen, but Knight made the effort and tried to make a play on it. Woj says he should be praised for that.

• Mike Prada at SBN counters that if Knight had made the right play at the right time he would have taken away the lob opportunity, not gotten dunked on.

• A good interview with John Wall where he says he thinks he deserves a max extension this summer. Among other things.

• Blake Griffin’s game has really grown in the last couple years. For example, he showed a handle Sunday night against the Pistons that only a handful of the game’s elite power forwards can match. He is a good passer and his midrange game is improving. But the Clippers are going to need a lot more from him if they are going to be contenders, our friend Rob Mahoney says at SI.

• Paul Pierce says what Celtics fans want to hear — if we get on a run in the playoffs anything can happen.

• That Pierce interview is part of the NBA’s always must-read column from David Aldridge, his Morning Tip at NBA.com. Also in there this week Aldridge said that quite, private negotiations to buyout Billy Hunter and get the lawsuits dropped and him out of the NBA players union are underway. This was always how this saga would end, the only question is the price.

• Also, if you want more details on what the NBA owners are looking at in the Seattle/Sacramento discussion, Aldridge has as level-headed and good an explanation as you are going to find.

• Another of Monday’s must read posts comes from Kevin Arnovitz at ESPN: How the Clippers are walking the line between elite contender and just very good. Even in the locker room Sunday they talked about using the blowout of the Pistons as a springboard to finishing with the level of play they will need in the postseason.

• Don’t look now, but Tyreke Evans is having a good season. Maybe his best season to date. So…. how much you going to offer him this summer as a restricted free agent?

• Two regulars to this award were named the NBA players of the week — the Heat’s Dwyane Wade for the Eastern Conference and the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant for the West. Wade averaged 25.3 points on .606 shooting, plus had 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.5 steals a game. Bryant averaged 33.0 points, 8.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds a game.

• Here’s a great piece describing why Delonte West is not playing in the NBA right now.

• Here is the argument that Kyrie Irving being out for up to a month is good for a Cavaliers team that should want more ping-pong balls in the lottery.

• Eric Maynor was traded to Portland but now says he wouldn’t mind sticking around.

• Andre Drummond is going to start doing some basketball related activities (as opposed to the pregame workout I watched him go through on Sunday, which involved a lot of running). However, the Pistons will not put a timeline on his return.

• Erik Spoelstra says we are all selling the Heat’s sacrifices short.

Draymond Green tells Kyrie Irving: ‘I know your moves’ (video)

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Only Draymond Green can endearingly brag about his defensive intelligence while admitting getting fooled on a play.

In the Warriors’ blowout win over the Cavaliers last night, Green guarded Kyrie Irving and anticipated the Cleveland guard would go one way. After Irving went the other way to score, the two shared a moment during a stoppage.

“I know your  moves,” Green said.

“I know,” replied Irving, whose vast offensive repertoire allowed him to find an unexpected counter.

Thaddeus Young shakes backboard with dunk on Terrence Jones (video)

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Terrence Jones isn’t much of a rim protector.

Thaddeus Young took advantage.

This ferocious jam helped the Pacers beat the Pelicans, 98-85.

Rudy Gobert block secures Utah’s win over Phoenix (VIDEO)

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At the season’s midway point, Rudy Gobert is probably the leader frontrunner in the Defensive Player of the Year race. Kawhi Leonard will have a say, and there is a lot of basketball yet to play, but Gobert anchors the NBA’s best defense and he is a force in the paint.

Just ask the Phoenix Suns.

Down three with 13 seconds left Monday night, the Suns wanted a three to tie, but when that was not easily open Eric Bledsoe decided to drive for two (then the Suns would foul and extend the game), he was cut off so Bledsoe dished to rookie Marquese Chriss, who went in for the layup — and found the long arms of Gobert. Blocked shot and game over.

Utah is for real, folks.

Three Things We Learned, Cavaliers/Warriors edition: What can we take away from Monday to NBA Finals?

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 16:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds his face after being fouled by Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on January 16, 2017 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The NBA goes big on Martin Luther King Jr. day — as they should — but if you missed the action because you were busy counting to 100,000 for no reason, we’ve got you covered with the key takeaways from the biggest game on the schedule.

And we’re doubling our usual three things we learned to six for a day.

Six things from Warriors’ thrashing of Cavaliers that could play out in NBA Finals.
 Nothing that happens in the regular season guarantees anything come the NBA playoffs, let alone the Finals. Last season’s 73-win Warriors were just the latest in a long line of teams to prove that. Which means we need to be careful reading much into Golden State’s thrashing of Cleveland on Martin Luther King Jr. day. The Finals are a little less than six months away — both of these teams will be different by then (the Cavaliers hope to have a healthy J.R. Smith and Kevin Love by then, for example).  Remember, in January one year ago the Warriors thrashed the Cavaliers on national television, and how did the following Finals turn out?

However, when these teams meet some strategies are tested, little things in the game that we could see — or teams will need to at least account for — come the Finals meeting we all expect. Here are six things from Monday’s game that could well play out in June in the NBA Finals.

1) In the four straight wins the Cavaliers had in this series prior to Monday, they were very aggressive in defending Stephen Curry — they trapped him off picks, were physical, tried to pressure him into decisions to give up the ball, then when Curry tried to make the playground passes that worked against other teams the Cavaliers help defenders made steals and were off in transition the other way. All of that made Curry passive — remember the guy floating on the perimeter taking just 11 shots on Christmas Day?

On Monday night Curry took that pressure in stride, attacked Kyrie Irving from the opening tip (remember Curry’s first possession he blew right by him), used his handles to create space, used his gravity to draw defenders to him, then he whipped smart passes around the floor. In the first half, Curry had 10 assists and zero turnovers. For the game Curry had 20 shots. If he can match that, or even come close, in the Finals, the Cavs are going to struggle to slow this offense down. Like every mortal team has.

2) In January 2016 the Warriors thrashed the Cavaliers on national television, and that was a critical step in the Cavaliers deciding they needed to let David Blatt go, hire Tyronn Lue, and make changes that put them on Golden State’s level. With Monday’s loss, one thing that was evident was the depth of playmaking options the Warriors have and how that can be difficult to guard. Cleveland has two playmakers right now, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. Cavs’ GM David Griffin has talked about wanting to add playmakers, LeBron has called for a backup point guard, but it’s clear whatever position they could use to add another playmaker or two heading into the trade deadline.

3) Can Kevin Durant guard LeBron? Chris Haynes of ESPN with an interesting stat:

The Cavaliers were on the last night of a six-game, 12-day road trip — they were not at their best. LeBron clearly wasn’t. However, if KD can even do a reasonable job on LeBron — or can switch on to him without getting torched — the Warriors will be a lot more comfortable and have more options on defense.

4) How did Warriors handle Kyle Korver? They went right at him and made him play defense, which has never been a strong suit (to put it kindly). The Warriors have enough playmakers that whoever Korver was guarding just went at him, and it worked — particularly during the stretch that saw the Warriors first push their lead north of 20. Korver didn’t have a great shooting night, by June he likely is far more comfortable, but if the Warriors can expose him on the other end it will be hard to keep Korver on the court for extended periods.

5) When JaVale McGee checked in for the Warriors, Tyronn Lue countered with Channing Frye. JaVale is not a strong defender, doesn’t step out away from the basket if he can help it, and the Cavs saw an advantage. JaVale’s offense covered that in this game scoring inside, but it’s something to watch.

6) DeAndre Liggins is a good defender, but he’s more focused on-ball than off, and in the fourth quarter Klay Thompson torched him a few times making Liggins chase him off screens away from the ball. You can be sure Steve Kerr noticed and filed that away.