Sarunas Marciulionis teaches guard play at adidas Eurocamp (VIDEO)


TREVISO, Italy — Sarunas Marciulionis played seven seasons in the NBA, most notably from 1989-1993 as a member of the Golden State Warriors. He finished as a runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year award in 1992 after his best season in the league, one in which he averaged 18.9 points on just 12.7 shots per game while shooting better than 53 percent from the field.

Marciulionis was also a member of the famed Lithuanian national team (definitely check out the documentary if you’re not familiar with their story), and appeared for them in the Olympics in both the 1992 and the 1996 summer games, where he was a teammate of adidas Eurocamp director Arturas Karnisovas.

That’s the connection that brought Marciulionis to Treviso, where he put on a brief clinic teaching the players in attendance at the international pre-draft camp some fundamentals about playing the guard position.

Marciulionis focused on how to properly position yourself to catch the ball against a defender, how to go quickly one you receive the ball, how to properly set up your defender to use a screen, and how the defensive players should position themselves and use their left hand as their primary one to defend right-handed players.

The majority of the clinic can be seen in the video clip above (stick with it, the audio improves about 90 seconds in), and much like Kevin McHale teaching post play at Eurocamp last year, it’s always interesting to get a former star’s perspective on how the game should be played.

In speaking with Marciulionis afterward, he gave me some thoughts on how he views some of today’s players at the position.

“Offensively, individually they’re very good — street basketball, maybe pickup game kind of experience,” he said. “In our time, I guess we were slower.”

As far as what he’s seeing from the younger players and the systems they’re being taught as they’re coming up, Marciulionis said he’d like to see more of them learn to operate without the use of perimeter screens.

“I think individually, some of them are good — they know how to change direction, they know how to get rid of their defender,” he said. “But they’re always using this pick; they need to rely more on their first step and use their speed. I guess that’s basketball how it is (now). If you remember older times, (it was) motion. UCLA. Box sets. You were always running something. And now, for the last 15 years or so, everybody’s running a high pick.”

One of the more interesting parts of the clinic was Marciulionis explaining how players should use their left hand to defend right-handed players. It makes sense, of course, but it’s a little counter-intuitive to the way most right-handed players think, and even to the way they are taught.

Marciulionis admitted it was difficult trying to get players to switch to this style, but believes it can work more easily if they’re taught how to do it from the very start.

“It’s difficult,” he said. “You have to go with the young kids — get ’em early, teach them at a young age.”

And what about the results?

“We’ll see how it works,” he said. “I’ll tell you in five years.”

PBT Extra: Who is coming out of the Eastern Conference?

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The Toronto Raptors will finish with the No. 1 seed and all the best metrics in the East, but they have a history of playoff flameouts. The Boston Celtics’ have been hit hard by injuries. And the Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James but also a dreadful defense, this is the most vulnerable a LeBron led team has been since he bolted Cleveland seven years ago.

So what team is coming out of the East?

We get into that in this latest PBT Extra. A poll on Twitter found most of you think the Cavaliers, but personally, I think the Raptors — who have been better defensively all season than the Cavs — may finally have their year.

LaMarcus Aldridge drops career-high 45 points, Spurs beat Jazz in OT

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell‘s 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs’ 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.

Utah’s 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.

San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.

After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.

Aldridge averaged 32.2 points and 9.0 rebounds during the winning streak, including two double-doubles.

Aldridge scored 28 points in the first half on 12-for-16 shooting, including a 3-pointer.

Utah missed its first six shots and was 4 for 14 as San Antonio grabbed a 19-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Mitchell settled the Jazz, scoring six points to cut the Spurs lead to 29-21 heading into the second quarter.

Mitchell was 14-for-35 shooting while falling six points shy of his season-high.

Derrick Favors added 22 points for Utah and Ricky Rubio had 20.

Ginobili finished with 18 points for the Spurs.


Stephen Curry leaves game with knee injury


In his first night back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss six games, Stephen Curry limped off the court not to return after in third quarter Friday night after JaVale McGee fell into his knee.

He limped to the bench then eventually to the locker room after the injury.

The severity of the injury is not yet known and should become clear on Saturday after an MRI.

Curry scored 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before being forced to leave the game, and the Warriors held on to win the game.

Obviously, if Curry is out heading into the playoffs, that changes the dynamic in the West, where the Houston Rockets were already right on the heels of the Warriors.

Pacers use late surge to beat Clippers, close in on playoffs

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points and the Indiana Pacers used a late 9-0 run to hold on for a 109-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night, putting them on the precipice of clinching a playoff spot.

The Pacers won for only the second time in five games but can clinch a playoff berth with one more win or a Detroit loss.

Los Angeles’ fading playoff aspirations were dealt another blow. The Clippers are now three games behind Utah for the final postseason spot in the Western Conference. Utah was playing later Friday.

Lou Williams led Los Angeles with 27 points and DeAndre Jordan finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Clippers lost for the fifth time in six games.

They certainly had a chance to turn things around.

After the Clippers rallied from an 18-point deficit to take an 88-87 lead with 7:36 left in the fourth quarter, the teams traded the lead 10 times before Victor Oladipo made one of two free throws to leave it tied at 100 with 2:17 to play.

Bogdanovic broke the tie with a 12-footer and the Pacers followed that with seven straight points before Williams made a layup with 12 seconds left to end the run.

The Clippers were making shots early but couldn’t pull away from Indiana.

They led 28-27 after one and allowed Indiana to use a 9-2 spurt midway through the second quarter to erase a six-point deficit and take a 40-39 lead.

The Pacers scored the final five points of the half to break a 53-all tie and broke it open early in the third when Oladipo made his first three shots of the game, including two 3-pointers to make it 66-55.

Indiana then poured it on. Thaddeus Young‘s layup with 9:02 left in the third made it a 12-point game. Milos Teodosic‘s basket briefly halted the run, but the Pacers scored the next nine points to make it 75-57 with 6:19 to go.

Los Angeles closed the third quarter on a 12-5 run to get to 82-76.