Doc Rivers said he didn’t plan to leave Boston; doesn’t shy away from Clipper title talk

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Doc Rivers said he wanted to stay focused on the Clippers in his introductory press conference (which was shown live on NBA TV), but you knew there were going to be a lot of Boston questions.

Rivers admitted he didn’t plan to leave Boston — he said he went so far to say he wanted out of the negotiations and he told Celtics GM Danny Ainge he was coming back.

“I kind of pulled out myself, not from being mad or anything, I just had enough of it…” Rivers said of the drawn-out negotiations. “I called Danny and said, ‘I’m staying, I’m coaching that’s what I am, let’s move forward.’ Then two hours later he told me ‘no, you’re not staying, you’re going.’”

Through it all Rivers said what drew him to the Clippers job was the challenge — he didn’t back away from title talk and aspirations. Which is a new attitude around the Clippers.

“Quite honestly, at this point in my life it’s the only reason I’m coaching, is to try to win titles,” Rivers said. “For us, we have to prove we can win a series first and then build from there.”

Is this Clippers roster really ready to win a title?

“We didn’t win it last year, so there is clearly work to do…” Rivers said. “The reason I wanted this when it came available is because of what they have, not what they don’t have.

“I clearly think this is an extremely talented basketball team, there were times in last year when they were the best team. What we have to figure out is, with the group we have can we do that in the postseason as opposed to just the regular season?”

If the Clippers are going to contend it is going to have to start with more consistent defense and protection of the paint. The Clippers were a top 10 defensive team overall but allowed the second highest shooting percentage in the restricted area in the league and the fourth highest in the paint outside the restricted area.

Rivers had great defenses in Boston, but Tom Thibodeau was his assistant coach who set that up and Kevin Garnett was the guy anchoring everything and quarterbacking the defense in the paint. Can he run that same strong-side overload defense with the Clippers?

“With the personnel here for sure,” Rivers said. “I think offenses have improved, you can’t do it exactly the same anymore, I just don’t think you can, guys have wised up to what we were doing, but with DeAndre (Jordan) and Blake (Griffin) I think you can absolutely form an unbelievable defense. They are long, they are athletic, that always starts a good defense, and we have that in house right now.”

That Clippers roster is going to need tweaks, and Rivers will have input on that (more than he did in Boston). He will not get Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce — Boston plans to trade both of them and the stipulations in the compensation package for Rivers said the Clippers and Celtics cannot trade players until next summer.

Even with roster tweaks, in the end one of the most respected coaches in the league is going to have to get more out of the guys already on the roster — particularly Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan — if they are going to take the step up to serious contenders.

Doc Rivers isn’t backing away from that challenge. Instead, he is putting it right out there from Day 1.

Watch all the best dunks from the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend

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Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell edged out Larry Nance Jr. in the 2018 NBA Slam Dunk competition, but the back-and-forth between the two young players was not the only source of thunderous jams over the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend.

There was of course renewed interest in the All-Star Game itself as it was more competitive than it had been in years past. Was this because of the new roster format, or simply because players wanted to get some extra coin in their pocket? In either case, the game still gave us a few dunks to add to the highlight reel.

And of course, who could forget about Mitchell’s off-the-backboard dunk in the Rising Stars Challenge?

While many of us look to the All-Star break to be a bit of a respite in the middle of the season, this year’s festivities game us quite a bit to talk about and that’s outside of who got snubbed from each roster. Yes, this All-Star season gave us a grip of dunks to pore over, and added some needed levity mid-February.

You can watch the full video released by the NBA of the best slam dunks from the entire weekend above.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says doctors told him his knee needs more rest (VIDEO)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo is the franchise cornerstone for the Milwaukee Bucks, but even as the Greek Freak has continued to grow his game on an NBA floor, that doesn’t mean he’s been immune to the injury bug.

Antetokounmpo has dealt with a few small knee issues in recent memory, causing him to miss EuroBasket in 2016. He’s also sat a few games this season to rest his knee.

It now appears that Antetokounmpo has a simple reason for his knee ailments: too much basketball.

Speaking to a reporter with Eurohoops TV, Antetokounmpo said that doctors told him he needed to rest his knee a little bit more and play less basketball. That includes not practicing so much in the offseason and taking a load off when he can during the season to get his rest and recuperation in.

Via YouTube, starting at the 1:30 mark in the video above:

Eurohoops TV: What do the doctors say?

Antetokounmpo: The problem is that I play too much.

Eurohoops TV: It’s not another issue, right?

Antetokounmpo: No, it’s just that I have to rest more. This summer I had no time to rest. After the playoffs I went straight to the gym. I went to see Kostas and practiced for about a week and a half with him. I didn’t have any rest, and that’s how, um … the situation deteriorated. After this season I will have time to rest.

Antetokounmpo is playing a career-high 37 minutes per game for the Bucks this season. Even with the benefit of youth and offseason PRP injections, guys like Antetokounmpo do need to be careful they don’t overuse joints which can never fully be prepaired to their previous state.

Good to hear he’s planning on getting some rest this offseason. What with the 2017-18 NBA season having been blasted by injuries, many of us just want to see the stars healthy.

Bucking trend, NBA television ratings up both nationally, locally

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Traditional television ratings are down across the board — in sports, but also in dramas and comedies and just about every other category across the board. More and more people are cutting the cord, and even for people who still pay for cable/satellite, there are countless more options and streaming choices like Netflix that divide the marketplace. That’s why the people trying to pin the NFL’s rating declines on political issues miss the point — America’s most powerful sports league is not immune to market trends.

The NBA, however, is bucking the trend.

From The Business Sports Journal.

Nationally, NBA games on ABC, ESPN, NBA TV and TNT are showing double-digit viewership increases. The combined 15 percent jump puts the league’s TV viewership at its best mark heading into All-Star weekend since the 2012-13 season.

Locally, regional sports networks are seeing a 7 percent increase in ratings so far this season. SportsBusiness Journal analyzed ratings data for 27 U.S.-based teams across the NBA. Seventeen RSNs showed increases; 10 posted decreases. Information for Memphis, Utah and Toronto was not available…

Overall, local NBA games on NBC Sports’ RSNs have seen a 16 percent jump this season. NBA games on Fox’s RSNs are up 5 percent.

The NBC regional sports networks are seeing a massive boost in part because of Boston, which has seen an 82 percent jump in ratings this season.

This is good news for the NBA, which recently signed a massive new television deal with its primary partners, ESPN/ABC and Turner Broadcasting.

Why the increase? Likely a number of factors. One, the NBA has a strong crop of young stars — and those stars are engaging fans on social media. The NBA also embraced technology and other media in a way other sports did not — you can see any NBA highlight you want on YouTube, try that with the NFL. The NBA was more willing to change with the times, but that still doesn’t fully explain why a sport with a younger demographic — more cord cutters — is seeing its ratings rise.

Anthony Davis on Pelicans if Cousins healthy: “We go to the Finals”

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On January 27, the Pelicans were 27-21 and had won seven-of-eight (including just beating the Houston Rockets), and they were solidly in as the six seed in the West. They looked like a solid playoff team in the West, and with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins they were going to be a tough matchup in the first round.

Jan. 27 was also the day it became official that Cousins had torn his Achilles and was done for the season.

It leads to a lot of “what ifs” in New Orleans. During All-Star weekend ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked Anthony Davis about that and he was more optimistic than most.

“We could have gone through the playoffs. No one could really stop us as bigs. We go to the Finals if we went,” Davis told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in an interview over All-Star weekend.

“[Teammate Rajon Rondo] reminds us of it: ‘You guys are the two best bigs. I know what it takes to win championships; we got it.'”

Two quick thoughts here. First, no the Pelicans were not contenders. Second, I want Davis to think like this, to say this if I’m a Pelicans fan or in Pelicans management. The best players always think they can find a way to win.

The big question around the Pelicans now is how the Cousins injury impacts the future of GM Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry. Those two were under a mandate to make the playoffs or a housecleaning was coming, and they were clearing that bar before a catastrophic injury. Are they both back now? Neither? There are rumors out of the Big Easy they are leaning toward keeping Demps but dumping Gentry, however, it’s still unclear.

Also unclear, how much do the Pelicans re-sign Cousins for (they will) and for how many years? It’s going to be a hot summer in New Orleans one way or another.