San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors - Game Three

When you vote for West All-Star guards, who you going to snub?

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When you sit down to fill out your All-Star ballot this year (or you may not sit down, you can do it from your phone while standing) who are you going to select as the starting guards in the West?

Are you going to take Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant, like last year? Smart money is they win the fan vote again. (We will see how Kobe plays post Achilles surgery, but if you think fans are not voting him in I question your logic — you also probably think Ben Affleck was a great choice as the new Batman).

But now you’ve left the coaches (who fill out the roster) with an impossible job.

Who get the three spots as backups? Last year the coaches selected Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, and it’s hard to argue against any of those guys.

But then you are going to snub a number of deserving guys —the West is loaded with quality guards, some of whom will not make the cut and will have a legitimate complaint (something Jeff Caplan was talking about at NBA.com).

At the top of the list is Stephen Curry, who didn’t earn a trip to Houston for the ASG last year and after that “snub” (again, who are you leaving off?) he picked up his game and averaged 26 points a game (up from 21 before the ASG), 7.4 assists a game and shot 46 percent from three. Then he led the Warriors into the second round of the playoffs. He will make the cut this season.

Other guards in the West deserving consideration:

• Jrue Holiday was an All-Star last season for the Sixers and he’s now in the West for a Pelicans team that could surprise people.

• Ricky Rubio also is a fan favorite, plays with a flair and will lead another team that will surprise some fans if they can stay healthy (Minnesota is a playoff team out West if healthy).

• Damian Lillard will warrant votes. The Rookie of the Year averaged 19 points a game and should take a step forward (plus he won’t have to carry as much of he offensive load with Mo Williams and some added doeth all over the Trail Blazers roster.

• Ty Lawson is one of the fastest and better point guards in the league, averaging 16.7 points and 6.9 assists a game last season.

• Mike Conley has become a solid point guard, one of the better defensive points but a guy who still scored 14.6 points and averaged 6.1 assists a game, orchestrating a Memphis a Grizzlies attack that went all the way to the conference finals.

• Then there is the list of good guards not likely to even sniff making the team: Monta Ellis, Eric Bledsoe, Steve Nash and Klay Thompson. (I’m counting Andre Iguodala as a forward with Golden State.)

Some of those guys are going to have a monster first half of the season and put their names in contention. Then, when they don’t make the cut they will have a legitimate complaint. But there are just not enough spots for all the deserving guys.

Report: Heat complained to ‘highest levels of the league office’ about favorable calls for Jeremy Lin and Kemba Walker

Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker (15) is congratulated by Jeremy Lin (7) after making a basket against the Sacramento Kings in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. The Hornets won 127-122 in overtime. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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The Heat and Hornets are clearly tiring of each other, six games of testiness culminating with Game 7 today.

One particular battle line being drawn is over Jeremy Lin (6.3) and Kemba Walker (5.5), who lead players in this series in free-throw attempts per game.

Marc Stein:

ESPN sources say that one of the factors that ramped up the tension between the teams stems from Miami complaints to the highest levels of the league office after Game 4 about what the Heat deemed to be favorable officiating for Jeremy Lin and Kemba Walker.

Lin and Walker relentlessly driven to the basket. That’s why they’ve attempted so many free throws. If Miami wants to keep them off the line, trap them harder on the perimeter.

That said, this is part of playoff gamesmanship. If the Heat plant a seed with referees – through the league office or otherwise – that Lin and Walker are drawing too many fouls, maybe that affects a call today. With the margins so narrow, every little bit helps.

Watch LaMarcus Aldridge drop 38 on Thunder

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Oklahoma City has more than a few adjustments to make after a brutal defensive effort in Game 1 of their series against San Antonio, but at the top of the list is sticking with LaMarcus Aldridge on defense.

He was killing them from the midrange, and more than half of his looks were uncontested — the Thunder know he can knock down that shot, right?

It was a fantastic performance from Aldridge; we’ll see if he faces tougher defense in Game 2.

NBA: Trail Blazers scored after uncalled illegal screen by Trail Blazers in final minutes

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Should we be preparing for Game 7 of the Trail Blazers-Clippers series today?

If the officials had called the final minutes of the last game correctly, maybe.

Portland won Game 6 to take the series 4-2, but a missed call a key missed call helped clinch.

With 1:45 left, Mason Plumlee got away with offensively fouling Jamal Crawford, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Plumlee (POR) sets the screen on Crawford (LAC) without giving him room to avoid the contact.

A correct call would’ve meant a Trail Blazers turnover. Instead, Damian Lillard ended the possession with two made free throws.

Portland’s advantage when the Clippers began intentionally fouling: two.

Would the Clippers have won if the refs called Plumlee’s offensive foul? Impossible to say. The final 1:45 could’ve played out much differently.

But this missed call, the only error in the Last Two Minute Report, certainly boosted the Trail Blazers’ odds.

Four Things to Watch in two Game 7s Sunday

during game six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Time Warner Cable Arena on April 29, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  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.
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It’s what the playoffs are all about — win or go home Game 7s. Pressure, drama, unlikely stars Sunday is going to have it all. Here are a few things to watch:

1) Can Miami’s jump shooters have another hot game? Dwyane Wade got the headlines (and he earned them) for his Game 6 performance (everyone except purple shirt guy was impressed), but the real key for the Heat to force a Game 7 was they were hitting their jumpers — or at least enough of them. In their three losses, Miami shot 33.7 percent from 3 feet out to the arc, but in Game 6 the Heat shot 43.5 percent in that range, plus knocked down eight threes. The Hornets have packed the paint all series, when the Heat hit their jumpers they win. It’s that simple.

2) Does Kemba Walker have one more big game in him? Walker was fantastic in Game 6 (37 points), and he’s been very good in the Hornets’ victories. He’s going to penetrate and get some shots inside eight feet, but will he be able to finish? And, more importantly, will he hit his threes when they pack the paint on him? If Walker has a huge game, Charlotte very likely moves on.

3) Is Toronto too far into their own head? No team has more pressure on them to advance out of the first round than Toronto after two previous years of getting bounced in the first round, and they will feel that weight at home in Game 7 against Indiana. Will Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan step up with big games in the biggest moments of their careers, or will they succumb to the moment and the Pacers defense? For all the Xs and Os that do matter in this game, how the Raptors handle the pressure will be key.

4) Can the Pacers again get a few quality minutes when Paul George sits? In the Pacers comfortable Game 6 win, George got a rest in the second quarter and the Pacers were +5 while he sat. That was a huge step up from Game 5, where the Pacers were -18 when he was out for less than 7 minutes. If Indiana — by playing some starters such as Myles Turner — doesn’t have a huge bench drop off when George rests a few minutes their odds of winning go way up. We know Paul George can handle the moment.