This showdown of teams with dreams of getting past the first round of the playoffs was shaping up for an exciting ending. For three and a half quarters the teams had traded runs, made some big shots and both sides played some defense. The Warriors had been up 5 with just under 9 minutes left, but then the Raptors went on an 11-0 run. Golden State worked hard and got back into the game to set up that ending.
Then the Warriors shot themselves in the foot.
Down two with three minutes left the Warriors possessions went like this:
• Stephen Curry missed a pull-up three, David Lee got the rebound and kicked it out to a wide-open Klay Thompson who had too much time and missed.
• Curry gets double-teamed 29 feet from the basket and ends up fumbling the ball out of bounds.
• Curry tries to rifle a pass to David Lee down on the low block but it gets tipped and ends up a turnover.
• A bad Andrew Bogut pass becomes a turnover.
It was an eight-point game inside a minute at that point and even a Curry step-back three couldn’t save the Warriors at that point. Toronto had executed better down the stretch — that included DeMar DeRozan capping off his 32-point night with a rainbow long two — and the Raptors got the win, 104-98.
At the end of the game guys who had been quiet all night for Toronto — Amir Johnson and John Salmons — were making plays. Salmons made a nifty pass to set up a Johnson dunk one possession then on the next one, when Andrew Bogut laid back to stop a similar pass, Salmons drained he pull-up jumper off the pick.
Curry had some rough patches — like the second quarter when he was 2-of-8 shooting — but finished with 34 points on 27 shots plus had 7 assists. Klay Thompson had a rough night (4-of-15 shooting) and David Lee had 20 points (on 18 shots) and 11 rebounds).
Golden State is going to look back at games like this and feel a little sick when they see their first-round playoff matchup and know they are starting on the road (they are currently the six seed but need to make up four games on the Clippers and Rockets to get a top four seed, that’s not happening). This was a game they could have won, but they fumbled the ball and the chance away late. The Raptors knew what to do with the gifts.
Is this disrespectful to the Lakers? Absolutely.
And I love it.
Chris Paul and the Clippers crushed their Los Angeles counterparts, 133-109, last night. The Clippers, who’ve won 13 of 14 in the series, have practically run out of ways to show up their crosstown rival on the court. If it now takes bench visitors, so be it.
This is the best late-blowout bench behavior since LeBron James led the Cavaliers in the water-bottle challenge in a December win over the Knicks. This would rank higher if Chris Jr. didn’t also joined the bench in the Clippers’ November win over the Mavericks, which is the pictured on this post.
You’ve probably heard of the top college point guards for the 2017 NBA draft: Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith Jr., De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. You might have even heard of French point guard prospect Frank Ntilikina.
Which point guard will be drafted next after those six?
One possibility: Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans.
Evan Daniels of Scout:
Evans looks like a second-round pick, but a dearth of point guards projected into the latter half of the first round could boost his stock.
He’s ultra quick and ultra aggressive and led the nation’s top KenPom offense. Evans relentlessly attacks the rim, often while forcing transition opportunities. That gets defenses scrambled, creating kickout-passing lanes and offensive-rebound opportunities.
However, the 6-foot Evans doesn’t finish that well at the rim – creating a major question about how he’ll translate to the NBA. The bigger defenders in the paint might limit his kickout passes, too.
His size also presents major problems defensively, though a 6-foot-4 wingspan at least helps.
Evans is good enough on jumpers to keep defenses honest, and at Oklahoma State, he had to create so much for himself. It’d be interesting to see whether limiting his burden improves his efficiency or whether his helpfulness is limited to having the ball in his hands.
My guess is the latter, and I’m unconvinced he’s good enough to demand such a role in the NBA. But the possibility is strong enough that I’d be excited about rolling the dice on him in the second round.
The Timberwolves surprisingly led the Spurs by nine at halftime last night, which takes us to Shabazz Muhammad‘s mid-game interview.
We’re doing a great job on defense, Wiggs, myself, everybody. It’s a tough team, especially Kawhi and the guys. So, we’re doing a really good job and everybody’s collective – Collective Bargaining Agreement.
To be fair, I can’t even imagine what type of nonsense I’d spew in the midst of a taxing workout or a high-pressure situation – let alone something that qualifies as both.
Unfortunately for Muhammad, Minnesota eventually fell to San Antonio, 100-93. But hopefully, he can laugh at this moment. He should, at least.
hat tip: reddit user cjsplash
Wednesday a couple of forwards expected to go in the first round of June’s NBA draft said they plan on making the jump to the NBA.
As expected, Duke’s Jayson Tatum and Cal’s Ivan Rabb made their decisions official.
Duke announced Tatum’s decision.
Tatum is expected to be a top-five pick, DraftExpress.com currently has him as the No. 4 pick. The 6’8″ wing can flat-out score the rock, which is why teams are intrigued, as Rob Dauster of NBC’s College Basketball Talk told us in a recent podcast. However, teams wonder if he can create shots for others and not just himself, and if he’s going to be a good defender at the NBA level. He has the physical tools to do be a good defender, but will he put in the work game in, game out?
Rabb is a 6’10” sophomore who has a great NBA build and athleticism to spare, but at the NBA level everyone is a great athlete. Rabb doesn’t have a great perimeter game and needs to develop one and be a consistent defensive force to be a difference maker (or have a lengthy career) at the NBA level. DraftExpress.com has him going 22nd in this draft, and his stock seems to have fallen over the course of the season.