Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while wondering how you could read a novel in 90 minutes, well, there’s an app for that…
Gerald Green, Phoenix Suns. If all you think Gerald Green can do is dunk, you need to watch the tape from Thursday night. It may have been true a couple years back but against the Thunder Green scored a career high 41 points on 12-of-22 shooting overall, 8-of-13 from three. All night long the Thunder played poor perimeter defense as the Suns got looks, and to their credit they knocked down their jumpers — Phoenix shot 20-of-36 (55.6 percent) beyond 16 feet. Green was sticking with what the stats guys told him to do — 19 of his 22 shots (and all his makes) were either at the rim or threes, no midrange jumpers for him.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs. Like his team was all night, Duncan was an efficient assassin against the Heat — 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting, plus he pulled down 11 boards. This game was classic Spurs, where following the Gregg Popovich mantra their ball movement led to the one extra pass and great not good shots. Duncan was consistent all game — Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, other guys made some plays at points during the game, but Duncan was just a consistent force. A rock in the middle. One the Heat could not contain.
Los Angeles Lakers defense. That. Was. Ugly. The Clippers undoubtedly have a good offense but this looked like they were playing a high school defensive team — and not a good high school team like Mater Dei (in Orange County). I mean one of those high school teams where the tallest guy is 6’3”. The Clippers simply did whatever they wanted on their way to a true shooting percentage of 63 and an offensive rating of 123.8 (points per 100 possessions). Worst news for the Lakers? They now face the toughest back-to-back in the NBA having to fly to Denver to play the Nuggets Friday night at altitude.
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.