Paul Millsap, Paul George

If the Hawks beat the Pacers, would Atlanta be the worst team to win a playoff series?

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Nobody should be terribly surprised the Pacers are struggling in the playoffs. After all, the they faded the final two months of the season, going 12-13 in March and April.

But few predicted they’d lose in the first round.

That’s because their opponent – the Hawks – stinks.

As much as everyone fussed about Indiana’s late-season slump, Atlanta went the exact same 12-13 in the final two months. And before that, the Hawks (26-31) couldn’t even hold a candle to the Pacers (44-13).

When the Pacers were at their worst, the Hawks matched them. When the Pacers were at their best, the Hawks were worse than Indiana’s closing two months.

Add it all up, and Atlanta went 38-44.

Yet, the Hawks are up 2-1 in the series with a home Game 4 this afternoon. If they hold on, they’d be the worst team to win a playoff since series since the NBA expanded its postseason to 16 teams in 1984.

Collectively, teams that have gone 38-44 or worse were 13-64 (.169) in playoff games in the current format. That’s worse than the this season’s Milwaukee Bucks.

Only one losing team has won a playoff series since 1984 – the 1987 Seattle SuperSonics (39-43) – and they actually won two, topping the Dallas Mavericks (55-27) and Houston Rockets (42-40).

All time, the Hawks would be the 10th-worst team to win a playoff series

1. 1960: No. 3 Minneapolis Lakers (25-50) def. No. 2 Detroit Pistons (30-45)

2. 1976: No. 5 Detroit Pistons (36-46) def. No. 4 Milwaukee Bucks (38-44)

3. 1966: No. 3 St. Louis Hawks (36-44) def. No. 2 Baltimore Bullets (38-42)

4. 1961: No. 2 Los Angeles Lakers (36-43) def. No. 3 Detroit Pistons (34-45)

5. 1959: No. 2 Minneapolis Lakers (33-39) def. No. 1 St. Louis Hawks (49-23)

5. 1959: No. 2 Minneapolis Lakers (33-39) def. No. 3 Detroit Pistons (28-44)

5. 1958: No. 2 Detroit Pistons (33-39) def. No. 3 Cincinnati Royals (33-39)

8. 1965: No. 3 Baltimore Bullets (37-43) def. No. 2 St. Louis Hawks (45-35)

8. 1962: No. 3 Detroit Pistons (37-43) def. No. 2 Cincinnati Royals (43-37)

However, most of the teams on that list beat opponents that also had losing records. Heck, a few of those series weren’t even upsets.

The Hawks, on the other hand, are playing an Indiana team that went 56-26. Even if the Pacers are limping to the finish, that 18-win difference is stark.

If the Hawks win, it would be the fifth-biggest upset by win-percentage difference ever.

1. 2007: No. 8 Golden State Warriors (42-40) def. No. 1 Dallas Mavericks (67-15)

2. 1994: No. 8 Denver Nuggets (42-40) def. No. 1 Seattle SuperSonics (63-19)

3. 2012: No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers (35-31) def. No. 1 Chicago Bulls (50-16)

4. 1959: No. 2 Minneapolis Lakers (33-39) def. No. 1 St. Louis Hawks (49-23)

So, this would be a fairly historic upset if Atlanta pulls it off.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Glenn Robinson III does his best to salvage Dunk Contest, gets victory in process

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NEW ORLEANS — This year’s NBA All-Star Dunk Contest was doomed to disappoint, it was never going to match last year’s epic battle. It started in a hole.

It never climbed out. Don’t take my word for it, check out what JaVale McGee thought.

Saturday was an underwhelming night of dunks punctuated by a couple of moments of brilliance.

The Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III had the most of those moments — which is why he won the event. His strong night started with his first dunk, which may well have been the best of the contest.

The final one from Robinson, the one that sealed the victory, may be the other best dunk of the competition — dunking over Paul George, the Pacers mascot, and a Pacers dancer.

“I originally planned for it just to be PG (Paul George),” Robinson said afterward. “I knew I had to bring out something special. We added the mascot and the cheerleader. I really just wanted to get up high and dunk that thing hard, man. My adrenaline was going. It felt like I was looking at the rim. All I knew was the crowd go crazy. I pointed like this because, man, everybody seemed to sleep on me, didn’t really think I was going to win this thing.”

Event favorite Aaron Gordon, who should have won a year ago, opened the contest with an innovative idea — a drone dunk — but he couldn’t execute it and there were a few attempts before he nailed it.

Gordon didn’t advance out of the first round, and his first dunk summed up the 2017 Dunk Contest — interesting ideas that didn’t quite pan out like planned. (To be fair, Gordon has been battling injuries recently, that may have thrown him off).

If it wasn’t going to be Gordon, a lot of people expected it to be the bouncy Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. who won, and he reached the Finals in part thanks to this spectacular dunk that woke the Smoothie King Center up.

DeAndre Jordan was okay, but without Chris Paul throwing him lobs it didn’t quite feel the same. Jordan can dunk with such power in game, but we didn’t see that Saturday.

In the end, it was Gordon who was making the plays.

“I’m not really a known dunker,” Robinson said. “I practiced. I prepared. I know I’m a jumper. And like I said, I’m a guy that stays out of the way. But when it’s time to shine, that’s my thing. That’s what I wanted to do. I knew all along I had some things planned, and I just wanted to show the world.”

Glenn Robinson III wins underwhelming dunk contest on over-people, below-rim dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Glenn Robinson III won the dunk contest with the second-best dunk of the night, going over a few people and under the rim — a narrow path to slamming victory.

It would’ve rated as the event’s best dunk if he were truly under the rim rather than somewhat in front of it. And he did have the best body of work to win the contest.

But the best single dunk was still by runner-up Derrick Jones Jr., who went between the legs on a pass off the side of the backboard.

NBA stars shoot threes to raise $500,000 for Sager Strong Foundation in touching moment

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NEW ORLEANS — The spirit of Craig Sager is strong during All-Star weekend in The Big Easy and he’s going to get a spot in the Hall of Fame, deservedly so.

After Eric Gordon won the Three-Point Contest, he and the other finalists Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker stayed on the court to shoot threes to raise money for the Sager Strong Foundation — they would shoot threes for a minute and for each make the foundation would get $10,000. Then they brought out help — Reggie Miller, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, DJ Khaled, and others to knock down shots. That raised $130,000.

Stephen Curry tried to push that to $500,000, but it was Sager’s son that actually did it (with an assist from Shaquille O’Neal).

It was a touching moment for a great cause.

Derrick Jones Jr. catches pass off side of backboard, jams between-legs dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — With defending runner-up Aaron Gordon eliminated in the first round, Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. might be our best hope to save the dunk contest.