Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while trying to set up your own prom date draft…
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder. This is what an aggressive Russell Westbrook gets you. I don’t just mean the triple-double — 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. I mean his play from the start took the star of Game 1, Chris Paul, and knocked him back on his heels. On the first play of the game Westbrook jumped a passing lane and set the tone with his defense. Westbrook attacked CP3, got a couple early fouls on him and largely took Paul out of the game. This wasn’t a simple matter of “good” or “bad” Westbrook because they are part of the same package — the aggressive Westbrook that dominated Paul can be the same one that goes out of control for a stretch. There is just far more good than bad with him and we saw it in Game 2.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. That is your MVP, ladies and gentlemen. He’s on an emotional high, he knows his team needs a win and he comes out and splashes a three 40 seconds in the game. In the first quarter he drops 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He goes on to score 32 points and be one assist shy of also having a triple-double. It was vintage KD — just like his acceptance speech.
Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers. Hey Roy, good to see you again. We missed you. Hope you enjoyed you’re mental walkabout for the last couple months, are you back to stay for a while? First and foremost he was back as the defensive anchor in the paint that the Pacers need — they are always going to win starting on that end of the court. Then he also dropped 28 points. Here’s the big thing — he’s had some other good games during his slump, only to revert to his bad form. Do that in this series and the Pacers go home (they played much better and this game was still close). He has to be consistent. That said, every journey starts with one step.
Game 3 of the Hawks vs. Cavaliers series has looked a lot like the first two — the Cavaliers are hitting threes and making plays, and the Hawks are struggling to keep up.
The most impressive of those plays early was Iman Shumpert getting up and throwing down the put-back dunk off LeBron James‘ miss. Check out the reaction of the Cavaliers bench to this play.
Blake Griffin has a game well suited for what coach Mike Krzyzewski has Team USA running: he’s an absolute beast in transition, a gifted and unselfish passer, and he can knock down his midrange shot well enough that opponents have to respect him at 18 feet.
But he’s not joining Coach K in Rio this summer.
Griffin knew he was risking the Olympics by playing through the quad injury for the playoffs, and he is now paying that price the Clippers announced Friday. They said he has had a bone marrow treatment on his quadricep, but it will not allow him to play with Team USA this summer.
Griffin joins Anthony Davis as fours sidelined by injuries and not playing in Rio.
Team USA should be just fine. Other options at the four this summer are LaMarcus Aldridge, Draymond Green, Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony, and that’s not including going small and playing LeBron James, Paul George or others at the four.
Team USA will meet in mid-July for a camp in Las Vegas then do a tour of the USA with exhibition games for a few weeks, before heading down to Rio for the Olympics, which have opening ceremonies Aug. 5 (basketball tips off the next day). Of course, you can see it all on NBC, follow the video on NBCOlypics.com, and read all about it here.
“So Frank, how do you feel about the triangle?”
Frank Vogel is not going to be unemployed for any longer than he wants. Larry Bird and the Pacers dumped him, but his ability to get teams to defend is going to have suitors lined up for his skills.
That includes the Knicks, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post.
The Knicks have made contact with the agent for Frank Vogel, but have not yet requested an interview, according to a source close to the former Pacers coach.
According to the source, Knicks GM Steve Mills has done his due diligence in contacting Vogel’s reps. He expressed that Phil Jackson has not made a decision on how to proceed. The key to the exploratory phone call was finding out whether Vogel would have interest in the job, and it seems he does.
Kurt Rambis is still considered the front-runner for the Knicks job.
Jackson has said he wants someone he knows, and someone committed to running the triangle offense. The Lakers did employ Vogel as an advanced scout during the Jackson era, but don’t confuse that with any relationship between the two. Also, while Vogel’s Pacers ran some triangle action during his tenure, that was while Brian Shaw was his assistant. And that’s very different than jumping in with both feet full time.
Vogel also reportedly has interest in the Rockets job, a team farther along the path to contending and with a more stable management structure. But the Knicks are at least making the call, it’s a start.
Conditioning has never been Boris Diaw‘s strength.
That’s being kind, the man ate his way out of Charlotte. Make no mistake, Diaw is a gifted player who has surprising athleticism plus a court vision and high hoops IQ that make him perfect for the Spurs, but Gregg Popovich gave him incentives to stay thin and Tony Parker joked about Diaw’s weight.
Now Diaw is getting in on the act, speaking to Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Sharp.
“Sometimes we’re up 30,” Diaw says, “and (Popovich is) like, ‘I’m just going to leave you on the court so you can lose some weight.’”
If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at. Diaw has a coffee maker in his locker and , he’s not too worried about his image.
Diaw only saw a little more than eight minutes in Game 2 against the Thunder, which was not about conditioning and all about the matchup. Still, expect him to get more run in Game 3, he is one of those guys who makes the ball move for the Spurs and they need to get back to that.