Kevin Durant, Chris Paul

Tuesday NBA Previews: What other tricks does Doc Rivers have up his sleeve?

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The Pacers can end the Wizards’ season Tuesday night, while we’re all hoping the Clippers/Thunder series goes seven because it’s by far the most entertaining series this round.

Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers (Pacers lead series 3-1). All season, the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat appeared on a collision course to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. Now, both teams are a win away, and the Pacers can get there tonight by beating the Washington Wizards. More importantly than beating Miami to the ECF, Indiana needs a win to maintain its rising confidence. Fall to the Wizards at home and go back to Washington, what does that do to Roy Hibbert, Paul George and crew? I don’t think that’s a bridge the Pacers want to cross.
—Dan Feldman

Los Angeles Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder (series tied 2-2). In every series there comes a point when one coach knows he’s going to get beat going with what worked to get him this far, so he reaches for a desperation move. Doc Rivers did that in the fourth quarter of Game 4, down 16 with nine minutes to go he went to an ultra-small lineup — Chris Paul, Darren Collison, Jamal Crawford, Danny Granger, and Blake Griffin — and put CP3 guarding Durant. It worked. The Thunder offense became obsessed with trying to exploit a couple mismatches to the point they stopped executing anything else and became easy to defend. On the other end the Clippers shot 12-of-15 and went on a 33-17 run that would win them the game. It was high drama.

But is that something that really can be repeated? Successfully? If the Clippers leave Paul on Durant for any stretch on Tuesday night I sense KD will find his MVP form and just shoot over the top of Paul all night long. Does Rivers have another rotation trick or motivational tool? Because what the Clippers did all season to get here was about to go down 3-1 to OKC and if the teams go back to form the Thunder will take the lead in this series. The pressure is still on the Clippers to find something that both works against the Thunder and is sustainable.
—Kurt Helin

NBA: DeMarcus Cousins got away with (more important) travel before incorrect foul of Dwyane Wade

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The NBA acknowledged the attention-grabbing officiating error late in the Bulls’ win over the Kings on Saturday: DeMarcus Cousins shouldn’t have been called for fouling Dwyane Wade, who hit the go-ahead free throw with 14 seconds left.

But before Sacramento claims the referees cost it a win, the Last Two Minute Report reveals a more significant missed call that favored the Kings.

Cousins should have been called for travelling with 56.3 left as he drove for a basket, according to the league:

Cousins (SAC) moves his pivot foot. The official is looking for any illegal contact and does not pick up the pivot foot.

The non-call directly allowed Cousins to score two points. Wade made only one free throw.

The officiating errors in the final two minutes helped the Kings more than the Bulls.

(Sacramento center Kosta Koufos also got away with a shooting foul on Jimmy Butler with 37.8 seconds left, according to the league, but Robin Lopez tipped in Butler’s miss, anyway. The Bulls weren’t shorted any points on that possession.)

NBA: Marcus Smart wrongly called for huge foul late in Celtics’ loss to Trail Blazers

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The Trail Blazers beat the Celtics on Saturday in an overtime thriller. The game provided so much action, there was little objection when what would’ve been one of the most exciting plays was waived off.

But it should have counted.

With Boston down one one and 11 seconds left, Marcus Smart stripped Damian Lillard under Portland’s own basket and immediately hit a go-ahead layup. Except officials called a foul on Smart – in error, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Smart (BOS) makes clean contact with the ball.

Lillard went to the line and made both free throws, and Terry Rozier made a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, where the Trail Blazers emerged with a 127-123 win.

Portland still would’ve had a chance to answer, but with a correct call, Boston would have held the lead a much better chance of winning in regulation.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin out another 3-5 weeks after re-aggravating hamstring injury

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31:  Jeremy Lin #7 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles up court against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at Barclays Center on October 31, 2016 in New York City. 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.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Jeremy Lin has been in and out of the Nets’ lineup due to a lingering hamstring injury. He has already missed 31 games, including the last 11.

The point guard hoped to return around now, but that’s not happening.

Nets release:

The following statement has been released by Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks:

“During the course of his rehab, Jeremy re-aggravated his strained left hamstring and will be out approximately three to five weeks as he continues to work towards a full recovery.  We understand and appreciate Jeremy’s competitive desire to get back on the court with his teammates, however, we are going to be cautious with his rehab in order to ensure that he is at full strength once he returns.”

Of course, this improves the fortunes of the Celtics,who own the Nets’ 2017 first-round pick. Brooklyn, 9-34 and 4.5 games worse than anyone else in the NBA, appears even more certain to secure the No. 1 seed in the lottery.

The Nets have been bad with Lin this season and a little worse without him. With no first-rounder, the difference is negligible to them.

Isaiah Whitehead, Sean Kilpatrick and Spencer Dinwiddie will get more opportunities to develop. But Brooklyn is probably overburdening those young guards. Even with Lin, there was plenty of playing time available.

NBA: 76ers got away with violation before Robert Covington’s late 3-pointer against Trail Blazers

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Robert Covington hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the 76ers’ 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers on Friday, but that wasn’t Covington’s only triple as Philadelphia overcame a four-point deficit in the final 40 seconds. He also buried a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left.

The catch: That shot came after Philadelphia should have turned the ball over, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

Gerald Henderson missed a 3-pointer, and Dario Saric prevented the rebound from going out of bounds, saving the ball with a pass to Covington. Except Saric got away with stepping out of bounds with the ball with 42.1 seconds left, per the league:

Saric’s (PHI) left foot is out of bounds when he makes contact with the loose ball.

That would’ve given Portland the ball up four.

The 76ers overcome the odds to win this game. But a correct call might have produced too steep of a hill for Philadelphia to climb.