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

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. It was a $72 million gamble that has not worked, and left New York with an anchor o a

Tomorrow it will be official he is done for the season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. But that is interesting.

 

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)