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Allen Crabbe knows it’s time for him, Blazers’ bench to step up against Warriors

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — It’s clear to Allen Crabbe – and just about everyone else who’s watching – that Portland’s bench needs to do more against the Warriors.

And Crabbe is pointing to himself as someone who needs to step up.

The Trail Blazers’ reserves had a combined 35 points Wednesday night when starters Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum struggled with only 23 points between the two of them, and Golden State won 110-81. The bench sparked a rally for a time in the second quarter but couldn’t match the depth of the Warriors at the end, finishing 13 of 32 from the field and 4 of 18 from 3-point range.

That’s not going to be enough to beat Golden State, which got 50 from its bench. Still, it was an improvement over Game 1, when Portland’s backups had a combined nine points in a 121-109 Warriors win.

Crabbe has been especially frustrated, with just three points in the opening game of the series and six in the second.

“Definitely not playing the way that I wanted to, not really contributing the way I wanted to offensively,” the 6-foot-6 wing said. “So it is kind of frustrating. But that’s the sweet thing about it. It’s a seven-game and we’ve still got more games to play, so I’ve still got time to pick it up.”

Now the series moves to Portland for Game 3 on Saturday, giving the Blazers a chance to play catch-up at home. Reserve play will be vitally important for the Blazers, especially if Lillard and McCollum are again held back by the Warriors.

Crabbe similarly got off to a slow start in last year’s first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers but improved and scored 20 points in Game 5 against Golden State in the second round. Overall, he averaged 9.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 11 playoff games last year.

“As a shooter on this team, as somebody who can score off the bench, that’s what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to just keep shooting the ball and wait until it starts falling for me,” he said Friday at the Blazers’ practice facility. “It will pick up from there.”

Crabbe averaged 10.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists overall this season after signing a four-year contract worth $75 million with the Blazers last summer. He had a season-high 30 points in an overtime victory over Detroit in January. He also broke out in a 105-98 victory over the Timberwolves in early March with 25 points, including a career-high eight 3-pointers – just one off the franchise record by a reserve.

In his last 10 games of the regular season, he averaged nearly 12 points but he missed Portland’s three final regular-season games with left foot soreness after an MRI revealed inflammation.

The Blazers’ bench was an issue during the regular season – they were ranked 26th in the league – but as Portland rebounded after the All-Star break, so did the reserves.

With Lillard and McCollum resting after Portland clinched a playoff berth, point guard Shabazz Napier scored 32 points in a 99-98 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, who played their starters.

Napier was the top player off the bench in Game 2 of the playoffs, with 10 points.

Coach Terry Stotts said it’s a whole-team effort if the Blazers want to make some noise. Last season, Portland came back after a 0-2 deficit to beat the Clippers in the opening round.

“I think it’s important that all the players on the court – that everybody’s ready to make contributions,” Stotts said. “We made it a competitive series last year because it was a team effort. And we need the same team effort.”

Crabbe, like many of the other players at the practice facility on the eve of Game 3, characterized it as a must-win.

“We know how important this game is,” he said. “We’re locked in and we’re gonna go out there, gotta give it our all.”

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Report: NBA not headed toward 1-16 playoff seeding

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league would continue look at 1-16 playoff seeding.

Ken Berger of Bleacher Report:

Silver is well-intentioned on this issue, and open-minded, too—as he is on most agenda items that could, in theory, make the league better. But despite his willingness to discuss postseason reformatting, multiple people familiar with league discussions say it’s not anywhere near the top of the agenda.

After its analysis of the issue in ’15, the league concluded that, for a variety of reasons, it wasn’t sensible to change the playoff format. The two key factors, according to league sources, were 1) travel; and 2) a belief among league officials that conference imbalance was a temporary trend that would correct itself, as it typically has in the past.

For playoff qualification to truly be fair, teams would have to play a balanced schedule. As is, teams play teams in their own conference 52 times and teams from the other conference 30 times.

More 10 p.m. starts on the East Coast and 4 p.m. starts on the West Coast would hurt TV ratings.

Plus, as relative conference strength exists now and has existed for several years, 1-16 playoff seeding would make it harder for bigger Eastern Conference markets and easier for smaller Western Conference markets to qualify for the postseason.

Quality of competition matters, and there would be value in the NBA building a playoff field of its 16 best teams. But follow the money. There isn’t nearly enough urgency with this issue to overcome the direct financial setbacks reform would cause.

Draymond Green’s MRI comes back negative

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The Warriors can exhale. Their status as overwhelming championship favorites remains intact.

Draymond Green injured his knee in Golden State’s season-opening loss to the Rockets, but it appears he didn’t suffer major damage.

Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

Even if Green misses a little time, the Warriors should be fine. They can cruise until playoffs – maybe even a round or two into the playoffs.

Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are Golden State’s best players, but Green’s defense is so important, especially in small-ball lineups with him at center. The Warriors led Houston by 13 when Green left the game and then couldn’t get enough fourth-quarter stops in a one-point loss.

Golden State values rest and built a supporting cast around its stars to follow through. If Green misses tomorrow’s game against the Pelicans or any beyond, Jordan Bell, David West, Kevon Looney and Omri Casspi could all see bigger roles.

Report: Grizzlies starting power forward JaMychal Green out several weeks

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The Grizzlies are undefeated, having topped another playoff hopeful (Pelicans) in their season-opener.

But things seem tenuous in Memphis.

Not only is Chandler Parsons feuding with Grizzlies fans, JaMychal Green is hurt.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The supporting cast looks rickety around Mike Conley and Marc Gasol unless second-rounder Dillon Brooks (19 points on 7-of-13 shooting +17 against New Orleans) keeps humming. And maybe even still then.

Green’s injury opens the door for bigger roles for Jarell Martin and maybe Parsons (gulp).

At least Green locked in his guaranteed money. This shows why he couldn’t afford to risk taking the qualifying offer.

Booed by Grizzlies fans, Chandler Parsons says he’ll treat home games like road games

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Chandler Parsons‘ great sin? Signing a four-year, $94 million contract and failing to justify it due to injuries. He missed 48 games last season and struggled mightily while on the court.

His more recent transgression? Missing a couple free throws.

The Grizzlies forward missed a pair from the line in yesterday’s season-opening win over the Pelicans, and Memphis fans booed him:

Later, Parsons drew a three-shot foul, and Marc Gasol tried to rally the crowd behind Parsons:

Plenty of fans cheered, but as Parsons went 1-for-3, others still booed.

Parsons, via Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal:

“I’ll just go into every game with the mentality that it’s a road game, if that’s how it’s going to be,” he said.

Finally, Parsons stuck up for himself, saying, “They can boo me, they can sarcastically cheer me, they can do whatever they want. … It’s tasteless , man, it makes no sense. We’re athletes, we’re human beings. I don’t know them personally, so, it’s just a little strange to me, but that’s sports.”

If Parsons didn’t understand Mavericks fans booing him after he left Dallas, he sure isn’t going to understand Grizzlies fans booing him while he’s still in Memphis.

Fans largely see Parsons as a character in the drama that is the Grizzlies – something removed from their everyday reality. Of course, Parsons is taking it personally. He’s a person, and it’s his everyday reality.

It’s unclear what portion of Memphis fans booed him. Grizzlies fans probably aren’t excited about cheering him right now, but many did – as a direct response to the boos. Even if they would’ve preferred no reaction a vacuum, those cheering fans didn’t want the boo birds speaking for them.

Parsons ought to remember those supportive fans before painting the entire home crowd as the enemy, or else he’ll turn everyone against him. None of this is fair to Parsons, who has surely been frustrated with his injuries, but he can control how he reacts to the fans.