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Warriors sure notice the nightlife difference in playing Jazz rather than Clippers

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The Warriors awaited their second-round opponent until yesterday, when the Jazz beat the Clippers. That means Golden State will spend Saturday night in Utah, where Game 3 starts at 6:30 p.m. locally and the rest of the night is free. Safe to say, there’s a difference between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, where the Warriors would’ve been if the Clippers won.

Draymond Green, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s the playoff,” he said. “Nobody worried about nightlife during the playoffs.”

He might want to check with his teammates on that.

Matt Barnes, via Haynes:

“No comparison. There’s no such thing, man,” Warriors’ forward Matt Barnes told ESPN. “There’s no nightlife in Utah. Obviously as players, you want to be able to have a little bit of a nightlife, but the main focus is winning games. Me personally, I want to get out there because I want to beat the Clippers. That’s my former team and my kids are out there. But as far as nightlife, there’s no comparison to nightlife in Utah and L.A.”

Kevin Durant, via Haynes:

“I’m sure it’s probably clubs, but I’ve never been to one in Utah,” Kevin Durant told ESPN. “It’s a few restaurants close to the hotel, but you’re not scattered out. L.A. is just bigger. That’s the only difference. But preparation wise, my approach is the same as in any other city.”

Andre Iguodala:

“The problem with Utah is that you’re just sitting there and your mind is like dead, because in L.A., you still got energy for the game,” Andre Iguodala said. “Because you’re in L.A., you’re like, ‘Man, this is just the vibe in L.A.’ but in Utah, it can kind of lull you to sleep. And then you’ve slept too long or I’m bored out of my mind and now you got to try to pump yourself up for the game. You know you’re in the playoffs and you’re supposed to be pumped anyway, but the vibe is just like, ‘Man, let’s just get out of here.'”

I would love to know the exact question the players were asked. It might change how we view these answers. But Haynes is a responsible reporter, and he framed his article:

It’s safe to say that the Golden State Warriors were pulling for the LA Clippers to advance past the Utah Jazz in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Their rooting interest, however, had nothing to do with which team would present the stiffest challenge on the basketball court. Rather, it had everything to do with where they will spend their leisure hours when the second-round series shifts to Games 3 and 4.

The Warriors present an image of effortlessly cruising to wins, but they work very hard to prepare. They know when to buckle down and focus.

It’s interesting that two newcomers, Durant and Barnes, are the leading voices in this article. Iguodala also discussed the advantages of playing in low-key Salt Lake City. Durant and Barnes might have been attracted to Golden State to have it all – the partying and the winning – but a heightened commitment is necessary in the playoffs. I wonder whether their teammates will talk to them about that.

The Warriors can still run all over Utah, but there’s now a little more pressure to back it up after this talking.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.