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Three things to watch: Golden State Warriors vs. Utah Jazz

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1. Will the Warriors continue pursuit of fo’, fo’, fo’, fo’ postseason?

Golden State added Kevin Durant to a 73-win team.

A mere championship won’t satisfy all the outsized expectations created by that combination.

There’s a decent amount of chatter about Golden State going 16-0 in these playoffs. Sweeping the Trail Blazers kept the dream alive, but the Jazz are a much bigger test.

Sweeping Utah – a team that could beat the Warriors if it catches enough breaks – will require much more focus, and there are already signs of slippage. Will the Warriors lock down, or are they just too talented anyway?

2. Who controls the pace?

The Warriors are one of the league’s fastest-paced teams. The Jazz are the slowest.

Just how extreme is the split?

Golden State had 37 faster-paced games than Utah’s fastest. Utah had 33 slower-paced games than Golden State’s second slowest.

The Warriors can play slow, and the Jazz can play fast. But neither team wants to give in here.

It’s probably more important for the underdog Jazz to win this battle. Otherwise, they run out of areas to seek an edge.

To dictate the tempo, Utah will need to keep Rudy Gobert on the court. Golden State has excelled at running traditional centers off the floor, but Gobert has moved his feet well enough to compete in the pick-and-roll and allow his paint protection to shine. Will that hold up if the Warriors relentlessly pull Gobert into pick-and-rolls? Is Gobert healthy enough to withstand the coming onslaught?

3. Will the Warriors miss Steve Kerr?

Durant returned against Portland, and Golden State’s other player injuriesShaun Livingston and Matt Barnes – are relatively minor

Kerr is the great unknown – not just for his unclear medical prognosis, but because a great team losing its head coach in the playoffs is uncharted waters.

The Warriors cruised last season with Luke Walton, but the regular season is a different animal. Kerr can help game-plan behind the scenes to aid Mike Brown, as the head coach did for Walton.

But there will come a time in the playoffs where Golden State – with high-profile Draymond Green, Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – faces adversity within a game. Kerr has managed those personalities so well in those heated moments. Will Brown? Or will Kerr return in time to do it himself?

I’m not sure whether the test will come against Utah, but it could.

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.

Magic rookie Jonathan Isaac forgot to put on jersey for debut

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In the above video, Magic rookie Jonathan Isaac can be seen sitting on Orlando’s bench wearing his warmups midway through the first quarter. After a timeout, his seat was empty.

Where did he go?

Isaac, via Chris Barnewall of CBS Sports:

“I didn’t even put my jersey on. I was on the bench and I completely forgot my jersey. I didn’t even put it on,” Isaac said.

When asked when he retrieved his white, pinstriped Magic jersey, he said: “five minutes left in the first quarter. [I left it] sitting right there.”

Isaac checked in a few minutes later – with his jersey on – and quickly scored.

Good thing the Magic’s rotation didn’t call for him to enter the game sooner. And this was obviously easier to laugh off after Orlando beat the Heat.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin out for season

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The fears for Nets point guard Jeremy Lin have been realized.

Nets release:

Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin has been diagnosed with a ruptured patella tendon of the right knee.  The injury occurred during the fourth quarter of last night’s game at Indiana. Lin is expected to miss the entire 2017-18 season.

This is obviously a devastating setback for Lin, who missed 46 games last season in his first year with Brooklyn. The Nets’ already-slim playoff chances fade further with the loss of arguably their best player, though fellow point guard D'Angelo Russell shined in his Brooklyn debut with 30 points.

The trickle-down effects of this injury are perhaps more intriguing.

This makes the Nets’ first-round pick – owned by the Cavaliers – more valuable. Does that make LeBron James more likely to re-sign with Cleveland next summer (either because the Cavs add a top-flight rookie or trade the selection for a valuable veteran)? Does that alter long-term plans in Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia and elsewhere?

Lin’s injury doesn’t just sting in Brooklyn. It could alter the entire landscape of the NBA.