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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.

Lakers fan hits halfcourt shot to win $100,000 (VIDEO)

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The Los Angeles Lakers are having a pretty good January.

The team has a losing record overall but is 6-5 in 2018, despite the noise from the Ball family and the need for public confidence for Luke Walton as coach.

Still, I’m not sure they’re having as good a time as the guy who won $100,000 by banking in a halfcourt shot on Sunday.

Via Twitter:

The fan’s name is apparently Suni Strong, and he’s from Palmdale. He played high school basketball, works at Space-X, and was on a canceled A&E show about bounty hunting.

Seriously.

Via OC Register:

“When I first walked in I said have my check ready,” he said. “I knew I was going to make it. I had to.”

Asked if he called “bank,” Strong replied, “Why would I do that? I called money.”

That’s some serious scratch.

Spencer Dinwiddie hits game-winner for Nets over former team (VIDEO)

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Spencer Dinwiddie was once a member of the Detroit Pistons. They traded him to the Chicago Bulls back in 2016 for Cameron Bairstow, and the Bulls promptly waived him less than a month later. That same day, Bairstow was waived by the Pistons.

On Sunday, Dinwiddie got his revenge on Detroit by ending their matinee matchup with a step-through jumper that two Pistons failed to defend.

The play came with 4.7 seconds left and the Brooklyn Nets trailing, 100-99. Dinwiddie ran across the far side of the floor to receive the ball from the sideline, then to the near elbow before putting on a series of moves to get his shot off.

The play gave Detroit just 0.09 seconds left, and they couldn’t get an attempt off.

Brooklyn beat the Pistons, 101-100.

Meanwhile, Dinwiddie continues to have the best season of his career. He’s averaging 13.2 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per-game, all career-highs. He’s also boosted his VORP to 1.1, another personal best.

Enes Kanter’s teammate told him “You’re about to get 50 dropped on you” after LeBron troll

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Enes Kanter likes to inject himself in situations he doesn’t belong in.

The New York Knicks forward likes to take aim at the biggest star in the game, LeBron James, and has said in the past that he would fight LeBron if he had to.

Some previous comments from LeBron riled up members of the Knicks organization, and there’s been animosity between the two sides ever since.

So it wasn’t too much of a surprise when Kanter had something to say on Twitter about his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, dropping 148 points during a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday. Heck, even former Cavaliers coach David Blatt jumped in on that one, albeit immediately before his own team got 151 scored on them.

Kanter took to Twitter, using LeBron’s own catchphrase against him:

Of course, that’s probably not the best idea. Kanter is a role player and LeBron is one of the best who ever played. Even if the Cavaliers are stinking it up lately, you can’t go after the King like that. You just might miss.

Via ESPN:

“One texted [teammate] me just to say — I’m not going to say who — but he texted me ‘You’re about to get 50 dropped on you, boy.'” Kanter said before Sunday’s matinee against the Los Angeles Lakers. “I responded something back, but I’m not going to say what it is.”

Kanter added that he’s just “having fun” and wanting to put “a smile on people’s face” with his constant prodding.

We’ll see if he ends up smiling the next time Cleveland and New York meet on April 9 at MSG.

David Blatt’s troll on the Cavaliers backfires when opponent scores 151 (VIDEO)

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David Blatt, perhaps sensing his time to pounce as rumors swirl around Tyronn Lue’s departure, decided to troll the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. It did not go so well.

Blatt, who was fired from the head coaching spot in Cleveland in 2015, now heads Darüşşafaka S.K. in the Turkish Super League.

Blatt was also coaching Team Europe vs. Team Asia in the Turkish BSL All-Star Game on Sunday. During the game Blatt joked during a TV interview that he was just hoping his team didn’t give up as many points as the Cavaliers did to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday. That game ended with a score of 148-124.

Via Twitter:

So what happened to Blatt’s Team Europe in the All-Star Game?

According to Erik Gundersen over at LeBron Wire, Team Europe promptly got rolled on with a tally of … 151 points.

The final total in the Turkish All-Star matchup was 151-142 in favor of Team Asia.

Oops.