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Warriors become just the 5th team to start NBA playoffs 10-0

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OAKLAND (AP) — The Golden State Warriors’ rare unbeaten start this postseason doesn’t necessarily mean they’re on their way to a title.

Golden State is just the fifth NBA team to win its first 10 playoff games in a given postseason. Only two of the four teams that previously achieved the feat went on to win the title.

The Warriors aren’t getting caught up in talk about where they might rank in history if they continue this run. They say they’re focusing on continuing to get better and the next game against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals.

“We feel like we like our chances against anybody, no matter (who) is on the court,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said Tuesday night after a 136-100 victory over the Spurs, who played without injured All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard. “That’s the confidence we have. But we’ve got to be ready Game 3. We know they’re probably going to be full strength in Game 3 and ready to play us.

Here’s a look at the other four teams that had the best starts in playoff history.

1989 – LOS ANGELES LAKERS (11-0)

The Lakers followed up a 57-25 regular season by carrying an unbeaten postseason record into the Finals as they sought their third straight title. But after sweeping Portland, Seattle and Phoenix to win the Western Conference title, the Lakers were swept by the Detroit Pistons in the Finals. The Lakers’ title hopes suffered a devastating blow when Magic Johnson injured his hamstring in Game 2 of the Finals. Johnson started Game 3 but played only five minutes before missing the rest of the series.

2001 – LOS ANGELES LAKERS (11-0)

The Lakers dropped only one game the entire postseason on their way to winning a second straight championship. The Lakers would win a third straight crown the following year. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant led a Lakers team that swept Portland, Sacramento and San Antonio in the Western Conference playoffs. After losing 107-101 at home to Philadelphia in the first game of the NBA Finals, the Lakers beat the 76ers four straight times to clinch the title.

2012 – SAN ANTONIO SPURS (10-0)

After sweeping Utah and the Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio took a 2-0 lead over Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals. But the Spurs wouldn’t win another game as the Thunder beat San Antonio four straight times to claim the Western Conference title. Oklahoma City went on to lose in five games to Miami in the NBA Finals.

2016 – CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (10-0)

The Cavaliers swept Detroit and Atlanta in the first two rounds of the postseason and took a quick 2-0 lead over Toronto in the Eastern Conference finals before losing five of its next eight playoff games. Cleveland won a six-game series with Toronto but fell behind Golden State 3-1 in the NBA Finals before LeBron James and Kyrie Irving rallied the Cavaliers to the title . Cleveland also has swept its first two playoff opponents this year as it enters the Eastern Conference finals with Boston , marking the first time a team has stated out 8-0 in two straight postseasons.

Bucks GM on Jason Kidd firing: “This is a performance-based thing”

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Last season the Bucks went 42-40 in the regular season and were up 2-1 in their first-round playoff series against Toronto before ultimately losing in six.

This season, expectations were high. Before the season there was talk from the team of a 50-win team (Las Vegas oddsmakers set the under/over at 47.5) that would finish in the top four in the Eastern Conference, hosting a playoff round. There was hope that the defense would improve, and with that the Bucks would look like a young team figuring it out.

They haven’t looked like that at all — they are 23-22 (with the point differential of a 20-25 team), and their defense is 25th in the NBA. Currently, they have just a one-game cushion for the final playoff slot in the East.

That cost coach Jason Kidd his job, first-year Bucks GM Jon Horst said Monday night at a press conference, as reported by Matt Velazquez at the Journal-Sentinel.

“At the end, this is a performance-based thing,” Horst said. “We believe in this team, we believe in our players and in the talents that they have. We’re looking forward at making playoff appearances in consecutive years for the first time in over a decade and hopefully winning a first-round series for the first time in over a decade. So we felt like at this time, this is the right decision to help this team get there.”

Around the league the move was not a total surprise, but the timing caught people off guard. Horst said it happened “relatively quickly” and explained:

“A general manager in the NHL had a statement once: ‘If something is inevitable, why wait?’ I think we came to the conclusion that this was the best thing for the future of the franchise and this was the time.”

Come this summer this will be the hottest coaching job available because of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the potential of this roster. Names such as Jeff Van Gundy and former Pelicans coach Monty Williams have been mentioned, but the ultimate list will be longer. Honestly, a few coaches with jobs might rather have the Bucks job (although the challenges between the two owners there can make things uncomfortable at times).

“We have another game on Friday and between that time we have a plan that we’ll put in place that we’ll kind of layout for the rest of the season,” Horst said. “We’ll go into the summer and have an extensive coaching search with an opportunity to hopefully find a great coach for this organization of which (interim coach) Joe Prunty has every opportunity to be a part of based on what happens going forward.”

This is going to a rough adjustment for Antetokounmpo and some of the players, who respected and trusted Kidd. There’s a lot of pressure on Horst with this hire.

That doesn’t make it the wrong move — Horst did the right thing here. The Bucks were going to be moving on, they just did it sooner rather than later.

 

Kevin Durant fires back, says Clint Capela’s job is “easy”

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“We’re confident because we know if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, we’re going to beat them… We are better than them.”

That was young Rockets center Clint Capela after the Rockets beat the Warriors last Saturday night, feeling confident.

Asked about it, Kevin Durant shot Capela down, saying he’s not the guy that should be commenting.

There are no easy jobs in the NBA. It takes a lot of work physically, a good mental feel for the game, and the right opportunity just to get a chance. That said, some NBA jobs are simpler and more straightforward than others. On offense, Capela is not the ball handler and creator making a lot of decisions, things are simple for him — and he executes them. He’s shooting 66.6 percent this season — he does what he does well.

Houston took two of three from Golden State this season, and while that is far from doing it in a playoff series it should be a confidence boost for Houston if/when they go up against Golden State.

Jason Kidd says Giannis Antetokounmpo offered to save his job minutes before firing

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The stagnant Milwaukee Bucks shook things up by firing head coach Jason Kidd  Monday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was not happy with the news. So much he called up Kidd and offered to help save his job, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Antetokounmpo is understandably close to Kidd — he’s been the coach who helped transform the Greek Freak into an NBA superstar. Kidd is on his way to the Hall of Fame as a player, and as a coach had the vision to put the ball in Antetokounmpo’s hands as a point guard. Antetokounmpo trusted Kidd.

However, the Bucks’ growth has been stagnant — this is a team where the players talked about being a 50-win, top-four team in the East with a strong defense, instead they are a team on the way to around .500, barely hanging onto a playoff spot, with the point differential of a team that wins 36 games. They are not taking a step forward, and the Bucks — with the approval of ownership, which was very close to Kidd at one time — approving the move.

There was nothing Antetokounmpo could have done. It’s life in the NBA. That doesn’t mean he has to like it.

Gordon Hayward is shooting standing threes in an empty gym. That’s something, I guess.

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Having lost three games in a row at home, doubt seems to have crept into the minds of some Celtics fans. They’re the top seed in the East (and likely finish the season in that slot, again), but just how good are they really? Do they have enough to knock off the Cavaliers and LeBron James when he goes into playoff mode?

In the midst of that self-doubt, the wife of Gordon Hayward, Robyn, posted this.

Still can’t beat me… 🤷🏻‍♀️

A post shared by Robyn Hayward (@robynmhayward) on

For Boston fans still holding out hope Hayward returns this season, this is another sign. No brace, no chair, he’s draining threes. It’s a step forward.

This video also borders on meaningless — he’s not jumping, not moving, not showing us anything about his recovery we didn’t already know. Good to see him up and making progress, but that he can hit stand-still threes in an empty gym is about as shocking as finding out the next Transformers movie is going to suck.

Officially, Hayward is still out for the season. He’s putting in the work, and maybe he returns before the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him back for this season. Nor should they. The Celtics are on a multi-year plan to be the next dominant team in the East, no reason to push him and risk anything now.