Malcolm Brogdon

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Report: Bucks interested in Cavaliers GM David Griffin

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The Magic hired Jeff Weltman, and the Hawks are reportedly close to hiring Travis Schlenk.

In other words, Cavaliers general manager David Griffin – who’s still without a contract for next season – lost his leverage with other teams.

But to the rescue are the Bucks, who will not necessarily promote assistant general manager Justin Zanik to replace Orland-bound general manager John Hammond.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Multiple sources told cleveland.com that the Bucks, who lost general manager John Hammond to the Orlando Magic this week, have interest in Griffin, 47.

Griffin and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert have spoken about continuing their partnership in recent days, sources said, though no agreement was reached.

I still think Griffin stays in Cleveland. He helped assemble a championship contender, and he has LeBron Jamesendorsement. Plus, the Cavaliers can afford him.

But whomever gets the Milwaukee job will inherit a roster stocked with promising young talent like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker. The Bucks wouldn’t be a bad fallback option for Griffin – if he can’t use them to get a deal with the Cavs.

Westbrook, Harden, Leonard MVP top three as NBA announces award finalists

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We are not going to know who is MVP — or any other NBA award winner, outside of the All-NBA Team — before the June 26 award ceremony. That’s after the Finals, and after the Draft.

But we do know who the top three finalists are in the major individual categories, those were announced on Friday on TNT. Here are all the finalists (listed in no particular order).

Most Valuable Player
Kawhi Leonard
James Harden
Russell Westbrook

Defensive Player of the Year
Draymond Green
Kawhi Leonard
Rudy Gobert

Rookie of the Year
Joel Embiid
Dario Saric
Malcolm Brogdon

Sixth Man of the Year
Andre Iguodala
Eric Gordon
Lou Williams

Coach of the Year
Erik Spoelstra
Mike D’Antoni
Gregg Popovich

Most Improved Player
Rudy Gobert
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Nikola Jokic

Remember, the votes were turned in before the playoffs started.

I don’t see any real surprises in there. Certainly not with MVP where Westbrook/Harden/Leonard will be the top three vote getters, with LeBron James fourth, then a pretty wide open race for fifth. Some people will argue LeBron was snubbed, but while he had a strong regular season his Cavaliers took the month of March basically off, particularly on defense, and in a close race that matters.

On down the list, those likely are the top three vote-getters in each category, and while you can try to make a case for people outside this group to be included (was Isaiah Thomas one of the most improved? Scotty Brooks for Coach of the Year?) there are no shockers in there.

Drake will host the NBA’s first ever awards ceremony on June 26, shown live on TNT from New York City. I doubt they do it, but the NBA should treat this like the Golden Globes, with big round tables and flowing alcohol for the nominees and others in the audience. It would make a more lively show.

Raptors break out best game of postseason, rout Bucks 118-93 to take 3-2 series lead

Associated Press
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Norman Powell was draining threes, throwing down dunks that would have won the contest All-Star weekend, and he finished with a career playoff-high 25 points on just 11 shots. Plus defensively he caused Khris Middleton trouble.

The Raptors finished with 28 assists, the most in a playoff game since Dwane Casey took over as coach.

Toronto shot 57.7 percent overall, a franchise playoff best.

The Raptors bench played well pitching in 27 points and growing the lead when they were in, part of an overall strong night from the role players in Toronto.

Combine that all with the expected good nights from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and you get the Raptors best game of the playoffs. It looked like a different team than the one in Milwaukee.

Toronto raced out to an early lead and went on to rout the Bucks 118-93, giving the Raptors a 3-2 series lead.

This was a game where the Bucks tried to force the ball out of the hands of Lowry and DeRozan as much as they could, using their length and athleticism. However, Lowry had 10 assists, and DeRozan would get the ball off pindown screens and feel the double coming, move the ball, and another quick pass or two later the role-playing player Raptors were getting good looks and knocking them down. Or throwing it down like this.

Or this.

Toronto just looked more comfortable against the Bucks pressure, having seen it for so many games in a row, than they have all series.

Powell had 25 points for Toronto, Serge Ibaka had 19 and three blocks, Lowry had 16 points and 10 assists, DeRozan had 18 points and six assists, even DeMarre Carroll had 12 points on six shots.

The question for the young Bucks team is how does it bounce back from this kind of loss in the biggest NBA game most of them have ever played? Can they get their defensive edge back?

“We’re going to miss some shots, and we can’t let our offense dictate our defense,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said postgame. “And also the turnovers, again. Right off the bat we had three…

“Our defense kind of got hit there in the first quarter, we knew that they were going to come after us, we had to expect that. And we just couldn’t respond.”

The Bucks had some runs in the second quarter and got the lead to nine at one point, but the Raptors always seemed to be in control.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had another strong game with 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting, and rookie Malcolm Brogdon pitched in 19 points on 11 shots, but for the most part the Bucks struggled with their offense in this game. As their coach noted — and as often happens to young teams — they let their offensive woes impact the other end of the court.

At home, the Bucks will likely feel more comfortable, and they will fight for their playoff lives.

The question is, can the Raptors be this sharp again and close them out? Or will the yo-yo nature of this team continue?

 

Joel Embiid: I should be Rookie of the Year

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
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Joel Embiid endorsed 76ers teammate for Dario Saric for Rookie of the Year.

But apparently Embiid has backed another candidate – himself.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

Embiid believes he should be crowned NBA Rookie of the Year.

“I think so,” Embiid said. “I mean, no disrespect to other guys. Dario [Saric] is my teammate and my friend, and I love him. And I know Malcolm [Brogdon] from when I was visiting schools. When I made my visit to Virginia, he took me around. They both had great seasons.

“I know people are saying about me, ‘Oh, he only played 31 games.’ But look at what I did in those 31 games — averaging the amount of points I did in just 25 minutes.

“I’m not sure why people want to punish me for that. Even going back to the All-Star Game. I didn’t get chosen for that, and people were killing me because I didn’t play 30 minutes a game. But here’s what I don’t understand: If I put up those numbers in less time than another guy, what’s the difference? Doesn’t it mean I did more in less time? Wait until I play as many minutes as those guys, then you will see what I do.

“But people have their own ideas about how they vote for things.”

Embiid was, by far, the best rookie when he was on the court. That’s why he’s in the Rookie of the Year race.

But, as the cliché goes, availability is the most ability. Embiid was often unavailable.

Did Embiid provide more value to the 76ers in his 786 minutes than Malcolm Brogdon did to the Bucks in his 1,982 minutes?

I gave Brogdon the narrowest of nods. (Dario Saric, inefficient and weak defensively, made a strong late push but never seriously entered my race.)

Kyle Lowry bounces back, Raptors edge Bucks to even series at 1-1

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TORONTO (AP) Kyle Lowry scored 22 points, including the clinching basket with less than 10 seconds to play, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 106-100 on Tuesday night, evening their first-round playoff series at 1-1.

DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, Serge Ibaka added 13 of his 16 in the second half and Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who improved to 5-1 when playing Game 2 of a playoff series on their home court.

Game 3 is Thursday night in Milwaukee.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks. Khris Middleton scored 20 points and Greg Monroe had 18.

Lowry scored just four points in Saturday’s Game 1 loss, missing all six of his 3-point attempts.

He was much better in Game 2, going 6 for 12, including 2 of 5 from long range. His step back jumper with 8.9 seconds remaining gave Toronto a 104-100 lead.

Toronto went 5 for 23 from behind the 3-point line in Game 1, but nearly tripled its output in Game 2, finishing 14 for 29.

Leading 84-83 through three quarters, Toronto opened the fourth with an 11-0 run that included a pair of 3-pointers by Ibaka, and a third from P.J. Tucker.

Milwaukee battled back, and a layup by Antetokounmpo cut it to 98-97 with 2:46 remaining, leading to a Raptors timeout.

Ibaka made a jumper to put Toronto up three but Antetokounmpo answered with a 3-pointer, tying it at 100-all with 2:03 left.

DeRozan broke the tie with a jumper and, after missed 3-pointers by Malcolm Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova, Tucker missed a pair of free throws.

DeRozan grabbed the rebound on a missed jumper by Middleton, setting the stage for Lowry’s decisive basket.

DeRozan scored 12 points in the first and Antetokounmpo made just one of six field goal attempts in the opening quarter as Toronto led 28-25.

Lowry scored 12 points in the second but Milwaukee scored the final five points of the half to keep it close. Toronto led 55-52 at the break.

DeMarre Carroll scored seven points in a 13-0 Toronto run that gave the Raptors a 73-60 lead midway through the third but the Bucks answered with a 15-4 run over the next three minutes. Toronto led 84-83 heading to the fourth.

TIP-INS

Bucks: Antetokounmpo missed six of his first eight field goal attempts. His only made basket in the first quarter was a dunk. … Antetokounmpo finished with seven assists.

Raptors: Ibaka started despite a sore left ankle sustained when he stepped on Antetokounmpo’s foot in the third quarter of Game 1. … Lowry had four rebounds and five assists. … Former Toronto C Bismack Biyombo attended the game.