Author: Brett Pollakoff

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Clippers

Doc Rivers on whether Chris Paul will play in Game 1 vs. Rockets: ‘If I had to guess, I would say no’


Chris Paul was amazing in leading his team to a last-second Game 7 victory over the defending champion Spurs, and his performance was especially impressive when seeing him dealing with a hamstring injury at the very same time.

After completing a series that was an absolute war, the Clippers must regroup less than 48 hours later for Game 1 of their second-round matchup with the Rockets. And they may have to do so with Paul sitting this one out.

From Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports:

Based on how Rivers also sounded, it will be surprising if Paul is available for Game 1 of the Clippers’ second-round series against the Houston Rockets on Monday night.

The well-rested Rockets and the Clippers split their four-game season series. Paul averaged 16.8 points, 9.5 assists and 3.3 assists in 36.3 minutes per game in four contests against the Rockets this season. The Rockets are without injured starting point guard Pat Beverley. And if Paul is out, the Clippers will have to turn to reserve Austin Rivers and seldom-used reserve Lester Hudson.

“Chris may play or may not play the first game, but the game is Monday … my guess right now if I had to guess, I would say no,” Rivers said.

It would be a shame to see the Clippers fall behind against the Rockets early in the series simply due to not being at full strength. But this is why the postseason is such a grind, and why the team left standing at the end has truly earned the right to be called champions.

PBT Second-Round Playoff Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks


Washington Wizards: 46-36

Atlanta Hawks: 60-22



OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possessions)

Washington Wizards: Offense 101.8 (19th in NBA), Defense 100.0 (5th in NBA)

Atlanta Hawks: Offense 106.2 (6th in NBA), Defense 100.7 (7th in NBA)


1. Which Wizards? During the regular season, Washington couldn’t beat the Hawks, and dropped all three meetings where both teams were at full strength. Both teams have looked markedly different in the first round of the postseason, however, especially the Wizards.

Washington is the number one team in offensive efficiency after one round of the playoffs, outpacing even the mighty Golden State Warriors by scoring at a rate of 112.5 points per 100 possessions. And, the Wizards are second in defensive efficiency in the postseason behind only the Chicago Bulls, who faced an anemic Bucks team that was near the bottom of the league offensively during the regular season.

The playoff Wizards are very different than the team we saw for the bulk of the regular season, and if we see that version in round two, things could be very difficult for the top-seeded Hawks.

2. Are the Hawks back? For five-and-a-half of the six games Atlanta needed to eliminate the Nets in the first round, the Hawks rarely displayed the kind of offensive prowess that allowed them to win 60 games during the regular season. Atlanta finally regained its edge in Game 6, with the starting unit rolling offensively in both the first and third quarters, and finally looking like the club that won 40 of its first 48 games of the season.

The problem with Atlanta was its reserve unit, which the Nets were able to exploit consistently throughout the series. Dennis Schröder was largely awful in trying to run the team when Jeff Teague needed to rest, Kent Bazemore couldn’t shoot, and Mike Scott and Pero Antic weren’t great defensively. The Hawks will need strong, cohesive performances from their starters in this series (like the one they put together in closing out the Nets) in order to stay with what’s become a very good Wizards team.

3. Kyle Korver: It’s no secret that Korver is a devastating threat for the Hawks offensively. He shoots the ball at an extremely high percentage, and can run a defense ragged in trying to account for him on every possession. Washington needs to stay home defending Korver, and never (never!) help off of him, because Atlanta finds him seemingly every time he’s left open for even a second.

Washington’s ability to slow the Hawks starts with shutting down Jeff Teague at the point of attack, which John Wall should be capable of doing at times. But once the ball gets moving and the cutters start diving to the basket, the rest of Washington’s team defense needs to account for everyone, while Korver’s man stays glued to him at all times.


I’m not convinced Atlanta can consistently carve up Washington the way they did the Nets, and I’m choosing to believe that the playoff Wizards will return for at least one more round.

Wizards in 6.

Jared Dudley can become a free agent, but says 80 or 90 percent chance he’ll return to Bucks

Chicago Bulls v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Four

The Clippers could sure use a veteran presence like Jared Dudley on their bench this postseason, but Doc Rivers traded him to the Bucks last summer. And to hear Dudley’s explanation of his final season in Los Angeles, it seemed as though the decision by Rivers was somewhat personal.

“Here’s the thing with the Clippers,” Dudley said. “When I hurt my back in Vegas, I show up there in September trying to get with the training staff, and sometimes when you have an injury it leads to another injury, so basically I was nursing what I thought was tendinitis at the time in my knee, basically I really couldn’t bend my knee 90 degrees so I had to deal with that for the first month or so. I basically went to Doc Rivers and said, ‘Hey, I’ve never had to deal with this, I can’t bend my knee, all my shots are short, I can’t move laterally, I need to sit out.’ At that time Matt Barnes was out with a calf injury and J.J. Redick was out with a herniated disk and he said, ‘Hey, I need you to give me 10-15 games and when those guys come back, I’ll give you a rest.’

“Well, during that time I just couldn’t guard anyone. I couldn’t make a shot, all my shots were short and then confidence happened. By midseason, I get my X-ray and I had a little fracture in my knee so I knew what I was feeling was more than tendinitis. By midseason, [Rivers] brings in [Danny] Granger and I was sent to the pine. The trade [to Milwaukee] was the best thing for my career, where I got with a training staff that got me healthy and when I’m healthy, I’m the player you see now and the player you saw in Phoenix.”

“I talked to Doc maybe a week and a half before I got traded,” Dudley told Zach Lowe on his Lowe Post podcast on Grantland. “That was in August. He was basically like, ‘Hey, you’re young. I don’t know what happened this season.’ I basically told him, ‘You know what happened. I wasn’t right and I thought I would be able to come back.’ “

That seems like a bridge burned by Rivers, but Dudley has found a home in his first season in Milwaukee. And though he has a player option for next season, even if he chooses to become an unrestricted free agent, Dudley feels as though the odds favor a return to the Bucks next season.

From Charles Gardner of the Journal Sentinel:

“All signs you would think are for me to come back here,” Dudley said, “even if I did opt out. I think my value is at my biggest high here. Even though as a vet I could play for a contending team, I think this has been my most gratifying season.

“Taking a team that was 15 wins to 41 wins, I was here for the beginning of it. I was here to help it. I think it’s hard for Milwaukee to find vets that want to come here, that want to be a role guy. …

Dudley, acquired in an off-season trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that also netted the Bucks a protected 2017 first-round pick, said he thought there was an 80 or 90% chance he would return next season.

“I don’t think it should be a problem,” he said. “I don’t think I’m someone who is overly greedy.”

Dudley’s player option is for $4.25 million for next season. It seems as though he wants to stay with the Bucks, but if he chooses to take the early termination option on his deal, he could realistically end up on a longer-term deal playing for someone else.

Dudley averaged 7.2 points on 46.8 percent shooting, while playing 23.8 minutes per contest in 72 regular season appearances for the Bucks this season.