Author: Brett Pollakoff

Chicago Bulls v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Six

Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo suspended one game for hit to Bulls’ Mike Dunleavy in Game 6


The Bulls’ Mike Dunleavy avoided a suspension for the shot to the neck he gave to Milwaukee’s Michael Carter-Williams early in Game 6, but Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn’t as fortunate.

Giannis tackled Dunleavy in retaliation, and was immediately ejected for his actions. He’s also been suspended one game, the league announced on Saturday via official release.

Since the Bucks are out of the playoffs, Antetokounmpo will be suspended for the first game of the 2015-16 NBA regular season for which he is eligible and physically able to play.

Dunleavy, meanwhile, gets away with more than one hit to Carter-Williams, and sees the first one upgraded to a Flagrant Foul 1, which comes with it no further disciplinary action.

Nets coach Lionel Hollins on whether it took too long for his team to figure things out: ‘Did we make the playoffs?’

Brooklyn Nets v Atlanta Hawks - Game Two

NEW YORK — The Nets saw their season come to an end on Friday, in a game where the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks finally looked like the 60-win team we saw earlier in the regular season.

Atlanta broke the game open with a 23-3 run to start the second half, and eliminated Brooklyn from the postseason in blowout fashion.

The Nets finished the regular season six games under .500, and the team’s total of 38 wins continued a decline that’s occurred in consecutive campaigns. But Nets head coach Lionel Hollins was proud of the way his guys were able to come together late, and seemed to use the playoffs as a measuring stick of whether or not he was able to achieve some measure of success.

“I’m proud of our team,” Hollins said. “Where we started back in September, the uncertainty, new coach, trying to blend it all together, the injuries and ups and downs, I’m thankful for the players and what they gave, and proud of how they stuck with it. And we were able to secure a playoff spot.

“Some people would say hey, maybe we didn’t deserve it. But that’s their problem. I think that we battled and fought and overcame, and even in this series we battled and fought. It would have been nice to get another victory and have a chance to go to a seventh game, but it wasn’t to be.”

The Nets did find a way to beat the Hawks twice, and were competitive at times for essentially five-and-a-half of the six games of the series. Hollins hammered this point home when he was asked if his team took longer than expected to figure things out.

“Did we make the playoffs,” Hollins interrupted, somewhat defiantly. “OK, there’s your answer. If we didn’t make the playoffs, then you could ask that question. But right now, my feeling is that we overcame, we got to the playoffs — however long it takes, is however long it takes. I’m not in control of however long (it takes for ) everybody to come together. But we did come together, and we had a beautiful run down the stretch. And we made the playoffs.”

Hollins choice of finding some positivity in his team’s late-season run just to make the postseason — even with a record of just 38-44, and even in the watered-down Eastern Conference — seemed to have trickled down to his players.

“I’m happy we were able to fight and get into postseason play with all the injuries and the changes that were made throughout the course of the season.,” Jarrett Jack said. “I think all of us had bigger expectations for ourselves, but all in all I thought we pushed this team to the limit. We came into a situation where we fought tooth and nail to get into the playoffs, and I thought when we got in, we didn’t disappoint.”

“We wanted to make the playoffs,” Deron Williams said. “We did, and we thought we put up a great effort against this team that’s the best in the East.”

The Nets did give their fans some excitement near the end of a mostly dreary season, and there is certainly something to be said for that. Hollins did a good job of shuffling lineups and getting the most out of what he had against the Hawks, and found a rallying point around Williams, who endured an avalanche of criticism publicly before his breakout 35-point Game 4 performance.

But that doesn’t erase the fact that Brooklyn largely underachieved for the vast majority of the regular season.

“It seemed to take a bit longer than all of us would have liked,” Jack said. “But that’s basketball for you.”

Kyle Korver torches Nets from three-point distance in Game 6 (VIDEO)

Kyle Korver

It’s no secret that Kyle Korver is an extremely important part of what the Atlanta Hawks do offensively.

Even if he isn’t a focal point from a scoring perspective, just the threat of Korver getting going from three-point distance is usually enough for opposing defenses to pay so much attention to him that his teammates get plenty of space to create open looks because of it.

In Friday night’s Game 6 clincher, Korver got loose early, and it was an ominous sign for the Nets.

The first three shots he hit were essentially wide-open looks. And the fact that Brooklyn wasn’t as committed to slowing him as it had been through the most competitive parts of the series made you believe that the Nets would be in for a very long night.

Korver finished with 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc, and the Hawks rolled on to the second round.

Report: Bulls’ Mike Dunleavy won’t be suspended for Game 1 against Cavaliers

Chicago Bullls v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Six

Mike Dunleavy played the role of agitator early in Chicago’s 54-point Game 6 victory, and the strategy worked to perfection.

Dunleavy delivered an early hit to the neck of Michael Carter-Williams, one that incited a range of emotions from a young and inexperienced Bucks team.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was ejected for basically tackling Dunleavy in retaliation, and Carter-Williams hit back later on once Dunleavy continued his overly-physical play.

The first hit on Carter-Williams seemed especially egregious — a push/punch to the neck as Carter-Williams drove for a shot. It caused many to wonder if Dunleavy might be in line for additional punishment in the form of a fine or suspension, but it appears as though he’ll emerge from these incidents unscathed.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Yahoo Source: No suspension for Chicago’s Mike Dunleavy. Flagrant 1 foul.

That’s obviously good news for the Bulls, but you can bet the league will keep an eye on Dunleavy in the next round, and should he try anything similar against the likes of Kyrie Irving or LeBron James, he probably won’t be as fortunate.

Thunder GM says team ‘cast a wide net’ in coaching search before hiring Billy Donovan

Billy Donovan, Sam Presti

The Thunder announced the firing of head coach Scott Brooks on April 22.

The Thunder announced the hiring of Billy Donovan on April 30.

That’s essentially a week that Oklahoma City had between when Brooks was notified and when the deal with Donovan was finalized. Yet the team’s GM, Sam Presti, insisted at Donovan’s introductory press conference that he conducted a thorough search for Brooks’ replacement.

From Royce Young of

Donovan, 49, was the only candidate interviewed for the Thunder’s position. Presti targeted Donovan as Brooks’ replacement and spent two days in Florida making the pitch to him.

“We cast a wide net, we stepped back and looked at lots of different people,” Presti said. “But as we were looking through the candidates and people we had identified, it became pretty evident to us that Billy Donovan was the right person for this position, to lead the Thunder on the sidelines.”

Interviewing only one candidate does not constitute anything close to a detailed search.

Ultimately, if Donovan is successful — and in Oklahoma City, that success won’t be defined by wins and losses, but by whether or not Kevin Durant re-signs — then this little detail won’t make a bit of difference. Donovan was Presti’s guy from the jump, and if it works out, that’s fine.

But saying otherwise, that the franchise “looked at lots of different people” in less than a week’s time?

It’s disingenuous, at best.