Dan Feldman

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Frank Jackson staying in NBA draft, going one-and-done from Duke

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He’s neither the best Frank (that’s Frank Ntilikina) nor the best Jackson (that’s Josh Jackson) in the 2017 NBA draft, but Duke’s Frank Jackson is throwing his hat into the ring.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Frank Jackson is a borderline first-rounder, though probably more likely to go in the second-round. He’s the classic scoring guard in a point guard’s body.

A highly touted recruit, Jackson showed flashes during his freshman year – attacking the basket hard and shooting from outside. But at 6-foot-4, he’ll have a hard time with a score-first mentality in the NBA. He’s so far from being able to run an NBA offense, and his size will limit him at shooting guard.

At a certain point in the draft, it’ll be worth taking a flier on him, but it’s debatable in which round that point will come.

Report: Wes Wilcox wanted to trade Paul Millsap, Mike Budenholzer wanted to keep Hawks intact

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The Hawks reportedly explored trading Paul Millsap then told him they wouldn’t deal him last summer. During the season, they again reportedly put him on the market then told other teams, Millsap himself and the public he’d stay in Atlanta.

Why the confusion?

The answer could partially explain why the Hawks demoted Mike Budenholzer (former president) and Wes Wilcox (former general manager).

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Sources said Wilcox wanted to move Millsap and go all-in on the rebuild, focusing on the team’s young talent like Schroeder, Hardaway and rookies Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry. But Budenholzer, who had the final say on personnel moves, and who had approved the trade of Teague to Indiana last summer, nixed any more potential deals.

Millsap’s future is first and foremost. (No matter who is picked as GM, Millsap will be dealing directly with Ressler on his contract going forward, I’m told.) Budenholzer and the owners want to do everything possible to re-sign him — “there’s no disagreement on whether we’re going to try and keep him, and whether he’s great for the Atlanta Hawks,” Ressler said.

If he’s negotiating directly with Hawks owner Tony Ressler, that bodes well for Millsap re-signing. Ressler said Atlanta would “make every effort imaginable to keep him” – which would presumably start with a max contract, projected to be worth $205 million over five years. Even Wilcox sounds on board (not that he has much choice once the boss sets the directive).

The Hawks are in a tough spot, forced to pay Millsap major money from age 32 to 37 or lose him for nothing. If they let him walk, they’d be saddled with a highly paid and maybe unhappy Dwight Howard and an only passable young core comprised of Dennis Schroder, Taurean Prince, Tim Hardaway Jr. and DeAndre’ Bembry. Keep Millsap, and the upside is a playoff series or two per year.

Trading Millsap would have prevented this dilemma, though it also might have kept Atlanta out of the playoffs this year.

At this point, moderate winning seems to be the Hawks’ preferred choice, but they don’t control the situation. As an unrestricted free agent, Millsap holds most of the cards.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has now eliminated every other Western Conference team in playoffs

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Spurs-Rockets looked familiar (except in all the ways it wasn’t): Gregg Popovich beating Mike D’Antoni.

Popovich is 20-6 in games and 5-0 in series against D’Antoni. The San Antonio coach just has a way of stifling D’Antoni’s up-tempo spread offense when it matters most.

But this Popovich-D’Antoni matchup was different in one key way: D’Antoni coached the Rockets, not the Suns.

In fact, this was the first time Popovich ever faced Houston in a playoff series – and that allowed him to claim a trivial and impressive honor.

Jordan Howenstine of Spurs PR:

https://twitter.com/AirlessJordan/status/862858569112313856

This speaks to Popovich’s:

  • Excellence (only one other coach – the Heat’s Erik Spoelstra – has won 14 total playoff series at all)
  • Longevity (beating the Timberwolves back when they were playoff regulars and waiting for the Warriors to become playoff mainstays)
  • Luck (catching New Orleans in one of its seven playoff series)

Here’s Popovich’s playoff history against every Western Conference franchise:

Dallas Mavericks

2001 won second round, 4-1

2003 won conference finals, 4-2

2006 lost second round, 4-3

2009 lost first round, 4-1

2010 won first round, 4-2

2014 won first round, 4-3

Denver Nuggets

2005 won first round, 4-1

2007 won first round, 4-1

Golden State Warriors

2013 won second round, 4-2

Houston Rockets

2017 won second round, 4-2

Los Angeles Clippers

2012 won second round, 4-0

2015 lost first round, 4-3

Los Angeles Lakers

1999 won second round, 4-0

2001 lost conference finals, 4-0

2002 lost second round, 4-1

2003 won second round, 4-2

2004 lost second round, 4-2

2008 lost conference finals, 4-1

2013 won first round, 4-0

Memphis Grizzlies

2004 won first round, 4-0

2011 lost first round, 4-2

2013 won conference finals, 4-0

2016 won first round, 4-0

2017 won first round, 4-2

Minnesota Timberwolves

1999 won first round, 3-1

2001 won first round, 3-1

New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans)

2008 won second round, 4-3

Phoenix Suns

1998 won first round, 3-1

2000 lost first round, 3-1

2003 won first round, 4-2

2005 won conference finals, 4-1

2007 won second round, 4-2

2008 won first round, 4-1

2010 lost second round, 4-0

Portland Trail Blazers

1999 won conference finals, 4-0

2014 won second round, 4-1

Sacramento Kings

2006 won first round, 4-2

Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder

2002 won first round, 3-2

2005 won second round, 4-2

2012 lost conference finals, 4-2

2014 won conference finals, 4-2

2016 lost second round, 4-2

Utah Jazz

1998 lost second round, 4-1

2007 won conference finals, 4-1

2012 won first round, 4-0

Spurs-Rockets featured historically wild swings

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on Game 1 against the Rockets:

What do I know? We just lost by 50. What are you asking me questions for anyway? Ask somebody that knows something, who can fix this.

After another blowout loss in Game 4, Popovich again addressed reviewing Game 1 film:

You would’ve traded all the players and fired me by the end of the game. It was that bad.

Good thing San Antonio stuck with this coaching staff and roster.

The Spurs opened their second-round series against Houston with a 27-point loss and ended it with a 39-point win. Between, San Antonio won by 25 and lost by 21.

The six-game series should go down as one of the wildest in NBA history – the Rockets’ seemingly pace-defining Game 1 win, the Spurs’ blowout Game 6 victory without Kawhi Leonard in Houston and the big back-and-forths between.

The only other series in NBA history where each team won by 20 twice was Pacers-Celtics in the 2005 first round. Indiana won by 27 and 23 and won the series while still allowing Orlando to win by 20 and 31.

But that series lasted seven games. San Antonio and Houston packed all its action into just six.

The 66-point difference between the Spurs’ best result (+39 in Game 6) and worst result (-27 in Game 1) was tied for the biggest swing ever in a series. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards by 30 and lost by 36 in the 2008 first round, and the Lakers beat the Nuggets by 44 and lost by 22 in the 1985 conference finals.

Here are the biggest swings between any games in a series, from the perspective of the series victor:

image

Aside from each team’s lopsided victory, every other Cleveland-Washington game in 2008 was decided by single digits. Denver lost every game to the Lakers in 1985 beyond its Game 2 rout.

San Antonio and Houston kept trading haymakers, the Spurs winning Game 2 by 25 and the Rockets winning Game 4 by 21.

Here are the biggest differences between a team’s second-biggest win and second-biggest loss in a series, again from the perspective of the series victor:

image

San Antonio-Houston had only one great game, the Spurs’ overtime win in Game 5. So, this probably wasn’t a great series or even a particularly memorable one (especially if San Antonio gets smashed by the Warriors in the next round).

But Spurs-Rockets sure was extreme, and it should be appreciated for that.

Will Wizards turn around Celtics series at home?

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Isaiah Thomas‘ Boston Celtics and John Wall‘s Washington Wizards have built something of a rivalry this season, going back and forth, trading wins on the court and barbs off it, from the “Funeral Game” in January to the lost tooth and ejection of their current playoff series.

One thing every matchup had in common so far as Washington prepares to host Boston in Game 6 on Friday night? The home team wins.

Always.

9 for 9.

So the Celtics, leading their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal 3-2, might be feeling pretty good about where things stand at the moment. Because even if they can’t close things out Friday, they’ll get to host Game 7 on Monday, an advantage they earned by finishing with the No. 1 seed.

Hey, Bradley Beal, why does the host come out on top every time?

“I wish I knew,” was the shooting guard’s reply.

A similar question was put to Wizards coach Scott Brooks on Thursday, when his team opted to skip a full practice and instead have a light shootaround.

“That’s been analyzed and studied since the game was invented. (With) the home court, you always have a comfort level,” Brooks said. “It just happens. I don’t really know the real reason. I’ve been thinking about it for many, many years.”

Even though his team is averaging about 30 more points in Boston than in Washington during this series, Celtics coach Brad Stevens insisted that the venue isn’t the most important factor in a game’s outcome.

“It’s more about how you play,” he said.

Brooks, though, said that playing at home is different.

“Even as a player, I always felt better. Just comfortable. Your crowd’s great. They’re backing you up. You’ve played in front of the crowd. You’ve played into the baskets 41 times during the regular season, so the rims, the court, everything’s familiar,” he said. “That being said, we’ve still got to play well. We’ve got to play with great effort. We’ve got to be locked in, focused.”

Brooks acknowledged that was not the case in Boston’s 123-101 victory in Game 5 on Wednesday, especially at the defensive end.

In the first quarter, the Celtics led the Wizards 15-0 in transition points, a surprising statistic given just how good Wall is at orchestrating that part of the game.

“If you miss a shot, you miss a shot,” Brooks said. “You’ve got to get back and not compound that miss with a defensive lapse.”

Still, he chose to accentuate the positive.

“We did not lose the series,” Brooks noted. “We lost the game.”

Celtics at Wizards, Celtics lead series 3-2. Game 6, 8 p.m., ESPN.

NEED TO KNOW: This series has been filled with one big run after another. Four of the five games featured a stretch of 16-0 or greater, including a 26-point burst by Washington in Game 4, and a 16-point stretch for the Celtics in Game 5. Joked Brooks on Thursday: “I’ll take a 25-point run. That’d be nice.”

KEEP AN EYE ON: Beal, Otto Porter Jr. The Wizards 3-point shooting has been a problem in the playoffs, with the team down at 32 percent through 11 playoff games after hitting 37 percent during the regular season. Beal (from 40 percent in the regular season to 28 in the playoffs) and Porter (from 43 to 31), in particular, have been off, and they’re supposed to be Washington’s most productive from beyond the arc. “When you’re as good as Brad,” Brooks said, “there’s going to be extra attention on you. You’ve got to give the defense some credit.”

INJURY UPDATE: Celtics G Avery Bradley, who’s been dealing with hip issues during the series, sure seemed OK while scoring 29 points in Game 5 , including 25 in the first half on 10-of-13 shooting. “All indications are that he felt good after yesterday’s game,” Stevens said.

PRESSURE IS ON: The Wizards, of course. Not only are they facing elimination, but even if they win Game 6, they know that they are 0-5 in Boston, the site of Game 7 if there is one, since the start of this season.