<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

Blake Griffin, Tim Duncan

Last summer Blake Griffin talked to Tim Duncan about leadership

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Blake Griffin has been nothing short of brilliant these playoffs, averaging 24.4 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game through eight games. Those are historic great numbers. He put up a triple-double in Game 7 against the Spurs, then another in Game 1 against the Rockets when Chris Paul had to sit due to his hamstring.

So when your buddy tells you all Griffin can do is dunk and he spends too much time making KIA commercials, you will know this guy doesn’t watch much NBA ball. And maybe isn’t the kind of person you should be hanging out with in the first place.

Griffin has moved onto the plateau with CP3 as a genuine leader of the Clippers. How did he make that leap? By talking to Tim Duncan and taking notes, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

Last summer, (Duncan) gave Griffin, a 26-year-old, five-time All-Star, his blueprint — only to watch Griffin ultimately embrace it at the Spurs’ expense.

Produce, Duncan told him. Lead by example. Make people respect your actions. Have personal relationships with each of your teammates so you can have one-on-one conversations with them when they need you. Griffin listened, and took notes. Then, during the idyllic summer months in LA, it was time to execute the plan.

It was more than just that. Griffin went through an intense, high-tech workout plan designed to push his body to recover more quickly from the bursts of energy he uses during games. That worked too. While Griffin looked winded at points early in the series against the Spurs, he was brilliant in the fourth quarters of games six and seven.

With Paul likely out for Game 2 Wednesday night, the Clippers will run their offense through Griffin, who has developed point-forward skills — he is a fantastic passer with great handles for a big. He can set guys up in rhythm, and Houston had no answer for him in Game 1.

If they don’t find one in Game 2, this series could be very short. Blake Griffin has learned how to lead.

PBT Extra: Will anyone step up and be third scorer for Cavaliers in Game 2?

Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers
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There were a lot of problems with the Cavaliers in their Game 1 loss to Chicago. Their defensive cross matching was odd. They ran too much isolation against a defense designed specifically to stop isolation. Kyrie Irving was fantastic on offense, but LeBron James was not aggressive enough.

The problem was LeBron wanted to facilitate, but nobody was knocking down shots when the ball moved. Mike Miller, James Jones, and Shawn Marion were awful.

That’s what Jenna Corrado and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra — what can David Blatt do about that. Except the shooting part isn’t on Blatt, it’s not his fault his third and fourth best players are out (and will be again for Game 2) while nobody else stepped up. Frankly, the isolation heavy offense isn’t on Blatt either; he wanted a system with more player movement, but the players rejected it.

It will be interesting to see how the Cavaliers respond in Game 2.

Report: NBA in negotiations with “global sports betting companies” to partner in Europe

Denver Nuggets v Houston Rockets
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When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver came out in support of legalized gambling legislation, there was one motivation behind it — money.

Silver looked at things like the Barclays Premiere League where three teams have their kit/jersey deal with an online gambling company, and numerous other teams have other sponsorship deals with said firms. For a global brand like the NBA, that’s a lot of potential cash on the table.

And the NBA is already looking to get a piece of it, reports Jered Zwerling of Bleacher Report.

Indeed, B/R has learned, through sources involved with the situation, that the NBA has been in recent negotiations with several global sports betting companies, which include but are not limited to Bwin.party and William Hill. One of them could soon become the league’s official partner in Europe’s regulated markets, which allows for betting on American pro sports.

“The NBA has seen the success that English Premier League soccer clubs have had with sports betting operators, and they’re following that same model,” a source with knowledge of the discussions said. “They’ve seen the naming rights and the size of those deals, and they understand that it’s an opportunity to open up another revenue stream overseas, in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Right now, this would likely be just an overseas thing for the NBA as there is no legalized online gaming in the United States.

However, Silver sees what is coming — Americans are still gambling online, that money is just going overseas, and if states regulate it there will be a hodgepodge of rules. Better to have one federal set of rules for everyone to follow. Makes sense. Of course, good luck getting anything that makes sense out of Washington right now.

Whatever happens, Silver wants to be sure the owners are positioned to make more cash off it. This is a business first, lest anyone forget.

Masked Mike Conley returns, gets it done on both ends of court (VIDEO)

Mike Conley
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Mike Conley returned and everything started to go right for the Grizzlies — their offense ran more smoothly, their defense picked up in intensity, and Memphis evened the series with Golden State picking up a win on the road.

You would think playing in a mask for the first time — or having surgery to put two steel plates in your face to fix three fractures — would throw off a guy’s shot. Not Conley. He didn’t get to the rim, but he knocked down jump shots, tough floaters, and contested threes. Check out this shot chart.

source:

At the other end, he did a good job checking Curry.

With Kevin Love out, LeBron James says “I might have to change my mindset a little bit”

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Go ahead and file this under the “well, duh” category.

With Kevin Love and J.R. Smith sidelined, the Cavaliers ran a pretty conventional, isolation heavy offense in Game 1 — and lost. It’s almost like Tom Thibodeau designed a defense to stifle isolation plays… oh wait he did. Well, it still works.

Kyrie Irving was attacking at times but also settled for some jumpers. LeBron James seemed more tentative, getting in close more by backing down Jimmy Butler than attacking face up from the wing. LeBron also had six turnovers. LeBron seemed to want to facilitate, and the Cavs were getting the ball to shooters like Matthew Delvadova and Mike Miller, who just were not knocking them down.

LeBron thinks he may need to be more aggressive in Game 2. Here is what he told friend of the blog Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group (what most of us just call the Plain Dealer).

“I might have to change my mindset a little bit obviously with Kev [Love] being out,” he said. “It’s something that we all haven’t been accustomed to this year with him being out an extensive period, or one of the Big 3 being out for a long period of time since I had my injury. So, it might be a different mindset for myself and Kyrie [Irving].”

So your third and fourth best players are out, and you think you may need to be more aggressive? Interesting.

It’s not all on LeBron. The Cavs need some guys not named LeBron and Irving to knock down some shots. They need to be better defensively (maybe put Iman Shumpert on Derrick Rose). There are a lot of things they can do better.

But also, the Cavaliers need a more aggressive LeBron.