All series long, the Los Angeles Clippers have had a clear defensive strategy: Trap Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, force the ball out of their hands, and dare Al-Farouq Aminu or Maurice Harkless to beat you with their jumpers.
Monday night in Portland, Aminu did just that dropping 30.
His shooting helped key Portland’s Game 4 win, evening the series at 2-2. Due to injuries to key Clippers (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin) Portland may pull off the upset win in this series now and advance. And Aminu will deserve some credit for that.
At age 37, Dirk Nowitzki was the best Dallas Mavericks player in their first round series against the Thunder. By far. He averaged 20.5 points a game with a 56.4 true shooting percentage, he was playing to the point of exhaustion and leading by example.
After that, he said he’d be back for another season in Dallas.
Nowitzki has an $8.7 million player option for next season, the last year of his recent three-year deal, and after the Mavericks were eliminated he reiterated he plans to come back for it. Here is what Nowitzki said postgame, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
“I signed on for three years a couple years ago. My intention was always to finish this contract. I always said I wanted to retire [with] the Mavs, especially after we won the championship a few years ago. There’s no reason to go anywhere unless the Mavs are rebuilding. I always said that the last couple of years, I’d never want to be a part of rebuilding. Next season, I’ll be 38. As long as we go for it and every summer we add guys and keep competing, then I’ll be a Mav for the rest of my career.”
Dallas is expected to be aggressive on the free agent market, except as it pertains to Dwight Howard if he wants a max contract (which he does). At some point Dallas will have to start the post-Dirk rebuild era, but don’t be shocked if they put that plan on hold for one more year, bring in some veterans, and try to send Nowitzki off on a playoff team playing meaningful games.
After an up-and-down first three games of this series, the scoring machine that is Kemba Walker showed up for Game 4.
Walker dropped 34 points on Miami, helping his Hornets even the series 2-2.He had 11 of those points in the fourth quarter, helping seal the win. Walker did most of his damage attacking and finishing in the paint, but he knocked down a few step-back jumpers, too.
The Hornets need more of this Walker the rest of the series.
Things that would anger the Sacramento Kings fan base include…
Vlade Divac is undertaking a broad search for the next Kings coach, and on Monday that search included sitting down with former NBA coach Vinny Del Negro for an interview, with Mike Woodson up next, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
The Sacramento Kings interviewed Vinny Del Negro for the franchise’s head-coaching job on Monday, league sources told The Vertical. Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson is expected to meet with Kings officials as soon as Tuesday for an interview, league sources said.
Del Negro is not a name the fan base wants to hear, but he gets a bit of a bad rap as a coach. Del Negro has a career winning percentage of .533, his teams have never finished below .500, and the last season he coached he won 56 games with the Clippers. He’s been pretty good at developing young players, including Derrick Rose. That said, there are certainly things he can be criticized for: simplistic offenses, his heavy reliance on pick-and-roll sets, and his treatment of players. Remember Del Negro tore down DeAndre Jordan to the point he was useless late in games; his Clippers’ replacement Doc Rivers, in turn, has built him up and made Jordan a third team All-NBA player. Also, point guard Rose and Chris Paul did better with the next coaches they had because the systems gave them more options (to be fair, he was replaced by two of the best in Tom Thibodeau and Doc Rivers).
Mike Woodson’s teams in Atlanta may be remembered for their “iso-Joe” offenses centered around Joe Johnson, but his teams also won more games every season and were a playoff threat annually. His teams usually defend well.
Expect a lot of first interviews by the Kings. What will be interesting is who gets second interviews.
Unlike past Kings’ coaching hires, Divac will be the voice making the final call on this one, according to reports. In the past, hands-on owner Vivek Ranadive had a much larger role in the process. The new system of letting the basketball guys make the basketball decisions is a good one.
We haven’t seen as much hack-a-Jordan as I feared this series, but the Portland Trail Blazers have wisely sent the Clipper big man to the foul line every time they can when he gets the ball inside. Monday night that led to this ugly sequence (in a night of ugly sequences for the Clippers).
The series is knotted up 2-2. Don’t be shocked if we start to see more and more Jordan at the free throw line in the coming games.