Kurt Helin

PBT Podcast: How does Stephen Curry injury change the playoffs.


Stephen Curry‘s sprained knee has punctured the feeling of inevitability around the NBA playoffs.

If the past and soon to be again MVP misses a chunk of the second round series, could the Clippers upset the Warriors? Of course, first the Clippers must get past the Blazers. But if Curry isn’t 100 percent the Spurs and Cavaliers are feeling pretty good right now.

Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin of NBC Sports discuss that and all the playoff series around the league in this podcast. They also talk about the Lakers’ coaching search

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.


Report: Derek Fisher would like to be next Lakers coach. That seems unlikely.


The Lakers have said the organization will do a wide-ranging search looking Byron Scott’s replacement as head coach. They are expected to look at potential coaches such as Luke Walton, Mark Jackson, Ettore Messina, Luke Walton, Kevin Ollie, Luke Walton, Jeff Van Gundy, John Calipari, and Luke Walton. The Lakers have a preference, I’ll let you guess who that is.

Derek Fisher would like to get on that list. From the amazing Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

Sources indicate Derek Fisher has interest in the Lakers job. Obviously Laker front office still compiling their list and gauging interest from potential candidates.

Oddsmakers apparently think this could happen, here are the betting odds on the next Lakers coach from BookMaker.eu:

Luke Walton -185
Derek Fisher +600
Mark Jackson +650
Jeff Van Gundy +800
Kevin Ollie +900
Ettore Messina +1350

If you were thinking of putting money on Fisher to get the job, donate that cash to the Boys & Girls club or a local food bank where it might do some good rather than just throw it away. The Lakers just went down the “legendary former player who has struggled in his last coaching job” road and shouldn’t want to travel that same path again.

The Lakers need a coach who can relate to and get through to their young players, a guy who understands how to build a culture and has done it or seen it first hand, someone who is used to the bright lights and can handle the spotlight of Los Angeles. I don’t know, someone like Luke Walton, for example. Just to throw a name out there.

The question is will Walton want the job (or, put more honestly, how much money and how many years of it will it take to pry Walton out of that seat next to Steve Kerr in Golden State)? And if not, who do they take? At those odds Messina looks pretty good.

Three Things to Watch in Playoffs Monday: Can Damian Lillard, Blazers replicate Game 3 performance?

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This is not as detailed as the 6,397,326 Game of Thrones recaps on the web today, but it is a humble little look at what to expect in the NBA.

1) Can Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, and Mason Plumlee replicate their big nights? The Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum we knew from the regular season showed up in Game 3 — 59 points on 42 shots. Their jumpers were falling, combined they hit 10-of-17 from the midrange and 5-of-13 from three. Thing is, we knew they could do that once they got space. The big key for Portland in Game 3 was Mason Plumlee — he played the pseudo Draymond Green role as the passing big who helps the guards get free from traps, and he finished with nine assists. He also had 21 points and was a beast on the offensive glass, where Portland had 18 second chance points. It was an impressive performance all around, but the Clippers will adjust their defense and the question becomes can those three replicate their performance. Or will Al-Farouq Aminu finally start to hit some jumpers and open up the floor. Portland was more aggressive on defense in Game 3, but the Clippers will adjust to that, Portland will have to play better to even the series.

2) Can Charlotte replicate what it did to beat Miami last game? Charlotte put up it’s first win of the series in Game 3, with Frank Kaminsky (15 points) and Al Jefferson in the starting lineup and Jeremy Lin dropping 18 off the bench. But watch the game closely and it’s fair to question if this team can win the same way again. Their offense was not impressive, shooting 38.9 percent overall and hitting just five threes on their way to a 101 offensive rating (points per 100 possessions. What they did do well was get to the free throw line 22 times (hitting 21). If the Heat can limit fouls, Charlotte may well struggle to put up points. Also, after a dominant first two games from the Heat offense, it went stone cold in Game 3 — the starting backcourt of Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade shot 11-of-33 from the floor, which was better than the bench shooting of 4-of-17. The Charlotte defense was better (they have played better at home all season), but Miami is going to hit more shots.

Bottom line is it’s going to take a much better game from the Hornets to even this series.

3) What can Dallas do to extend its season one more game (at least)? Like a cornered animal, teams facing elimination are desperate and dangerous. The problem for Dallas — who are 1-7 against OKC this season including the playoffs — is they do not have as much talent as Oklahoma City. Dallas needs to slow the game down, junk it up a little – which they did fairly well in Game 4, but turnovers and Oklahoma City trips to the free throw line won the Thunder the game. Dallas needs to play a near perfect, grinding game, and get big nights from Dirk Nowitzki and Raymond Felton to live another day. It would help if Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook could combine to go 15-of-55 again, but I wouldn’t bank on that.

Five names to watch as potential next Lakers’ head coach

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Lakers’ management didn’t want to make a rash decision about letting their head coach Byron Scott go after two seasons where he set a franchise low for team wins his first season then shattered that record this past season. There is logic there — rushed, emotional decisions are rarely the best ones. Plus there is the legitimate concern that if the Lakers are going to change the guy at the head of basketball operations next summer — Jim Buss set his own timeline to step down if the Lakers didn’t improve to be second round or better playoff team (although he and Jeanie Buss disagree on that exact timing) — the team wouldn’t want to saddle the new decision maker with a coach he didn’t select.

However, Sunday night the Lakers pulled the trigger and fired Scott.

By the time they did, the two biggest names in coaching circles were off the board. While Tom Thibodeau allegedly was interested in the job, he was never going to get the dual coach/GM job with the Lakers he really wanted (he did get that in Minnesota). The bigger miss for the Lakers was Scott Brooks, a guy who had developed a young core in Oklahoma City into contenders and who his players loved (plus the ties to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook wouldn’t hurt). There was some mutual interest between the sides, but while the Lakers thought about Byron Scott, Brooks took the job in Washington.

So who do the Lakers hire now? While there will be a long list and an extensive search, here are five names to keep an eye on, in descending order of likelihood.

1) Luke Walton, Golden State Warriors assistant coach. This is the dream candidate for the Lakers. A popular former player who has a coaching pedigree that includes playing for Phil Jackson (the next GM?) and having a front-row seat for Stephen Curry and the small ball revolution the past two seasons. He showed he has some coaching chops this season when he led the Warriors to a 39-4 record with Steve Kerr out with back pain (although what that really showed is Walton knows how to ride an elite horse, a very different job would await him in Los Angeles). The Lakers want him, the Warriors have always been concerned this would be the job he might leave them for. The question is, will he take the job? Walton can afford to be picky, he will have options for years, and the Lakers’ organization is not the most stable one right now. If he gets a sense he will just be tossed about in the winds of change, Walton could stay put by Kerr’s side.

2) Ettore Messina, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach. He is a former Lakers assistant coach (under Mike Brown) who has a fantastic knowledge of the game and won big in Europe as a head coach. If the Lakers want to move to a more modern offense (think Warriors/title-winning Spurs) he could bring that style, and he knows the game. This is not another David Blatt, Messina doesn’t have that ego but he does have that knowledge of the game. He would put the Lakers’ young core in positions to succeed. This would be a tougher sell with parts of the fan base, this is not a guy with the big name the Lakers are seeking.

3) Mark Jackson. The former Golden State coach and current ESPN analyst helped develop the young talent in Golden State, and they turned out pretty good. He’s undoubtedly passionate about the game. He will form a connection with the young players on the Lakers. But he created an almost (maybe not almost) paranoid “us vs. them” feeling in the Golden State locker room between them and management (and everyone else), he was not seen as easy to work with. That may not fit well in the already turbulent Lakers organization.

4) Kevin Ollie, University of Connecticut. This would be the “hey, Kevin Durant, check this out” hire. Ollie is a former NBA player who has had success on the college level as a coach, and is also someone Durant saw as a mentor his first season in the league. While there are NBA GMs who have their eye on Ollie, he’s not considered a guy likely or ready to make the jump to the NBA yet. This would be a pretty naked political move aimed at KD, one not likely to impress the star.

5) Jeff Van Gundy. He’s listed fifth not because the Lakers aren’t interested, they are. He’s not listed fifth because he couldn’t do the job — he could do it very well, the Lakers’ anemic defense would get a lot better quickly under him. He’s listed fifth because nobody can be or has been as picky about his landing spot back in the NBA as Van Gundy and the instability of the Lakers front office will keep him from taking the job. Van Gundy wants GM powers or at least a strong partnership with someone he knows he can work with (Daryl Morey in Houston, for example), he does not have that in L.A. He doesn’t know how much longer the GM will be in place.

Watch LeBron James’ vintage dunk, 22 points in series ending win


It was Kyrie Irving who hit the big shots — from a half-courter to the dagger three late — that keyed Cleveland’s series-clinching win against Detroit Sunday.

But LeBron James had 22 points and some throwback moments as well. The combination of the two was more than the Pistons could handle.

Check out all of LeBron’s buckets below.