To suggest that David Blatt’s coaching errors in the playoffs — most recently trying to call a timeout when the Cavaliers were out of them, then having LeBron James overrule him on a final play call — has him coaching himself out of a job suggests he had a tighter grip on that job than he ever really did.
That’s what Julie Donaldson and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.
Blatt’s status become a topic again after Game 4, and on Monday LeBron tried to play down his comments from Sunday. But the fact is the relationship between Blatt and LeBron has never been tight. And LeBron is the power in the Cleveland organization now — he inherited Blatt, and if he doesn’t want him there after the season there will be changes.
And I expect changes.
It wasn’t the first technical foul that got Howard in trouble, when he jawed at a referee. Nor the second one early in the fourth quarter when he picked up his sixth foul and threw the ball at the feet of a referee — which got him ejected from Game 4. At least that meant he didn’t have to watch the rest of his team getting blown out.
Rather, it was his first foul of the game that earned him a $15,000 fine from the NBA, something the league announced on Monday.
With9:21 remaining in the first quarter, Houston’s Terrence Jones had gone up for a top of the key jumper, and the Clippers DeAndre Jordan contested it. That left Matt Barnes trying to box out and cut off Howard, who was making a run to the rim. When Howard and Barnes collided, Howard took his forearm and elbow Matt Barnes’ head. That drew a whistle at the time. You can see the video at this link.
It’s just a little insult added to the injury of a rough series for Howard and the Rockets.
While the Wizards and their fans hold out hope, this shouldn’t be a surprise: John Wall will be out Monday night for Game 4.
The Wizards won Game 3 without Wall, dominating and leading by more than 20 at one point. Washington took its foot off the gas and that combined with a great run from the Atlanta bench made things interesting in the end. Or, set up Paul Pierce for heroics, if you prefer.
This opens a door for Atlanta it has to step through this time. All season they have relied on their bench, but it is time for Mike Budenholzer to really lean on his starters. That group — Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap, Al Horford — are +28 in this series but have played just 53 minutes as a group. That’s fewer than 18 minutes a night. In the debacle that was Atlanta’s Game 3 that lineup was +7 in 12 minutes. It’s the playoffs, time to go with what works. Or go home.
No John Wall, no problem for the Wizards in Game 3 against the Hawks. Washington was in control by more than 20 and it was a run by the Atlanta bench — which had been unimpressive up to this point — that made it close in the end. Paul Pierce will be remembered for his heroics.
But can the Hawks tie it up Monday night, I tell Julie Donaldson in this latest PBT Extra.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The Hawks just need to play to their strengths. I know Paul Millsap is banged up, but in 12 minutes in Game 3 the Hawks usual starting give — Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Millsap, and Al Horford — were a +7. That lineup has been strong all series, they just don’t lean on it. They need to now.
Nobody wins an NBA title without facing adversity. Not Jordan’s Bulls, not the Duncan Spurs, not Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers, not anybody.
The Warriors are getting facing their first real adversity of the playoffs, down 2-1 to the Grizzlies, and Julie Donaldson and I discuss how the Warriors will respond.
I think the Warriors will start to hit some of the shots they’ve been missing, but the question is can they get some more stops and turn those into transition/early opportunity points? Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have won the battle inside, and that has taken away the easy buckets the Warriors thrive on.