Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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spurs_pacers.jpgOur game recaps from Wednesday, or what you missed during the Shaun Whiteout.

Spurs 90 Pacers 87: If you’d have told me Tim Duncan had 26 rebounds and Tony Parker had 28 points beforehand, I would have told you the Spurs won this game by 20. But the Pacers kept their feet moving, created some turnovers, and hung in there. With A.J. Price, though, the Pacers had no options at point, and Parker took advantage. DeJuan Blair looked human.

Grizzlies 109 Raptors 102: Even up by eight in the third, you could just tell the Grizzlies were going to blow the lead. And they did, as Chris Bosh took over down the stretch, and Bargnani was knocking down threes and putback hooks, Calderon was dishing, and the Raptors were running and…. wait, the Grizzlies won? Short answer: Down five with less than a minute, O.J. Mayo (OJAM) took over, knocking down a three, playing some defense leading to a teal for the Zach Randolph tying bucket. When the offense sputtered tonight, Mayo kicked it into gear. The Raptors looked like a legit Eastern Contender for stretches, but for all the talk of their second unit, it’s primarily made up of non-scorers, and it hurts them down the stretch like it did tonight.

Bulls 115 Knicks 109: Danil Gallinari will knock down five threes in a row, then airball the next. It’s uncanny. His airballs just seem to ride in on a gust of wind every now and then. Meanwhile, Taj Gibson may not be a very good rebounder, but if you let him rebound, you’re buried. You can’t let a guy who’s not good at something important do something important well. The Knicks did, and it was part of why they lost to the Bulls with Noah on the sideline and Salmons in a hotel room.

Rockets 127 Bucks 99:  If Trevor Ariza decides to go out and score efficiently, you’re dead before the ship even sinks. Ariza was 8-11 including 6-7 from the floor, and that’ll do it. The margin was mostly that the Rockets had seven guys in double figures and the Bucks had almost no ball movement. Just nothing. The Bucks struggled, they tried, but nothing was doing. Bogut had real trouble getting shots up in traffic. He’s got great versatility, but inside, there’s not one move he does better than anyone, yet.

Jazz 98 Hornets 90: The Jazz are playing so well right now that they can get away with a little mediocrity mixed in. The Hornets are not. The Jazz had a few stretches where they looked lost on defense, but towards the end, Kirilenko just wouldn’t let them lose, and the Hornets don’t have a playmaker with confidence in that situation with Paul out. One of those.

Mavs 107 Suns 97: Now this is what we thought we were getting. Caron Butler’s shooting percentage is not great. But he was hyper aggressive, snagged a few huge boards, and as opposed to last night, you could see him figuring out how to work with Nowitzki. It was terrible. Meanwhile, Brendan Haywood is tapping out shots to the perimeter for offensive glass. This team is going to be really scary in the playoffs. Amar’e was dominant for most of the game for a team that doesn’t want him, but then, he was probably showcasing as much as anything.

Miami 87, New Jersey 84: Dwyane Wade left in the first quarter with a strained calf and never returned, and without him the Heat had trouble creating consistent offense (just 36 second half points). That would have done them in against anyone but the Nets, who went 0-11 from the floor down the stretch (including Devin Harris missing some wide-open looks, that man is just not right). Courtney Lee pitched in with an 0-9 shooting night. Slow paced game, bad shooting, no D-Wade, if you missed this one you didn’t miss much.

Washington 108 Minnesota 99: Right before the game, a bunch of Wizards players were told they were traded, and that will screw up a locker room. Then the Timberwolves came out on an 8-0 run to start the game, and everyone was thinking the same thing, “This is going to get ugly.”  But like the little team that could, the Wizards started really playing some ball. Andray Blatche made this one of the five games a year where he decided to focus and dropped 33 and 13. The Wizards almost gave it back early in the fourth because, well they are the Wizards.  But behind Mike Miller’s shooting (5 of 5 from three) they got hot and they went on a 15-2 run late to get the win.

Credit here to the fans in the District, who were as loud and into the game as they have been all season, getting behind their upstart team.

Orlando 116, Detroit 91: It’s good to have Dwight Howard on your team. Ben Wallace is not quick enough to stop him, Jason Maxiell is just overmatched, and Howard could do what he wanted — 33 points on just 16 shots. Vince Carter continues his little hot streak, although he needs to do it for a lot longer before we buy in fully. Richard Hamilton was the only one on Detroit who showed any life on offense, he had 36, but then he doesn’t need to attack inside — where Howard dominated — and lived in the midrange.

Golden State 130, Sacramento 98: If CJ Watson drops 40 on you, you don’t deserve to win. Sacramento, I’m looking right at you. This was a blowout from the beginning, and the only thing of interest was Kevin Martin not playing in the second half because of a trade.

Atlanta 110, Los Angeles Clippers 92: No Baron Davis for the Clippers tonight, so newcomer Steve Blake and sophomore Eric Gordon have the ball handling duties. The result is 22 turnovers. Do that to the Hawks — let them get out running and get some easy baskets — and it is all over. This one was all over early, the Hawks got the taste of blood early and played good defense. Al Horford did whatever he wanted on offense, and the Hawks had 70 points in the paint. You think that happens if Marcus Camby is patrolling the paint? But the Clippers have cleared cap space heading into this summer, so they have that going for them. Which is nice.

Doc Rivers failed to deliver in playoffs for Clippers

Former Clippers coach Doc Rivers
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Listen to all the praise being heaped upon Doc Rivers – as both a coach and person – in the aftermath of his firing. He has earned that. It’s why he’s already in demand for openings around the league.

But it’s impossible to ignore his teams repeatedly falling short in the postseason.

The Clippers hired Rivers specifically for his ability to win deep in the playoffs. He guided the Celtics to the 2008 championship and back to the 2010 NBA Finals. For a downtrodden franchise like the Clippers, getting Rivers looked like a coup.

In Rivers’ seven seasons, the Clippers averaged winning 63% of their regular-season and seeding games. There have been 152 seven-year stretches that good in NBA history.

All of them produced at least five playoff-series victories.

Except the Clippers of this era.

Rivers’ Clippers won just three postseason series in seven years.

Rivers didn’t even emphasize the regular season. He often eschewed practice to keep his players fresh. And his teams still won so many regular-season games, which speaks to the Clippers’ star power.

Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and  DeAndre Jordan then Kawhi Leonard and Paul George – Rivers’ teams were loaded.

They also never advanced past the second round.

Of course, that requires more context.

Beating the Warriors in the 2014 first round looks even better in hindsight, considering Golden State turned into a dynasty. The 2015 Clippers-Spurs series, which L.A. won, had no business being in the first round with teams that good. The Clippers lost in the second round to the Rockets when Josh Smith and Corey Brewer – Josh Smith and Corey Brewer! – got hot on 3-pointers. The Clippers lost to the Trail Blazers in the 2016 first round after Chris Paul and Blake Griffin got hurt. Griffin got hurt again in a first-round loss to the Jazz the next year. The Clippers overachieved just to make the 2019 playoffs.

Maybe Rivers would’ve been the right coach for the Clippers in the 2021 postseason. New issues arise, and he already proved he can coach a team to a championship. The Clippers are taking a huge risk with this move.

But this year’s historic collapse against the Nuggets reflected particularly poorly on Rivers, who has now blown three 3-1 leads as a coach. The Clippers were disjointed – an issue that lingered throughout the season. His personnel and tactical decisions were suspect.

And – perhaps most importantly – there was no track record of success in L.A. to fall back on.

The Clippers’ problems weren’t all Rivers’ fault. The timing of his ouster, after his job appeared safe, raises questions.

But it might just be this simple: Rivers was hired to win in the playoffs. He didn’t.

Report: Doc Rivers was surprised to learn Clippers were ousting him

Former Clippers coach Doc Rivers
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The Clippers framed the conclusion of Doc Rivers’ coaching tenure as, “Doc Rivers Departs LA Clippers” and “Chairman Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers have reached a mutual decision that Rivers will step down as head coach of the LA Clippers.”

What really happened?

Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

people with knowledge of the situation said Rivers was surprised to learn the Clippers wanted to move on.

Internally, Rivers enjoyed support even after the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals. But ultimately, the sting from yet another disappointing end to a season prompted the change.

The Clippers suffered a historic upset by blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets. In a season with legitimate championship aspirations, the Clippers fell short of even the conference finals for a record 50th straight year.

Of course, the coach was going to face scrutiny for that collapse. And Rivers deserved plenty.

But once the smoke cleared, Rivers appeared safe.

What changed?

Despite the Clippers’ initial spin, it’s becoming increasingly clear Rivers got fired. Still, many questions remain about the shocking move.

LaMelo Ball not worried about where he gets drafted, “Anywhere is a great fit”

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Lavar Ball has his opinion. Always. When the patriarch of the Ball family went on the “Road Trippin'” podcast a couple of months ago, he said he didn’t want his youngest son, LaMelo Ball, drafted by the Warriors because he would have to come off the bench behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. “Michael Jordan didn’t come off the bench,” was his logic.

LaMelo Ball is about as interested in his father’s opinions as most 19-year-olds.

“I’m my own man. He’s his own man. He has his opinions, I have mine,” the younger Ball said of his father on Monday while speaking to reporters via Zoom as part of the NBA’s pre-draft process.

“I feel I could play on any team and do good anywhere I go,” Ball said. “Anything that happens, I’m positive.”

Ball is projected to be a top-five pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, scheduled for Nov. 18. Rumors have bounced around the league that if the Timberwolves keep the No. 1 pick they will select Ball to pair with D'Angelo Russell in the backcourt. The Warriors have the No. 2 pick, the Charlotte Hornets select third, followed by Chicago then Cleveland.

Ball spent a chunk of his time with reporters denying having had contact with many teams at the top of the draft, although he said he didn’t know about Minnesota. He did say he had contact with the Knicks, who pick eighth, adding they just wanted to get to know him as a person (outside the online persona). Ball will not be on the board when New York makes its pick (the Knicks could trade up to get him, all the teams at the top of the draft are listening to offers).

Ball’s consistent point was he could fit in with any team.

“Anywhere is a great fit,” Ball said. “It’s the NBA. You put me with good players, I feel like it’s even gonna be better.”

Ball said he has adapted to the unprecedented pre-draft process, in part because his path to the NBA is untraditional. He said he realized back when his father had him playing in Lithuania at 16 he was not going to have the more traditional route to the NBA that his brother Lonzo Ball had, but LaMelo embraced it. LaMelo spent last season playing in Australia before returning to the states to prepare for the draft.

“I feel like I am dealing with it well,” Ball said. “I kinda like it, that nobody has been through something like this, it’s kinda unique, like me… I’m one-of-one.”

For now, Ball is in the Detroit area working out, preparing for the draft. He said some of that Detroit toughness is rubbing off on him.

But he’s happy to bring that with him wherever he gets drafted.

NBA playoffs, Finals schedule 2020: Date, time, matchup for every game

2020 NBA Finals schedule
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It may be five months after they were originally planned, but the NBA playoff schedule has reached the point the 2020 Finals are here.

It is down to the final two. There is LeBron James leading the Lakers against the team where he first won his ring. And then there is the gritty Miami team that nobody expected to be here — except themselves.

Here are a few notes on the NBA playoffs schedule 2020:

• The NBA is continuing to push the pace with games every other day — except for one two-day break between Game 4 and Game 5
Even more members of families for the players, coaches, and team staff are in the bubble for the Finals.

Here is the NBA playoffs schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern):

NBA FINALS

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat

Game 1: Sept. 30, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 2: Oct. 2, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 3: Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)
Game 4: Oct. 6, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 5: Oct. 9, 9 p.m. (ABC)*
Game 6: Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)*
Game 7: Oct. 13, 9 p.m. (ABC)*
*If necessary.

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Conference Finals

Eastern Conference Finals

No. 5 Miami beat No. 3 Boston 4-2

Western Conference Finals

No. 1 L.A. Lakers beat No. 3 Denver 4-1

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Second Round results

Eastern Conference

No. 3 Boston beat No. 2 Toronto 4-3

No. 5 Miami beat No. 1 Milwaukee 4-1

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston 4-1

No. 3 Denver beat No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: First Round results

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat No. 8 Portland 4-1

No. 2 L.A. Clippers beat No. 7 Dallas 4-2

No. 3 Denver beat No. 6 Utah 4-3

No. 4 Houston beat No. 5 Oklahoma City 4-3

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee beat No. 8 Orlando 4-1

No. 2 Toronto beat No. 7 Brooklyn 4-0

No. 3 Boston beat No. 6 Philadelphia 4-0

No. 5 Miami beat No. 4 Indiana 4-0