NBA Playoffs, Suns v. Spurs Game 4: With blood in the water, Phoenix will go for the quick kill

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Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker have become a basketball establishment in their eight seasons together. They’ve captured three titles, made it to the postseason in each of those eight seasons, and lost in the first round of the playoffs only once.

They also have never, in the time that the three have been teammates in San Antonio, been swept. Not in any playoff series in any round. Phoenix will have an opportunity to be their auspicious first in Game 4 tonight, as the Spurs will look to defend their home court against an onslaught of Suns brooms.

With the outcome of the series no longer in doubt, the only question remaining is ‘when?’ or really, ‘how long?’ How long can Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker prolong the inevitable? How long can San Antonio keep false hope alive?  

The Spurs do have a few things on their side. For one, the sweep is such a difficult feat in a seven-game series, and when the opposition includes Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan, it seems rather impossible. Duncan may not be balling at best-player-in-the-game levels these days, but he’s still a tremendously skilled two-way player that’s capable of extending the Spurs’ playoff lives into next week. Pop isn’t just one of the greatest to ever run a post-game presser, but also one of the greatest to sit at the head of the bench.

Plus that home court advantage thing? It matters. Especially in the playoffs, and though the AT&T Center crowd may be a bit deflated after the Spurs’ Game 3 letdown, there’s something to be said for friendly cheers and an ocean of silver, black, and white. Even in spite of a potentially limited Tony Parker, the Spurs should be expected to win tonight.

Then again, the same could have been said before Game 3. Or in the first half of Game 3 when San Antonio was up by 18 points. Or even when the Spurs and Suns were in a virtual deadlock to start the fourth quarter, and SanAn as the squad with the veteran savvy, the championship experience, and the future hall-of-famers.    

The only thing anyone can say with certainty is that San Antonio will not win this series. They don’t even have a chance. Not with Phoenix finding consistent answers to each of the Spurs’ adjustments, getting contributions from top to bottom, and coming up with every big play. I never thought I’d be writing a “Can the Spurs even win one game against the Suns?” post, as if San Antonio was playing the part of an outmatched Atlanta team facing off against big league Orlando, yet here I am and here the Spurs are.

This series was expected to not only be extremely entertaining — which it has been — but very competitive. The games themselves have been battles, but how can anyone look at a 3-0 advantage and see anything but an anticlimax? It’s fun to see Goran Dragic go nuts, or Channing Frye step up, or Jared Dudley get some long overdue respect, but even those noteworthy performances don’t give this series the life that it could have had.

This could all be over tonight, and while the Suns have been a true pleasure to watch, it’s a shame that we’ll never really know just how great this series could have been.   

Dejounte Murray says he’s not thinking about extension with Spurs yet

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Dejounte Murray was supposed to be a big deal for the San Antonio Spurs last season. Unfortunately, Murray’s knee injury sidelined those plans until 2019-20.

Now Murray is back on the sidelines for Gregg Popovich and his Spurs, and he’s expected to take a great leap forward, pushing San Antonio to another playoff appearance. Meanwhile, Murray is fast approaching the end of his rookie deal, and an extension is within reach. Still, Murray has said he is not thinking about his contract, and is instead of looking forward to trying to make his team better

Via Tom Osborn:

If Murray and Poeltl don’t sign extensions, they would enter the restricted free agent market in July 2020.

“My mind is not on that at all,” Murray said after practice Monday. “Obviously, I want to be here for as long as I can, but those are things I can’t control. What I can control is getting better, learning and being a great person, being Dejounte Murray.

“If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. My main goal is to help this team get to the playoffs and do big things.”

It’s sort of an interesting question about whether Murray should be given extension, and for how much. On one hand, he has lots of potential and the NBA is a leauge that does pay on what future bounties might bring — just ask Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine.

But Murray did suffer a catastrophic injury, and so he doesn’t have the resume that some of his other compatiots bring to the table. That may actually play to San Antonio’s advantage, given they can talk him down from his initial number because of his lack of raw statistics.

Tony Parker was shipped out of Texas and ended up playing for the Charlotte Hornets because Murray is thought of as the point guard of the future for the Spurs. How much of that position will pay based off of Murray’s resume is another question altogether, and it looks like we will have to wait for that answer.

David Fizdale says RJ Barrett will spend time playing point guard

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New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett is sure to be a Rookie of the Year candidate, although most projections of the start of the Season predict that New Orleans Pelicans star and No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson will take home that award.

Still, folks expect that Barrett will be a high-scoring opportunity for a Knicks squad that is looking to rebuild in the coming season. To that end, it appears that NY coach David Fizdale is trying to get some more time on the ball, perhaps allow him to shine.

Speaking to reporters this week, Fizdale said that Barrett will be spending some time at point guard.

Via Twitter:

This could be just to get Barrett some more time handling the rock, which we know is important in today’s NBA. But it also could be an experiment in vain of Justise Winslow in Miami, where the Heat decided that a non-traditional player could actually thrive in a ball-handling situation.

New York doesn’t have that many skill the players, and they are sort of trying to figure out what works for them moving forward. Why not take a chance with Barrett at the point guard spot to see if a scoring threat exists with the potential to distribute the ball as well?

If Barrett thrives, it could be an interesting race toward the Rookie of the Year.

Jusuf Nurkic reportedly signs with Rich Paul, Klutch Sports

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Jusuf Nurkic just signed a new contract last summer, but he is already changing agents. Although Nurkic will not be back to start the 2019-20 NBA season, he is already angling for something new by signing with Klutch Sports and Rich Paul.

According to a report from Chris Haynes. Nurkic has signed with Rich Paul in anticipation for his free agency in the summer of 2022. Nurkic has a partial guarantee of $12 million — a deal for the Blazers — in 2021-22.

Via Twitter:

It’s not clear what kind of impact that Nurkic will have on this Blazers roster, or whether he would even be in Portland once things shake out over the next couple of seasons. Portland has to figure out what they’re going to do in the absence of the Golden State Warriors being a top of the Western Conference, and the Blazers have a chance this season to go deep in the playoffs yet again.

Nurkic’s health will be a big part of that, and with his injury, he isn’t a lock to be a huge impact player for Portland until the playoffs. Even still, we don’t know what kind of longevity Nurkic will have given that he’s already broken his leg in addition to his most recent injury.

Signing with Paul is a good idea in terms of trying to get the most out of his potential as a 20-something-year-old, but this might not be the best news for Blazers fans. Paul has a habit of getting the most out of negotiations he can, and often times that means his players end up switching teams.

For now, we will have to watch how Nurkic recovers in his rehabilitation, and how he plays coming back in anticipation or his next contract in a couple of seasons.

Kevin Durant is not a fan of looking at graphs in NBA analysis

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Kevin Durant is known to be Very Online as far as NBA players go, and the newest Brooklyn Nets superstar will have time to spend on Twitter now that we know it’s unlikely he will join his team for the 2019-20 NBA season.

Durant has gotten in trouble by being online in the past, but that hasn’t held him back from tweeting as of late. With advanced analytics still being the bane of the existence of many regular fans, Durant decided to tweet something apparently against the very thought of using statistics to prove one’s point when it comes to NBA basketball.

Specifically, Durant said he didn’t want to look at any graphs when thinking about pro basketball. This came as part of a conversation with Action Network’s Matt Moore, one of the father’s of the modern NBA blogosphere.

Via Twitter:

This isn’t anything new: folks who play the game often seem to feel threatened by the idea of statistics in the NBA. It’s not clear why, given that most people who use statistics to prove a point in professional basketball use both film study and analytic analysis to come to a conclusion. It’s never unilaterally a numbers game, although talking head goobers on afternoon ESPN shows like to prop it up as such.

But numbers are scary, and remain the boogeyman in the NBA. It’s not surprising that a person like Durant — despite his mathematical supremacy over other players — would be weirded out by stats and charts.

If anything, this feels like a direct attack at our own Dan Feldman. Stay strong, Dan-O. Keep doing you. Kevin Durant, meanwhile, won’t be partaking in any hardcore numbers analysis.