Game(s) of the night: Where the Jazz don’t look too good, but Orlando does

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The first TNT Thursday night of the year, and thank goodness Chuck, Kenny, EJ and C-Webb were in rare form so something tonight was entertaining.

Phoenix 110, Jazz 94: Deron Williams said after the game that the new-look Jazz just don’t know the offense. It looked it.

The flex offense and motion that are Jerry Sloan’s Jazz — and get them a handful of easy buckets every game — are no more. At least not right now. Jefferson is a post player not deft at the pick-and-pop play that has been a Jazz staple for decades. And when the ball goes in the block the off-the-ball movement from Utah went away because Jefferson isn’t a great passer and wasn’t going to pass it anyway.

The result was jump shooting Jazz. Who missed a lot (as a team they shot 42 percent and were 3 of 13 from beyond the arc). Deron Williams and Raja Bell combined to shoot 6-24. If you really want to fuel the Suns running game, take and miss a lot of long jumpers.

The Suns just have shooters all over the lineup and can have nights like this, ones where the bench puts up 50. Ones where Goran Dragic can dominate a game during an eight-minute stretch in the first half. Without somebody to protect the paint on defense the Jazz give up too many easy buckets.

Utah has Oklahoma City next. After a perfect preseason they could star 0-3.

Orlando 112, Washington 83: It felt like another preseason game for the Magic,

This one was a blowout from the first quarter on. Orlando won this game on the inside — they shot 28-36 (77.8 percent shooting) in the paint, with 21 of those shots right at the rim, on their way to 56 points inside. The Wizards had no real answer for the Magic length. Or outside shooting. Or off-the-ball movement. Or, Vince Carter when he decided to drive. Or… you get the picture.

The good part of the blowout is Stan Van Gundy got to rest his starters — nobody played more than 30 minutes — for the game against the Heat on Friday. That will be a better team to measure the early-season Magic against.

The question about the Wizards becomes are they just bad defensively or was this a bad matchup for them? Maybe a little of column A, a little of column B. But Cartier Martin put up 17 and blocked Dwight Howard, so that’s something.

Warriors’ Andre Iguodala out for Game 6

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Steve Kerr has been searching for a couple of games now for his fifth guy.

With Andre Iguodala out there is no Death/Hamptons 5 lineup and Kerr is looking for a fifth guy to partner with his four All-Stars. Kevon Looney is starting, Jordan Bell is showing potential but also makes some rookie plays, Nick Young has been bad enough that Kerr trusted Quin Cook more at the end of the last game (and Cook missed his looks).

Kerr is going to have to keep searching for a guy in Game 6 because Iguodala is out again.

The Warriors are not the team heading into Game 6 with the most significant injury woes, the Rockets are without Chris Paul. That and the fact the Warriors’ backs are against the wall is the reason they are heavy favorites in Game 6.

However, the Warriors have not been the same without Iguodala. He is a playmaker who can control the ball and settle things down, makes the right decision, get the player and ball movement the Warriors have strayed too much from back, plus is one of their best defenders on James Harden. Nobody else on the roster can do that.

And if Game 6 gets tight late, the Warriors are going to miss those skills. As they have in the last two games.

Marcus Smart on Game 7: ‘It’s not going to be pretty’

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Game 7s are not pretty basketball. Everyone is tight, shots clank off the front of the rim, and players tend to think rather than just react, sucking the flow out of the game. It’s a game for grinders.

Marcus Smart is good with that, and he told Chris Forsberg of ESPN the team is preparing for this style.

“It’s not going to be pretty. You got to be able to get down and get dirty. You can’t go out and try to look pretty. You have to be ready for a dogfight. We got to be ready to come up with our nose bloodied. We got to be ready to come out with our mouth bloodied. We have to come out ready to fight.”

If Boston is going to win this game, they will do so with the physical, smart, and unrelenting defense that carried them all season. That’s their grit. Without Kevin Love (out with a concussion) the Celtics have one less scorer to worry about, but things do not necessarily get dramatically easier — LeBron James is going to get his buckets, but can the Celtics keep George Hill, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and the rest of the role players from helping out with big nights of their own.

Which one of these teams is better positioned to win a grinding, sloppy game? Who is willing to dive on the floor and give that little extra effort? A case can be made either way, but Sunday night will decide it.

Report: Warriors’ Patrick McCaw cleared, will be available for Game 6

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We haven’t seen Golden State’s Patrick McCaw on an NBA court since March 31, when he was undercut by Sacramento’s Vince Carter and took an ugly, nasty spill.

McCaw is finally cleared by the team doctors and will be active on Saturday night for Game 6 against Houston, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Golden State Warriors are planning to activate swingman Patrick McCaw for Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

McCaw, on paper, would help the Warriors — he’s a 6’5″ switchable defender who can provide some offense in transition. That’s especially true if Andre Iguodala is out for Game 6 (his status is a game-time decision). McCaw played about 17 minutes a night for the Warriors during the regular season.

However, the idea of taking a second-year player who has not been on a court in six weeks and throwing him into Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals — a win-or-go-fishing game for Golden State — is risky, at best. Don’t expect him to get on the court unless this is a blowout.

Kevin Love in concussion protocol, listed as out for Game 7

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As if winning a Game 7 on the road against a younger, more athletic team that has not lost on its home court all playoffs was not difficult enough, things just got harder for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kevin Love has a concussion and is not expected to play in Game 7 on Sunday.

While it is technically possible for Love to clear out of the concussion protocol in 24 hours, it is highly unlikely. He would have to pass a rigorous physical test and have no concussion-related symptoms, something cleared by both the team doctor and a league-approved neurologist. This is something that tends to take days if not weeks to get over.

Love was injured just five minutes into Game 6. Love had set up position in the midpost and was setting a screen for George Hill, who was curling out to the arc. Jayson Tatum was trailing Hill and he banged heads with Love. It wasn’t pretty.

Love spent a few minutes on the ground, went straight to the locker room, and did not return to the game.

LeBron James is going to have to carry even more load in Game 7, and now more pressure falls on George Hill (the bellwether for this Cavs team), J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and others to step up without Love there to space the floor and get buckets.