Baseline to Baseline recaps: Miami beat a good team handily… watch out

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What you missed while reading the Incredible Hulk Buddhist twitter timeline…

Heat 111, Jazz 98: When LeBron James is the ball handler attacking the rim and Zydrunas Ilgauskas is setting the picks and knocking down the pick-and-pop jumpers, it is going to be tough to defend. Together they were 19-30 for 49 points. Wade had 28 points plus he got to the line 11 times and the Heat avenged an early season loss. Just 10 bench points for the Jazz. That’s six in a row for the Heat, all by double digits.

Bulls 88, Cavaliers 83: A blizzard of a snowstorm hit Cleveland in the early evening, one that tied up downtown Cleveland to the point that JJ Hickson, Anthony Parker and other Cavs barely made it to the arena on time for the game. Combine that kind of snow with a slumping team and the building was half full. Those that did come out saw the Cavs up with 30 seconds to go but Derrick Rose hit his big shots down the stretch while the Cavs missed theirs.

Celtics 105, Nuggets 89: Denver’s defense could not stop Boston with Rajon Rondo back in the lineup. Kevin Garnett was 8 of 9 for 17; Ray Allen was 9 of 14 for 28. They were just too efficient

Knicks 13, Raptors 110: Amar’e Stoudemire had 34 points, his sixth straight game with 30 or more. Also the sixth straight Knicks win. Coincidence? Raymond Felton with the dramatic step-back game winner.

Bucks 97, Pacers 95: Andrew Bogut tipped in the game winner off a Luc Richard Mbah a Moute pass with 0.5 seconds left to win — another reminder of how much the Bucks need Bogut on the floor. Indiana, when the game is on the line and only a tip-in works, play a zone. The Bucks shot just 36 percent in this one but their 19 offensive rebounds kept them in it.

Thunder 111, Timberwolves 103: Kevin Love had 22 points and 21 rebounds, and according to ESPN that is the fifth time he has had at least 20-20 this season — nobody else has done it twice. The Timberwolves led 40-22 after one then the Thunder started focusing on defense.

Spurs 111, Warriors 94: Stephen Curry tweaked his ankle and that made room for PBT favorite Reggie Williams to get on the floor and score 31. Doesn’t matter as the Spurs are just flat out better.

Hornets 93, Pistons 74: New Orleans wins the battle of basically ownerless teams. The Hornets shot 50 percent, the Pistons 37.5 percent, that’s your ballgame.

Grizzlies 104, Suns 98 (OT): The Suns could have had this in regulation, but a missed free throw and a catch-and-shoot corner three from Rudy Gay sent the game into overtime, where the Grizzlies thrived. Mike Conley had a career-high 14 assists while Steve Nash struggled against him (didn’t think I’d every write that sentence).

Lakers 87, Clippers 86: Derek Fisher is roughly 164 years old, is too slow defensively, is an inconsistent shooter and yet… game on the line he drives and hits the lefty scoop layup over two Clippers to win the game. That man is clutch. Eric Gordon almost made the game winning play at the other end just before. Second night of a back-to-back and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom both played more than 40 minutes alternating at center — they need Bynum back before somebody just collapses.

Kings 116, Wizards 91: John Wall was a last-second scratch with a foot injury and Tyreke Evans looked hobbled going 3-9 shooting. But the rest of the Kings starters shot 60 percent against the Wizards porous defense to get the win.

New Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer: ‘I think I’m in the best place in the league’

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Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo will almost certainly finish fourth in Most Valuable Player voting this year, his age-23 season.

The last coach to take over a team with a player who already accomplished so much at such a young age – Del Harris (a familiar name in Milwaukee), who inherited reigning MVP Moses Malone with the Rockets in 1979. It’s just so rare for jobs coaching such a promising player top come open.

“I think I’m in the best place in the league,” new Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said at his introductory press conference today.

Budenholzer had his pick of Milwaukee and Toronto, another highly successful team, especially for one seeking a new coach. But the Bucks offer Antetokounmpo and more modest expectations.

Milwaukee hasn’t won a playoff series in 17 years. Budenholzer was asked today as much about delivering a division title as an NBA title.

Topping the Cavaliers, Pacers, Pistons and Bulls sounds much easier than surpassing the Warriors, Rockets, Celtics and 76ers in coming years.

Not that Budenholzer, who reached the conference finals with the Hawks, is completely ducking big talk.

“We’re lucky to have a Giannis, who will do anything to win, and a Khris Middleton that will do anything to win,” Budenholzer said. “When you have your best players that are true competitors and that are truly unselfish and care more about the team than they do themselves, those are a couple of big, foundational blocks to winning championships and doing things that are special.”

The Bucks held the press conference at their still-under-construction new arena, the media wearing hard hats and orange vests:

But this isn’t a complete rebuild for Budenholzer.

Milwaukee has made the playoffs the last two seasons, including winning 44 games this year. Antetokounmpo is a superstar. Middleton is a borderline All-Star. Eric Bledsoe is a solid starter. Restricted free agent-to-be Jabari Parker is talented. The rotation is somewhat deep.

The Bucks just underachieved under former coach Jason Kidd (and never capitalized before him for more than a decade for other reasons).

Citing the potential of current players, Budenholzer said Milwaukee could become “elite” defensively. The Bucks are full of long and athletic players, and Budenholzer coached sound defenses in Atlanta. There’s only one reason to doubt him: Milwaukee finished just 17th in points allowed per possession this season.

But that’s a feature of this job, not a bug. The Bucks aren’t stuck with an inevitably bad defenders. They just underperformed. Budenholzer can nudge them ahead – and is positioned to receive outsized credit if he does.

“Working with the entire with the entire roster, with the front office, with ownership,” Budenholzer said, “I can’t wait to take us to the next level in Milwaukee.”

That next level isn’t that high, which is why Budenholzer is right.

Milwaukee is a great place for a coach to be.

Mike D’Antoni: Rockets ‘played soft’

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The Warriors beat the Rockets by 41 last night to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Houston coach Mike D’Antoni:

We didn’t switch up into people, we didn’t box off. It’s just one thing led to another. Played soft, actually.

His stars agreed.

James Harden:

He’s right. We weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be. We started off the game pretty solid, and then we let them gain some confidence to end the first quarter. You know, but just defensively they didn’t feel us and it showed tonight.

Chis Paul:

Coach is right. We’ve got to be better. I think, you know, we’ve got to come out more aggressive. We were letting them hit first, you know what I mean? They were running their screens and all that stuff like that. I mean, we know that we’re at our best when we’re in transition and not taking the ball out the net. And tonight we were taking the ball out the net. We had 19 turnovers. That’s uncharacteristic of us. We knew we were going to get a great game from them being back here at home, but we’ve got to be better Game 4.

That’s a harsh assessment – but at least somewhat warranted. The Rockets applied far too little defensive pressure, and they missed shots inside and committed turnovers as if they were rattled.

I don’t think the Rockets are soft. But they looked soft in the face of Golden State’s elite ability.

The Warriors pressure teams into mistakes and then exploit many of them. Play that doesn’t look soft against other opponents suddenly does against Golden State.

Houston can toughen up before Game 4 Tuesday. Acclimating to the Warriors’ high level of play, especially at home, could help. The Rockets are good enough to hang at this level.

But it certainly won’t be easy.

Klay Thompson on Stephen Curry’s profane outburst: ‘I hope Riley didn’t see it’

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Through halftime of Game 3, Stephen Curry was shooting 3-of-20 on 3-pointers in the Western Conference finals. The Rockets targeted him relentlessly while he was on defense. The Warriors had been outscored with him on the court.

For days, questions swirled.

Is Curry overrated? Is he too soft to withstand the pressure Houston was applying? Is he still injured?

Curry answered in an an emotional third quarter of Game 3: No, no, no. The Golden State superstar scored 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting, including 2-of-2 on 3-pointers, in the period.

Along the way, he shimmied:

And after another made basket, he removed his mouthpiece and stayed behind the play to declare,”This is my f—ing house:”

That was quite a moment for Curry.

Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

So hyper-aware of it was Curry that had a ready response when asked about it after the Warriors laid a 126-85 beating on the Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

“I already know,” he said.

“I blacked out,” Curry explained, his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. “I blacked out.”

People close to Curry didn’t miss it – nor did the many fans watching.

NBC Sports Bay Area:

Klay Thompson:

That was funny. I hope Riley didn’t see it. It got Oracle pretty fired up. And that’s a rare occurrence. I’ve never really seen Steph – I’ve seen him, yeah, use that langue. But that’s what the playoffs brings out of you. So, don’t do that at home, kids. It’s just once in a while.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

His mother, Sonya Curry, was pleased with her son’s performance, but not with his mouth.

“She already sent me two home videos, showing me the clip and playing it back,” Curry told ESPN. “She was telling me how I need to wash my mouth out, saying to wash it out with soap. It’s a message I’ve heard before.”

It was Curry’s breakout game in this series, but he is a devout Christian and says he understands why he received such a scolding.

“She’s right,” Curry told ESPN. “I gotta do better. I can’t talk like that.”

Curry has cultivated such a wholesome image despite massive amounts of showboating and taunting on the court. If his previous boastful behavior didn’t turn off anyone, this incident probably won’t, either.

No matter how he’s marketed, Curry is an exceptionally intense competitor. That’s a huge part of what makes him a great player, and it’s not always polite when that side shines through.

I won’t start chiding Curry for playing with emotion and, gasp, swearing. I’d much rather appreciate his passion.

I’d also prefer if we appreciate similar passion from all players rather than applying a double standard.

Warriors-Rockets features one of biggest game-to-game swings in NBA playoff history

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In Game 2, the Rockets handed the Warriors their biggest playoff loss with Kevin Durant.

In Game 3, the Warriors earned their biggest playoff win and gave the Rockets their biggest playoff loss in each franchise’s history.

Quite the turnaround.

The 63-point swing from Houston’s 127-105 Game 2 win to Golden State’s 126-85 Game 3 win is one of the largest reversals in NBA playoff history.

It’s been a decade since the last larger game-to-game swing. The last series to have one as large as these Western Conference finals was the 2016 NBA Finals, when the Cavaliers began their comeback against the Warriors after getting blown out in Games 1 and 2.

Here are the biggest game-to-game swings ever in the NBA playoffs:

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That’s a lot of momentum moving against the Rockets. Can they recover?