Memphis was impressive in knocking off the Spurs.
Make no mistake, they found their mismatch and exploited it — they pounded the Spurs inside, which opened up chances elsewhere. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol were beasts the Spurs could not stop.
Memphis, now meet Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka.
Oklahoma City brings a serious front line to the game after it’s midseason trade — and this is its first big test. The book on the Thunder had been you could push them around in the paint, but that was before. In the first round they had no trouble against Denver.
Now it will be put to the test by the Griz, starting in Game 1. We will learn a lot from this game. Stop the Grizzlies from getting their points in the paint and they will shrivel, their offense will wither on the vine. Don’t and the Thunder will be in for a real tough series.
That is the key battle in Game 1, but not the only one. Another thing to watch is fast break points — both teams like to get their offense going with turnovers and points in transition. No team created turnovers like the Grizzlies this season and they will have to do it again. Another thing to watch — the Thunder attack and make a living at the line, can the Grizzlies play good defense without fouling?
Mike Conley was fantastic and outplayed Tony Parker last round, can he do that to Russell Westbrook? That is a more athletic player and challenge for Conley.
One other key in this series is how seriously the Thunder take what is in front of them. They had to be expecting the Spurs a couple weeks ago, now they get the 8 seed Grizzlies.
A Grizzlies are playing very well, something the Thunder will learn very quickly if they don’t come focused to play. The Grizzlies will not roll over. The Thunder have the best players in this series, but Memphis did not get here on accident. This series will be long and challenging and if the Thunder do not come out focused and ready to play, starting with Game 1, they could be in trouble.
Several NBA players posted about George Floyd, a black man who died after being pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer for about eight minutes.
Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. struck a different tone than most.
Knicks forward Maurice Harkless:
Harkless, whose dismay was shared by many, is a seasoned veteran. Porter has made made rookie gaffes.
But I’m uncomfortable criticizing someone for calling for prayer for anyone. For some, prayer can be effective way to cope amid tragedy. Many believe prayer can change the world.
Porter didn’t say prayer alone should be the solution. In fact, he called the situation “evil” and “murder,” seemingly suggesting the need for criminal justice, too.
The Basketball Hall of Fame originally planned to induct Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett in August.
But coronavirus interfered.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:
Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of the board of the governors for the Hall, told ESPN Wednesday that enshrinement ceremonies for the Class of 2020, one of the most star-studded lineups ever which includes Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and the late Kobe Bryant, will be moved to spring of 2021.
Colangelo stressed there will be separate ceremonies for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021, even though both events will now be held in the calendar year 2021. “We won’t be combining them,” he said. “The Class of 2020 is a very special class and deserves its own celebration.”
I’m so glad each class will be honored separately. Bryant, Duncan, Garnett and the rest of this class – Tamika Catchings, Rudy Tomjanovich, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton and Patrick Baumann – deserve their own night.
So does Paul Pierce and whoever gets selected in the next class.
Life can end at any moment. Bryant’s death was a tragic reminder of that. But there’s no specific urgency here. The Hall of Fame should wait until it’s safe to hold a proper celebration of this class… then the next one.
The NBA has been sued by the owners of the building that houses the NBA Store, who say the league owes more than $1.2 million after not paying rent in April or May.
The league responded by saying it doesn’t believe the suit has merit, because it was forced to close the New York store due to the coronavirus pandemic.
NBA Media Ventures, LLC is required to pay $625,000 of its $7.5 million annual fee on the first day of each month under teams of its lease with 535-545 FEE LLC, according to the suit filed Tuesday in New York.
The NBA entered into the lease agreement for the property at 545 Fifth Ave. in November 2014.
Counting other fees such as water, the owners of the building are seeking more than $1.25 million.
“Like other retail stores on Fifth Avenue in New York City, the NBA Store was required to close as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Under those circumstances, we don’t believe these claims have any merit,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “We have attempted, and will continue to attempt, to work directly with our landlord to resolve this matter in a manner that is fair to all parties.”
The NBA suspended play on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic and faces hundreds of millions of dollars in losses this season, even as it works toward trying to resume play in July.
Anyone hoping for a rapid return of the NBA is going to be disappointed (and hasn’t been paying attention to how Adam Silver operates).
The NBA continues to carefully move toward a return to games, likely with 16 or more likely 20 teams in Orlando at the Walt Disney World resort complex. Expect players to report in mid-July with games now looking like they start late July to early August, allowing more time for the league to get medical and testing protocols and equipment in place. This according to multiple reports, including Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reiterated that timeline. While Adam Silver and the NBA owners will be on a conference call Friday, no hard-and-fast timeline decisions are expected at that point.
The format for the NBA’s return also is not yet set, but momentum has shifted in the past couple of weeks away from bringing all 30 teams into the Orlando bubble/campus to finish some portion of the regular season. That would be too many people and too much risk for too little reward.
Instead, the restart likely will have either 16 teams — going straight into the playoffs — or 20 teams, with a play-in tournament of some kind (maybe a World Cup soccer-style group phase). And, as Marc Stein of the New York Times notes (and he is not alone), there is a push to have the clumped 9-12 seeds in the West — Portland, New Orleans, San Antonio, and Sacramento — be the four additional teams brought in (along with the 16 playoff teams).
Teams who last in the playoffs past the first round could be in Orlando for months, which is why the NBA will allow family members to come to Orlando for the later rounds, report Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne at ESPN.
Conversations have centered on the timing of family arrivals at the Walt Disney Resort, which are likely to start once an initial wave of teams are eliminated and the number of people within the league’s bubble decreases, sources said.
Family members would be subjected to the same safety and testing protocols as everyone else living in the NBA’s biosphere, sources said.
Considering how long players on contending teams could be in Orlando — from mid-July until mid-to-late September, and maybe longer — allowing family to join them is the right thing to do.
NBA Commissioner Silver is trying to make a return as safe as he can and build as much consensus as he can, although he will not get anything absolute in either case. It’s in his nature to move cautiously, especially through uncharted waters like these. The NBA will have games again this summer, but earlier timelines have proved to be a bit optimistic.