Like the have not before these playoffs, the Oklahoma City Thunder asserted themselves in Game 5. They dominated the Memphis Grizzlies. Controlled the game from the middle of the second quarter on. Held Zach Randolph to 9 points. Thumped the tired Grizzlies good.
Was that a one game fluke, or have the Thunder arrived?
If Memphis wants to see a Game 7, two key things have to happen.
The first is Zach Randolph has to get going again. In Game 1 he was dominant, in Game 2 Serge Ibaka started taking away his space to operate when he caught the ball. Between Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins at times, the Thunder have held Randolph to 32 percent shooting in the last four games.
The Grizzlies got 24 points out of Randolph and Marc Gasol last game. If they Grizzlies are going to get back in this series, they will need closer to double that, and they need it to come efficiently.
The other thing Memphis needs is a better game from Mike Conley. The point guard who has played so well through the playoffs is 6-for-28 shooting his last two games. He has to knock down shots and he has to get the ball to Randolph and Gasol in positions they can be effective.
The Grizzles have to go back to what got them here — great play inside and some good pressure defense to create some turnovers.
The Thunder? Just more of the same will be just fine. Their defense has been key the last few games and when their offense clicked, well, blowout. Russell Westbrook 25 minutes last game, Kevin Durant just 31, they are rested. They will come out and try to put this game away early.
Memphis has to play in the paint. They have to get Tony Allen disrupting Durant. They have to have their best game of the season.
If they do, Sunday could be very interesting.
Hawks forward Chandler Parsons was involved in a car crash last week.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
It’s easy to see where this is headed. Parsons is positioning himself for a lawsuit, laying the seeds for both lost earnings and emotional distress. We might see Parsons’ future NBA salaries be litigated.
Parsons signed a four-year max contract in 2016. He hasn’t had a reasonably productive seasons since, struggling with knee issues. Parsons recently touted how healthy he felt, but that had to be viewed in context of a 31-year-old with an extensive injury history.
Parsons had played sparingly the last four seasons, including just five games this season. Did he land outside the Hawks rotation because they’re focused on youth or because he’s just no longer good enough?
That could become a question for a court room.
Parsons will be a free agent this summer. I projected him for a minimum-salary contract somewhere. He was clearly hungry for an opportunity without the max-contract burden weighing on him.
It’d be a shame if Parsons lost that because of a drunk driver.
Kyrie Irving missed nearly two months with a confounding injury.
During that time… Kendrick Perkins accused Irving of faking to avoid returning to Boston. Celtics fans chanted “Kyrie sucks!” without him even there. More examples of Irving’s moodiness in Boston emerged. Kevin Garnett suggested Irving didn’t have the cojones to play for the Celtics.
YES Network (2:40 mark):
When I was out for those seven weeks and not saying anything and still people are still saying things about me. It’s inevitable. They crucified Martin Luther King for speaking about peace and social integration. You can go back to historical leaders and great people in society that do great things, and they’re still going to talk s—about them. It is what it is.
I don’t think Irving is putting himself on King’s level but rather pointing out that even great people get attacked. This could be a way for Irving to contextualize that he shouldn’t fret about the lesser criticism he faces.
I’d give Irving that benefit of the doubt, especially considering his comments on Brooklyn hosting the 76ers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, today.
Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report:
It’s more than an honor. I have done so much historic research on just my community as well as they voice that I have and where I am in the position I’m in as well on the platform. I just wish there were not just holidays to commemorate some of the historical black leaders that have really put their lives on the line and lost it in the line of Civil Rights or making a social impact. Those things hit you real deep when you know the history of where the society has gone. I’m really grateful to play on Martin Luther King Day, but his legacy exists more than just a game being played on that day or Nike shoes being put out or something else. It’s so much more for our society to realize what he was really involved in and what he did in terms of communities across the world on
Again, I don’t think Irving was equating himself with King.
But can I absolutely put it past Irving, who talks as if he’s on a higher plane of existence, emphasizes his own importance and makes weird self-comparisons? No.
It also wouldn’t be the NBA’s first case of being tone deaf about King.
The Hawks are reportedly are no longer interested in trading for Pistons center Andre Drummond.
What about the Knicks, whose trade talks with Detroit were reportedly more serious than exploratory?
Marc Berman of the New York Post:
According to an NBA source, the Knicks have no interest in a trade despite a report the Pistons approached them about a deal
Like Atlanta, New York both isn’t winning anything of note this season anyway and can easily open cap space to pursue Drummond in unrestricted free agency this summer.
The Knicks also have another center in Mitchell Robinson. They should develop him rather than surrendering assets for a replacement who might not be as good as Robinson once they’re ready to win.
New York is desperate. So, a Drummond trade seemed at least plausible.
But not trading for Drummond makes the most sense. Though the Knicks could do anything, I’m inclined to believe this report.
Knee soreness, followed by an illness, has had Kristaps Porzingis in street clothes for 10 games, dating back to before the first of the year.
Sunday he went through practice and expects to play Tuesday when the Mavericks host the Clippers, Porzingis told the media Sunday.
That’s pretty much what the Mavs and KP were saying last week, then knee soreness flared up again and he sat out a few more games. This time he seems ready to go, although expect him to have some reduced minutes the first couple of games back.
Porzingis is averaging 17.3 points and 9.4 rebounds a game, shooting 34.3 percent from three and providing a dangerous pick-and-pop partner for Doncic. Porzingis, who missed all of last season recovering from a torn ACL, has improved as the season has gone on and he’s gotten his legs under him.
Dallas went 6-4 without Porzingis and their league-best offense didn’t miss a beat thanks to Luka Doncic. Defensively, however, the Mavericks missed his size in the paint, giving up 6.9 points more per 100 possessions in those 10 games than they averaged when he is on the court this season.
Dallas is 27-15 on the season and currently sit fifth in the West.