NBA Playoffs: Dallas looks to rebound. Literally.

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Dallas learned some hard lessons and was asked some hard questions in their Game 1 loss in the NBA finals. What do they have to do to rebound from that and even their series with the Heat?

Rebound.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said “rebound” so often during his Thursday morning meeting with the press it sounded like his meditation mantra. The Mavericks gave up 16 offensive rebounds in Game 1 — Dallas is the taller team and in theory should have the rebounding advantage. But as pointed out over at NBA Playbook, the Heat’s ball movement and dribble penetration forced a lot of defensive rotations by the Mavericks and by the second or third they lost shape and lost their rebounding position. Don’t expect that to happen again.

Also, Dirk Nowitzki has to be a bigger rebounding force. When Tyson Chandler rotates out to help on defense, Dirk has to dominate the boards. He did not in Game 1.

But it’s going to take more for Dallas to bounce back.

They are going to have to adjust to the perimeter athleticism and the speed of the Heat’s defensive closeout, then knock down their shots.

Many people point to Jason Terry and J.J. Barea missing looks they normally knock down in game 1 (they were a combined 4-of-18 shooting). That is somewhat true. But the speed of the closeouts by the Heat seemed to throw Dallas off, get them thinking and rushing a little. Dallas has to settle down, slow down and knock down those open looks to win one in Miami.

Miami shot the ball well from three in Game 1 and that will be another issue — LeBron hit 4-of-5 and he is almost impossible to defend when he can do that. As a team Miami shot 45.9 percent from three. The key reason is that 10 of their 24 three attempts came from the corner — where the shot is a foot shorter than out on the arc. The corner three is the most efficient shot in basketball and teams game plan to take that shot away (see the Spurs under Popovich if you want an example). Dallas cannot give up that shot because Mario Chalmers and others can hit it. Consistently.

There will be other keys to Game 2. Can Jason Kidd stick with Dwyane Wade, because he’ll have to down the stretch. Can Nowitzki pay for Miami helping off of him (Miami did that but Dirk did not have a monster night)? Will the Mavericks use much zone at all and can they have better success with it than they did in Game 1 (when Miami had little problem with it).

But the biggest question is can Dallas close against the Heat? This was a close game where Miami pulled away in the final five minutes. LeBron James has become a force as a closer and we all know Wade can do it as well in the biggest of games. Dallas has to prove it can win in a close one with the Heat at some point, and they had better do it sooner rather than later.

If Dallas goes down 2-0 they are in serious trouble. Even heading back home. To win four out of five from the Heat, with their stars and they way they are playing now, is nearly impossible. This is not must win for Dallas, but it’s close.

They have to rebound.

Report: Dallas’ Dwight Powell to turn down $10.2 million player option

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Dwight Powell came to Dallas as a seeming throw-in with the Rajon Rondo trade back in 2014, but he evolved and grew into a solid rotation player for Rick Carlisle’s team. Last season he averaged more than 21 minutes a night off the bench, averaging an efficient 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds a game.

Now he’s going to be a free agent, turning down the $10.2 million player option on the final year of his contract, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Don’t expect him to leave Dallas, they want to keep him and now will have even more cap space to do so (Dallas already has enough cap space to re-sign Kristaps Porzingis and look for a max or near-max player to put next to KP and Luka Doncic). This is most likely a situation where Powell will make a little less than the $10.2 million he would have made next season but will get more money locked in over three or four years.

Dallas wants to keep him, not only is he a trusted part of their rotation but also he is very active in the Dallas community. He’s an excellent ambassador for the Mavericks.

That said, other teams likely will inquire about a solid rotational big man, Powell will have some options.

 

 

 

Warriors first team to win five straight conference titles

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Presenting the Western Conference-championship trophy in 2015, former Warriors coach Al Attles worried about dropping it. He told Stephen Curry to pick it up directly, avoiding a potentially troublesome lift and handoff. Curry raised the trophy to a jubilant Oakland crowd.

Golden State hasn’t lost control of the trophy since.

The Warriors won their fifth straight conference title – the longest streak of all-time – with a 119-117 Game 4 win over the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals Monday. Only the Boston Celtics, who won 10 straight division titles 1957-1966 before the NBA adopted conference in 1971, have gone to so many consecutive NBA Finals.

Here are the longest streaks of NBA Finals appearances:

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Blazers start hot, again. Warriors come back, again, win in OT to eliminate Portland

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Monday night saw the third installment in the Portland/Golden State movie franchise. We had seen this same plot in the last two films/games— Portland races out to an early lead thanks to unexpected hero, Golden State comes back and executes better down the stretch, then Golden State finds a way to win.

Monday night was just more dramatic.

It was almost the Meyers Leonard game — he had a career-best 25 points before the half and finished with 30 points on 12-of-16 shooting.

Adding to the drama, the Warriors delayed their comeback to the fourth quarter, but comeback they did.

Stephen Curry — who had a triple-double on the night and had 37 points to lead all scorers — sparked the comeback but was almost remembered for traveling with an exaggerated Harden step back rather than taking a potential game-winning two (and his brother Seth Curry was all over the travel call).

In the end, none of that mattered.

It was Draymond Green — who also had a triple-double with 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists — that hit a dagger three in OT off a Curry assist, and that proved to be too much for the Trail Blazers to overcome.

Golden State won 119-117 in a game of little defense, and with that takes the series in a 4-0 sweep.

The Warriors will now have nine days off to get Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant, and DeMarcus Cousins healthy — all three sat out this game — before taking on either the Bucks or Toronto in the Finals (which will start in the East city).

Portland is done for the season, but they should look back with pride on the growth this team has shown. They found a third star in Jusuf Nurkic, and then without him still made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. This season was a step forward for Portland, something to build on.

Portland just did not have the matchups or answers for Golden State.

Steve Kerr, without three guys who started Game 1 of the playoffs against the Clippers, threw out the kind of rotations usually seen on the second night of a back-to-back in January, but the Warriors depth came through. Kevon Looney had a strong game with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Shaun Livingston had eight points, Jordan Bell started and had 7.

More than depth, what separated the teams in this series was Golden State could crank up the defense when it needed it. The Warriors played with more defensive intensity in the fourth, holding the Trail Blazers to 6-of-23 shooting. In overtime, Portland shot 3-of-10.

The Warriors shot just 3-of-12 in overtime, but had five offensive rebounds and Green’s dagger three, and that was enough. They won a tough game without their stars. It’s the kind of win you expect from champions.

It’s a movie we have seen before.

Unstoppable Meyers Leonard drops 25 on Warriors in first half (VIDEO)

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Stephen Curry had an I-don’t-want-to-play-Game-5 kind of first half for Golden State, scoring 25 points and hitting 5-of-7 from three.

However, he was the second best player on the court because Meyers Leonard held that crown.

Yes, Meyers Leonard.

He had 25 points of his own on 10-of-12 shooting.

Fans broke out a “Mey-ers Leon-ard” chant.

All that had Portland up 69-65 at the half in a defense-optional Game 4 where it is win-or-go-home for the Trail Blazers.