Wednesday And-1 links: Hangin’ with Clyde Frazier

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Here is our daily look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because god is a bullet, have mercy on us everyone

• Don’t you just want to sit and have some drinks with Clyde Frazier? Great stuff from Amy K. Nelson at SBN.

• Bill Walton and Junior Seau are two of San Diego’s biggest sports icons. Walton says he regrets not knowing Seau needed help.

• Atlanta’s Al Horford and the Red Sox David Ortiz are good friends. It’s a Dominican thing.

• A guide to the Euroleague Final Four for NBA fans.

• At one time Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler were the future of the Bulls back line. This is a fantastic look at their divergent careers from Jonathan Abrams at Grantland.

• Also at Grantland, Steve Kerr lays out the argument for a 20-year-old NBA age limit. I’m not a fan, and I don’t think you can argue that it’s better for player development — players do not get better prepared for the NBA life living in a small college town with limits on their practice time and then taking on inferior competition. They just don’t get better as fast as they do in the NBA. But, it’s better for NBA teams if players develop in college because then the NBA teams don’t have to spend the revenue and resources on that development. Don’t say it’s better for the players, admit it’s just better for the bottom line.

Tom Ziller with a good critique of Kobe Bryant’s shot selection in Game 5 Tuesday. This is a spiral with the Lakers — other guys come out passive so Kobe’s nature is to take that load on, so the guys get more passive, so Kobe takes on more, and soon he’s not taking smart shots at all and other guys are standing around.

• Brandon Roy is still talking about a possible NBA comeback.

• In case you haven’t noticed, the Celtics have stopped turning the ball over so much.

• You know who wins championships in the NBA? Guys who have already won championships.

No word on Stan Van Gundy yet. Does anyone think he’s not getting fired?

• Making the case for why Nate McMillan should coach the Wizards. I’m not a fan of this idea — McMillan is a grind-it-out coach who likes his teams to play slow and that’s the opposite of what you should do with John Wall.

• The Bobcats are casting a very wide net in their coaching search and may be looking at future assistant coaches as well.

• Derrick Favors wants to be a starter next year in Utah. He should be.

• Speaking of the Jazz, look for them to pick up the option on DeMarre Carroll for next season.

• Detroit’s marketing arm is working hard to bring fans in while the team struggles.

• The Pistons are hoping to get Jason Maxiell back next year, but Maxiell faces a difficult choice — he has a $5 million option for next season. It’s doubtful he can make that much on the open market, but would he be willing to sacrifice some money off the top for the security of a three-year deal? Not an easy call.

• Gregg Popovich goes through the playoffs petrified of losing. Seriously.

• Great draft break down by position by Chad Ford at ESPN.

James Harden, Rockets again leave Jazz in the dust

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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After turning the ball over late in the fourth quarter, James Harden meandered near halfcourt as the Jazz pushed for a fastbreak layup. But that put him in perfect position to receive a long inbound pass after Utah scored. Harden caught the ball and whipped it ahead Kenneth Faried, who dunked to give Harden a triple-double-clinching assist.

You’ll have to forgive Harden for not hustling back on defense. He did most of his heavy lifting far earlier.

By late in the first quarter, Harden created 28 points (17 scored, 11 assisted) to the Jazz’s 13 total points. The Rockets never looked back.

Houston crushed Utah 118-98 in Game 2 Wednesday to take a 2-0 series lead. It seems the Jazz – who lost Game 1 by 32 points and a 4-1 second-round series in this matchup last year – have no answer for the Rockets, particularly Harden.

Harden finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. He was a game-high +24.

Here are the best-of-seven series with the most-lopsided first two games. The 2-0-leading teams that won the series are in red. The 2-0-leading teams that lost the series are in blue. This Houston-Utah series is in silver. This Bucks-Pistons series is in cream.

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Teams that outscored their opponents by at least 50 in the first two games have never lost a best-of-season series. The Rockets, +52, might have built an insurmountable advantage.

Especially the way the Jazz guard Harden. They’re trying to overplay him but wind up just giving him lanes into the paint. The talented guard is picking them apart.

Until Utah solves that, secondary matchups won’t matter. Houston is content winning through its superstar.

Bucks wallop Pistons. Again.

Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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The Pistons fought harder. Luke Kennard moved into the starting lineup and provided a spark. Detroit defended more actively.

But the result was largely the same: A Bucks blowout.

Milwaukee routed Detroit 120-99 in Game 2 Wednesday. Following a 35-point Game 1 victory, the Bucks have outscored the Pistons by 56 points in the series. Every team to outscore its opponent by at least 50 in the first two games of a best-of-seven series has won it.

Here are the best-of-seven series with the most-lopsided first two games. The 2-0-leading teams that won the series are in green. The 2-0-leading teams that lost the series are in red. This Milwaukee-Detroit series is in cream.

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The Pistons can’t stop Giannis Antetokounmpo (26 points, 12 rebounds and four assists). With Kennard (Detroit-high 19 points) starting for defensive specialist Bruce Brown, the Pistons also couldn’t contain Eric Bledsoe (27 points). Khris Middleton (24 points) provided his usual steady production.

Meanwhile, without Blake Griffin, Detroit lacks a difference-making star. Andre Drummond (18 points and 16 rebounds) had nice individual moments but was -32 (another terrible plus-minus for him).

The Pistons are just overwhelmed by the superior Bucks, and it’s hard to see that changing.

Kyrie Irving torches Pacers for 37 points in Celtics win

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In what had been a tight game, the Pacers built a four-point lead over the Celtics with four minutes left in the third quarter. From there:

Irving scored 37 points and dished seven assists, leading Boston to a 99-91 Game 2 win Wednesday. The Celtics now lead the first-round series 2-0. Teams that have won the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home have won the series 93% of the time.

The Pacers just can’t muster enough offense – not against this sound Boston defense. Indiana went nearly nine scoreless minutes in the fourth quarter. Even after ending that drought, the Pacers’ final five possessions: miss, miss, miss, turnover, turnover.

This is why the Celtics got Irving. His ability to create shots sets them apart in these slogging playoff games.

Jayson Tatum added 26 points. But Al Horford struggled while playing through illness. Marcus Morris shot 0-for-8. Jaylen Brown didn’t really get going.

This wasn’t the prettiest game for Boston, but because of Irving, it was a win.

LeBron James named one of TIME’s 100 most-influential people

AP Photo/Mark Duncan
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LeBron James couldn’t even influence the Lakers into the playoffs.

But as a businessman and philanthropist, his reach is only growing.

LeBron remains the NBA’s biggest star. He’s still an elite player (when healthy), and his name resonates with casual fans and even non-fans. Add his off-court interests – more accessible to him in Los Angeles – and his importance can’t be denied.

That’s why LeBron made TIME’s 2019 list of 100 most-influential

Warren Buffett wrote about LeBron:

I’ve been impressed with his leadership skills, his sharp mind and his ability to stay grounded. People in LeBron’s position get tugged in different directions and have a lot of chances to make bad decisions. He’s kept his head, and that’s not easy.

There is so much on LeBron’s plate – production, acting, his school, even basketball. His ability to handle it all is incredible.

Having such varied interests might not lend itself to LeBron dominating on the court. But it makes him even more deserving of this list.