NBA finals Game 4 pregame notes: Brooks says Durant can’t worry about fouls

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Kevin Durant is not a player prone to foul trouble — he tends to dish out fouls to the unfortunate souls tasked with covering him, not get in trouble himself.

But in the last two games Durant has been in foul trouble and it has dramatically impacted Oklahoma City’s offense and execution. Thunder coach Scott Brooks said before Game 4 his star player can’t let those fouls get into his head.

“You can’t worry about fouls, you really can’t,” Brooks said. “He had two games in a row where he has gotten into foul trouble. If he gets a third game, we’ve just got to deal with it. That’s what great players do….

“But he has to still be aggressive. We want Kevin to get to the free throw line himself. We feel that he is one of the best attack guys in the league.”

A few other notes from pregame in the AmericanAirlines Arena.

• Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s pregame mantra was the Heat “have to play to our identity.”

“I’d like us to come out with the same aggressive mentality,” as Game 3, Spoelstra said. “We didn’t necessarily do things smoothly, but the mentality is what we need. Defensively we want to continue to be aggressive.”

• Brooks largely danced around the question of Serge Ibaka saying LeBron James can’t guard Durant one-on-one.

“One of the things I did mention is both guys are very hard to guard. I don’t think anybody can guard the two best offensive players in the game one-on-one. You need a solid defender and you need a very good team defense behind it.

• We’ll see if that means we get more Thabo Sefolosha on LeBron in this one.

• To answer the most important question you have pregame, white towels are the giveaway.

• Spoelstra on the atmosphere in Miami and the AAA arena right now: “It’s electric in here. We don’t want to take it for granted, but it’s a great moment when your community gets behind you.”

Brandon Clarke bullies Ian Mahinmi with monster dunk (video)

Brandon Clarke
AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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How wild is it that the Grizzlies have two rookies who can dunk like this?

After Ja Morant threw down a jump-out-of-your-seat jam over Aron Baynes a few days ago, Brandon Clarke just made Ian Mahinmi — a good rim protector — look helpless in Memphis’ win over the Wizards yesterday.

Add Jaren Jackson Jr., and the Grizzlies are onto something with their young core.

Patty Mills hits game-winner in Spurs’ NBA-record fourth straight OT game (video)

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.

But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.

Popovich, via ESPN:

“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.

And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.

 

Report: Luka Doncic might return to Mavericks within a couple weeks

Luka Doncic
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Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.

Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.

Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.

Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.

But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.

Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe out two weeks due to right fibula avulsion fracture

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The Milwaukee Bucks keep right on rolling, they won their 18th straight on Saturday night, cruising past the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they’re going to have to keep this winning streak going without point guard Eric Bledsoe.

Bledsoe will miss at least two weeks with a right fibula avulsion fracture, the team announced Saturday. The injury happened Friday night in a win against Memphis.

An avulsion fracture is where a strain to ligament pulls a little bit of bone off where the two connect. It sounds worse than it is medically, and while it hurts rest is usually the only treatment needed.

Bledsoe is averaging 15 points and 5.7 assists per game for the Bucks, shooting 34.4 percent from three, playing solid defense, and providing another ball handler and shot creator next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee has been +4.1 points per 100 possessions this season with Bledsoe on the court.

George Hill, who has had a strong season for Milwaukee off the bench, will step into the starting role for now.

The injury comes at a rough time as the Buck hit a tougher part of the schedule this week, facing Dallas (which may be without Luka Doncic) and the Lakers on Thursday.