Michael Jordan to headline Obama re-election hoops fundraiser

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Barack Obama had Michael Jordan’s back — the president said the current Olympic team couldn’t touch the original Dream Team. Now, Jordan has Obama’s back.

Jordan will headline a celebrity hoops fundraising event with the money going to Obama’s re-election campaign, according to Buzzfeed Sports (via Ball Don’t Lie).

The classic was originally scheduled for December of 2011, but was postponed because of the end of the NBA labor lockout.

According to the campaign email, the event will also include Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony, Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing and former WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes.

With Obama being a huge hoops fan — he had a court added to the White House grounds — this event makes a lot of sense. Obama has had NBA players over for pickup games before.

When this was planned previously — when everyone thought the lockout would still be going on — the list of players was long and impressive and included LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Grant Hill, Shane Battier and many more. We don’t know the time or location of this game yet, so the final rosters are not set. But expect big names.

The email to donors said that anyone who chips in to the re-election effort stands a chance to play in the game along side the legendary players. Of course, as with all political campaigns of any party, you can bet the size of the donation certainly helps your chance of gaining access.

What is notable is how during his playing days Jordan was apolitical to the point of controversy at times, once saying “Republicans buy shoes, too.” And his team is in a red state. But Jordan has decided to back Obama, and you can bet it has to do with a lot more than the Dream Team.

Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell Tweets he’s back inside NBA bubble

Clippers big Montrezl Harrell
Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images
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The Clippers, who have coasted to a 3-3 record at the restart, are about to get a burst of energy off the bench.

Montrezl Harrell is back in the bubble. He Tweeted this out Monday:

Harrell was granted leave from the bubble to help take care of his grandmother — who he was very close to — when she fell ill. She eventually died, and Harrell poured out his emotions on social media for fans. The Clippers told Harrell to take as much time as he needed before coming back.

Harrell is back now, and if he tested negative the last seven days outside he bubble he will be in quarantine on the Walt Disney World Resort property for four days, then he can rejoin his team — possibly for Friday’s seeding game against Oklahoma City, but certainly in time for the playoffs.

Harrell is a leading Sixth Man of the Year candidate who averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds a game for the Clippers this season. More than the numbers, he brought an improved defense and relentless energy off the bench that lifted the Clippers nightly. The Harrell/Lou Williams pick-and-roll remains one of the smoothest and most dangerous in the league.

Harrell also gives Doc Rivers a lot of versatility and options on how to close games — the Clippers can go big, go small, and do either well. It’s that versatility that makes them a dangerous playoff team.

The Clippers needed Harrell back to unleash all of it, and now he is there and ready to go.

Who gets in? Breaking down West play-in scenarios for each team

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Four days. Two games.

That’s all that’s left of the seeding games in the Western Conference, yet four teams are still in the chase for the final playoff spot. More accurately, four teams are left trying to get into the upcoming play-in series (with the ultimate reward of facing LeBron James and the Lakers in the first round).

It leads to a lot of play-in scenarios in the West.

Memphis and Portland control their own destinies, but should either stumble San Antonio and red-hot Phoenix — still perfect at 6-0 in the bubble — are lurking. Here are the standings heading into Tuesday’s games.

There is great value in being the eighth seed — it’s a two-game play-in series and the eighth seed only needs to win one to get into the playoffs. Just get a split and that team advances. The ninth seed team needs to win both legs of that “home-and-home” (that is all played in Orlando, but work with me) to advance. The play-in games are Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday.

The 10 and 11 seeds go home.

Let’s break down the West play-in scenarios and what each team needs, in order of their seeding spot. (Note: Each team plays Tuesday and Thursday.)

8. Memphis Grizzlies

Remaining games: Boston, Milwaukee

Scenarios: The Grizzlies control their own destiny, go 2-0 and they will be the eighth seed. Doing that against two of the top three seeds in the East is not as daunting as it looks, both the Bucks and Celtics are locked into their seeds and have nothing to play for, so the East teams may take their foot off the gas this final couple of games.

If the Grizzlies stumble, they still have a cushion. If Memphis splits their two games, Portland can pass it for the eighth seed if the Blazers are undefeated (by 0.00075 percentage points). However, the Grizzlies have the tiebreakers over the Suns and Spurs, so if Memphis goes 1-1 it still advances to the play-in (just possibly as the nine seed).

Should Memphis go 0-2, then Phoenix and San Antonio could pass them if they win both remaining games.

9. Portland Trail Blazers (0.5 games behind Memphis)

Remaining games: Dallas, Brooklyn

Scenarios: Portland also controls its own destiny. If it goes 2-0 it will be in the play-in series (maybe as the eighth or ninth seed, but in). The Blazers catch Dallas on a back-to-back Tuesday (but with a rested Luka Doncic who sat out Monday), and the Nets are locked into the seven seed and have nothing to play for.

If Portland goes 1-1, it gets complex — the Blazers could be the eighth seed or out of the playoffs entirely, but it’s out of their hands. Let’s break it down. The Blazers could split their games and still be the eighth seed if the Grizzlies lose both games and the Suns and Spurs go 1-1 or worse. Or, a 1-1 Portland team could be the nine seed if Memphis is 1-1, and Phoenix and San Antonio are 1-1 or worse. Finally, a 1-1 Portland team could fall out of the playoffs if the Grizzlies are 1-1 or better and either the Suns or Spurs go 2-0.

If Portland goes 0-2 it needs help — both the Suns and Spurs would also have to lose out, if either won a game Portland goes home early.

10. Phoenix Suns (1 game behind Memphis)

Remaining games: Philadelphia, Dallas

Scenario: Devin Booker is draining threes, talking trash, and has made Phoenix the story of the restart at 6-0 — and it still likely needs to go 8-0 to get into the play-in. Even that may not be enough.

If the Suns go 2-0 they could be the eighth seed but only if the Grizzlies go 0-2 and the Trail Blazers go 1-1 or worse. If Suns go 2-0 they get in the play-in as at least the nine seed if the Trail Blazers go 1-1 or worse, no matter what the Grizzlies do). But Phoenix could go 2-0 and still be out of the bubble on Friday if Memphis and Portland both also go 2-0.

If the Suns go 1-1 they need a lot of help — Portland going 0-2 and San Antonio going 1-1 or worse — just to make the nine seed. If the Suns go 0-2 they will be fishing in Cancun by Friday.

11. San Antonio Spurs (1 game behind Memphis)

Remaining games: Houston, Utah

Scenarios: The Spurs essentially have to go 2-0 to have any chance at the play-in and keeping their 22-season playoff streak alive. Lose one game and they can’t finish behind Memphis and would need the Trail Blazers and Suns to go 0-2 to get in as the nine seed. The most likely scenario for the Spurs getting in is they earn the nine seed by going 2-0 while both the Trail Blazers and Suns go 1-1 or worse.

San Antonio could, in theory, be the eighth seed if it goes 2-0 and the other three teams go 0-2, but those are some long odds.

Watch Lakers Kyle Kuzma drain game-winner over Bol Bol

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Bol Bol may have been a little slow recognizing the shot and getting around the screen Anthony Davis screen — especially considering Kyle Kuzma is shooting 38% this season from that area of the floor.

Still, when Bol’s 7’9″ wingspan comes at you there needs to be a little extra arc on the shot. Kuzma did that with less than two seconds left when he let it fly. Ballgame.

Using LeBron James as a decoy on the final play (especially in a game that doesn’t matter, the Lakers have the No. 1 seed locked up) is a clever move by coach Frank Vogel. After the game, he admitted he stole that play design from Mike Budenholzer’s Hawks teams years ago.

Kuzma — who started for the injured Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (ankle), who himself is starting for Avery Bradley — had 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting for the Lakers. LeBron had 29 points, Anthony Davis 27.

It’s a quality win for the Lakers as they work to gain some momentum and rhythm they have lacked in the bubble.

The Laker win all but secures the Clippers as the two seed in the West (Denver is 1.5 games back with two to play). However, it gives Houston hope of catching Denver for the three seed in the West — the Rockets are just a game behind the Nuggets and they have three to play still.

Jimmy Butler, Heat slow T.J. Warren, close in on four seed with win

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Jimmy Butler returned from a foot injury and scored 19 points, Derrick Jones scored 18 off the Miami bench and the Heat kept T.J. Warren largely in check on the way to a 114-92 win over the Pacers on Monday night.

Miami moved a game ahead of Indiana in the race for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Heat (44-27) and Pacers (43-28) both have two games left, and sixth-place Philadelphia (42-28) ends its regular season with three games in four days starting Tuesday.

Tyler Herro scored 17 while Duncan Robinson and Jae Crowder each added 14 for Miami, which snapped a two-game slide. The Heat took control for good in the third quarter, blowing open what was a tie game with a 35-17 run.

Goran Dragic scored 11 and Bam Adebayo added 10 for Miami.

Warren scored 12 for Indiana on 5 for 14 shooting in 29 minutes. He came into Monday averaging a bubble-leading 34.8 points per game on 61% shooting from the field, 56% from 3-point range, but never got rolling against Butler and the Heat.

Victor Oladipo scored 14 and Malcolm Brogdon added 12 for Indiana.

The Heat own the tiebreakers over both Indiana and Philadelphia, so one more Miami victory would lock up a spot in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 series that will start early next week.

The teams play again Friday in the seeding-game finale for both teams and could meet in the opening round of the playoffs that start next week — raising the possibility that Miami and Indiana could face off as many as nine times in a 10-game span.

It was the first meeting between the clubs since Jan. 8, a game in Indiana where Butler and Warren’s individual matchup stole the show.

What happened that night, in seven seconds of court time, has been talked about for seven months since. Warren grabbed Butler’s arm on a drive midway through the third quarter, and the reaction by each player resulted in double-technicals. Butler fouled Warren on the next possession, Warren taunted him with some clapping after the call and got ejected.

Butler blew kisses his way, Warren offered an obscene gesture in reply and both players got fined.

“It’s not about Jimmy and T.J.,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “It’s about Miami and Indiana.”

Butler might have taken it personally anyway. He guarded Warren on 25 possessions Monday; Warren scored only two points on 1 for 3 shooting during those trips.