If the Hawks beat the Pacers, would Atlanta be the worst team to win a playoff series?

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Nobody should be terribly surprised the Pacers are struggling in the playoffs. After all, the they faded the final two months of the season, going 12-13 in March and April.

But few predicted they’d lose in the first round.

That’s because their opponent – the Hawks – stinks.

As much as everyone fussed about Indiana’s late-season slump, Atlanta went the exact same 12-13 in the final two months. And before that, the Hawks (26-31) couldn’t even hold a candle to the Pacers (44-13).

When the Pacers were at their worst, the Hawks matched them. When the Pacers were at their best, the Hawks were worse than Indiana’s closing two months.

Add it all up, and Atlanta went 38-44.

Yet, the Hawks are up 2-1 in the series with a home Game 4 this afternoon. If they hold on, they’d be the worst team to win a playoff since series since the NBA expanded its postseason to 16 teams in 1984.

Collectively, teams that have gone 38-44 or worse were 13-64 (.169) in playoff games in the current format. That’s worse than the this season’s Milwaukee Bucks.

Only one losing team has won a playoff series since 1984 – the 1987 Seattle SuperSonics (39-43) – and they actually won two, topping the Dallas Mavericks (55-27) and Houston Rockets (42-40).

All time, the Hawks would be the 10th-worst team to win a playoff series

1. 1960: No. 3 Minneapolis Lakers (25-50) def. No. 2 Detroit Pistons (30-45)

2. 1976: No. 5 Detroit Pistons (36-46) def. No. 4 Milwaukee Bucks (38-44)

3. 1966: No. 3 St. Louis Hawks (36-44) def. No. 2 Baltimore Bullets (38-42)

4. 1961: No. 2 Los Angeles Lakers (36-43) def. No. 3 Detroit Pistons (34-45)

5. 1959: No. 2 Minneapolis Lakers (33-39) def. No. 1 St. Louis Hawks (49-23)

5. 1959: No. 2 Minneapolis Lakers (33-39) def. No. 3 Detroit Pistons (28-44)

5. 1958: No. 2 Detroit Pistons (33-39) def. No. 3 Cincinnati Royals (33-39)

8. 1965: No. 3 Baltimore Bullets (37-43) def. No. 2 St. Louis Hawks (45-35)

8. 1962: No. 3 Detroit Pistons (37-43) def. No. 2 Cincinnati Royals (43-37)

However, most of the teams on that list beat opponents that also had losing records. Heck, a few of those series weren’t even upsets.

The Hawks, on the other hand, are playing an Indiana team that went 56-26. Even if the Pacers are limping to the finish, that 18-win difference is stark.

If the Hawks win, it would be the fifth-biggest upset by win-percentage difference ever.

1. 2007: No. 8 Golden State Warriors (42-40) def. No. 1 Dallas Mavericks (67-15)

2. 1994: No. 8 Denver Nuggets (42-40) def. No. 1 Seattle SuperSonics (63-19)

3. 2012: No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers (35-31) def. No. 1 Chicago Bulls (50-16)

4. 1959: No. 2 Minneapolis Lakers (33-39) def. No. 1 St. Louis Hawks (49-23)

So, this would be a fairly historic upset if Atlanta pulls it off.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Chris Paul on 2020 Olympics: My wife wants to go to Tokyo

Chris Paul
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Chris Paul feels great starring for the Thunder.

So great, he might even take on extra workload.

Paul – who helped Team USA win gold medals in 2008 and 2012 but didn’t compete in 2016 – said he’s “very serious” about playing the 2020 Olympics. Paul:

I’m excited about the opportunity. My wife is sort of calling the shots on this one. She said she wants to go to Tokyo.

I’ve been blessed and fortunate to play in 2008. I had no kids then. In 2012, my wife couldn’t come, because, four days after the gold medal game, she had my daughter.

We often hear about players missing international tournaments due to personal reasons. But that can go both ways. Paul might compete due to personal reasons.

Paul faces steep and deep competition for making the team at point guard: Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker, Mike Conley, Malcolm Brogdon, Derrick White. Trae Young didn’t even make the list of finalists.

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said players who’ve previously represented the U.S. will get favorable consideration. So, that’ll help Paul.

If he plays, Paul – who turns 35 in May – would be Team USA’s third-oldest Olympian:

Chris Paul

Age for Team USA’s first game or, in 2020, first game of the tournament

Did John Beilein’s methods lead to Dylan Windler’s season-ending injury?

Former Cavaliers coach John Beilein and Dylan Windler
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John Beilein gave the Cavaliers problems mentally.

Did he also give them problems physically – especially Dylan Windler, who’s missing his entire rookie year?

Shams Charania, Jason Lloyd and Joe Vardon of The Athletic:

Warning signs for Beilein could be traced to the Cavs’ Summer League schedule, when the rookie coach ran a collection of (mostly) G Leaguers and non-roster invites through extended practices, multiple times a day. This is precisely what Beilein would have done at Michigan, especially with an entirely new batch of players, this early in a season calendar. But players not only complained about the work, they also were drilled in games by opponents who were clearly well-rested. And this was in Summer League.

There was at least one player, though, involved in those early summer workouts under Beilein who was expecting to make a major contribution to the Cavs this season. Rookie Dylan Windler, a late first rounder, was supposed to compete with Cedi Osman for minutes on the wing. But he never played a game this season because of a stress injury in his left leg — which could be traced back at least in part to being overworked during the summer.

Would Windler have missed the season under a different coach? It’s impossible to say. Counterfactuals are complex.

But there was legitimate reason to be concerned with Beilein’s approach. Teams have learned the importance of rest. Fatigued players are more susceptible to injury.

Beilein’s longest college season was 41 games. He coached 54 games in Cleveland – and left with much of the season remaining.

Handling the grind of the NBA season was always going to be an adjustment for the long-time college coach. It probably got understated amid concern about him relating interpersonally to his players.

The Cavaliers needed practice time. They needed work to develop. That’s clearly what Beilein prioritized.

But they also needed to limit the physical toll, and it’s reasonable to question whether Beilein did enough there. Even if he was learning that the NBA is more marathon than sprint, the several months Beilein coaches the Cavs were enough to cause issues.

Bucks’ minor-league coach suspended two games for rant (video)

Bucks minor-league coach Chase Buford
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Chase Buford, who coaches the Bucks’ minor-league affiliate, went on an epic rant after the Wisconsin Herd’s latest loss. He singled out referee Matt Rafferty as a “f—ing clown” and said the officials were “bad and biased and unfair and illegal and cheating.”

Ryan Rodig of WFRV-TV:

G League release:

Wisconsin Herd head coach Chase Buford has been suspended for two games without pay for a direct and extended public attack on the integrity and credibility of the game officials.

I can’t recall an NBA coach ever getting suspended for something he said during a press conference.

I also can’t recall an NBA coach ever saying something so inflammatory during a press conference.

In 2005, then-NBA commissioner David Stern threatened to ban Jeff Van Gundy from the NBA after the then-Rockets coach criticized officiating. That incident still led to just a $100,000 fine. Twice as large as any previous fine for a coach. But still just a fine, nonetheless.

Watch entire Kobe Bryant memorial service (video)

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The public memorial for Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant featured several unforgettable moments, including:

But I can’t overstate how well done the entire event was, how heartfelt the speakers and performers were. If you missed it yesterday and are in the right headspace, it’s worth watching to get a more complete understanding of Kobe and Gianna.