Adam Silver says Clippers sale “almost there,” Game 1 AC failure could have been handled better

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SAN ANTONIO — It’s pretty easy for Commissioner Adam Silver to feel good about the state of the NBA — “The state of the game has never been better” — when one of his teams just sold for $2 billion.

That sale, of the Los Angeles Clippers from Donald and Shelly Sterling to Steve Ballmer, dominated Silver’s press conference in San Antonio before Game 2.

“We’re almost there,” Silver said of when this will be resolved. “There is this last piece, and that is the lawsuit that Donald brought against the League and me personally. I have absolute confidence it will be resolved because as part of the sale agreement with Shelly Sterling, she agreed to indemnify the League against a lawsuit by her husband. So in essence, Donald is suing himself and he knows that. While I understand he is frustrated, I think it’s over. I think it’s just a matter of time now.”

Silver said he hopes to have the Board of Governors (the other owners) vote on the sale at their scheduled July meeting and it could happen sooner.

Donald Sterling’s attorney had said he would sign off on the sale and drop his lawsuit, but has not done so yet because he thought the lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine would be rescinded.

“There is absolutely no possibility that the lifetime ban will be rescinded or that the fine will be changed in any way,” Silver made clear.

Shelly Sterling will still have a tie to the team through a charity, but Silver said this is not something with the team.

“Yes, she is going to continue to attend games,” Silver said. “There has never been a ban against Shelly Sterling. She can go to any game she wants and always could, even after Donald’s ban…

“Shelly, and I encouraged her to do this, has a right to elect that a portion of the proceeds from the sale be placed directly into a foundation in which she would have control. But in essence that’s her money. It comes from the sale of the team. It will not be a Clippers foundation, it will be a Shelly Sterling foundation or some other name she chooses. And as I said, that is something I encouraged her to do, and I hope she does do.”

• The other big topic of the Silver press conference was the air conditioning malfunction during Game 1. Silver admitted this could have been handled better, but this was an unusual circumstance.

“In hindsight it wasn’t handled perfectly, but they’d never been confronted with that issue before,” Silver said of the building crew in San Antonio. “We in the league office, and not just me as Commissioner, but I’ve been with the league office for more than 22 years now, I’d never dealt with a situation like that before….

“There was never a point where we were considering either postponing or canceling the game.”

Silver gave a timeline to the events, saying the building crew first noticed a warning light on the circuit breaker at 7:55 local time (the game tipped off just after 8 p.m. local time). The AC cut out around tip off and the it wasn’t until just before the half that the building workers realized they could not fix the problem.

• Silver praised the way the way the new CBA had helped the league’s competitive balance. But he was asked a good question (by J.A. Adande of ESPN): Is it really good for the league if the Thunder can’t keep their core together, if the Miami Heat might break up because the assembled team can’t be kept under the cap structure?

“Our goal was not to break up teams,” Silver said. “We had a transition in which the more hasher luxury tax would be implemented. But ultimately, any type of cap system in essence is a form of player sharing. So, yes, to the extent that James Harden leaves Oklahoma City and the Houston Rockets then become a competitive team, that’s a positive thing for the league. And part of the purpose of a cap system is so you don’t see too much talent aggregated in one market.

“On the other hand I don’t want to take anything away from the Spurs and the Heat. While the players are a critical component, the players were attracted and remained in those markets because of the quality of the coaching and the quality of the management, and hats off to these organizations. And my sense is the better managed organizations are going to be successful regardless of the system.”

• Silver was also asked about his push to change the one-and-done rule to two years.

“I sense there is a little bit of movement,” Silver said. “Ron Klempner, who is the executive director of the union said at a sports forum recently that it was something that the union was willing to discuss and certainly an individual, one-on-one conversations I have had with players as I travel around the league, my sense is that they’re willing to discuss it as well. The ongoing issue is that until we have a new executive director of the union, we’re not going to sit down and have any real serious discussions on the topic.”

There likely will not be on that or HGH testing until a new union executive director is chosen (that is expected to happen this fall, Kevin Johnson is leading the effort).

Cavaliers’ Kendrick Perkins not into “all that new stuff” like Chewbacca

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Chewbacca was at Game 3 in Cleveland Saturday. Sitting courtside.

Why? Because growing up on Kashyyyk he played a little hoop and admires LeBron James‘ skill? Because Drake gave him the tickets? Maybe. I mean, it’s not like that was just a clever little publicity stunt for a movie.

After the Cavaliers’ win, Kevin Love decided to make a little joke of it with noted humorist Kendrick Perkins, and it went over as well as expected (with Dave McMenamin of ESPN catching it).

That’s vintage Perkins.

Celtics’ Terry Rozier on Game 3: “We needed to get our butts whooped”

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Cleveland dominated Game 3 Saturday night. They played harder, to start. The Cavaliers’ defensive pressure on the ball was better, they were sharper rotating out to shooters and covering passing lanes. Cleveland’s role players stepped up and helped LeBron James.

Boston, meanwhile, wilted in the face of that pressure Saturday, something it has done a few times on the road these playoffs. The Celtics got away from the things that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Guard Terry Rozier put it more bluntly, via A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:

“I feel like we needed this (loss) to get us back … to get us ready for Monday,” Rozier said.

Rozier later added, “We needed to get our butts whipped. Come back to reality and take care of business on Monday.”

Cleveland is a championship team — from LeBron James on down through the core guys, they all have rings. They have been down before, and heading home it was expected they would play with force. Cleveland’s back was against the wall and they responded.

From the Celtics’ perspective, they also got a little too fat and happy and were not ready for what the Cavaliers came with in Game 3.

Now the pressure is on Boston to push back, to get back to their level of execution and do it under pressure. Make the Cavaliers prove the improved defensive effort was not a one-off game. The Celtics must move the ball and play with some pace, then see if the Cavaliers can keep it together in the face of crisp play.

When this series heads back to Boston Wednesday, it will either see the Celtics in control up 3-1, or the series will be a best of three (with the Cavs still having to figure out if they can win on the road). At home, the Cavaliers are going to play with force again and have some depth. We’ll see if Game 3 was enough of a wakeup call for Boston.

PBT Extra: Can Rockets take Game 2 energy, execution on the road?

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Houston found its blueprint to beating Golden State in Game 2: Strong defensive pressure on the ball, quick switches and communication on defense, getting out in transition when possible, and starting sets earlier in the shot clock and attacking downhill with James Harden and Chris Paul.

Now can they do that on the road? Against a more focused and sharper Warriors’ team?

That will be the question in the next two games of the Western Conference Finals, and it’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.

Cavaliers cruise past Celtics in Game 3, change complexion of Eastern Conference finals

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The Cavaliers were heavy favorites over the Celtics entering the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron James has dominated the East for years, and Cleveland appeared to hit its stride in a sweep of the Raptors last round. Boston was shorthanded and inexperienced.

Were the Celtics’ two wins to open the series, as impressive as they were, really enough to override everything else we knew about these teams?

The Cavs walloped Boston in Game 3, 116-86, Saturday. Cleveland now has four of the NBA’s last five 30-point playoff wins – two against the Celtics last year, one over Toronto last round and tonight. (The Cavaliers lost the league’s only other 30-point game between, to the Pacers in the first round.)

Boston still leads the series 2-1, and teams up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series have won it 80% of the time.

But the team up 2-1 is usually the one seen as better entering the series. That isn’t the case here, not with LeBron on the other side. And the leading team usually isn’t so woeful on the road, which will remain a major storyline entering Game 4 Monday in Cleveland.

The Celtics bought themselves margin for error, but they blew a lot of it tonight.

It’d be an oversimplification to say the Cavs just played harder, but they did, and it went along way. They chased loose balls, tightened their defense and moved more off the ball offensively. Cleveland jumped to a 20-4 lead, led by double digits the rest of the way and spent most of the game up by at least 20.

LeBron (27 points, 12 assists, two blocks and two steals) dazzled as a passer and locked in as a defender. He received help from several players:

In a low-resistance effort, Boston didn’t goon up the game at all.

The Cavaliers still have plenty of work ahead to reach their fourth straight NBA Finals, but tonight, they showed a path to advancing. Climbing out of their early series deficit now looks far less intimidating.