If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while planning your vacation to a new island…
1) The Knicks came from behind to beat the Spurs? Yes. What’s next, the Washington Generals beating the Harlem Globetrotters? The Spurs led by 13 in the third quarter and looked like they would run away, but what Gregg Popovich said afterward rang true — the Spurs didn’t respect the game. The Knicks did — starting with Alexy Shved. The Russian point guard made the play that sent the game into overtime by driving the lane, getting Tim Duncan to commit on defense, then dropping the ball off toLou Amundson, who hit the layup to tie the game and force overtime. Then in what was a sloppy OT Shved made maybe the key play, getting Borris Diaw to leave his feet on a pump-fake and jump forward, so Shved could draw the foul and get to the line. Then he had the key defensive play in overtime tipping away Duncan’s pass to a cutting Kawhi Leonard. You know if Shved is making key defensive plays it’s just the Knicks night. The problem for the Spurs is in the crowded West this is the kind of win they need to have. San Antonio had played well of late, just a rough time for a one-off night.
2) Detroit got a big game from Reggie Jackson and beat the Grizzlies? Yes. Detroit had struggled since bringing in Reggie Jackson at the trade deadline — they had lost 10 games in a row. Jackson had been up and down trying to fit in with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe up front. You had to question if Jackson was right for this team or if the Pistons let him walk this summer when he’s a restricted free agent. But Tuesday night Jackson was brilliant, scoring 23 points and dishing out 20 assists, the second guy to do it this season (the other was Brandon Jennings the game before he got injured). Other Pistons scored 25 buckets when Jackson was on the court, he assisted on 20 of them. Jackson was more comfortable with the stretch four Anthony Tolliver in for the injured Greg Monroe, who prefers to play closer to the rim. This was a game Memphis will feel it should have won (especially if Portland climbs past it in the standings) — the Grizzlies were up 15 at the half. Mike Conley being out shouldn’t have mattered at that point, this was a winnable game. Throw some credit to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had 16 points in the third quarter for Detroit, including some back-to-back threes that helped change the game’s momentum.
3) The Pelicans are the eighth seed in the West again. Remember if the Pelicans and Thunder finish the season tied, it is New Orleans with the tie breaker. That’s where we are again — both teams are 37-30 — after the Pelicans got the one-point win over the Bucks Tuesday. One that seems lucky after Ersan Ilyasova’s wide-open three to win the game (seriously, how did he get that open?) hit the rim, the backboard, the rim again and fell harmlessly to the ground. We really were all watching this one to see Anthony Davis (20 points, 12 rebounds) vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo (15 points, nine rebounds and five assists). They went head-to-head a few times, which is always entertaining. But Davis is happier with the 18 points from Quincy Pondexter, the 16 from Omer Asik and the win. With Serge Ibaka out for pretty much the regular season, the Pelicans have a real opportunity. Will they take advantage?
Watch Kawhi Leonard dunk all over Giannis Antetokounmpo, highlight of 26-3 Toronto run
If you think a 15-point lead is safe, go talk to a Portland Trail Blazers fan and get back to me.
The Bucks will still take it. Milwaukee has come out with a sense of desperation, but more importantly got to play with some pace and couldn’t miss early from three — they started 4-of-6 and were 7-of-13 from three as of this writing — and what we saw were play after play from the Bucks, the kinds of things we haven’t seen the last three games. They led by 13 after one, and the lead got as high as 15.
The wife and i having a little fun. It’s so many guys in our league that’s deserving of a spot on either team or teams and it’s always someone that will be left off the list. It’s unfortunate but that’s the game. Klay understands that better than anyone.
• We do not know who cast that vote for Wade, yet. The NBA’s end of season awards are voted on by 100 media members who cover the league (the NBA selects those voters). There is transparency, the full votes will be released after the NBA’s award show next month.
• Third team All-NBA guard was probably the toughest choice on the entire ballot. Because the NBA forces voters to select only two guards for each of the teams (six guards total), rather than allowing voters to just chose the 15 best players for the honor, deserving guys get left off every year. In this case, Stephen Curry and James Harden were first-team locks. Damian Lillard was a clear second-team choice, and a majority of voters had Kyrie Irving joining him on the second team. Russell Westbrook was not far behind Irving and was clear-and-away the fifth choice for voters. That left one guard spot between Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Bradley Beal, Ben Simmons, or anyone else considered worthy (Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, etc.). There is no wrong choice in that group. If players were not locked into positions for All-NBA more guards would have made the cut in an increasingly backcourt dominated league. (For transparency purposes, I did vote Walker in on my ballot barely over Thompson.)
• No media members I know are comfortable with these votes having an impact on player salaries. It makes us all uneasy, even as voters study and try to make the best choices. The NBA and players’ union need to come up with a better system in the next CBA. I’ve got a crazy idea, how about letting the teams decide who is worthy of being paid that much?
Brooklyn Nets like Kyrie Irving, but how much does he like them?
Kyrie Irving is a popular guy. He has a strong relationship with Kevin Durant and rumors of them pairing up on the Knicks next season have been rampant all over the league this season. Irving also is hanging out with LeBron James in Los Angeles, and LBJ is reportedly up for the idea of getting the band back together (minus Kevin Love, and in Los Angeles this time). Boston has every intention of keeping Irving, and ideally pairing him with Anthony Davis who they would acquire via trade.
The Brooklyn Nets will be free agent players this summer and think they would be an excellent fit for Irving. The goal would be to pair him with All-Star D'Angelo Russell in the backcourt, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
A source tells me that there are some within the #Nets organization that feel a D'Angelo Russell-Kyrie Irving pairing could work, that the two All-Star point guards could not only coexist but thrive. Story on the way.
Sources tell SNY that Kyrie Irving and his camp are strongly considering Brooklyn if he decides to leave Boston. Irving’s camp has kept a close eye on the Nets as the season progressed and the team got better, with the playoffs only helping their case.
SNY also learned recently that the Nets would not shy away from signing Irving even if they re-sign point guard D’Angelo Russell. The ideal scenario would be to pair two max free agents, such as Kevin Durant and Irving, but sources say the Nets would be open to pairing Irving and Russell in the backcourt together.
The Nets, just like the Clippers, could be major players in free agency this summer (the Clippers are more focused on Kawhi Leonard, but if he chooses to stay in Toronto the Clippers will be a potential force in trades and on the free agent market). This is a young team that surprised everyone and made the playoffs this season, they have a good culture and good role players, they just need a star or two to take them over the top.
Irving could be that guy, or at least one of those guys, in Brooklyn.
Irving will have options and you can bet his decision is not yet made. He may be leaning one way or another, but circumstances with other players and time to think things over may (likely will) change his mind. Maybe a few times.
Where his mind is July 1 matters. It could be in Brooklyn then, but it could be a lot of places.