Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: Golden State exposed Clippers’ defense

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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…

1) In a game the Clippers needed more they couldn’t hold off Warriors, and it’s not a good sign. The showcase game on Tuesday started out kind of how we expected  — the Clippers were playing with the desperation of a team fighting for its playoff seeding, the Warriors (without Draymond Greed) were playing like a team that wrapped up the top seed and really didn’t want to get hurt. The Clippers led by as many as 17 in the second quarter. Los Angeles had won seven in a row, and it looked like it would become eight.

However, the Clippers have a couple troubling flaws, and those were exposed in this game — and they are why the Clippers ended up losing 108-104. First is their often discussed lack of depth — Doc Rivers has to lean heavily on his starters, and they need Jamal Crawford back. You can say “come the playoffs that won’t matter much because of the time off” and you’re right in one sense. But that lack of depth limits the team’s flexibility — Golden State can attack you a lot of ways. The Clippers can’t.

But the bigger issue is this: The Clippers are not a great defensive team. They have been much better during the recent run of wins, but if you look at their last 10 games they are allowing 103,1 points per 100 possessions, 13th in the NBA. They are not in the Top 10 for the season. They are average or a little above. In this game the Warriors had an offensive rating of 111 (points per 100), and while Golden State has one of the top couple offenses in the league — and Klay Thompson went off in the second half — the Clippers could not get needed stops. The Warriors, on the other hand, could — Los Angeles shot 3-of-13 in the fourth quarter. If the Clippers get the Spurs in the first round, a real possibility, the depth and defense could be big trouble.

2) Are you going to guard Stephen Curry? Good luck. He’s a walking video game. Chris Paul is the best defensive point guard in the NBA and CP3 got dropped.

3) Blake Griffin had a monster game for Clippers. Blake Griffin could win an MVP one year, he is that good, that complete. Tuesday night he dropped 40 points on 16-of-25 shooting, plus had 12 boards. The Warriors were without Draymond Green, who usually gives Griffin trouble, and Griffin took advantage of the space.

4) We may have to watch the Nets in the playoffs. Lord help us all. The Nets have won four in a row, eight of 10, and now have moved back into the eight seed in the East. Tuesday night Brook Lopez went off for 24 points, and grabbed 11 rebounds, to help the Nets hold on for a 111-106 win over Indiana. The Nets led by 17 early in the second quarter, gave it all back, and had to scrap for the victory. Joe Johnson made key plays in the fourth quarter when they needed it. The Nets look like a team that will make the postseason. Somehow.

5) Kawhi Leonard is a stud, and the Spurs are rolling. It’s not so much that San Antonio flipped the switch as they just got healthy, but they look like the Spurs everyone should fear again. They manhandled Miami 91-75, and Leonard had 22 points on 13 shots, plus nine boards and a few assists. But what he really did is lock down the red-hot Dwyane Wade, who shot just 6-of-20 on the night. Fear this team come the playoffs.

Nets reportedly extend Caris LeVert on 3-year, $52.5 million deal

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The Brooklyn Nets have Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, and that’s going to be important for the next half-decade or so. Those two players will shoulder the bulk of Brooklyn’s championship hopes over that time frame.

But so too is it important for the Nets to keep a strong team around its superstars. Too many teams seem to end up top heavy as they try to chase championships year after year.

To that end, Brooklyn has reportedly signed their own budding star Caris LeVert to an extension that takes him through 2023.

Via ESPN and Twitter:

LeVert’s extension starts at $16.2 million in 2020-21 and escalates to $17.5 million and $18.8 million in the next two years, ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported.

The deal gives LeVert security and a chance to return to free agency or negotiate an extension before his 28th birthday.

LeVert’s extension is worth a reported $52.5 million, which makes him reasonably paid within the team context and should give him a chance to cash out yet again before he hits age 30.

This season will be an interesting look into how LeVert and Irving work together on the floor without Durant. They can get into some kind of rhythm and find an understanding between them, which is going to be vital for when Durant eventually returns in 2020.

Team USA sees betting odds in World Cup skew downward

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Team USA is 12 man roster is now set, and they are prepared to take on the rest of the world in the 2019 FIBA World Cup In China with summer.

The United States finally lost a game for the first time in 13 years on Saturday, falling to Patty Mills and Australia, 98-94.

But despite that loss, the United States is still the odds-on favorite to win the World Cup this year. Then again, their odds have started to slip since the start of the summer.

According to Westgate, the United States is favored at 4/7 to take home the gold. Team USA originally opened at 1/5. Now some other teams have moved up in oddsmakers’ minds.

Via Westgate and Action Network:

  • United States: 4/7
  • Serbia: 2-1
  • Greece: 10-1
  • Spain: 20-1
  • France: 25-1
  • Australia: 30-1
  • Lithuania: 60-1
  • Canada: 100-1

Serbia seems like a pretty good shot to usurp the throne for the United States. Nikola Jokic has said that he wants his team to medal, but no doubt he and his squad will be looking for a gold medal.

The United States is suffering from a lack of continuity and star power. That might not matter given that Gregg Popovich is still the head coach and USA Basketball far out matches other countries in terms of raw talent.

But as we saw in 2004, talent doesn’t trump all when it comes to Team USA. The door is open for other countries to grab the top spot for the time being, and oddsmakers think so as well.

Rui Hachimura pumped when friend Sumo wrestler Hakuho drains free throw

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Rui Hachimura, the Gonzaga star drafted ninth by the Washington Wizards, is having a blast this summer playing for his native Japan as their national team gears up for the World Cup in China starting in one week.

However, he may never have been more pumped than when his friend, legendary sumo wrestler Hakuho, came out in his robes and drained a free throw.

The Wizards have to get Hakuho to a game this season, let him take a few shots during a timeout. We all need to see this.

And Hakuho was nothing, another sumo wrestler walked out in robes and drained a straight-on three.

I need to see a sumo wrestler pickup game now more than I need anything else in my life. I want to see the battle for post position.

Hachimura has played well for Japan, he dropped 31 points on Germany in the final tuneup game for the World Cup, showing off a comfort level from the midrange that is impressive. He hit shots off the dribble and on the catch.

Hachimura and Japan are in the same group as Team USA in the World Cup, and the two teams face off Sept. 3 in Shanghai.

Enes Kanter says he might add ‘American’ name once he’s a U.S. citizen (VIDEO)

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Enes Kanter has been dealing with being a man without a country for some time. The Turkish-born Boston Celtics center has openly criticized Turkish president Recep Erdoğan, And as such he is no longer welcome back in his home country.

In fact, Kanter didn’t have a valid Turkish passport this past spring, so the question of whether he might be able to re-enter the United States if he went to Canada was raised by several Portland Trail Blazers fans, including Senator Ron Wyden.

Kanter has been in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen for some time, and he appears close to that goal. As such, Kanter mentioned this week that he might add an “American” name onto his name when that happens.

Speaking to TMZ, Kanter said that, “I’m actually becoming a U.S. citizen in two years: I’m actually thinking about adding an American name. I’m still thinking about it. I don’t know yet.”

One of the newest Celtics, Kanter appears to have a diplomatic way about him and the ability to network with folks higher up. Given amount of time, resources, and potential political power behind him as an NBA player, there is hope that he will become an U.S. citizen.

Whether Kanter really wants to add an ”American” name — whatever that’s supposed to mean — is anyone’s guess. One of the founding principles of this country is the concept of the melting pot, and so a great American name for Enes Kanter would be… Enes Kanter.