Clippers put on offensive showcase, take Game 1 vs. Spurs

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LOS ANGELES — The Clippers had the best offense in the NBA during the regular season, scoring 109.8 points per 100 possessions. But that was the regular season, how would things look in the playoffs? How would the Chris Paul look with Kawhi Leonard draped all over him? How would the Clippers score inside with Tim Duncan patroling the paint?

Everything looks good, thank you very much.

In an impressive offensive display, the Clippers shot 51.9 percent overall, hit 10-of-18 from three, and beat the Spurs 107-92 in Game 1 of their playoff series. Game 2 is Wednesday night at Staples Center.

It was an impressive performance — on both ends, an aggressive Clipper defense took the Spur out of rhythm (and the Spurs helped by missing good looks). The Clippers did whatever they wanted, and for a night it felt like Lob City was back. Blake Griffin was dunking on everyone.

“I tried to be aggressive, I did not want to settle for jump shots,” Griffin said.

Clippers took control of the game in the third quarter, when the Spurs kept missing their shots and the Clippers got out running and playing like their fans love. Chris Paul was dishing, while Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick were hitting threes. Clippers put up 30 in the third quarter and were up 15 entering the fourth.

But it all started with the Clippers defense, which was anchored by a strong DeAndre Jordan performance.

“They were just hard hedging (on the pick-and-roll)… they were very aggressive,” Tony Parker said. “On the pick-and-roll I had to give it up, and then Borris (Diaw) and Timmy (Duncan) become the quarterbacks. They found the players, Timmy and Borris, with good looks, we just missed.”

The Spurs shot 4-of-18 from three through the first three quarters. For the game the Spurs were 14-of-26 from the free-throw line. Both are very unSpurs numbers. Ones likely to be different on Wednesday.

Parker suffered both a tweaked left ankle and a knee to his thigh in the game. He said both would be sore Monday but that he’ll be ready to go Wednesday.

Paul finished 32 points — 13 in the fourth quarter — and six assists on the night, Griffin had 26, and Jamal Crawford had an important 17 off the bench.

It started well for Los Angeles. The Clippers got pretty much their ideal first quarter. Kawhi Leonard lost Matt Barnes and J.J. Redick at the arc, and they hit their threes. Crawford and Glen Davis gave the Clippers quality bench minutes. As a team, the Clippers shot 55 percent, the Spurs 28.7 (0-of-6 from three, 6-of-12 from free throw line), and it was 30-18 Clippers after one.

The Spurs roared back in second quarter, going on a 19-5 run to take a lead. But Crawford got hot, and despite CP3 being on the bench with three fouls and a round of hack-a-Jordan the Clippers led 49-43 at the half. The Spurs shot 3-of-14 from three in the first half, just 35.6 percent overall. They got some quality looks, they just missed.

We got a dose of DeAndre Jordan being sent to the free throw line at the end of the first half with a hack-a-Jordan system, something you can be sure will be an off-season topic for the rules committee. We’ll see more of that this series, but it didn’t work well for the Spurs in this game. Doc Rivers said the key reason is it let the Clippers set their defense, and their defense was good.

Clippers made a point to double Kawhi Leonard, both in the post and at times out by the arc. He said after the game he expected it, but he didn’t handle it smoothly.

The Clippers answered a lot of questions with this performance. The big question remaining, can they replicate it in Game 2? The Spurs will play better — history has taught us that much — but if the Clippers play like this they will be in a good spot this series.

Watch Kawhi Leonard dunk all over Giannis Antetokounmpo, highlight of 26-3 Toronto run

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For most of the first three quarters of Game 6, the Milwaukee Bucks were in control of the game and looked to be on the way to forcing a Game 7.

But Kawhi Leonard sparked a 10-0 run for Toronto to end the third, scoring eight and assisting on a Serge Ibaka bucket.

That run carried over into the fourth and became a 26-3 run that was highlighted by this insane dunk by Leonard over Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Insane.

I’d say that’s Leonard’s best shot as a Raptor if not for the series winner against Philadelphia.

The Bucks responded with a 7-0 run and this game is going to go down to the wire.

Bucks play with desperation, lead by as many as 15 in first half

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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.

Can the Bucks sustain this, or will they cool down as the Raptors heat up? It’s going to be a wild rest of the game in Toronto.

The Raptors are up 3-2 in the series and playing for their first ever franchise trip to the Finals. The Bucks are playing to force a Game 7 Monday back in Milwaukee.

 

Dwyane Wade got an All-NBA vote, Gabrielle Union would have gone with Klay Thompson

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Honesty from your spouse is a bedrock of any good relationship.

But come on Gabrielle Union, show your man a little love.

Dwyane Wade got one second-team All-NBA vote, and he took to an Instagram story to thank that voter (even if he wouldn’t have voted for himself). His wife would not have voted for her man.

Just a few notes:

• That is a funny video.

• 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?

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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.

How seriously is Irving considering the Nets? A lot, according to Anthony Puccio of SNY in New York.

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.