Adam Silver explains why the NBA Finals did not start earlier

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Eight Days.

The average patient could have had open heart surgery, been released from the hospital and been back home during this break in the NBA Finals. It’s been that long.

What is with that break? The NBA has been locked in for a June 4 start since before the season started, but when it became clear that both conference Finals were going to end quickly pressure mounted on the NBA to act and move the Finals’ start date up. It didn’t.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was on the Rich Eisen radio show and explained why.

“Truth be told, we did have that conversation about potentially moving up, and Susie would know this, some years ago we used to have a built in move up. If both Conference Finals series didn’t go longer than five games, we would’ve moved up two days. So, under that scenario, we would have started (Tuesday) rather than Thursday night. So certainly when the East finished, and we saw that there was a chance that the West could finish with five games or fewer, we had that discussion. So…for Disney, ABC/ESP, it is difficult to move on short notice given they have other scheduled programming, but it wasn’t just an ABC issue…As you know, we’re broadcast in over two hundred countries, so then we’re dealing with broadcasters all around the world who have preset broadcast windows. So, then it creates enormous issues for them. On top of that, we have roughly a thousand credentialed media who come to the finals, many of them from outside of the United States who, well of course they don’t know exactly what city they’re going to be in, they fly into New York or L.A. depending where they’re coming from and then fly from there; and then there’s the hotels and other issues.

“So…for Disney, ABC/ESPN, it is difficult to move on short notice given they have other scheduled programming, but it wasn’t just an ABC issue… As you know, we’re broadcast in over two hundred countries, so then we’re dealing with broadcasters all around the world who have preset broadcast windows. So, then it creates enormous issues for them. On top of that, we have roughly a thousand credentialed media who come to the finals, many of them from outside of the United States who, well of course they don’t know exactly what city they’re going to be in, they fly into New York or L.A. depending where they’re coming from and then fly from there; and then there’s the hotels and other issues. So, you know ultimately there was a reason why we locked in the date and we decided to stick by it. 

“And lastly I’ll say especially when there’s no doubt that there’s some players that will be benefitted from the rest, I’m always reluctant mid-course to change a rule and so everyone knew going into these playoffs, all the teams, exactly when the finals would start. They knew if the conference finals series ended earlier, they would have that much rest coming up. So it felt strange, even though we had the conversation with ABC and ESPN and said, “If we wanted to, could we,” we talked to the buildings to see if they were available, but ultimately we decided we had made this decision a few years ago to lock it in, let’s stick with it. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think it will lead to better competition, because players on both teams need the rest.”

It will lead to a rusty first quarter/first half.  After all the build up to these Finals, the start may not be pretty.

But it did lead to better health. Klay Thompson will play. Kyrie Irving will not be 100 percent but he should be better.

Still, this break was too long. The NBA has the Finals everyone wanted to see, and they stalled out the momentum. Now they need to get it back.

Watch Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic dunk all over Bol Bol

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Bol Bol had some impressive blocked shots during exhibition games at the NBA’s restart, but he hadn’t gotten one in his 16 limited minutes since the seeding games started. He wanted one.

So Bol tried to get in front of Jusuf Nurkic of Denver on Thursday and… that did not go well.

Bol did later get a blocked shot on Hassan Whiteside.

Nurkic, however, ended the night with 22 points, seven rebounds, and the Trail Blazers got a 125-115 win that has Portland comfortably as the ninth seed, just half-a-game back of eight-seed Memphis. Portland is setting itself up with a better-than-average chance make the playoffs

Kawhi Leonard’s 29 leads Clippers past Mavericks in potential first-round preview

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points to help the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Dallas Mavericks 126-111 on Thursday night in a possible playoff preview.

Paul George scored 24 points and Ivica Zubac added 21 points on 10-for-10 shooting and 15 rebounds for the Clippers, who strengthened their hold on the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference standings.

The Clippers entered the night a just half game ahead of Denver, but they shot 54% against the Mavericks to improve to 2-2 in the restart.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 30 points and Luka Doncic added 29 for Dallas, which fell to 1-3 in the restart.

Dallas likely will finish as the No. 7 seed, making a first-round matchup with the Clippers a strong possibility.

“That’s obviously going to be a tough matchup,” Porzingis said. “They’re one of the favorites to win it all. They have multiple guys that have been there already. But we’re looking forward to the challenge and getting experience in that.”

Doncic was coming off a monster game — 34 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. He made 10 of 21 shots against the Clippers, including 6 of 13 3-pointers.

“Luka’s just a handful,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “It takes a whole team to guard him. I thought our guys did a pretty good job overall. We lost him a couple times, which you can never do. So there’s a lot of room for improvement.”

The Clippers led Dallas by 12 in the third quarter before the Mavericks rallied and tied the game at 101 midway through the fourth. Los Angeles responded with a 9-0 run to regain control. The Clippers shot 62% in the fourth quarter to pull away.

“I just liked how we played overall,” Rivers said. “We played like a team tonight, on both ends.”

Though the Mavericks fell to 1-3 in the restart, Doncic remained confident.

“We’re a great team,” he said. “We’ve always got chances, no matter what. I think some people count us out, but we’re not out. We’ll give our max.”

Devin Booker says after latest Suns’ win ‘Kobe’s with me every day’

Devin Booker Kobe
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Devin Booker grew up a huge Kobe Bryant fan. When Booker made the league in 2016 he got to play against his idol and threw up 28 points on the night. Kobe was impressed. The two talked after the game and Kobe gave him an autographed pair of shoes with an inspirational message:

“Be Legendary.”

Booker took that to heart. He got the phrase as a tattoo. He’s been writing “Be Legendary” on his Nike’s before every game in the bubble. And after he scored 20 against the Pacers Thursday, helping the Suns remain undefeated for the restart, he said Kobe is still inspiring him every day.

“Kobe’s with me every day. You guys see what I put on my shoes with the ‘Be Legendary.’ It’s a reminder.”

Whatever he’s doing, it is working. Booker hit a Kobe-like turnaround game-winner to beat the Clippers. He’s averaging 28 points and 6.5 assists a game for the restart, and shooting 40% from three. Defenses are keying on him, but with a healthy Deandre Ayton and other players stepping up — Cameron Johnson has been a surprise standout in Orlando — the Suns look sharp and keep on winning.

Kobe would be proud.

Giannis Antetokounmpo drops 33 on Heat, Bucks secure No. 1 seed

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton scored 33 points each, and the Milwaukee Bucks overcame a huge early deficit to get a 130-116 win over the Miami Heat on Thursday to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Heat led by as many as 23 points in a first half where the team piled up 73 points despite playing without Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic. Miami cooled off after the break and the Bucks took the lead in the third quarter but were down by 6 to start the fourth.

Antetokounmpo, the favorite to win his second MVP award, sat out about five minutes of the fourth quarter after collecting his fifth foul with 11 minutes to go. Milwaukee trailed by 1 with about five minutes remaining before using a 20-0 run, with three dunks from Antetokounmpo, to make it 130-111 with less than a minute to go and cruise to the victory.

Antetokounmpo and Middleton played 30 and 34 minutes respectively after the stars both sat out the entire second half of their last game on Tuesday.

Duncan Robinson had 21 points for the Heat, who lost to Milwaukee for the first time this season after winning the first two meetings.

The Heat led by 6 with about 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter when Antetokounmpo picked up his fifth foul on a charge and headed to the bench. Andre Iguodala made a 3 for Miami before the Bucks scored the next 13 points, capped by a 3 from Bledsoe, to take a 107-103 lead with about seven minutes remaining.

Robinson made a 3-pointer to end a scoring drought of almost four minutes for Miami with about 6 ½ minutes to go and Antetokounmpo re-entered the game soon after that.

The Heat led by 12 with about 10 minutes left in third quarter before Milwaukee used a 16-3 run to take an 82-81 lead with five minutes left in the quarter. Antetokounmpo and Wesley Matthews each had five points each in that span to help close the gap.

The Bucks cut the lead to 3 with a dunk by Antetokounmpo late in the third. But the Heat wrapped up the quarter with a 5-2 spurt to take a 98-92 lead into the fourth.