Getty Images

Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Warriors become fastest team ever to 50 wins

3 Comments

We know you spent most of Monday night trying to figure out what that ethereal music the Apollo 10 astronauts heard on the dark side of the moon was, so you didn’t watch any NBA games. That’s okay, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know from a Monday around the Association.”

1) Warriors become the fastest team to 50 wins in NBA history by beating Hawks.
 It got interesting. Atlanta became the latest team to make a big run on Golden State and force a response. Portland did it most of the game, but the 13-turnover third quarter for the Warriors put that game out of reach. The Clippers game seemed to be in garbage time until a 13-0 run late gave Los Angeles a chance to tie (the shot fell short). Then Monday night the Warriors were in complete control up 23 in the third quarter, when the Hawks went on a 33-6 run and took the lead. These lapses are a combination of factors. The Warriors have some mental vacations, they get bored it seems, but also teams are not just rolling over for them. Good teams that have pride. The result is the Warriors having to work hard for games where it felt like they were in control.

But in the end, the Warriors usually do bounce back. Golden State closed Monday’s game on a 23-10 run in Atlanta.

The result is almost always the same — Golden State gets the win, this time 102-92. The Warriors are now 50-5, the fastest team to 50 wins in NBA history. Golden State remains on pace to beat the 1996 Chicago Bulls’ win record of 72 games (they need to go 23-4 to do it).

Monday’s hero for the Warriors was Andrew Bogut. Yes, Bogut. He provided some physicality in the paint, blocked some shots, made smart passes on offense, and changed the tone for a Warriors’ team that had taken its foot off the gas. Yes, Stephen Curry was still doing Stephen Curry things — he had 36 points — but I’m telling you Bogut gets the credit here. Still, if you’re demanding your nightly ridiculous Curry highlight, here you go.

2) Channing Frye makes his debut for Cavaliers but Pistons spoil the day. Cavaliers fans got to see the guy they gave up Anderson Varejao for Monday night (not that much was expected of Channing Frye in his debut, he’s had basically no practice time with the team). Frye played nine minutes for the Cavaliers, missed both his threes, and looked like the new kid trying to fit in. He’ll find a more comfortable groove.

As a whole the Cavaliers looked flat Monday, none more so than LeBron James who shot 5-of-18 on the evening. The Cavaliers were on the second night of a back-to-back, but so were the Pistons who played with far more energy all game. Maybe the best example was in the final minute, when down eight LeBron James used his strength to bully his way to the rim on a drive, the ball cradled in his arms — and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ripped the ball out of his hands, then went the length of the court for the dagger layup. Ballgame. Chalk it up to just an off night for the Cavs, they just don’t want to have too many of those.

3) Giannis Antetokounmpo finishes the off-the-backboard alley-oop. Yes, it still counts if you do it against the Lakers’ defense. The Bucks picked up a win and the Greek Freak had maybe the highlight of the night.



4) Pistons void Donatas Motiejunas trade with Rockets over concerns about his back.
Stan Van Gundy has coveted Motiejunas for years — a true 7-footer who can bang inside and is shooting 41.2 percent from three this season. He’s a perfect fit on paper for the inside-out offense Van Guyndy is trying to set up in Detroit.

But in reality, Motiejunas’ back (he’s had a couple of surgeries in the past year) is so bad that SVG and the Pistons decided to take a pass. They voided the trade made on the deadline day with Houston, something they are allowed to do if Motiejunas did not pass his physical. This is a real punch to the gut for the Rockets. First, they lose a top-eight protected first round pick in 2016 that was coming their way, now Houston may be without a first round pick this year. Second, the return of Motiejunas’ salary put them back above the tax line and make the Rockets tax payers again. Finally, that makes four guys that the Rockets tried to trade (Dwight Howard, Ty Lawson) or did trade (Motiejunas, Joel Anthony) who are now back in the locker room for the rest of the season. I do not envy J.B. Bickerstaff trying to coach this team.

5) Kyle Lowry puts up triple-double. Does it still count if Jose Calderon is guarding him? Kyle Lowry and the Raptors went into Madison Square Garden on Monday night and looked every bit the second best team in the East, with an unstoppable backcourt led by Kyle Lowry. Going up against the porus defense of Jose Calderon, Lowry did what he wanted on the way to 22 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, and the Raptors picked up a comfortable win 122-95.

Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to lead peaceful protest

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Leave a comment

While many NBA players have spoken out on social media and attended rallies in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis Police, maybe none has been as vocal and active as the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown.

Saturday, he drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to lead a peaceful protest at the Martin Luther King National Historic Park.

Brown was joined by the Pacers’ Malcolm Brogdon.

View this post on Instagram

@malcolmbrogdon @jusanderson1

A post shared by جيلين براون (@fchwpo) on

Brown’s protest still had a run-in with Atlanta police.

This protest is one of many nationwide happening for a fifth straight night in the wake of the death of Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. That death happened not long after the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man killed while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood.

Derek Chauvin, the man pictured kneeling on Floyd’s neck — which he did for more than eight-and-a-half minutes — was fired from his job in the Minneapolis Police Department and was arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder.

Brown, like many nationwide, hope these protests and this frustration can be channeled into real change. Something this nation needs.

Pistons’ Dwane Casey’s says “we all have to be and do better” in wake of George Floyd’s death

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A lot of NBA players have spoken out about the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer. Stephen Jackson, a friend of Floyd’s, has been the most vocal. Recently players have spoken out about the racism they felt at other times in their lives.

Few have had the experience of Pistons’ coach Dwane Casey. He grew up in Kentucky during desegregation and was in the midst of some of the uglier days of our nation.

Casey released this statement in the wake of Floyd’s death.

“Fifty-four years ago I was an eight-year-old boy living in rural Kentucky when the schools were desegregated.  I walked into a white school where I was not wanted nor welcomed.  At that time there were no cell phones to record my treatment, no cable news stations with 24/7 coverage, no social media to record the reality of the situation or offer support nor condemnation.  But I can remember exactly how I felt as an eight-year-old child.  I felt helpless.  I felt as if I was neither seen, nor heard, nor understood.  As I have watched the events unfold in the days following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a city where I coached and once called home, I see how many people continue to feel those same feelings – helpless, frustrated, invisible, angry.

“I understand the outrage because it seems the list continues to grow: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd.  The injustices continue to mount and nothing seems to be changing.

“Fifty-four years later, my son is now eight years old and I look at the world he is growing up in and wonder, how much has really changed? How often is he judged on sight?  Is he growing up in a world where he is seen, and heard, and understood?  Does he feel helpless?  Will he be treated like George Floyd or Ahmaud Abrey?  What have we really done in the last 54 years to make his eight-year-old world better than mine was?  We all have to be and do better.

“We have to change the way we see and hear each other.  We have to work together to find solutions to make the justice system just.  Black, white and brown people have to work together to find new answers.   The only way we can stop the systemic problems that people of color have faced all our lives is through honesty and transparency.  We have to understand why people are at their limit at this moment.  It takes empathy, in its truest form.  It takes a culture shift, it takes action.  Let’s stop the injustice now.  Let’s not allow another generation to continue to live in a world where they are treated as unequal.  Now is the time for real change.”

Now is the time for change, but we need to act to make it happen, not just hope.

Jerry West: Lakers vs. Clippers NBA Finals “would be the ultimate competition”

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jerry West is a Lakers’ legend, a Hall of Fame player who led the franchise to its first championship, later helped put together the Showtime Lakers as the GM. He has a statue outside Staples Center and has a case for greatest Laker ever.

Right now, West is a consultant to Steve Ballmer and the Clippers.

If the NBA goes with a 1-16 seeding in its return, it sets up a potential Lakers vs. Clippers NBA Finals — and West wants to see it, he said on the Dan Patrick Show.

“For me, Dan, that would be the ultimate competition. I think in Los Angeles, they have so many Laker fans, my goodness. The enormous success that the Lakers have had over the years, they are a really good team now, two of the best players we’ve seen in a long time on one team. I think it would be incredible for the people in the west. I’m not sure how that would go over for the teams back east who want to see their respective teams get an opportunity to play.

“That would be a situation where I think it would be unbelievably competitive. It would be compelling. I don’t know how many teams in the same city have competed for a championship in any sport, much less the NBA. It would make a compelling story, but, in all likelihood, I think you’re going to see things that will be a little bit more normal.”

Some teams are pushing back again the 1-16 seeding, not because of this season when all the teams are in Orlando but because if it happens it would open the door to that seeding every playoffs (a lot of teams oppose it in a traditional season).

That hallway series between the Lakers and Clippers would lose some luster being played in a fanless building on the other end of the country (the Lakers would basically have seven home games, their fans have at least a 50/50 split at Clippers’ home games). However, in a league driven by star power, LeBron James and Anthony Davis vs. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George — with Patrick Beverley talking a lot of smack — would draw ratings.

One way or another, we need to see this series these playoffs.

 

GMs want more players, roster flexibility when NBA restarts games

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Leave a comment

If the NBA had polled general managers last summer — long before the coronavirus had upended our lives and the league — GMs would have wanted more roster flexibility and players. They want more options. It’s the default position for any GM.

However, throw in the coronavirus and the restart of the NBA coming in July, and those GMs see that flexibility as a must. That’s what they said in the GM survey given recently by the league, as reported by Tim Bontemps at ESPN.

One thing that achieved widespread consensus was the need for teams to have more flexibility with their rosters no matter how the league chooses to resume play. When asked if the playoffs should have expanded rosters or teams should have more of an ability to replace players sidelined by injury or illness, only two teams voted for neither option. Twelve voted for expanded rosters, and 16 voted for an increased ability to replace players who are injured or sick…

There also was a strong preference to add two-way players to playoff rosters — something that previously wasn’t the case. Only three teams said they would vote against adding two-way players to playoff rosters, while 19 said they would support it if rosters remain the same size. The eight other teams said they would support adding two-way players even if rosters expanded beyond 15.

In addition, 16 teams said they preferred that the league add two roster spots for the playoffs, while nine voted for one extra spot and five voted for three.

Making two-way players — guys already in the team’s system — available for the playoffs feels like a no-brainer for the league. Adding a roster spot so playoff teams could add a veteran at a position of weakness makes sense as well.

The reason the GMs want the flexibility is obvious — this is an unprecedented situation, the schedule will be condensed (with teams playing every other day), and it’s possible a player or players could be sidelined by the virus for a couple of weeks. Depth is going to matter to teams.

Expect the league to allow some modifications to rosters, and some of those may well carry over into next season.