Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Warriors just keep on winning, now fastest to 60

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Here’s what you missed Monday night while putting a business suit on a horse….

1) Another milestone as Golden State becomes fastest to 60 wins, remains undefeated at home. The injury to Andre Iguodala — out a few weeks with an ankle sprain — gave a lot of pause to the “Golden State will get to 73 wins” bandwagon. He’s a Sixth Man of the Year candidate because he stabilizes their second unit, and he’s a vital part of their “death line up” when they go small with Draymond Green at the five, providing great defense on the wing plus another ball handler and scorer. With three games against the Spurs, some other tough matchups, and a few back-to-backs still to come, going 14-3 the rest of the way was not going to be easy.

Make that 13-3 now as the Warriors steamrolled a struggling New Orleans team 125-107 Monday night. That has the Warriors at 60-6 on the season, they are the fastest team to 60 wins in NBA history and remain ahead of the Bulls’ pace.

Stephen Curry had 27 points on 16 shots, on a night he drained threes but also continues to finish in the paint (6-of-7). Klay Thompson added 18, while both Draymond Green and Marreese Speights had 14.

2) East playoff chase: Good night for the Bulls, not for Detroit. Chicago started the night out of the playoffs looking in, while Detroit held down the eighth seed in the East. The Bulls also had the daunting task of facing a good Raptors team and doing it without Pau Gasol — but with the return of Jimmy Butler and a huge 29-point night from Doug McDermott, Chicago got the upset win over Toronto, 107-105. That despite Drake getting in Justin Holiday‘s ear and forcing a five-second violation.

Detroit was facing the Washington Wizards, a team two games back of them and this was a chance for the Pistons to slam the door on the Wizards. Instead, Washington owned the game winning 124-81.

That puts Chicago back in the eight seed but in a virtual tie still with Detroit (Chicago is one game up in the loss column), and the Wizards are looming two games back still. Statistical site fivethirtyeight.com still gives the Pistons a 56 percent chance of making the playoffs, Chicago is at 35 percent, and the Wizards are hanging on at 17 percent.

3) West playoff chase: Good win for Mavericks, better one for Jazz.The Dallas Mavericks entered the night two games ahead of the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot in the West, but entering a brutal stretch of their schedule — the next six games are a gauntlet, and it started with the red-hot Hornets. But Dallas went into Charlotte and picked up the 107-96 upset win behind 24 points from Chandler Parsons (he’s played well of late) and 23 from Dirk Nowitzki. It’s the kind of win that improves a team’s odds of making the playoffs, and gives Dallas confidence heading into the next stretch.

Then Utah went out later that night on national television, without its leading scorer Gordon Hayward, and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 94-85. That is a huge win for the Jazz. Both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back, but on the fourth game of a road trip the Cavaliers’ legs seem tired, and they shot 10-of-42 from three — and against the massive front line of Utah it’s tough to make up for those buckets by driving the lane and scoring. Rodney Hood stepped up and had 28 points for Utah.

Because of Dallas’ brutal schedule the rest of the way, statistical site fivethirtyeight.com still has it as a 71 percent chance the Jazz catch and pass the Mavericks to get the final playoff spot in the West. But Dallas is not going to make that easy if they get more wins like this one.

4) Russell Westbrook with 12th triple-double of the season in Thunder win. Just another day at the office for Russell Westbrook: 17 points, 16 assists, and 10 rebounds as the Thunder handled the Trail Blazers 128-94. That is Westbrook’s 12th triple-double of the season, and he did it in 21 minutes of playing time.

5) Andrew Bogut with as bad a free throw as you’re going to see. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say the ball slipped out of his hands because Bogut is a career 55 percent free throw shooter — not good, but not this bad.

Later Bogut did show some range draining a three up against the shot clock.

Report: 76ers focused on Doc Rivers and Mike D’Antoni in coaching search

Former Clippers coach Doc Rivers and former Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni are 76ers candidates
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The 76ers appeared focused on Mike D’Antoni in their coaching search.

Then, Doc Rivers surprisingly became available.

The former Clippers coach met with the 76ers and is now in the center of the conversation.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

For the Sixers now, the focus is on Rivers and D’Antoni, a source told ESPN. A decision is expected this week.

Rivers would be an easier fit with this roster than D’Antoni, whose style doesn’t appear to work as well with both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Rivers also looks like he’d help Philadelphia take the next step.

But that seemed like it’d be true with the Clippers and wasn’t.

Tyronn Lue’s candidacy with the 76ers has clearly faded. Could he join the Clippers, Rockets or Pelicans? If Philadelphia hires Rivers, maybe D’Antoni still lands with the Pacers?

Rivers’ availability has definitely thrown a wrench in the coaching carousel.

Victor Oladipo denies trade rumor he wants out of Indiana

Victor Oladipo
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It was a trade rumor that kind of came out of nowhere — maybe more as a thought exercise for Celtics fans hoping to move on from Gordon Hayward — but it got traction: Victor Oladipo reportedly wanted out of Indiana.

Not true, Oladipo said.

Oladipo jumped on Instagram Live with rapper Fat Joe and shot down the rumors (hat tip Clutch Points):

“I’m a Pacer. I’m a Pacer…

“Those rumors on the internet, I don’t know where they’re coming from, I’m just focused on getting my knee right for next year.”

He said later in the interview he wants a ring, he wants “hardware” because that is needed to show you are one of the greats, and he would consider leaving the Pacers to get it. But that wasn’t a short-term thing. (Also, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, John Stockton, Elgin Baylor and a lot of other guys would like to talk with you about that attitude.)

Oladipo returned mid-season from his knee injury to a Pacers’ team that finished as the four seed in the East but got bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat.

Oladipo never quite returned to his All-NBA form after coming back from injury and averaged just 14.5 points a game in the 19 regular season games he did play. Oladipo is owed $21 million next season, the last year of his current deal.

Whether he wants out of Indiana or not, at $21 million and with questions about just what level of player he is post-injury, there is not much of a trade market for Victor Oladipo. Indiana more than likely runs it back under a new coach — who has yet to be chosen — and banks on a healthy Oladipo helping the team make the next step.

Adam Silver: Goal is to start next season in January, in team arenas

Adam Silver
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The NBA bubble — which has worked and gotten the league to the NBA Finals — may be a one-off.

The goal for next season is a January start with games being played in team’s arenas, even if fans are not yet filling the buildings, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in his annual address before Game 1 of the NBA Finals Wednesday.

“As for fans in seats, it’s certainly our goal, but it’s dependent on some additional advancements. Rapid testing may be the key here,” Silver said. 

Silver refused to be locked down to any details — most people around the league expect a February start, or later — and said the league might have to return to a bubble, or hybrid-bubble, for part of next season. However, he hoped testing and technology would allow NBA games in NBA buildings, with players going back to their homes at the end of the night.

This is dependent on rapid testing and where the virus is in our nation as we get into December and January than it is on a vaccine.

“Based on everything I’ve read, there’s almost no chance that there will be a vaccine, at least that is widely distributed, before we start the next season,” Silver said. “So I do not see the development of a vaccine as a prerequisite.”

The other part of starting next season is figuring out the league finances and setting a salary cap. The league’s revenue took a serious hit with around 20% of home games canceled, then the playoffs delayed and moved to a bubble. Silver said salary cap and other negotiations are taking place between the NBA and the players’ union. The league has set a date for the 2020 NBA Draft — Nov. 18 — however, the start of free agency, training camps, and the tip-off date for next season are still open and being discussed.

“I don’t have expectations of labor issues… I think while no doubt there will be issues and difficult negotiations ahead, I think we’ll work them out as we always have,” Silver said.

Those are the future. For now, Silver was clearly proud that the bubble worked and that there could be a lesson there for the nation.

“The basic protocols that we’re all following are working,” Silver said. “I mean, the testing is only needed to demonstrate that at this point. By wearing a mask, by exercising appropriate protocols, hand washing, appropriate cleanliness, et cetera, by maintaining physical distance… that’s what’s working.”

Also of note from Silver’s press conference, he was asked about there being just four Black head coaches in the NBA right now after Nate McMillan (Indiana), Alvin Gentry (New Orleans), and Doc Rivers (L.A. Clippers), all were let go (there are currently six open coaching jobs around the league).  Silver said he has had talks with teams that have had openings, making sure a diverse field of applicants is considered, but added the NBA has not thought of adding a “Rooney Rule” to the hiring process.

“I know we can do better,” Silver said.

 

NBA playoffs, Finals schedule 2020: Date, time, matchup for every game

2020 NBA Finals preview
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It may be five months after they were originally planned, but the NBA playoff schedule has reached the point the 2020 Finals are here.

It is down to the final two. There is LeBron James leading the Lakers against the team where he first won his ring. And then there is the gritty Miami team that nobody expected to be here — except themselves.

Here are a few notes on the NBA playoffs schedule 2020:

• The NBA is continuing to push the pace with games every other day — except for one two-day break between Game 4 and Game 5
Even more members of families for the players, coaches, and team staff are in the bubble for the Finals.

Here is the NBA playoffs schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern):

NBA FINALS

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat

Game 1: Lakers 116, Heat 98
Game 2: Oct. 2, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 3: Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)
Game 4: Oct. 6, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 5: Oct. 9, 9 p.m. (ABC)*
Game 6: Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)*
Game 7: Oct. 13, 9 p.m. (ABC)*
*If necessary.

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Conference Finals

Eastern Conference Finals

No. 5 Miami beat No. 3 Boston 4-2

Western Conference Finals

No. 1 L.A. Lakers beat No. 3 Denver 4-1

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Second Round results

Eastern Conference

No. 3 Boston beat No. 2 Toronto 4-3

No. 5 Miami beat No. 1 Milwaukee 4-1

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston 4-1

No. 3 Denver beat No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: First Round results

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat No. 8 Portland 4-1

No. 2 L.A. Clippers beat No. 7 Dallas 4-2

No. 3 Denver beat No. 6 Utah 4-3

No. 4 Houston beat No. 5 Oklahoma City 4-3

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee beat No. 8 Orlando 4-1

No. 2 Toronto beat No. 7 Brooklyn 4-0

No. 3 Boston beat No. 6 Philadelphia 4-0

No. 5 Miami beat No. 4 Indiana 4-0