Reggie Jackson scores 39 points, Pistons clinch playoff spot

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Reggie Jackson and Aron Baynes pushed the Detroit Pistons into the playoffs.

Jackson had 39 points and nine assists, Baynes hit eight fourth-quarter free throws and the Pistons clinched their first postseason spot in seven years with a 112-99 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.

“This is huge, especially to give all of our other starters a chance to finally make it,” Jackson said.

He then pointed to coach Stan Van Gundy.

“It’s also great for Coach,” Jackson said. “In two years, he’s turned this whole franchise around, and that’s why we made sure he was part of the celebration.”

Andre Drummond started the post-game festivities by dumping an ice tub over Van Gundy, and that made it open season.

“We were getting him with bottles of water, ice bags and anything we could find,” Jackson said. “He’s the one who got us here.”

Van Gundy was in a sweatsuit by the time he made it to his post-game press conference.

“Thank God it was only ice water,” he said. “This is a special year for me, because it is the first time for our ownership, the first time for four of our starters, and the end of a long drought for the people that have been with this organization for a long time and seen some great moments. They’ve been waiting to get back.”

Detroit’s last playoff berth came in 2009 when it was swept in the first round by LeBron James and Cleveland. The Pistons will either face James and the Cavaliers again or play second-seeded Toronto.

“Those are two great teams, and I don’t care which one we play,” Van Gundy said. “I just want to finish seventh, because it is better than eighth.”

Detroit had to overcome 29 points from Markieff Morris, who did everything possible to keep twin brother Marcus out of the postseason. Bradley Beal added 25 for the Wizards, who were eliminated by the loss.

“It’s tough to miss out with the talent we have on this team.” Markieff Morris said. “We didn’t have our best player (John Wall), and their best player stepped up for them.”

Marcus Morris had 17 points and nine rebounds in the clincher.

The Wizards had come back from 19 down to take the lead early in the fourth quarter, but Jackson continued to attack on offense. He helped the Pistons take a 100-94 lead with five minutes left, and clinched the game two minutes later.

After grabbing a defensive rebound away from Markieff Morris, Jackson drove the length of the court and hit a jumper. His free throw to finish the three-point play made it 103-96 with 2:45 left.

That brought the crowd to its feet, where they stayed as the Pistons ran out the clock.

Knowing what was at stake, even coach Stan Van Gundy couldn’t be sure if his team would come out relaxed or pressing to finish things off. The question was answered when they hit their first six 3-point attempts, three by Harris, to take a 39-25 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Pistons moved the margin to as many as 19 early in the second quarter, but their outside shooting dried up just as the Wizards started getting to the basket. Washington scored 20 points in the paint in the second as Drummond struggled to protect the rim.

“You have to give them credit – they came out and shot the lights out in the first quarter,” Wittman said. “After that, we did a good job of taking away the 3-point shot, and we never had an answer for Reggie Jackson.”

The Wizards were down 62-55 at the half, and a 20-point third quarter by Morris, capped off by a 50-foot buzzer-beater, pulled Washington within 86-84 with 12 minutes left.

“I was waiting for Coach to switch me onto him,” his brother said. “He had it going, but I know all his moves.”

A dunk by Morris put Washington up 89-88 with 10 minutes to play, and the Wizards got Andre Drummond out of the game with an intentional foul. He missed both free throws badly — the second was an air ball – and Van Gundy immediately yanked him.

Drummond spent the rest of the game at the end of the bench. He didn’t join team huddles and didn’t celebrate with his teammates down the stretch.

“I gave him a chance, but he missed the first two, and I had a better option on the bench,” said Van Gundy, who dragged Drummond into the post-game celebration. “He’s really frustrated with the whole thing, having to come out of the game. This is a kid who is an All-Star, and he can’t help his team because of one thing he does poorly.”

TIP INS

Wizards: Even with the playoffs on the line, John Wall was forced to sit out the game with a sore left knee. … Markieff Morris’ 20-point third quarter was the biggest of the season by a Wizards player.

Pistons: Paul George had a 21-point quarter against the Pistons on Jan. 2, while Anthony Davis had two 19-point quarters in his 59-point game at the Palace on Feb. 21.

 

Doc Rivers failed to deliver in playoffs for Clippers

Former Clippers coach Doc Rivers
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Listen to all the praise being heaped upon Doc Rivers – as both a coach and person – in the aftermath of his firing. He has earned that. It’s why he’s already in demand for openings around the league.

But it’s impossible to ignore his teams repeatedly falling short in the postseason.

The Clippers hired Rivers specifically for his ability to win deep in the playoffs. He guided the Celtics to the 2008 championship and back to the 2010 NBA Finals. For a downtrodden franchise like the Clippers, getting Rivers looked like a coup.

In Rivers’ seven seasons, the Clippers averaged winning 63% of their regular-season and seeding games. There have been 152 seven-year stretches that good in NBA history.

All of them produced at least five playoff-series victories.

Except the Clippers of this era.

Rivers’ Clippers won just three postseason series in seven years.

Rivers didn’t even emphasize the regular season. He often eschewed practice to keep his players fresh. And his teams still won so many regular-season games, which speaks to the Clippers’ star power.

Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and  DeAndre Jordan then Kawhi Leonard and Paul George – Rivers’ teams were loaded.

They also never advanced past the second round.

Of course, that requires more context.

Beating the Warriors in the 2014 first round looks even better in hindsight, considering Golden State turned into a dynasty. The 2015 Clippers-Spurs series, which L.A. won, had no business being in the first round with teams that good. The Clippers lost in the second round to the Rockets when Josh Smith and Corey Brewer – Josh Smith and Corey Brewer! – got hot on 3-pointers. The Clippers lost to the Trail Blazers in the 2016 first round after Chris Paul and Blake Griffin got hurt. Griffin got hurt again in a first-round loss to the Jazz the next year. The Clippers overachieved just to make the 2019 playoffs.

Maybe Rivers would’ve been the right coach for the Clippers in the 2021 postseason. New issues arise, and he already proved he can coach a team to a championship. The Clippers are taking a huge risk with this move.

But this year’s historic collapse against the Nuggets reflected particularly poorly on Rivers, who has now blown three 3-1 leads as a coach. The Clippers were disjointed – an issue that lingered throughout the season. His personnel and tactical decisions were suspect.

And – perhaps most importantly – there was no track record of success in L.A. to fall back on.

The Clippers’ problems weren’t all Rivers’ fault. The timing of his ouster, after his job appeared safe, raises questions.

But it might just be this simple: Rivers was hired to win in the playoffs. He didn’t.

Report: Doc Rivers was surprised to learn Clippers were ousting him

Former Clippers coach Doc Rivers
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The Clippers framed the conclusion of Doc Rivers’ coaching tenure as, “Doc Rivers Departs LA Clippers” and “Chairman Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers have reached a mutual decision that Rivers will step down as head coach of the LA Clippers.”

What really happened?

Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

people with knowledge of the situation said Rivers was surprised to learn the Clippers wanted to move on.

Internally, Rivers enjoyed support even after the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals. But ultimately, the sting from yet another disappointing end to a season prompted the change.

The Clippers suffered a historic upset by blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets. In a season with legitimate championship aspirations, the Clippers fell short of even the conference finals for a record 50th straight year.

Of course, the coach was going to face scrutiny for that collapse. And Rivers deserved plenty.

But once the smoke cleared, Rivers appeared safe.

What changed?

Despite the Clippers’ initial spin, it’s becoming increasingly clear Rivers got fired. Still, many questions remain about the shocking move.

LaMelo Ball not worried about where he gets drafted, “Anywhere is a great fit”

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Lavar Ball has his opinion. Always. When the patriarch of the Ball family went on the “Road Trippin'” podcast a couple of months ago, he said he didn’t want his youngest son, LaMelo Ball, drafted by the Warriors because he would have to come off the bench behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. “Michael Jordan didn’t come off the bench,” was his logic.

LaMelo Ball is about as interested in his father’s opinions as most 19-year-olds.

“I’m my own man. He’s his own man. He has his opinions, I have mine,” the younger Ball said of his father on Monday while speaking to reporters via Zoom as part of the NBA’s pre-draft process.

“I feel I could play on any team and do good anywhere I go,” Ball said. “Anything that happens, I’m positive.”

Ball is projected to be a top-five pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, scheduled for Nov. 18. Rumors have bounced around the league that if the Timberwolves keep the No. 1 pick they will select Ball to pair with D'Angelo Russell in the backcourt. The Warriors have the No. 2 pick, the Charlotte Hornets select third, followed by Chicago then Cleveland.

Ball spent a chunk of his time with reporters denying having had contact with many teams at the top of the draft, although he said he didn’t know about Minnesota. He did say he had contact with the Knicks, who pick eighth, adding they just wanted to get to know him as a person (outside the online persona). Ball will not be on the board when New York makes its pick (the Knicks could trade up to get him, all the teams at the top of the draft are listening to offers).

Ball’s consistent point was he could fit in with any team.

“Anywhere is a great fit,” Ball said. “It’s the NBA. You put me with good players, I feel like it’s even gonna be better.”

Ball said he has adapted to the unprecedented pre-draft process, in part because his path to the NBA is untraditional. He said he realized back when his father had him playing in Lithuania at 16 he was not going to have the more traditional route to the NBA that his brother Lonzo Ball had, but LaMelo embraced it. LaMelo spent last season playing in Australia before returning to the states to prepare for the draft.

“I feel like I am dealing with it well,” Ball said. “I kinda like it, that nobody has been through something like this, it’s kinda unique, like me… I’m one-of-one.”

For now, Ball is in the Detroit area working out, preparing for the draft. He said some of that Detroit toughness is rubbing off on him.

But he’s happy to bring that with him wherever he gets drafted.

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

2020 NBA Finals schedule
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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: Sept. 30, 9 p.m. (ABC)
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