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Raptors coach Dwane Casey on Matthew Dellavedova’s Game 1 screens: ‘A lot of them weren’t legal’

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The Raptors lost yet another Game 1, falling 97-83 to the Bucks on Saturday. Toronto’s biggest problem was scoring, especially by its stars. Kyle Lowry (2-for-11, including 0-for-6 on 3-pointers) and DeMar DeRozan (7-for-21, including 0-for-2 on 3-pointers) were, in what has become a concerning playoff trend for those two, lousy.

But Raptors coach Dwane Casey turned attention to another culprit: Matthew Dellavedova‘s screens.

Casey, via Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun:

“He’s not in our minds,’’ began Raptors head coach Dwane Casey on Dellavedova. “I mean, I didn’t go to bed last night worrying about Dellavedova. No, not at all. I was worried about the Milwaukee Bucks, not him.

“But he did set 18 screens and we did talk about them and looked at them and a lot of them weren’t legal. But again, hats off to him. Credit him. Now we’ve got to make sure we counter that and make the officials make a decision. The officials were saying that we’re not hitting him or running into him or whatever. So we have to make sure we have a confrontation and make the officials (see it).

“He’s one of the great screen-setters in the league, just like John Stockton was, so there’s no disrespect in saying that. It’s a respect factor for Dellavedova that he does set hellacious screens.”

“Yeah, they (officials) feel like they are legal, but you look at them in slow time and believe me they are moving, they are grabbing, they are holding. But again, that’s his M.O., and he set a precedent with it and they are not calling it.

“Now we have to make sure we set screens the same way and we show the officials those videos. Again, it’s a credit to him that he sets screens that way and gets away with it and it helps them execute what they want to do.”

Dellavedova, via Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“All people set illegal screens in the NBA,” Dellavedova said. “If you follow it to the letter of the law, the rule is that your feet have to be inside your shoulders. I mean big men are always kind of setting it wide. That’s just how it is.

“You have to be smart and adjust to what the refs are calling.”

I thought Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker might alleviate Toronto’s years-long postseason funk, but the Raptors are down once again and sound lost. It’s almost comical to hear Casey try to convince everyone – maybe including himself – that he’s not worried about Dellavedova. Everything the coach said after indicates he is.

That said, maybe Casey is just trying to take attention off his struggling stars. Lowry and DeRozan have taken major steps back in the playoffs the last two years, and another poor start only intensifies the pressure. Casey might be trying to protect them.

Either way, I got a kick out of Dellavedova essentially admitting Casey was right. Another fun response came from DeRozan. Lori Ewing of CBC Sports:

DeMar DeRozan laughed when asked about the legality of Dellavedova’s screens.

“If you pay my fine, I’ll answer that question. Will you?” DeRozan asked.

“I probably can’t,” the reporter answered.

“OK, so next question,” said DeRozan.

Unstoppable Meyers Leonard drops 25 on Warriors in first half (VIDEO)

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Stephen Curry had an I-don’t-want-to-play-Game-5 kind of first half for Golden State, scoring 25 points and hitting 5-of-7 from three.

However, he was the second best player on the court because Meyers Leonard held that crown.

Yes, Meyers Leonard.

He had 25 points of his own on 10-of-12 shooting.

Fans broke out a “Mey-ers Leon-ard” chant.

All that had Portland up 69-65 at the half in a defense-optional Game 4 where it is win-or-go-home for the Trail Blazers.

Knicks Frank Ntilikina reportedly wants to be traded, switches agents

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When the Knicks acquired Emmanuel Mudiay last season — a player Denver just released outright — Mudiay instantly jumped past Frank Ntilikina on the point guard depth chart. Then, when the Knicks traded for Dennis Smith Jr. at the deadline (part of the Kristaps Porzingis deal), the future of Ntilikina in New York was thrown into uncertainty.

Ntilikina sees that, wants out, and is getting a new agent as well, reports Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina dropped CAA as his agency last season and planned to sign with French agent Bouna Ndiaye, the Daily News has learned.

Ntilikina, who was drafted eighth overall by Knicks in 2017, is on the trading block and desires a relocation, a source told the News. The Knicks declined offers to move Ntilikina at the trade deadline in February, acquired another point guard in Dennis Smith Jr., and Ntilikina quickly decided to change agents.

Ndiaye represents several French players in the NBA, including Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier.

The Knicks are expected to try to trade Ntilikina, either at the draft or next summer. Mostly other teams will view him as a way to save money — if teams do not pick up his 2020-21 option by Oct. 31 he comes off the books after this next season — but also Ntilikina played good defense and other teams may try to take a flier on him.

Andre Iguodala out for Game 4 against Portland with sore calf

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Andre Iguodala was limited in Game 3 in Portland, playing just 18 minutes Saturday night, none after he was taken out with 7:49 left in the third quarter. An MRI on his left calf Sunday came back clean, but he was questionable with leg tightness, officially. Call it a sore calf if you prefer.

Up 3-0 in the series, there was no reason to risk something worse in Game 4, so Iguodala is out, coach Steve Kerr announced pregame.

Alfonzo McKinnie will start in place of Iguodala.

Iguodala joins Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins on the Warriors bench for Game 4.

If there is a Game 5, it will be Wednesday night in the Bay Area.

With the NBA Finals not starting until May 30 — a week from this Thursday — the Warriors have plenty of time to rest and get their starters healed before taking on a serious challenger from the East (whether that is Milwaukee or Toronto). The Warriors have used their depth against Portland to help keep minutes down for their starters and Kerr will lean on that bench to close out the series in the next couple of games.

Report: Rockets, Mike D’Antoni talking contract extension

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Mike D’Antoni, the father of the seven seconds or less system that started a revolution of NBA style, has changed in recent years. In Houston, with James Harden at his peak and this specific roster around him, D’Antoni now coaches an isolation-heavy team that has pushed the NBA envelope in other ways, particularly in trusting the three ball.

D’Antoni fits with Daryl Morey, and the sides have started talking contract extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Houston Rockets and coach Mike D’Antoni have had preliminary discussions about the framework of a contract extension that would keep the two-time NBA Coach of the Year from entering the final year of his deal…

“I’ve let [general manager] Daryl [Morey] and [team owner] Tilman [Fertitta] know that I’m energized to keep coaching — and believe that I can continue to do this at a high level for at least another three years,” D’Antoni, 68, told ESPN on Sunday night.

“I want to be a part of a championship here.”

This is the smart move, he is a part of what has made the Rockets such a success in recent years.

The Rockets should look for roster upgrades this summer but they should not be blowing things up. The Rockets were the second best team in the NBA last season and may have been again by the playoffs this season (it depends on where you want to put Milwaukee and Toronto in that ranking, but the Rockets were in the mix). Houston’s problem has been a historic dynasty in Golden State, but that could look very different next season. If the Warriors take a step or two back, for whatever reasons, Houston is poised to pounce. They will be contenders.

D’Antoni is a part of that, and the Rockets need to keep one of the best coaches in the game in house.