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Andre Drummond says Blake Griffin is key in giving him confidence

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The amount of friendship between NBA players is sometimes overstated. When players are necessarily linked to each other, and unlikely to depart from their franchise anytime soon, fans like to impress upon them a closeness that might not actually exist.

Of course the other side of this is when players flat-out dislike each other but aren’t allowed to say as much thanks to the colors on their jersey restricting them from being truthful.

Chemistry is a hard thing to balance in the NBA, and some teams seem to always do it right. The San Antonio Spurs, up until the fiasco with Kawhi Leonard, appeared to have a 100% success rate with integrating players into their system and culture. Other teams always seem to be dysfunctional, like the New York Knicks.

Of course, LeBron James is learning just how hard it is to have a poor team culture while playing in the Western Conference this season. The Los Angeles Lakers are all but eliminated from the playoffs already.

When it comes to the Detroit Pistons, Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin were never guaranteed to be great pals either on or off the court. Griffin was traded by the Los Angeles Clippers to Michigan after signing a major contract, and some instability thereafter with the Pistons never guaranteed any kind of success. Although the Pistons just barely have a winning record, they are currently the sixth seed in the East.

Part of that success is due to the friendship between Drummond and Griffin, which was recently highlighted in a feature published to The Athletic by James L. Edwards III. Griffin, now in his ninth season has provided some crucial veteran leadership provided to Drummond, who is still just 25 years old.

Via The Athletic:

“With that play in Atlanta, to touch on that … I’ve never had someone do that for me before. It was actually a play for him, and he told Reggie to get out and gave it to me,” Drummond told The Athletic. “For him to do that just shows the confidence he has in me to score the ball on somebody and make the right play. And when I didn’t shoot the right shot, you know, he got on me, ‘You’re stronger than him. You need to go through him.’ The next possession I came down and dunked on him. With guys like that, guys that give me confidence, we give each other confidence throughout the game, too.”

This is such an interesting quote because of the reticence of stars in this age to admit that they aren’t the number one option, or the top dog, and that maybe, just maybe, they could occasionally use some help, however it may come. Many guys have such a misplaced alpha attitude, and that Drummond was both grateful for the final shot in one instance and happy to share that Griffin plays a part in pumping him up in another is pretty cool.

Of course the same type of attitude is apparent from Griffin here given that he decided to give Drummond the final shot rather than take a play that was drawn up for him, a stark contrast to a league where 60 players seem like they all think they deserve their own team (whatever that’s supposed to mean).

Drummond is under contract through next season, with a player option for next. We will at least get to see these guys together for another run at the Eastern Conference playoffs. I’m glad they seem to like each other so much.

Clippers stun Warriors by forcing rare Game 6

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The Warriors feel inevitable.

So, when the Clippers let a 15-point second-half lead dwindle away in the final minutes, the game and series appeared over.

Instead, Lou Williams responded with a personal 8-0 – including a four-point play – run that sparked L.A. to a 129-121 Game 5 win Wednesday. The last two teams to lose a home Game 5 while leading a series 3-1:

  • 2019 Warriors vs. Clippers
  • 2016 Warriors vs. Cavaliers

Golden State will try to avoid any more comparisons to those 2016 NBA Finals in Game 6 Friday. The Warriors have won both their games in L.A. in this series, but have dropped two in Oakland – more home losses than they had the previous two postseasons combined.

The Rockets took care of business earlier in the night, but Golden State didn’t clinch its place in the anticipated rematch. The Clippers just aren’t making it easy.

“It’s a little mix of arrogance and just hard work,” said Williams, who scored 33 points and dished 10 assists. “We have a lot of young guys. We have a lot of veterans, guys that want to prove their names. We were wrote off early on in the year, people saying we weren’t a good team. We take all of those things. We digest it, and we try to make as much as we can out of it. So, it’s shown in this series.”

These Clippers have such an awesome identity.

They easily could have cherished their 31-point comeback in Game 2 as their moment of the series. But they kept fighting.

Patrick Beverley (17 points, 14 rebounds and four assists) was everywhere. Montrezl Harrell (24 points on 11-of-14 shooting with a clutch block) controlled the paint. Danilo Gallinari (26 points) got rolling after a couple off games.

L.A. has already won more games (two) than anyone except Houston (which won three in last year’s Western conference finals) in a series against the Warriors since they added Kevin Durant.

Durant scored 45 tonight, but Golden State turned up its defensive intensity too late.

“Build from this game? This game sucked. We lost,” Klay Thompson said. “Let’s go win Friday. Let’s win big. Let’s freaking win by 30 like we’re capable of.”

Rockets set up rematch with Warriors

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Bring on the Warriors.

The Rockets did their part to set up a highly anticipated rematch by dispatching the Jazz 100-93 in Game 5 Wednesday. With a 4-1 series victory over Utah, Houston enters the second round to face the winner of Warriors-Clippers. Golden State leads 3-1 entering its own Game 5 tonight.

Houston pushed these Warriors harder than anyone has, falling just short in last year’s seven-game Western Conference finals. James Harden said he thinks about losing Games 6 and 7 every day.

Will the Rockets supplant Golden State this year?

Harden is better. Chris Paul is healthy. The Warriors – their veterans a year older, Kevin Durant‘s impending free agency causing more drama – look somewhat vulnerable.

But Golden State is still favored in the second-round series before even winning its first-round series. The Warriors have historic top-end talent, and that usually wins out in the playoffs.

It did for the Rockets against the Jazz.

Harden (26 points, six rebounds, six assists, four blocks and three steals) and Paul (15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals) weren’t great tonight. But they gave Houston enough considering Utah’s best player was Royce O'Neale (18 points on 8-of-13 shooting).

Donovan Mitchell (12 points on 4-of-22 shooting, including 0-for-9 on 3-pointers, with only one assist and five turnovers) had an awful game I doubt he’ll forget. His competitiveness and self-awareness are so impressive. I bet this only fuels him.

The Rockets are ready now.

They’ve won 24 of their last 29 games, going back to the regular season. They like to play a high-scoring style, but they’re versatile enough to adjust. P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela keyed a strong defensive performance tonight.

Houston probably won’t beat Golden State. But the Rockets have the opportunity they’ve desired for the last 332 days.

PBT Podcast: Looking ahead at the NBA playoffs second round

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Boston vs. Milwaukee. Philadelphia vs. Toronto. Houston vs. Golden State.

The first round of the NBA playoffs had plenty of emotion — just ask Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook — but it was short, with very possibly only one series going at least six games.

The second round? That’s not going to be so quick, and it is filled with even matchups that present a lot of questions.

Is this the Rockets’ year? They have the formula, can they execute it? The Bucks were the best team in the regular season, but can they carry that elite level into the second round against Boston? Is Toronto the team to beat?

Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports/Real GM/Celticsblog to look ahead at the second round, and even talk a little about what is next for Oklahoma City.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Sebastian Telfair convicted on gun charge, faces up to 15 years in prison

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Sebastian Telfair – a high school phenom from Coney Island, N.Y. – was the No. 13 pick in the 2004 NBA draft. He never lived up to the hype, but he still stuck in the NBA for 10 seasons, with the Trail Blazers, Timberwolves, Suns, Celtics, Clippers, Thunder, Raptors and Cavaliers.

He got arrested in 2017 for gun crimes and just his lost his trial.

TMZ:

Sebastian Telfair has been convicted of possessing a firearm … and could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Don’t assume Telfair will get the maximum sentence, but this is a serious conviction and will likely carry a serious sentence.