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Backs against wall, Warriors saying all the right things

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The Golden State Warriors were saying all the right things Sunday before their practice leading up to Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

“But for us it’s just a matter of, can you win one basketball game right now?…” Stephen Curry said. “And if we focus on that mission, our history kind of speaks for itself in terms of being able to get that done. Just win one basketball game and then we’ll worry about the rest.”

“We have had our backs against the wall before with this same group. I mean, even last year, being down 3-2 [against the Houston Rockets],” Klay Thompson said. “Obviously, it’s a little more daunting being down 3-1, but usually when our backs are against the wall, we respond the best. So hopefully I’ll add another part to whatever legacy you want to carve out for me tomorrow.”

“We still got plenty to play for…” coach Steve Kerr said. “But the mood is good. We have an amazing opportunity and challenge. We’re going to do everything we can to meet that challenge. We’re excited about it.”

Draymond Green didn’t wait that long.

He made his speech in the locker room after the game, Kevon Looney told Sam Amick of The Athletic.

“Draymond gave a great speech,” Looney continued. “He made sure we had our heads up, said ‘Stay confident, know who we are. We didn’t get here by quitting and pouting or giving up. We always believe, and we’ve got a bunch of guys who have been underdogs and who have been counted out before.’ I think we’re going to embrace this challenge more. Everybody probably thinks we’re going to lose now. And being the underdog again, like we haven’t been in a long time, it’s fun. We’ll try to go out there and prove everybody wrong.

“This is a tough challenge. (Warriors coach) Steve (Kerr) always says, ‘There’s a reason we pour champagne on each other when we win a title. It’s hard. It’s not going to be easy. Nothing in the NBA is easy.’ Toronto is a great team. They’re hungry, but we’re capable of winning. We feel like we have the better team. We’ve just got to go out there and show it.”

All the right words are nice.

Playing with a newfound level of desperation and respect for their opponent is better.

Getting Kevin Durant back will mean more than any of that.

Whether that will be enough is the real question.

Brandon Clarke bullies Ian Mahinmi with monster dunk (video)

Brandon Clarke
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How wild is it that the Grizzlies have two rookies who can dunk like this?

After Ja Morant threw down a jump-out-of-your-seat jam over Aron Baynes a few days ago, Brandon Clarke just made Ian Mahinmi — a good rim protector — look helpless in Memphis’ win over the Wizards yesterday.

Add Jaren Jackson Jr., and the Grizzlies are onto something with their young core.

Patty Mills hits game-winner in Spurs’ NBA-record fourth straight OT game (video)

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.

But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.

Popovich, via ESPN:

“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.

And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.

 

Report: Luka Doncic might return to Mavericks within a couple weeks

Luka Doncic
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Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.

Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.

Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.

Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.

But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.

Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe out two weeks due to right fibula avulsion fracture

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The Milwaukee Bucks keep right on rolling, they won their 18th straight on Saturday night, cruising past the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they’re going to have to keep this winning streak going without point guard Eric Bledsoe.

Bledsoe will miss at least two weeks with a right fibula avulsion fracture, the team announced Saturday. The injury happened Friday night in a win against Memphis.

An avulsion fracture is where a strain to ligament pulls a little bit of bone off where the two connect. It sounds worse than it is medically, and while it hurts rest is usually the only treatment needed.

Bledsoe is averaging 15 points and 5.7 assists per game for the Bucks, shooting 34.4 percent from three, playing solid defense, and providing another ball handler and shot creator next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee has been +4.1 points per 100 possessions this season with Bledsoe on the court.

George Hill, who has had a strong season for Milwaukee off the bench, will step into the starting role for now.

The injury comes at a rough time as the Buck hit a tougher part of the schedule this week, facing Dallas (which may be without Luka Doncic) and the Lakers on Thursday.