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Ten NBA Games to stream — classic and from this season — during hiatus

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Even binge-watching can get old.

While sheltering in place you started to rewatch Breaking Bad, which led into Better Call Saul. Next, you rewatched the best episodes of The Office. You sat with your loved one and worked through the highlights of the Marvel Comics Universe films again so your significant other would finally fully understand Endgame. You even tried Peaky Blinders.

Now it’s time to bring basketball back into your life.

The NBA may be on hiatus but it has opened up League Pass to everyone for streaming during the break. Our own Dan Feldman has found the best way to access all the content is to go to this schedule, click the box score of your desired game, then “NBA LEAGUE PASS” to the right of the quarterly scores. Then click “Watch” in the upper middle of the next page. The league also has posted sixty-five classic games that you can watch here.

What games should you watch? Here are my 10 suggestions:


Chicago at Cleveland
May 7, 1989, a 101-100 Bulls win

Michael Jordan, at his peak, hits “the shot” over Craig Elho in one of the iconic MJ moments. Jordan had 44 points and dominated the game, although Elho had 24 off the bench and the Cavs would not have been in the game without his play. (The Bulls would go on to lose in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Bad Boy Pistons, that happened for a few years in a row.)

Toronto at LA Lakers
Jan. 22, 2006, a 122-104 Lakers win

Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game. What people tend to forget about this game is Kobe had to go off to give these Lakers — who started Smush Parker, Kwame Brown, and Chris Mihm — a chance some nights. The Lakers were sluggish and down 14 at the half, but Kobe took over and won the Lakers the game with one of his iconic performances.

Cleveland at Golden State
June 19, 2016, a 93-89 Cavaliers win

This was the culmination of the 3-1 Cleveland comeback in these NBA Finals, the game where Kyrie Irving hit the game-winning three, Kevin Love played good defense when it mattered, and LeBron James secured his legacy. A lot of the great Warriors Finals games are available to stream, too, but the emotion and epic plays in this game make it an all-time classic.

Oklahoma City at Portland
April 23, 2019, a 118-115 Trail Blazers win

Damian Lillard sparks a 15-point Trail Blazer comeback in the final eight minutes (CJ McCollum had a lot to do with that, too) then ends the Russell Westbrook era in OKC with a shot from the logo as time expires. Then he waves goodbye. It was Lillard’s iconic moment and an intense game worth watching again.


LA Lakers vs. LA Clippers:
Christmas Day, a 111-106 Clippers win
March 8, a 112-103 Lakers win

These are two of the three best teams in the NBA (Milwaukee has its hat in the ring, too), and their meetings have been some of the best games this season. On Christmas Day Kawhi Leonard looked every bit the Finals MVP, getting to his spots and dropping 35, then the Clippers held on late with a defensive stand where Patrick Beverley knocked the ball out of LeBron James’ hands. Then on March 8, LeBron made his MVP case with a masterful game and Anthony Davis stepped up with a huge night. Whatever format the NBA playoffs ultimately take this season, we need these to teams facing off.

LA Clippers at Boston
Feb. 13, 2020, a 141-133 2OT Celtics win

A double-overtime thriller that was maybe the most entertaining game of this season, this was Jayson Tatum‘s breakout game. Tatum went mano a mano with Kawhi Leonard and was the better player that day, scoring 39 points on 14-for-23 shooting.

Philadelphia at Miami
Dec. 28, 2019, a 117-116 OT Heat win

Jimmy Butler — wearing those awesome Miami Vice throwbacks — taking on his former team in the 76ers was one of the season’s classics. Joel Embiid was the best player on the court, scoring 35 and pulling down 11 boards, but a balanced Miami attack with seven players in double figures played too much. Butler himself hit the dagger free throws in OT.

Brooklyn at Memphis
Oct. 27, 2019, a 134-133 Grizzlies win

Ja Morant is going to win Rookie of the Year (Zion didn’t play in enough games, sorry, availability is still the best ability), and this was his breakout game. He scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and then blocked Kyrie Irving’s attempt at a game winner. Morant has been special this season and deserves the ROY trophy.

Portland at New Orleans
Feb. 11, 2020, a 138-117 Pelicans win

Zion Williamson came into the NBA with unreasonable expectations — then exceeded them. He instantly became must-watch television. Check out arguably his best game, a 31 point, nine rebound, five assist performance (in fewer than 28 minutes), as he sparks a dominant third quarter and comeback win for the Pelicans.

Portland’s Damian Lillard named seeding games MVP

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The NBA restart bubble gave us surprises — from the Suns going 8-0 and almost making the playoffs, to the much-hyped Pelicans going an ugly 2-6 — but one thing we knew going in rang true:

Damian Lillard can light it up.

His dominating performances lifting the Trail Blazers to the West play-in game made him the unanimous choice for Seeding Games MVP. The NBA announced the All-Seeding Games teams on Saturday (these awards are based only on the eight seeding games). The awards were voted on by media members in the bubble for the seeding games.

Lillard led the bubble in scoring at 37.6 points per game, but what won him the MVP was his performance in the final three games when his team needed it to qualify for the play-in — 61 points, then 51, then 42 in the final seeding game. Lillard was the emotional leader who set the tone for his team and refused to let them lose. That is an MVP.

Lillard was the unanimous first choice for MVP. Phoenix’s Devin Booker finished second, followed by Indiana’s T.J. Warren, Dallas’ Luka Doncic, and Houston’s James Harden.

Here are the All-Seeding Games teams:

Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers) Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)
Devin Booker (Suns) Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
T.J. Warren (Pacers) Kristaps Porzingis (Mavericks)
Luka Doncic (Mavericks) Caris LeVert (Nets)
James Harden (Rockets) Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets)

DeMar DeRozan of the Spurs and Paul George of the Clippers were the players who finished with the most votes just out of the running.

New Orleans Pelicans fire head coach Alvin Gentry

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No team entered the NBA restart bubble in Orlando with the buzz of the New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson was back, they had an All-Star in Brandon Ingram and solid veterans such as J.J. Redick and Jrue Holiday around them. With all that, no team was as disappointing in the bubble as the Pelicans, who went 2-6. They looked like they were going through the motions, and all season long were less than the sum of their parts.

Saturday New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry paid the price for that and was fired, the team announced. The story was broken by Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez of ESPN and soon after confirmed by the organization.

It was not a surprise. Gentry was considered on shaky ground before teams flew to Florida and the disappointing play of his team while there led to team VP of basketball operations David Griffin making the change. (A sitting coach is always on shaky ground when the management above him changes, as happened with Gentry.) While Zion was not in the bubble the entire time, this is still a talented roster, one that came out like it was just going through the motions, with Lonzo Ball reportedly having checked out. No one seemed focused on the opportunity to make the postseason. That attitude is why the Pelicans fired their coach.

“I want to thank Alvin for his contributions to the Pelicans and the New Orleans community,” Pelicans Owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. “We believe that making a head coaching change is necessary at this time. I truly appreciate Alvin’s leadership, dedication and perseverance through some challenging circumstances over the past five seasons. He will always be a part of our Pelicans family, and we wish him and his family all the best in the future. Our intention moving forward is to find the right head coach that will guide this Pelicans team to compete for championships. That is what our fans deserve.”

Clippers lead assistant Tyronn Lue and Lakers lead assistant Jason Kidd — two veteran coaches who are considered player-friendly — were mentioned as potential replacements by ESPN and Marc Stein of the New York Times. Lue and Kidd have both been mentioned in connection with the open Brooklyn Nets coaching job. Both also are in the Orlando bubble with their respective teams as the playoffs are about to begin (and both likely will be there for a while). Another name to watch is current Rockets’ coach Mike D’Antoni, who is not expected to be brought back with the Rockets and favors the kind of up-tempo system that would suit Zion. n

The challenge with big-name replacements in New Orleans is money — this is the smallest market in the NBA and ownership has been hit hard by the economic slowdown in the wake of the coronavirus. Lue, Kidd, and D’Antoni will be expensive and demand five-year contracts. The Pelicans could look at seasoned assistant coaches who have not yet held a top spot — Sam Cassell, Ime Udoka, and there are many others — who could do the job and come at a price more within their budget.

The key for whoever gets the head coaching job is to form a strong bond with Zion, the future of the franchise, and figure out how to get the most out of him.




Portland, Memphis where they want to be as play-in series tips-off

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Heroics were needed to get Portland and Memphis on the doorstep of the playoffs.

For the Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard averaged more than 50 points — with a shot from a step inside midcourt in there as one of his many highlights — to lead the way in three consecutive down-to-the-wire, season-on-the-line victories.

For the Grizzlies, Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas became the first teammates in Memphis history to post triple-doubles in what turned out to be a must-win game as well.

And now, the mission isn’t done yet for either club. Portland and Memphis meet Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern) in Game 1 of the Western Conference play-in series. The Trail Blazers have the upper hand by finishing the seeding-game portion of the NBA’s restart ahead of the Grizzlies. Portland needs one win, Memphis needs two to advance to a first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“We’re where we want to be,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “And so, I don’t think anybody’s over the moon right now. We know that we’ve got a tough opponent in Memphis, so there was no time to really celebrate.”

Had the Blazers lost any of their last three games, they could be home already. Lillard has scored 51, 61 and 42 points, respectively, in those three games — and had to sweat out a last-second shot by Brooklyn in a one-point Portland win on Thursday night that determined their play-in fate.

“I think mentally I’ll be fine,” Lillard said. “I think physically, it’ll obviously be some fatigue here. But I think it won’t be as hard as you might think because there’s a lot riding on these games. Every game that we’ve been playing, our last three or four games, has been like our season is on the line.”

The Grizzlies came into the restart at Walt Disney World in control of the play-in race, then sputtered before winning the game they needed to on Thursday against Milwaukee to clinch a spot.

Morant said he remembers when the Grizzlies were ranked 27th coming into the season in a 30-team league. He’s used that slight as fuel ever since.

“Now look at us,” Morant said. “Being that underdog doesn’t matter to us at all. We love being the underdog. It’s just extra motivation, fuel to the fire. It just makes our success even better, coming in and being the underdog.”

Game 2, if necessary, will be Sunday. The series for the play-in winner against the Lakers begins Tuesday.

Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell expected to play Monday against Dallas

Montrezl Harrell play
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When the Clippers take the court Monday for their first playoff game in the bubble, going against Luka Doncic and a dangerous Mavericks’ team, Montrezl Harrell will be suited up and ready to play.

The Clippers’ Sixth Man of the Year candidate, who excused from the bubble due to the death of his grandmother and missed all eight seeding games, will be out of quarantine and cleared to play, report Adrian Wojnarowski and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

Doc Rivers said he plans to play Harrell against an active Dallas front line.

“I’m just going to throw him in there, he’s earned that right,” Rivers said. “The challenge will be just how ready he is. I don’t know if I have ever had a guy that hasn’t played in eight games or whatever and hasn’t had any practice and we’re just going to throw him out on the floor in a playoff game. We’re hoping that at this point.”

Harrell came off the bench to average 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds a game for the Clippers this season. Harrell was often part of the Clippers closing lineup this season because of his improved defense, but he always brought relentless energy off the bench that lifted the Clippers nightly. The Harrell/Lou Williams pick-and-roll remains one of the smoothest and most dangerous in the league.

Harrell also gives Doc Rivers a lot of versatility and options on how to close games — the Clippers can go big, go small, and do either well. They will need that against a Dallas team that rolls out a front line of Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and former Clipper Boban Marjanovic.

Not having Harrell for eight games in the bubble added to that versatility, Rivers said.

“We got to play JaMychal [Green] at the five far more than we ever thought we would. We needed to work on that because he’s such a floor spacer,” Rivers said. “We got way more work on that than we thought, but we actually liked it.”

Expect to see more of that — and some Harrell — against Dallas starting Monday.