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On night Warriors struggle from three they turn to defense to get Game 1 win over Jazz

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Stephen Curry was just 1-of-4 from three, while Andre Iguodala was 0-of-6, and the Warriors as a team shot just 7-of-29, or 24.1 percent, from beyond the arc. The Warriors biggest weapon was misfiring Tuesday night.

So Golden State relied on its defense.

The Warriors held Utah scoreless for more than the first four minutes of the game, and ultimately to an offensive rating of 100.8 points per 100 possessions, more than six points fewer than the Jazz’s regular season number. Utah shot just 31 percent from three. People seemed to forget that Golden State’s defense was 1.6 points per 100 better than Utah this season, but they won’t after Game 1.

That defense led to 29 transition points from the Warriors, which led to a fast start and eventually a comfortable 106-94 Warriors win over the Jazz Tuesday night. The Warriors now lead the series 1-0 with Game 2 on Thursday at Oracle.

It was a dominant performance from the Warriors, and the game posed a lot of questions for the Jazz they are not going to be able to answer. Utah defended the arc well, but Golden State pulled Rudy Gobert out on the perimeter and that left the paint open for backdoor cuts and more easy baskets for the Warriors. It also led to this.

Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 22 points, while Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson each had 17.

Gobert led the Jazz with 13, while Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood each had a dozen (although Hayward took 14.

It was a classic Warriors game in the sense that they played good defense most of the time, then relied on wild offensive runs to pull away. Utah did a good job trying to take away the three ball (again, the Warriors weren’t great from deep) but Golden State countered with backdoor cuts and other plays to get buckets inside. That plus the transition buckets was enough offense that the Warriors were putting up numbers despite a pace slower than they would have liked.

While the Golden State stars were good, when the team really took control of the game was runs at the start of the second and fourth quarters — when it was the Warriors’ bench in the game. It’s also when the Jazz sat Gobert and Hayward, leaving Utah struggling on both ends.

For Utah, there are things they can tighten up defensively for Game 2 — transition comes to mind — but if they don’t find a way to get some consistent offense this is going to be a short series. And the Warriors defense is not going to make getting buckets easy.

 

Markieff Morris cleared to play in Game 2, will start against Celtics

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After Game 1, Markeiff Morris called his second-quarter ankle sprain the worst of his career, so bad he thought he broke it.

Two days later, he’s playing on it. Which is forcing the Celtics to adjust.

Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports broke the news.

Morris tested his ankle pregame and decided he could make a go of it.

This had to make coach Scott Brooks happy — the Wizards need Morris in this series. In Game 1, the Wizards were +7 with him on the court. Boston likes to play small with Al Horford at the five, Morris allows the Wizards to match that lineup and hold their own. Morris also brings some toughness and attitude to the front court.

It forced Brad Stevens to adjust and start Amir Johnson.

Isaiah Thomas interviews son on how to stop John Wall, “get fast shoes”

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It’s gotta be the shoes.

In an adorable pregame “press conference” Boston’s Isaiah Thomas asked his son, Jaden, about how to stop John Wall. Jaden says he practices in his backyard, and “get fast shoes.” Oh, and “block his dunk.”

If Jaden’s dad can do that the Celtics will go up 2-0 in their second round series against the Wizards by the end of the night. If only it were that easy.

Wizards focus on stopping Celtics’ 3-pointers in Game 2

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BOSTON (AP) — Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks stated the obvious at his team’s practice on Monday.

“Their 3-point shooting is a problem,” Brooks said of the Boston Celtics, who tied a franchise record with 19 treys in Sunday’s 123-111 victory over the Wizards in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven is at TD Garden Tuesday night.

Back on May 3, 2002, the Celtics made 19 3-pointers in a 120-87 rout of the Philadelphia 76ers that clinched a best-of-five playoff series. On Sunday, Boston was 19 of 39 on its 3-pointers, including 10 of 19 in the second half and 4 of 6 in the fourth quarter.

“We have to do a better job of knowing which ones of those guys are shooters and make them put the ball on the floor,” Wizards guard John Wall, who had 20 points and dished out 16 assists in the loss, told reporters at practice.

“We can live with contested twos, we can live with contested shots at the rim, but to make spot-up threes … that’s what this team does. We know they’re going to shoot a lot and they (hit) more than what they shot in the regular season.”

Added fellow guard Bradley Beal: “We gave up 19 threes, on the road. … It’s just a matter of us defending, man.”

The Celtics became the first team this playoff season and the eighth ever to hit at least 15 treys in back-to-back games — nothing unusual for a team that lives and dies with the 3-pointer. They went 16 of 39 in their elimination win at Chicago on Friday night.

Isaiah Thomas went 5 of 11 from 3-point range in a 33-point, nine assist effort in Game 1 — all coming after he arrived back in town in the wee hours of the Sunday morning after attending his sister’s funeral. It was his third 30-point game out of seven in this season’s playoffs.

Thomas lost a tooth thanks to an inadvertent elbow from Washington forward Otto Porter, picked it up and went on to lead his team to the important win. On Monday, he was at the dentist having work done as his team practiced.

“He’s finishing up the dental work that he’s had,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said after practice. “It’s pretty significant as you can imagine. So he’s still in a dentist’s chair and will hopefully be able to come over later in the afternoon, kind of go through what we did (at practice), and go from there. But he did not practice.”

On Sunday, Thomas said he was going for a steal when he took the elbow that knocked the tooth out.

“I’ve taken a thousand hits like that and my tooth never came out,” Thomas said. “I always said pain is temporary. We’ll worry about it when the time comes.”

While Stevens knows he will have Thomas for Game 2, Brooks still can’t be sure forward Markieff Morris, who sprained his left ankle coming down on Celtics center Al Horford‘s foot after Horford fouled him, will be available.

“I’m playing tomorrow. It’s final,” said Morris, who didn’t practice Monday, sitting on the bench getting treatments. He said Horford apologized, telling him “My fault” after Morris went down after playing just 8:09.

Brooks said he will not have backup center Ian Mahinmi (calf) back until at least Friday’s Game 3 and indicated fellow big man Jason Smith, who played only nine minutes in Game 1 and has also been dealing with a calf problem, would get more minutes in Game 2.

“We just gotta do a better job of making things difficult for these guys. They can make shots. They’ve got guys that can score the ball,” Wall said. “Al Horford had a heck of a game. He’s basically their point guard when we trapped Isaiah — he gave the ball to Al and he did a great job finding teammates, making plays down the stretch.

“Even when we made runs, those guys made a barrage of threes.”

Horford, who didn’t have a point or a rebound and handed out one assist in the first quarter, just missed a triple-double. He finished with 21 points, a playoff career-high 10 assists and nine rebounds in the victory.

“He’s one of the best all-around bigs in the game,” said Brooks. “Top two or three passing big (man) in the league … and he shoots threes.”

Former Hawk Mike Scott cleared of drug charges by Georgia judge, return to NBA possible

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It looks like Mike Scott will get another chance to prove he belongs in the NBA.

Back in July 2015, Scott was arrested on felony drug possession charges along with his brother, Antonn. They were pulled over for a traffic stop (after allegedly trying to elude police), and were found to have marijuana and MDMA (Molly).

However, a Georgia judge granted the request of Scott’s attorney to not use the evidence found in the traffic stop because the pair were pulled over based on racial profiling, according to a report. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports has the details.

Banks County (Ga.) Superior Judge Currie Mingledorff II granted Scott’s motion to suppress evidence against the forward and his brother, Antonn Scott, largely based upon testimony and evidence that suggests a pattern of racial profiling by law enforcement in the county.

“In my 35 years of practicing law, this could be the worst case of racial profiling I have ever seen,” Steve Weiner, counsel for Mike Scott, told The Vertical. “Hopefully this will lead to Banks County, Georgia, re-evaluating their policies.”…

In an eight-page summation, the judge’s conclusions included that “sufficient articulable suspicion did not exist to uphold the stop of the Scott vehicle,” nor was there “probable” cause to arrest the brothers. The judge’s conclusions in the ruling also found that “the search of the vehicle was not proper,” and the sheriff’s department’s methodology “does trigger the exclusionary rule under the Equal Protection Clause.”

In essence, the judge is saying they got pulled over for “driving while black” and the car shouldn’t have been searched, therefore the fruits of that tree — the drugs — are not admissible. Which pretty much ends the prosecutor’s case.

Scott, a 28-year-old 6’8″ forward, played four seasons for the Hawks before this one. After some good seasons, and with the charges hanging over him, Scott struggled through 18 games this season, then was traded at the deadline to the Suns, who waived him in a cost-cutting move. He’s a good catch-and-shoot forward who has worked to become a decent NBA defender. As a backup he has a role in the league when he plays within himself.

Now that he has been cleared, teams will likely have some interest in him as a free agent come July.