Draymond Green blocks Rudy Gobert dunk on one end, drains three on other (VIDEO)

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Draymond Green showed why he is the Warriors most valuable player on Thursday night.

He’s not their best player — they do have Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — but his value to the Warriors is immeasurably. He provides elite defense on one end, and when he is hitting his threes on the other — as he did Thursday hitting his first four and getting five overall on his way to 21 points — the Warriors offense is almost unstoppable.

He showed it all on this one play, blocking Rudy Gobert on one end then nailing the three on the other.

Later in the game, Green went down when his knee “locked up” (to use his words), but he got treatment and returned to the game. He said he will be good to go for Game 3 in Utah Saturday.

Warriors get off to fast start, Green and Durant lead team to wire-to-wire win (again)

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In 96 minutes of basketball this series, the Utah Jazz have yet to hold the lead for even one second.

For the second straight game the Warriors started out hot, and while the Jazz played better — pushing the Warriors at points — it was still too much Kevin Durant (25 points) and Draymond Green (21) in the end that had the Warriors holding on for a 115-104 win.

Golden State now has a 2-0 series lead, with Game 3 in Utah on Saturday.

Golden State again was in control from the start, getting out to a 33-13 early lead, and while the Jazz made runs, the Warriors always answered right back with one of their own. The Warriors shot better from three in this game, 14-of-31, and had a more balanced attack — joining Durant and Green in double figures were Stephen Curry with 23, Klay Thompson with 14 and Andre Iguodala with 10. When the Warriors big four drop 83 points on 53 shots, it’s going to be a rough night for any opponent.

If you’re a Jazz fan, there are reasons for optimism.

For one, after that 33-13 start, the Jazz stayed even with — and for stretches outplayed — the Warriors.

“I think we’ve got to start the game better. Hopefully, we can do that at home,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.

Also, the Jazz got Gordon Hayward going to the tune of 33 points on 11-of-21 shooting — Utah is going to need his offense to have any chance in this series.

“I think he got more aggressive, his reads were better,” Snyder said of Hayward. “Sometimes you’re not going to be open for very long, and if you wait to be more open you don’t get that opportunity — especially against a Draymond Green, or an Iguodala, or Klay Thompson, guys that are such good defenders.”

The Jazz also forced 17 turnovers. That and Shelvin Mack pushing the ball — he started at the point with George Hill out with an injured big toe — helped get the Jazz some easy buckets. It would have helped if the Jazz had shot better than 14-of-26 in the restricted are, but Utah was doing more things right in Game 2, things they can build on at home in Game 3.

“That was a tough game for us,” Warriors interim coach Mike Brown said. “What it shows us is that Utah has some confidence and they’re going to be even more confident playing at home in front of their crowd.”

Expect a better Jazz team at home. Whether that can mean wins is another question — maybe they should get a lead in a game before we start going down that road.

Big Baller Brand introduces Lonzo Ball shoe, the ZO2, which sells for $495. Shaq unimpressed.


Yes, you read that headline right.

If there’s really no such thing as bad publicity, then LaVar Ball is a marketing genius. A year ago his son was a highly sought after high school senior known only to recruitniks, today we are all talking about Lonzo Ball’s signature shoes and where he lands in the draft.

Yes, signature shoe — at a price point of $495. Yes, more than the most expensive Jordans. For an undrafted rookie some scouts think will be a slightly above average starting point guard in the NBA (to be fair, others are much higher). So you can imagine how Twitter reacted, since it already enjoys mocking LaVar and his “marketing” efforts.

Here are the shoes.

This is my personal favorite new part of the brand.

I’m not enough of a sneakerhead to say if these look a lot like recent Kobe’s, but I do know Ball can wear these in games. Also, teams are not shying away from drafting Ball because of his father, they see that as a distraction they can deal with.

Bart Simpson once said of emo music “making teenagers depressed is like shooting fish in a barrel,” I feel the same way about mocking LaVar Ball. He’s getting his own shoe made for his son, which is something, even if he is doing so in the most tone-deaf possible of ways. But I don’t even need to mock him, there was plenty of criticism online, with Shaq at the front of the class.

PBT Podcast: What does Tony Parker injury mean for Spurs, plus playoff talk with Dane Carbaugh

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If this were the 2014 Spurs and Tony Parker went down, they would be in serious trouble.

In 2017? With Patty Mills the Spurs starters are not going to miss much of a step if any, the bench rotations become the questions. San Antonio can still win this series.

Kurt Helin and Dane Carbaugh of NBCSports.com get into all of that plus, discuss if the Wizards could make a comeback against Boston. And can we just put Cleveland and Golden State through to the next round?

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (just click the button under the podcast), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.

Report: Mike Budenholzer to step down as Hawks’ president, both he and GM Wes Wilcox to have say

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It looks like a new person will be at the top of the front office food chain with the Atlanta Hawks’ front office.

Mike Budenholzer will step down as team president, but he will remain as coach — and both he and GM Wes Wilcox will have a significant voice in player personnel decisions.

After rumors that Wilcox was stepping down leaked earlier this week, the Hawks said that an evaluation was still ongoing and no decisions had been made. It sounds like ones have now and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports broke the story.

This makes sense. I generally think it’s tough to have a coach with player/personnel power just because the perspectives can be difficult to juggle. Coaches want to win now, GMs/presidents need to think long-term and more strategically.

The real prism to view this move through: Does Atlanta re-sign Paul Millsap this summer a max contract?

At the trade deadline it seemed as if Budenholzer was ready to turn the page, looking to trade Millsap and start a rebuild and the first step in that was trading Kyle Korver (to Cleveland). Then Atlanta ownership is rumored to have stepped in and stopped a Millsap move, so he stayed and the Hawks got to the playoffs (but were eliminated in the first round).

All those picks the Hawks have make rebuilding an easier process.a

If the Hawks re-sign Millsap to a five-year max (what it will cost), they likely stay a good but not great team that finishes the season the 3-6 seed most years and maybe gets to the second round of the playoffs. That would be the team for the foreseeable future. That may work for Hawks ownership — the teams has connected with the Atlanta community, particularly a younger crowd living in the city, and are selling tickets at a pace the organization hasn’t seen in a long time. Ownership may be okay with the status quo.

Or not. We will see this summer. But the ultimate call will fall to some new person who sits in the president’s chair.