NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bear Territory Tuesday: Don't forget about Jabari Bird



     A lot of attention has been focused on the impact that Tyrone Wallace, Ivan Rabb, and Jaylen Brown are expected to make on Cal basketball next season. If you have been reading my weekly Cal basketball blog posts or are a follower of Cal basketball, you know exactly why those three players have garnered so much attention. 

     But amid all the hype and attention that has been placed on those three guys,  I feel like Jabari Bird, a McDonald's All-American now entering his junior season, has been lost in the shuffle. He seems to be treated as more of an afterthought since he hasn't lived up to the hype that came with him when he arrived at Berkeley as a freshman. While I would agree that he hasn't lived up to expectations,  I would disagree with any decrease in enthusiasm for what he can bring to this Cal team. 

      I personally believe that Jabari Bird is on the cusp of breaking out and it's just a matter of time before he explodes in the way that Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown are expected to this season. Now, what you might be thinking is "We've been waiting for him to explode for two years. Why should this season be any different?" What makes this season different is that he has way more help and other guys to take the pressure off of him. He is no longer the most hyped player on the team which I think will help him focus on playing within himself and playing better basketball from a team perspective. 

     He no longer needs to worry about being the star of the team or being the guy who makes all the big plays. He just needs to worry about making the right plays and letting the game come to him. As he does this I think he will unleash the beast that NBA scouts always thought was in him. I'm not predicting that he'll suddenly become a lottery pick in the 2016 NBA draft, but I do think he'll improve his game a lot and boost up his draft stock in a way similar to what Tyrone Wallace did this past season.  

     If he improves in the way that I think he will, we need to start mentioning him in the same sentence as Ivan Rabb, Jaylen Brown, and Tyrone Wallace. We need to say that we are excited to see what Jabari Bird is going to do as well as what those three guys are going to do. We need to be excited that we have four players who have NBA first round talent. We need to view Jabari Bird, Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, and Ivan Rabb has a fearsome foursome ready to dominate the Pac-12. 

     Also, just so I don't go about writing another blog post of this nature, this doesn't mean that I'm forgetting about Jordan Mathews, who is also a junior shooting guard with tremendous talent and ability. Jordan is going to be a huge part of this Cal team because of his lethal three point shooting and ability to penetrate and finish at the rim.

      The reason why I'm not telling us to not forget about Jordan Mathews is because I don't think people are forgetting about him. There were many nights last season when Jordan Mathews was the #2 player on the floor for Cal behind Tyrone Wallace. Cal fans are excited about the way Jordan Mathews has developed, but as for Jabari Bird, most Cal fans are disappointed. 

     What I'm hear to tell you is that while it is true that Jabari Bird hasn't lived up to the hype, there's plenty of reasons to believe that he will finally become the player we all thought he would be. He's got a great team around him, a great coaching staff, and much less pressure. All the pieces are there for Jabari Bird to have a breakout season and I can't wait to see how much he surprises everybody! Go Bears! 

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord for NBA news and Cal basketball news 

Daily Dunks: 5/25-5/31

(Credit: Andy Melton. Click here for source)

     Here is my Daily Dunks page for May 25, 2015 through May 31, 2015. Throughout the week this page will be updated with news from across the NBA as well as scores and highlights. So be sure to check this page every day until a new Daily Dunks page is created for the following week. 

Monday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. LeBron James wants the Cavaliers to keep Tristan Thompson long-term (Click here for details). 

#2. Dwight Howard could get his flagrant 1 foul on Andrew Bogut upgraded to a Flagrant 2 and get a suspension (Click here for details). 

#3. The NBA Finals will start June 4. The NBA won't move up the date (Click here for details). 

#4. There is a rumor that Paul Pierce will opt out of his contract with the Wizards and go join the Clippers (Click here for details). 

#5. Jason Terry plans to come back for another NBA season and the Rockets want him back (Click here for details). 

#6. The Pacers are working out center Stanko Barac in June, whose rights they acquired (Click here for details). 

#7. Hawks small forward Kyle Korver awaits a second opinion on his ankle. Surgery is a possibility (Click here for details). 

#8. The Celtics will ask Isaiah Thomas for help with getting free agents. (Click here for details). 

#9. Warriors point guard Stephen Curry injured his head in Game 4 against the Rockets. He was diagnosed with a head contusion and he did return to the game (Click here for details). 

#10. Rockets shooting guard James Harden had 45 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists. 

Monday's NBA Playoff Results: 

Rockets 128 Warriors 115. Warriors lead the Western Conference Finals 3-1. 

Tuesday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. Grizzlies point guard Beno Udrih will undergo ankle surgery (Click here for details). 

#2. Orlando Sanchez will join the Raptors for Summer League (Click here for details). 

#3. Teams are inquiring about Nets forward Mason Plumleee with the belief that the Nets are willing to move him (Click here for details). 

#4. The Nets parted ways with assistant GM Bobby Marks, who had been with the franchise for 20 years (Click here for details). 

#5. Kevin Love has been medically cleared to travel with the Cavaliers (Click here for details). 

#6. Tom Thibodeau's contract with the Bulls contains offset language (Click here for details). 

#7. There is a report that Scott Skiles will be the new head coach of the Magic. But the team hasn't officially announced anything (Click here for details). 

#8. The Clippers are looking to acquire a draft pick (Click here for details). 

#9. Ty Lawson and Kennet Faried want out of Denver unless the Nuggets pull of an insane trade (Click here for details). 

#10. Nazr Mohammed plans to play for another season (Click here for details). 

Tuesday's NBA Playoff Results: 

Cavaliers 118 Hawks 88 (Cavaliers win the Eastern Conference Finals 4-0 and advance to their 2nd ever NBA Finals). Cavaliers small forward LeBron James had 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. 

Wednesday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Mavericks are interested in doing a sign and trade for DeAndre Jordan (Click here for details). 

#2. The Pelicans have interviewed Jeff Van Gundy for their head coaching position (Click here for details). 

#3. Hawks small forward DeMarre Carroll won't need knee surgery (Click here for details). 

#4. Hawks power forward Paul Millsap has a sprained right shoulder which may require surgery (Click here for details). 

#5. Hawks point guard Shelvin Mack needs surgery for a separated right shoulder (Click here for details). 

#6.  The Bulls, Pelicans, and Clippers are interested in Royce White for Summer League (Click here for details). 

#7. The Knicks are strongly considering drafting Willie Cauley-Stein with the #4 pick (Click here for details). 

#8. The Suns are exploring the possibility of trading their first round pick (Click here for details). 

#9. The Bulls reportedly are getting close to firing Tom Thibodeau (Click here for details). 

#10. Hawks shooting guard Kyle Korver had successful right ankle surgery. 3 months is his estimated recovery time (Click here for details). 

Wednesday's NBA Playoff Results: 
Warriors 104 Rockets 90 (Warriors win the Western Conference Finals 4-1 and advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1975). Warriors forward Harrison Barnes had 24 points and 7 rebounds.

Thursday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

 #1. Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson experienced concussion like symptoms after Game 5 against the Rockets. He couldn't drive home (Click here for details). 

#2. Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson has been cleared to play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, which start June 4. He reportedly didn't have a concussion (Click here for details). 

#3. John Wall was kicked off of an airplane after one of his people threatened somebody (Click here for details). 

#4. The Bulls fired their head coach Tom Thibodeau (Click here for details). 

#5. Some Bulls players didn't want Tom Thibodeau back (Click here for details). 

#6. Grizzlies impending free agent center Kosta Koufos is receiving a lot of interest from other teams (Click here for details). 

#7. The Magic have interviewed Mike Woodson, but Scott Skiles is still the front runner for their head coaching job (Click here for details). 

#8. Kings GM Pete D'Alessandro may leave to take the AD job at St. John's University (Click here for details). 

#9. The Pelicans have interviewed Vinny Del Negro for their head coaching job (Click here for details). 

#10. Dwyane Wade and the Heat are far apart on contract negotiation talks. Wade could go elsewhere (Click here for details). 

NBA Finals: 

Game 1 between the Warriors and Cavaliers is next week: Thursday, June 4. 

Friday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. Fred Hoiberg is looking like he'll be the next coach of the Bulls (Click here for details). 

#2. The Magic hired Scott Skiles as head coach (Click here for details). 

#3. Rockets center Dwight Howard has been suspended 1 game starting next season for his elbow to Andre Iguodala (Click here for details). 

#4. Kyrie Irving plans to start out defending Stephen Curry in the NBA Finals (Click here for details). 

#5. Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson has been diagnosed with a concussion and is out indefinitely (Click here for details). 

#6. Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao could make a surprise return for the NBA Finals (Click here for details). 

#7. The Suns made some changes to Jeff Hornacek's coaching staff. (Click here for details) 

#8. According to a report, projected #1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns won't work out for any NBA teams (Click here for details). 

#9. Doc Rivers says Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan get along great (Click here for details). 

#10. Alvin Gentry has had a second interview with the Pelicans (Click here for details). 

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord for NBA news 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Eastern Conference Finals Preview: Atlanta Hawks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers



Eastern Conference Finals Preview: #1. Atlanta Hawks (60-22) vs. #2. Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29) 

     The Atlanta Hawks come into the Eastern Conference Finals having dispatched of the Washington Wizards in six games. As for the Cleveland Cavaliers, they took care of the Chicago Bulls in six games as well. In regards to the regular season series between these two teams, the Hawks won three out of the four games they played against each other.

     What makes this series so interesting is it features the best player in the NBA (LeBron James) going up against the best all around "team" in the NBA. The success of the Cavaliers, especially during the playoffs, is largely due to the play of LeBron James. This isn't to say that Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, and others haven't contributed. Those guys have played their roles well, but at the end of the day the reason this team is where they are is because of LeBron James and his phenomenal all-around play.

     As for the Hawks, one cannot point to one player as the main reason for their success. The Hawks are in the Eastern Conference Finals with home court advantage because they have played as a team all season and have had to equally depend on various players. This team has had to rely on the point guard play of Jeff Teague, the long-range shooting of Kyle Korver, the post play of Paul Millsap and Al Horford, and the all around hustle and energy provided by DeMarre Carroll.

     The Hawks are only as good as the sum of their parts and if you take any one of those parts away, they really struggle. As for the Cavaliers, it doesn't seem to matter who gets suspended or who gets injured so long as LeBron James is ok. The danger for the Hawks is that they can't afford to have any one of their parts really struggle, but the good news for them is that nobody has to play out of their minds. So long as everybody is solid, they do just fine. As for the Cavaliers, the danger lies in knowing that if LeBron James doesn't have a great performance, they are in serious trouble. However, the good news for the Cavaliers is that they have LeBron James.

     If the Atlanta Hawks are going to win this series, they are going to have to find ways take advantage of their more balanced scoring attack by moving the ball to find open shooters. They have a system in place that is very similar to what the San Antonio Spurs run largely due to their player personnel and head coach Mike Budenholzer, who previously spent time as an assistant coach on the Spurs. We saw what the Spurs were able to do to LeBron James' Heat last season in the NBA Finals, killing them with their ball movement, scoring balance, and efficiency. The Hawks have the ability to do the same thing.

     In addition, the Hawks have to remain confident in who they are and not lose their identity. They won 60 games for a reason and they need to treat themselves as the favorites to win this series. If they let LeBron James and all his star power get in their heads, they could wind up beating themselves. If on the other hand they stick to their game plan and do what they do best, they'll give themselves a great chance to win the series.

     As for the Cavaliers, they need to take advantage of the fact that they have the best player in the world in LeBron James and an elite point guard in Kyrie Irving who is the #2 player in the series. I haven't talked enough about Kyrie Irving, but as LeBron James' sidekick, he plays a crucial role in this series. If he is able to do what he does best with success, which is score the basketball from anywhere on the floor and penetrate the lane to find open shooters like J.R. Smith, the Cavaliers may just have too much talent on the floor for the Hawks to handle.

   One of the key advantages the Hawks have in this series is coaching. Coaching cannot be underestimated in the NBA playoffs and while the Cavaliers have the best player in the world in LeBron James, they have a jester for a coach. The Hawks on the other hand have a fantastic coach in Mike Budenholzer who has won an NBA title as an assistant coach with San Antonio.

      Budenholzer knows what it takes to be a coach on an NBA championship team and his coaching is the main reason the Hawks have had all the success that they have enjoyed up to this point. All the ball movement, balance, and efficiency that this team has exhibited is due to Mike Budenholzer figuring out how to maximize the talents and abilities of all his players. As for the Cavaliers, they seem to have gotten this far in spite of their head coach David Blatt. This sounds harsh, but it's the truth. The Atlanta Hawks have the benefit of being coached by a real NBA coach who knows what he is doing and the Cleveland Cavaliers have the challenge of having their head coach as an obstacle who they must hurdle.

     At the end of the day, I'm picking the Hawks to win this series in seven games. They have been the best team in the Eastern Conference all season and have the superior coaching. If they play up to their maximum potential and play like they have all season, they will win this series.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bear Territory Tuesday: Despite the great recruiting class, Tyrone Wallace is still the leader of Cal



     There is no doubting that the additions of Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb have made Cal a contender for the national championship. My last few blog posts have made that very clear. But what cannot be lost in all of this is that Tyrone Wallace, who announced that he would be returning for his senior season, is still the leader of this Cal team.

     Wallace had a chance to leave for the NBA in this year's draft, but he decided to return for his senior season to complete his degree and lead Cal deep in the NCAA tournament. If Tyrone Wallace had opted to leave for the NBA, Cal would still be a dangerous team, but I'm not sure they would be a threat to win the national championship.

     What makes Cal a threat to win the national championship is the combination of their great recruiting class, depth, and veteran leadership provided by Tyrone Wallace, who averaged 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game in his junior season. It was a bit of an adjustment for Wallace to be the leader last season after he had Justin Cobbs and Richard Solomon to look to, but thankfully senior power forward David Kravish helped to take some of the pressure off as he made the transition.

      Wallace has been well prepared to take on this role and he seems eager to take it on. He knows that when the game is on the line everybody will be looking at him to either take the shot or create a play for somebody else. Such is the job of the point guard, especially when the point guard is a senior.

     Just so I'm clear, I don't mean to imply that he won't have anybody else to help him in crunch time. As projected lottery picks in the 2016 NBA draft, Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb also need to be expected to step up in the clutch as do juniors Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews. But all the same, it needs to be understood that this is Tyrone Wallace's team.

     There's more to leadership than just hitting big shots. Leadership is about coaching up your teammates, giving them encouragement and confidence when things get tough, etc. The only guy on this team who has the authority to do those things is Tyrone Wallace and that is what makes him the leader. He'll have to be the guy who makes sure everybody else understands their job and stays calm when they take on elite teams like Arizona, Utah, and Virginia. Having this kind of leadership will serve Cal well as they try to make history and win the school its first national championship in basketball since 1959.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord for NBA and Cal basketball news 

Western Conference Finals Preview: Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets



Western Conference Finals Preview: #1. Golden State Warriors (67-15) vs. #2 Houston Rockets (56-26)

     The Western Conference Finals tips off tonight at 9:00 PM EST on ESPN. The Golden State Warriors come into this series having taken out the Memphis Grizzlies in six games. As for the Houston Rockets, they come into this series having taken out the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games after trailing 3-1. Neither team had an easy time winning their previous series, but after being tested, they proved themselves worthy to be in the NBA's final four. 

     The most obvious thing to look for in this series is the battle between Stephen Curry and James Harden. While they won't be guarding each other much, the battle will consist of which one of them can step up more in crunch time. Both players will find ways to get their 25-30 points, but what remains to be seen is which of them will be better when the game is on the line. 

     If James Harden wants to prove he should have won MVP instead of Stephen Curry, he'll need to make sure he steps up in crunch time and leads his team to victory. As for Stephen Curry, I don't think he needs to prove anything in the MVP discussion. He rightfully won the award and was well deserving. All the same, if he wants to silence any doubters, he too will need to make big plays in the final minutes and lead his team to victory. 

     In addition to the performance of Stephen Curry and James Harden on the perimeter, the battle in the paint between Dwight Howard and Andrew Bogut will be crucial to the outcome of this series. The Grizzlies were able to give the Warriors trouble when they slowed the tempo down and fed the ball to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph down on the block. If Dwight Howard is able to have his way with Andrew Bogut and dominate inside, the Rockets may be able to do something the Grizzlies couldn't, which is beat the Warriors in the paint as well as on the perimeter. If Andrew Bogut is able to keep Dwight Howard quiet and provide some scoring inside, the Warriors will really have a choke hold on the Rockets. 

     Lastly, the tempo of this series will be something to watch. The Warriors love to get out in transition and find open shooters. Stephen Curry is at his best when he's in transition and is able to find either Klay Thompson or Draymond Green for an open three. The Rockets also seem to enjoy playing in transition with James Harden either popping a three or creating a shot for others. If this series is played at a fast tempo, the Warriors will win this series really easily. If the Rockets are able to slow it down and play more in the half court, they will give themselves a better chance to win. 

     At the end of the day, I don't think the Rockets will be able to change their style of play, which is why I have the Warriors winning this series in five games. The Warriors won the regular season series 4-0 and I don't see any reason to think the Rockets extend this series to six or seven games. 

     The issue is that the way the Rockets play doesn't really give the Warriors a lot of problems. They like to run up and down in transition and take threes even more than the Warriors, but with less efficiency. During the regular season, the Warriors shot an average of 27.0 threes per game with a three-point percentage of 39.8% while the Rockets shot an average of 32.7 threes per game with a three-point percentage of 34.8%. In addition, the Warriors averaged 27.4 assists and 14.1 turnovers per game while the Rockets averaged 22.2 assists and 15.9 turnovers per game. 

     In short, the Warriors play the Rockets' game, but they play it better. Assuming the Rockets don't morph into the Memphis Grizzlies with better perimeter shooting, the Warriors will run away with this series. There honestly isn't any reason to expect this series to be close. I want to give the Rockets props for the way that they played against the Clippers, but they simply don't have a lineup or a style that should worry the Warriors.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord for NBA news 

     


Daily Dunks: 5/18-5/24

                                                    (Credit: Andy Melton. Click here for source) 
               
This is my Daily Dunks page for May 18, 2015 through May 24, 2015. Throughout the week this page will be updated with news and scores from across the NBA until a new Daily Dunks page is created for the following week. So make sure to keep checking this page every 24 hours or so for the latest news until next week. 

Monday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (knee) says he will play in Game 1 against the Hawks (Click here for details). 

#2. Doc Rivers says the Clippers need to "add pieces" (Click here for details).

#3. The Raptors fired two of Dwane Casey's assistants (Click here for details). 

#4. The Magic are willing to pay Tom Thibodeau $7-$9M per year (Click here for details). 

#5. Wizards point guard John Wall doesn't think he'll need surgery on his hand/wrist (Click here for details). 

#6. The Pelicans have been granted permission to interview Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry for their head coaching job (Click here for details). 

#7. Report: Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan had a falling out (Click here for details). 

#8. The Clippers are interested in Lakers forward Wesley Johnson (Click here for details). 

#9. Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley has abounded hope of playing against the Warriors (Click here for details). 

#10. The Grizzlies are engaging in talks with Mike Conley about an extension (Click here for details). 

Monday's NBA Playoff Results: None. Western Conference Finals begin Tuesday. Eastern Conference Finals begin Wednesday (Click here for a full schedule for both series').

Tuesday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. The NBA Draft lottery happened. The Timberwolves won the #1 overall pick (Click here for full results).

#2. Bucks point guard Tyler Ennis underwent successful surgery on his right shoulder. His status for next season is unknown (Click here for details).

#3. Wizards center Marcin Gortat says personal issues distracted him this past season (Click here for details).

#4. Report: Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders really likes Jahlil Okafor for the #1 pick (Click here for details).

#5. The Pelicans are also interested in Scott Brooks and Jeff Van Gundy for their head coaching job (Click here for details).

#6. Kentucky head coach John Calipari denies interest in the Pelicans' head coaching vacancy after a report said he was interested (Click here for details).

#7. Chris Paul is frustrated with DeAndre Jordan's laziness in his approach to foul shooting (Click here for details).

#8. Thunder small forward Kevin Durant's recovery from foot surgery is going well, but he still cannot put weight on his foot (Click here fokr details).

#9. Kings VP Vlade Divac says DeMarcus Cousins is untradeable (Click here for details).

#10. Report: Ricky Rubio's posse is pushing for a trade (Click here for details).

Tuesday's NBA Playoffs results: 

Warriors 110 Rockets 106 (Warriors lead Western Conference Finals 1-0). Warriors point guard Stephen Curry had 34 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Wednesday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Lakers plan to pursue Tom Thibodeau for their head coaching job (Click here for details).

#2. Stephen Curry got fined $5K for flopping in Game 1 against the Rockets. Steve Kerr is "morally outraged" (Click here for details).

#3. The NBA First Team All-Defense was released (Click here to view it). The NBA Second Team All-Defense was also released (Click here to view it).

#4. Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor says trading the #1 pick will be "part of the conversation" (Click here for details).

#5. Former Thunder head coach Scott Brooks is expected to sit out this upcoming season. He is declining interviews (Click here for details).

#6. The Lakers are reportedly expected to take either Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns with the #2 pick. (Click here for details).

#7. For making the Second Team All-Defense, Warriors center Andrew Bogut got a $1.945M bonus (Click here for details).

#8. Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic underwent knee surgery. He is expected to be out 3-4 months (Click here for details).

#9. Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll had a knee injury that look scary. Thankfully he is listed as day-to-day with just a bone bruise after having an MRI (Click here for details).

#10. Rockets center Dwight Howard (knee) is a game-time decision for Thursday (Click here for details).

Wednesday's NBA Playoff Results: 

Cavaliers 97 Hawks 89 (Cavaliers lead Eastern Conference Finals 1-0). Cavaliers small forward LeBron James had 31 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Thursday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. Pelicans shooting guard Tyreke Evans underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee (Click here for details).

#2. Hawks small forward DeMarre Carroll (knee) is questionable for Game 2 on Friday (Click here for details).

#3. Warriors point guard Stephen Curry doesn't agree with the fine the league gave him for flopping (Click here for details).

#4. Warriors assistant coach Alvin Gentry is looking like the front runner to land the Pelicans head coaching job. He has landed a second interview with the club (Click here for details).

#5. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak denies any special interest in Tom Thibodeau (Click here for details).

#6. Mavericks president Donnie Nelson says Rick Carlisle can be in Dallas as long as he wants (Click here for details).

#7. Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley won't sign an extension, but this doesn't mean he is leaving Memphis (Click here for details).

#8. The All-NBA First, Second, and Third teams were announced (Click here for details).

#9. Mavericks small forward Chandler Parsons remains silent on whether or not he got microfracture surgery on his knee (Click here for details). 

#10. Lester Hudson, last with the Clippers, has received a $2M offer to play in China next season (Click here for details).

Thursday's NBA Playoff Results: 

Warriors 99 Rockets 98: Final (Warriors lead Western Conference Finals 2-0). Warriors point guard Stephen Curry had 33 points and 6 assists on 5-11 shooting from 3-point range.

Friday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. Tom Thibodeau and Alvin Gentry are the leading candidates for the Pelicans' head coaching job (Click here for details).

#2. The Cavaliers say symptoms related to tendinitis in Kyrie Irving's left knee have not diminished. Irving as a result did not play on Friday. (Click here for details). Note: DeMarre Carroll played for the Hawks on Friday.

#3. Hawks power forward Pero Antic committed a flagrant foul on LeBron James (Click here for details).

#4. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak says the team will likely keep the #2 overall pick (Click here for details).

#5. The Clippers and other teams have offered Royce White a spot on their summer league team (Click here for details).

#6. The Lakers have "big time" interest in signing DeMarre Carroll in free agency (Click here for details).

#7. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak says Kobe Bryant has told him next season will be his last season with the Lakers (Click here for details).

#8. The Lakers may choose a guard (D'Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay) with the #2 pick instead of Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor (Click here for details).

#9. Jeff Van Gundy is interested in the Pelicans' head coaching job (Click here for details).

#10. The Nuggets are reportedly building around Jusuf Nurkic and Danilo Gallinari. Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried could get traded (Click here for details).

Friday's NBA Playoff Results: 

Cavaliers 94 Hawks 82 (Cavaliers lead the Eastern Conference Finals 2-0). Cavaliers small forward LeBron James had 30 points, 9 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Saturday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. Hawks small forward Kyle Korver may need surgery on his right ankle. He is done for the playoffs (Click here for details).

#2. Raptors small forward Terrence Ross underwent surgery on his left ankle. There is no timetable for his recovery at the moment (Click here for details).

#3. Famous Harlem Globetrotter Marques Haynes passed away at the age of 89 (Click here for details).

#4. Scott Skiles is reportedly the front runner for the Magic head coaching job (Click here for details).

#5. The Bulls want to wait until all the other head coaching vacancies are filled before they fire Tom Thibodeau (Click here for details).

#6. Consensus among those in management positions is that Kevin Love will leave the Cavaliers in free agency this summer (Click here for details).

#7. Goran Dragic wants the Heat to play at a faster tempo (Click here for details).

#8. Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (knee) won't play on Sunday (Click here for details).

#9.Tim Salier of the Austin Spurs has won the D-League executive of the year award (Click here for details).

#10.  Warriors point guard Stephen Curry had 40 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists.

Saturday's NBA Final Scores: 

Warriors 115 Rockets 80 (Warriors lead the Western Conference Finals 3-0).

Sunday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. According to DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Korver needs ankle surgery and may be out 4-6 months (Click here for details).

#2. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak doesn't think the Lakers have the time to build via the draft (Click here for details).

#3. The Heat are still the front runners to sign Goran Dragic this summer (Click here for details).

#4. The 76ers are expected to draft the best available player in the draft when they pick third (Click here for details).

#5. The NBA is considering moving up the NBA Finals to June 2 in the event that both series' are sweeps (Click here for details).

#6.  Hawks center Al Horford got ejected from Sunday's game after an altercation with Matthew Dellavedova. Horford has some words for Dellavedova (Click here for details).

#7. Phil Jackson backtracks a bit on the "I don't like three point shooting" talk (Click here for details).

#8. Adam Silver says the Cavaliers' arena needs upgrades in order to host an all-star game (Click here for details).

#9. Rockets center Dwight Howard says the whole team quit in Game 3 (Click here for details).

#10. Cavaliers small forward LeBron James had 37 points, 18 rebounds, and 13 assists.

Sunday's NBA Playoff Results: 

Cavaliers 114 Hawks 111 (OT) (Cavaliers lead the Eastern Conference Finals 3-0).

---Ben Parker: Follow me on twitter @nba_lord for NBA news 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday Windmill: The Atlanta Hawks are getting it done so far


     Despite having the best record in the Eastern Conference and being just one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals, the Atlanta Hawks are still flying under everybody's radar. "Smart money" has the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, or Los Angeles Clippers winning the NBA championship. If somebody wants to walk on the wild side and have a more edgy and gutty pick, they'll pick the Chicago Bulls.

     But you won't hear anybody picking the Atlanta Hawks.  I want to raise the question "Why not the Hawks" and further ask, "What have they done to not deserve our respect?" They were pressed by the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, splitting the first four games, but after that they dispatched of them rather easily, winning the series in six games.

     In Wednesday's pivotal Game 5 with the series tied 2-2, the Hawks still found a way to win even after Paul Pierce hit a clutch shot to give the Wizards the lead with 8 seconds to go. Everybody was convinced that the return of John Wall for Game 5 would give the Wizards the easy win, but it turns out everybody was wrong. Al Horford, Kyle Korver, and Dennis Schröder all hit big shots down the stretch to give the Hawks the win.

     What I think everybody is forgetting is that with each game they win, the Atlanta Hawks are getting more confident. I think in many ways their biggest enemy has been themselves. They haven't always had the belief that they are as good as their record indicates. But I think after Wednesday's come-from-behind win, which was won on a tip in by Al Horford, the Hawks are starting to believe that they can win a championship.

     If you really think about it, why shouldn't they? They have played some pretty sloppy games and still found ways to come out on top. In addition, they can beat you in a wide variety of ways. Al Horford and Paul Millsap can kill you inside, Kyle Korver can kill you from beyond the arc, and both Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder can kill you by slashing to the basket and creating for others.

     This Hawks team is very balanced, deep, and versatile. The only thing they have lacked in this post-season at times is confidence. But I think at this point, the confidence they need to win a title is coming. They've been on the verge of going down 2-3 a couple of times and both times they have found ways to come out on top.

     I expect this team to be waiting for either the Cleveland Cavaliers or Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals with a renewed sense of optimism and confidence that we haven't seen from them all season. We can criticize and doubt them all we want, but as of right now they are still standing strong and in just as good of a position as anyone else in these playoffs to win the NBA championship.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord