WEEKEND BASKETBALL

“What you try to do without micromanaging is have your best players, take their best shots. From their best spots.” -Jeff Van Gundy

As an adult, one thing I miss is playing ball on the weekends. Father time has caught up to me so my playing days are over. Do you recall playing ball on the weekends?

I miss the three words, “WHO GOT NEXT?”

Pick-up ball, tournaments, leagues and of course, working on your game alone.

East 5th street, Manhattan Beach and Holy Name schoolyard were just three of the spots I would visit to go up against top notch comp.

Those were the days my friend.

I will never forget as a young boy sitting in the boys schoolyard at Holy Name watching Steve Yetman from Nazareth High School working on his shooting on a hot summer day in July. He was a member of the Kingsman basketball team which was playing later that night in the summer league. He was working to improve.

At the youth level, good luck to all the high school basketball players (boys and girls) who will be working out, attending camps, playing with their high school & travel teams the next 3 months. There’s plenty of time to put in the work and improve.

College players are on campus taking classes and playing in open gyms and working on their games individually. Hopefully the coaching staff gets to put some time in with their team too.

And the pro guys, well there’s a few playoff games going on and the guys who are out, well hopefully they are resting up for next season but getting some reps in here and there.

Improving as a player is one of the most important traits. It’s a staple of playing the right way.

RETURN OF THE BIG MAN

“To be honest, I didn’t even think about being in the NBA. My goal when I started to play basketball back home was to play in the EuroLeague because that was the closest top league to my country. I could play in some big clubs in Serbia and grind my way up. But then the Denver Nuggets drafted me, and it was an opportunity for me to become an NBA player.” -Nikola Jokic

Congratulations to Nikola Jokic who was named MVP of the 2021 season.

Jokic joins a very short list of players to average 25+PPG, 10+RPG, 6+APG in a season:

Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird and Russell Westbrook.

HELLO BROOKLYN

“I think we’re capable of greatness every single night.” -Kyrie Irving

How about the Brooklyn Nets?

Up 2-0 on the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2nd round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

This without James Harden.

Last night Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving led the Nets to a 125-86 blowout. The incredible 1-2 punch is averaging 54 points per game combined in the two games.

The Nets 3-point shooting has been bananas.

Last night they shot 21-42. While the Bucks shot 8-27

Total 3’s in series: Brooklyn 36 Milwaukee 14

The series moves to Milwaukee Thursday night.

Kyrie Irving’s dad, Drederick and Jeff Teague’s dad, Shawn, played 1 year together at Boston University (1984-85) under John Kuester. Their only season as teammates at BU.

The Mic’d up segments of Steve Nash in the Brooklyn Nets huddles are inspiring, informative and motivating. Remember the clowns who criticized the hiring of the Nash?

Giannis is 2 for 10 from the free-throw line in the series.

Khris Middleton is 13 for 43 from the field in the series. 3 for 13 from downtown.

The Bucks have 35 assists in two games and 30 turnovers. Nets 52-16.

Montell Jordan performed at halftime last night…”This is how we do it.”

The 50 and over crowd can criticize today’s NBA players all they want…but man o man are these guys talented and skilled… and I enjoy watching them.

KAWHI AND THE CLIPPERS

“It’s Game 7, it doesn’t matter where you are, you got to leave everything on the court and that’s it.” -Luka Doncic

LA Clippers beat the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday in Game 7 of their first round playoffs 126-11. Kawhi Leonard led the way with 28 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.

Leonard was amazing in the series. 32 PPG, 8 RPG and 5 APG.

“It’s all about the moment,” Leonard said. “You got to be aggressive all night and don’t try to make the game be perfect.”

LA was 24 out of 24 from the free-throw line. They also handed out 30 assists and had just 8 turnovers.

Luka Doncic added 46 points (17-30 FG) 7 rebounds and 14 assists. He too was incredible in the 7 games. Averaging 35-8-10 per game.

He’s a combination of of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson,” Mark Jackson said about Luka Doncic

“He’s faster than he looks. Don’t let his whiteness take away from his quickness. He’s an athlete,” Jeff Van Gundy added.

Clippers made 20 3’s in the game. Mavericks 10.

LA moves on to play the Utah Jazz. Keep in mind the Clippers have never made the Western conference finals.

IT’S ABOUT WHO YA GOT

Many people complain about “what they don’t have,” opposed to concentrating on “what they have.” I have been guilty of it for many years. In basketball, if someone is out, so what? Move on. Next man up. Onward. No excuses. Play the hand dealt to you.

Last night in Game 1 of the Eastern conference semi-finals between the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, James Harden injured his right hamstring just forty-three seconds into the game.

Oh boy…the Nets were in trouble, right?

Not exactly.

Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, and using the narrative of not having Harden the rest of the game, the rest of the Brooklyn Nets went out and did their job.

Final score, Nets 115 Bucks 107.

Game 2 in Brooklyn Monday night.

Focus on what you have instead of what you don’t have. You’ll be surprised at how good things turn out.

Kevin Durant led the way with 29 points. Kyrie Irving 25, Joe Harris 19, Blake Griffin 18, and Mike James filled in for Harden with 12. James played just 9 total minutes against the Celtics in the first round, last night he played 30 minutes.

Stay ready mentality.

Nicholas Claxton gave the Nets a lift off the bench.

Loved Blake Griffin’s energy and effort too. He was on the floor for every 50-50 ball.

The Bucks entered last night’s game knocking down 13 3’s per game in their first series with Miami. Last night they shoot 6 for 30, Nets 15 for 40.

Nets radio team of Tim Capstraw and Chris Carrino do a great job. I mute TNT and listen in on the internet.

Giannis takes too much time at the free-throw line. Needs to cut down on his time. 0-3 in Game 1 from the line. He shot .636 in the Heat series. 68% this season…

Jeff Green of the Nets did not play due to injury – he was wearing a cool ‘Smashing Pumpkins’ t-shirt on the bench. Had a “Pink Floyd” shirt the other night.

Kyrie finishes at the basket a lot like Rod Strickland.

Nets head coach Steve Nash on the loss of Harden: “I’m heartbroken for him. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if he’s playing the next game, if he’s out. I have no idea. But I’m heartbroken for him that he had to miss tonight.”

If you like listening to podcasts I highly recommend you go to Youtube and check out Chazz Palminteri’s work – it’s awesome.

Two big games Sunday:

Game 1 Hawks-76ers and the really big one, Game 7 Mavericks and Clippers in LA. Keep in mind the road team has won all 6 games.

Cherish, value and focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.

STAYIN’ ALIVE

Concentrate on making simple plays.” -Rick Carlisle

The Los Angeles Clippers found themselves down 3-2 in their first round playoff series with the Dallas Mavericks last night but Kawhi Leonard was not going to let their season end.

Behind 45 points from Kawhi and 25 from Reggie Jackson LA beat Dallas 104-97 extending the series to a 7th and final game Sunday at 3:30.

Leonard was amazing. He took over in the second half and dominated. Mavericks defense had no answer. The San Diego State alum shot 18 for 25 from the field. (5 for 9 from 3).

Jackson shot 8 for 15 from the field with 9 rebounds and 5 assists. He had the highest +/- for LA; +13.

Luka Doncic led Dallas with 29 points on 11 for 24 shooting including 2 for 9 from distance. Entering last night’s game Luka was 15 for 35 from the free-throw line. Last night he was 5 for 5.

The road team has won all 6 games.

Boban started for Dallas last night, I was surprised he didn’t play more minutes; 12 points in 17 minutes. Maxi Kleber 0 points in 21 minutes. “I don’t like that everyone thinks of him as a cuddly teddy bear. To me, he should be a low post assassin,” said ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy. I agree.

I don’t care what Clarence Gaines says, Dallas needs Kristaps Porzingis to score more. So what they don’t run plays for him. Get to the offensive glass, get out on the break, or be hungrier for the ball instead of just standing in the corner or the wing. Blaming the coach for lack of touches is an excuse.

Funny exchange last night between Mark Jackson and Mike Breen. After a call, and watching the replay:

Breen: “That’s a tough call.” Jackson: “That’s a bad call.”

A Van Gundy nugget from last night:

You need your best guys to play their best when their best is needed.”

I have said it before, Tim Legler is one of the best in the TV business. ESPN needs to put him on games, they are wasting his talent in the studio for 5 minute breakdowns. TNT should pay the man and get him on board.

FRIDAY’S QUICK HITTERS

Why all the hate for LeBron James? The Lakers didn’t lose because of him. His teammates played awful in Game 6 against the Suns. Their defense was poor too. One guy doesn’t lose or even win a game for a team. Players need to perform on stage.

LeBron is an all-time great.

The Suns are tough. Monty Williams has done a great job. I think Phoenix played harder last night and played with more energy and effort than the Lakers.

Suns shot 18 for 35 from distance. Lakers shot 10 for 35.

Kyle Kuzma was just 1 for 6 from the field last night. For the series he was 4 for 23 from 3.

LA committed just 7 turnovers in the game. Just couldn’t make a shot nor could they defend. Lakers shot 29% as a team from 3 in the series.

Devin Booker led the way with 47 points. Booker averaged 29.7 points per game in the series. He was 15 for 35 from downtown. How about 45 out of 48 from the free-throw line.

Awesome job by the Denver Nuggets Thursday night eliminating the Portland Trailblazers.

Nuggets back-up PG Monte Morris had 22, 4 & 9. The #Flint native had just 1 turnover in 33 minutes. In the series Morris had 35 assists and 6 turnovers.

How about Michael Porter Jr. scoring 26 points in the first half last night? Had 22 points after 12 minutes.

I was telling someone Friday morning – there are a lot of players who can score, but they lack the winning DNA. Big difference. I have a list of guys who are talented and can score but they lack a few winning traits.

Looking forward to Clippers-Mavericks game 6 Friday night. Dallas up 3-2.

DAMIAN LILLARD

“Damian Lillard was superhuman tonight.” -Michael Malone

Incredible performance last night in a losing effort against the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the first round.

Nuggets won in double OT, 147-140.

Lillard scored 55 points in 51 minutes of run.

17-24 from the field.

12-17 from 3 (The 12 makes are a league record in the playoffs) Dame broke the record of 11 set by Klay Thompson.

10 assists

1 turnover

“It was the best playoff performance I’ve ever seen,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “He gave it his all.”

Nuggets go up 3-2 in series

“It don’t matter. We lost the game. At this point, all that matters is we can’t lose another game in the series. We go out there and we play to win the game, and we came up short.” -Damian Lillard

I have not been staying up late for the late games but last night I did. And I am glad I did.