Around The World: April 15, 2014

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Trail Blazers: Blazers Locked Into Fifth Seed With Houston Win

“The Rockets are currently 54-27 and will play their final game of the season against the Pelicans in New Orleans. They can finish no worse than 54-28, which is the best The Trail Blazers could finish should they defeat the L.A. Clippers at the Moda Center in their final game of the regular season. But the Rockets own the tiebreaker by virtue of taking the season series from Portland 3-1 to take fourth in the West and the homecourt advantage that comes with it. The best of seven series will be played in a 2-2-1-1-1 format.”

Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard Offends Karl Malone, Chris Webber In New Foot Locker Commercial

“While this isn’t Lillard’s first national commercial, it is the first time he’s been the star of a spot. He’s been in the adidas’ “Quick Ain’t Fair” campaign alongside John Wall and Jrue Holiday, the Champ Sports/adidas ad with Von Miller and Iman Shumpert, the NBA’s “BIG Is On” campaign with various players and the NBA All-Star New Orleans promotion, but this Footlocker spot is the first time he’s been the featured athlete of a national television ad. Also, I imagine you’ll be seeing this campaign across other platforms throughout the playoffs.”

Trail Blazers: LaMarcus Aldridge Joins 'Rome' On CBS Sports

“In the first segment, Aldridge talks about clinching a playoff spot, the first round matchup against the Rockets, why he has stressed to his teammates that simply making the playoffs isn’t enough, the team improving by more than 20 wins over last season and being around Robin Lopez, who recently joined Rome on his radio show.”

Trail Blazers: Stotts, Players Give Initial Thoughts On Playing Houston In The Playoffs

“We know what they’re going to do. We know what they’re about, they know what we’re about and it’s going to be a fight. It’s the playoffs. The level increases and it’s about the little things. It’s about taking care of the ball and not giving them easy points. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

Trail Blazers: Vote For Your Favorite Game Open

"Vote for your favorite open from the 2013-14 Trail Blazers season. The winning video will be played during before Fan Appreciation Night against the Clippers on April 16. Watch all four videos and vote below. Vote early and vote often!”

CSNNW: Fox Sports Radio 620 AM Re-Branding To Rip City Radio

“The official switch will happen during the “Wheels at Work” show, Monday – Friday 2pm-4pm hosted by Portland Trail Blazers Radio PxP Announcer, Brian Wheeler. Blazer fans will be able to enjoy unprecedented coverage throughout the NBA Playoffs including live games, expert insight and analysis, replays and special programming.”

Ball Don't Lie: The Milwaukee Bucks Are Officially The NBA's Worst Team, Secure Top Lottery Odds

“Instead, Milwaukee has experienced something like a worst case scenario. None of the offseason pickups has played up to expectations, with Neal getting dealt at the deadline; Sanders has undergone a season-long nightmare that includes on-court griping and regression, off-court issues, injury, and suspension; and no one else has made enough of a leap to make up for it (although rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo looks like one of the league's most promising young talents). It's been a giant mess, and Bucks fans will likely to be glad to see the season end (if they haven't checked out already).”

Ball Don't Lie: The Grizzlies Clinched The West's Final Playoff Berth By Beating, And Eliminating The Suns

"Monday's loss officially ends the Suns' pursuit of a playoff spot. After blowing a 21-point lead in Friday's loss to the Spurs and losing to the Mavericks on Saturday on a final-minute Brandan Wright block, Phoenix had to earn a win over the Grizz to stay alive and give itself a chance to make the playoffs by beating a Sacramento Kings team that will be without suspended star center DeMarcus Cousins on Wednesday. But after a season in which they rejected every opportunity to fold, to fall back behind the pack, to conform to the preseason expectation that they'd be one of the worst teams in the NBA, the Suns just didn't have enough left to get across the finish line on Monday."

ESPN: The Perfect Roster

“Mills has emerged as one of the most explosive bench scorers in the league. He's tied with Manu Ginobili for second on San Antonio by averaging 21.7 points per 40 minutes. He gets that offense within the framework of the system, with an offensive RPM of plus-2.63, and also has positive indicators on the defensive end. As a player who can make plays for himself with the ball in his hands, Mills offers a nice counterpoint to Beverley. And he's cheap, which makes my capologist happy.”

Grantland: NBA Awards Season

“Durant is the NBA’s most polished scorer, but he’s not in LeBron’s league as a passer, and he remains mostly an outside-in creator. The Thunder’s vanilla offense and spacing issues place artificial limits on the variety in Durant’s game, and the guy is still just 25. Still, he has been better than James this season. The Thunder leaned upon Durant to soak up a larger share of the team’s possessions than ever before, and Durant somehow maintained his ludicrous efficiency — 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from 3-point range, and nearly 90 percent from the line. He improved on the pick-and-roll, blowing away his previous career-best passing numbers. Durant was uneven in the clutch by his standards, but some of that falls on Scott Brooks, and Durant still nailed a pile of big buckets. He will become just the eighth player to put up a player efficiency rating of 30 or higher in a single season.”

ESPN: Marc Stein: Trimester Report

"Separating the top COY contenders was as brutal this season as ever, but Pop ultimately proved unignorable after leading the Spurs to the league's best record A) despite the lingering torment from last June's NBA Finals; B) with what was billed as their Last Chance To Make A Run roster for roughly the fifth straight season; and C) doing all that without a single player cracking most experts' MVP ballots, and amazingly while keeping all of his veteran stars' minutes down."

ESPN: The Predictably Bad Knicks

“Did we expect the West to be the stronger conference? Sure, especially from teams ranked 5-10. But back in October, much of the talk was about a deeper group of Eastern Conference contenders to challenge the Miami Heat. Instead, a win by the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Orlando Magic in the final interconference game of the season would allow the West to tie its best winning percentage ever against the East (.733).”

CNNSI: Measuring The Layers Of Rick Adelman's Greatness

"There's no self-promotion," Porter said. "He doesn't worry about those types of issues. He worries about wins and about the important things in life. He's a great family man, a great friend." Porter learned that firsthand. Adelman has been by his side for the deaths of both of his parents. Each time, the coach's message was the same: Step away from the team. Go be with your family. Have some closure. Come back when you can come back. "Sports are sports, but family is a whole different level," Porter said, and to him, Adelman has become family."

CNNSI: Preseason Predictions: Hits And Misses

“Two for three. The reintroduction of Kevin Love and Dirk Nowitzki to the All-Star pool was bound to create a crunch, though Aldridge earned his line to the final roster with a strong, well-covered opening to the season. There’s not much room for debate there; Aldridge was a worthy All-Star having a great year for a team that was performing far better than expected. That Portland was front and center in the NBA consciousness for months undoubtedly gave him the edge over upstarts like DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, though it’s not as if his inclusion were by any means undeserved.”

SLAM (Via San Francisco Chronicle): Andrew Bogut Out Indefinitely With Fractured Rib

“I’m going to dedicate the summer to learning how to play while avoiding contact at all costs, I guess – moving out of the way, not taking charges and not trying to block shots,” joked Bogut, who missed 50 games while recovering from a microfracture procedure in his ankle and has also had a gruesome elbow injury. “All of my injuries have been high-impact injuries. I put my body on the line to try to take a charge or a block a shot, and unfortunately, I’ve been on the tail end of them. There are some players in the league who are very good strategically at avoiding contact, so I guess I need to watch them and bring that into my game.”