Around The World: May 8, 2014

by Casey Holdahl
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Trail Blazers: Shootaround Notes: 'We Pay Respect To The Champions By Dethroning The,'

“They’re a group of great guys so it’s hard to just get mad and go out there and play that way but it’s not about who’s a good guy. They speak highly of us, we speak highly of them but they came out and they didn’t care about that. They just jumped on us and killed us. We’ve got to understand what it is. There is no friends once you get on the court. There’s no being cool. None of that. You go out there and you do what you need to do to win the game. If that means get angry at them then that’s what we’re going to have to do or we’re not going to win.”

Trail Blazers: Portland's Second Half In Game 1 Provides Hope For Game 2

“They came out with an edge, they came out with a fire that ‘We’re champs. All these banners, we put all those up there and this is how it is and this is how you play.’ It was kind of eye-opening for all of us. By no means are we intimidated. I think the game still could have went differently if we had made some shots in the first quarter, in the first half, but we didn’t. We bounced back in the second half and played the way we needed to, it was just too much of a deficit. So now we know what to do coming into Game 2.”

Trail Blazers: 2014 Playoffs: Trail Blazers Vs. Spurs Preview - Game 2

"Most of the guys on our team haven't even been in the second round and they've won championships," said Aldridge, one of the most experienced Blazers who had 32 points and 14 rebounds. "They've been here. I think they definitely came out and they let us know how it's going to be. I think every guy on the team understands that."

Oregon Live: Damian Lillard Reveals His Playoff Playlist, From Drake To 'Hey Soul Sister'

“What does Damian Lillard listen to before #LillardTime? The answer, in the parlance of our times, might surprise you. In a top five list sent over by the NBA, Lillard named Train's "Hey Soul Sister" among his picks, picking out the San Francisco band's 2009 No. 1 hit.”

Oregon Live: What Do Trail Blazers Need To Improve On In game 2 Vs. Spurs? 'It's Not Only One Thing'

“I think we kind of felt the game out to start, and they jumped in playing hard, they were aggressive, and we were the exact opposite,” Blazers point guard Damian Lillard said. “I think if we start the game off with a high level of energy, just asserting ourselves a little more, we’ll play better.”

CSNNW: Mo Williams' Nagging Groin Injury Could Set Blazers Bench Back Even Further

“It’s the playoffs, man,” Williams told “I got to grind it out. The [expletive] hurts, but I’m going to do what I can.”

CSNNW: Game 2 Not A 'Must-Win' For Blazers, But They Need To Prove They Can Hang With The Spurs

“First, the on-court challenges. San Antonio plays a physical, unselfish team game. You must defend all five of their players at all times -- including guys named Aron Baynes. On offense, you must fight your way through constant, sometimes brutal screens that made the Portland point guards, especially, look like those little round balls in a pinball machine -- getting banged, bumped and flipped all over the court. When this team sets a screen on you, it's a real screen that can rattle your teeth, not some little nudge you'd get in an elevator.”

Rip City Project: Why R.C. Buford Won Executive Of The Year Over Neil Olshey

“Two days after Ginobili re-signed, Buford inked the contract of restricted free agent center Tiago Splitter. The contract locked the 6’11” Brazilian in for four more seasons on a sliding scale, starting at $10M this year and gradually decreasing to $8.25M in 2016-2017. That is about the best price you’ll get when signing a talented big man, and one that the Trail Blazers would be lucky to manage with Robin Lopez when his contract is up after next season. Portland even put in a bid on Splitter while he was pseudo-available, but was beaten by the San Antonio front office.’’

Rip City Project: Gregg Popovich And San Antonio Spurs 'Punk' Portland Again

“I’m not going to say Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich instructed his team to play poorly in the first round to trick everyone into thinking they weren’t as good as they are. But, I’m definitely not saying he didn’t do that. Popovich is all about two things: not tipping his hand, and making sure his players are well rested. The Spurs looked desperate at times defending Monta Ellis and Devin Harris. It was a sure thing that Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum, and Wesley Matthews could carve up the Spurs the same way Harris and Ellis did, right? Wrong, and just like that, in what has become the biggest tradition of the NBA playoffs, I, like fans everywhere, have underestimated the San Antonio Spurs once again. AGAIN.’’

Blazersedge: Why Do So Many Things Work Well For The Spurs?

“Similarly the Blazers found Spurs defenders waiting for them whenever the ball arrived in their hands and San Antonio screens waiting every time they chased their man on the other end. The Spurs had Portland's number and they weren't letting go until they had factored out any chance of a Blazer victory.’’

Ball Don't Lie: Rochelle 'Shelly' Sterling, Wife Of Banned Owner Donald Sterling, Plans Legal Fight To Keep Clippers

"We will not let one man's small mindedness poison the spirit of the fans and accomplishments of the team in the city we love," she wrote in her statement to KABC-TV in Los Angeles. "We are doing everything in our power to stand by and support our Clippers team."

Ball Don't Lie: Clippers Jamal Crawford Named NBA's Sixth Man of the Year

“Crawford, who also took home Sixth Man honors as a member of the Atlanta Hawks following the 2009-10 season, becomes the fourth player to win multiple top-reserve awards, joining Kevin McHale of the Boston Celtics (1983-84, 1984-85), Ricky Pierce of the Milwaukee Bucks (1986-87, 1989-90) and Detlef Schrempf of the Indiana Pacers (1990-91, 1991-92). He's the first to win it with two different teams and, at age 34, the oldest player ever voted the league's top reserve. It's the fourth top-five finish in Sixth Man of the Year voting of Crawford's 14-year NBA career — he finished fifth for his work in Atlanta in 2010-11, when Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom took home the trophy, and was the runner-up to J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks last season.”

Ball Don't Lie: Thunder Get Huge Games From Their Superstars, Tie Clippers At 1-1

“The Clippers scored at a masterful clip in Game 1, but the Thunder returned the favor in this one. Shooting 16 of 25 from the field overall, OKC scored 37 points in the first quarter. Los Angeles wasn't far off — their 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc wasn't bad by any stretch — but they just couldn't match the amazing production of their opponents. Kevin Durant, who received his MVP award before the game, had 17 on 7-of-11 shooting, just one point off his career playoff high for a quarter. But it was Russell Westbrook who set the tone, attacking early and often for 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting. If the Thunder looked a little sluggish and prone to settling for tough shots in Game 1, they got off to a fast start in Game 2 by asserting themselves."

Ball Don't Lie: Increased Aggression And A Fishing Trip With Teammates Help Roy Hibbert Lead His Pacers To A Game 2 Win

"Hibbert agreed with his coach. “I haven’t been as aggressive as I should have been,” the All-Star center said in the wake of avenging his zero-point, zero-rebound performance from Game 1. Not only did Hibbert credit the mid-series mini-fishing trip that he, George, and George Hill enjoyed on Tuesday but he also made a point to praise workhorse teammate David West, who, according to Hibbert, pushed the center into “being the person that rescues yourself."

Grantland: All The Kings' Men

“This series had everything: a blossoming rivalry between the league’s marquee franchise and the aesthetically pleasing, swift-passing, oft-cutting Kings; verbal grenades lobbed back and forth; allegations of tainted food and officiating conspiracies; the burnishing of Big Shot Rob’s reputation; and even the involvement of a onetime dark horse presidential candidate. These were the two best teams in basketball, so nobody was surprised when the last four games of the series were decided in the final minute. Legacies were sealed; legacies were lost. With Miami gunning for its own three-peat in 2014, we forget sometimes how difficult it is to win three straight titles. The 2002 Lakers were the last team to pull it off. And nobody traded haymakers with them like the Kings."

ESPN: Who Wins Thursday Night's Game 2s?

"All playoff series should be 1-1 after two games by law. Selfishly, I want a compelling round and everyone to be 1-1. So I lean for that. Also, the Nets and Blazers are way better than they showed in Game 1."

ESPN: No Hope For The Nets?

"The ghost cut is a term coined by writer Couper Moorhead to describe Wade's propensity to space at the 3-point line as if he were a shooter, then cut hard to the rim when his man's attention strays toward the ball. In the below screen shot of Miami's very first offensive possession, James has isolated on the right block. Meanwhile, Wade has traveled along the path of the 3-point arc from the right wing to the left corner, before cutting to the rim, unbeknownst to the man guarding him (Paul Pierce). Although the pass goes awry (James' delivery is off when he tries to throw a no-look), Wade is in perfect position to score an uncontested basket at the rim.’’

ESPN: Yes, Miami Can Play In The Post

"At 32 years old and plagued by nagging knee issues, Wade has quietly migrated to the post more than ever this season. In 2010-11, the Big Three's first season together, Wade only sparingly went to the post, using it on 5.9 percent of his overall offense. But after losing in the 2011 Finals, Wade has made it a go-to option thanks to long hours with assistant coach David Fizdale. Now the post-up portion has more than doubled to 14.1 percent of his plays."

CNNSI: Roundtable: Who Is The Best Available Head Coach On The Market?

“Stan Van Gundy. Judging the relative merits of various coaches without an idea for what type of players they would have is pretty much impossible. So, let’s approach this as: “Who is the best coach for the best available roster?” Now that Jackson is out in Golden State, there seems little doubt that the Warriors rise to the top of that list, easily surpassing the Knicks, Lakers and Timberwolves from a talent standpoint. Golden State would offer Van Gundy an excellent opportunity to replicate his success in Orlando: The three-point shooters are already assembled, and he would have the back-line defender in Andrew Bogut that he once had with Dwight Howard. Van Gundy’s outspoken approach might rub some prospective employers the wrong way — who could forget his Diet Pepsi rant? — and understandably so. It’s worth noting that personality-related friction seem to have been the root cause of Jackson’s dismissal, which might suggest that Golden State is looking for a lower-maintenance option. Still, Van Gundy’s track record of success, well-earned reputation as a thinker, proven defensive methods and philosophical fit with the Warriors’ key players vastly outweigh any perceived “baggage.” Plus, we all need a little more SVG in our lives, don’t we?”

CNNSI: How Heat's Chris Bosh Can Exploit Nets

"The considerable benefits of that shooting ability makes for something of a strategic flash point. Bosh’s range opens up room for the drives and post-ups of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. His pull on the attention and positioning of defensive big men stresses an opponent’s help principles, which can force the concession of open three-pointers. That Bosh shoots jumpers so often and so well also creates the expectation that he’ll default to that option when possible, a prospect that the 30-year-old and the Heat can toy with in certain situations."

SLAM: Post-Up: Oklahoma Strong

“Westbrook arguably played the hardest of all, accepting the challenge of guarding CP3 one end while initiating OKC’s powerful offense on the other. One game after shooting 12-14 overall and 8-9 from three-point land for 32 points, Paul was limited to 17 points on 6-13 shooting. Westbrook jumped out on the Clippers big men as they screened for CP3, which frustrated Paul and ultimately drew a few moving-screen offensive fouls as well.”