Click and Roll has returned to duty every weekday for the playoffs. Stick with us throughout the postseason as Click and Roll will cover NBA Playoffs 2003 as only we can.
It's Kerr-tains for the Mavs
"Oh, Steve Kerrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Why didn't you say so?"
Nearly an hour after TNT's Kenny Smith skewered the Spurs in the pre-game show for passing up wide-open jumpers in Game 5, Gregg Popovich finally adjusted to the Mavs' small ball by shrinking his team down to size in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. (NBA.com)
Lo and behold, there he was. Veteran sharpshooter Steve Kerr, who had played three minutes total before Thursday night's game, proved to be the perfect pygmy up for the Spurs. (Chicago Tribune)
Kerr's three three-pointers in a 23-0 run fueled the Spurs to a 90-78 win and their second Western Conference Championship in five years.
Popovich received exactly what he needed from Kerr: a shooter whose only conscious thought is to have no conscience at all.
"I was wide open," Kerr said. "I should hit those shots." (NBA.com)
Truer words have never been spoken. You may remember, Kerr's done this before, Game 6, United Center, Bulls going for title No. 5. Michael Jordan finds Kerr at the top of the key ... Kerr-splash. Bulls win. The veteran will be playing for his fifth ring in the NBA Finals. (NBA.com)
But it wasn't all Kerr. Stephen Jackson played a huge role as well. (San Antonio Express-News)
As for Spurs fans, they were joyous. Ebullient, even. (San Antonio Express-News)
The Mavs, well, they have no reason to be ashamed. (Dallas Morning News)
With the Spurs' mighty fourth-quarter run, the Mavs definitely got a taste of their own comeback medicine. (Dallas Morning News)
Meanwhile, one writer wondered why Dirk Nowitzki didn't pull a Willis Reed. (Yes, the second link is shameless self-promotion for our Greatest Shots of the Finals feature. I say, Dr. J. How can you not? But, that's another column.) (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, NBA.com)
As for Don Nelson (who is also in the Greatest Shots of the Finals), he's never been to the NBA Finals as a coach. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
As for the Finals matchup, it's the first ever between two former ABA teams. To get some perspective, you may want to read Terry Pluto's "Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association-As Told by the Players, Coaches, and Movers and Shakers Who Made It Happen". (Amazon.com)
How can you not laugh at St. Louis' Marvin Barnes, who, not taking into account the change in time zones, refused to get on a plane because he saw the itinerary with a departure time from Memphis of 8:01 a.m and an arrival time in St. Louis at 7:59 a.m.
"I ain't gettin' into no time machine, man!" Too precious. The book is full of stories like that.
But enough about history, let's look at how the Spurs matchup with the Nets. Some call it a matchup nightmare for the Nets. (Newark Star-Ledger)
That's all we have for now. We'll get more in depth in the coming days, as Click and Roll will be going to the NBA Finals. Say it with me: Woo-hoo!
SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL
Let me just say, on the record, I'm disappointed I haven't been considered for an NBA head coaching position.
Why? Because everyone else has. Goodness. It's tough to tell what's a good lead and what's ... well, this is a family column.
Still, let's see how fast rumors move. This morning, the Sixers were talking with University of Kentucky coach Tubby Smith. (Philly.com)
Later this morning, Smith pulled the coaching equivalent of booing Santa Claus, and told the Sixers, "Nuh-uh." (ESPN.com)
One New York paper says the Cavs are ready to have Jeff Van Gundy take their head coaching job, while a Cleveland paper has the Cavs interested in both Van Gundy and Paul Silas. (New York Daily News, Cleveland Plain Dealer)
And now, the Wizards, who have a coach in Doug Collins, have approached Larry Brown about taking over as president of basketball operations and head coach. (Washington Post)
Better check with Nails (my editor) to see if my job is safe.
Rob Peterson, NBA.com
Before Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, the Spurs, as they say, were all that.
But, as soon as the Spurs saw a 19-point lead turn into an 11-point defeat, the jackals in the press (a term of endearment, really) started picking over the bones of Game 5 to see if we could determine what may happen in Game 6 tonight (9 ET, TNT). By surfing the Internet, you would never know the Spurs lead the series 3-2.
The Spurs' Game 5 loss even prompted the editor of this column to comment. As he poured milk over his nails during breakfast the other day (yes, he eats nails for breakfast) at the NBA Entertainment Cafe, he said, "You know, after watching last night's game, I think the Nets may be the team to beat."
Who am I to argue? Still, after Game 5, two prevailing story lines emerged for the Mavs:
Without Dirk Nowitzki, desperate times call for desperate measures as the offensive-minded Mavs have begun to put the Big D back in Dallas. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Also, hardly impartial observers believe the Mavs have the best coach. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
For San Antonio, some have made it clear that the Spurs need to:
For the Spurs, another key is keeping the huge leads they build. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
The Spurs believe this is more of a coincidence than a trend. They have far more faith in their ability to bounce back. (San Antonio Express-News)
And one Alamo City scribe said this series will salt away the Spurs' legacy either as champs or far, far worse. (San Antonio Express-News)
As for the Eastern Conference Champs, they're just chillin', especially coach Byron Scott. (New York Daily News)
Been a while since we've done tip ins. But, with only three teams alive in the playoffs, this is the perfect place for items such as these to go. We'll also be adding more NBA Draft news as we head toward the Draft on June 26.
The prospect of MJ 90 miles north of Chicago should scare the Bulls, says one of Jordan's biggest fans. (Chicago Sun-Times)
Yesterday, we noted that Philly papers were reporting the Sixers' interest in hiring Maurice Cheeks. In not so many words, the Blazers' brass said: "Keep your greasy, cheesesteak-filled mitts off our coach!" (Blazers.com)
They can, however, talk to Jeff Van Gundy if they want to. (Philly Daily News)
One of these days, maybe there will be a foreign-born coach at the helm of an NBA team. (Houston Chronicle)
Rob Peterson, NBA.com
The 31-Point Swing
Remember all those "not even Nellie can get out of this one" stories a few days ago? (San Antonio Express-News)
Well, that's changed. At least for a game after the Mavericks escaped San Antonio with a 103-91 win over the Spurs in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday. (NBA.com)
As for the Spurs, when Tim Duncan gets help, they win. When the Spurs' young guns clang shots left and right from the perimeter, it's uh-oh time. (San Antonio Express-News)
Another columnist says going from 19-up to 11-down at the end was not the way to close out a series. He advised the Spurs not to play like it was over in Game 6 on Thursday (9 ET, TNT). (San Antonio Express-News)
For the Mavs, they now have hope for the series, and they have hope Dirk Nowitzki could make a return. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
One doc says the Deutsche Marksman was lucky his injury wasn't more serious. (Dallas Morning News)
In addition to a stellar performance from Michael Finley, the Mavs also got a huge boost from Steve Nash and Eduardo Najera. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Now, because of their comeback, the Mavs have hearts as big as the Texas sky. (Dallas Morning News)
Had they lost, they would have been vilified. Eh, such is the nature of sport. But the Mavs live to see another game. They can also put off that fishin' trip with Sir Charles, Kenny and the like. Not that Finley would have taken up a rod and reel.
"I don't fish," Finley told TNT's Cheryl Miller after the game. Seems like the Mavs took Finley's cue not to quit hook, line and sinker.
MUSICAL CHAIRSSome teams and people waste no time. Maurice Cheeks is reported to be No. 1 on the Sixers wish list for head coach and substitute anthem singer. (Philly Inquirer)
In the meantime, former Sixers coach Larry Brown was in New York on Tuesday, to meet with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander one day after leaving Philadelphia. (Houston Chronicle)
Seems like Brown couldn't get out quick enough. (Chicago Tribune)
As for Don Nelson to Houston? No way, he says. (Dallas Morning News)
Former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy seemingly can go wherever he chooses. (New York Post)
In Toronto, the Raptors are looking at former Bucks great, Sidney Moncrief. (Toronto Sun)
Rob Peterson, NBA.com
On the Brink
The sheer improbability of what the Mavericks need to do to reach the NBA Finals has been well-documented here.
Coming back to win a series after falling behind 3-1 has been nearly impossible in the NBA. Before NBA Playoffs 2003, only six teams have done it. (NBA.com)
And if things weren't daunting enough, the Dallas Mavericks may be without Dirk Nowitzki for the remainder of the Western Conference Finals. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Yeah, right, says Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
If they wish, Dallas can choose to see the glass as half-full. The Pistons became the seventh team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 hole when they took care of the Magic in the East's first round this year. (NBA.com)
The Mavericks can take solace in the fact that winning Game 7 on the road in a conference finals series after trailing 3-1 isn't impossible either, as Boston in 1968 and Houston in 1995 won their ultimate games away from home. It should also put a smile on the Mavs' collective mugs knowing those two teams went on to win NBA titles.
But Dallas can't worry about the NBA Finals. (San Antonio Express-News)
They need to concentrate on winning their second game of the series. Mavs assistant coach Rolando Blackman says they need to attack the basket. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
The Spurs also know all too well about not having a superstar's services because of injury. (San Antonio Express-News)
As for the Spurs' Tim Duncan, he's making the incredible look routine. (San Antonio Express-News)
In addition to Duncan, second-year guard Tony Parker has been hitting the open jumper, which gives opponents headaches on defense. (San Antonio Express-News)
Meanwhile, the Spurs will have many great pictures for their photo album of this postseason. (San Antonio Express-News)
And if the Spurs do win to meet the Eastern Conference Champion New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals, it would be the first Finals meeting between two teams born in the ABA. This matchup has already made one grizzled ABA scribe giddy at the prospect. (New York Post)
A PERFECT 10Speaking of those Nets, what a roll they are on. Going back to the first round, the Nets have won 10 consecutive playoffs game, including sweeps of Boston and Detroit, the last of which clinched the Nets' second consecutive East title. (NBA.com)
If their two East titles haven't validated the Nets (and they have), New Jersey is still cranky from being swept in the NBA Finals last season. (New York Daily News)
And, as with some New York writers, they note that a team must be lucky as well as good. (New York Daily News)
Another notes that the Nets can only rely on themselves and must get rid of all distractions (which is code for wives, children, family and friends) if they hope to take the NBA title. (Newark Star-Ledger)
As for the Pistons, making the Eastern Conference Finals wasn't enough. (Detroit News)
But at least they have the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft to look forward to. (Detroit News)
COACHING CAROUSELNo wonder why unemployment claims are up.
Seven teams have coaching vacancies, with the latest being the least surprising, considering this coach's history. (NBA.com)
On Monday, Larry Brown announced that he was leaving the Sixers and Philadelphia in his rearview mirror. (Phildadelphia Daily News)
Brown, who has taken six NBA franchises to the playoffs, has had nine coaching gigs, including UCLA and the University of Kansas, in 31 years. He spent six years in Philly, his longest stop. Brown's career has made military families look stable. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
If anyone was stable, it was Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich. Make that former-Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich. (Houston Chronicle)
Rudy T stepped down on Friday after 12½-seasons as Houston's head coach. Tomjanovich, who has been with the Rockets for 33 years, will stay with the team as a consultant. Seems like Rudy T is a guy you want to have around. (Houston Chronicle)
Of course, when a team has a vacancy, the coaching carousel begins to spin and speculation begins to fly. Here's one scenario for the Sixers but it includes a coach of another team, which would create an eighth job opening. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
And on this list, there's a possibility of a ninth! (Newsday)
Finally, don't forget, Charlotte needs a coach too. That would make it a perfect 10.
Rob Peterson, NBA.com