NBA

Seth Curry, Steph to test brotherly love in Western Conference finals

Seth Curry, Steph to test brotherly love in Western Conference finals

Arguably the two best backcourts in the game.

Damian Lillard returning to his hometown of Oakland, for what could be the final playoff series ever at Oracle Arena.

The potential returns of both Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins.

The Western Conference finals matchup is now set after the Trail Blazers eliminated the Nuggets in Game 7 on Sunday, setting up a matchup with the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. The series offers plenty of reasons for intrigue, but there's one in particular that stands out for its historical rarity.

And it's bound to stress out every member of the Curry family.

In these Western Conference finals, Portland's Seth and Golden State's Steph Curry will become just the seventh pair of brothers in NBA history to face each other in an NBA playoff series.

This, however, will be the first-ever time two brothers have gone head-to-head in the conference finals.

Apparently, the elder brother was anticipating this outcome:

It's a simultaneous best-and-worst-case scenario for Dell and Sonya Curry. One of their sons is guaranteed to play for the NBA championship. The other won't get the opportunity (this year, at least).

If you think that's tough, just imagine what Sunday would have been like had the Warriors not eliminated the Rockets in six games of their second-round series. Had that series gone seven games, their Game 7 would also have been on Sunday, forcing the Curry parents to divide-and-conquer in support.

Luckily for the parents, the Warriors handled business in Houston, allowing them to be present for Seth's contributions to Portland's thrilling Game 7 road win in Denver.

You can be sure the Curry parents will be in attendance for all games of the Western Conference finals, however many there may be.

How they split up the team allegiances, though, is anyone's guess.

The Breakdown: Lillard goes off in Orlando

The Breakdown: Lillard goes off in Orlando

Damian Lillard had a lot of excellent moments over the course of this past season, but we were treated to a look into his future way back on Oct. 25, 2018, when he scored 41 points against the Orlando Magic in a win in Central Florida.

Lillard added a bunch of things to his bag over the course of last summer, and those were on full display against the Magic in just the fourth game of the young season. It was apparent that Lillard was craftier around the hoop, with his up-and-under move becoming more difficult to contest.

Although Orlando ended up being the 8th-best defensive team in the NBA, the Oct. 25 matchup saw Lillard put a whupping on DJ Augustin, Nikola Vucevic, and the young Orlando big men in the pick-and-roll.

Augustin received the brunt of Lillard's ire. He defended Lillard on 44 possessions in that game, allowing him to score 16 points while shooting 50% on 3-pointers. That was aided by the fact that the younger Magic big men were not ready to defend Lillard confidently.

 

When the Magic switched Jerian Grant onto Lillard, it didn't do much help. In the end, size didn't sway the Blazers star off his path of destruction in Central Florida. Combined with excellent passing and much-needed defensive rebounding, Lillard's 41-point outburst was one of his best games of the season.


Check out the third video in our mini-series produced this summer where we wind back the clock and dissect some of the best moments of the magical 2018-19 Blazers season. 

 

Rip City and the NBA world wish Damian Lillard happy birthday

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NBCSNW

Rip City and the NBA world wish Damian Lillard happy birthday

July 15, 1990, the G.O.A.T was born in Oakland, California. He was later given the name Damian Lamonte Ollie Lillard. 29 years later he is a Rip City legend. 

In his seven seasons in Portland he was has been named to four NBA All-Star teams, is a four-time All-NBA selection, and was 2013 Rookie of the Year. Not to mention the countless game winners he has hit along the way, including two series ending buzzer beaters in the playoffs. 

29 years ago today the legend was born, and today the fans, his teammates, and the entire NBA world took to social media to wish Lillard a very happy birthday.  

 

Zion didn't cause that earthquake in Vegas but he had some ferocious dunks

Zion didn't cause that earthquake in Vegas but he had some ferocious dunks

LAS VEGAS – It was a happening. A big event – which this city loves.

And even with an earthquake that stopped the game with 7:53 left, the fans probably got what they came to see:

A few Zion Williamson thunderdunks.

The Thomas & Mack Center has been sold out for a week in anticipation of a Summer League game between the Knicks and Pelicans featuring several players who won’t even sniff an NBA roster this season. Or ever.

But it was also the very first professional game – a non-counting one, at that – for the league's No. 1 draft choice. And the fans greeted him with huge ovations for every dunk in the layup line during warmups and everything he did during the game.

Alas, they got him for only nine minutes and 10 seconds. He suffered a knee-to-knee contusion during the first half and didn’t play after intermission.

Williamson – or should we just go with the one-name thing now and call him Zion? – is one of the most interesting players I’ve ever seen in the NBA. He’s listed at 6-7 and 285 pounds on the New Orleans Pelicans’ roster but in person he doesn’t look that tall. Some say he’s just not in basketball shape at this time and he did seem stockier than I expected.

Given all that, he’s crazy athletic. He’s quick, can handle the ball some and is a ferocious dunker – the attribute that people seem to most want to see from him.

There aren’t many guys with his body type who have made it big in the NBA. Charles Barkley is the one he’s most-often compared with but my recollection is that Barkley had longer arms and did a better job of creating space for himself under the boards.

Now keep in mind, this is off just a few minutes of a summer-league game and he’s playing with a bunch of guys who don’t have NBA skills and probably just three or four days of practice together.

All that matters.

During his 9:10 on the court, Zion hit 4 of his 9 shots, nothing from any range at all, went 0-2 from three and 3-6 from the foul line. He had three rebounds and finished with a minus-15 plus-minus --- the worst of any player on the court. All of that means nothing, of course, but I do have some questions about him that will be answered this season:

Is he going to be a good rebounder? You would think so, because he’s so aggressive and bouncy. But during this game people were grabbing boards over the top of him and he’s going to have some adjusting to do to the size of NBA players.

Can he guard people? Not sure. Couldn’t tell in this game but with his toughness and quickness, he should be able to do it. I would also say he’s going to get a lot of calls from the officials. Star players do and he’s already perceived as a star.

Can he stay healthy? He’s going to have to get into shape or he’s probably going to have some injuries. This is an 82-game slog he's headed for and he’s going to be carrying a heavy load for the Pelicans.

Time, not the summer league, will tell.

He’s fun to watch, that’s for sure. Too bad we didn’t get to see more of him.

Report: NBA may allow coaches challenge in 2019-2020 season

Report: NBA may allow coaches challenge in 2019-2020 season

Way back in 1999 the NFL decided to add the coaches challenge to the game a football. The ability for the coach to question a call, and perhaps get it overturned, has since become a staple of the game. Now, some 20 years later, the NBA looks to be jumping on board the replay review wagon.

According to ESPN's Zach Lowe, the NBA will allow coaches challenges during Summer League, and then plans a one-year pilot program for the 2019-2020 regular season. 

According to Lowe, a memo was sent out to all 30 NBA teams early Friday morning. The memo lays out some ground rules for coaches challenges, such as:
 - Coaches are allowed one challenge per game, and lose it regardless if the challenge is successful or not. 
- Coaches can only challenge called fouls, basket interference, out of bounds calls, and goaltending. 
- Coaches must have a timeout available to use a challenge, and must call the timeout before signaling for the challenge. Timeout must be called immediately after the event in question.
- If the challenge is successful, the team gets the timeout back. If it is unsuccessful, they lose the timeout.

The use of the review program in the NBA has yet to officially be approved. It will need two-thirds of the league to approve it in a formal vote before the board of governors on July 9th. According to the memo, "based on the feedback we have received, we expect it to be adopted." 

The memo also states the league will be bringing the G League's "transition take foul" to Summer League. The rule penalizes intentional fouls that interrupt a fast break, but aren't considered clear path fouls. Under this rule, the fouled team would be awarded one free throw and retain possession of the ball. This rule will be adopted for Summer League only and there doesn't appear to be any plans to bring it to the NBA level at this time. 

 

Outsiders: John Sabine - The great unknown draft prospect

Outsiders: John Sabine - The great unknown draft prospect

We all have dreams. Some big, some small, but dreams the same. Now one of our friends in Chicago is trying to live his - make it in the NBA.

John Sabine has officially entered his name in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Who is John Sabine you ask? Sabine is a fellow Outsider, co-host of Bulls Outsiders in Chicago. He's short by NBA standards, he's slow by any standards, and his strength measurables leave much to be desired. But hey, they also said Kevin Durant was too weak when he entered the NBA and that hasn't hurt him one bit. 

Sabine is laying it all on the line to live the dream. Will an NBA team take the risk and draft him? You can always coach him up and fix his skillset. One thing you can't teach is leadership. By all accounts, Sabine is a class act. The perfect locker room guy. He's not the water boy, but if someone needs a quick drink he won't hesitate to jump up and grab the Gatorade. He's a team-first guy. Sometimes it's that mentality in the team huddle that helps get the squad over the hump.

At the very, very least one of these 30 NBA should at least sign Sabine to their Summer League squad. Everything to gain, nothing to lose. 

Sabine is dreaming, and dreaming big. Here's to hoping he lands on an NBA roster. Just think of the future documentary potential! These are the stories made for TV movies are made of. 

Our Blazers Outsiders took the time to breakdown some of Sabine's training film and you can hear their analysis in the video above.

On a night the Warriors won, the NBA lost

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USA Today

On a night the Warriors won, the NBA lost

These NBA Finals have been absolutely amazing. 

One team is trying three-peat while the other team is trying to win its first championship in franchise history. 

It's Steph and Co. vs Klaw and Co.

The North vs The Bay.

U.S.A vs Canada.

No matter how you slice it, the series has been well worth the price of admission and just when you thought it couldn't get any better, it got better.

Like one of those famous Marvel Cinematic Universe end scenes that get you hyped for the next movie and hint at a new character, Twitter started to tease us with the prospect that Kevin Durant could return to play in Game 5. Then the tease turned to reality. KD was a full go. He was about to play superhero. He was going to will the Warriors up from the ashes and the brink of elimination to another championship. 

The story had the making of a Hollywood script. Durant came out on fire. He showed no signs of rust as he torched the Raptors early.  Then in a snap, it all came crashing down. One wrong move and Durant fell to the floor.

It is feared the Durant has torn his Achilles. If that's the case, what a heartbreaking end of the season for one of the greatest players in the game. 

Injuries are the worst part of sports. 

The. Worst.

You know what sucks? Jusuf Nurkic breaking his leg.
You know that sucks? Victor Oladipo rupturing his quad tendon
You what sucks? Kevin Durant tearing his Achilles.

Now I'm not here to place blame like so much of social media was quick to do on Monday night. Was it Golden State's fault? Was it Kevin Durant's fault? Was it your next door neighbors fault? Come on. 

No matter who we choose to blame for this accident, the end result is the same - We don't get to watch one of the most amazing basketball players in the world next season, and even worse, he doesn't get to lace up his shoes and play the games he loves. 

That was my first reaction when I saw the injury Monday night. A man who put it all on the line, who wanted nothing more than to play the game of basketball, had it cruelly ripped away from him on the world's biggest stage. I cared not for the series. I cared not for how this could impact free agency. I cared only for the person on the court wearing the blue No.35 jersey.

Too often we forget that these players are not robots. they are people. Kevin Durant the person will be around long after Kevin Durant the player is gone, so we should really take time to enjoy Durant the player while we can.

We should all be rooting for Durant, because as much we want to make him a basketball villain and pretend like we hate him, deep down we all know we need him. 

It's like the scene in The Dark Knight where Batman says The Joker wants to kill him. Joker's response, "I don’t want to kill you! What would I do without you... No, no, you… you complete me." 

Durant completes us.

Why? Because as fans we all love the game of basketball, and the game of basketball is better when the best in the world are suited up. Seeing Durant, arguably the best player the game has to offer, on the court makes the game that much better. 

I hope Durant comes back stronger than ever. The game next season won't be the same without him. 

Portland native Ime Udoka joins 76ers coaching staff

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USA Today

Portland native Ime Udoka joins 76ers coaching staff

Portland native and former Trail Blazer, Ime Udoka is leaving San Antonio to join Brett Brown's staff in Philadelphia, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. 

Udoka was born in Portland, attended Portland's Jefferson High School, and played his final seasons of collegiate basketball at Portland State.

Udoka played in the NBA from 2003 to 2011, but fans in Portland will remember him most for the 2006-07 season when he played for his hometown Trail Blazers. He played in 75 games for the Blazers that season, averaging 8.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. It would end up being the best season of his career. 

In 2012, Udoka joined the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant under head coach Gregg Popovich. In his seven seasons in San Antonio, Udoka had become one of the more well-respected assistants in the league.

Now he moves to Philadelphia where he will fill the void left by Monty Williams, who was hired as the new head coach of the Phoenix Suns back in May.

Williams was an assistant coach with the Trail Blazers from 2005 to 2010, meaning a former Trail Blazer is being replaced by a former Trail Blazer. 

 

 

Chris Haynes hosting media basketball tournament

Chris Haynes hosting media basketball tournament

Have you ever wanted to see the members of the NBA media take their skills from the keyboard to the hardwood? Well, tonight's your chance. 

Chris Haynes, formerly of NBC Sports Northwest and now the Senior NBA Insider for Yahoo Sports, has put together a special basketball tournament featuring writers covering the NBA Finals. 

Members of the media you can see on the court tonight: Chris Haynes, Ethan Strauss, Nate Duncan, Sam Amick,  Vince Goodwill, and NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh among many others. 

This is not just your normal media get together to play some pick-up ball. Oh, no. This event will feature a full commentary team and will be live streamed thanks to Metro by Mobile, tonight at 7 p.m.!

Full rosters can be seen below. 

One more thing. Before you write this group off as a bunch of people who don't know how to play the game, let us remind you of the time Chris Haynes scored on Will Barton. Check it out in the video below. 

Soccer could influence the future of the NBA

Soccer could influence the future of the NBA

The NBA is always looking toward the future, and now they are doing so with an eye on soccer. Soccer leagues around the world are known for having multiple in-season tournaments that teams play in, and now the NBA is looking at that model to add intrigue to the season. 

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the NBA and Adam Silver are “fairly intensely” studying the addition of an in-season Cup tournament where the final four would play for the cup in place of the All-Star Game, which has seen dwindling ratings over the years.

 

If not a midseason tournament, the league could add an end of the season play-in tournament to ensure the best teams are in the eventual NBA Playoffs. 

Changes this grand would be a seismic shift to how the NBA works and may take a while for fans to grab onto, but these types of tournaments have worked very well for soccer leagues around the world. 

Not only does soccer have multiple tournaments, but it also has promotion and relegation. Could we see a future where the worst record in the NBA gets relegated to the G-League, while the G-League champion gets promoted to the NBA? That may sound crazy, but again, look at the soccer model. It works. 

In all likelyhood, the NBA will probably not change a ton about its current format, but it's great that the commissioner is always looking to other leagues to see how he can improve his own.

Would you be for adding tournaments to the NBA season or are you a purist who just wants to keep it how it is?  If you were commissioner, what would you change?