Warriors-Clippers Playoff Preview: Five Key Factors

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hehatemeIn terms of competitiveness and venom, nothing comes close to matching what this series should bring.

These teams simply do not like one another, and their rivalry has been building over the course of two seasons in which the hatred between the teams has only grown with each encounter. If you had to pick one series and one series only to watch every minute of, this would be the winner among those who like their hoops with some histrionics.

If you had to pick a series Most Likely to Include a Brawl, this is where you would make your wager.

Memo to East Coast fans: Buy coffee. Buy Red Bull. Heck, buy straight caffeine pills if that is what it takes. The scheduling gods have done you a favor by putting two of the first four games in afternoon time slots. If they can pull some more of that magic for the as-of-yet unscheduled Games 5, 6 and 7, we can all count ourselves as lucky.

Bernucca: NBA Buyout Season’s Winners and Losers


I’m kinda high on what the Charlotte Bobcats did with Ben Gordon.220px-Gordon7_20091204

The Bobcats waived Gordon on Sunday, preventing him from appearing in the postseason should he sign with another team. While they may have alienated his agent – not a trifle thing in the business world of the NBA – two things should be pointed out.

1. When teams waive or buy out players at this time of the season, they are essentially establishing a price they are willing to pay to that player to not play for them.

2. In this case, the Bobcats made it impossible for Gordon to come back to haunt them in the playoffs.

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Bernucca: Clippers Captain is Back, But the Ship Ran Just Fine Without CP3


ChrisPaulSH1Chris Paul returned to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

We don’t want to be party-poopers, but it probably should be pointed out that the Clippers were better without him.

This does not mean that GM Gary Sacks should start exploring trade possibilities for a top-five player. And it doesn’t mean that coach Doc Rivers should go with the hot hand at point guard at the end of games.

But it does mean that if the Clippers want to win a championship this season – which is entirely within the realm of possibility – Paul has to reacclimate himself with his teammates more than they do to him.

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SH Blog: Chris Paul likely to return Sunday; Knicks still hoping for Rondo

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Andrew WigginsSo the Olympics started today. As a Canadian, this is the one I’m supposed to care about. We may not be the best at swimming and soccer and running fast, but we are good at hockey and skiing, probably.

But my heart is set on the future: 2016. That’s when the everyone will see the basketball talent of Canada on the world’s biggest athletic stage (presuming we qualify, which still needs to happen). And this isn’t Steve Nash and a bunch of stiffs any more, either. There’s lottery pick after lottery pick coming out of the Great White North these days, way more than from any non-USA country.

So Lithuania, Argentina, Spain, France, look out. Canada is coming.

As an aside, writing this intro made me realize that I can only name two people on Canada’s national hockey team, and that’s assuming Sidney Crosby is playing, which I don’t actually know for sure. That’s fewer players than I can name on the national basketball team, even without Wiggins, Bennett, Olynyk and Nik Stauskas. This might mean I’m a bad Canadian.

Bad Canadian or not, I’ve got the latest NBA news here for you to read:

  • Big news: Chris Paul is back. Via Eric Patten of Clippers.com: “Chris Paul’s return to the lineup may be imminent. After missing the past 18 games, Paul is expected to play Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers, according to Head Coach Doc Rivers. Prior to the Clippers practice Saturday, Rivers said there was a “50-50” chance Paul would suit up against Philadelphia, but following the workout he re-assessed the situtuion. “He looked great [in practice],” Rivers said. “We plan on playing him.” The Clippers did not undergo a great deal of full-contact activity Saturday, but Rivers said they did “some 3-on-3 stuff just to try and get him out.” Paul was originally injured on Jan. 3 when he landed awkwardly on his right shoulder against the Dallas Mavericks. Rivers said Paul was pining to play within a week of being hurt. “That’s what players think and you want players like that,” Rivers said. “They’re delusional sometimes, in a good way, in a very good way.””
  • rondoUSA Today’s Sam Amick has some interesting thoughts on what could be in store as the trade deadline approaches. Here’s what he had to say about the Knicks: “With all due respect to Anthony’s wife, La La Anthony, her recent proclamation that her husband was “definitely” going to re-sign in New York wasn’t enough to allay the Knicks’ concerns. They know full well that making roster improvements sooner rather than later would increase their chances of Anthony re-signing, meaning the Knicks are known to be on the lookout for a blockbuster-type deal and still are hoping against hope that it involves Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. Despite the consistent claims from Celtics general manager Danny Ainge that Rondo isn’t available, the Knicks have a strong belief that he can be had if – in a nod to another show – the price is right. They can offer the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire (one season remaining after this one, at $23.4 million) while taking future money back (such as Gerald Wallace and/or Jeff Green) and helping Ainge clear the way for the summer of 2015 that is known to be a priority of his. (That summer is a major priority for the Knicks, too, but it appears the Rondo scenario is one of the few, if not the only, where they’d consider the impact of his addition great enough to justify taking on some money from that point on.) The Knicks can include Raymond Felton (a much cheaper point guard option) or Iman Shumpert (rookie contract) and even discuss beloved rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. Yet what they can’t do is offer the sort of draft-pick haul that Ainge covets and that could come his way from somewhere other than New York before the deadline passes.”
  • Carmelo AnthonyHere’s more on the Melo and the Knicks, from the New York Post’s Marc Berman: “Anthony praised Woodson, who again is on thin ice. Anthony indicated the players have to stop squawking about game plans, and start executing them and playing harder. “We got to help him, too,’’ Anthony said after the Knicks crushed the Nuggets at the Garden, 117-90. “He’s the coach. He has his focus, his game plan and schemes. We got to go out there and execute that. We can’t fight that. We have to do that. Sometimes our inconsistencies come from not playing hard. Not bringing the energy and the little things on the basketball court to win. Some nights we do. Some nights we don’t.’’ Dolan could be swayed by Anthony’s feelings. One source familiar with Anthony’s thinking said he still likes Woodson as the team’s head coach and feels he did a lot for his game across the last two-plus seasons, particularly on defense. If he expressed those feelings to Dolan, it would likely weigh in his decision.”
  • Also from Berman of the Post, Metta World Peace is open to leaving his hometown team: “Metta World Peace is in Knicks coach Mike Woodson’s doghouse and he’s unsure why. After returning from a blood-spinning procedure on Jan. 24, World Peace has seen little time in the rotation and now is open to getting traded, according to a league source. After spending his career wanting to be traded to the Knicks, the defensive forward, who has been in and out of the rotation since December, wouldn’t mind being traded from the Knicks. “He didn’t sign up for this,’’ one person close to him said. When asked about whether he wanted to get dealt at the Feb. 20 deadline, World Peace said: “That’s up to my agent. I don’t worry about it. I’m optimistic about my future. … I’m not going to complain.’’”

  • Still more on the Knicks, and possibly Rondo: Adam Zagoria of The Knicks Blog says New York really needs PG help, because Raymond Felton just isn’t cutting it: “Raymond Felton may have had a decent game against the Denver Nuggets Friday night, but he isn’t viewed favorably around the NBA. And that’s putting it politely. “Felton is the worst starting point guard in the NBA,” one NBA executive, whose team recently played the Knicks, told SNY.tv. “I’d take 10 college point guards and about 30 NBA backups over him right now.” The Knicks traded their first-round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft to the Nuggets in the Carmelo Anthony deal. Ironically, DraftExpress.com currently has the Nuggets selecting Syracuse freshman point guard Tyler Ennis at No. 9 with that pick. Syracuse is currently 22-0 and No. 1 in the nation. “[Ennis] is better than Felton,” one NBA scout said.”
  • Bojan_Bogdanović'13Across New York, the Nets are in a similar situation, with an aging and underperforming roster and not many assets stockpiled to make trades with. But the Wall Street Journal’s Alex Raskin writes that they do have one significant player available: “”I would say 20 out of 30 teams have interest in him,” a league source said of sharp-shooting forward Bojan Bogdanović, whose rights are currently owned by the Nets. The 24-year-old Croatian nearly came over to the Nets last summer, but was ultimately prevented from moving to the NBA because of an expensive buyout in his contract with Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahçe Ülker. (NBA teams are limited in what they can spend on foreign buyouts.) Next summer, however, Bogdanović will be a free agent and the Nets could offer him as much as the taxpayer’s mid-level exception, which is slated to start at $3.278 million for the 2014-2015 season. The question is, do the Nets want to cash in the rights to Bogdanović now, or would they prefer to sign him over the summer? Waiting until the off-season is a risk, because even though the Nets the only NBA team that could bid on his services, European teams assuredly covet a 6-foot-7 swingman who averaged 18.1 points while making 40.9% of his three-point attempts during the Euroleague regular season.”


Dan Malone is in his fourth year as a journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent this summer as a features intern at the Cape Cod Times. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.

SH Blog: Lowry Makes All-Star Case with Triple-Double; Nash BackTuesday?; Big Weekend With No Football

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KevinDurantSH1As we head into the NBA season’s first football-less weekend, it’s a great chance for the league to showcase itself on the national stage. With 29 games over the next three days, it looks like the NBA plans to do just that.

Not to mention Sunday begins the season’s weekly slate of ABC double-headers — usually the two best games of the weekend. Also, be prepared, David Stern steps down next Friday! Let’s take a look at the most critical story lines of the weekend: 

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