Five Things to Watch: Milwaukee Bucks

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Brandon KnightCapping off a mediocrity-defining three-year stretch that saw them finish ninth, ninth and eighth in the East, the Milwaukee Bucks should have entered the summer of 2013 with change as the most obvious mandate.

As in change everything.

Despite a return to the playoffs and encouraging progress from big men Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson, the Bucks had little to show for their efforts last season, as coaching upheaval and a dysfunctional locker room motivated GM John Hammond to take a flamethrower to his roster once again.

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SH Blog: Jackson’s motives for calling out Denver, Kobe says Lakers can win with current core

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Stephen CurryAs we head into an all-important Game 6 between the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets on Thursday, lets first get whatever happened in Game 5 out of the way and hope that nothing dumb – like players getting ejected or face suspensions over unnecessary physical play – happens.

The word, at least according to Mark Jackson and his “source”, is that Denver’s game plan was to go after Stephen Curry, who had completely lit them up in the previous three games leading up to Game 5.  Here are his exact words, from Tim Kawakami of Mercury News:

Jackson took it farther, saying that the Nuggets were targeting Curry’s injured left ankle and suggesting that a member of Denver’s organization basically apologized to him for it.

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Lionel Hollins a Candidate to Replace Boylan in Milwaukee?

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lionelhollinsLionel Hollins is busy right now coaching the Memphis Grizzlies against the Los Angeles Clippers, and his future has been a matter of speculation ever since he publicly questioned the motivation and sanity behind the midseason trades that got the Grizzlies under the salary cap.

He also is on the final year of his contract in Memphis, and there has been no public indication from ownership whether they want to keep him around.

If not, there could be a job waiting for him in Milwaukee.

In a story posted today in the online edition of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, beat writer Charles F. Gardner mentioned Hollins as a possible replacement for Jim Boylan, who was relieved of his duties Wednesday in the wake of the Bucks getting swept in the first round by the Miami Heat.

From Gardner’s story: “Milwaukee will begin a coaching search and minority candidates are expected to be strongly considered for the position. Former Bucks assistant and current Houston Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson is considered a possible candidate. And the Bucks could be intrigued if current Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins does not have his contract extended.


SH Blog: What’s next for the Lakers? Aaron McKie or Larry Drew next Sixers coach? Splitter to miss 2nd round?

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Paul PierceThe Celtics aren’t done yet. Despite blowing a 20-point lead, Boston hung in there to pull out an OT win and send the series back to New York for Game 5.

The Bucks and Lakers, on the other hand, are done. The Lakers never had much of a chance without Kobe Bryant, and the Bucks got stuck by the wrecking ball known as the Heat.

Speaking of the Bucks, here’s a column from Chris Sheridan that questions whether Brandon Jennings is really more valuable than Nate Robinson. He doesn’t think so.

The other series that’s still 3-0 is Rockets-Thunder, and to this point it’s been way more competitive than that 3-0 indicates. But, as Keith Calkins writes, the Rockets still find themselves staring a sweep straight in the face.

Today’s blog is fairly playoff-centric, as is to be expected during the first round of the playoffs, but let’s kick things off with some news about a non-playoff team:

  • There’s a couple names popping up in the Sixers’ coaching search. The first is current Hawks coach Larry Drew. John N. Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes: “If the Atlanta Hawks part ways with coach Larry Drew when the Hawks are bumped from the NBA playoffs, Drew would be interested in coaching the 76ers, a source with knowledge of the situation said on Saturday. “Larry loves coaching, and he wants to continue as a head coach,” said the league source. “He’s in a difficult situation, and it’s hard to say what will happen in Atlanta.” The Sixers are looking for a replacement for Doug Collins, who resigned one day after the regular season ended earlier this month. Drew is in the final year of his contract. The Hawks hired Danny Ferry as the general manager last summer, and there has been speculation ever since that Ferry would look to hire his own coach.”
  • Here’s another name in that search, courtesy of Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe: “A coaching search remains in Philadelphia after Doug Collins stepped down, and the 76ers are seeking a dynamic young replacement who could help upgrade a flawed roster. While Brian Shaw’s name has been mentioned, someone to watch is former assistant, and former 76er, Aaron McKie, who is familiar with the roster and is a Philadelphia native.”

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VIDEO: Sheridan on Life Without Kobe, Coaching Carousel

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Life without Kobe Bryant for the Los Angeles Lakers began Sunday night, and it wasn’t so bad. In fact, it was pretty good.

With Dwight Howard having a big game and Steve Blake somehow outplaying Tony Parker, the Lakers defeated the suddenly struggling San Antonio Spurs and need just one more win to clinch a playoff berth.