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#pounditFriday, May 20, 2022

Basketball

Video: Steph Curry starts dancing on Mavericks during Game 1 blowout

Steph Curry dances

Steph Curry was feeling it on Wednesday night.

Curry’s Golden State Warriors demolished the Dallas Mavericks 112-87 to win Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Curry was the high scorer for the Dubs with 21 points on 7/16 shooting.

Curry was feeling so good that he started dancing after making a 3-pointer early in the third quarter:

You don’t dance like that unless you’re feeling really comfortable.

Golden State came out hot in Game 1, making 56.1 percent of their field goals. Dallas was held to 36 percent shooting. Mavs star player Luka Doncic went 6/18 for 20 points, representing his worst game of the postseason this year.

Dallas head coach Jason Kidd did not seem discouraged despite the lopsided final score.

Fans shouldn’t let the blowout get them too carried away. Remember, Dallas also lost the first two games of their series with Phoenix on the road before evening the series at home and winning it in seven games.

Game 1 was a blowout, but it doesn’t mean the series is already over.

LaVar Ball has ominous prediction about son Lonzo’s Bulls

LaVar Ball smiling

Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; LaVar Ball the father of NBA prospect Lonzo Ball (not pictured) in attendance before the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

LaVar Ball has resurfaced once again and not just for an AT&T commercial.

The infamous Ball family patriarch spoke Wednesday with David Kaplan of ESPN 1000 in Chicago and gave an ominous prediction about the Chicago Bulls, the team that LaVar’s son Lonzo plays for.

“[Zach LaVine] is gone,” said LaVar. “Imma tell you why. It started off ‘Zach LaVine, Zach LaVine, Zach LaVine.’ OK, now you hurt, a few things happen. Guess who’s doing all the big plays. All I hear is, ‘DeMar [DeRozan]. DeMar. DeMar. DeMar.’ [LaVine] don’t wanna play second fiddle.”

LaVar also suggested that LaVine, a Seattle, Wash. native who attended college at UCLA, would jump at the opportunity to play in Los Angeles.

Granted, very few people by now take the boisterous LaVar at his word. But this subject matter is a little different, especially since LaVar’s son Lonzo is actually teammates and in the locker room with LaVine. Perhaps LaVar is a bit more plugged in than the average person when it comes to the Bulls.

What we do know is that the 27-year-old LaVine will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Though he has been an All-Star in each of the last two seasons, LaVine was not Chicago’s leading scorer this year for the first time since the 2017-18 campaign. Instead, that title belonged to the first-year Bull DeRozan, who indeed took both touches and time in the spotlight away from LaVine. There have also been other whispers that LaVine will seriously consider leaving the Bulls this offseason.

Video: Luka Doncic gets faced scratched in Game 1

Luka Doncic with a scratch on his face

Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday between the Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks turned out to be a physical one.

Around five minutes into the game and Golden State leading 11-9, Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins scratched Luka Doncic’s face as he attempted to steal the ball from the Mavericks star.

A fouled was called on Wiggins, and Doncic went to the free throw line for two shots.

Cameras zooming in on Doncic’s face showed a massive scratch stemming from the bridge of the 23-year-old’s nose to his right cheek.

The scratch didn’t seem to affect Doncic too much, as he finished the half with 18 points to lead both teams. He finished with 20 points as his Mavericks were blown out 112-87.

Jalen Green throws shade at Bill Simmons after making All-Rookie First Team

Bill Simmons smiling

Jalen Green is only 20 years old, but he already tweets like a veteran.

The Houston Rockets guard was officially named this week to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team for the 2021-22 campaign. Scottie Barnes, Evan Mobley, Cade Cunningham, and Franz Wagner were the others to make the team.

Green celebrated his accomplishment by throwing shade at The Ringer CEO Bill Simmons, who previously dissed Green’s case for All-Rookie First Team on a podcast. During the episode in question, Simmons said “F— Jalen Green” and said that he had voted for Pelicans forward Herbert Jones instead. Those comments from Simmons sparked some controversy.

“shoutout bill simmons my dawg fr [for real],” Green sarcastically tweeted after being announced as an All-Rookie First Team selection.

Simmons later responded to Green’s message by saying, “Congrats! I’m still rooting for you, don’t let the fake news aggregators ruin it for us. I just liked 2022 Herb Jones more for first-team which was the whole point of the joke. Excited to see what you have in store for your 2nd year, good luck.”

Controversy aside, Green enjoyed a fine rookie campaign for Houston. He averaged 17.3 points. 2.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. Though the Rockets were a league-worst 20-62, they should have a bright future ahead with homegrown players like Green, Alperen Sengun, Kenyon Martin Jr, and Josh Christopher.

While Simmons maintains that the segment in which he said, “F— Jalen Green” was a lighthearted one, not everybody agrees. One particular NBA All-Star had previously called out Simmons for his remarks as well.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had message for Bucks fans after playoff exit

Giannis Antetokounmpo warming up

Oct 23, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) warms up before the game against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

There was no repeat for the Milwaukee Bucks.

A year after winning the NBA championship, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Bucks were eliminated in the conference semifinals by the Boston Celtics. The series went seven games, but Boston cruised in Game 7 with a 109-81 win.

Bucks fans can’t be too disappointed considering they’re a year removed from a championship. The words of Giannis also are comforting.

Antetokounmpo thanked the team and fans for a “great season.” More importantly, he assured them that they would be back.

You have to love that message and attitude if you’re a Bucks fan.

Antetokounmpo is one of the hardest-working players in the league. He’s hungry to win multiple championships. He will be on a mission to get back to the NBA Finals next season.

Mavericks respond to viral photo of Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic smiles

May 15, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts against the Phoenix Suns in game seven of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Luka Doncic does play basketball with a certain level of looseness, but unfortunately not to the degree that many on the Internet thought.

A photo of the Dallas Mavericks star Doncic went viral on Wednesday just hours before Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. The photo appeared to show Doncic with a beer in hand while at lunch with teammate Boban Marjanovic. Take a look.

The viral picture caused a bit of commotion online because it made it seem like Doncic was getting tipsy ahead of one of the most important games of his NBA career thus far. The Mavs responded to the photo however and confirmed that it was an old one.

“I can tell you this wasn’t taken today,” a Mavs spokesperson told TMZ.

The spokesperson added that Doncic was actually in the training room all morning ahead of Wednesday’s game.

The 23-year-old Doncic is set to make his first appearance in the conference finals after his brilliant performance in the second round led Dallas to the upset the 64-win Phoenix Suns. While we have seen cases of NBA players slamming beers before playing, Doncic probably won’t require any liquid courage to shine in the conference finals.

Jason Kidd roasts Suns after latest bench fine

Jason Kidd looking on

Nov 19, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers coach Jason Kidd warms up players before the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks cannot stop running afoul of the NBA’s bench decorum rules, but coach Jason Kidd is just using those fines as a way to roast everyone publicly.

The NBA announced Wednesday that the Mavericks had been fined $50,000 for violating league rules regarding “team bench decorum.” The league’s statement said that Mavericks players “stood for an extended period in the team bench area” and “were on or encroaching upon the playing court” during the team’s Game 7 win over Phoenix. The size of the fine was due to the fact that the Mavericks have been repeatedly punished by the NBA for similar violations during the playoffs.

Kidd was asked about the fine later Wednesday and was clearly unimpressed by it. He questioned who had complained, as the game “was a blowout, so I don’t think the fans complained.”

The implication is that if the Mavericks were blocking the view of any Suns fans, they were doing those fans a favor. That is a pretty brutal comeback.

Kidd has been casually dropping savage quotes throughout the playoffs and his team is backing him up by winning games. Things could get pretty stinging with the Golden State Warriors in the team’s sights in the Western Conference Finals.

ESPN personality has 2 words to describe Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler points on the court

Jan 22, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) controls the ball against the Washington Wizards during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler had a dominant performance in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday, scoring 41 points while leading the Miami Heat to a 118-107 win over the Boston Celtics.

Butler’s play in that game and throughout the postseason has one ESPN personality singing his praises.

During Wednesday’s edition of “NBA Today” on ESPN, Kendrick Perkins offered two words to describe the job Butler did in Game 1.

“Postseason superstar,” Perkins said. “That’s what Jimmy Butler is. He knows it’s a marathon and not a sprint. He becomes a top-five player as soon as the postseason starts.”

Butler’s numbers certainly backup Perkins’ claim.

In 11 postseason games this year, Butler is averaging the fourth-most points per game (29.8) and the most steals per game (2.3) of all players.

Butler clearly turns his level of play up a notch when it matters most.

During the regular season, the 32-year-old averaged just 21.4 points per game. Butler has also shot 53.5 percent from the field in the playoffs, compared to just 48 percent during the season.

Butler has scored at least 30 points in six playoff games so far, and could very well lead the Heat to their second NBA Finals appearance since 2020 if he continues to play at such a high level.

Timberwolves looking to hire rival executive as their next president

Karl-Anthony Towns looking on

Jul 9, 2019; Marina del Rey, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns attends the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards at Ritz-Carlton. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves are going big after going home in the first round of the playoffs this year.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Wednesday that the Timberwolves are in serious talks with Denver Nuggets executive Tim Connelly about their vacant president of basketball operations position. Minnesota had recently requested permission from Denver to interview Connelly, and talks have progressed beyond the exploratory phase, Charania adds.

Connelly, who currently works for a division rival in the Nuggets, is a real swing-for-the-fences target for the Timberwolves. He has been Denver’s lead decision-maker since 2013, including serving as their president of basketball operations since 2017. In that span, the Nuggets drafted cornerstone players Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr. The team has also made the playoffs out West for the last four straight years, including two division titles plus a conference finals berth in 2020.

For the Timberwolves meanwhile, they have not had a full-time president of basketball operations since Gersson Rosas was fired amid controversy last September. Sachin Gupta has been interim president in the meantime. But the team’s next full-time president will have a full plate this summer, including facing the possibility of trading away a top player.

Chet Holmgren makes bold statement about future

Chet Holmgren pointing

Oct 31, 2021; Spokane, WA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs center Chet Holmgren (34) points to the guy he was covering during a game against the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers in the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Bulldogs won 115-62. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Seven-footer Chet Holmgren looks like a potential No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and he is certainly carrying himself like one as well.

The former Gonzaga center offered a bold statement about his future in a televised interview with ESPN prior to Tuesday’s draft lottery.

“I feel like I’m already a high-level shooter from all parts of the floor,” said Holmgren. “I think I can be a 50-40-90 player.”

Holmgren, who just turned 20, was speaking in the context of what he needs to improve on in order to get his game to the next level in the NBA. He shot 60.7 percent from the field, 39.0 percent from three, and 71.7 percent from the foul line in his lone season in college. Only nine players in NBA history have ever had a 50-40-90 season, and just one of those players (Dirk Nowitzki in 2006-07) was seven feet tall.

Along with fellow youngsters Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey, Holmgren is a top contender for the No. 1 overall pick. It also bodes well for Holmgren that the Orlando Magic earned the selection, especially since Mo Bamba, who was Orlando’s starting center last season, will be a restricted free agent. That said, the 190-pound Holmgren still has a lot of weight he needs to put on and recently faced rumors of a possible draft slide as well.