Mavs’ Kidd: ‘It’s the league’s decision to fine, but we’re not going to sit’

On Sunday, the NBA announced that the Dallas Mavericks were fined $100,000 for repeated violations of league rules regarding bench decorum.

According to the league, several players and a member of the coaching staff stood for an extended period in the Mavericks’ team bench area, stood away from the team bench, and were on or encroaching upon the playing court during game action in the Mavs’ 126-117 loss to Warriors in Game 2.

This was the third time Dallas has been fined for breaking the rules regarding bench decorum in these playoffs.

Before Game 3 against the Warriors, Mavs head Jason Kidd responded to the fine.

“It’s the league’s decision to fine, but we’re not going to sit,” Kidd said. “We’re going to cheer. If that’s, I think a positive is that the bench can look at it as they’re donating to a nice charity, which is rare. So that’s cool, right, that money goes to a charity. So for standing, if we get fined, it goes to charity. So it’s a positive. Someone wins.”

It should be interesting to see what the Mavs’ bench does in Game 4 and for the rest of this series. However, based on what we have seen in the playoffs, the league will react if the Mavs’ bench gets out of line.

In total, Dallas has been fined $175,000 for bench violations in these playoffs.

Adebayo, Tucker carry Heat to win in Game 3

In the second half of Game 3 of their Eastern Conference finals series against the Boston Celtics., the Miami Heat were without their best player in the playoffs and their best player in this series, Jimmy Butler(knee inflammation), and they were missing Tyler Herro(groin), who sat out the final eight minutes of the fourth.

However, Bam Adebayo scored 14 of his 25 points in the second half, and P.J. Tucker had nine of his 17 points in the second half as the Heat held on to beat the Celtics 109-103 at TD Garden Saturday night.

Miami leads the series 2-1. Game 4 is Monday night in Boston.

Miami led from start to finish and led by as many as 26 points in the first half, but Jaylen Brown came alive in the second half as he had 25 of his 40 points in the second half, including 14 points in the fourth. Boston cut the lead to 93-92 with under three minutes left, but Max Strus would connect on a three; Adebayo hit a jump hook as the Heat went on a 16-8 run to close the game.

Miami came out with renewed purpose on Saturday night after getting routed by Boston in Game 2. 

“Well, as everybody knows, in the previous game, they beat us like we stole something,” Adebayo said after the win.”That should wake anybody up, getting beat like that at home. From my point of view, that says it all.”

The Heat got it done, but concern has to shift to Butler and Herro. They were able to weather the storm without both players in Game 3, but if these two are out for an extended period, Miami will have to figure some things out going forward. 

“That’s the part that sucks about the game, the injuries, and you know, this is tough,” Kyle Lowry, who scored 11 points after missing the first two games of this series, said. “Jimmy is a warrior. Tyler is a warrior. But we have to continue to stay focused on what we did as a group tonight, and hopefully, those guys will be back and ready to go next game.”

Everybody is battling something at this point of an NBA season, and it could come down to which team is the healthiest. Boston was without Marcus Smart and Al Horford in Game 1, and Jayson Tatum left but returned in the fourth after injuring his shoulder.  

It appears we will have a long series; we’ll see who is the last team standing. 

Warriors’ Kerr on Game 3: ‘Loon(Looney) was just brilliant, again’

The goal for the Dallas Mavericks was to steal one of the first two games on the road against the Warriors in their Western Conference finals matchup.

The Mavericks were routed in Game 1 but looked like a much different team in Game 2. The Mavericks got an 18-point first quarter from Luka Doncic, who ended the game with 42 points, and they also got 31 points from Jalen Brunson. 

The Mavs led by as many as 19 points and had a 72-58 lead at the half, but the “others” stepped up for the Warriors. 

Kevon Looney scored 11 of his career-high 21 points in the third and 12 rebounds, Jordan Poole added 12 of his 23 points in the fourth, and their star, Steph Curry, added 10 of his team-high 32 points in the fourth as the Warriors defeated the Mavs 126-117 at Chase Center.

The Warriors now lead the series 2-0 as the series shifts to Dallas for Game 3 on Sunday night.

After the game, Kerr gave the credit to Looney, Curry, Moses Moody, Otto Porter, and Poole.

“Loon(Looney) was just brilliant, again,” Kerr said. “He’s had a fantastic playoff run. He’s incredibly underrated by everybody. You know, he switches onto guards, and he rebounds, he sets screens, and in a series like this, it’s so spread out, he’s able to score some buckets in the paint as well. I thought Loon was just brilliant.

“I thought a lot of guys came in and really played well. Obviously, Steph got going. Jordan Poole’s second half was fantastic. Otto played a great game, and Moses Moody came in and gave us huge minutes in that fourth quarter. Great team effort, but it was really all about getting things under control and getting more poised out there.”

Looney became the first Warriors center to score 20-plus points and grab 10-plus rebounds in a playoff game in over 40 years.

“Playing center for the Warriors, it’s a different type of job from other teams,” Looney said. “A lot of the scoring and stuff, we don’t really need us to do. It’s a lot of screen setting and a lot of playmaking and doing different things. For me, to have a game like that is cool. Something I’ll always remember. But it’s a lot of work to do still. I’ll definitely enjoy tonight. I’m going to remember that stat, so I can tell somebody else about it.”

Doncic, who came into Game 2 battling a shoulder injury and an illness, says Mavs have to move on.

“We were up 20 or 19, so it’s a tough situation,” Doncic said. “We can’t look back. What happened happened, so we’ve got to move on.”

In the second round, the Mavs were down 0-2 against the Suns and ultimately won in 7. According to Reggie Bullock, who added 21 points, the Mavs have to what they did against the Suns, and that’s sweeping the next two games in Dallas.

“We’ve been in this position before,” Bullock said. “We were just in it last series. Going back home, we’ve got some of the best fans in the world. They’re going to be there to support us. They’re going to give us a lot of energy. We have to go out there with a great mindset to pull away two at home and be back here in San Fran to be able to compete for Game 5.”

We’ll see if the Mavs can pull off another remarkable comeback in this series. It’s possible, but the Warriors seem like a different animal. This series is not over, and it should be interesting to see what Dallas offers in Games 3 and 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smart, Bridges headline NBA All-Defensive First Team

Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics and Mikal Bridges of the Phoenix Suns lead the 2021-22  NBA All-Defensive First Team, the league announced Friday.

Smart and Bridges comprise the two guards on the NBA All-Defensive First Team.  Smart, the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, received 198 points (99 First Team votes) to earn his third selection to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.

Bridges, who finished in second place for the Defensive Player of the Year Award in his third NBA season, received 193 points (95 First Team votes).  This is Bridges’ first selection to the NBA All-Defensive Team (First Team and Second Team).

Joining Smart and Bridges on the NBA All-Defensive First Team are Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr.

Gobert, a three-time Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, has been voted to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the sixth consecutive season.  Antetokounmpo, the 2019-20 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time Kia NBA Most Valuable Player, is an NBA All-Defensive First Team honoree for the fourth straight season.  Jackson, a four-year NBA veteran and the 2021-22 season leader in blocks per game (2.27), is making his debut on the NBA All-Defensive Team.

The 2021-22 NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo, Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers guard Matisse Thybulle, Celtics center Robert Williams III, and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.

This is the third NBA All-Defensive Team selection for Adebayo, the fourth for Holiday and the second for Thybulle.  Williams joins Bridges and Jackson as a first-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Team.  Green, the 2016- NBA Defensive Player of the Year, has earned his seventh selection to the NBA All-Defensive Team.

Celts’ Udoka on Smart: ‘As always, he sets the tone’

In the Game 1 of their Eastern Conference finals series against the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics jumped out early on the Heat and led by as many as 13 in the first half, and had a 62-54 lead at halftime. 

However, Miami would explode in the third quarter and cruised from there to win Game 1.

In Game 2, Boston jumped out early on Miami, and this time, they kept the lead for good. 

The Celtics led by as many as 29 points in the first half and had their largest lead of 34 points in the third as they routed the Head 127-102 Thursday night at FTX Arena to tie series at 1. 

Game 3 is Saturday night in Boston.

Also, in Game 2, Boston got back two starters who missed Game 1 in Marcus Smart(foot) and Al Horford(health & safety protocols).

Smart had a near triple-double with 24 points(8/22 FG), nine rebounds, and 12 assists, and Al Horford added 10 points.

According to StatMuse, the Celtics are 4-0 when Marcus Smart scores 20-plus points these playoffs, and they are 6-0 when he takes 12-plus shots.

“We just wanted to come in and be the harder-playing team tonight, and we did that,” Smart said after the win.

According to Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, Smart, who is the Defensive Player of the Year, always sets the tone, and he set the tone Thursday night.

“Yeah, as always, he sets the tone,” Udoka said about Smart. “Defensive Player of the Year for a reason. Ability to switch and switch on to bigger bodies and just another good defender to throw at Butler, Adebayo, some of those guys and not have to worry about them trying to pick on certain matchups. So he brings the physicality every night, kind of gets everybody else in line, and adding Al back there, as well, is another versatile guy. Wasn’t surprising to see how well we guarded with our guys back.”

Jayson Tatum, who led the Celtics with 27 points, was happy with the team’s response in Game 2. 

“I think we just had a better presence about ourselves,” Tatum said. “They kicked our butt last night, and we just wanted to respond and play better on both ends of the floor, and I think we did that.”

The Celtics got the response they needed in Game 2, and more importantly, they stole home-court advantage. Now, as they return to Boston, the Celtics have the momentum on their side, and they’re hoping to take that momentum into Game 3. 

Luka and the Mavs are still confident after Game 1 loss to Warriors

The Golden State Warriors brought the defensive energy in Game 1 of their Western Conference finals series against the Dallas Mavericks. 

Behind the defense of Andrew Wiggins, Golden State held Luka Doncic to 20 points on 6/18 shooting from the floor, including 3/10 from deep. The Mavericks shot only 36% from the field, including 22% from downtown, and they fell to the Warriors 112-87 at Chase Center Wednesday night.

Game 2 is Friday night at Chase Center. 

Golden State led by as many as 30 points and had seven guys in double figures, led by Steph Curry’s game-highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds. 

The Warriors are second in opponents’ field goal percentage(43%) in the playoffs, so you knew they would not make it easy for Doncic and the Mavs. 

“Just make him work, that was the main thing, 94 feet, just make him work, pick him up, make everything tough for him,” Wiggins, who added 19 points, said about guarding Doncic after the win. “He’s a good player, great player, so he’s going to make shots. He’s going to do his thing but just stay on him, make it tough.”

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr added on Wiggins’ defense against Doncic: “I thought Wiggs was fantastic. Doncic is as difficult a cover as there in this league, and we just asked Wiggs to try to hound him and guard him as best as he could, stay in front, and try to keep the pressure on him, and he did a fantastic job. Wiggs is just a huge part of our defense and our team. I thought he was great offensively as well. So great night for Andrew.

Doncic agreed with Kerr and felt the Warriors played well against him on the defensive end, but according to Doncic, he has to be better.

“Yeah, they were doing a great job on me, especially in the second half,’ Doncic said. “But I think I’ve got to be better. That’s on me. As a leader, I’ve got to be better for the whole group, so that’s on me.”

The Mavericks have been in this position before. Dallas lost Game 1 in the first two rounds of the playoffs and trailed 2-0 to the Suns in the second round of the playoffs, so there’s no panic with this team. As he walked off the court at the end of the game, Doncic had a smile on his face.

“Like I say, I said in the Phoenix series, we’re going to believe,” he said. “So the confidence is the same. It’s tough to win every game, so some you’re going to lose. But the confidence stays the same”

Dallas could not make shots, but their head coach Jason Kidd was happy with his team’s looks and is confident they could make those shots in Game 2.

“There were a lot of great looks that just didn’t go down,” Kidd said. “It happens. It’s basketball. Hopefully, we get those same looks in Game 2, and we believe we’ll make them.”

Obviously, this series is far from over, and great players like Doncic find ways. The Mavs have to throw this one away, make adjustments, and get ready for Game 2.

Barnes, Cunningham, Mobley headline NBA All-Rookie First Team

Toronto Raptors guard-forward Scottie Barnes, Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham and Cleveland Cavaliers forward-center Evan Mobley have been unanimously selected to the 2021-22 NBA All-Rookie First Team, the league announced Wednesday.

The three players each received NBA All-Rookie First Team votes on all 100 ballots from a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

Joining Barnes, Cunningham and Mobley (200 total points each) on the 2021-22 Kia NBA All-Rookie First Team are Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner (183 points; 84 First Team votes) and Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green (158 points; 58 First Team votes).

Barnes, the 2021-22 NBA Rookie of the Year, ranked third among first-year NBA players in points (15.3 ppg) and rebounds (7.5 rpg) and fifth in assists (3.5 apg).  He was named the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month twice (February and March/April).  Cunningham, the first overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, led all rookies in points (17.4 ppg), was second in assists (5.6 apg) and finished fifth in rebounds (5.5 rpg).  He earned NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors for January.

Mobley, who finished second to Barnes in voting for the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, led all rookies in rebounds (8.3 rpg) and blocked shots (1.67 bpg) and was fifth in points (15.0 ppg).  He was honored as the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for October/November.

Wagner, the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December, started all 79 of his games and ranked fourth among first-year NBA players in points (15.4 ppg).  Green, the NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month for March/April, finished second among rookies in scoring average (17.3 ppg) and recorded at least 20 points in 17 of his final 25 games.

The 2021-22 NBA All-Rookie Second Team consists of New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (123 points), Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey (122), Denver Nuggets guard Bones Hyland (81), Chicago Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu (75) and Indiana Pacers guard Chris Duarte (52).

Magic win the NBA Lottery!

The Orlando Magic won the NBA Draft Lottery 2022, conducted at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago. 

Orlando, who had the second-worst record in the NBA this season, had a 14% chance of getting the number one pick.

The NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 23, at Barclays Center in New York City.

The last time the Magic won the Draft Lottery was in 2004 when they selected Dwight Howard.

Below are the results from NBA Draft Lottery:

1. Orlando
2. Oklahoma City
3. Houston
4. Sacramento
5. Detroit
6. Indiana
7. Portland
8. New Orleans (from Los Angeles Lakers)
9. San Antonio
10. Washington
11. New York
12. Oklahoma City (from LA Clippers)
13. Charlotte
14. Cleveland

Below is the order for the remainder of the first round of NBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm:

15. Charlotte (from New Orleans)
16. Atlanta
17. Houston (from Brooklyn)
18. Chicago
19. Minnesota
20. San Antonio (from Toronto)
21. Denver
22. Memphis (from Utah)
23. Philadelphia*
24. Milwaukee
25. San Antonio (from Boston)
26. Dallas
27. Miami
28. Golden State
29. Memphis
30. Oklahoma City (from Phoenix)

Below is the order for the second round of NBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm:

31. Indiana (from Houston via Cleveland)
32. Orlando
33. Toronto (from Detroit via San Antonio, Washington and Chicago)
34. Oklahoma City
35. Orlando (from Indiana via Milwaukee)
36. Portland
37. Sacramento
38. San Antonio (from Los Angeles Lakers via Chicago and Washington)
39. Cleveland (from San Antonio via Utah)
40. Minnesota (from Washington via Cleveland)
41. New Orleans
42. New York
43. LA Clippers
44. Atlanta
45. Charlotte
46. Detroit (from Brooklyn)
47. Memphis (from Cleveland via New Orleans and Atlanta)
48. Minnesota
49. Sacramento (from Chicago via Memphis and Detroit)
50. Minnesota (from Denver via Philadelphia)
51. Golden State (from Toronto via Philadelphia)
52. New Orleans (from Utah)
53. Boston
— Milwaukee (forfeited)
— Miami (from Philadelphia via Denver; forfeited by Miami)
54. Washington (from Dallas)
55. Golden State
56. Cleveland (from Miami via Indiana)
57. Portland (from Memphis via Utah)
58. Indiana (from Phoenix)

[*] This pick may be conveyed to Brooklyn

Suns’ Monty Williams talks Deandre Ayton

Before the start of the regular season, Suns center Deandre Ayton was hoping to get a max extension from the Phoenix Suns. However, the two sides could not agree on a contract.

The former number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft played well this season. Like his previous three seasons in the league, Ayton averaged a double-double with 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds a game, including a career-high 63% shooting.

This season, Ayton had some big moments, including scoring a playoff career-high 28 points against the Pelicans in the first round, but things ended sourly for the four-year veteran.

In Game 7, Ayton, like the rest of his teammates, struggled against the Mavericks. In 17 minutes of action, he had five points and four rebounds. After the 123-90 loss to the Mavs that eliminated Phoenix from the playoffs, Suns head coach Monty Williams was asked why Ayton played only 17 minutes, and his response, “It’s internal.”

On Monday, at his end-of-the-season Zoom call, Williams elaborated a little more on Ayton’s situation. According to Williams, he has not spoken to Ayton individually and explained part of the reason he removed Ayton from the game for good with just over eight minutes left in the fourth.

“You guys know me well enough; I’m going to do everything I can to help us win games,” he said. “And at that point, with the lead where it was, I made a decision not to put him back in the game.”

At season’s end, the 6-11 Ayton will be a restricted free agent, and Williams said the team would figure out Ayton’s contract situation in the next couple of months.

“Deandre’s situation is something that we’ll deal with this summer,” Williams said. “I don’t want to say anything in regards to that.”

Ayton is one of the better centers in basketball, but you do wonder if he’s worth a max contract, especially after what may have transpired in Game 7 between him and Williams, which reportedly was an exchange of words as Ayton returned to the bench. 

However, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, there will be teams willing to give Ayton a max deal, so it appears if the Suns don’t pay him, somebody will.

At age 23, Ayton is still improving. He’s improved his shot and has been a walking double-double since entering the league. Based on what happened with the Suns this season and them not winning a title, there might not be a justification to pay Ayton, which means he could be elsewhere next season.

Watch below as Williams discussing Ayton and more.

Mavs’ Doncic on winning Game 7: ‘I can’t get this smile off my face’

“Game 7 typically goes to the best player, and I believe we have that in this series. It’s going to be an exciting clash of styles.”

–Spencer Dinwiddie, Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks went into Phoenix against the Suns, who had the best record in basketball this season, looking to win Game 7 of their Western Conference second-round series Sunday night. Dallas had not won on the road in this series and have not won in Phoenix since 2019, but as Dinwiddie said, Dallas had the best player in the series, and that was the difference.

The best player in this series, Luka Doncic, scored 27 of his game-high 35 points in the first half to go along with 10 rebounds; Spencer Dinwiddie added 21 of his 30 points in the first half. Jalen Brunson chipped in with 24 points as the Mavs defeated the Suns 123-90 at Footprint Center to advance to the Western Conference Finals to battle the Golden State Warriors. 

The trio of Doncic, Dinwiddie, and Brunson combined for 89 points.

Game 1 of the Western Conference finals is Wednesday night at Chase Center.

Doncic and the Suns had the same amount of points(27) at the half. Dallas led by 30 at the break(57-27) and had their largest lead of 46 points in the third. Dallas, who was down 2-0 in this series, defeated the Suns by an average of 30 points in Games 6 and 7. 

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Mavericks’ 33-point win over the Suns was the second-largest win in a series-clinching game versus the best team in the NBA in league history.

Dinwiddie was right about Doncic being the best player in this series as he scored more points than Devin Booker, grabbed more rebounds than Deandre Ayton, dished out more assists than Chris Paul, and had more steals than Mikal Bridges.

Doncic could not stop smiling after beating the Suns in Game 7.

“I can’t get this smile off my face,” he said. “I’m just really happy. Honestly, I think we deserved this.”

Dallas played one of its better games of the season, while the Suns played their worst. Booker(11) and Paul(10) combined for only 21 points, including three points at halftime. In addition, Phoenix shot only 24% in the first half, including 21% from deep. 

Phoenix couldn’t make shots; they couldn’t stop the Mavericks, and in the end, they wasted a 64-win season.

“That was good old fashion a** whipping,” Booker said. 

Suns head coach Monty Williams added: “I know they didn’t want to play that way. We basically played the worst game of the season tonight. That group has a lot of character and integrity, and I know how bad they wanted it.”

The Suns will look back at this series and this season and be very disappointed. At 37, Paul, who is only getting older, looked worn down in this series. In addition, they’ll have to figure out what they will do with Deandre Ayton, who can be a restricted free agent and played only 17 minutes Sunday night. The main goal for Phoenix was to return to the Finals and win a championship. Obviously, that’s not happening. 

Regarding the Mavs, they’re playing good defense and getting stellar play from Doncic. They have a legitimate shot at beating the Warriors as they won the season series 3-1. The Mavs will compete, and we’ll see if they can go back to the NBA Finals for the time since 2011.