A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.
Also, that's not a typo — we're going two deeper today.
C: Hawks.com. "Twenty-five years ago on May 22, 1988, two Hall of Famers staged what is widely considered to be the greatest one-on-one battle in NBA Playoff history." In celebration of that momentous mano-y-mano showdown, Micah Hart goes in-depth and all-out with an oral history that features recollections of the battle as remembered by combatants Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins, their teammates, the people who covered it and more. Very good, very fun, very well done.
PF: Sports Illustrated. Lee Jenkins spent a week with the Memphis Grizzlies during the second round of this year's playoffs for a story that, among other things, introduced us to Buckets, Quincy Pondexter's Husky puppy. It offers a pretty interesting perspective at what the day-to-day operation of a playoff team looks like, and is well worth your time.
SF: Pro Hoops History. Before he was the definition of a ref-hating homer who makes Boston Celtics broadcasts either must-see TV or borderline-unwatchable, depending on your rooting interest, Tommy Heinsohn was a dynamic scorer and inveterate gunner who attempted nearly as many shots per minute as Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor. Curtis Harris takes a closer look at the playing career of the Celtics legend, one of the newest enshrinees in Harris' self-styled Hall of Fame.
SG: TrueHoop. Kevin Arnovitz bids farewell to ousted Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro, "the happy warrior" who was likable enough to get along but too much of a "schematic lightweight" to get the Clippers where they need to go.
PG: 20 Second Timeout. As David Friedman sees it, Lionel Hollins' decision to roll with a lineup that didn't include Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis or Austin Daye to spark a Memphis comeback in Game 2 "reveals what he thinks of the Rudy Gay trade." Is the Grizzlies coach still sore about his "beer budget?"
6th: Brian Spaeth. Upon learning that his Cleveland Cavaliers had won the top pick in the 2013 NBA draft, author/filmmaker/podcaster/NBA-blogging trailblazer Spaeth decided to "watch as much footage as possible" to figure out who they should take No. 1 overall. He made it through 11 seconds of three separate videos.
7th: SB Nation. Paul Flannery takes a look at this year's NBA final four — one superteam, three small-market squads built according to different blueprints — and tries to figure out what lessons we can learn about roster management, player development and salary shuffling from the areas where they've succeeded and others have failed.
8th: SLAM. An awesome read from Tzvi Twersky on New Orleans Pelicans point guard Greivis Vasquez, whose upbringing in Venezuela made him uniquely suited to dealing with playing in hostile environments: “Why wasn’t I afraid in college? I’ve seen m*******s getting killed, people stealing stuff back home. That’s tough. Seeing that, it ain’t nothing playing at Duke.”
9th: Joe Posnanski. With the process of moving from Bobcats to Hornets now officially underway, Posnanski recalls why the Charlotte Hornets were A Big Deal, at least for a while, in their first go-round: "The Hornets made some of us feel like we lived someplace that mattered."
10th: HoopSpeak. Want to watch 15 minutes of the San Antonio Spurs' offensive sets to show the myriad options, counters and actions in their playbook? Iona College assistant coach Zak Boisvert has just the video for you.
11th: Extra Mustard. An interesting read on the background of Vivek Ranadivé, the leader of the Sacramento Kings' new ownership group, whose career has largely been built on getting and processing data quickly and effectively: "A little bit of the right information, just a little bit beforehand — whether it is a couple of seconds, minutes, or hours — is more valuable than all of the information in the world six months later."
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About four months ago, some NBA people were seriously discussing whether or not Tony Parker could make a legitimate claim to being the league's Most Valuable Player this season. That discussion was mostly bunk, on account of LeBron James existing, but it was an important step up in recognition for the evolution of the San Antonio Spurs point guard's game over the past few years — the vision, pace and timing he's added to his speed and quickness, the subtle in-and-out moves and slight feints he's mastered to keep even first-rate defenders off-balance, the feel he's developed for when to hunt his own offense and when to facilitate for others to make sure San Antonio's offensive machine is in prime working order.
After skewing a bit toward the former with a team-high 14 shots and a game-high 20 points in the Spurs' Western Conference finals-opening win over the visiting Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, Parker clearly veered back to the latter in Tuesday's Game 2, keeping Memphis' perimeter defenders at arm's length and dominating the opening three quarters of the game en route to a career-best 18 assists in a 93-89 overtime win that gave San Antonio a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Sure, there might have been a little bit of home-scorer's cooking on a couple of those credited dimes, but Parker's overall control of the game and mastery of a hard-working Grizzlies defense was undeniable.
"He was unbelievable," longtime running buddy Tim Duncan said after the game. "I know he's exhausted. We asked a lot of him. He was controlling the ball every time down the floor and he was making every right play there was. He was finding people, and people knocked down shots for him."
That fatigue was evident in the latter stages of Game 2. The combination of dominating the ball, orchestrating Gregg Popovich's offense and defending dangerous Memphis guards Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless for 28 1/2 minutes through three quarters seemed to weigh heavily on Parker's legs in the fourth quarter. As Parker goes, so goes the Spurs offense, and when he waned — missing six of eight shots without an assist — so did San Antonio, sputtering to just nine points in the frame and opening the door to a Memphis comeback that was aided by a bad Manu Ginobili flagrant foul (and highlighted by some timely embellishment from Tony Allen).
The dead legs seemed to persist into overtime for both benches, but luckily for the Spurs, Duncan had one last burst left. He scored six points in less than five minutes in the extra frame, and added a critical block of a Marc Gasol layup that would have tied the game at 89 with just over 90 seconds remaining. Not only that, but Duncan followed his rejection by making a floater on the other end to put San Antonio up by four ... and give Parker his career-high 18th assist. The total topped Parker's previous career high of 17, notched last season against the New Orleans Hornets, and his prior postseason high of 14, posted against the Utah Jazz back in 2007. (It's also two shy of the Spurs franchise record for assists in a playoff game — Johnny Moore had 20 in a 1983 win over the Denver Nuggets.)
As San Antonio Express-News columnist Buck Harvey put it, "Popovich had wanted him to be John Stockton when he drafted him, and, a dozen years later, Parker made it." And now, Parker actually joins Stockton in a pretty exclusive club of playoff performers.
Parker's now the 14th player since the 1985-86 season (as far back as Basketball-Reference's database goes) to have posted an 18-assist playoff game. Only five players have had multiple 18-or-more assist games since '85: Magic Johnson (who did it 16 times), Stockton (10 times), Rajon Rondo (four times), Doc Rivers and Kevin Johnson (both twice). Mookie Blaylock, Sleepy Floyd, Tim Hardaway, Avery Johnson, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Mark Price, Spud Webb and now Parker have all done it once. And if you want to whittle the group down even further, only Parker, Magic and Kidd have put up at least 15 points, 18 dimes, five rebounds and three steals in a playoff game in the last 27 years. Decent company, huh?
(An aside: It's not easy to pick a "best" game out of that bunch, since they're all obviously pretty great. But Hardaway scoring 27 points on 50 percent shooting, dropping 20 dimes with one turnover and adding five steals and two blocks in 51 minutes might not be a bad place to start. Then again, his Golden State Warriors lost that game to the Los Angeles Lakers, so maybe it's not a great place to start, either. Maybe Kidd's 16-point, 16-rebound, 19-assist triple-double to send the New Jersey Nets past the Toronto Raptors in 2007? I don't know. Have fun deciding for yourselves.)
It's hard work setting up that many teammates in that many ways — slick aerial bounce passes, quick pocket passes off screen action, bullet passes to pick out backdoor cutters, dump-offs made possible by your dribble penetration — and after 42 minutes of hustle and flow, Parker copped to being exhausted.
“I just got tired,” Parker said, according to Harvey. “I can't speak for everyone else, but I know I was tired.”
Luckily, the schedule's on Parker's side — he now gets three days to rest and recover before Game 3 tips in Memphis on Saturday night. Those three days could help Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, too, though — remember, Memphis dropped its first two games against the Los Angeles Clippers in Round 1, then came back to win four straight, and then ripped off four straight following a Game 1 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Round 2. Momentum can be a fickle thing in the NBA playoffs, which is why it's nice to have someone who can take control of a game and steer it in your direction. As Parker reminded us on Tuesday, the Spurs most certainly have that.
If the clip above isn't rocking for you, please feel free to check out all the dishing elsewhere, thanks to the NBA.
Will Mr. Big Shot be back with the Clippers in 2014?
As the Clippers are set to begin their Coaching search, let's take a look at some of the options available.
The Spurs pounded the Grizzlies in Game 1, but Memphis has bounced back from losses twice already in these playoffs.
Over the course of three seasons, Vinny Del Negro has been one of the most successful coaches in Clippers franchise history, but he will not be back for a fourth season as the club has decided not to renew his contract.
When the Clippers made an early playoff exit, it seemed as if Vinny Del Negro would be fired at any moment. Here we are two weeks later, and nothing has changed. So what's the deal.
Let us know by submitting a url: