VIDEO: Warriors-Clippers series preview
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Griffin won’t change ways against Warriors — The war of words may only be heating up before the opening tip to the Clippers-Warriors first round playoff series. Golden State’s Klay Thompson had previously called Blake Griffin an out-of-control flopper. But L.A. coach Doc Rivers says he wants his power forward to simply ignore the noise coming out of the Warriors camp and keep right on doing what he’s been doing all season. That is, kicking tail and taking names. Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com has the details:
“That’s Klay’s opinion; I don’t really care,” Rivers said Friday. “I just keep looking at what Blake’s done. If he’s flopping, then keep doing it because those numbers look awful good to me. So flop on. That’s the way I look at it. Whatever he’s done this year, I want him to keep doing exactly that. When the votes come for MVP, he’ll be in the top three.
“I’m good with anything anybody says. Blake, you just keep doing what you’re doing. What’s happening is Blake is kicking a lot of people’s butts and they need something to say about him.”
Griffin didn’t want to get into a war of words with Golden State but acknowledged it would be impossible to leave his emotions behind when the Clippers and Warriors open their Western Conference first-round series Saturday.
“I don’t think you can leave the emotions behind,” Griffin said. “I think both teams need that to a certain extent. You can’t be too emotional where it’s affecting your play, but you have to play with some emotion. You can’t take that out of the game.”
Griffin wouldn’t go as far as to say the Clippers hate the Warriors, but he did say there was a dislike between certain players on both teams.
“I don’t know if ‘hate’ is a great word,” Griffin said. “This is basketball. We have to go against each other. The dislike may be there for some guys on both teams, but I don’t know about hate. I don’t know if I would hate a basketball player because I play against him.”
No. 2: Deng says Irving, Waiters can work — Never mind the talk of disharmony in the lineup and the fact that two headstrong young guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters both seem to function best with the ball in their hands. According to Luol Deng, who arrived in Cleveland via trade at midseason, there was never any evidence of disharmony in the Cavaliers locker room. The veteran forward says that all it will take is personal growth and a commitment from the two talented guards to turn them into a force in the league. Bob Finnan of The Morning Herald & News-Journal has the details:
“They have to be willing to work together, watch tape together, watch tape with the coach,” he said. “They’ve shown they can play together. There’s times where they’ve looked great. They’re human, but in terms of can they play together? Yeah. I’ve played in this league for 10 years and I know they can.”
Irving is a two-time All-Star. Waiters is a pure scorer. They are most effective with the ball in their hands. But giving up on either of them right now might be regrettable down the road. They are that talented. Instead of making it work, Cavs coach Mike Brown yanked Waiters from the starting lineup after nine games this season. Waiters became the team’s sixth man.
Then, out of necessity, Waiters became the starter at shooting guard when Irving strained his left biceps tendon. Once Waiters got his second chance, he made the best of it. Waiters averaged 21.2 points and 4.2 assists in the last 15 games, sixth best in the Eastern Conference over that span. He also scored 20 or more points in nine of his last 15 games.
“People put their 2 cents into it, but they made it seem like we hated each other and that’s the only part I don’t get,” Waiters said. “You’re not going to always see eye to eye on the court, especially with two ball-dominant guards. But you have to just continue to keep working with one another.”
Cavs guard Jarrett Jack didn’t buy into the premise the two guards aren’t friends.
”It’s crazy that people think they really don’t like each other,” he said. “These kids have known each other since they were in high school — a long, long time.
“I think those guys have the potential to be a force in this league. It’s just going to take a little time for them to develop that synergy, camaraderie. But I think in the end, those two guys have a chance to be a very, very formidable backcourt.”
No. 3: Jazz insist no decision made yet on Ty Corbin — The Jazz are pushing back strong at a report out of New York that says a decision has already been made to replace coach Ty Corbin after a disappointing 25-57 campaign after three-plus seasons of following up Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan. General manager Dennis Lindsey had said the Jazz planned to “decompress” before moving forward. Jody Genessey of The Deseret News has the latest:
The final decision on Corbin’s fate has not been made by Jazz ownership and management despite what the New York Daily News reported, according to multiple people closely involved with the situation.
The day after general manager Dennis Lindsey said Utah brass and Corbin would “take a short decompression period to reflect on the season” before meeting to determine the coach’s future, NBA writer Mitch Lawrence reported that a decision has been made.
From his Twitter account, Lawrence wrote that a Jazz executive confirmed that the organization is “ready to pull the plug on Tyrone Corbin and go for a new coach.” He didn’t name any potential replacements.
The Jazz and Corbin’s camp vehemently denied the validity of Lawrence’s report.
“Not accurate. No discussion,” Jazz President Randy Rigby wrote in a text to the Deseret News while in New York for the NBA Board of Governors’ meeting.
Corbin’s agent, attorney Steve Kauffman, still has not heard from the Jazz about his client’s job situation.
“I’m not going to react to anything released by Mitch Lawrence based on my experience over the years,” Kauffman told the Deseret News. “As far as I know, there has been no decision made.”
That final verdict won’t be rendered until after the Miller family meets with Lindsey, Rigby and other members of management to determine whether to re-up Corbin’s contract or to go a different direction.
At Thursday’s locker clean-out, Lindsey said Corbin’s camp agreed to a process (details not given to media) that the team would complete throughout the regular season and that the evaluation would happen after the year ended.
“When we spoke to Ty and his representation during the year, we laid out (that) we wanted to take the full season,” Lindsey said. “We want to take a small period for all of us, Ty included, to decompress, so we’re not making a decision based upon the last possession, the last game and make an emotional decision. … And then in short order, we’ll come together with Ty and talk it out.”
No. 4: D’Antoni says his style not the problem — After finishing the Lakers’ worst season since moving to Los Angeles and more second guessing from anywhere outside of the White House, coach Mike D’Antoni is sure of one thing. It’s not his style of play that produced the myriad of injuries that plagued the roster. In fact, he says it’s time that critics realize the game has changed drastically in the 21st century and everyone must learn to adapt and move forward. Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times spoke to the coach:
“No one’s happy about the way the season went,” said D’Antoni. “I think every coach should be under scrutiny; they’re under it even if it goes well. That’s part of the job.”
The Lakers have yet to announce any coaching change. D’Antoni could be back, despite a general lack of fan support.
How does he win over a very skeptical fan base?
“By winning, that’s the only way you can do it. They’re right to feel the way they feel, because we didn’t have a good year,” said D’Antoni. “Opinion is shaped by the record.”
D’Antoni is confident in his style of play, citing injuries as the primary reason the “season went sideways.”
As far as public opinion, the Lakers coach pointed at television analysts as part of the issue.
“I do think that the game is changing and has changed,” said D’Antoni. “Some of the hard part of coaching is to be able to drag people over to the next side. People are comfortable doing business a certain way. When that business kind of shifts, to get people to change is not easy.”
“The problem is most people commenting on it, played a different way. And now you’re shaping opinion a different way,” he continued. “As soon as they embrace it a little bit more, I think they’re better off. But basketball has changed. It’s not the same basketball that your father played. It’s just not it. Teams that adapt to it quicker are going to be more successful.”
How exactly has the game changed?
“I do think the league is going to a more open style, and a faster style,” continued D’Antoni. “That doesn’t mean there’s no place for a post-up player, there’s no place for a mid-range game. There is a place, but it’s just not what is dominant today.”
“The league now is dominated by point-guard play, three-point shots and smart players,” said D’Antoni. “Unless the NBA changes the rules again, like the three-point line and no hand checking, then basketball is going a certain way.”
D’Antoni doesn’t believe his fast-paced style of basketball contributed to the Lakers’ injury woes.
“To me it’s ludicrous. To me, the pace of play and the way you spread the floor leads to less injuries,” he said. “Just because you don’t pound and hit [as much].”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: A grieving Joakim Noah is expected to be in the lineup for the Bulls’ playoff opener … Nick Calathes will appeal his suspension … Toni Kukoc wonders if Steve Kerr would make the necessary full commitment to becoming an NBA head coach…Chris Bosh goes deep into books and music to put on his game face