NBA News and Notes
If you had a long day at work and went to bed before tip-off last night, you missed an action-packed first game between the Bucks and Raptors. One where the best player for each team was not who you would have expected it to be. Kyle Lowry led Toronto, while it was Brook Lopez, who had only been averaging eight points per game in the postseason, who came through for the Bucks.
Toronto led by 11 points after the first quarter, and by seven after the third. But, one thing that completely went wrong for them was one player making a field goal in the fourth quarter. Only Kyle Lowry was able to knock down any shots in the fourth (14 points), and that was part of their downfall and blown lead. They defended the three-point line well for much of the game, but when the fourth got going, they couldn’t. And Kawhi Leonard looked to be exhausted and cost them quite a few baskets.
Brook Lopez started coming alive late in the third quarter on the defensive end, plus the offensive glass. He knocked down two threes to kick off the fourth quarter, taking Milwaukee from seven points behind, to just one. He would finish the game with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocked shots. He’s been in the league for 11 years now, and in his first Conference Finals trip, he came through when his team needed him.
Lopez was aided by another strong statistical performance from Giannis, who had 24-14-6. He blocked three shots and had a +8-net rating. Malcolm Brogdon was able to play 26:39 in just his second game back, which is huge news. Now up 1-0, they are three wins from their first NBA Finals in more than four decades.
On Tuesday night, a lot of fates were decided. Zion Williamson, considered to be the best prospect since LeBron James in 2003 (he certainly backed it up throughout Duke’s season), has learned where he will probably be playing next year. And it doesn’t seem like it will be the New York Knicks. The team that won the lottery could have used this as leverage to trade for Anthony Davis, who still wants out of New Orleans. The only thing about that is … THE PELICANS ARE THE TEAM THAT WON THE LOTTERY!
Yes, for the fourth time in his five front-office seasons, David Griffin helped his team to win the draft lottery. With 6% odds, the Pelicans still came out smelling like a rose. Just as shocking, were the Grizzlies finishing as No. 2, with the Lakers ending up at No. 4. For a few minutes, it seemed that the two greatest projected players of the past 16 years were going to end up as teammates. That isn’t quite how it ended up going, but if the Lakers still have an interest in AD, they could move the No. 4 pick as part of a package to land Davis.
Ja Morant, who was one of the March Madness heroes for Murray State, looks like he is going to be headed to the Memphis Grizzlies, where we will have a situation like the Nuggets had a few years ago. They had an established point guard in Ty Lawson but decided that they wanted Emmanuel Mudiay in the lottery. They traded Ty before the season began. Memphis will likely be doing the same thing with Mike Conley and shipping him off. The return may be less because teams know they have their franchise guard now.
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