Paul George leads Clippers to Western Conference Finals

Paul George Clippers 2021 playoff victory over Jazz

Paul George has taken a lot of grief for his postseason performances, and many were ready to write off the Clippers once Kawhi Leonard injured his knee. But George had a huge game 5 on the road against the Jazz and then contributed in the game 6 victory as well.

Now the Clippers will be facing the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals, and the Suns have their own issues with Chris Paul being out in game 1 due to Covid restrictions. The Clippers won’t have Leonard as well, so it will fall on Paul George’s shoulders again to step up.

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Dirk Nowitzki will be special advisor to Mavs

Dirk Nowitzki Mavs

There’s been some drama in Dallas following the season, with all kinds of speculation about Luka Doncic and his feelings about signing with the organization long term. Then you had both Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle leaving the organization, signaling the Mark Cuban was getting serious about making any changes necessary to make Luka happy.

Now we have Dirk Nowitzki joining the organization to help with the transition, which probably helps with the Luka situation.

We all know Luka will probably stay, but Cuban isn’t taking any chances.

Celtics dump Kemba Walker contract, get back Al Horford

Kemba Walker Celtics

The Kemba Walker experiment is over in Boston. The Celtics thought that he could be part of a big three with Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown but it didn’t work out. Now they had to dump his huge contract, and new GM Brad Stevens didn’t waste any time.

The Celtics traded Walker and their 2021 first-round pick (No. 16 overall) to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a package that includes Al Horford, Moses Brown and a 2023 second-rounder according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Thunder love accumulating draft picks, and now they get another first-rounder to assume Walker’s contract. He could be traded as well.

Horford has been a mess since leaving Boston so he’s probably happy to return.

Kevin Durant explodes for 49 points against the Bucks

Kevin Durant 49 points against Bucks

Kevin Durant had one of those career-defining nights last night in Game 5 of the Nets series against the Milwaukee Buck, dropping 49 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the depeleted Nets to victory. Kyrie Irving was out and James Harden clearly wasn’t himself with his hamstring issues. Jeff Green helped pick up the slack, hitting 7 of 8 threes, so Durant definitely had some help.

But it was clear in the second half that Durant was taking over the game, and the Bucks didn’t have an answer. Durant is one of the greatest shooters in NBA history and he hit some monster shots in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo again failed to close out a critical playoff game. He missed a late free throw (not a surprise) and fumbled a short pass under the basket late in the game when he could have tied the game. He was clearly rushing as he didn’t want to get fouled, and that’s the key flaw in Giannis’s game.

Also, the defensive player of the year wasn’t asked to guard Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter when Durant was taking over the game. Giannis said after the game that he wants to guard Durant in those situations, but you have to wonder what Mike Budenholzer was thinking. I know he’s an experienced coach, but his experience seems to be coaching playoff collapses.

“He’s the best player in the world right now,” Giannis said of Durant. It’s hard to argue that. Durant has been a dominating force for years, though he his two rings don’t get much respect after he joined a 73-win Warriors team after losing to them with the Thunder. The Warriors probably don’t win more titles without Durant, but Durant certainly didn’t take the hard road to his titles.

Now he has two amazing sidekicks in Kyrie and Harden, but the Nets haven’t been at full strength much at all this year. Kyrie’s ankle injury looks pretty serious, so Durant may have his chance to carry a team to a title and truly earn the “best player” label.

The odds for the Nets to win the NBA title keep fluctuating through the ups and downs of this series. Durant’s performance and the game 5 win will help the odds swing back to their favor. Now we’ll see if Giannis and the Bucks can turn things around in Game 6 and somehow win a Game 7 on the road. Budenholzer needs to put Giannis on Durant in crunch time, or at least throw serious double teams at him to try to change this dynamic.

Chris Paul and Suns sweep the Nuggets

Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns swept the Denver Nuggets behind another spectacular game by Chris Paul. Paul has had a string of playoff disappointments, so it’s nice to see him lead the Suns to the conference finals. But there’s still a way to go, so there’s a lot of overreaction going on.

Naturally, sports media can’t help but get into conversations about the all-time best point guards. Chris Paul is certainly up there, but it’s a pretty tough list to crack with Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Isaiah Thomas, John Stockton and Steph Curry to deal with. And what about Jason Kidd or Steve Nash?

That said, Paul has an opportunity here to make an epic run at a point in his career when many thought he was finished as an elite player. His ability to slash through a defense and nail mid-range jumpers is very impressive, and he’s leading a group of young players who seem eager to follow. It’s been fun to watch.

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