Happy Friday! And in case you missed it, below are a few notable events in the basketball world this week.
Phoenix Suns Advance
The Phoenix Suns sank the Clippers 130-103 in game six of the Western Conference Finals to clinch their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993.
Chris Paul shrugged off his back-to-back pedestrian performances in games four and five to deliver a masterclass in game six.
CP3 delivered 41 points, four rebounds, eight assists, and a very impressive ZERO turnovers in 35 minutes as he advanced to his first Finals in his 16-year career. An already beautiful moment for Chris Paul compounds his shared success with head coach Monty Williams, who coached Paul during his early days with the New Orleans Hornets.
Devin Booker added 22 points of his own. On the Clippers’ side, Marcus Morris Sr. lead the way with 26 points. Patrick Beverley earned an ejection after getting a bit too handsy with Chris Paul.
The Phoenix Suns currently await the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks.
Bucks Go Up 3-2
After both Trae Young and Giannis Antetokounmpo went down with injuries, “Next man up” became the mantra for the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks.
With the Eastern Conference Finals series tied 2-2, the main man to step up and give Milwaukee a 3-2 series lead was Bucks big man Brook Lopez.
Lopez dominated his way to the bucket the entire game en route to a 33 point performance that saw him shoot 14-of-18 from the field. Aside from the dominating play of Lopez, Khris Middleton played a great game and found himself just two assists from a triple-double as he posted a 26/13/8 stat line, and Bobby Portis added 22 in his 36 mins of play.
Final score Bucks 123, Hawks 112.
Trae and Giannis Injury Updates
With both stars out for game five, it is important to understand the current reports on their respective injuries.
Giannis: No structural damage to his knee, but his timetable is uncertain. It is impressive to note that after hyperextending his knee in game four, Giannis walked off the court on his own power.
Trae: Trae Young sat game five while still dealing with a bone bruise in his foot he suffered when he slipped on a referee in game four.
Young was seen before game five testing out his mobility so there’s a chance that we could see him in game six if he heals a bit more before then.
Chauncey Billups Controversy
The Portland Trail Blazers’ controversial selection of Chauncey Billups as their next head coach is a major point of discussion this past week. Aside from the decision itself being controversial, the decision is problematic at several levels.
The source of the controversy starts at the coaching selection due to Chauncey’s connection to a 1997 sexual assault allegation. Billups’ connection to the assault in 1997 is already one level of an issue as it sends a negative message to fans about the people in the Trail Blazers organization.
The message is negative because there were plenty of other qualified coaching options without sexual assault mentioned in their past. The team knowingly made their decision understanding that there was a potential backlash over the individual they hired, signifying that the Xs and Os mattered that much more to them.
The Billups hiring is controversial on another level due to the response it elicited from Trail Blazers centerpiece Damian Lillard.
Lillard told the Blazers coaches he liked out of the names he heard, and Billups was allegedly named. Lillard has stated that—like most of us—he was unaware of Billups’ history. On social media, members of the Blazers fanbase attributed his clout in Portland to allowing a hire that many dislike.
Overall, Chauncey is definitely a great basketball mind. However, when you have options on the table like Becky Hammon and Mike D’Antoni, you have to make a decision that represents your organization and fanbase. The Blazers did not make that decision.