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The Golden State Warriors continue to present their opponents with the ultimate math problem, but we’re supposed to be done with math as adults.
If you were hoping for another nail biter similar to Game 1 of the Lakers and Warriors, you were very disappointed with the results of Game 2 – unless you’re a Warriors fan. In that case, you loved the Warriors’ dominance over the Lakers, which included a complete Golden State blitz in the second and third quarters to make it a laugh en route to a 127-100 win.
The Warriors outscored the Lakers 84-47 between those quarterbacks. Klay Thompson hit eight 3-pointers on his way to a 30-point night, catching the ball high and letting it fly repeatedly. Stephen Curry was brilliant with a performance of 20 points and 12 assists, while he and Draymond Green (nine assists) orchestrated a brilliant offense.
The Warriors bombed away from deep in the semifinals. They were plus-33 from deep in Game 2 after going plus-45 in Game 1, in which the Lakers made up for the difference with free throw attempts and dominating the paint. The Warriors won both categories in Game 2.
Kevon Looney came off the bench due to bad weather and let JaMychal Green start. This meant that Draymond babysat Anthony Davis early and often, resulting in Davis’ complete demise. He had 11 points on 11 shots, as Draymond’s historic great defense once again outplayed his opponent.
Now the Warriors must prove whether first-round wins in Games 5 and 7 over the Sacramento Kings have exorcised their road issues from this season. And we’ll see if the Lakers can revive AD and protect the home-court advantage they stole in Game 1.
Let’s check with Shams for an update.
The latest from Shams
Two years after the title, the Bucks fire Bud
The Bucks’ decision to part ways with coach Mike Budenholzer on Thursday added a significant development to the coaching carousel.
The Milwaukee opening will, of course, be a highly coveted job for available candidates, but it also adds a level of urgency to the current opening in Detroit.
As Athleticism According to James Edwards III, the Pistons are set to meet their group of finalists with Pistons owner Tom Gores in Los Angeles next week. The list of finalists includes Kevin Ollie, Charles Lee and Jarron Collins.
Back to you, Zach.
Learn more about the Budenholzer fallout
Milwaukee did what seemed inevitable after being knocked out in five games in the first round by eight-seeded Miami Heat. The front office said this about their choice to leave Budenholzer:
“The decision to make this change was very difficult,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst said. “Bud helped lead our team for five incredible seasons, to the Bucks’ first title in 50 years, and in an era of sustained success. We are grateful for the culture of winning and leadership that Bud helped create in Milwaukee.
“This is an opportunity for us to refocus and re-energize our efforts as we continue to build towards our next Championship season.”
Budenholzer is the fourth coaching change of the offseason so far, following Stephen Silas (Houston Rockets), Dwane Casey (Pistons) and Nick Nurse (Toronto Raptors). He is also the third manager of the last four champions to be dismissed. Frank Vogel was fired last offseason after leading the Lakers to a title three years ago. Watch out, Steve Kerr!
In five seasons as Bucks coach, Budenholzer finished with 271 regular season wins (third in team history) and 39 playoff wins (second).
Milwaukee could turn to top assistant Charles Lee, a sought-after commodity in coaching circles. Or maybe they’re bringing in Nurse, who’s still a sparring free agent.
Read David Aldridge: Dollars don’t need massive changes.
Meet the weekend, ladies and gentlemen
What’s at stake this weekend?
We could see a series of semi-finals end this weekend, while the others could go the distance or come close. Here is a question for each game. All times are in Eastern Time.
7:30 p.m. on ESPN: Game 3 of Sixers-Celtics: How do the Sixers better control the 3-point line, funnel the Celtics to Joel Embiid and make Miami pay with the MVP big man on the other end?
10 p.m. on ESPN: Game 3 of Nuggets-Suns: Without Chris Paul, can the Suns get at least 80 combined points from Kevin Durant and Devin Booker while hoping Nikola Jokić won’t book their trips to Cancun?
action on saturday
3:30 p.m. on ABC: Heat-Knicks Game 3: Can the Knicks slow down Jimmy Butler as he returns after essentially a week off?
8:30 p.m. on ABC: Game 3 of the Lakers-Warriors: Does the Lakers defense have a math problem against the Warriors? Can they start dominating the paint and the free throw line again?
action of sunday
3:30 p.m. on ESPN: Game 4 of Sixers-Celtics: Embiid is 4-13 in Boston. Will the MVP help Philly break their road curse against the Celtics?
8 p.m. on TNT: Game 4 of Nuggets–Suns: This obviously depends on the outcome of Game 3. Could the sun be setting on Phoenix soon?
The riddle of the wolves
Are we going to reassess the Rudy deal?
Jon Krawczynski wrote a phenomenal season-ending breakdown of Rudy Gobert’s trade. It is truly critical without being dramatic. And that explains trade costs, Minnesota alternatives, positive results, and what went wrong. Also, where do the wolves go from here?
It’s easy to consider this one of the worst trades of all time. Wolves’ struggles in the regular season seem to have tendencies in that direction. And they haven’t fought hard enough in the playoffs to feel warm and fuzzy about this year. But something in Jon’s article caught my eye: Gobert’s pairing with Karl-Anthony Towns.
On the surface, his clumsiness and constipation mirrored the title of an Action Bronson album. When you explore the duo’s 27 regular season games together (only 27!), you’ll see that Minnesota’s defense was superb. Wolves gave up a meager 105.6 points per 100 possessions, which would be by far the best defensive rating in the NBA. But Minnesota’s offense with Gobert and Towns was downright terrible, with a net rating of just 105.6 (would rank last).
Now, let’s add up-and-coming superstar Anthony Edwards to the mix: Offensive rating: 106.7 | Defensive rating: 104.4
Add defensive specialist Jaden McDaniels to that line: Offensive rating: Always 106.7 | Defensive rating: 102.9
Now, let’s include mid-season acquisition Mike Conley: Offensive rating: 106.4 | Defensive rating: 100.0
Wolves are building a defensive identity they haven’t had since Kevin Garnett’s first. This alone does not yet justify Gobert’s trade. There’s a lot Minnesota needs to figure out with this team’s score because the offensive rating isn’t reliable enough. But perhaps Gobert’s presence fixes their defense and elevates the base of this trade that doesn’t look historically bad.
Did you know there is a Hustle Award? Marcus Smart won it for the third time!
Doug Haller and Tony Jones discuss the sequel to the Suns-Nuggets series.
Will the Kings sign Domantas Sabonis for an extension this summer?
Bam Adebayo rightly blamed himself for Miami’s Game 2 loss.
In Game 2 against Miami, Jalen Brunson proved he was an absolute giveaway for the Knicks.
Has Nikola Jokić been the quarterback for a championship-level defense so far?
Athleticism NBA Show catches up with you on all things playoff basketball.
(Photo by Klay Thompson: Andrew D. Bernstein /Getty Pictures)