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Daily Zap: May 31

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SPURS AT THUNDER, 8:30 P.M. ET

TV:  TNT

  • Thunder coach Scott Brooks will continue with the same starters he’s been putting out there. Reggie Jackson will be at shooting guard over Thabo Sefolosha and despite some talk about the Thunder starting small with Serge Ibaka moving to center, Kendrick Perkins will maintain his position there. “I’m gonna stand pat tonight, but maybe some adjustments during the game,” Brooks said. Some of that could mean bringing Sefolosha off the bench to guard Manu Ginobili when he comes in.
  • When Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked about his starters tonight he wouldn’t tell reporters what he planned to do, “I’m not gonna talk about O’s or X’s or what we’re gonna do in the game, but it’s not rocket science, it’s pretty simple really.” So everyone thought that would mean he would start either Matt Bonner or Boris Diaw instead of Tiago Splitter based on the success the Spurs had with that maneuver in Game 5. But no, Popovich submitted Splitter’s name so he’s going back to his “normal” starters. And yes, for those of you wondering, Popovich actually studied rocket science, “aeronautical engineering” to be specific, at the Air Force Academy.
  • The Thunder are 2-0 when they’ve faced elimination in this season’s playoffs. Both games came in the first round against Memphis when the Thunder trailed that series 3-2.
  • The Spurs have lost nine straight games in Oklahoma City (playoffs and regular season).
  • San Antonio is averaging 111.6 points per 100 possessions (2nd most among playoff teams) and the Spurs are 9-2 this postseason when scoring at least 100 points.
  • Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is averaging 26.3 points, 8.1 assists and 7.3 rebounds a game so far in the playoffs. The last player to have similar numbers in the playoffs was Oscar Robertson in the 1963-64 postseason.

Randy Renner

Daily Zap: May 30


VIDEO: Watch the Daily Zap as Miami nabs fourth straight Finals berth

Pacers at Heat, 8:30 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

  • Heat forward Chris Andersen (thigh) is active after being a game-time decision. He did not participate in the morning shootaround, raising some questions about his status.
  • Despite Andersen in uniform, Miami forward Rashard Lewis will start his third straight game. Lewis was placed in the starting lineup after the Andersen injury. The move was made so Udonis Haslem could be the first frontcourt player off the bench.
  • Pacers coach Frank Vogel said he spoke with guard Lance Stephenson about his taunting antics. After general manager Larry Bird said he was uncomfortable with them, Stephenson plans to stop trying to get under LeBron James’ skin.
  • Michael Beasley and Justin Hamilton are inactive for the Heat. The Pacers’ inactives are Andrew Bynum and Solomon Hill.

– Zachary Paul 

Daily Zap: May 29

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THUNDER AT SPURS, 9 P.M. ET

TV: TNT

  • Despite the injured right ankle from Game 4, Reggie Jackson will stay in the starting rotation for Oklahoma City in tonight’s Game 5. “Reggie’s good. He’s fine,” coach Scott Brooks said.
  • Asked whether the Spurs will have a different starting lineup tonight, coach Gregg Popovich responded “Probably not.” When asked who would start, he said “We’re trying to figure that out right now.”
  • When the Spurs blew a 2-0 lead in the WCF vs. Oklahoma City two years ago, the Spurs inserted Manu Ginobili into the starting line up for Game 5. This time, Tiago Splitter was replaced by Matt Bonner, who both can spread the floor with outside shooting and still guard a big normally assigned to Splitter. Splitter did not play 20 minutes in either game at Oklahoma City and also failed to score five points.
  • Serge Ibaka is continuing with rehab treatments on the calf injury that kept him out of the first two games, and he said he’s feeling better every day. So how have the Thunder kept Ibaka and Jackson ready to play? We have a medical staff that is really good,” Brooks said. “They have a plan, and Serge is dedicated to following that plan.” Ibaka has played at least 30 minutes in both games he’s appeared, and he’s blocked seven shots.

Tim Price

 

Daily Zap: May 28

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HEAT AT PACERS, 8:30 P.M. ET

TV: ESPN

  • Ray Allen is active but what role he will take for the Heat in tonight’s Game 5 remains to be seen. Allen (hip) and Chris Andersen (thigh) both missed Miami’s morning shootaround. Andersen will miss his second game in a row. Allen has struggled in Indianapolis since joining the Heat, averaging just 5.0 points on 12-for-54 shooting (.222) in eight previous regular-season and playoff appearances. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said the chief limitation with Andersen is mobility. “He just doesn’t have a whole lot right now,” he said.
  • With Andersen out, Spoelstra will stick with the lineup he used in Game 4, with Rashard Lewis at power forward joining Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
  • Miami is trying to become the fourth team in history to reach the NBA Finals four seasons in a row, the first since the Boston Celtics from 1984-87. But for Spoelstra and the players, that’s a topic for postgame, not pregame. “We’re not talking about what the game means,” he said. “We’re not talking about the past. We’re not talking about the future. We’re not talking about legacy. It’s the keys to the game of what we need to do to beat a team that’s going to bring their best on their homecourt.”
  • Miami has never lost a best-of-seven series when leading 3-1, going 9-0, and in fact has won the last seven Game 5s in those situations. Indiana is 0-3 when trailing 3-1 but has won two of three Game 5s. “For us to win tonight’s game we’ve got to believe we can win all three,” said Indiana coach Frank Vogel. “I think our guys do believe that. When we do what we do, we know we can beat anybody, and we can do it multiple times in a row.”
  • Lance Stephenson has totaled 19 points on 6-for-16 shooting in the two games since his “sign of weakness” comment about his trash-talking with LeBron James, totaling 10 fouls in the process. “It’s definitely a learning experience,” Stephenson said. “I’ve been learning since I got in the league. I’ve came a long way and I’m going to keep learning till I get to that point where I’m a real pro.”
  • Indiana put together a 19-5 run late in Game 4 to trim a 23-point deficit to nine, using a smaller lineup for one of the first times in the series. Any discoveries from that run the Pacers may be able to use moving forward? “Yeah, LeBron James was on the bench during that stretch,” Vogel said, “so if we can achieve that, it’ll help.”
  • Roy Hibbert was scoreless for the fourth time in the postseason in Game 4, attempting just four shots in 22 minutes. “I want to get him more than zero points, yes,” Vogel said, when asked if he planned to get his center more involved tonight. “We want to achieve balance. We want to try to take advantage of that matchup.”
  • The Pacers’ biggest challenge is regaining their defensive tenacity. Miami has shot 50.7 percent in the series, including 40 percent from the 3-point line. “We’ve got to show up more defensively,” Vogel said. “We’re still letting them get free too much at the 3-point line, get out in transition too much and get into the paint too much. We’ve got to bring a better disposition and we’ve got to sustain our rotations. We’ve got to keep our best defensive players on the court. When we do that, that’s when we’re at our best defensively. There’s no secret there. So we’ve got to be smarter with our fouls.”
  • Indiana will start its usual lineup of George Hill, Stephenson, Paul George, David West and Hibbert. Andrew Bynum and Solomon Hill are inactive.

- Conrad Brunner

Daily Zap: May 27


VIDEO: Tuesday’s Daily Zap

SPURS AT THUNDER, 9 P.M. ET

TV: TNT

  • The Thunder have beaten the Spurs eight straight games (playoffs and regular season) in Oklahoma City. That’s the longest current such streak in the NBA.
  • Thunder forward Serge Ibaka will be back in the starting lineup tonight. He still has some pain in his left calf but said he wasn’t “feeling any worse” than before he played 30 minutes in Sunday’s Game 3. Ibaka will again use a stationary bike to stay loose when not in the game. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich loves Ibaka’s game, “I think he’s the best defensive player in the league,” Popovich said. Without Ibaka on the floor in the first two games of the series the Spurs hit 68.7 percent of their shots around the rim and averaged 60 points in the paint. Sunday night San Antonio hit just 45.5 percent of shots around the rim when Ibaka was on the floor and the Spurs scored just 40 points in the paint.
  • Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said he will again start Reggie Jackson at shooting guard in place of Thabo Sefolosha. Adding Jackson to the regular group produced a stunning number, 150.4 points per 100 possessions.
  • San Antonio sixth man Manu Ginobili has had some pain in his left foot but will play tonight.
  • During this season’s playoffs ,Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has recorded three triple-doubles. No other player has had even one.

– Randy Renner