Battle of curses — Reggie Jackson! — Buck vs. Hawk

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

  The Opening Tip

  • Reggie Jackson is playing like he’s never played before.
  • Some good old Bucks and Hawks nostalgia. 
  • What’s up with Damian Lillard?

Tonight's playoff game

1. Clippers-Suns boils down to curse vs. curse

After beating the Clippers in Game 4 on Saturday night to take a 3-1 lead, Chris Paul was interviewed on the court.

The interviewer mentioned the phrase “3-1.”

Paul, without any sense of humor, said:

 
“Yeah, I don’t want to talk about 3-1. I don’t have good experiences with that.”

Paul is referring to his 2015 series against the Rockets, when Josh Smith and Corey Brewer went wild in Game 6 and Houston came back from down 3-1 to beat the Clippers.

On Saturday, Paul was up 3-1. Against the Clippers. Now, after last night’s Game 5 win in Phoenix thanks to Paul George’s 41 points on 20 shots, he’s only up 3-2 against the Clippers.

L.A. is now one home win away from forcing a sadistically tense Western Conference Finals Game 7, which will pit two of the league’s most prominent curses against one another.

In one corner … you have the Clippers, marred by three-plus decades of Donald Sterling’s ownership, who are currently playing in their first-ever conference finals.

In the other ... you have Paul, whose career has been a cocktail of greatness, horrible collapses, untimely injuries and manifesting the reality of the Clippers curse.

If the Clippers lose, there’s at least an alibi in Kawhi Leonard’s injury. If the Suns lose and Paul blows another 3-1 lead on the doorstep of his first NBA Finals as a 36-year-old, you will not be able to convince us the NBA isn’t run by a big ouija board.

[READ: The Clippers won’t simply go away]

2. Daily GIFReggie Jackson: Buyout guy or best player in the world?

In last night’s win over the Suns, Reggie Jackson had 23 points on 14 shots, including two 3s in the fourth quarter to push the lead from four to 10 with five minutes left. “That shot-making is obscene,” remarked Jeff Van Gundy at one point.

The craziest part … it wasn’t even surprising.

Jackson, whom the Clippers picked up last year as a buyout guy at (seemingly) the end of a wasted career, has been great all postseason. He’s averaging 18.1 PPG in 18 games on 49.2/41.5/86.8 percent shooting.

For reference: Khris Middleton, who briefly turned into Steph Curry on Sunday night in a Game 3 win over Atlanta, is averaging 23.1 PPG on 43.3/35.5/87.1 percent shooting.

3. Trivia time

The title-winning 1971 Milwaukee Bucks had three Hall of Famers. Who were they? 

Answers at the bottom.

4. Who would win in a fight: This smug and crewnecked deer or this knee-padded hawk?

The last NBA title for the Bucks came in 1971. For the Hawks, it was in 1958, when they were still in St. Louis and still very white.

According to sportslogos.net, which is on the short list of best websites in the world, the two fellas above were the respective logos for each franchise’s title team.

First of all … they don’t make sports art like they used to. The tidy sweater, the upright posture, the smug grin; the knee pads, the talons, the three-point stance -- it’s all fantastic.

Between the soulless, sharp-angled Bucks logo used today and this basketball-spinning king from the ‘70s, it’s a no contest.

Secondly … which of these iconic logos would win in a fight? For the sake of this exercise, we must assume the two images are drawn to scale. So, let’s say the matchup is between a six-foot deer and a six-foot hawk. And, yes, the hawk gets to keep his knee pads. 

  • To vote, click here.

5. Damian Lillard isn’t disgruntled … but he is a little gruntled

According to a report on Sunday by Yahoo’s Chris B. Haynes, Damian Lillard doesn’t want out of Portland … yet, but he might, and also, he isn’t happy with the way fans trolled him on Twitter after the Blazers hired Chauncey Billups,* PLUS, he could definitely ask out if the team doesn’t improve dramatically soon.

Did we get that right?

Here’s what Haynes wrote:

 
"The enormous backlash from the Portland Trail Blazers' process to hire a new coach and his concerns on whether a championship contender can be built have become factors that may push the franchise player -- Damian Lillard -- out the door, league sources told Yahoo Sports."

We think that’s right.

FWIW, Lillard does not have a no-trade clause, and he has three years left on his deal. So the leverage isn't exactly there.

*This is why fans weren’t happy with the Billups hiring.

6.  Quick hits

  • This Giannis quote after Khris Middleton’s 20-point quarter on Sunday night is the best: “I have the whole game to be the guy. I don’t care about the end of the fourth quarter. I trust Khris to death. If Khris asks for the ball, better give him the ball.”
  • Kevin Durant went to the Yankees game last night and took in an Angels pitcher vomiting all over the mound. 
  • Pat Beverley fouled Chris Paul last night, mocked him as he was writhing on the ground, then complimented his acting skills. 
  • Dwight Howard was casually watching Bucks-Hawks Game 3 from a courtside seat. 
  • Bobby Portis looks like when an actor plays a basketball player in a movie
  • Here is the final Team USA roster, which unfortunately includes Kevin Love.

7.  Reads

  • The Bucks just showed off their championship blueprint [The Ringer]
  • New Celtics head coach Ime Udoka’s path from Nigeria to Boston [The Undefeated]
  • Scoopbrain is a contagious illness [Defector]
  • Vacationing Steph Curry absolutely gnawing on snorkel [The Onion]

Trivia answer: Bob Dandridge, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson.


That's the buzzer.
Thanks for reading the 287th edition of The Grip.

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