Stephen Curry may return for Game 2 vs Pelicans

The Warriors and Pelicans begin their second round playoff series tonight. Warriors guard Stephen Curry won’t participate this evening, but he should return soon, perhaps as early as Game 2. Here’s the SF Chronicle with the latest:

Warriors guard Stephen Curry is likely to return for Game 2 of the second round Tuesday night after being ruled out for Game 1 on Saturday.

Golden State head coach Steve Kerr informed Curry after shoot-around Saturday morning that he wouldn’t play Game 1 against the Pelicans. The decision came down to the fact that Curry has only played one 5-on-5 contact scrimmage since he sprained his left MCL in a March 23 win over Atlanta.

“When you’ve been out five weeks and you want to play in the playoffs,” Kerr said, “I don’t think one scrimmage is enough.”

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LeBron James speaks on upcoming Game 7

Game 7 of any NBA playoff series is an epic event. Even bigger is when a legendary player like LeBron James is involved. Because at this point in his career, everything LeBron does makes history. That’s not an exaggeration. Here’s the News Herald reporting on tomorrow’s Pacers at Cavs event:

The Cavs and Indiana Pacers are deadlocked, 3-3, heading into their game at 1 p.m. April 29 at Quicken Loans Arena. The winner, or, more appropriately, the survivor, advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Toronto Raptors.

“I think Game 7 is the greatest two words in sports,” Cavs star LeBron James told reporters in Indianapolis after the Cavaliers were crushed, 121-87, in Game 6 on April 27. “With us having Game 7 on our home floor, our fans are going to be truly excited to be a part of that. I hope our guys are excited about that as well.

“Just don’t take these moments for granted. I’ve been part of Game 7’s for quite a while. It’s something you wish you can get back when you’re not playing the game anymore.”

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Knicks reportedly will interview Juwan Howard for coaching job

The Knicks need a new head coach. They also need help in the roster department, but let’s not focus on that right now. Here’s ESPN NY with the latest on the coach interview front:

Knicks reportedly will interview Juwan Howard for coaching job

Miami Heat assistant Juwan Howard will interview with the New York Knicks for their coaching vacancy, league sources told ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

The interview is expected to take place on Saturday, per sources.

Team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry are looking for the club’s next head coach after they fired Jeff Hornacek following the Knicks’ 29-win regular season.

Mills and Perry also interviewed former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt in Europe earlier this week, per league sources.

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And here’s the Palm Beach Post with more:

The list of candidates since Jeff Hornacek was fired after compiling a 60-104 record in two seasons is long. President Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry reportedly have spoken with former Cavs coach David Blatt, Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga, former Heat assistant and Memphis coach David Fizdale, G League coach Jerry Stackhouse, former Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, former Hawks and Knicks coach Mike Woodson, analyst Kenny Smith and analyst and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson. And they plan to meet with Spurs assistant James Borrego.

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Luc Mbah a Moute should return soon for Rockets

The playoffs are all about health. Well, and winning. Okay, mostly winning. But being healthy helps with the winning. See how it all ties together? Take notes. Anyway, here’s the Houston Chronicle with a Rockets update:

Key Houston Rockets reserve forward Luc Mbah a Moute is optimistic that he will be able to play in Sunday’s Game 1 against the Utah Jazz after missing the first round due to a dislocated right shoulder.

Mbah a Moute, who suffered the injury in the Rockets’ April 10 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, is officially listed as questionable. He went through his first full practice of the playoffs on Saturday, which he hopes is the final step before being cleared to return.

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Rockets appreciate time off before second round

Getting rest and staying healthy is a huge part of winning in the NBA playoffs. The Rockets are happy to have some time off prior to the second round. Here’s the Houston Chronicle:

Though the Rockets had played just five games since the previous break in the schedule, they did not mind getting time before the second round while the Thunder and Jazz work their way through their first-round series.

“I think it’s good,” Rockets forward Trevor Ariza said. “It will give us time to rest and give us time to work on things that we didn’t do so well. But the fact that we got it over with, it’s an encouraging thing.”

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Jazz third-quarter collapse vs Thunder revolved around Rudy Gobert foul trouble

During Game 5 on Wednesday, Gobert picked up his fourth shooting foul on Carmelo Anthony early in the third quarter, which led to OKC’s 32-7 run to end the period after the Thunder trailed by 25 points.

“When Rudy went out, that impacted us. But that said, I thought our struggles on the offensive end impacted our defense too much,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “We’ve known during the year if we struggle offensively that our defense has to stay solid.

“But I thought when they did start making plays and Rudy went out that we were fighting it, but we didn’t execute as well as we needed to offensively against the switch, got some good looks, missed them, and then the biggest thing is 37 points in the third quarter, just kind of back in the game and they had confidence and life, and we didn’t do what we needed to do.”

Gobert’s defensive presence was certainly missed as Westbrook went off for 20 of his 45 points in the third and Paul George also dropped 12 of his 34 during that stretch. With Gobert on the court, Utah’s defensive rating was 89.9, but it jumped to 133.5 with him off the court, according to NBA Advanced Stats.

Deseret News

Despite having blown a 25-point lead in Game 5 of their playoff series Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, the Utah Jazz still had a chance to come away with the win even if all the momentum had shifted to the Thunder.

Nevertheless, Oklahoma City made the necessary plays down the stretch to claim the victory. In particular, a 10-2 run from the home team in the middle of the fourth quarter did the Jazz in.

Following a Rudy Gobert putback dunk with 6:40 remaining, the Jazz led by a point, 91-90. Russell Westbrook, however, responded 30 seconds later with his fifth 3-pointer of the second half to give the Thunder the 93-91 edge.

Deseret News

Jay Larranaga interviews for Knicks coach job

Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga acknowledged Thursday that he interviewed with the Knicks for their coaching vacancy last week.

Larranaga, who is Brad Stevens’ lead assistant, said the interview with the Knicks took place in Milwaukee between Games 3 and 4 of the Celtics’ first-round series with the Bucks.

“They’re in the middle of their process. We’re in the middle of our process,” Larranaga told reporters at the morning shootaround in Milwaukee before Thursday night’s Game 6.

NY Newsday

“Obviously they’re in the middle of their process,’’ Larranaga said. “We’re in the middle of our process. I appreciated them coming out here. Obviously all my focus is on the Milwaukee Bucks.’’

Mason Plumlee undergoes surgery

Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee has undergone a surgical repair of a core muscle injury this morning. The surgery was performed by Dr. William Meyers at the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia.

The Nuggets say that Plumlee will resume basketball-related activities this summer and should be at full-strength when the team opens training camp for the new season.

Knee surgery for Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic

Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic had a post season MRI at Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento that revealed a slight tear of the medial meniscus in the left knee.

Today, he will undergo a minimally invasive meniscus debridement procedure at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. The arthroscopic procedure will be performed by Dr. Riley Williams.

The Kings expect he will make a full recovery and an update will be provided when it is available.

Defensive skills of Rudy Gobert huge for Jazz

The Jazz lead the Thunder 2-1 in their first round playoff series. Jazz center Rudy Gobert’s defense has been key for the Jazz as long as he’s been on the team, and of course stakes get even bigger in the postseason. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting:

Donovan Mitchell doesn’t let opponents dribble past him on purpose. But sometimes, the Utah Jazz rookie doesn’t mind when they do.

Even when the likes of Russell Westbrook get past Mitchell, he’s not too concerned. “I’m like, ‘OK, try it,’” Mitchell thinks to himself. “I’ve tried it, and it doesn’t work.”

Utah’s 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert protects the basket like few players in NBA history. It’s not just his shot-blocking or the threat of shot blocking. It’s his quick reactions and 7-foot-9 wingspan, which makes Gobert a horizontal enforcer as much as a vertical enforcer.

The Thunder is down two games to one in this Western Conference playoff series, and Gobert is the reason why. For a full decade, the Thunder offense has revolved around Westbrook’s assaults on the basket. He’s been scared by neither man nor beast. Not by Tim Duncan. Not by DeAndre Jordan. Not by Marc Gasol. Westbrook would go where others dared not trod.

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