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NBA Playoffs, Flip Saunders Press Conference

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Notes from the Timberwolves and around the NBA

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The home teams took control in the 4th quarter and  won to take 2-0 series leads in both playoff games last night.  The Bulls beat the Bucks behind Jimmy Butler's huge final period during which he equaled the point output (14) of the Bucks on his own. Butler finished with 31, a playoff career high, and the Bulls won 91-82 and head to Milwaukee with a commanding series lead.

The Warriors withstood a hot start by the Pelicans and took game two of their series 97-87. The game was tied after three quarters, but Golden State used its defense to clamp down on the Pels in the 4th, holding them to 16 points and easing to the win. Overall, the Pelicans only shot 38% from the field and were badly outscored in transition (24-7), and the Warriors simply have too much talent for the playoff newcomers.

There are three games on the slate tonight, all game twos: Boston at Cleveland, Washington at Toronto, and Dallas at Houston.  We'll have an open thread for those tilts come game time.

Flip Saunders had his end of the year presser yesterday, and John did a great job recapping it for us yesterday. As usual at these things, lots of words were said, but there weren't a lot of revelations.  Flip had his usual bits of contradiction and confusion, but overall said what was expected: He's returning as head coach and his tenure in that role in indefinite, they expect to get a good player in the draft, are unlikely to use both their 2nd round picks, and acknowledges that the team needs more talent.

He pointed out three point shooting, defense, and strength as three main points of emphasis, all of which are indeed weaknesses, though he didn't seem all that fussed about them during the season.

Expects Ricky Rubio to be 100% by training camp and confirmed that he won't play with the Spanish national team this summer, while Nikola Pekovic's recovery is more up in the air.

Also yesterday, we were treated to an excellent guest post about Serbian forward Nemanja Bjelica from Slovenain basketball writer Damir Radenovic. There's a lot about Bjelica's background and experiences in there, as well as an optimistic take on his NBA possibilities.  We thank Mr. Radenovic once again for his terrific contribution.

That article and Flip's presser got me thinking: Flip acknowledged that his starting power forward for next season might not currently be on the roster--a good thing, given the state of the position. That could have been a nod to the possibility of Bjelica coming and competing for the job, but given that they currently have both Adreian Payne and Anthony Bennett under contract, Flip hinted strongly that Kevin Garnett was likely to return, and drafting a big man is more likely than not, it also wouldn't shock me if Bjelica's rights are dealt during the summer. We'll see.

Today in History

753 BC: Traditional date given for founding of Rome. Romulus! Remus! 
1509: Henry VIII crowned king of England
1689: William III and Mary Stuart crowned king and queen of England
1865: Abraham Lincoln's funeral train leaves Washington DC
1898: Congress declares war with Spain
1918: German pilot known as "The Red Baron" is shot down and killed
1956: Elvis Presley has first #1 hit: Heartbreak Hotel
1982: First successful heart transplant is performed
1995: Timothy McVeigh is arrested for OKC bombing

Today's musical birthday is Robert Smith, front man and song writer for The Cure, born in 1959

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Have a great day.