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NBA Conference Finals Set, Combine and Lottery Notes

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The Rockets completed their comeback from 3-1 down against the Clippers to reach the Western Conference Finals.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Hot shooting to start the game got the Houston Rockets off to an early lead against the Clippers in game seven of their second round playoff series, and despite a brief run by the Clips in the 3rd quarter, the Rockets maintained control throughout to complete their comeback from 3-1 down to reach the Western Conference Finals.

While stars James Harden and Dwight Howard had big games for the Rockets, it was once again their bench that was largely the difference the game; Pablo Prigioni, Terrence Jones, and Corey Brewer were all in double figures in +/- for the game, with Prigioni especially having a big impact with several steals, a big three pointer, and a huge offensive rebound and assist for another three.

The Clippers meanwhile will spend the summer regretting this series, and in particular letting a big game six lead get away from them at home. Their stars produced in game seven, but they got little from everyone else, and now must figure out where to go from here. They remain a formidable squad, but their lack of depth clearly showed yesterday as they appeared out of gas through much of the contest.

The Western Conference Finals starts on Tuesday in Oakland, while the East begins Wednesday with the Cavaliers in Atlanta against the Hawks.

Prior to tomorrow night's game the draft lottery will take place and will be televised on ESPN. As we know, this is the Wolves' playoffs, and Glen Taylor (and/or his wife) will represent the team in the hopes of coming away with the number one overall pick. The Wolves have a 25% chance of winding up at the top of the draft thanks to their league worst record this season, and can end up no lower than 4th.

Here's some info from Zgoda on who the Wolves interviewed at the Chicago combine last week:

The Wolves did their homework, using their allowed 18 interviews to a range of draft possibilities.

They talked to the only guy here whom they might possibly take -- Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell -- with their top pick and interviewed guys like Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein, Texas' Myles Turner, Duke's Tyus Jones (Apple Valley's own, of course) and UNLV's Christian Wood, just in case they use their two second-round picks -- 31st and 36th overall -- or the draft rights to European prospect Nemanja Bjelica to obtain another first-round pick,

They also interviewed guys like UNLV's Rashad Vaughn (Robbinsdale Cooper's own), Eastern Washington's Tyler Harvey, Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton and Kentucky's Dakari Johnson, presumably for one of those two second-round picks. Flip Saunders has practically guaranteed the team won't keep both picks come draft night in June.

He also writes that several scouts told him they think the Wolves will take Towns first should they get the pick, but that he is still betting on Okafor.

Today in history

1291: Sultan of Egypt takes Christian stronghold at Acre
1631: John Winthrop elected governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
1642: Montreal is founded
1804: Napoleon proclaimed Emperor of France
1860: Republicans nominate Abe Lincoln for President
1896: Plessy v. Ferguson
1897: Dracula by Bram Stoker published
1917: Congress approves plan for military draft for WWI
1927: Grauman's Chinese Theater opens in L.A. 
1977: Menachem Begin becomes Israeli PM
1980: Mt. St. Helen's erupts killing 60
1998: U.S. files anti-trust suit against Microsoft

Today's musical birthday is Eric Goulden, aka Wreckless Eric, a punk/new wave singer born in 1954

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