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April 21, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (2:01 PM)

What's up everyone. I'm in sunny Denver, where the skies are considerably brighter than Nuggets' fan's spirits. Let's talk playoffs....

Don (Edmond, OK)

Who is Denver's best player? Nene? Ty Lawson? Has there ever been a championship team without a star?

John Hollinger
  (2:02 PM)

It's amazing how quickly everyone forgets about the Pistons in 2004, who just as easily could have won multiple championships rather than the single title they claimed.

Evan (Portland, OR)

Brandon Roy... where do you begin? Who made the decision to offer him a max contract btw? KP or Paul Allen?

John Hollinger
  (2:05 PM)

It was a group decision, but I'll say this: Brandon Roy was coming off a year where he had just made second-team All-NBA. It would have been unprecedented for a player in that position not to receive a max extension. Portland should have put more contingencies in the deal, but I don't think anyone foresaw the knee issues becoming this debilitating this quickly.

Jeff (School)

Did Denver lose the series once the refs made that terrible call in Game 1?

John Hollinger
  (2:05 PM)

No, they lost the series with the five straight empty trips on offense that surrounded that call. Blaming the refs is way too easy.

Harry (Cameron Park)

I understand the NBA controls the Hornets and the NBA controls the refs. Could this create a conflict of interest that could harm any team the Hornets play against?

John Hollinger
  (2:08 PM)

Probably not. "The NBA" is just the other 29 owners, so they're splitting the same pie. Also, "The NBA" has "the TV contract", and advancing the Hornets through the playoffs would not be a great way to improve ratings.

David (Provo, UT)

Throw a bone to a non-Playoff team's fan! True or False: the Jazz have a bright future? Young talent (Jefferson, Hayward, Favors, Millsap, Harris), two Lottery picks (especially if they move up), AK on a MUCH smaller contract. Could they make the Playoffs in 2012?

John Hollinger
  (2:09 PM)

Utah's 2012 ceiling is probably something like "win 42 games and get the No. 8 seed." There's some young talent but they need to upgrade the wings and the depth before we can seriously talk about Utah as a force in the West again.

Joe (Portland)

Will insurance cover any of Roy's remaining contract? Sucks to be the Blazers if it doesn't!

John Hollinger
  (2:10 PM)

The bill for Roy's contract is a rounding error in Paul Allen's bank account statement. I think they'll get over it.

Bo (Norman)

Thunderup! Loved your article on the Thunder! Do you think they can beat the Spurs and Lakers in a row?

John Hollinger
  (2:10 PM)

It's highly unlikely -- very rare for a team to win consecutive series without home-court advantage, although the Celtics did it a year ago. I'd be rooting for Memphis and New Orleans to make your path as easy as possible.

Wes (Worldwide)

Are the Spurs done if they lose Game 3 in Memphis?

John Hollinger
  (2:12 PM)

Of course not. home-court team, down 2-1, is still a decent proposition to advance.

Michael (Cleveland)

Are the Grizz a bad match-up for the Thunder? Battier on Durant, Allen on Westbrook. Two bigs down low.

John Hollinger
  (2:13 PM)

They were in the regular season, winning three of the four meetings, but that was because Zach Randolph absolutely abused Jeff Green. The Perk-Ibaka combo makes it a fair fight up front, although as you point out the Griz also have two good stoppers to put on the Okies' top scorers.

Joe (Pittsburgh)

Is it really possible that the Spurs lose to Memphis?

John Hollinger
  (2:13 PM)

It is absolutely possible, yes. Memphis has no Q rating nationally but the Griz are really good. If they had Rudy Gay they'd be a threat to win the West.

CP3 (NOLA)

Imagine if I had some real players on my squad...

John Hollinger
  (2:14 PM)

pretty much. He's the most unappreciated player in the game, so I'm glad he's getting to show his stuff in such a high-profile series.

Nick (Dayton)

John - if you're starting a team today, who do you want as a PG?

John Hollinger
  (2:15 PM)

That's a joke, right? There's a 22-year-old kid who is going to win the MVP, and while I may not agree with the vote, I mean ... to start a team with? It's a no-brainer. The only other guy you'd even consider is Westbrook.

Simon (Chicago)

Why, no HOW on earth is Josh Powell playing basketball in the playoffs??

John Hollinger
  (2:17 PM)

What Larry Drew did in Game 2 is one of the most baffling coaching decisions I've ever seen. I give him credit for pushing to re-sign Jason Collins and maximizing his value this season with how he used him, but his strategy with foul trouble is pretty much sabotage. Sometimes I think coaches don't understand that points scored in the second quarter count just as much as points scored in the fourth quarter.

Jenner (OKC)

Do the Nuggets have what it takes to even the series with the Thunder, or is this series over?

John Hollinger
  (2:18 PM)

Both. I can't imagine Denver winning the series, but winning these two games? I could see that. Denver is a notoriously difficult road environment, plus the Nuggets will have Afflalo for Game 3 and should be able to both match up and space the floor better.

Morten (dobbs ferry, ny)

Thoughts on Zach Randolph extension?

John Hollinger
  (2:19 PM)

Typical recent Grizzlies strategy -- overpaying for reasons that aren't entirely clear, much like they've done with Gay and Conley. They're patting themselves on the back right now, but this is going to come back and bite them somewhere down the line.

Fletcher (Miami)

Will a quick 4 game sweep of the Sixers potentially hurt or harm the Heat for the next round against the Celtics, who will probably have to win in 5, 6 or even 7 games?

John Hollinger
  (2:19 PM)

I would argue that it will hurt them. It's not lost on me that the last two teams to burn through the first two rounds 8-0 both lost in the conference finals, and in each case they looked seriously rusty dropping a Game 1 at home and never recovered.

Mark (Rochester, NY)

I know MVP voting has nothing to do with playoffs but Dwight Howards performance proves your point that D Rose shouldn't be the MVP due to impact of that player to their team

John Hollinger
  (2:21 PM)

Thanks, but I would argue that Dwight Howard's performance says more about Larry Drew and Josh Powell than it does about Derrick Rose. I've never been a fan of using the playoffs as "proof" of what happened in the regular season; those 82 games are already in the books, and anything occurring from April 16 onward won't change them.

Phil (Denver)

Seemed like OKC was going with a hack-a-nene defense on the interior, is this to just frustrate him, because he shoots FT's pretty decently?

John Hollinger
  (2:24 PM)

It was more to prevent dunks when he's flying down main street on the pick and roll -- Thunder still need to defend him better on the dive. Nene, by the way, is not good from the line -- 61.5% this season.

Michael (Rural West TN)

the Z-Bo extension fits because of a statement you made, "If they had Rudy Gay they'd be a threat to win the West." They need to keep the group together and take a chance at advancing in the West as the Spurs, Lakers, and Mavs age

John Hollinger
  (2:25 PM)

Except that they know nobody else was going to make a big run at him, and they know they can't pay luxury tax. It's going to end up costing them a good player at some point.

Darnold (Memphis)

You just said that if Rudy Gay were healthy the Grizzlies would be a threat to win the west, but followed immediately with a comment about them overpaying to keep players. Why shouldn't they pay to keep players with a promising future? Owner Michael Heisly has been criticized for years for being so cheap, and now he gets it for paying, too.

John Hollinger
  (2:27 PM)

I agree he can no longer be criticized for being cheap. I just don't think he's spent his money very wisely. Memphis is potentially a very, very good team, but their depth is a big strength right now and it will be very difficult to preserve it if they a) aren't paying tax, and b) are overpaying three starters.

Eliot (NYC)

Got a second for the underachievers from ATL? Game 2 blunder aside... Do you think Atlanta can still take the series against the Magic? And if so, any chance they get past Chicago?

John Hollinger
  (2:28 PM)

I absolutely think the Hawks can beat the Magic, I've been banging the drum on this ever since JC shut down Howard in the final regular season meeting. But it's mostly because of one particular match-up that couldn't possibly work out any better for them; against Chicago they're facing the prospect of a third straight second-round sweep.

Runako (LA)

Tell these Grizzlies fans please with the new CBA they could have got Randolph for a much cheaper price.

John Hollinger
  (2:28 PM)

x-Zach-ly.

Chris (Atlanta)

Be Rick Sund for a second, what's your top 3 priorities for the Hawks offseason?

John Hollinger
  (2:31 PM)

1) Either change coaches or convince the current one that it's in the team's interest to play their best players as much as possible; 2) Find an inexpensive wing defender who doesn't want or need the ball; 3) Either re-sign Crawford cheaply or sign-and-trade him for guard help and assets.

LeCrae (Seattle)

Think it'll be a Bulls/Heat East for a while and a Thunder/Memphis West?

John Hollinger
  (2:32 PM)

I'm with you on three of the four. Let's hold off before we annoint the Griz as the next Great Power. But things look very promising.

Sarah (Salem)

Can the Blazers win this series if Dirk is shooting 15 free throws a game?

John Hollinger
  (2:33 PM)

Highly unlikely. Portland's inability to defend the Mavs has been a disappointment; or, alternatively, Dallas's ability to score on Portland has been a pleasant surprise. Either way, Blazers need to put the kibosh on Dallas offense tonight.

Steve (Mobile, AL)

Gun to head right now, who is emerging from the 2-3-6-7 pod out West?

John Hollinger
  (2:33 PM)

Still all Lakers for me. It's gonna take more than one bad game to move me off that pick.

Mike-OB (OB)

This chat is a see-saw of Grizzlie fan's emotions. You know, all 487 of them.

John Hollinger
  (2:34 PM)

Griz chat question record was shattered about six minutes into this. Amazing to see, actually -- Memphis has always been a great basketball town so I'm happy that they're starting to adopt their NBA team. Of course, it helps that they finally have a bigger payroll than the college team.

Greg (Portland)

Inability to defend the Mavs? Dirk is shooting 38%? How can they control the ticky tack fouls that he's receiving?

John Hollinger
  (2:35 PM)

Yes, it's all the refs' fault. Pu-leeze.

Sam (Virginia)

What was D'Antoni thinking with keeping Bill Walker in over Landry Fields the whole 4th in game 2?? I know Fields has struggled a little but he is a better rebounder and defender (clutcher shooter)...Walker was 0-11 to top it off....

John Hollinger
  (2:36 PM)

Walker actually got several rebounds, so I can kinda sorta almost defend that move. The one that killed me was not going offense-defense with Jared Jeffries.

Paul (Dallas)

Are you sticking with your Portland in 6 prediction or have you changed your mind (I am pleasantly surprised by the Mavs play so far)?

John Hollinger
  (2:37 PM)

Abandon ship. Teams up 2-0 win 94% of the time. Chances are strong I'm going to miss this one.

Jason (Syracuse)

John why do you and many other writers dismiss fans complaints about referees? Do you deny there is a problem with NBA officiating? It's atrocious to many of us fans.

John Hollinger
  (2:39 PM)

It's not atrocious. I think one of the biggest issues the NBA has, relative to the NFL, is the local announcers. NFL games don't have local announcers, so everyone gets a reasonably objective viewpoint on what took place. NBA regular-season games, and even many of the playoff games, don't, and it really colors fans' perceptions.

John Calipari (Lexington, KY (via memphis))

I resent that college payroll remark!

John Hollinger
  (2:39 PM)

How do you know I wasn't talking about Dana Kirk?

Colin (Greenville, SC)

So you think the Thunder would beat the Lakers if they get another shot this year?

John Hollinger
  (2:41 PM)

I'd be very interested to see what took place, let's put it that way. Thunder blew me away with their quality last night; in retrospect, even in Game 1 Denver's shot-making was pretty spectacular to keep them in the game.

Chris (Atlanta)

John, when you say " 2) Find an inexpensive wing defender who doesn't want or need the ball", is it fair to assume you're not a fan of Marvin on the hawks? Because he's a good defender at wing...

John Hollinger
  (2:42 PM)

He's **decent** on the wing, but he's not somebody you put on most of the good 2s because he's really more of a "3.5" -- too big to chase those guys around.

Tim (Champaign)

Who you have in the bulls pacers game? Seems like a must win for indy, right?

John Hollinger
  (2:43 PM)

Yes. Nobody has ever come back from 3-0 down in the NBA, so the Sixers, Pacers, Knicks, Blazers and Nuggets are all facing must-win situations. I think this might be the one game Indy wins -- although it may feel like a road game for them with all the Bulls fans driving in for the game.

Gus (Pensacola)

In game 2, Van Gundy went with Turkoglu as his backup PG, shortening the rotation rather than relying on an unreliable player (Arenas). Do you think this was a good idea, and do you see it continuing in the future?

John Hollinger
  (2:44 PM)

Yes and yes. Arenas isn't any good anymore. There's no need to play him if they can get away with a bigger lineup defensively.

Dwight (Orlando)

79 and 38. No one is talking about me.

John Hollinger
  (2:45 PM)

That's because you're in the "banishment" series, along with Memphis-San Antonio out West -- whatever network has the worst visibility, that's the one your game will be on.

Brian (Denver)

I feel like Lawson, Felton, Chandler, Gallo and Nene is the Nuggets best lineup in this series. Make Ibaka guard a perimeter guy.

John Hollinger
  (2:47 PM)

I was with you until the Chandler part -- he's been terrible. I thought they looked really good with those four and Harrington in the second half last night. By the way I'd expect Nuggets to roll with a Lawson-Felton-Afflalo-Gallo-Nene look for bits of Game 3, and to stick with it if they don't get killed on the boards.

JD (NY)

Who would you have substituted for Jeffries in that last NY possession? Turiaf was out with a knee injury. Fields has been overwhelmed the entire series. maybe, Shawne "i only shoot corner 3s" williams?

John Hollinger
  (2:47 PM)

Yes, Williams was an obvious choice.

Kevin (Chicago)

Why hasn't Omer Asik gotten any time in the first two games? Bad matchups, or has he just hit some kind of "rookie wall"?

John Hollinger
  (2:50 PM)

Asik is one of my favorite players and I've been really dismayed that they're playing Kurt Thomas ahead of him. I'm not 100% sure why, but Thibs has essentially used a 5-man big man rotation for much of 2nd half of year and he only needs four in the playoffs.

Dizzil04 (Chicago)

John, do you think gm 3 for the bulls will validate their championship contention? If they can overcome the raucous crowd, beat the pacers by 10 or more in dominating fashion, everyone is back on the bandwagon right?

John Hollinger
  (2:51 PM)

Nothing they do in a series against a 37-win team will validate anything. That starts next round, if they get Orlando.

Sam (Wells, ME)

Do you think McMillan will be goaded into playing Roy tonight after his comments in the media?

John Hollinger
  (2:52 PM)

No, I think he's going to play it by ear with Roy -- if he starts making buckets he'll stay on the court. If he passes out of a post iso against Jason Terry, he'll sit.

Marc (Charlotte)

Is Chandler trying to play himself out of Denver... by playing turrble?

John Hollinger
  (2:53 PM)

doubtful, Nuggets are by far his best chance of getting paid. Not like the other Denver wing players are blowing up either; the two spots have been a huge advantage for the Thunder at both ends.

Brian (NJ)

I really hope Orlando pulls this series out. Watching Rose try to drive to the basket with Howard waiting there would be tons of fun. Can somebody please kidnap J. Collins for a few days.

John Hollinger
  (2:54 PM)

I've been saying for a while that Chicago-Orlando isn't getting nearly enough attention for its fantastic series potential. Bulls will kill Atlanta, but an Orlando series will be a long, tough slog for them.

Tommy (Austin)

Is Pops making a mistake by not playing Splitter?

John Hollinger
  (2:56 PM)

Perhaps, but Spurs spies tell me they like the Bonner-Blair combination better than either Splitter-Blair or Splitter-Bonner. Personally I think Spitter-Bonner could work, but what do I know. Also, I'm a little out of the loop on Griz-Spurs because they're playing concurrent with my Nuggets-Thunder series, so I've seen very little of the game action.

Ray (Chicago )

Howard's almost averaging 40 so enough with the J. Collins D. Howard stopper talk already!!!

John Hollinger
  (2:56 PM)

Check out who he gets the points against -- he's murdering the Josh Powells and Hilton Armstrongs but has struggled when Collins is in the game.

Dizzil04 (Chicago)

How big of an impact will Afflalo have in his return?

John Hollinger
  (2:57 PM)

I'm a little dubious, just because it seems to me he's coming back more out of desperation than because he's 100% healthy. Wouldn't shock me at all if he played five minutes, reinjured the hammy, and missed the rest of the series.

Matt (Orlando)

Wilbon just went on SVP Show and said Indy has more talent than Orlando. Says Orlando will get killed by Bulls. Mid West homerism a little too much?

John Hollinger
  (2:59 PM)

Not sure we can still call him a Midwest homer when he's rarely on CST. He's entitled to his opinion, and I think the Indy statement is probably true with the glaring exception of Mr. Howard. But I think Orlando is a very tough match-up for Chicago because of the drive-kick-3 offensive mentality and the lack of a huge, bruising center to check Howard.

Keith (Boston)

Celtics-Knicks is the best series so far and you've spent all chat talking about Memphis!!! Can the Knicks win both of these home games if they don't have Billups?

John Hollinger
  (3:01 PM)

They can, yes, but obviously it's going to be difficult because the bench is so short. They really need Fields to show up. Incidentally, I like the wrinkle D'Antoni used to put Jeffries on Rondo and have him as a help defender in the paint. Just take him out of the game when you need a basket, Mike, OK?

Jake (VA)

Do you think the Hornets can take two at home against the Lakers?

John Hollinger
  (3:01 PM)

I find it highly unlikely, because I still think L.A.'s size is going to overwhelm the Bees at some point. But stranger things have happened.

Chris (ATL)

I know this is a playoffs chat, but give me something about BIYOMBO! Is the hype train out of control or is he a legit top 5?

John Hollinger
  (3:03 PM)

I saw him at the Hoop Summit, in two practices and in the game. High-energy rebounder and shot-blocker but has limited offensive skills. Also, he might be 53 years old. I can't imagine taking a player like that in the top five, even in a draft this weak. He's going to have a 12-year career just because of how he defends and rebounds, but his star potential is pretty minimal since he can't score.

Brad (Toronto)

Does Toronto bring back Colangelo and Triano? And if not, are there really better options that want to come to Toronto?

John Hollinger
  (3:05 PM)

I'm hearing that Triano is more likely than Colangelo, which to me is opposite of how things should be. Colangelo has a mixed track record; Triano's track record is not mixed, it is just bad. If I had to bring back only one it would be Colangelo.

John Hollinger
  (3:06 PM)

Folks, that's all the time I have, but thanks again for all the great questions. We'll do this again next week -- timing TBD due to playoff travel - and in the meantime you can keep up with my dispatches in Per Diem and the nightly Daily Dime columns.