Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

April 27, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (2:59 PM)

Greeetings from Oklahoma City everyone. It's a dreary day on the plains but an exiting one in this city, as the Thunder will go for their first series win since relocation tonight.

Adam (Baton Rouge, LA)

Are the Hornets done for the season?

John Hollinger
  (3:00 PM)

It sure seems that way, but never underestimate the power of home court. It wouldn't shock me if they manage to extend this to a seventh game. Winning the seventh game? Now THAT would shock me.

Kris (CO)

Is the success that Memphis is having going to improve their chances to retain Marc or is it going to price him out of their budget?

John Hollinger
  (3:01 PM)

Not sure it changes much either way -- Griz have been committed to keeping him and as a restricted FA he may not get big offers regardless.

Desmond (Los Angeles California)

Can the magic beat the Hawks?

John Hollinger
  (3:03 PM)

Absolutely. I think Orlando has a great shot at taking these last two games; so much of their failure in the first four games was predicated on an unsustainably low conversion rate on jump shots. And they still were barely losing.

Simontachi (Memphis )

How many games and who wins the possible Memphis Oklahoma City matchup in the second round.

John Hollinger
  (3:04 PM)

Still doing my homework on this one. Memphis won three of the four in the regular season and the Thunder don't sound terribly excited about drawing them as an opponent, but a lot of that was because Z-Bo destroyed Jeff Green and that match-up is no longer on the table.

Elmo (OKC)

Even though it seems they'll never be a perfect fit for one another, I can't see a scenario in which Westbrook and Durant shouldn't be teammates...so how does Durant find a way to get the ball more? Is it up to him or Brooks?

John Hollinger
  (3:05 PM)

Westbrook is 22 and had hardly played any point guard before coming to the NBA, so we should expect patches like this. It's just going to take a while for him to figure out all the things he needs to know, and he's obviously not there yet.

Michael (Ann arbor)

Would u still have Dallas going down in 5 to the lakeshow if both advance?

John Hollinger
  (3:06 PM)

Yes. I'm a bit more concerned with L.A. and a bit more positive on Dallas, but this is such a bad match-up for the Mavs that it overwhelms the first two items.

Tim (Seattle)

Better chance of coming back: Orlando or Portland?

John Hollinger
  (3:07 PM)

Orlando, unfortunately. Because my Hawks-Blazers dream Finals matchup is on some pretty thin ice right now.

Brady (Memphis)

Do you think the Grizz-Spurs series is more about the end of the Spurs era or the beginning of a successful one for Memphis?

John Hollinger
  (3:09 PM)

More about the Spurs. As good as Memphis is, the Spurs of old would have torn them apart with their discipline and preyed on the overaggresive defense. They still know how to do it, they just can't get their bodies to cooperate.

Stephanie (Seattle)

Slowly but surely, Serge is playing himself out of OKC in two years. Thunder wont be able to afford him, right?

John Hollinger
  (3:10 PM)

Actually they should be able to. They've managed their cap extremely well and, long-term should be able to skate by with four high salaries (Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, and Harden) if the cap rules don't change too dramatically.

ethan (okc)

you said you were concered with LA, what are your concerns? You think its more than just a pesky Hornets team?

John Hollinger
  (3:12 PM)

Yes, concerned. Their play so far just reinforces my perception that they've slipped a notch from where they were the last three years. They might come out of the West anyway, but they're vulnerable.

Damien (Portland)

Ain't no party like a Rip City party! Rose Garden will be rockin' tomorrow. Look out Mark Cuban.

John Hollinger
  (3:13 PM)

Not sure it's going to matter unless the Blazers can find a better way to defend Terry and Nowitzki. Interesting side note: if Blazers lose, it will be the second year in a row that a dramatic Brandon Roy game tied the series at 2 and turned out to be final win of season.

Dennis (Flushing, N.Y.)

Why doesn't the NBA re-seed the playoffs in the 1st round. If Memphis finish off their series with the Spurs and the Lakers win their series against the Hornets, shouldn't the Lakers be playing Memphis in the 2nd round.

John Hollinger
  (3:14 PM)

I think the Lakers might prefer Dallas at this point. But on the larger question, one concern is that it wreaks too much havoc with the TV schedule if everybody has to wait for all the other teams to finish before the next series can start.

David (OKC)

Do you think that pointing to Game 4 as potential trouble in Durant and RW's relationship (as some pundits are) is overblown. I don't see Shaq and Kobe at all and think there is no way Westbrook doesn't resign. What do you think?

John Hollinger
  (3:15 PM)

Completely overblown. Talked to some OKC people about it today, let's just say they're not worried.

Sam (United Kingdom)

John, what do you perceive the Grizzlies' ceiling to be, and how likely do you think it is that the franchise will stay in Memphis long-term?

John Hollinger
  (3:17 PM)

Griz have huge financial penalties if they leave before 2018 (I believe that's the date), so they'll be in Memphis for a while. Plus they have a great arena and people are finally showing up for the games -- there isn't a ton of money, but it's a real basketball town. As far as the ceiling, I'd say pretty darn high if you look at how they were playing right before Gay went out. This might not be our last Memphis-OKC rodeo, let's put it that way.

Mark (San Diego)

John, What do you think of the Smart firing? Any chance they trade Mont and led Steph run the show?

John Hollinger
  (3:18 PM)

100% expected. He was a placeholder and did nothing this year to alter that assessment. As for trading Ellis, I think the Warriors will look very closely at it, but it will depend on what type of a coach they hire. If it's a defensive-minded type, I expect Ellis to be sent packing.

Tom (Myspace)

What the heck is wrong with Wilson Chandler?

John Hollinger
  (3:19 PM)

I've been wondering the same thing. He looked great in the first quarter of Game 1 and since has been unrelentingly awful. In Game 4 it looked like he had no faith whatsoever that his shot would go in. Of course, may be I was just transferring the mojo in the crowd onto him ... at any rate, he's probably going to be crowded out of minutes again tonight, because Afflalo, Gallo and Smith all played well in Game 4 and Felton has played a lot of 2.

Sammy (Los Angeles)

Adelman makes a ton of sense in GS, no?

John Hollinger
  (3:21 PM)

I think he'd be a good hire, yes, although he's already failed there once. In retrospect, however, winning 66 games in two years for the Cohan-era Warriors might be qualified as a success.

Simon (Chicago)

The Knicks just picked up Chauncey Billups option for next season. Is that a good move for the Knicks moving forward?

John Hollinger
  (3:22 PM)

I think it was the only reasonable move -- they weren't going to have cap space if they waived him, and now he gives them a massive expiring contract to put into a trade. Oh, and a point guard -- as we saw, a little of Toney Douglas at the point goes a long way.

Bert (NYC)

Hawks -pause- Grizzlies... it's the NBA Finals on ABC!

John Hollinger
  (3:23 PM)

No chance of that. But selling a Dallas-Memphis Western Conference Finals might be a challenge.

Nate (DC)

You seem to be leaning toward the Mavs. What makes you so confident? And what can the Blazers do tomorrow night to win you back?

John Hollinger
  (3:24 PM)

When home-court team wins Game 5 after splitting the first 4 games, they're 66-6. So that's in Dallas' favor. And if you look at the five games, they've had a chance to win every one. For the series as a whole, they've just been better. Blazers have to find a way to stop Dirk and JT if they want to stay alive.

BudWC (Boston)

Do you stand by your ridiculous statement that Miami will breeze by Boston easily in the next round?

John Hollinger
  (3:24 PM)

Yep. Five games.

Dror (Israel)

Your thoughts on CP3's play in the playoffs? How do you explain the season he's had with how he's playing right now?

John Hollinger
  (3:25 PM)

Well, he was in sixth in the league in PER and first among point guards, so he was doing this all year. The only difference is that now people are watching the games.

Ryan (Chicago)

8 and 8 from dwight and the Magic win. In his huge games they havent played as well. Could Orlando be better using Howard as a defender, rebounder, garbage guy?

John Hollinger
  (3:28 PM)

You're confusing cause and effect. When the Magic make a lot of shots, there are fewer chances for putbacks. So Dwight tends to have fewer points and rebounds. Last night was an extreme example, obviously, but the story in the first four games was that the Magic were missing a bunch of jump shots they normally make. Last night they made them.

JRS (Colorado)

Why do you think no NBA team has ever comeback from an 0-3 series deficit?

John Hollinger
  (3:28 PM)

Because home-court advantage is dramatically more valuable in the NBA than in the NHL. A team down 3-0 has to win twice on the road, consecutively, and that's really hard to pull off in any series.

Chase (Memphis)

Forget all these selfish questions, I'm worried about you. How is your fever?

John Hollinger
  (3:29 PM)

My GRIZ fever, you mean? It's a good thing I'll be in the arena in OKC tonight, because otherwise I might require some serious medical attention ... in some ways you hope the Spurs win tonight so the folks in Memphis can get to experience a home-court clincher.

jason (Boston)

Do you have any justification whatsoever for your Heat over the C's pick?

John Hollinger
  (3:30 PM)

Yes. They're playing better. Boston didn't put away the Knicks until they were dismantled by injuries; in two games at home against an average team they barely won.

Sam (Portland)

Do you think that using margin of victory to predict playoff success unequally favors deep teams? (i.e., deep teams like Denver can build large leads with their bench at the end of games)

John Hollinger
  (3:33 PM)

The end of games thing isn't as important as you might think -- in fact it's virtually irrelevant, as even a "deep" team like Denver will be playing their Elys and Koufoses at the end of a blowout. But depth is more valuable in the regular season than the playoffs, and that's one of the main reasons I didn't pick Denver in this series. Along with the nagging injuries, the lack of home court, and the fact that their opponent is really good.

Mike (Gee)

What are your thoughts on the Z Bo signing?

John Hollinger
  (3:34 PM)

Same way I feel about Gay and Conley -- they overpaid for what they're getting. As with the other two they'll be able to make an argument for it, most likely, but the bottom line is that they didn't need to pay as much as they did.

Jim (SaTx)

Give a downtrodden Spurs fan some love! Assuming the Spurs lose tonight, is this Duncans last game? Where do the Spurs go from here? Trade TP?

John Hollinger
  (3:35 PM)

Take a step back and look at WHY San Antonio is losing. They're not getting enough help from the bench and the two forward spots. The Big 3 and Hill are playing reasonably well, but they were getting a ton of production from spots 4 through 10 in the rotation for two-thirds of the season, and that's totally dried up of late. Richard Jefferson, in particular, has been invisible.

Eric (London)

Do you think the root of concern for the Nuggets going forward is that they don't have a star player that can take over in the 4th quarter, as everybody seems to suggest, or is it something else?

John Hollinger
  (3:36 PM)

I think Lawson can be a go-to player to initiate offense in crunch time, actually, and Smith and Gallo are both pretty good isolation players. The problem is more that they don't have a star for the first 46 minutes either ... it puts a limit on how good they can be.

Bob (Boston)

I dont know how you can say the Heat are "Playing better." Games 1 and 3 were very close and they lost 1! How is that playing better? Boston was the only team to sweep thru the first round.

John Hollinger
  (3:40 PM)

Last 20 games -- Heat are 16-4, Boston is 12-8. Heat pounded Boston in the one game they played each other. In playoffs, Heat are 31 against an intact Philly team, Boston was 34 against a denuded Knicks team. Heat have home-court advantage. Where's the case for Boston?

Andrew (TX)

With the abundance of wing players the Grizzlies have, do they try to re-sign Battier for cheap and move Rudy Gay during the off-season? I assume they would like some cap room to sign Gasol.

John Hollinger
  (3:41 PM)

They're going to keep Rudy and keep Gasol. Griz will try very hard to keep Battier at a low dollar figure, I imagine. If they move somebody it will be O.J. Mayo.

Dizzil04 (Chicago)

Are you still taking Derrick Rose if you had to pick a PG to start a team right now over CP3?

John Hollinger
  (3:42 PM)

Is the game tonight? If so I might go with CP3. For anything more than 24 hours into the future I would take Rose, based on his superior durability and the fact that he's younger.

Everyone (Boston)

We all brought our "HOW DARE YOU" placards to the chat but we kept getting mixed in with the Derrick Rose fans.

Sam (Auburn)

Which player do you suspect Tony Allen is referring to that wreaks a little havoc on him?

John Hollinger
  (3:43 PM)

I have a strong suspicion, yes. It's not a headline player but he's done extremely well against Allen.

Jason (Switzerland)

What is your percentage of right prediction in the playoffs last year ? Your Miami-Boston prediction is scaring me...And what do you think of Thabo Sefolosha ?

John Hollinger
  (3:46 PM)

Quick news flash: I guarantee some of my predictions will be wrong. The last four years I'm 45-15, which can easily be verified looking at the Stat Geek Smackdown pages from past years; the last two I've done a little better, going 12-3 in each. This year I may not do as well, as it appears I may miss three first-round series (I picked San Antonio, Portland and Orlando).

Elias (IL)

The Bulls want to play the Hawks in the next round, right? And any chance Boozer shows up this postseason?

John Hollinger
  (3:48 PM)

Bulls absolutely, unequivocally want Atlanta. As awful as the Magic have looked against the Hawks, Orlando will be a very difficult series for the Bulls because of that drive-and-kick game that gives Chicago's D trouble, and because of Howard at both ends. Hawks will be at most five games and probably four.

Connor (Tulsa, OK)

How long do you think it will take for Russell Westbrook to get over his inferiority complex?

John Hollinger
  (3:49 PM)

Haha, stop. One does wonder about an alpha-dog rivalry with him and Durant, but a lot of great teams have that stuff lingering under the surface and still pound the daylights out of the opposition. As awful as the end of Game 4 was, he's already light years better at the point than he was two years ago.

Ben (OKC)

You didn't answer Jason's question about Thabo, John.

John Hollinger
  (3:51 PM)

I didn't want my pro-Swiss bias to give a tilted answer. In truth, Sefolosha is a really good defender but I would like to see him improve that 3-point shot from the corner, because that's his role in this system offensively and he's still pretty shaky from there.

JB (Memphis)

Doesn't Memphis have to slightly overpay, especially right now after years where the owner was trying the sale and the fans didn't feel like they were trying? I know as a grizz fan, I'd rather overpay slightly then spend a summer wondering if they are going to let our boy get away.

John Hollinger
  (3:52 PM)

If you look who had cap space (which removes most of the league), and who had cap space that actually had an interest in Z-Bo (which removes everyone else), you quickly come to the conclusion that the Grizzlies were bidding against themselves.

Deron fans (Utah)

We have a lot more of those placards if you guys want 'em. Going cheap.

John Hollinger
  (3:52 PM)

Brrrrrr. An unusually chilly chinook wind blowing off the Wasatch today.

Mike (Denver)

Re-sign JR, AAA, and Nene, trade Felton, let Chandler go. That the blue-print for the off-season for the Nuggies?

John Hollinger
  (3:55 PM)

As good a job as Masai Ujiri did in negotiating the Melo trade, the hard part is just starting. He has several important valuation decisions to make with his free agents, and he's likely going to be dangling Felton as well. As far as your blueprint, I think it's far more likely that Chandler stays and Smith goes -- don't confuse a bad series with a lack of long-term value.

Caz (Space)

Pacers future bright? How bright?

John Hollinger
  (3:57 PM)

Bright-ish. Still some real issues there with a lack of a go-to guy, but I think George could become a stud and they have some other real solid pieces (Hansbrough, Collison, Hibbert). Now they need to spend their free agent bucks wisely and find another quality big for the frontcourt rotation.

Matt M. (NJ)

About that Cs/Heat prediction: shouldn't the Heat's inability to close out that game four make you worry? Here's a stat I'm sure you know: 1-19 in the last five seconds when a game actually matters.

John Hollinger
  (3:58 PM)

A) I'm not sure the Celtics will play well enough in the first 47:55 for that to come into play; B) Most of the rest of the league is nearly as bad; this isn't a situation where teams shoot 50%.

Sam Presti (OKC)

I'm not sure anyone is going to want to trade with me anymore.

John Hollinger
  (3:59 PM)

Good point. The scary thing about Perk is that he's still recovering from the knee injury and learning a new system. As good as OKC looks, they're going to be a lot better next year.

Philip (Germany)

What's your take on the conley-parker matchup?

John Hollinger
  (4:01 PM)

Surprised. Thought that was the one area where San Antonio would have a decided advantage, and other than Game 4 it hasn't happened. I also feel like the Spurs guards keep going under picks and letting Conley and Vasquez shoot too easily, at least in the action I've seen. But I'll qualify that statement by saying I haven't been able to see a big chunk of the game action because they're concurrent with the Thunder-Nuggets series I've been covering.

Sanchez (Santa Barbara)

What do you think of OJ Mayo as a second-draft guy? If he realized he's a shooting guard and not a point guard could he make sense for the Lakers?

John Hollinger
  (4:02 PM)

I love second-draft references; this is where smart teams do their bargain shopping. Mayo would make more sense for L.A. if they traded Shannon Brown, otherwise he's duplicative. I'd like him a lot in Chicago.

Ryan (OKC)

What's your favorite restaraunt you've been to in Okahoma City?

John Hollinger
  (4:03 PM)

Subway. OK, that was a cheap shot -- I actually haven't been out to eat, I don't think. If I get the Thunder next round I'll try to branch out and go someplace in Bricktown.

Craig (Midland)

So then would OJ come off the bench in Chicago? Hard to see him and D Rose together.

John Hollinger
  (4:04 PM)

Disagree, he's a great complement. Mayo can really shoot it, the problem is that he's been reluctant to pigeonhole himself as a corner shooter. But he can be great at it.

b=Brown (FL)

The first time Kobe Bryant and Dirk might meet in the playoffs, you excited?

John Hollinger
  (4:05 PM)

I think you have me confused with Marc Stein. Was also trying to figure out how many times Jason Kidd and Derek Fisher have met; I think it's four but I could be mistaken.

Marc (Knoxville)

As a Grizzlies fan, I am terrified of the Spurs regardless of our 3-1 advantage. Do you think the Spurs can come back and win the series?

John Hollinger
  (4:07 PM)

A lot of people in the league feel the same way, although I suspect a huge part of this is the mythic respect that everybody has for the Spurs. They just can't imagine that team falling this easily.... even though the same thing happened a year ago against Phoenix.

Shams (Portland)

Could the answer for Portland be not putting ridiculous lineups in? Nate ended the game half way through the second when he put in Aldridge with all small players. That is why the Blazers got killed on the boards. He played Roy way to long - he couldn't defend and he killed the offence. Also Nate tried Camby and Johnson for a few minutes and it was great but never went back to it. Thanks - trying to find hope.

John Hollinger
  (4:09 PM)

They basically have eight usable players. Nine with Johnson. So there aren't a ton of combinations available. After what happened in Game 4, he had to give Roy some run, and I don't think a Camby-Johnson combo can work for long unless they give out bonus points for a low body-mass index. And as for Aldridge and the smalls -- that's been Portland's most effective look all season. The Blazers' problem isn't coaching, it's that the other team is better than they are.

John Hollinger
  (4:10 PM)

Folks, that's all the time I have, but be sure to check out my dispatches from OKC tonight. We'll do this again next week, with time and date dependent on the travel gods. Thanks again for all the great questions.