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May 17, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (12:08 PM)

Greetings everyone, plenty to talk about from an interesting second round so far ...

David (Oklahoma City)

Is there a chance the Thunder/Spurs meet in the WCF both undefeated in the playoffs?

John Hollinger
  (12:08 PM)

Unlikely, but still on the table. They'd have to win five straight between them, four on the road against two pretty good teams. The most likely scenario is still that each advances in five games.

Chris (Leeds, United Kingdom)

Do the Lakers blow it up if they get swept by OKC?

John Hollinger
  (12:10 PM)

To do what? They owe Kobe so much money that it's virtually impossible to do anything of significance without amnestying him, which would basically make the Busses pariahs in that town. I would expect them to pursue a Gasol trade again, however, and I think amnestying Metta is a decent probability too.

CC (Atlanta)

Any chance the Hawks get better? Ownership seems content with this group... which is completely inexplicable. Joe Johnson is an albatross sooner than any of us realized.

John Hollinger
  (12:12 PM)

Odd reaction after what I would argue was their most successful season post-Dominique (edit: let's say post-Mutombo). They didn't make the second round, true, but they went 40-26 without Horford and dealt with several other injuries. The big-picture remains the same -- this nucleus is really good but it's not elite -- but I don't think that calls for a tear-down. The big question is whether Josh will push for a trade heading into his walk year, and if so what Hawks can get. The potential to move Horford to 4 is intriguing.

Will T (Houston)

Would the Lakers have been better off with Fisher last night in those crunch time minutes?

John Hollinger
  (12:14 PM)

If Oklahoma City had put him in the game, yes, the Lakers would have been better off. Taking the shot instead of Blake? Sorry, but you're amalgamating too many distant memories.

Jeremy H (Minneapolis)

Kobe playing hero ball last night is what cost them the game....Thoughts?

John Hollinger
  (12:15 PM)

Wrong. They were trying to get it into Bynum. Kobe made two turnovers 40 feet from the basket at the start of plays, and had one late-clock heave off a loose ball. I didn't have a problem with Kobe's choices, just the results.

Mordy (Brooklyn)

With the injury to Bosh, what would you predict in a Boston-Miami series?

John Hollinger
  (12:16 PM)

Still like Miami. Boston doesn't score, last night excepted, and the Heat would have home court of course. But the Celtics can at least see the door is open a crack.

Mike (Salt Lake)

Would an Indy - Boston ECF go 7?

John Hollinger
  (12:17 PM)

Actually I think Indy would wrap it up more quickly than that. I don't like that pairing at all for Boston given their lack of frontcourt bodies -- Indy will bludgeon them on the boards as long as they can get the ball across halfcourt.

D. (New England)

Do you think its possible for the Lakers to win both games Friday and Saturday Night?

John Hollinger
  (12:19 PM)

Possible? Sure. Likely? Not especially. The back-to-back format obviously favors OKC's younger legs, especially since the Lakers had no rest leading up to the series and have been riding their starters so heavily all year.

Phen (Tulsa, OK)

Will the nagging injury to Perkins hurt the Thunder? That thing won't heal till the post-season is over.

John Hollinger
  (12:21 PM)

Not sure given the likely opponents ahead. L.A. is the opponent they need him against the most, and they're already up 2-0. Against San Antonio they may need to go smaller and quicker and play KD at the 4 a lot, which means reduced minutes for all their bigs, and in a potential Finals against Miami his value would be limited.

david (boston)

do you see the sixers winning friday or will the celts take care of business on friday to go up 3-1

John Hollinger
  (12:22 PM)

Hate to make single-game predictions, but since I had Boston in 7 the Sixers probably ought to win this one to make me look good. In all seriousness, I have to think they defend much better than they did in Game 3.

Kelly (Jacksonville)

Looks like things are shaping up for Indy to potentially come out of the east. How do you like their chances against either OKC or SA in the Finals?

John Hollinger
  (12:23 PM)

I don't, but making the Finals would be a pretty amazing accomplishment for a small market team that is $6 million *under* the cap.

Jeff (NYC)

Your thoughts on the NBPA filing an appeal on Bird Rights?

John Hollinger
  (12:23 PM)

Worth a shot, but based on what I've read I think they're unlikely to succeed. Obviously has huge implications for the Knicks with Lin and Novak, but would also help Portland retain J.J. Hickson.

D. Brown (ATL)

Does the Bosh injury guarantee that he will be traded if the Heat don't beat the Pacers?

John Hollinger
  (12:25 PM)

Half the people in my questions want to trade Bosh for some reason. Um, wouldn't a Heat loss guarantee the opposite: that it proves how valuable Bosh is to this team?

Nate (Boston, MA)

John, as a long time reader I have to ask this question: What did the Boston franchise ever do to you? Did Danny or Doc (or even Red) rebuff you at some point in your life? That can be one of the only ways to explain your long standing patent dislike for the Celtics. Would it kill you to ever give the franchise the slightest bit of credit?

John Hollinger
  (12:26 PM)

Here we go ....

Heath (Dallas)

Rumblings that the Lakers might move Gasol just to dump salary, as they've done the past couple of seasons, because of the Draconian CBA penalties that essentially targeted them. Is that what you're hearing? Would hate for them not to get something of value for an asset like that.

John Hollinger
  (12:28 PM)

If they trade Gasol it will be, forgive me, for "basketball reasons." Dropping salary might be a secondary consideration, but not the main one. If the goal is to cut dollars, their first step will be amnestying Metta and the second not re-signing Sessions if he opts out.

Andrea (Indy)

You picked Boston in 7 to reach East Finals,that is giving them no credit?

John Hollinger
  (12:28 PM)

I also picked them to win the first round in six.

Greg (Indianapolis, IN)

Without Bosh, can the depth of Indiana bench be enough to fatigue the Heat to victory?

John Hollinger
  (12:30 PM)

Indiana's bench actually isn't that good, especially up front, and you saw Vogel go away from it in Game 2 -- Hansbrough and Amundson didn't play at all in the second half and he went small every time he subbed with Collison or Barbosa. The question of fatigue is really on Miami and how awful their supporting cast is -- definitely looked like it took a toll on LeBron in Game 2, and there's not a ton of rest ahead.

Todd (Hartford)

So, based on your previous responses, is it fair to say that the Celtics would prefer to see the Heat in the ECF?

John Hollinger
  (12:31 PM)

If Bosh is out, yes, I think they might prefer to play Miami. Much more comfortable match-ups for them.

Greg Pop (San Antonio)

I like how to most we are still flying under the radar.

John Hollinger
  (12:32 PM)

Today's Per Diem addresses that very topic. Stay tuned....

Dejuan Blair (San Antonio)

Will I get to play at all this series?

John Hollinger
  (12:33 PM)

Only if foul situations arise. Blair put up great numbers in the regular season but is a major defensive liability, and that's why Diaw ate his minutes (sorry, couldn't resist).

RC Buford (San Antonio)

Larry Bird? pfft

John Hollinger
  (12:33 PM)

Discussed this in today's Per Diem as well. Again, should be up soon....

Frank (Chi)

What do you think of the Wade foul on Collison... should it have been a flagrant 2? Seems hes becoming a dirty player when things arent going his way.

John Hollinger
  (12:34 PM)

I thought it should have been a flagrant 2 and not a 1, but I'm not sure it warranted a suspension either. So since Indiana won anyway, move along here ...

Patrick (Irvine)

Why does VDN has a completely different set of players playing crunch time from game to game? Is he determining a rotation at random or is there some reason to this?

John Hollinger
  (12:36 PM)

Not sure if you've noticed, but Gregg Popovich and Rick Carlisle do the same thing. It's called reading the game and adjusting to situations, and while Pop reads it at a Ph.D. level and Vinny from Dr. Seuss, every coach in the league has to juggle crunch time lineups to some extent on every night.

Jason (Boston)

Is it safe to say this years NBA champ is coming out of the West this year?

John Hollinger
  (12:36 PM)

Seems likely, but if Bosh is back in the Finals and Miami gets that far, they'll be a very strong foe for the Spurs/Thunder.

AC (NJ)

Why did they schedule a back-to-back in LA?

John Hollinger
  (12:38 PM)

Because of the lockout, basically. They had to put back-to-backs into round 2 to get the TV schedule to line up, with the option of removing them if the first round ended early. If the Lakers and Clips had won in 6 there wouldn't be any back-to-backs, but since they went the distance there was no room left in the schedule. The lesson, as always: The real winners in the lockout weren't the players or the owners, but the networks.

MJH (Philly)

You don't question Kobe's decision making? He took 25 shots last night and was 0-6 from 3. In 5 games against Thunder now he is 39-118 and 4-18 from 3. I prefer my decisions around shots being taken have a better chance of going in personally.

John Hollinger
  (12:39 PM)

That's a long-term bad decision -- he takes too many 3s and has done it all year. But last night his main bad decision was going to the basket so late when OKC had a foul to give. Since the Lakers were out of timeouts, the game effectively ended on Blake's miss.

Caron Butler (LA)

I wish I would have picked SA over LAC.

John Hollinger
  (12:41 PM)

Good point, the Spurs were all gung-ho over free agent wings (remember the Josh Howard pursuit?) and Danny Green ended up being better than all those guys.

Jerome (C-Town)

Do star players typically see a bump in PER during the playoffs due to smaller rotations and more minutes, or does regular season PER typically continue post-season?

John Hollinger
  (12:42 PM)

Typically, everybody's PER goes down because they're playing elite teams every night and no longer have the Bobcats and Kings to kick around. Elite players in general tend to see less of a drop than the role players. Except for Robert Horry.

Tom (IL)

Did Phil Jackson design plays for Jordan to shoot a 3 pointer if the Bulls were down 3 and only a few seconds left? Or did he use him as more of a decoy so a more accurate 3 point shooter would get the ball?

John Hollinger
  (12:44 PM)

Apparently you don't remember the 1994 series against the Knicks in which he used Pippen as a decoy for Toni Kukoc's last shot, and Pippen was so upset he sat the play out. So yes, Phil Jackson has done this too. And by the way, the play WAS designed for Kobe -- Blake was just so wide open that Metta passed him the ball instead.

Steiny (NYC)

Were you surprised that Rubio got 2nd in the ROY voting?

John Hollinger
  (12:44 PM)

Yes. I thought Isaiah Thomas would finish second; instead he was seventh.

Lamar Odom (Not in Dallas)

The Lakers are a better team with me and should resign me in the off season.

John Hollinger
  (12:47 PM)

Keep in mind that he's still a Maverick, although he'll likely be waived this summer; only then could the Lakers sign him. That said, L.A. could probably bring him back at the minimum or close to it, which would greatly help their cap management. I just have no idea what to expect from Odom next season.

Martin (OKC)

what adjustments can the thunder make for what the lakers did defensively last night?besides not giving it to perk at all and Harden hopefully not turning it over 5 times again

John Hollinger
  (12:51 PM)

Play small. The Thunder didn't play KD at 4 for one minute last night, even when Jordan Hill was in the game, which shocked me because it's been such an effective look for them. The first-half fouls on Harden were a factor, but even so -- all those corner 2s by Ibaka would be corner 3s for Daequan Cook with a small lineup. Thunder need to punish L.A. for conceding that shot to bottle up the high pick and roll.

Aubrey (Houston)

Do you see a team with an aggressive front office (like the Rockets) might take a shot at Howard even without the guarantee of him signing an extension?

John Hollinger
  (12:52 PM)

Yes. A team exactly like the Rockets. But I still think New Jersey has more to give, especially if they land in the top 3 in the lottery on May 30.

Blueman (Indy)

Collison and Barbosa speed of the bench something Pacers can use to run down the Heat? Make Wade and James run and punish them for playing 40+ mins.

John Hollinger
  (12:53 PM)

Sort of, but the problem with that look is that it forces one of them to guard Wade and neither is even remotely capable. Really need one of Wade or LeBron off the floor to make that guard combo workable.

sean (bridge city)

Where does Nash land this summer?

John Hollinger
  (12:55 PM)

A very interesting question. I think he's the consolation prize in Dallas if they don't get Deron Williams -- I don't think he could pass up a chance at a reunion with Marc Stein. New York isn't really an option unless the NBAPA lawsuit works out in their favor, which I consider unlikely. The other team that will pursue him hard is Portland, although they may prefer Goran Dragic.

Ray (San Antonio)

Will the Pacers v Spurs NBA Finals be put on tape delay?

John Hollinger
  (12:56 PM)

Not just tape delay, but on tape delay on NBATV. Also, it will be played in a high school gym.

Taylor (Lbk)

I think Nash would do well in Utah.

John Hollinger
  (12:57 PM)

He'd do well anywhere, but I don't Utah is on the consideration list.

Kurt (PDX)

But Portland needs a (real) GM to sign Nash, right? Who's *your* pick for that position, and who's your guess?

John Hollinger
  (12:59 PM)

Actually, I think it's far more important that they get real talent to put alongside Nash and make him think there's a chance to win big immediately. That's why the lottery is so important -- if Portland can dangle two lotto picks they might be able to net some big fish on draft day. They already have an all-star PF and three really good wings (Batum, Matthews, Williams), so it's not impossible.

Derek (Denver)

Will the nuggets have the same team next year or do they move some of their young assets to get a star player?

John Hollinger
  (1:00 PM)

The Nuggets will look at everything but it takes two to tango -- there has to be a deal out there that makes sense. They were also looking at trading Birdman, although the current situation makes that more difficult. Long-term, yes, I believe they need to trade depth for quality, because it's impossible to pay 12 guys. But they'll be very good again next year even if they stand pat.

Ryan (UT)

How often does reg season success translate to POST season success? I.E. Spurs beating OKC in 5-6 games in the WCF?

John Hollinger
  (1:02 PM)

if you're talking about regular season head-to-head, it's a lot more valid in the first round for some reason. Teams that have home-court and won the season series virtually never lose in the first round; this year we only had an exception because of the Bulls' injuries, but the other four teams in that situation all won. Second round or later, however, and the only thing that really swings outcomes is a sweep of the season series .. which the Spurs didn't do.

Matt (MPLS)

Mayo recently stated he wanted to be a PG next year. Thoughts on that and how it affects where he plays next year?

John Hollinger
  (1:03 PM)

I want to be a billionaire next year. Neither will happen.

Jason (IA)

Nash to Chicago...one year deal. Perfect fit?

John Hollinger
  (1:04 PM)

Yes, that's an interesting one given the situation, but I'm not sure Nash signs up for one year (he's said he wants three), and it's going to be awkward when Thibs plays him 47 minutes in the opener.

Claire (San Antonio)

How can you joke about Indy v Spurs if you are a sports writer that knows how good these teams are. You're just pushing the stereotype.

John Hollinger
  (1:05 PM)

Let's be clear: I will greatly enjoy it if those two meet in the Finals. Unfortunately, I can't make people watch.

John Hollinger
  (1:05 PM)

Folks that's all the time I have but thanks again for all the great questions. We'll do this again next week, likely at the same time pending my playoff schedule.