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NBA Tipoff: Blazers head home for Game 3, down 2-0 to Golden State

Damian Lillard says the Warriors did their job and protected home court. Now it’s time for the Trail Blazers to do the same. The Western Conference finals between the upstart Blazers and the defending champion Warriors shifts to Portland on Saturday with Golden State holding a 2-0 advantage.
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Warriors remain optimistic Kevin Durant will return in postseason

Warriors coach Steve Kerr isn’t going to predict when Kevin Durant might play again but the team is optimistic the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP will be back this postseason. Durant has missed the past three games with a strained right calf and will likely miss the remainder of the Western Conference finals against the Trail Blazers.
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NBA bans Pacers’ Tyreke Evans for violating league anti-drug policy

The NBA has banned Indiana Pacers free agent guard Tyreke Evans at least two years for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. The league announced that Evans had been dismissed and disqualified on Friday. He can apply for reinstatement in 2021. General manager Kevin Pritchard declined comment at the NBA draft combine in Chicago.

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After a scandal and a year in Australia, Brian Bowen II targets NBA

Brian Bowen II is hoping to make it to the NBA after being engulfed in a college basketball corruption scandal. His father testified that he agreed to a $100,000 pay-for-play scheme with Adidas in exchange for a commitment by his son to attend Louisville. The younger Bowen wound up playing a season in Australia. He was at the NBA combine this week. He hopes be drafted on June 20.
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Not every NBA player will put body on line to take a charge

Successfully taking a charge is difficult to routinely pull off with the fast-pace, up-tempo style of play in the NBA. A block versus a charge can have a major impact on a game during the pressure-packed postseason, sometimes changing the momentum of a contest. Yet, not every NBA player is willing to put their bodies on the line to absorb the blow and take the punishment. Some players and coaches believe it’s a lost art.
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NBA Tipoff: Bucks seeking 2-0 lead over Raptors in East finals

When the season started, everyone knew the Eastern Conference would have a new king. LeBron James left Cleveland, having taken his talents to Los Angeles. And even Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn’t sure who would take his place. He just knew there was an opening – and the Bucks are three wins away from taking full advantage of that opening. Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final is Friday night in Milwaukee, where the Bucks will aim to take a 2-0 series lead over the Toronto Raptors.
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Mid-major to millions: Ja Morant’s life is changing quickly

UPDATED: Thu., May 16, 2019, 3:28 p.m.

Here’s how much everything has changed for Ja Morant in the last 12 months: He’s gone from being considered the No. 3 option at Murray State to the possible No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. Put another way, he’s a player from a mid-major and will soon be a multimillionaire. He was at the draft combine this week, meeting with some teams and starting to figure out how to best navigate the waters up until the June 20 draft.
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Bucks finish with a flourish, rally to top Raptors 108-100

UPDATED: Wed., May 15, 2019, 8:52 p.m.

Brook Lopez scored 13 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 24 and the Milwaukee Bucks rallied in the final minutes to beat the Toronto Raptors 108-100 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. The team that finished the regular season with the NBA’s best record just enough in the final minutes to grab 1-0 series lead.
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NBA Tipoff: Warriors look to build off strong, well-balanced Game 1

The Golden State Warriors were strong in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against Portland. Stephen Curry got hot and the Warriors moved the ball crisply as the two-time defending champions found their familiar swagger in a win against the Trail Blazers. Portland studied the film and will aim to make adjustments on both ends of the floor ahead of Game 2 on Thursday, getting more out of backcourt duo Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
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Pelicans going at own pace after hitting NBA lottery jackpot

A Pelicans franchise that looked downtrodden when Anthony Davis requested a mid-season trade is now buoyed by the leverage that comes with winning the NBA’s draft lottery. The club now has the option to pick Duke star Zion Williamson and is in a stronger position to try to either persuade Davis to stay or dictate more favorable trade terms. Pelicans basketball operations chief David Griffin says he’ll take a deliberate approach resolving Davis’ status.
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Magic Johnson, Larry Bird to get Lifetime Achievement Award

UPDATED: Wed., May 15, 2019, 1:50 p.m.

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, whose coast-to-coast rivalry in the 1980s propelled the NBA to a new level of popularity, will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Hall of Famers and 1992 U.S. Olympic teammates will receive the award on June 24 at the NBA Awards.
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Tacko Fall among 11 players added to NBA draft combine

UPDATED: Wed., May 15, 2019, 10:34 a.m.

The NBA has picked 11 players from the G League Elite Camp to stay for the draft combine. UCF’s Tacko Fall, Florida State’s Terance Mann, Miami’s Dewan Hernandez, Syracuse’s Oshae Brissett, Nevada’s Cody Martin, Tulsa’s DaQuan Jeffries, Auburn’s Jared Harper, Iowa’s Tyler Cook, Iowa State’s Marial Shayok, Mississippi State’s Reggie Perry and Ole Miss’ Terence Davis were invited to stay for the workouts that begin Thursday.
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John Beilein: Leaving Michigan for Cavs is ‘right thing to do’

John Beilein has no doubt leaving Michigan for the Cleveland Cavaliers is the right move to make. He decided it was time to jump to the NBA and see if he can win on basketball’s biggest stage after molding winners at the college level for 41 years. The offensive whiz who re-established the Wolverines as national championship contenders will try to orchestrate a similar turnaround in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers won just 19 games following LeBron James’ departure for the Los Angeles Lakers.
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New Orleans wins NBA draft lottery, right to pick No. 1

UPDATED: Tue., May 14, 2019, 7:46 p.m.

New Orleans has bucked the odds and won the NBA’s draft lottery, and now will have the first chance at choosing Zion Williamson in the June 20 selections. The Pelicans won the lottery for the first time since 2012, when they chose Anthony Davis.
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U.S. senator seeks safe passage for Turkish Trail Blazers star Enes Kanter

UPDATED: Tue., May 14, 2019, 6:37 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden wants to ensure Portland center Enes Kanter, whom Turkey wants arrested for his criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will be able to safely travel to Canada for a possible NBA championship series against Toronto. The Oregon senator wrote to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking that his government facilitate Kanter’s safe passage to and from Canada if the Trail Blazers advance. The Blazers must still get past the Golden State Warriors.
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NBA Tipoff: Bucks, Raptors to begin deciding Eastern Conference title

There’s a big-name superstar on either side: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard. There’s a Milwaukee franchise that hasn’t been to the NBA Finals in 45 years, opposite a Toronto franchise that has never been to the title round. The Bucks have a coach who wasn’t there last year; the Raptors have a coach who wasn’t in charge last year. Similarities abound between Milwaukee and Toronto. Over the next couple of weeks, one team will separate itself and reach the NBA Finals.