Times have changed, Checketts said, as have expectations. “They are way lower than ever before,” he said of the Knicks in a telephone interview. “I’m not mocking them. I’m just saying — making the playoffs would be a gigantic accomplishment for them.” Checketts added: “For the teams we had, we couldn’t afford to not at least make a case that we could win it all. But I don’t think there’s any question that they could get away with rebuilding now because the fan base has been built over time and the expectations are so much lower. But I think it’s going to be important to communicate it purposefully and properly.”
June 19, 2021 | 8:15 am EDT Update
Pau Gasol was named by Spain to the preliminary list of players set to start training camp ahead of the Olympic Games. His brother, Marc Gasol, is also among the 18 players called up by head coach Sergio Scariolo. Ricky Rubio, Juan Hernangomez, and Willy Hernangomez are the remaining NBA players on the list.
Of course, the Nets will have their excuses to lean on in the event they are eliminated by the Bucks. Irving’s ankle sprain was a dramatic game-changer in this series, and though Harden looked physically better in Game 6 than he did in Game 5, he still wasn’t half the force he was with two healthy legs. “It’s not even about rust,” Harden said. “It’s about being able to move. … I’m out there to do whatever it takes to win. I’ve got to be better on both sides of the ball, which I will be for Game 7.”
Not yet. Not at a championship level. And, honestly, probably not near a championship level. “This one … this is going to eat at me for a long time,” Mitchell said. “Even when I go to the grocery store, I’m going to be thinking about this.” The Utah Jazz were spectacular on Friday night. Spectacular in building a 75-50 lead. Spectacular in blowing almost all of that lead in less than 12 minutes and allowing a Los Angeles team missing Kawhi Leonard to make them look like one of the worst defensive groups on Earth.
“It was a tough night for us all the way around,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We called timeouts to adjust how we defended. We tried stunting defensively. We went zone. But we got into full rotations and help situations, and we gave up looks trying to protect the rim. It was just a tough night. We were trying to guard the ball, and we struggled to stay in front. When Rudy came over to protect the rim, Mann made shots. Everybody made shots. Seventy-four percent from 3-point range is an unusual number. But there were things we didn’t execute on.”
In Game 6, he showed everything he could do. “You saw a full complete game from a second-year player,” George said. “You saw him stretch the floor. You saw him defensively. You saw him rebound. You saw him muscle his way to the basket. “You just saw so many flashes of so many different things — and he did it in the most crucial part of the game. Honestly, he single-handedly willed us back.”
George spent a lot of time with Mann at the beginning of the 2019 season, when he was working his way back from shoulder surgery. “T-Mann was like my sparring partner,” George said. “His tenacity was what I needed to get me back playing at an elite level. We challenged each other. I hope I was able to pass some things off to him. “He works on his game so much. One of the best young players that I’ve been around. Reminds me a lot of myself. He puts the work in. So, we tell him, we come out here, you work so hard, for what? Come out here and show it.”
“Happy to get the monkey off the Clippers back a little bit,” Jackson said. “But we are striving for more. This group, we have been hungry for one thing coming into the season, and it’s just still in the front of our mind and we just want to get better. Continue to come in here and get better each and every day. Excited to get home. Watch some film. Try to dissect it. Excited for our coaching staff to do the same and for us all to come as collective minds tomorrow to see what we’ve been doing well in this series, take something else from this series to go into the next one. We are going to enjoy it. It’s right back into playing another great team in Phoenix in two days. So we are getting ready for the challenge.”
“I know the Lakers are out and there’s a lot of Laker fans here,” said Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, who played on the Lakers’ 2001 NBA championship team. “But once the Lakers are gone, if we’re not playing the Lakers, you should be cheering for the Clippers because it’s all in one city. I can just feel the love and I’m very happy and proud of our guys.”