Notes from Today's Turner Sports 2016 NBA Playoffs Conference Call
Thursday, April 14, 2016
TNT, in its 32nd consecutive year of NBA coverage, will televise more than 40 NBA Playoff games – the most of any network – including first and second round action and the exclusive presentation of the 2016 NBA Western Conference Finals. The network’s playoff coverage will tip off Sunday, April 17, with a tripleheader – Charlotte Hornets vs. Miami Heat at 5:30 p.m. ET; Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs at 8 p.m.; Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m.
The network’s NBA Playoff coverage will feature the Sports Emmy Award-winning studio team of host Ernie Johnson alongside Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Shaquille O’Neal and two-time NBA Champion Kenny Smith providing pregame analysis, halftime updates and extensive postgame coverage on Inside the NBA presented by Kia.
NBA TV – riding the momentum of its most-viewed regular season of all time – will televise up to nine originally produced first round NBA Playoff games beginning Monday, April 18, with the Indiana Pacers vs. Toronto Raptors, Game 2, at 7 p.m. ET. Coverage will include interviews with coaches, who will also wear microphones to bring fans the sounds of the game from the floor. Each game night will include the Autotrader Pre-game Show, American Express Halftime Report and NBA GameTime Presented by Kia post-game show.
Earlier today, analysts Reggie Miller, Chris Webber and Brent Barry of TNT and NBA TV shared their insights on the 2015-16 NBA season:
Miller on Kobe Bryant’s last game: “Has anyone checked in on Kobe today? He may be on life support. If you’re a Lakers fan, that one performance made everything worthwhile. Watching him try to attempt 50 shots. He is the third-greatest guard to ever play this game behind Magic [Johnson] and [Michael] Jordan. He left no stone unturned. It was an unbelievable mamba performance.”
Webber on if Stephen Curry should be the unanimous MVP this year: “I get it if it’s a gag and you want to vote against him, but… out of all the MVPs, he’s the one who has the most improvement, the most points when you look at 40 [percent shooting from three-point territory], 50 [percent shooting from the floor] 90 [percent shooting from the foul line]… [then] you look at breaking 73. Usually there is some sentimental reason [to vote for someone else], but he has that. Usually there is a statistical reason, he has that. I don’t see how a true humble, basketball fan can vote against Steph. I agree with Reggie [that Curry won’t be unanimous] this is going to happen, but this would be the hardest to explain, and tied to ego in some sense.”
Webber on Warriors/Rockets series: “It will be an exciting, fast-paced, high-scoring series. If that does anything, it give the fans something to be excited about. Maybe [the Rockets] can give the Warriors trouble. It would be a monumental upset if anything happened. If I’m Golden State, there is no way you are stopping this train. I believe James Harden is good enough for one game. I’m not in the business to predict these games after the Clippers, and San Antonio in the series. In the Western Conference, you really don’t know.”
Miller on how much James Harden can impact the series: “When you have a guy that can give you 30 [points] every night like a James Harden and score from different angles, the question to me is which Houston Rockets team is going to show up - last year’s team that was dedicated to one another at the defensive end, or this year’s team that from time-to-time has been all James Harden and really no one else? We saw what happened last year…James Harden can win a game by himself. Do I believe it will be a sweep? No. There is always a challenge in that 1 vs. 8 match-up. Where else can the Rockets find scoring on a consistent basis? This should be at best a five-game series. I believe the Rockets can win one game and James Harden alone can give you one game.”
Webber on how much LeBron James means to the Cavaliers: “His team needs him to do everything. The Warriors are the front runners. He is going to have to play the best ball we’ve seen. When you look at it with all the players with [Kevin] Love and Kyrie [Irving], he’s the closer. Any superstar team has to depend on his leadership. Its on him more than ever before.”
Miller on the Cavaliers dominating in the East: “In the East, it’s the Cavs to lose. [James] has set this tone for himself. He’s that type of player to be mentioned with the Kobes, Tim Duncans, the great Michael Jordan…he’s in that class. He’s being judged unfairly because of the hype that came in with him. But it will be his supporting cast…can these guys stay healthy for a long vigorous playoff run? What can these other guys do? Can his supporting cast come along for the ride? Unless something happens to LeBron, I don’t see anyone beating them in the East.”
Barry on the Cavaliers’ road to the NBA Finals: “If they come out of the East, can they be that dynamic against the most dynamic three-point shooting team in the league? That’s a dramatic road for them to travel as they make their way through the East.”
Webber on San Antonio: The Spurs, unlike many teams, are very versatile. It’s going to be hard to keep up with the game. It’s going to be very tough for the Grizzlies to do anything against the Spurs. This is the best Spurs best team of all-time. Not too many teams are going to be able to beat the Spurs this year.”
Miller on the Memphis Grizzlies/San Antonio Spurs series: “A lot is going to depend on where Coach Dave Joerger can find offense. You have to respect the grit and grind of the Memphis Grizzlies but when you have to rely on Matt Barnes and Tony Allen to score, it won’t work out for you. Where can the Grizzlies find offense to beat one of the highest scoring teams in the league? We know one thing, they are going to show up and bang you. They are going to be physical but there is no scoring for Memphis.”
Barry on the importance of Oklahoma City’s depth in the playoffs: “The second half of the season for the Thunder was the trust factor and it might have to do with what Billy [Donovan] is trying to teach these guys. They established more of that trust and are still going to need it. They are going to have Russell [Westbrook] and KD [Kevin Durant] play at an extremely high level. I don’t think there is another team in the Western Conference that is more dangerous than OKC if something clicks.”
Miller on the Thunder’s identity: “If things are all clicking, OKC is a very dangerous team, but what’s the point of having all this depth if you don’t use it? On the flip side, at times they resorted to their old self. Sometimes they get a little bullheaded and turns into a [two-man] show.”
Miller on the Trail Blazers/Clippers series: “We know the Clippers have not been past the semifinals in the West. This is a scary match up for Doc [Rivers]. You’ve got the best floor general and leader in the game in Chris Paul, and J.J. Reddick has had a great season. They have the experience but if I’m Doc Rivers, it would worry me.”
Barry on the Atlanta Hawks/Boston Celtics match-up: “It is a fantastic series… They don’t have superstar talent…but these are two teams that are super fragile in terms of the makeup but don’t really kill themselves in the way they play. The Hawks have experience from last year as one of their advantages. I’m super intrigued about it. Boston needed home court. They are fairly matched up with great coaching on either side.”
Miller on the importance of guard play in the Hawks/Celtics series: “Anytime you are dealing with a 4 vs. 5 match-up, you are dealing with a coin toss. What will intrigue me most is back court match-ups. Out of all four guards, who can gain the advantage? That backcourt match-up is going to be something to watch. Experience will play a factor in this. Do the Hawks have something to prove? On the flip side you have young, hungry scrappy, Brad Stevens team. On paper you are wondering how they made the Playoffs. It’s a coin toss.”
Miller on the Pacers/Raptors series: “As for the match-up with Indiana and Toronto, Indiana is a scary team. They have been down twice to Toronto, big. They are very familiar with the Raptors. The match-up between Paul George and DeMar DeRozan will be interesting to watch. Will they [cancel] one another out, or can one get the better of the other? It is going to be interesting to watch.”