Breakfast Special: Kawhi Leonard’s Driveway Heroics

Every kid who has ever picked up a basketball has, in the driveway, counted down “3! 2! 1!” then launched a shot that beats the buzzer, leading the kid to yell “And the Celtics win the championship!” or whatever other team the kid’s growing up rooting for. But until Sunday, there had never been an actual Game 7 walk-off buzzer-beater to close out a series in NBA history. The only time it ever happened in a winner-take-all game—Michael Jordan‘s “The Shot” over Craig Ehlo in the first round in 1989—that was Game 5 of a best-of-five series. Every other example …

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Breakfast Special: Let There Be Game 7

After a complete garbage first round that was as chalk as the White Cliffs of Dover, we’ve got ourselves the thrills and chills of Game 7 imminent in Toronto and Denver. The Philadelphia 76ers got an insane MVP-level performance from Joel Embiid on their way to a 112-101 win, and the matched set of 11-point victories got completed by the Portland Trail Blazers in a 119-108 win over Denver in the nightcap. We begin in Philadelphia. Drawing an Embiid on the Enemy Here’s your insane stat of the night. Embiid had 17 points on 5-of-14 shooting, pulled down 12 rebounds, …

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Breakfast Special: Smash TV

Do you like closely-contested, intense playoff basketball that comes down to the wire and gives a thrilling finish? Well, tough. We’re fresh out. Can I interest you in a pair of one-sided beatdowns normally reserved for regular-season games against lottery teams instead? Nothing puts out the flames of an underdog in a seven-game series like losing Game 5, and the Raptors and Nuggets now get a chance to close out on the road before coming home where they’ll be heavily favored in Game 7 if that’s the way this whole show turns out. We begin in Toronto. DEFENSE! DEFENSE! To …

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Breakfast Special: In Which Order Is Restored

Nothing shatters an in-six narrative quite like an underdog, up 2-1 and with a chance to lose Game 5 on the road before coming home and closing out their opponents, failing to do the one thing an underdog needs to do in order to win a playoff series. That’s right; the Sixers and Blazers couldn’t win a Game 4 at home. Toronto Raptors fans went from “crap, we’re going to lose on our home floor in Game 5 without Pascal Siakam” to “Conference Finals, here we come!” in as much time as it took Siakam to get some Mr. Miyagi …

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Breakfast Special: Philly In-Six-Ers

One of the most fun parts (in that Nelson Muntz kind of way) of being a basketball journalist is watching the Hot Take Machine fire up during the first two games of a series, where a team that is excellent at home by virtue of being a top-two seed either holds serve and establishes nothing besides “this series might go 7” or loses one and opens up “road team in 6” talk (see headline.) There is absolutely nothing meaningful to be gleaned from a series until at least Game 3, when a combination of optics and stats tell us what …

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Breakfast Special: Attack of the Killer Jokic

The NBA Playoffs has seen a lot of Dark Ages garbage ball in the East and a lot of vintage Showtime in the West, a sign of the gulf in quality of play between basketball in the early games as opposed to the ones worth staying up late for. This was on display once again Monday night, as the Denver Nuggets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 121-113 in the Game 1 West nightcap after a stinker of a game that saw the Philadelphia 76ers level their series with the Toronto Raptors by winning Game 2 94-89. We begin with the …

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Breakfast Special: Damian Lillard’s 37-Foot Layup

Besides Stephen Curry, is there anyone else in the NBA who can effortlessly swish a shot from way beyond the three-point arc like it’s a layup the way Damian Lillard does it? Lillard hit one of his signature shots from the logo to give the Portland Trail Blazers a series-clinching 118-115 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 in Portland Tuesday night. Paul George called it a “bad shot.” Do they have scouting reports in Oklahoma? Paul George continued: "See when a great shooter takes a pull up three that's a bad shot right there. But when a …

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Breakfast Special: Nuggets-Spurs Has Gone Mad

The Denver Nuggets went 34-7 at home during the regular season. The San Antonio Spurs won 32 of their 41 home contests, losing just nine. If you knew nothing else about the series, you’d predict that it’d be the kind of seven-game series where the home team won every game and it ended in the Mile High City without the series truly starting in the “a series doesn’t start until the road team wins a game” sort of way. Well, hold on to your butts, folks. Denver won 117-103, in San Antonio, and leveled the series at 2-2, with each …

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Breakfast Special: Kevin Durant’s Better As A Heel

Kevin Durant may be a thin-skinned, easily-riled mercenary with all the moral courage of a toddler threatened with having his screen time taken away, but there aren’t many better players in the league when they’re in full-on Eff You Mode. Durant had 12 points in the first quarter, finished with 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting including 11-of-13 on his two-point shots, posted a game-best plus-32, and led the Golden State Warriors back to control of their first-round series with the Los Angeles Clippers with a 132-105 win. Some games merit deep dives and deeper analysis. Durant and Stephen Curry (21 …

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Breakfast Special: The Sixers Finally Showed Up

Far from the outright embarrassment they were when they lost Game 1, the Philadelphia 76ers showed up in a big way in Game 2 to even their playoff series with the Brooklyn Nets 145-123. This was a case of a Nets team with virtually no playoff experience against the seasoned Sixers who made it to the second round last year, exactly the kind of battle-hardened bounceback game that shows maybe Brett Brown isn’t going to be coaching the Pelicans next year after all. HERO OF SERBIA Boban Marjanovic showed out for the second unit, scoring 16 points in 18 minutes …

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