NBA

Three-Man Weave: Knicks, Clippers and the Conference Finals

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TSN.ca Staff
5/17/2014 10:35:29 AM
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On this week's Three Man Weave, Will Strickland and Duane Watson of TSN 1050's 1 On 1 With Will and Duane draft, #1On1 occasional guest co-host and Canada's first female pro sports play by play announcer in Canada - Brampton A's mic boss Meghan McPeak. With the conference finals set and the coaching carousel spinning, they Weave To Achieve on Steve Kerr, the threat of Donald Sterling in 2014-2015 and the NBA's Final Four.

With Steve Kerr accepting the job to coach Golden State, who does Phil Jackson hire in New York?

Watson: While all roads lead to the man in the mirror, I think the Zen Master will look towards a pupil who understands the triangle offense and one that he can also puppeteer from afar. Not that he's not his own man, but Derek Fisher is a name that sounds like a fit. It's not like Kerr was coming to the Knicks with coaching experience, so clearly that's not an issue. My dark horse pick is Mark Jackson making a return to New York, with something to prove.

McPeak: I think Phil is definitely going to go for someone who he coached as a player, or was part of his coaching staff while he was in Los Angeles. Derek Fisher, Tyronn Lue and Kurt Rambis have been some of the names thrown around since Kerr signed with Golden State.  The tough job will be getting someone who is willing to deal with the front office meddling that we have seen and with the personality of Knicks owner James Dolan, who said Phil was going to have complete control but then reportedly said he didn't think Kerr was "the right fit".  Rambis would be the best fit because he has experience coaching and has coached alongside Jackson in The Triangle offence.  If you go away from the triangle offence and just allow the coach to implement their style, I wouldn't be surprised if Lionel Hollins' name was in the mix also, because he has experience both as a head coach and assistant.  But I have a feeling and won't be surprised if in the end, the Zen Master himself ends up on the sideline again.

Strickland: After Kerr spurned the cold of Gotham, the short money and coaching term of James Dolan's offer, because yes, it is he and not Phil Jackson who signs the check, the Zen Master is in quite the conundrum. The natural fit, aesthetically at least, would be former NBA Rookie of The Year, native New Yorker and former Knickerbocker himself, the displaced Mark Jackson. But coming out of a meddlesome and distasteful ownership situation in Golden State and into one of the worst in The Association won't bring him home. OKC Thunder ageless backup PG Derek Fisher won five rings with Phil and knows The Triangle, which Jackson wants to run in New York. Fisher would be a decent fit despite lacking coaching experience and what seems to be an overwhelming desire to be more a front office guy than bench boss. Congrats to Kurt Rambis, new patsy... ahem… head coach of the New York Knicks!

After Being Ousted From The Playoffs, What's Next For The L.A. Clippers?

Watson: Aside from the Donald Sterling drama, this team needs to retool. Not necessarily blow it all up, but the Clippers have witnessed the growth of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin this season, in addition to the likes of veterans J.J Reddick, Danny Granger, Hedo Turkoglu and Glenn Davis and it still wasn't enough. "The best point guard in the game" can't get them over the hump and without a conference finals appearance to speak of, it's clearly not enough. Doc Rivers has a busy summer in front of him.

McPeak: Honestly, it's hard to say for certain.  The Clippers have been through a lot within a short period of time with the Donald Sterling saga. They should take some time for themselves to think about what they want to do about next season.  We already know that Sterling is going to try and drag this out as long as possible. Does that mean that the players and coaching staff opt out and take Commissioner Silver on his word and try to work something out to play elsewhere?  Do we see them stay together and try to piggy back off this season, take the momentum into next season for another run? If the league does everything within its legal powers regarding Sterling and it's then left to the judicial system, maybe we will see the Clippers make another run at the Larry O'Brien trophy.

Strickland: Adam Silver and the other 29 owners of the NBA are either dragging their collective feet or bracing for years of litigation while exercising what may be necessary due diligence to get this Donald Sterling thing right. Whatever the case, time may not be in their side or the Clippers. It could get ugly quick. With the Draft and impending free agency coming in the next six-plus weeks, the face of Clipper franchise can't have Donald Sterling stains on it or the results could be cataclysmic not only for LA but the entire NBA.

Eastern Conference Finals: Pacers-Heat - Who Wins and Why?

Watson: No easier question has been asked since the inception of the Three Man Weave. This is far from the same Pacers team that played in the NBA Playoffs last year. The Pacers can't get it together, even struggling against the Wizards. Miami is in fine playoff form and ready for a fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. Heat in five.

McPeak: Pacers. Yes they have been very inconsistent. Yes they plummeted the last eight weeks of the regular season. Yes there was a national manhunt for Roy Hibbert until Game 7 of the Hawks series.  But they managed to play through all of that to get what they wanted all along: a repeat matchup with the Heat and another shot at the NBA Finals.  Indy has the ability to hit the reset button and play the way many expected them to play all playoffs.  They can rise to the occasion and go chest to chest with the two-time defending champs. But to do that, the Pacers need Roy Hibbert to be ROY HIBBERT.  He can't shy away. Big Roy needs to dominate the paint the way he did in the first four months of the season.  Lance Stephenson, when he isn't making bonehead plays, is a great facilitator. If he can get the ball to the right people in the right places at the right time, Stephenson can also be big for the Pacers. At the end of the day, the Pacers just need to give the effort many expect from them.

Strickland: Heat in six. The Pacers are just too emotionally fragile to believe they can beat the Heat four times in a seven game series. On paper and in reviewing last year's Eastern Conference Finals, sure, Indy has a shot. That's it - a shot. Paul George's uneven playoff performances vs lesser competition in Atlanta and Washington, as well as rumours of infighting, dysfunction and The Invisible Man Act of Roy Hibbert have hurt this team. Miami has championship pedigree, has taken care of their business with relative efficiency... and they still have the biggest x-factor in the game: LeBron Raymone James.

Western Conference Finals: Spurs-Thunder - Who Wins and Why?

Watson: This series goes seven games, although I'm not quite sure for who. The balance and steadiness of the Spurs is a definite advantage, however the energy and drive of the Thunder is too compelling for me. KD, the MVP is playing like one and Westbrook is competing at just as high of a level. If Parker is slowed with this hamstring injury it makes him mortal and puts a little more work on the Coach of the Year. The Thunder have continually found ways to win and I don't think it's going to stop in the Western Conference Finals.

McPeak: Spurs.  As good as the Thunder are, I don't think they can win long term with Westbrook playing with a score-first mentality. When he takes more shots than Durant, OKC struggles to win.  When you break down what the Thunder do offensively, they don't actually run anything. When the play completely breaks down and becomes stagnant, the Thunder don't look good.  Serge Ibaka suffered a calf injury and is questionable to play. The Thunder need him because he can extend the defence and knock down the long two and occasional three-pointer. Tony Parker is dealing with the hamstring injury so it will be interesting to see how he comes out, however the Spurs have played and won without him this season.  San Antonio has things rolling so well in the way they execute on both ends that it will be tough for the Thunder to get four wins.

Strickland: The Spurs lost all four games in the regular season to the Thunder... and it means absolutely nothing right now. With news that OKC starting PF and third-leading scorer Serge Ibaka will be out for the remainder of the playoffs,  that sweep means even less.  MVP Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will have to summon four of their greatest games of the season, along with help by committee from their entire roster. It probably won't matter as the Spurs are peaking at the right time, in relative good health and solid from Man one to Man 12 on their roster. Spurs in six.

Watching the first round of the NBA Playoffs, did you think the #1 and #2 seeds from each conference would be playing in their respective conference finals?

Watson: The first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs was easily the best ever witnessed. While I had little doubt the Heat would be here, the Pacers and Spurs both provided scares. Ultimately, this is how it was set out to be and there have been challenges along the way for all top seeds, which makes this upcoming showdown all the more compelling. Good job Adam Silver!

McPeak: Spurs, Thunder and Heat were expected. The Pacers I did not expect to be in the Eastern Conference Final based on how they finished the regular season, and the first two rounds of the playoffs.  Indy was just flat out bad and were lucky to get past the Hawks and Wizards, eventually resembling something more like the Pacers we saw start the season so well.

Strickland: Indeed. Despite all the hand wringing, wishing and praying in Dallas, Memphis, Atlanta and Washington, the NBA Playoffs are not a live version of Hoosiers or March Madness. The cream more often than not rises to the top over a seven game series and this dictum rings true here with these four teams, the last standing in the quest for the 2013-2014 Lawrence O'Brien Trophy. Good luck to them all!

The Three-Man Weave contributors are co-hosts of TSN Radio 1050's 1-on-1 with Will and Duane , Will Strickland (@WallStrizzle1) and Duane Watson (@byDuaneWatson) and guest point goddess Meghan McPeak (@meghanmcpeak).

Phil Jackson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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