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Monday, October 14, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Fates decide to intervene in the NBA playoffs this year

In this Sunday photo, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) is helped up after being injured on the final play during the first half of Game 4 in the first round of the NBA playoff series against the Houston Rockets. (Karen Warren / Associated Press)
In this Sunday photo, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) is helped up after being injured on the final play during the first half of Game 4 in the first round of the NBA playoff series against the Houston Rockets. (Karen Warren / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • If you had to label the National Basketball Association, what label would you put on it? I have mine. Read on.

••••••••••

• The NBA is the place where the stars align. Or, in not so poetic terms, a league in which the stars dominate. A star-driven league if you will. The best teams have the best players. Which is why recent developments in Houston and Portland have changed the complexion of the playoffs. Not for the Rockets mind you. For their opponent, the Golden State Warriors. Houston is still going to lose its first-round series with the defending champions, just like it would have if Steph Curry was healthy. But Curry isn’t. After missing some time with an ankle injury, he sprained his knee the other day and now will miss another two weeks. At least. That changes Golden State. It would change anyone. Curry is the league’s best player – OK, LeBron James may still be the “best” player, which is a subjective term, but Curry is the league’s most impactful player thanks to his unmatched offensive abilities – and there’s not a group of players in the NBA that wouldn’t be affected by his loss. The question is, can anyone take advantage of it? The Rockets won’t. Even without Curry, the Warriors should eliminate Houston sometime in the next three games, two of which are in Oakland. But then it gets interesting. The Warriors will meet either Portland or the Clippers. And last night’s game changed the complexion of that series – it’s tied at two – and beyond. Los Angeles may have been more than just a speed bump for the Warriors. But now the Clippers probably won’t even get past the Blazers. Not without Chris Paul. LA’s star went down with a broken right hand, left the Moda Center in a cast and a sling and probably won’t be available the rest of the series. Blake Griffin is hurt too, but the Clippers are used to that. Paul is their star and the guy who makes them go. Without him, can they defeat Portland? And even if they do, would they be able to get past a Curry-less Golden State team? The answer to the first question – no – makes the second question moot. So how about the Blazers? Will they give the Warriors a series? More than likely. But it probably won’t be as tough a test as a healthy Los Angeles team would have offered.

• Mark down the date. April 25, 2016. The M’s ascended into first place in the American League West. They reached that spot with a 10-9 record courtesy of last night’s 3-2 win over the Astros (fixed from earlier). It may be the beginning of long stretch atop the standings or just a momentary blip before dropping into mediocrity. No matter what, though, it’s a day to remember. And celebrate. There hasn’t been many of either around here the past 10 years.

•••

• WSU: I missed this yesterday (and early this morning) but I thought I would pass along this opinion piece on Valentine Izundu.

• EWU: Former Eastern quarterback Vernon Adams made the media rounds yesterday – three days before the NFL draft begins – and declared he’s ready for the challenge of the next level.

• Preps: The GSL 4A soccer race is coming down to the final two matches. Jim Allen has that and more in his notebook.

• Mariners: Yes, the M’s received a couple of big hits. But the night belonged to Taijuan Walker, who continues to build his resume. He struck out 11 last night, tying a career high, and picked up a much-needed win. ... The M’s will be without right-hander Joaquin Benoit for a couple weeks. He’s on the disabled list. That’s one of the dangers of relying on veterans in the bullpen.

• Seahawks: There is only a couple days until the NFL draft begins, so that means we will be reading story after story on who the Seahawks might take. And others on what positions they might target. But is past performance indicative of future plans? I’m not sure. ... The Seahawks perform really well in merchandise sales. ... Richard Sherman's family is growing.

• Sounders: Seattle is not playing well and they are beat up. When the Sounders will get to full strength is anyone’s guess.

•••

• My Bloomsday training yesterday consisted of a 25-minute walk with the dog and 50 minutes mowing the lawn. Yep, I’m about ready for Sunday. Too bad I didn’t enter. Until later ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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