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Saturday Sports: Basketball, Basketball, Basketball


And, New Hampshire, America, it's time for sports.


SIMON: The Western Conference is narrowing down. Warriors and Clippers last night, Celtics and Bucks tomorrow. I have to say, fear the deer. And more trouble in the NFL. Howard Bryant of ESPN joins us. Good morning, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott. We're not going to talk "Endgame"?

SIMON: "Endgame," you say, yes?

BRYANT: All right. We'll talk "Endgame" next time.

SIMON: Oh, OK. The Warriors beat the Clippers last night, but they're limping into the next round. And Houston and a scoring machine named James Harden await them.

BRYANT: Yeah. This is great, actually. One of the questions that we've been asking for however many years now is, can anybody beat the Warriors four times? And there is one team that came pretty close last year, and it was the Houston Rockets. And the Houston Rockets are - they want revenge. I think they know that if Chris Paul hadn't gotten hurt last year, maybe they'd win that game. Of course, they also missed 27 consecutive 3-pointers at home in Game 7. So this is going to be a great series.

On the other hand, you've got Kevin Durant. And the Warriors got challenged in this postseason.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: They got challenged by a team that they probably should've steamrolled. They lost two games at home, so they look vulnerable. On the other hand, you've got the Celtics in the East, and the Bucks.


BRYANT: And the Bucks are the best team in basketball this year, but the Celtics beat them in seven games last year. So we've got a revenge series this year, and Milwaukee's got home court.

You've got a Game 7 going on tomorrow as well with the Spurs and the Nuggets. And I think that's going to be a phenomenal game because, once again, we talked about the Nuggets being great all season. And, in fact, at one point, they were the top seed in the West. But now they kind of look like a young team trying to find their way, going up against a legendary veteran Spurs team, or at least with the coach, Gregg Popovich.

SIMON: A sickening, sickening story in the NFL. Tyreek Hill of the Chiefs - and audio has been reported by a local station there, speaking with his fiancee about - oh, my God - abusing his young 3-year-old, breaking his arm. It is painful to listen to this conversation. The NFL - football's a violent game. Do they have a violence problem in the game?

BRYANT: Well, they've had one, and this is one of the issues. It's more - it's not as much - not only a violence problem. Let's not forget you had the Adrian Peterson child abuse issue.


BRYANT: You've had a bunch of domestic violence issues in the game. Let's not forget that the Chiefs themselves - they had not just Tyreek Hill. They also had Kareem Hunt earlier - a few months ago, and on top of that, seven years ago, Jovan Belcher. And let's not forget, in a murder-suicide, he killed his girlfriend and then drove to the Chiefs facility and killed himself on the grounds of the facility.

And so this is the problem. You've got a talent trap issue in the NFL where, I think, the organizations sort of know that these players - some of these players are troubled and they come with baggage, but they're really, really talented. And I think that the teams take the position sometimes that, we'll take a risk. We'll position ourselves as the team that's given these guys a second chance or taking an - giving them an opportunity, and then we'll cut them loose.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: They don't hold a whole lot of accountability unless something goes sideways. And then, when things go sideways, they seem to act like they're the responsible ones, when everybody's really responsible for this.

SIMON: We just got half a minute left. John Havlicek left us - one of the greats of the Boston Celtics.



JOHNNY MOST: Greer's putting the ball in play. He gets it out deep, and Havlicek steals it. Over to Sam Jones. Havlicek stole the ball.

SIMON: That's his historic play.

BRYANT: Absolutely. And as a lifelong native Bostonian, this one hurts really, really hard. Part of the Celtic dynasty, part of the bridge between Larry Bird and Bill Russell. And if you remember those teams - and let's not forget what a great player John Havlicek was. We forget what happens last Tuesday. When John Havlicek retired, there were only two players who had scored more points than him, and that was Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson. And he never led the league in scoring. Total player, great person, and a huge loss.

SIMON: Howard Bryant of ESPN, thanks so much.

BRYANT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.