2017 NBA Playoffs: Cavaliers survive late Pacers run, Bucks demolish Raptors, Spurs clobber Grizzlies

The NBA postseason begins with four games, and we’ll keep track for you the whole way. So far, Cleveland nearly fell to Indiana, while the Bucks made a big statement in Toronto. San Antonio dominated the third quarter to rout Memphis after a tight first half.

The 2017 NBA Playoffs have arrived. Here’s the Saturday schedule:

Pacers at Cavaliers, 3 p.m. ET, ABC
Bucks at Raptors, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Grizzlies at Spurs, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Jazz at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

What a magical time of year!

LINKS GALORE

Paul Flannery had one of the 100 official NBA awards ballots this season, which is a huge honor for SB Nation. We’re proud of Paul! Here, he explains why he voted for Russell Westbrook as MVP.

Mike Prada has a super rad list of 31 cool things to watch for in the playoffs, from the Boston Loop to the Toronto Weave and everything in between.

My 21 bold predictions for the playoffs. I think the Raptors are going to the Finals, and the Warriors are going undefeated.

Our staff predictions for the first round.

Awesome crowdsourcing here: The Dream Shake is tracking all of the publicly announced MVP votes and compiling the results. It looks like Russell Westbrook is on track to beat James Harden as of now, though I imagine more Harden and Kawhi Leonard might be more likely to announce their votes as this point given the aggressiveness of some Westbrook backers.

I don’t think a Players’ Tribune plea for his teammate to win MVP will move the needle, but Trevor Ariza calling Harden “Bearded Picasso” is life-affirming! Bearded Picasso!

The Knicks! New York’s favorite team had exit meetings on Friday. Phil Jackson acknowledged that he would attempt to trade Carmelo Anthony this summer and implied that Melo was the reason the Knicks don’t win (which is a vicious self-own). Melo responded by posting a Leo DiCaprio photo and some crying emojis on Instagram. Kristaps Porzingis liked the post … and then skipped exit meetings out of frustration with the franchise. Nice work, Phil!

Russell Westbrook’s rebounds are rather useful, as this Seth Rosenthal video shows. Speaking of Westbrook, Ricky O’Donnell has a timeline of the incredible journey Russ took us on this year.

Winners and losers from this week’s WNBA draft.

Lynn Swann is the athletic director at USC. His women’s basketball coaching search is … not going well.

Bill Simmons takes us on a real trip explaining his MVP vote for James Harden. Some of those older MVP races are fascinating to read about.

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Kawhi Leonard turned a shaky Spurs start into a blowout Game 1 win

Kawhi Leonard led the way for the Spurs.

The Kawhi Leonard experience continues to be absolutely stunning. His defense has always been special, but now his offense is coming into a league of its own. The Spurs found themselves in a hole early as the Grizzlies jumped out to a 22-9 lead and led 30-25 after the first quarter. But as you would expect, the Spurs responded in the second and third quarters, to take a 84-64 lead thanks to a Kawhi Leonard takeover that would put the Spurs ahead for good.

The third quarter belonged to Leonard as he scored 15 points, the same amount as the Grizzlies team scored in the entire quarter. When the third quarter ended, he had 32 points on 14 shots, which tied a playoff career high.

Leonard would finish with 32 points on the night as the Spurs jumped out to a 32 point lead to start the fourth quarter and Gregg Popovich could give his starters rest. Leonard’s stat line was 32 points in 32 minutes on 11-of-14 shooting. What a night.

The Spurs beat the Grizzles 111-82 in Game 1, after outscoring the Grizzlies 82-42 in the final two quarters. It was a slow start for the Spurs, but you’d never know thanks to Kawhi Leonard.

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Sarah Silverman To Trump: Show Us Your F***king Taxes, You Emotional Child

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As tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated across the U.S. Saturday to pressure Donald Trump to finally release his tax returns, few presented the issue more pointedly than comedian Sarah Silverman. “Show us your f***king taxes, you emotional child,” she challenged in a speech in New York City.

The actress was one of a multitude of celebrities and politicians who spoke at major rallies in New York and Washington, D.C. Demonstrations were also held in as many as 100 other cities.

“When you love your country you have to speak out and speak up,” Silverman said earlier to an MSNBC reporter. “It’s time to fight for our country. That’s what I intend to do. The only way to really penetrate this administration is to take to the streets — and to be relentless.”

Trump vowed during his campaign that he would release his returns, as presidential candidates and presidents have for decades. But in January, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump would never release his returns because his election proved that “people didn’t care” about it.

The information is particularly important for him because of serious conflict-of-interest concerns over his continued ownership of Trump businesses and debts to foreign interests.

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