As Michigan State graduates, the Grizzlies’ Xavier Tillman and Jaren Jackson Jr. have a tight bond with the Warriors’ Draymond Green, but those feelings are put on hold during the playoffs, writes Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Green and Jackson have sniped at each other through the first two games of their series, and Tillman hit Green in the eye with an elbow as they chased a loose ball, causing him to need stitches.
“They’re going to try to take your head off. I’m going to try to take their head off. That’s just the reality of it,” Green said. “You’re competing for something that you put your heart into … you dedicate a lot of time to this, you sacrifice a lot of things for this. So ultimately, they stand in the way of what I want, I stand in the way of what they want.”
Tillman and Jackson both view Green as a mentor, Barnes adds. Spartans coach Tom Izzo frequently compared Tillman to Green when he was in college, and Tillman incorporated aspects of Green’s game into his own.
“I’ve watched his career every step of the way, trying to figure out how I can mold mine like his and stay in this league for a long time and be productive on the things I’m most comfortable at,” Tillman said.
There’s more from the Southwest Division:
- Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane, who was listed as questionable before Game 2 because of back soreness, is feeling better, tweets Mark Medina of USA Today. “I don’t think he’s at full strength like he was in the regular season, but he’s the ultimate competitor,” coach Taylor Jenkins said.
- Coming off an impressive playoff performance, Pelicans rookie Jose Alvarado announced this week that he wants to eventually win Defensive Player of the Year honors. “One day I’m going win DPOY,” he tweeted Thursday. “Mark my word!”
- Purdue’s Jaden Ivey may be the most talented guard in the draft, but he might be an awkward fit with the Rockets, who already have Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green in their backcourt, observes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. If Houston ends up taking Ivey, who is consistently projected as a top four pick, Iko believes Porter would move from lead guard to playmaking forward, which was his original position when he entered the NBA.