What you missed while watching Gus Johnson go Gus Johnson…
Heat 103, Bulls 74: Miami’s offense looked great. Chicago’s game plan — a very logical one — was to take Dwyane Wade out, do not let him beat you with his shot. So he passed, and finished with 10 assists. The Heat pounded the soft inside game of the Bulls with Jermaine O’Neal (24 points), then they posted up Quentin Richardson on Flip Murray. The Heat were active on offense, active on defense. And if you get up on these Bulls early right now, they just fold. The Bulls shot 32%.
Clippers 99, Rockets 93: This review contains sentences I never thought I’d type. Such as: The Clippers just executed so much more cleanly than the Rockets tonight. LA recognized the mismatches and pounded them. The Rockets did not.
Or this one: Great game from the Clippers bench. Four of the five Clippers starters had a negative plus/minus for the night, while the entire bench was in the positive. Craig “Rhino” Smith (still maybe the best nickname in the league) dominated — 25 points, 10 rebounds and was a +25 on the night. He was a beast. Eric Gordon had a nice game spreading the floor for him.
Chase Budinger is a nice player, he is no Kevin Martin. The Rockets really missed him and Shane Battier in this one.
Trail Blazers 101, Mavericks 89: Portland is playing well right now, particularly on defense. They are long and athletic, and that really bothered Maverick shooters. Marcus Camby got right up on Dirk Nowitzki, bodied him and made him uncomfortable.
And Portland did it without fouling — Dallas got to the line just nine times, as opposed to Portland’s 26. Little bit of home cooking in that number, but it’s mostly about the defense
Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.
The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.
The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.
Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.
Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.
Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.
“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”
The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.
Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.
LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.
Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?
Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.
LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.
To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.
It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.
With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.
There were a couple of good ones, however.
Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.
One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.