LeBron leaves game in third quarter with leg cramps; will sit Wednesday

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That noise you heard around 9:30 tonight was just the sigh of relief coming from Miami.

James left the Heat’s game against CSKA Moscow with 3:21 left in the third quarter showing a pronounced limp. He went back to the locker room and word spread that it was a hamstring injury (the same thing that has Dwyane Wade in civilian clothes right now, really expensive civilian clothes at that).

But the Heat later reported that it was nothing more than cramps and LeBron James is fine, something supported by a tweet from our man Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. Despite it being nothing, LeBron will rest tomorrow night when the Heat take on the Hornets.

LeBron said after the game that he could be ready tomorrow. However, since this is preseason, what is the point? He will travel with the team (don’t think that’s just to see his buddy Chris Paul, nope, that’s not it at all).

James had 22 points in 26 minutes to start the game. Right now, with Wade resting and the ball more in LeBron’s hands, the Heat resemble more of last year’s Cavaliers offensively than whatever the team will become with Wade in the lineup.

Wade remains sidelined with his hamstring injury. Although he is doing well the Heat are taking no chances, it will likely be late next week before we see him back in a game.

The Heat may be giving their key players more run than other contenders such as the Lakers or Celtics, but that is because the Heat need to build up the chemistry those teams already have. However, they may have to consider pulling back.

CSKA Moscow — a traditional EuroLeague power — led most of the first half and it wasn’t until the final minutes until the Heat pulled away for the win. Former Duke star Trajan Langdon led Moscow with 20 points.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.