Tracy McGrady says Wade’s, LeBron’s games “really don’t mix”

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Tracy McGrady is clairvoyant. Ms. Cleo incarnate. He says he saw this coming.

While the world is talking about the 9-8 Heat, the slow start and the frankly ugly offensive basketball they have settled into, McGrady told the Detroit Free Press this is what he expected.

“It’s what I expected,” McGrady said of the Heat’s struggles Sunday after the Pistons suffered a double-overtime loss to the Knicks. “You’ve got two guys (James and Wade) that really don’t mix. I mean, they’re the same type of player. They just don’t complement each other.”

“Not at all,” he said. “It’s tough to get that chemistry. You can’t just go somewhere and create that type of chemistry. (James) had that in Cleveland. He had everything going for him. Great energy in the building. He created a great atmosphere. I enjoyed going to Cleveland because the atmosphere was just unbelievable.

“The chemistry he had with his teammates was unbelievable,” McGrady continued. “You can’t just go somewhere and create that. You can see it on his face. He’s not having fun. I’m so used to him doing all his antics on the basketball court, and he’s not doing that. You can see that something is just not right.”

Both guys have had the ball in their hands and did often in years past, but the thing is LeBron can work well off the ball. They did run some of those sets in Cleveland to great effect. Besides the steady diet of pick-and-roll we imagined an offense with some more flex-like sets, maybe even some pure isolation (so the help defenders have farther to go). Or, you know, they could just run more.

McGrady says he saw this coming, and so far he has the scoreboard. But what is frustrating is we all saw in our minds much more, an offense that wasn’t so predictable and execution worthy of this Big 3. Right now that remains a figment of our imagination.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.