Did you see it? Did you see just how fantastic LeBron James was last night?
If you didn’t, you missed the best regular season performance of this season and maybe the last few. Our man Matt Moore (writing for CBSSports) did the research on just how amazing he was.
James took 25 shots and only missed eight of them. He only missed three free throws. 3-5 from the arc, and he nailed more jumpers than he missed. That’s a remarkable barrage, topped only by the fact that he also dropped in 11 rebounds, and eight assists which netted 19 points (three 3-point assists and five 2-point assists). So of the Heat’s 104 points, James himself created 70 points, or over 67% of the team’s total offense. The very definition of high-usage, while also facilitating and getting his teammates involved. It was the most complete game we’ve seen, and it came in a huge win over a division rival….
James’ performance was among his all-time greatest performances. It was his highest rebound total in a 50-plus-point game and the second highest in rebounds plus assists in a 50-plus-point game. Historically, it was only the fourth 50-plus-point, 11-plus rebound, 8-plus-assist game in history, with Jordan, Bryant, and Wade owners of the other three. It’s the second highest field goal percentage in such an effort, behind Jordan’s 20 of 28 performance in ’89. And with Wade and Bryant’s both coming in a triple-overtime and double-overtime game respectively, Jordan and James are the only two players in history to complete a 50-11-8 game in regulation. What’s more? This was the slowest-paced game of those historic efforts, with an estimated 88 possessions, while Bryant’s was at 90. This wasn’t just a herculean effort, it was the very model of modern efficiency.
Here, watch the video of his 23 first quarter points.
Notice that only six of those points came in the paint (two of those on an offensive rebound he worked hard for). Most of the shots were well-contested jumpers. This wasn’t given to him like he was playing the Raptors zone, he earned this.
Just a reminder that James is still the best player on the planet.
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.