Don’t know if you heard, but the Heat have lost five in a row. I think that made the news somewhere.
Just like it did earlier this season when the Lakers lost four in a row. Or three in a row two other times.
Now the Lakers have won 8 in a row heading into Miami. Kobe Bryant said there is a fundamental difference between the Lakers struggles and Heat struggles, as reported by Kevin Ding at the Orange County Register.
“The difference between us is that we all know what our roles are,” Bryant said. “Everything is cemented. They’re still trying to figure that out.”
He’s right. You can question the Lakers execution, their commitment to the regular season, their passion. But even with a few new players the roles on that team are defined. The Lakers have always known who they are.
Miami is clearly still trying to figure out how who they are, especially in crunch time. They are trying to figure out how to get the best looks (although even when they get good looks they just seem to miss). Bosh wants the ball in a different spot on the floor; coach Erik Spoelstra is trying to find ways to get more motion in the half-court offense and more points in the paint. Their issues are more about their identity.
And the point in the season when you are supposed to be ramping up for the playoffs is a bad time to be having team identity issues.
That by no means makes the Lakers prohibitive favorites Thursday — the Heat are a desperate team, and there is nothing more dangerous is pro sports than a team desperate for a win.
Utah’s Gordon Hayward abused the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson on this play.
First, Hayward reads and steals Clarkson’s poor feed into the post intended for Kobe Bryant, then going up the sideline he takes his dribble behind Clarkson’s back to keep going. It all ends in a Rudy Gobert dunk.
Three quick takeaways here:
1) Gordon Hayward is a lot better than many fans realize. He can lead this team.
2) It’s still all about the development with Clarkson, and that’s going to mean some hard lessons.
3) Hayward may have the best hair in the NBA, even if it’s going a bit Macklemore.
(Hat tip reddit)
VIZZINI: “So, it is down to you. And it is down to me.”
MAN IN BLACK nods and comes nearer…
MAN IN BLACK: “Perhaps an arrangement can be reached.”
VIZZINI: “There will be no arrangement…”
MAN IN BLACK: “But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.”
That farcical scene from The Princess Bride pretty much sums up where we are with the Tristan Thompson holdout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, minus the Iocane powder. (Although that scene was a battle of wits in the movie and this process seems to lack much wit.) The Cavaliers have put a five-year, $80 million offer on the table. Thompson wants a max deal (or at least a more than has been offered), but he also doesn’t want to play for the qualifying offer and didn’t sign it. LeBron James just wants the two sides just to get it done.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN thinks LeBron could be very disappointed.
Windhorst was on the Zach Lowe podcast at Grantland (which you should be listening to anyway) and had this to say about the Thompson holdout:
“I actually believe it will probably go months. This will go well into the regular season.”
Windhorst compared it to a similar situation back in 2007 with Anderson Varejao, which eventually only broke because the then Charlotte Bobcats signed Varejao to an offer sheet. Thompson is a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavaliers can match any offer, but only Portland and Philadelphia have the cap space right now to offer him a max contract. Neither team has shown any interest in doing so.
And so we wait. And we may be waiting a while.