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.
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.
The NBA, at the Pacers’ request, is investigating whether the Lakers tampered by making impressible contact with Paul George.
Bob Kravitz of WTHR
In fact, there’s word that other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, “Good for you. Fight the good fight.”
Small-market teams whine too much about the disadvantages they face, but tampering isn’t really a market-size issue. Remember, under Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers were known as the only team that didn’t tamper.
The Lakers have advantages because George is from the area, and Los Angeles offers immense marketability. That’d be true whether or not they contacted George or his agent before he officially became a free agent.
I understand the desire to take down the big, bad Lakers – especially now that they appear poised to become truly big and bad again. But it’s hard to find a team that can cast a stone at them from anywhere other than a glass house.
The power dynamics within the Clippers are shifting, and the ground apparently hasn’t settled yet.
Doc Rivers has been stripped of his presidency. Jerry West became a consultant. Lawrence Frank now holds the most prestigious title in the front office, and newly hired Michael Winger will report to him. Also falling under Frank in the organizational chart? Trent Redden.
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:
Longtime Cleveland Cavaliers executive Trent Redden will join the LA Clippers’ front-office staff as assistant general manager, league sources said on Monday.
Redden was ousted in Cleveland with David Griffin. He’ll help the Clippers simply by providing another capable executive. They’ve long needed to add front-office employees (and pay for them).
But Redden also exacerbates the issue of Frank’s underlings having far more front-office experience than him. As the Clippers try to establish their new setup, we’ll see whether that creates complications.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has missed significant time the last two seasons due to complications from back surgery.
Could those issues derail his career?
Kerr, via Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:
“I fully expect to coach all year,” Kerr says in a no-nonsense tone. “That’s my expectation. And for many years to come.”
On the most basic level, it’d be good if Kerr feels well enough to coach. The headaches sound miserable, regardless of his job.
But it’d also be ideal if the NBA didn’t lose one of its best coaches just as he’s getting started. The 51-year-old Kerr might wind up the greatest coach of all time. Obviously that’s a long way off, but he has that potential – health permitting.