Mark Cuban’s least favorite referee assigned to Mavs game

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My mind in these situations always floats back to a junior high basketball coach. We were sitting in the basement locker room of our gym when I was in 8th grade and we were convinced the referees had robbed us of a win with a bad call at the end of the game.

“If you really wanted to win, you should have played harder the first three quarters. Leave it up to the refs and you get what you get,” our coach spit out. He was right. Later coaches said the same things, in more colorful language.

But fans never see it that way. After a season of becoming emotionally invested in players it’s easier for us to blame a referee than the player with the blown defensive assignments. And Dallas fans will be ready to blame the referee Tuesday night.

Danny Crawford will be working Game 2 of the Dallas/Portland series tonight in Big D.

According to Tim MacMahon at ESPN Dallas, the Mavericks are 2-16 in the playoffs when Crawford is working.

Dallas is 48-41 in the rest of their playoff games during the ownership tenure of Mark Cuban, who has been fined millions of dollars in the last 11 years for publicly complaining about officiating.

“Not saying a word,” Cuban wrote in an email when asked to comment on the Mavs’ playoff history with Crawford.

Tonight, whenever there is a call against Dallas — no matter how obvious the foul — there will be howls and complaint from the fans. Clearly the league has it in for Dallas, because Crawford was there for Game 3 of the 2006 finals against Miami, and was there for subsequent key losses as well.

It’s easier to blame the refs than your players, your guys. Even if the truth is Dwyane Wade got those calls in 2006 — not all of them good calls — because he was the aggressor. In the NBA, the aggressor gets the calls the vast majority of the time. No, there has to be some vast NBA conspiracy.

Dallas fans weren’t complaining when they had a 19-2 free throw advantage in the fourth quarter in Game 1, in large part because they became more aggressive and attacked more. But tonight, those same fans will be convinced the referees have it out for them.

Put simply, referees do have influence in a game — but far less than the players. If you are worried about the referees, take the decisions at the end of the game out of their hands by playing better early on.

If Dallas plays four quarters like it did the fourth a couple days ago, this will all be moot. And that’s what really matters.

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?