Miami Heat shooting guard Wade and James speak during the second half of Game 2 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series in Miami

NBA Playoffs: 76ers playing for pride, Heat for days off

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This series has played out exactly like the regular season for the Miami Heat.

They overwhelmed lesser teams where they had more talent, the real tests were against the other elite teams where they struggled at times.

The Heat have simply overwhelmed the Philadelphia 76ers on their way to a 3-0 series lead, but the real test is on the horizon with the Boston Celtics. First, however, is the matter of finishing off the 76ers series.

Doug Collins got as much out of this 76ers roster as he could, and they played with pride this season. They are going to try to win one at home, they are not going to just roll over for the Heat.

But the Heat have dominated this series. Completely. Chris Bosh, LeBron James then Dwyane Wade have each dominated a game. The 76ers had gone with a strategy of keeping the ball away from Wade and they still lost, in Game 3 Erik Spoelstra had Wade working off the ball to get free and the result was his big game.

What the Heat have really done is keep the 76ers out of their transition game. In the half court Philly is all Elton Brand — ho had 21 points in Game 3 after a ghost-like Game 2 — and some Jrue Holiday slashing, but the 76ers have to get some easy buckets in transition to have any chance. The Heat have just cut those off this series and controlled the tempo. Made it a half court game. And dominated.

Miami likely will dominate Game 4. The Heat are fully capable of taking a mental game off, turning the ball over and watching the 76ers run away to one win. Like we said, the 76ers will play with pride at home. The outcome of this game will not determine the outcome of the series.

But the Heat would like some days off (rumor is the Miami/Boston series would not start until next weekend) and if they put in another 48 minutes and overwhelm the Sixers there is not much Philly can do about it.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.