The Thunder needed a win on Tuesday night, and they got one, 111-102 over the Grizzlies. The Thunder got out to an early lead against the Grizzlies and never looked back, and were able to prevent themselves from having to go into Memphis facing an 0-2 deficit.
The key to the game was the Thunder’s defensive work on Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, who absolutely torched the Thunder from outside and under the basket in Game 1. In Game 2, the two big men combined to shoot 0-5 at the rim, and only shot 2-9 on mid-range jump shots. If the Grizzlies can continue to keep Memphis’ gigantic frontline from doing too much damage against them in this series, there’s a very good chance they will move on to the conference finals.
On the offensive side of things for the Thunder, both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had the kind of performances you expect from them, combining for 50 points on 38 field goal attempts. However, the story of the game for the Thunder may have been their bench play. James Harden poured in 21 points off the bench, and Eric Maynor splashed in three of his four three-point attempts on his way to 15 points. We already know that the Thunder’s best players are better than the Grizzlies’ best players — if the Thunder can play with more depth than the Grizzlies, they’ll be in great shape.
After two games, the key to this series appears pretty simple. If the Grizzlies can control the paint on offense, they can win. If the Thunder can shut down Randolph and Gasol, they will have a major advantage. Memphis got what it wanted — a split in Oklahoma City. Now it’s up to the Thunder to go into Memphis, keep the Grizzly bigs under control, and get home-court advantage back.
About a month ago, the Bulls said they hadn’t discussed a buyout with Dwyane Wade.
Have the two sides progressed since?
Nick Friedell of ESPN:
Dwyane Wade isn’t long for the organization’s future and is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months.
Expected by whom?
People with direct knowledge of momentum toward a buyout?
Or everyone who can see that a 35-year-old earning $23.8 million fits poorly on a rebuilding team?
For the Bulls to now drop their biggest name and a large expiring contract that could prove useful in trades should require Wade surrendering a large portion of his salary. He doesn’t sound like someone inclined to do that yet.
A few months is a long time. As long as Wade gets bought out by March 1, he could join another team’s playoff roster. It’d surprise nobody if he gets bought out after the February trade deadline, which we already knew. I don’t see strong indication of something more imminent.
LeBron James has done a terrible job shooting down rumors about him leaving the Cavaliers
Except this one from Chris Sheridan, who cited a source saying LeBron would “100 percent” leave Cleveland next summer due to a rift with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
Sheridan’s source saying LeBron is leaving doesn’t make that true. But other anonymous sources denying it doesn’t make the denials true, either.
The Pelicans have been crushed by injuries the last few years.
Why? That’s an incredibly complex question.
But the New Orleans Saints – who share an owner (Tom Benson), a front-office leader (Mickey Loomis) and other staff with the Pelicans – have found culprits for their own injury woes.
Mike Triplett of ESPN:
The Saints have fired team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri, per source, after it was discovered that CB Delvin Breaux has a fractured fibula and will require surgery expected to sidelined him for 4-6 weeks. Breaux was originally diagnosed with a contusion
Suri is a Pelicans team physician.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Fairly or not, Suri – after the Saints deemed him unacceptable – will be in the crosshairs if he keeps his job with the the Pelicans and their injury woes continue.
Chris Sheridan was ahead of the crowd in 2014, reporting LeBron James would likely leave the Heat for the Cavaliers – which obviously happened.
But Sheridan called it a “90 percent chance,” a small – but large enough – hedge. He also said LeBron would announce the decision on LeBron’s personal website. Of course, LeBron revealed his choice in a Sports Illustrated essay.
So, maybe Sheridan knows what he’s talking about. Maybe he doesn’t.
But the longtime NBA writer just fanned the flames of the already hot LeBron-leaving-Cleveland rumors.
Of course, the denials came quickly.
There have already been plenty of warning signs about LeBron’s relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, which didn’t restart in a great place.
It’s entirely believable LeBron would leave Cleveland, in large part due to Gilbert.
But it’s also fun to speculate about that salacious storyline.
Maybe Sheridan or his source got carried away for that very reason. Or maybe they know something.
Neither possibility should be discounted.