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In the end, it was about the Heat execution


End of game execution — their best players stepping up in the clutch.

That was the modus operandi Boston’s “big three” of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce for years. They were better than you at both ends when it mattered most. That is why championship banner 17 flies in Boston.

Miami’s “big three” got together this summer for the first time and through the start of the season their end of game execution was ugly. Their execution against the best defenses was ugly. They lost because of it.

That story has flipped.

In the final two games, the Heat big three outscored the Celtics big three 40-9 in the fourth quarter (stat via ESPN’s research team). In Game 5, it was 23-2 Heat big three in the fourth quarter, with the Heat’s trio hitting 8-of-13 to the Celtics’ 1-of-9.

That is why Miami is moving on and Boston is heading home. Not just in the Heat’s 16-0 run to end the game, nor just in LeBron scoring the last 10 by himself. It was evident in athleticism and energy.

When Miami is going well they get their shots inside or they get good look threes. Both are set up off dribble penetration and that’s what the Heat did at the end of Game 5 (stats again via ESPN) — in the final 3:43 they got into the paint for four shots (two dunks). They took three shots from three and hit them all. Those are the efficient shots, it’s taking too many midrange shots that is a team’s undoing (unless that team is the Mavericks).

Boston also only took threes and shots in close in that same time, they just couldn’t hit. That and they had three turnovers. It was a matter of execution under pressure.

The story flipped. This series it was the Heat that owned the end of key games, they won by dealing better with crunch time. Just one of the ways it feels like the torch has been passed from one big three to another.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.

Kevin Durant with huge dunk on visiting Fenerbahce Ulker

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Welcome to America, Fenerbahce Ulker.

The Turkish powerhouse was in America playing some exhibition games this preseason, and they got a first-hand reminder that Kevin Durant is back. KD had 13 points in the Thunder’s easy 111-81 win.

Not to be outdone, Russell Westbrook got in on the act.