Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls - Game Five

How the Heat won home-court

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The 2-3-2 format of the NBA Finals makes home-court a huge advantage — in order to win the series, the team without home-court advantage has to either win three games in a row or two games on the road over the course of a seven-game series.

In this year’s NBA Finals, the Heat have home-court advantage, and the team hasn’t lost at home throughout the playoffs, giving them a massive edge over the Mavericks. How did they get home-court advantage? A crazy final game of the regular season that saw Eddie House pour in a game-high 35 points on 7-13 shooting from beyond the arc as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh watched from the bench. The AP’s Tim Reynolds has the story:

MIAMI (AP)—LeBron JamesDwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh will play Game 1 of the NBA finals on their home floor.

They can thank Eddie HouseJuwan Howard and Jamaal Magloire for that privilege.

The story goes like this: On the final night of the regular season, the Miami Heat were playing against theToronto Raptors—and had an eye on the Dallas Mavericks. The Heat were already locked into the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, but the game was far from meaningless in the sense that by winning, Miami would finish with the NBA’s third-best record.

So?

Miami finished with 58 wins. Dallas finished with 57. Had the teams ended tied, Game 1 of the finals would be in Dallas, since the Mavericks swept the Heat in the regular season. Instead, the Heat hold home-court advantage going into the title series—hardly a minor deal considering Miami is the only team still unbeaten at home in this year’s playoffs.

Pretty wild stuff. Yahoo! Sports’ Kelly Dwyer is probably more right than wrong in saying that the Heat’s win in the final game of the regular season had a lot more to do with the Raptors just wanting the season to be over than House, Howard, and Magloire giving some sort of superhuman effort, but it’s still crazy to think that House, who’s scored a grand total of one basket in the playoffs, had such a big potential impact on how the Finals are going to shake out.

I’m sure the Mavericks, for their part, are wishing that the Raptors had taken game #82 a lot more seriously than they did.

Carmelo Anthony predicts Knicks-Bulls on Christmas or opening night

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 23: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks shoots over Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Carmelo Anthony said the Knicks should have gotten a Christmas game last year. In hindsight, the NBA reportedly agreed.

So, Anthony expects New York to get a marquee matchup — against the Bulls — on either Christmas or opening night.

Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:

The storylines are overflowing.

The Knicks added Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah — two former Bulls — to join Anthony, who strongly considered Chicago in his last free agency. The Bulls answered with a couple big names: Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. They’ll join Jimmy Butler, whose stature is only growing — just like Kristaps Porzingis in New York.

Those are plenty of attention-drawing players, and the league will want to capitalize, even if we’re talking about a couple middling Eastern Conference teams.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that New York and Chicago are huge markets.

Newspaper uses crying Michael Jordan photo with article on his race statement

SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 11: Michael Jordan to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame speaks during an induction ceremony on September 11, 2009 in Springfield, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Michael Jordan issued a statement on race in America and donated $2 million to a couple worthy causes.

That drew international coverage, including one curious photo choice:

Only in Malawi.

Watch Amar’e Stoudemire’s top 10 career plays (video)

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When Amar’e Stoudemire retired, I said history will treat him better than present-day analysis — maybe even to the point he gets legitimate Hall of Fame consideration.

Get past Stoudemire’s injury-caused decline with the Knicks and his wayward years with the Mavericks and Heat, and Stoudemire was a heck of a player with the Suns (and in his first year in New York).

Thanks to the NBA, the process of remembering Stoudemire for his peak can begin immediately. I was blown away by the first few highlights before realizing they were just the introduction for the top 10.

Kings GM Vlade Divac: DeMarcus Cousins is ‘most dominant player in the whole world’

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  DeMarcus Cousins #12 of the United States Men's National Team dribbles the ball up court against the China Men's National Team during the first half of a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Vlade Divac isn’t calling Rudy Gay with trade-talk updates.

So, how is the Kings general manager spending his time?

Watching DeMarcus Cousins with Team USA.

James Ham of CSN California on Cousins:

He’s primed to show the world what both he and plenty of others around the basketball world already believe — that he is the best big man in the world.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said from his courtside seat. “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world. And being from Serbia, I have to root for Serbia, but I feel bad for them. He’s going to kill them.”

If we take Divac’s statement — “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world” — at face value, nope. LeBron James is. Other players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are also better than Cousins, but big men can dominate in a way perimeter players can’t

If Divac meant just among big men, there’s a case. When Cousins is fully engaged, it’s one I’d definitely buy. He’s a load to handle inside, and his defense can be top-notch.

There are just too many times Cousins checks out. It’s a fine line, because Cousins’ emotions carries him to his highs. But he hasn’t yet found an ideal equilibrium point. His lows are still too low and too frequent.

That said, no center nears Cousins’ peak dominance. DeAndre Jordan and Draymond Green, when he plays the position, need too much help from teammates to be considered truly dominant. Andre Drummond isn’t polished enough. Even with his flaws, Cousins is probably already the NBA’s most dominant center.

Most dominant player, though? No. That’s a step too far.