Expect LeBron, Wade, and the rest of the Heat to keep right on “celebrating”

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After the Mavericks made their incredible comeback in Game 2,  erasing all of a 15-point Miami lead with just over seven minutes remaining, there were some in the media who were looking to make something out of nothing. The storyline that was concocted was that the “celebration” that went on in front of the Mavericks’ bench between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade after Wade hit a huge three in the corner was over the line, and angered Dallas enough to ignite their late run to victory.

This is complete nonsense, of course, both because the so-called celebration wasn’t anything more than any other player would have done in a similar situation, and because the Mavericks don’t need to be motivated to try to come back and win a game in the Finals. But at the team’s media availability on Saturday in Dallas, the Heat were once again asked about the enthusiasm of their players, and whether or not it might be too much.

Miami’s head coach Erik Spoelstra wasn’t interested in discussing this storyline, but did say he wouldn’t change a thing about how his players show emotion during the course of the game.

“Another storyline.  I’m not really concerned about that,” he said. “I’m more concerned about how we executed or had a lack of execution going down the stretch.  That’s much more important to our team than any of the other storylines.

“We’re viewed in a different way than most teams. We have enthusiastic guys, excitable players.  I would certainly rather have that than a bunch of zombies out there that care about winning.”

James similarly didn’t seem to understand what all the fuss was about, and echoed his coach’s thoughts that playing with emotion is a good thing, and isn’t something that he’s willing to change.

“We’re an emotional team,” James said. ” When we make plays, we can congratulate one another.  I don’t see why this whole thing has been blown out of proportion.  I just look at it in the case of I think ‑‑ I’ve seen Dallas go on plenty of runs before.  You know, if [Jason Terry] hits a three and they make a big run, if he runs down the court doing the whole wings expanded, do we count that as a celebration as well?  I just think everything gets blown out of proportion when the Miami Heat does things.”

That last statement is it exactly: everything gets blown out of proportion when we’re talking about the Heat.

Expect James, Wade, and the rest of his teammates to keep right on celebrating when things are going their way in these Finals. If Dallas doesn’t like it, all they have to do is play the way they did down the stretch of Game 2 to put a stop to it.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.

Video Breakdown: Rockets launch Eric Gordon from 3-point range against Thunder in Game 4

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The Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, 113-109, and now the series heads back to Texas with the Rockets in the lead, 3-1.

Houston and OKC played a weird game, with Nene scoring 28 points off the bench for the Rockets and serious mischief in the final moments. The end of the game included a purposely missed free throw by Steven Adams that allowed Russell Westbrook to grab a quick 3-pointer and a missed call when James Harden shoved Alex Abrines out of the way like an NFL tackle.

While the Rockets didn’t shoot a stellar percentage from 3-point range — just 31.5 percent — they still knocked down 11 buckets from deep. Part of that action was a play run for Sixth Man of the Year candidate Eric Gordon that included a little semi-Pistol action, and a stagger screen that allowed Gordon to work his way free.

I picked this play to go over this week because it exemplifies just how committed to the 3-point shot the Rockets are. Plus, Gordon ran around three screens just to get this one bucket, which is always fun to see.

Watch the full video breakdown above.

Jimmy Butler on Marcus Smart dustup: ‘He’s not about that life. So, he’s calming down’

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Marcus Smart and Jimmy Butler had to be separated during the Celtics’ Game 4 win over the Bulls after Smart pushed Butler, who was hounding him defensively in the backcourt.

Butler:

As far as the Marcus Smart situation goes, he’s a great actor. Acting tough, that’s what he does. But I don’t think he’s about that, and I’m the wrong guy to get in my face. So, he needs to take it somewhere else because I’m not the one for that.

Was that their first run-in? Butler:

That’s the first time. Last time, too. We’re not going to sit here and get in each other’s faces like that. Like I said, he’s not about that life. So, he’s calming down.

The Bulls, who’ve lost two straight to allow Boston to tie the series 2-2, is angling for any edge. Butler tried to intimidate Smart on the court, and the Chicago wing might actually rattle the too easily shakable Smart with his postgame comments.

The irony: Some might say Butler, who did come up hard, lost touch with his roots as he entered stardom. I don’t buy that, at least not majorly.

But even if both – or neither – are posturing to any degree, this will be a matchup to watch in Game 5.

Remembering former NBA official Jess Kersey, who passed away Saturday

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Jess Kersey, who officiated more than 2,200 NBA games, including being part of 19 NBA Finals, passed away over the weekend, losing his battle with cancer at age 76.

Kersey was a well-respected official who feared nothing. Maybe the most remembered image of Kersey is him trying to break up a fight between Mitch Kupchak and Hakeem Olajuwon, essentially trying to tackle Olajuwon with his head in Olajuwon’s chest and his arms wrapped around him. Kersey got in the middle of everything if that was what was required.

Our thoughts go out to the Kersey family for their loss.