What’s on their mind Saturday: Miami Heat

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Whoops. That didn’t go how the Heat planned, I’m betting. So Saturday at Heat practice, Erik Spoelstra has to regroup the Heat mentally and emotionally to prepare them for a Game 3 that’s pretty much insanely important. (“OMG NO TEAM HAS EVER WON/LOST THE FINALS AFTER LOSING/WINNING GAME 3 IN A 2-3-2 FORMAT AFTER SPLITTING THE FIRST TWO GAMES! SPECIFIC AND SMALL SAMPLE SETS FOR THE WIN!”)

Here’s what’s plaguing the Heat on Saturday at practice before Sunday’s Game 4.

Hero ball = bad

This should be pretty obvious, but then, the Heat made a living off of hero ball in the Celtics and Bulls series. In Game 1, the Heat hit several huge shots late, but they were largely a product of one of the Big 2 drawing a double, then the Heat swinging it to the other one. That’s the objective of this whole thing, right? To draw attention with one superstar then hit them with the other, or the third one if the defense rotates. The Heat abandoned that plan for hero ball in Game 2 and it bit them big time.

Spoelstra can’t adjust the issue directly. You try telling LeBron and Wade “don’t try and take guys one-on-one/one-on-three. But Spoesltra needs to try and establish commitments to the other ideas which have got them to this point. Reminders about sharing the ball, about looking for the open man, etc. will at least encourage them away from what got them burned in Game 2.

Glass works

Heat controlled the offensive boards in Game 1, they won. Dallas won the offensive glass in Game 2, the Heat lost. So that’s got to be a point of emphasis. Spoesltra’s pretty well settled into his rotation at this point, opting for speed and energy versus raw size. But Joel Anthony is going to have to contribute somewhere on the box score. Yes, he’s great defensively. Yes, he does a lot of hustle plays. But the Heat need those rebounding digits to go up. Saturday that needs to be a point of emphasis. The Heat know their offense needs extra chances. Whoever wins the five matchup is going to win this series. The Miami bigs should get a workout Satuday.

The Quick and the Bosh

Chris Bosh was great in Game 1 because he was quick and decisive. In Game 2, he froze the ball, looking for opportunities. The Heat cannot stop the ball. If they are not going to go, they need to reset and move the ball. Bosh has to know immediately if he’s going to go to the pull-up or drive. If neither option is available, he’s got to kick it back out. Bosh can be devastating if he’s working off ball. If he’s freezing the ball and trying to get shots up over solid defenders, he’s going to have issues and the Heat are going to be even more offensively limited. Bosh has to pull his weight.

Double Dirk Nowitzki.

That’s it. Don’t leave Dirk Nowitzki in single coverage. It worked all game in Game 2 until the fourth quarter, so naturally the Heat stopped doing it. Boom. Roasted.  That should probably come up at some point in the conversation today.

Lakers hire Kardashian trainer Gunnar Peterson

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LOS ANGELES (AP) A celebrity trainer known for getting the Kardashian clan into shape is going to work for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gunnar Peterson is the Lakers’ new director of strength and endurance training, the team announced Wednesday.

Peterson has been a favorite trainer among entertainers and athletes for many years while running a well-regarded private gym in Beverly Hills. His client list has included Sylvester Stallone, Halle Berry, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Pete Sampras, along with most of the Kardashian family.

Peterson will develop a strength and conditioning program for the Lakers, general manager Rob Pelinka says.

The 16-time NBA champion franchise has replaced several key members of its internal staff since Magic Johnson and Pelinka assumed control of basketball operations earlier this year.

Report: Bucks interested in Cavaliers GM David Griffin

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The Magic hired Jeff Weltman, and the Hawks are reportedly close to hiring Travis Schlenk.

In other words, Cavaliers general manager David Griffin – who’s still without a contract for next season – lost his leverage with other teams.

But to the rescue are the Bucks, who will not necessarily promote assistant general manager Justin Zanik to replace Orland-bound general manager John Hammond.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Multiple sources told cleveland.com that the Bucks, who lost general manager John Hammond to the Orlando Magic this week, have interest in Griffin, 47.

Griffin and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert have spoken about continuing their partnership in recent days, sources said, though no agreement was reached.

I still think Griffin stays in Cleveland. He helped assemble a championship contender, and he has LeBron Jamesendorsement. Plus, the Cavaliers can afford him.

But whomever gets the Milwaukee job will inherit a roster stocked with promising young talent like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker. The Bucks wouldn’t be a bad fallback option for Griffin – if he can’t use them to get a deal with the Cavs.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue: Celtics’ sets harder to defend than Warriors’

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With the Cavaliers up 3-1 on the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, most basketball observers are focused on Cavs-Warriors III in the NBA Finals.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue is more concerned with Boston, which scored surprisingly well in Games 3 and 4 after losing Isaiah Thomas to injury.

Lue, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“I don’t even think about them,” Lue said of the Warriors to a small group of traveling Cleveland beat writers following the Cavs’ Game 4 win on Tuesday. “We’re just focused on Boston. The stuff they’re running, it’s harder to defend than Golden State’s [offense] for me, as far as the actions and all the running around and all the guys who are making all the plays, so it’s a totally different thing.”

Wait, the Isaiah Thomas-less 53-win Celtics are harder to defend than the Kevin Durant-supercharged 67-win Warriors? Come again, Coach?

“Like, they hit the post, Golden State runs splits and all that stuff, but these guys are running all kinds of s—,” Lue said of Boston coach Brad Stevens’ schemes. “I’ll be like, ‘F—.’ They’re running all kinds of s—, man. And Brad’s got them moving and cutting and playing with pace, and everybody is a threat. It’s tough, you know, it’s tough.”

I think Lue means in a very specific way – getting his players into proper position. And in that regard he might be right.

I also think the Warriors will take this in the broadest, most offensive way possible. That’s just the nature of this rivalry.

Without Thomas, Stevens has been forced to diversify Boston’s offense. The Cavaliers, who prepared for a very different scheme, were caught off guard and are adjusting on the fly.

That’s a real challenge. But framing it as the central issue sells Golden State short.

Even if it’s harder for Lue to get his players into proper position against the Celtics, the Warriors’ surplus talent – including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – more than makes up for it. And it’s not as if Golden State runs a basic scheme.

So why did Lue say this?

He didn’t think the travelling Cleveland beat writers would publish his candid remarks? He didn’t convey his thoughts clearly? He naively didn’t consider how this would motivate the Warriors? All are plausible.

Another theory: Lue is trying to plant a seed that acting Golden State coach Mike Brown, whose known (fairly or not) for his simplistic offensive schemes, is holding back the Warriors. If Steve Kerr doesn’t return, resentment of Brown is one of the few things that could tear apart a dominant Golden State team.

Richard Jefferson: LeBron James was sick during Cavaliers-Celtics Game 3

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LeBron James was inexplicably bad in the Cavaliers’ Game 3 loss to the Celtics on Sunday.

Except maybe it was explicable.

Cleveland forward Richard Jefferson, via Fox Sports Ohio

I know he won’t talk about it, so I’ll give my big guy a shout. Deron Williams missed shootaround this morning, because he had like a little bug, just really lethargic, had no energy. And I think that’s what Bron had. And sometimes these little bugs can go around.

When Deron didn’t show up to shootaround, it kind of started clicking in his head. Because for him it was more of like, “I don’t know why I was so lethargic, why I had no energy, I had nothing.” And so, these little things happen. There was no panic.

Look, he was lethargic. They hit a bunch of tough shots. If Marcus Smart doesn’t go 7-for-10 from 3, then we’re not even talking about it.

I don’t know whether LeBron was truly sick or Jefferson is just trying to help a teammate’s reputation. It can be both.

LeBron was better in Game 4, but not quite right.

If he’s dealing with a minor illness, that could clear up by Game 5 tomorrow. It should especially clear up by the Finals, which begin June 1. That’d be great news for the Cavs, who have no chance against the Warriors if LeBron isn’t at full strength.

The uncertainty of why LeBron hit a slump now of all times loomed over Cleveland’s playoff future. But Jefferson provided reason for the Cavaliers to breathe easy.