The longer the lockout lasts, the longer Mark Cuban gets to bask in the glow of being the owner of the NBA Champions. Sure, the whole “I can’t talk about my players or David Stern will hammer me with fines” part is no fun, but Cuban is loving this winning a title thing.
Like when he went on CNN Monday and said the Mavericks beat the “Evil Empire,” as reported by our man Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel.
And during that interview Cuban added another reason he thinks the Mavericks prevailed.
“I’ll tell you the interesting thing,” Cuban said, “after Game 3 of the Miami series, our guys said, ‘They aren’t making any adjustments. We got ’em.’ And so the confidence was through the roof.”
Rick Carlisle did a fantastic job coaching during the finals. He moved J.J. Barea and Brian Cardinal into the rotation, putting DeShawn Stevenson and Peja Stojakovic on the bench, taking advantage of matchups. Early in the finals the athletic Heat closeouts on the Mavs shooters bothered them, but the Mavericks adjusted, found spaces and by the end were raining down jumpers on the Heat.
Erik Spoelstra didn’t make the same adjustments — but he also had a lot fewer tools in the toolbox. Yes, he had Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh (and I still would have liked to see more Wade/James pick and roll) but after that what choices did he have? More Mike Bibby? More Joel Anthony? Do you really think Zydrunas Ilgauskas was an answer? Mike Miller had bad hands and Udonis Haslem was just coming off an injury, both giving everything they could but they have limits.
Carlise did better using the tools at his disposal in the finals because he had a lot more tools to use. Spoelstra wasn’t making a lot of adjustments, because what choices did he really have?
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.