EuroBasket Day 3 recap: This is why you leave Nowitzki in

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On Day three of EuroBasket we saw a contest of teams thinking Olympic bids with Germany and France, and we saw why Spain runs its offense through the Gasol brothers. There were only six games played on Friday.

France 76, Germany 65: Let’s give France their due — they are 3-0 and the questions about their offense has been answered by Tony Parker, who had 32 in this one. Parker has been as good as any player in this tournament so far. France also had Joakim Noah in the middle to counter the size of Chris Kaman and Dirk Nowitzki, and that worked.

But the German coach sat a cold Nowitzki (5 of 13 shooting for the game) and Kaman for an extended period in the second half and that pretty much killed the German chances in this one. Here’s a good coaching rule of thumb that Rick Carlisle figured out — if you have Dirk Nowitzki, play him.

Spain 86, Great Britain 69: It was all the Gasol brothers. Pau Gasol had 21 points to lead the team, Marc Gasol sparked a second half run that sealed this game up plus he had 11 boards and 5 assists. We already told you Ricky Rubio was unimpressive. Spain is 3-0 but has yet to play any of the good teams in their group, something that is about to change.

Italy 71, Latvia 62: Andrea Bargnani finally showed up for EuroBasket and played like Italy needs him to — 36 points. Italy was the aggressor, got to the line 28 times and knocked down 25.

Lithuania 75, Turkey 68: Lithuania has great depth and balance — Darius Songaila led the team with just 12 points, and he did that off the bench. The Lithuanian bench was key, as was Turkey shooting 3-for-18 from three. Ersan Ilyasova led Turkey with 20 points.

In other action: Serbia 89, Israel 80; Poland 81, Portugal 73.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.