Dwyane Wade has sat out three games with a sore foot. The Miami Heat have won those three games. LeBron James has looked like the LeBron of the Cleveland era the past couple of games because he has to take on much more of the offense.
So of course, some people looking to stir the pot are saying that since Wade’s and LeBron’s skills overlap, this these wins show it’s time to trade Wade. The team is better without him.
Those people are wrong. Flat out wrong.
If you need more than just common sense to understand that, Zach Lowe did a good breakdown of why you’re wrong over at Sports Illustrated.
The fit issues are real, and they present Erik Spoelstra with one of the more enviable challenges in the league, especially in crunch time, when the game slows down. But it’s a challenge he has generally responded to well, installing half-court sets that feature all three Heat stars moving and this season adopting a super-charged fast-break attack. Miami is playing at the league’s fastest place, is shooting 69 percent in transition chances (per Synergy Sports) and sporting a top-five overall offense to go with its elite defense.
It’s a style they can play so well because they have two insane athletes flying down the court, capable of finishing, passing like geniuses and pushing the ball. Remove one, and attack becomes less threatening; their pace has slowed without Wade over the team’s last three games (one of which James also missed), which rank as three of Miami’s five slowest games of the season. Miami’s opponents have something to do with that slowdown — especially two games against the slow-poke Hawks — but if Miami is really going to play this fast over the long haul and win, they need both Wade and James healthy.
Spoelstra has also moved LeBron into the post more in the half court, and when Mike Miller returns healthy they have another floor-spacing threat in the half court that will open up driving lanes. Their half court offense — which they will have to run more of in the playoffs — is improving.
But with a healthy Wade and LeBron they are going to get enough easy buckets in transition that they will be very difficult to beat because they play good defense. But they need both of them to get all those easy buckets. They need both. Period.
This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.
Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.
Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.
Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. However, those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings, and the team’s playoff chances have taken a serious hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers).
Gay was not happy in Sacramento and had said planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.
That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.
Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.
Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.
Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.
That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?
It just won’t die.
Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.
Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.
76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.
It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.
The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.
Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).