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Chris Bosh: ‘(Heat) are still the best team in the league.’

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From Chris Tomasson at Fox Sports Florida after Miami’s Friday night loss to the Nuggets:

ChrisBosh-“We’re still the best team in the league You’re going to have to go through things like this Things aren’t always going to go wellSat Jan 14 06:57:06 via web


One problem, Boshness. You’re not.

I had held the same belief as Bosh right up until Friday night. There are certainly qualifiers. The Heat played a brutal three-games-in-four-nights set. Overtime in Golden State, then a back-to-back against the Clippers in Los Angeles, a day off and then playing in Denver’s altitude. Dwyane Wade suffered a sprained ankle and had already been dealing with other injuries. But these excuses don’t change the real make up of the game, which was that Denver, a phenomenal team in its own right, simply out-executed the Heat all game long.

Gone is the improved offensive flow we saw in the first week of the season. Gone are the defensive rotations predicting where the ball would go and cutting off angles. Gone is the energy, gone are the highlights, gone are the league’s best record.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls absolutely plastered the Boston Celtics on their home floor Friday night. Much will be made of the Celtics’ comeback but in reality, the Bulls got complacent, the Celtics caught up for a minute… and then the Bulls ran them out of the building again, behind Derrick Rose’s brilliance. The Bulls have had the most dominating performance of the season since an opening week set of struggles. This doesn’t mean that over the long run of the season, the Heat won’t prove to be better. This certainly doesn’t mean that the Bulls will best the Heat in the playoffs.

But as for right now, the Heat aren’t the best team in the league. Not even close.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.