NBA All-Star starting teams pretty much set already

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You can keep voting on the NBA All-Star Game players through the end of the month — you can vote every day between now and then, if your heart so desires.

It’s not going to matter, the All-Star Game starters are pretty locked in.

The NBA released the second round of All-Star balloting returns on Thursday and what jumps off the page is that in every category there is a pretty steep drop off after the first two starters positions. The closest race is Dirk Nowitzki chasing Blake Griffin for the second West forward spot and Dirk only has 57 percent of the votes of Griffin, trailing him by more than 260,000 votes. Nobody is catching them as starters. And the voters only choose the starters (coaches fill out the rest of the roster). So, you’ve done your job.

The All-Star Game is Feb. 26 from Orlando.

Here are the results, which show no changes since last week. Dwight Howard still has gotten more votes than anyone, although Kobe Bryant is now close to him. But you’re not going to see any meaningful changes without a massive campaign by someone that catches fire.

Eastern Conference

Forwards: LeBron James (Miami) 972,580; Carmelo Anthony (New York) 779,945; Amar’e Stoudemire (New York) 281,617; Kevin Garnett (Boston) 268,980; Chris Bosh (Miami) 209,640.

Guards: Derrick Rose (Chicago) 1,040,210; Dwyane Wade (Miami) 972,015; Rajon Rondo (Boston) 394,672; Ray Allen (Boston) 274,233; Deron Williams (New Jersey) 143,941.

Centers: Dwight Howard (Orlando) 1,161,797; Joakim Noah (Chicago) 141,683; Tyson Chandler (New York) 107,735; Joel Anthony (Miami) 67,210; JaVale McGee (Washington) 41,249.

Western Conference

Forwards: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City) 973,152; Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers) 619,913; Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas) 354,434; Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers) 327,596; Kevin Love (Minnesota) 232,656.

Guards: Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) 1,110,379; Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers) 835,026; Ricky Rubio (Minnesota) 248,423; Steve Nash (Phoenix) 188,537; Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City).

Centers: Andrew Bynum (Los Angeles Lakers) 777,365; DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers) 214,883; Marc Gasol (Memphis) 182,992; Nenê(Denver) 144,066; Marcin Gortat (Phoenix) 92,511.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.

LeBron James beautifully pass-fakes, makes layup in transition (video)

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LeBron James is a treasure.

Shaquille O’Neal’s big toe is seriously jacked up (PHOTO)

shaq o'neal
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Remember how we we all freaked out when we saw pictures of LeBron James‘ feet back in 2013?

You probably didn’t want to be reminded that it existed, but it does. Still. And apparently jacked up feet is the consequence of a lifetime of playing professional basketball. Once can only assume it has something to do with tight shoes and constant, hard changes of direction in said tight shoes.

We got yet another vision of what basketball shoes can do to feet on Thursday when TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal showed off his, er, little piggies.

Much to the horror of the Internet in general, it was Shaq’s right big toe that took social media by storm. Mostly because it’s not even close to pointing in the right direction.

I’m going to show you what it looks like. Be forewarned, it might just be NSFL.

Via Twitter:

Oh. Oh … why?

Social media reacted appropriately and proportionately:

Shaq did have issues with that toe during the course of his career, and at one point it was so bad that he had to have surgery to remove bone spurs from the toe in 2002.

That still doesn’t explain why it’s all over your TV and the Internet, but here we are. I am sorry.