Relentless Miami Heat wear down, blow out Trail Blazers

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Portland came out with a real energy Thursday night — they were up for this one. Their All-Star, LaMarcus Aldridge, had a dozen first quarter points and the Blazers seemed to hit everything they put up. The Heat have been a juggernaut and for 12 minutes the Blazers matched it.

But the Heat are relentless. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James dominated this game, nearly outscoring Portland on their own in the first half. Miami’s bench players such as Udonis Haslem, Norris Cole and Mike Miller came in and the Heat keep pressing on defense, trying to run and attack every chance they get seemingly without pause. It wears teams down.

Led by Wade’s 12 second quarter points, the Heat pulled away in the second frame (outscoring Portland 28-18 in the second), eventually led by as much as 25 in the third and won 107-93. That is nine wins in a row for the Heat, all by double digits.

Wade had 22 points in the first half, James 19. That made the score at the break Trail Blazers 42, Wade and LeBron 41. Turns out the Heat have other guys on the team so the actual halftime score was 60-42. That was without Chris Bosh, who missed the game to be with family after the death of his grandmother.

While we’ve talked about LeBron in the post this season, it was Wade in the post in the first half and the Trail Blazers had no real defense for it. They had no real answer for the Heat in general.

Portland tried some zone — something that had some success early in the season — and the Heat destroyed it with penetration. But mostly it was the Heat’s defense — they were getting stops and turning the defense into offense all night.

LeBron finished with 38 points on 22 shots, plus 11 boards. Wade had 33 points on 23 shots, plus 10 assists.

When Miami is playing with this kind of energy, this kind of unity, putting that kind of pressure on opponents with their defense, there is not a team in the NBA that can beat them. They are finding a groove and really the only question is can they keep that groove going all the way to playoffs.

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.