If this does end up being the NBA finals matchup, we are all in for a lot of fun. These teams are starting to develop a real dislike of each other.
Miami and Oklahoma City got together for an intense, physical, playoff-style game Wednesday were LeBron James make his MVP case and the Heat got a measure of revenge on Oklahoma City with a 98-93 win. They split their season series, each winning at home (OKC rolled the Heat two weeks ago).
It was a game where each team picked up some flagrants (including Russell Westbrook on LeBron and Kendrick Perkins on Dwyane Wade). There was some trash talking. There were messages both ways. You could feel a little playoff
Be careful about reading much into regular season statements — the Lakers dominated the Mavericks and the Bulls owned the Heat last regular season. But what we can say is that both of these teams are better on their home court and a finals series between them could be penciled in for seven games. Seven hard games.
One of the best part of Heat/Thunder games is that LeBron and Kevin Durant go head-to-head a lot.
After a sub-par performance in OKC (and lackluster play for a couple of weeks) LeBron came out with the kind of game that had him the clear frontrunner for the MVP back at the All-Star break. He dropped 34 points by starting out nailing threes then going into the post and bullying his way to the rim. All the time he was recognizing the play and hitting the open man — he finished with 10 assists. (A few of those were to Shane Battier — James Harden sagged off him a lot and the veteran made the Thunder pay.)
At the other end he was charged with stopping Kevin Durant — and nobody stops Kevin Durant. KD had 30 points on 21 shots but struggled from three (2-7) including missing a rushed deep three with 15 seconds remaining in the game that could have tied it. Westbrook added 28 but was just 9-26 shooting on the night.
The MVP race comes down to this — LeBron James has had the better statistical season, but voters (media members) are drawn to stories and narrative and as Durant is the great young player on the fun young team he has an advantage. Just like Derrick Rose did last year. This game put LeBron back in the mind of a lot of voters.
These are two teams with great athletes that like to play up-tempo — and you could feel the playoff series hatred starting to build a little. Both sides will say it’s one game and forgotten now, but they’ll remember just fine if both of them are playing in June.
Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid has a certain sense of humor, one that has embraced former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie’s motto of “Trust the Process” as a kind of personal mantra and brand.
Embiid has apparently taken it a step further, showing off custom sneakers on Snapchat of his “Trust the Process” shoes.
You read that right.
The inside tongue of a pair of kicks Embiid was rocking on Saturday read in all lowercase letters the phrase we now associate with the Cameroonian center.
Embiid famously dubbed himself “The Process” and even filed for a trademark on the language in order to sell merchandise no doubt to be with us shortly.
Keep it coming, Joel. Absolutely each and every one of these are great.
Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James is one of the best basketball players ever, and on Friday night he passed Elvin Hayes for 9th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Now, LeBron has accomplished a feat that is all his own.
During a game against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, James became the first player to log 27,000 points, 7,000 rebounds, and 7,000 assists.
Being alone in those categories is incredibly special, and is a marker to how James has played his entire career as a revolutionary point forward.
James is not only 9th in scoring, but 16th in assists. Statistical averages suggest he will end the season somewhere around 12th all-time in passing.
Timofey Mozgov is not an MVP candidate, but that didn’t stop one fan from starting a chant while the Los Angeles Lakers C was at the free-throw line on Friday night against the Phoenix Suns.
May I just say this: Bless this fan.
As Mozgov went to the line midway through the first quarter, someone within earshot of ESPN’s parabolic microphones started a chant for the Russian big man.
It was quiet during Mozgov’s first free throw, but during the second more fans at Staples joined in to the point where it was impossible to ignore it.
This is what having a fun at a basketball game looks like. Too good.
Cleveland Cavaliers veteran Richard Jefferson has a legendary Snapchat account, and I think it just got even better.
During a video posted to Jefferson’s account on Saturday, viewers were able to see a point-of-view account of what it’s like to be an NBA player practicing 3-pointers and dunking down lob passes.
Thanks to a pair of Snapchat Spectacles — a video camera in a set of glasses and paired with the social application — Jefferson gave us a taste of what it’s like to be an NBA player, if only for a moment.
I think it’s pretty cool to see from his perspective. Thanks to the evolution of wearable technology and 3D viewing equipment this is probably just a very small preview of what our viewing experience for the NBA is going to be like in 10-15 years.