Heat 100 Knicks 67: Heat drown Knicks in their own tears

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That got ugly fast, and then Iman Shumpert went down. So it was essentially the worst day for the Knicks. It could have been worse, but it would have taken some dark magic.

The Heat destroyed the Knicks 100-67, outscoring them 57-29 in the second and third quarters. It was total annihilation. After Tyson Chandler gave LeBron James a hard foul on the back (and LeBron flopped like his life depended on it), James ripped off a 9-0 run to end the second quarter. He hit an and-one after being slammed into on the pump fake, then sliced between two defenders and finished after contact. It was that kind of game for James. He gave the best and worst he can give, flopping to make everyone who hates him full of hatred, and playing like the best player in basketball.

Little example. LeBron and Mike Miller were on the floor together for 16 minutes Saturday. In that time, they had an offensive efficiency of over 150, and held the Knicks to an efficiency of 37.6 101 is considered good in that context. I’ve seen building demolished with less carnage.

The Knicks, on the other hand, drowned in a bucket of defense from Miami. Carmelo Anthony had 11 points on 3-15 shooting. James did that, too. Tyson Chandler was limited by foul trouble but also had trouble dealing with the Heat’s ball movement. The Heat created open looks, everything the Knicks did was contested. Miami rotated on the string. It was total and complete domination. The Knicks shot 36 percent. Their starters had a 45 percent eFG% which is downright miserable. They had 27 turnovers leading to 38 points off turnovers. They turned the ball over 23 percent of the time. More than two out of ten possessions, the just gave the Heat the ball.

So, no, the game did not go well for the Knicks.

What to improve on? Everything.

Ball movement, execution, shooting, passing, defense, rebounding, help defense, composure, aggressiveness. They need to smell better. They should call their mothers more. Basically, if there’s anything they can control, they need to do it.

This series likely won’t be like this throughout its time. But it’s also going to take a major turnaround from the Knicks. They need everything to change, and quickly. Otherwise the Garden won’t just be cheering the Knicks on in an 0-2 deficit, but a series in which no hope appears evident.

And Shumpert was injured.

Josh Allen’s old tweet: ‘I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks’

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Josh Allen, a quarterback from Wyoming, could be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NFL draft. But his recently unearthed high school tweets – which include using the n-word with an ‘a’ at the end – are the sports story of the day.

And there’s an NBA tie.

Via Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports:

I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks

— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) June 7, 2011

Damian Lillard went down this same road with LeBron James, and they got past it.

But it would be a little more awkward if the Cleveland Browns – who have the Nos. 1 and 4 picks – take Allen. Then, Allen will face more scrutiny over this tweet – the most innocuous of the bunch.

Donovan Mitchell tells Thunder fans, Jazz teammates Utah not returning to Oklahoma City this season

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The Jazz blew a 25-point second-half lead in Game 5 last night, extending their series with the Thunder. Up 3-2, the Jazz are still in control. They can close out in Game 6 tomorrow in Utah. Blow that, and they must return to Oklahoma City for Game 7 Sunday.

But Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell is making it abundantly clear he doesn’t plan to do that.

Gabe Ikard of The Franchise 107.7:

Jake Edmonds of KUTV:

A confident proclamation that rallies his team or youthful exuberance run amok?

The narrative will be decided after Game 6. That’s just how this is done.

Report: Grizzlies moving toward keeping J.B. Bickerstaff as coach

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From the moment Robert Pera opted to retain control of the Grizzlies and end a prolonged ownership saga, it seemed interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff would remain Memphis’ coach.

Lo and behold…

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Bickerstaff did a decent job before the Grizzlies started tanking. But that was a small a sample, and his prior work as Rockets interim coach was uninspiring.

To be fair to Bickerstaff, those were both difficult situations. He’s an experienced assistant who might be ready for this challenge.

To be less fair to Bickerstaff, this looks like Memphis taking the cheap route. The Grizzlies didn’t appear to conduct much of a coaching search, if any. Nor has Bickerstaff been mentioned with other openings. It probably won’t cost as much to hire him as it would a more-established option.

Memphis seems to be operating under the belief that a healthy Mike Conley and Marc Gasol will right the ship next season. And they might. But given the age and injury history of those two, I wouldn’t assume they stay healthy and productive all season. Even if they do, they’d have to carry an underwhelming supporting cast – with limited room for upgrade this summer – in a deep Western Conference.

The Grizzlies want Bickerstaff, who’d be a first-time non-interim head coach, leading that team trying to win now? That doesn’t seem like the right risk-reward balance – at least until considering his salary, and even then.

Rumor: 76ers increasingly confident about signing LeBron James

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LeBron James-76ers rumors have been mainstream for the better part of the year.

And they’re not going anywhere.

Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:

I now fully understand why whispers about the Philadelphia 76ers and their growing behind-the-scenes confidence that they can woo LeBron to Philly this summer are getting louder.

Why shouldn’t they be increasingly confident? Led by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the 76ers have already won a playoff series. The Cavaliers are mired in a tight first-round series with the Pacers, and LeBron’s supporting cast has mostly stunk.

This has the makings of LeBron’s previous free agencies – when he left barren Cleveland for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Heat in 2010, when he left aging Miami for Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love with the Cavaliers in 2014. Whatever motivations and narratives attached to LeBron’s decisions, he has left sinking teams for better-positioned ones.

The 76ers are good enough to fit that. They also have the cap flexibility to acquire him without sacrificing roster strength.

That LeBron has positioned himself as a mentor to Simmons – who shares an agent, Rich Paul, with LeBron – would only make signing with Philadelphia easier. LeBron could sell the narrative of teaching and grooming Simmons. LeBron, who cares about his legacy, must explain why he’s again leaving his hometown team in a way that won’t alienate everyone – not easy considering his homecoming message upon his return. Working first-hand with his protégé would look understandable, maybe even commendable.

All that said, growing confidence could be going from a 1% chance to a 10% chance. That’d be a 10-fold increase while leaving Philadelphia a big underdog.

LeBron’s free agency is still a huge unknown – including, at least in part, to LeBron himself. But I believe he has already started to consider options, even if he hasn’t made up his mind. And when that happens, signs could emerge behind the scenes. Perhaps, the 76ers have a read on those.

Or maybe they’re seeing what we’re all seeing: The 76ers are rising while the Cavs are just trying to keep their heads above water. Which situation would LeBron choose?