Winderman: Stern shouldn’t blame players for rash of injuries

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For weeks now, as his players have blown out knees like NASCAR cars blow out engines, David Stern, make that Dr. David Stern, has been telling us this has nothing to do with his fiendishly concocted lockout-compacted schedule.

Granted, the players signed off on that very schedule, so it’s not as it there isn’t dual complicity.

But Monday, on Jim Rome’s television show, Stern offered another juicy morsel, one that that may cut to the crux of the issue.

First, to provide context, when asked about a possible relationship between the injuries and the compress schedule, Stern said:

“I think there’s some part of it that may be related to that. Some part of it is luck. Some part of it is lack of preparedness by our players before the season began. It’s a combination of things.”

Now we break out the telestrator to the circle the juicy bit:

“Some part of it is lack of preparedness by our players before the season began.”

Hmm, so the players who were given a mere two-week training camp were not in the same shape as when previously given a month to prepare?

But, again, the players are equally complicit there, having agreed to such a timetable.

The lesson, however, is what happened before those camps opened, namely NBA facilities being off limits to players during the lockout.

Yes, there were insurances issues of locked-out players working out in unlocked team gyms. That’s what waivers are for.

But no non-NBA facility comes with NBA-level trainers, NBA-quality physicians.

Based on the single sentence from Stern, the NBA willing facilitated its perishable commodities to rot.

Which is why the next work stoppage shouldn’t be a “lockout,” can’t be something that separates finely tuned athletes from the means that keep them that way.

Or did the NBA think there never was going to be a resumption of play?

Stern’s comment — again, “Some part of it is lack of preparedness by our players before the season began” — comes off as a condemnation of players not valuing their careers enough to keep in NBA shape.

But NBA shape requires NBA facilities. A league that pampers its players with state-of-the-art training resources should have appreciated as much.

The hindsight is a postseason becoming a battlefield of attrition.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Report: Kentucky’s Bam Adebayo staying in NBA draft

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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When De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk declared for the NBA draft, they jumped in with both feet, hiring agents.

A third Kentucky freshman, Bam Adebayo, took a more cautious approach – until now.

Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports:

Adebayo is a borderline first-round pick.

He’s a ferocious dunker. All his best skills – motor, explosiveness, physicality – come together to produce slams.

But Adebayo is an underwhelming shot-blocker and rebounder, and those same tools should translate. That speaks’ to his focus.

He has a center’s game. But at 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-1.5 wingspan, does he have a center’s size? Adebayo can’t step away from the basket or handle the ball, so if he can’t bang with NBA centers, he’s in trouble.

NBA: James Harden should have been called for offensive foul late in Rockets’ Game 4 win over Thunder

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The Rockets were trying to protect a two-point lead as they inbounded with 7.8 seconds left in Game 4 against the Thunder on Sunday, and James Harden wanted the ball. So, the Houston star pushed off Alex Abrines.

The play still turned chaotic – Russell Westbrook tipping the inbound pass and Eric Gordon recovering the loose ball – but it never should have gotten that far. Harden should have been called for an offensive foul, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Harden (HOU) pushes off Abrines (OKC) to create space during the inbound.

A correct call would have given Oklahoma City the ball down two with 7.8 seconds left and a real chance to tie or take the lead.

Instead, the Thunder had to intentionally foul Gordon, who hit two free throws to effectively ice a 113-109 Rockets win. Houston now leads the first-round series, 3-1.

NBA: LeBron James got away with travelling before go-ahead 3-pointer in Cavaliers’ Game 4 win over Pacers

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The Cavaliers outscored the Pacers by just 16 points in their first-round series – tied for the narrowest margin ever in a four-game sweep. (The Warriors also outscored the Washington Bullets while sweeping the 1975 Finals.)

So, each Cleveland-Indiana game was close, including Sunday’s Game 4, which the Cavs won 106-102.

LeBron James hit a 3-pointer with 1:08 left to put the Cavaliers up 103-102, and they added a few free throws after intentional fouls to produce the final margin. But LeBron travelled with 1:14 left while making his move to get that 3-pointer, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

James (CLE) moves his pivot foot at the start of his dribble.

A correct call would’ve ended Cleveland’s possession and given Indiana the ball with a two-point lead. Instead, the Pacers had only one possession before they had to begin intentionally fouling.

Would Indiana have won if the travel were called? Probably, though the odds would have been only slightly better than a coin flip.

Would the Pacers have won the series if the travel were called? Probably not. No team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit, and even a Game 4 win was far from guaranteed with a travel call. But they might have at least felt better about not getting swept.

Raptors’ Norman Powell had a couple monster dunks Monday (VIDEO)

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“Give all praise to Norman Powell with his energy, his athleticism, his passion, just everything he brought to us this series.”

That was Kyle Lowry talking about what his Raptor Norman Powell, who put up a career playoff best 25 points in the Raptors’ Game 5 win. Powell played good defense on Khris Middleton and drained some deep threes to help Toronto pull away in this one. Lowry was so impressed after the game at a press conference he told the media to ask Powell questions, not him.

Oh, and Powell threw down some huge dunks, too. Just check out the video.