NBA Playoffs: Can the Heat go up 2-0 without Bosh?

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The Miami Heat managed to win Game 1 of their series with the Indiana Pacers thanks to an absolutely incredible half from both LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, but don’t be fooled: Bosh’s injury changes the entire dynamic of the series. If James and Wade can play like they did in the 2nd half of Game 1 throughout the series, the Heat will probably win, because they’re just that good and the Pacers are somewhat lacking in star power. However, if James and Wade aren’t absolutely locked in for the majority of Game 2, here’s what Miami will need to do to hold serve at home:

— Get some floor spacing. Miami won Game 1 in spite of the fact that they went 0-6 from beyond the arc. That’s not going to work for the rest of the series. Mike Miller, Shane Battier, and Mario Chalmers’ primary value to the Heat on offense is their ability to stretch the floor, and Erik Spoelstra should think about giving James Jones some minutes if his trio of shooters continue to have trouble finding the rim.

— Swarm defensively. This is something the Heat did extremely well in Game 1, and have done quite well all season. LeBron James, who finished 4th in Defensive Player of the Year voting this season, typically takes his defense to another level in the playoffs, and he held Danny Granger to 1-10 shooting from the field while snagging 2 steals and a block in Game 1. The Heat will need to make up for their lack of size on Roy Hibbert and David West by using their ability to cover ground defensively to make the Pacers uncomfortable on offense and keep Hibbert or West from getting 1-on-1 matchups on the block.

— Get contributions from the Haslem/Anthony/Turiaf trio. Haslem played terribly in Game 1, but fortunately for the Heat, Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf saved the day by providing great work on the glass, good energy on defense, and some nice dunks when the Pacers collapsed on LeBron and left a passing lane open. Anthony scored 9 points on 4-4 shooting from the field, which is 4 points shy of his career high. It’s unlikely that Anthony will play that well again offensively, and Turiaf isn’t a known commodity, so Haslem will have to step up, make his jumpers, crash the glass, and do his best to keep Roy Hibbert away from the rim on both sides of the floor.

On Indiana’s side of things, the game-plan is clear — they want to use their size and depth advantage to wear down the Heat, keep them scrambling defensively, and steal a game on the road to tie up the series. If they make their shots, hang onto the ball, and work the ball inside without forcing anything, they’re certainly capable of doing it, especially if they manage to contain James and Wade.

Chris Paul’s free agency decision becomes a documentary

Associated Press
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ASSOCIATED PRESS — Chris Paul had a new home in Los Angeles and the potential for a $200 million contract if he stayed with the Clippers.

He also had reason to doubt a championship would ever come there.

So sometime between walking off the floor after a Game 7 loss with the Clippers last spring and walking back onto it Tuesday night in a Houston Rockets uniform, Paul decided he needed to pack up his family and try for a title elsewhere.

“I just felt that it was time,” Paul said.

His free agency process and decision is the subject of a three-part documentary series titled “Chris Paul’s Chapter 3” that debuts Thursday on ESPN.

The first episode shows Paul’s frustration following the Clippers’ ouster against Utah in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs and his questioning the Clippers’ culture. He had helped them become a perennial playoff team since his arrival in 2011, but not one that ever seriously contended for a title,

“Somewhere, I don’t know when it was – I’m not a saint by any means, it could have a lot do to with me also – but we just weren’t having as much fun,” he said.

He talked with his family and business partners about possibilities with Boston and San Antonio – where he feared Gregg Popovich might only coach for a couple more years – and visited music mogul Jay-Z and Disney CEO Bob Iger for their advice. He began to view Houston as the best option and eventually accepted a trade in late June, agreeing to opt in for the final year of his contract and delaying free agency until next summer.

All that after he had bought a house in Los Angeles across the street from Clippers teammate Paul Pierce, moving his in-laws in last January.

“Truthfully, I didn’t think there was no way that Chris would leave the Clippers,” said Pierce, now retired and an ESPN analyst. “He really built up something special, you know, with getting the Clippers back to being legitimate, make the playoffs every year, (winning) 55 games. He just bought a new home like less than a year ago. He had a $200 million offer on the table. So that really shocked me that he would leave.”

Paul never planned for his first real foray into free agency to become public.

“When it all came together and we saw how it looked it was like, man this would be cool to tell the story of how it’s not just cut and dry, you just pick a team,” Paul said. “We showed the move and everything that goes into it.”

Paul laments having to always have the ball in his hands in Los Angeles – which won’t be a problem alongside James Harden in Houston. And he worries about having to move his two young children, eventually telling his son he can’t go do his job without him. And after they finally move, Hurricane Harvey devastates Houston, a focus of the second episode.

“We are constantly looking for opportunities to bring fans closer to athletes in order to better understand their experience. In this series, Chris Paul gives fans a truly unprecedented look at his free agent decision-making process and how he thinks about both his basketball career and his life off the court,” said Connor Schell, ESPN executive vice president of content.

All three episodes will be available on the ESPN App and on-demand beginning Friday. They will then air next Tuesday from 8-9:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN.

Paul said he learned a lot about the free agency process – but would love to avoid having to do it again next summer.

“In a perfect world you win a championship and there’s nothing to even talk about,” he said.

 

Bulls claim PG Kay Felder off waivers

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The Bulls’ point-guard position is a quagmire.

Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne are both injured (and not necessarily good). Jerian Grant is maybe an adequate backup pressed into starting. Ryan Arcidiacono is on a two-way contract.

Enter Kay Felder.

Bulls release:

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived forward Jarell Eddie and center Diamond Stone, and claimed guard Kay Felder off waivers.

Felder was waived by the Hawks, who acquired him in a salary-dump trade from the Cavaliers. Cleveland drafted Felder No. 54 last year, but ran out of roster spots this year.

Felder is only a moderate prospect. He impressed in the D-League, but at 5-foot-9, he has significant limitations. (His size also makes him incredibly fun to watch when he gets rolling.)

For Chicago, he’s a quite-noteworthy addition.

LeBron James: ‘I still got Pandora with commercials’

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Dwyane Wade revealed last year that LeBron James refuses to use his phone internationally unless he’s on Wi-Fi.

LeBron’s friend and new Cavaliers teammate again brought up that claim, and LeBron confirmed – then went even further about his own cheapness.

LeBron in a joint interview with Wade on ESPN:

No. I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.

LeBron – he’s just like us!

As funny as that line is, keep watching to see LeBron hilariously explain how his hairline affects his interviews.

PBT Extra: LeBron as MVP and other NBA postseason award predictions

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Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.

In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).

Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.