Celtics Heat Basketball

Winderman: League’s silence on Rivers, Rondo comments speaks volumes

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Something rather curious happened in the two days leading to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Nothing.

Silence. No NBA announcement of a fine for Doc Rivers. No statement from Stu Jackson, the league’s vice president of discipline.

Nothing.

Not even after the Celtics coach called his Game 1 technical foul from referee Ed Malloy the worst technical he ever had called on him in his career.

So it was curious how Rivers tried to dance around the issue of the inequity of foul calls in Game 2 of the series, basically trying to put words into a reporter’s mouth so he didn’t have to reach into his wallet, something he curiously didn’t have to do in the 48 hours leading to Game 2.

Even after Pacers coach Frank Vogel was fined $15,000 at the start of the previous round for questioning the league’s reluctance to acknowledge flopping by the Heat.

Even after Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was fined $25,000 at the end of that series against Indiana for questioning hard blows from the Pacers against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade that had gone uncalled.

So why the NBA silence with Rivers’ pointed comments about Malloy’s quick whistle?

The only logical answer is the league recognized Rivers was correct, that “Come on,” no matter the punctuation afterward, should not result in a point for the other team, particularly when the only damage created was to a referee’s ears.

Then came Wednesday night and Wade’s rake across the face of Rajon Rondo that went uncalled at the most critical juncture of overtime. This time no whistle. This time Ray Allen speaking up for Rondo when an exhausted, physically and emotionally, Rondo attempted to duck the issue in his postgame presser.

By and large, Wednesday’s crew got it right, be it going to replay to double-check clear-path fouls or correctly reducing a late Rondo 3-pointer to two points with his foot on the line.

They got all the correctable calls correct.

But that doesn’t make Rondo’s face feel any better.

Or get the Celtics level in this series, with the Heat now up 2-0 heading into Friday’s Game 3.

So expect for silence this time, as well, regarding Rivers’ non-comment comments on the inequity of  Wednesday’s whistle and regarding Allen’s podium defense of the call that Rondo rightly deserved when Wade’s fingers met Rondo’s face.

For all the statements issued by the NBA and Jackson, sometimes silence makes the greatest statement.

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 @IraHeatBeat.

Heat players past, present throw support behind David Fizdale heading to Memphis

David Fizdale
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The Memphis Grizzlies have found their man — Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale has been offered the head coaching job in Memphis. He’s a smart coach who earned the trust of elite players and was a key part of the staff that helped Miami to a couple of rings.

It’s a good hire. Don’t just take my word for it, check out what a couple Heat players from that era had to say.

Mario Chalmers had a first-hand view — he was traded from Miami to Memphis in the middle of last season. The point guard who went the other way in that deal, Beno Udrih, also helped push the deal along.

Fizdale is going to be a popular hire with the players. That said, if the Grizzlies can’t keep Mike Conley in free agency the team is going to have struggles this season, regardless of who coaches them.

Watch Kevin Love drop 25 points on Toronto

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Before Game 5, Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue told Kevin Love just to stay aggressive. Channing Frye told him the same thing.

Love took that advice to heart. From the opening tip of Game 5, Love was attacking — backing down the overmatched Luis Scola and knocking down threes. Love had 12 points in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 25, helping spark an easy, 38-point Cavaliers win in Game 5.

Now, can Love do this on the road in Game 6?

Cavaliers’ defense foundation for blowout win

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers gestures in the second half against the Toronto Raptors in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Cleveland blitzed Toronto from the opening tip.

Literally.

Cleveland cranked up their defensive pressure by getting back to aggressively blitzing Raptors’ guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan every time they came off a pick. Or they would chase DeRozan over the top of the pick and trail him, never letting him get comfortable to pull up from the midrange. Whatever the defensive scheme, the Cavaliers were physical with Lowry and DeRozan — the pair was 4-of-14 shooting in the first half.

From the start, the Cavaliers defense dictated the flow of the game and set the tone for a 38-point blowout win.

It is that defense they will need to close out this series on the road Friday night.

“We understood that coming back from Game 3 and Game 4 we just didn’t play our defense the right way,” LeBron James said after the game. “We didn’t play how we should have played, and they took advantage of every moment. We had to get back to our staple; we had to get back to what we wanted to do defensively in order for us to play a complete game. That’s the most satisfying thing, the way we defended, holding these guys to 39 percent shooting.”

Defense triggered the offensive runs by the Cavaliers in the first half — Cleveland had eight steals and scored 20 points off turnovers before halftime. Playing with a renewed energy, the Cavs did a fantastic job fighting over screens and disrupting plays, and they closed out on shooters at the arc. It was their best defensive game of the series. It was the polar opposite of how they played in Toronto.

“I think our intensity picked up, our aggressiveness picked up, we were very physical to start the game and it just kind of led to us getting out in transition, us getting steals and getting easy baskets,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.

“They were locked in, from the start to the finish,” according to Raptors coach Dwane Casey.”The force that they play with is different here and we didn’t meet it.”

Back home and with their backs against the wall, you can expect a very different, very desperate Raptors team. Lowry and DeRozan will shoot better.

But if the Cavaliers pack their defense and take it north of the border this time, they should close out the series.

LeBron James was dunking all over the Raptors (VIDEO)

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With their defense creating turnovers to get breaks — and the Raptors’ defense just breaking down — the Cavaliers put on a dunking exhibition against Toronto Wednesday.

LeBron James led the way, with 23 points and plenty of dunks. Here is another.

To change things up, here is an and-1.