LeBron James was good in Game 1, but for the Heat right now that is not good enough. He has to be exceptional. At both ends of the floor.
And he could use some help.
Dwyane Wade was 7-of-19 shooting on offense and had Russell Westbrook blowing by him like he was an orange traffic cone on defense in Game 1. That can’t happen. The Heat need more out of their second best player. LeBron needs more out of him and said so, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.
“Sometimes I go to him and tell him I need one of those games from him. I need one of those performances from him because he still has it. He knows he still has it too. But every player needs a little kick every now and then, no matter how time-tested they are. He needs to be DWade and not worry about deferring as much.’’
Wade pretty much owned up to that.
“I mean, I want to score more points,’’ Wade said. “I want to give my team more to give us an opportunity to win the series. I’ll be more aggressive.’
My question isn’t does he want to, my question is if he is physically capable? He physically does not look right, his knee is clearly slowing him, although the Heat aren’t talking about it. When asked how Wade was doing on Wednesday, coach Erik Spoelstra said “fine” and wouldn’t elaborate.
At this point, the injury doesn’t matter on the court. Wade simply has to step up at both ends or the Heat will be down 0-2.
The key here for Wade and the Heat is to be aggressive the entire game. It can’t be Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers looking good for a half then dropping off the face of the earth. There can’t be a quarter off. LeBron has to play through being tired and not start settling for jumpers.
The Heat have the talent to do all that. Will they execute it is another question.
Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.
Pacers fans delivered.
They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.
Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.
The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.
“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”
Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.
Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.
Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):
This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.
Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.
He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.
Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.
So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.
Sam Amick of USA Today:
Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency
Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.
There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.
Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.