It is one key to winning in the NBA — exploit your mismatches.
Against Kevin Durant, pretty much the other 449 guys in the league are a mismatch. Including Dwyane Wade. At one point in the second half Wade got switched on Durant defensively. That’s a size mismatch. Durant recognized it and scored over him.
Then the cameras caught Durant talking some smack as they went down court.
“He told me I was too small,” Wade said after the game in an interview broadcast on NBA TV. “I had to run down the court and say ‘what’d you say again’ and he said ‘you’re too small.’
“He’s got seven inches on me, so, I played good defense but he’s a scorer and he made a good shot.”
Wade is too small in that matchup. But the fact is the Heat have been undersized throughout the playoffs and even regular season. They can make up for it because they have the athletes who can still block shots and make it hard to score in the paint — Wade and LeBron James are good shot blockers — and they have done that in this series.
Oklahoma City is feeling that pressure — it was 13-of-27 at the rim (48.2 percent) in Game 2, according to Hoopdata.com.
“We’re not the biggest team at all, we’re used to it,” Wade said. “We’ve been playing, at times, small basketball all season. Chris (Bosh) is the biggest guy in our rotation. It’s fine.”
So go ahead and call Wade small. He doesn’t care. He and the Heat have defended the paint well… except against Durant. But Durant can talk all he wants, two moer wins and Wade will laugh all the way to the ring ceremony next fall.
Magic president Jeff Weltman inherited an expensive and bad roster, limiting his options to shape it.
He also inherited coach Frank Vogel, and maybe there’s something Weltman will do about that.
Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:
Orlando’s ongoing malaise, especially after the promise of an unexpected 8-4 start, make it a widely held assumption in coaching circles that Vogel will be dismissed after the franchise’s sixth successive season out of the playoffs.
Perhaps, these people in coaching circles are doing nothing more than connecting dots. Many coaches with poor records – only the Suns and Nets have been worse during Vogel’s two-year tenure – inherited by a new front office get fired.
Or it could be something more concrete, like Orlando putting out feelers for potential replacements. That possibility gives juice to this report.
Vogel has one more guaranteed year left on his contract, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Will ownership pay to oust Vogel? That seems likely. The alternative is paying Weltman to sit on his hands.
This would be a tough break for Vogel, who coached well with the Pacers. The Magic’s roster is just so lacking. Vogel hasn’t impressed in Orlando, but his opportunity to do so has been narrow.
At least it’d be more understandable if he got fired by a losing team. Last time, he got fired by a winning team.
Jabari Parker is a confounding fit on the Bucks now and in the future.
Could he and Milwaukee part ways this summer, when he’ll be a restricted free agent?
Gery Woelfel on 105.7 The Fan:
At this very moment, I’d say the odds are slim to none it’s going to happen … that he’ll be on this team next year.
I just don’t see a good fit there. I didn’t bring this up, and I’ve been meaning to do so, but I haven’t. He came very, very close to being traded at the deadline. And I think that spoke volumes of they think of Jabari Parker and whether he’s a part of their future plans.
Bucks executive Alex Lasry denied it:
So did general manager Jon Horst. Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Horst made it clear both on the radio and in a separate interview with the Journal Sentinel on Wednesday that the Bucks never had any intention of trading Parker
Teams often discuss trading players then deny it to avoid offending the player. Whether or not they nearly traded Parker, the Bucks would probably respond now similarly.
As far as Parker’s future in Milwaukee, it’s unclear where the well-connected Woelfel’s reporting ends and his analysis begins. There’s a huge difference between trading Parker for value and letting him walk for nothing. Just because the Bucks came close to trading Parker wouldn’t mean they won’t re-sign him.
Shedding Parker would not open cap space without additional moves. It would probably allow Milwaukee to use the full mid-level exception and stay beneath the luxury-tax line. But that’s unlikely to land a player who combines Parker’s age and talent.
Because Parker will be a restricted free agent, the Bucks hold the cards. If he’s upset about trade talks or anything else, he can’t unilaterally leave.
Milwaukee must determine how much to pay Parker and how to utilize him with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Those are hard questions. But the Bucks throwing up their hands and letting Parker walk in free agency isn’t the answer.
Tony Parker reportedly led a players-only meeting in which Spurs implored Kawhi Leonard to return.
Leonard injured his quad last season, has played just nine games this season and remains sidelined. The Spurs have reportedly cleared him, but he got second opinions and is waiting for his medical team to clear him.
Parker injured his quad last May then returned in November – and said at the time Leonard would return in 2-3 weeks.
Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News:
It’s not hard to read between these lines.
Though some Spurs reportedly told Leonard to return only once he feels ready, Parker is clearly applying pressure. It’s not working, but he’s apparently not stopping.
These comments don’t befit a healthy organization, which is just so stunning for the Spurs, whose excellent culture has been exalted for year.
Maybe Parker will get his wish, and a shamed-into-playing Leonard will lead San Antonio deep into the playoffs. But it seems more likely these quotes will just increase tension.
With uncertainty surrounding Kyrie Irving‘s knee injury, the Celtics announced a course of action.
The Boston Celtics announced today that guard Kyrie Irving will tomorrow undergo a minimally invasive procedure to alleviate irritation in his left knee. Further information will be provided following tomorrow’s procedure, and the team will have no further comment until that time.
This is so vague. We barely know more than we did before.
Irving reportedly might need the pins removed from his knee, so that’d be the first guess at the type of procedure. But that’s just a guess.
The Celtics look vulnerable with Irving hobbled, which is big update from yesterday, when the Celtics looked vulnerable with Irving hobbled.