NBA finals Game 4 shootaround notes: Everyone talking Ibaka, LeBron’s defense

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Serge Ibaka made headlines — and sounded pretty foolish — when he said Monday that LeBron James is not a good defender and couldn’t cover Kevin Durant one-on-one. Because so many people can.

So LeBron, what do you think of that?

“I don’t really care what he says, he’s stupid,” James said, then saying every series somebody says something about him and the media tries to blow it up. “It’s stupid.”

LeBron later tried to backtrack saying it wasn’t personal against Ibaka. Personally, I like that there’s a little fire between these teams right now. It will make for a better Game 4 Tuesday night in Miami.

Kevin Durant was much more tactful.

“(Ibaka was) just taking up for me and taking up for our whole team,” Durant said. “LeBron is a good defender. I’ll tell him that. He’s a good defender.

“But it’s not about him, it’s about us, what we can do. We can’t come into the game worried about how he’s going to guard me, how he’s going to guard Russ, how he’s going to guard James. We can’t worry about that. We just have to play our games and that’s basically what Serge was saying.”

As for the game itself, Thunder Coach Scott Brooks said the Thunder have to play at a faster pace than Game 3. There were just 90 possessions in Game 3 (although there were just 89 in the Thunder’s game 1 win, they were just more efficient). Brooks said he thought if the tempo picked up he expected that would help James Harden.

LeBron also said he expected a desperate Thunder team that knows it can’t go down 3-1. He said the Heat had to play with the same level of desperation and treat this as a must-win game.

I will say after seeing them in person, the Heat look relaxed. They look comfortable on the stage and at home. Durant and team are going to have to work hard to knock them out of that zone.

Damian Lillard’s goal in meeting with Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen: ‘Spark that urgency’

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Alleviating Paul Allen’s fear, Damian Lillard didn’t request a trade in his requested meeting with the Trail Blazers owner.

So, what did Lillard want to accomplish?

Lillard, in an interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN:

It was just me showing urgency, spark that urgency, figure out, “OK, what do we have to do?” We’re a five, six seed. What do we got to do to make the jump? If you don’t have a line of communication with people who can make the changes or the people who can make impact for things happening for the better, then you’re just going out there playing.

Paralyzed by a huge payroll, the Trail Blazers have been going the opposite direction. They dumped Allen Crabbe and Noah Vonleh in their last two significant trades. Portland could let Ed Davis and Shabazz Napier walk in free agency this summer. Luxury-tax concerns aren’t vanishing. Evan Turner‘s, Maurice Harkless’ and Meyers Leonard‘s are major obstacles to upgrading the roster.

The Trail Blazers could be stuck.

That’d be rough news for Lillard, who’s already 27. I understand why he’s trying to push the envelope. His prime is ticking down.

I’m just not sure Portland can help him accomplish his championship-contention goals anytime soon, as hard as he presses.

Adam Silver jokingly thanks Magic Johnson for paying for All-Star Legends Brunch

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The NBA held its annual All-Star Legends Brunch last weekend. Jerry West, James Worthy, Bill Walton and Magic Johnson were honored.

And NBA commissioner Adam Silver delivered a great line while addressing the event.

Silver, via Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:

“Magic, thank you for paying for the brunch today.”

So, that’s why Johnson got fined for $50,000 for tampering for innocuous comments about Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Nate ‘Tiny’ Archibald reveals he’s living with incurable heart disease

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The National Basketball Players Association and NBA set up health screenings for former players.

Nate “Tiny” Archibald, who starred for the Kansas City Kings and Boston Celtics, took advantage. Unfortunately, he learned a difficult outcome.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

IT WAS DECEMBER 2016 when Archibald learned of his diagnosis, during a free screening at the New York offices of the NBPA. And now, more than a year later, he’s still reeling from the news.

“What I have is really rare,” he says. “There’s no pills, nothing they have found that works. I’m being tested all the time, just hoping, you know?

“My [heart] could go any minute. But I’m not ready for that. I want to be around for a long time.”

The medical community has had little success solving the riddle of amyloidosis. For those who suffer from it, aside from participating in clinical trials, or the possibility of a heart transplant, which at Archibald’s age may not be viable, there isn’t much that can be done.

We celebrated Archibald’s 69th birthday last fall with this highlight video. If you’re not familiar with the 6-foot-1 guard’s exciting game, get acquainted:

Hopefully, Archibald gets his wish and sticks around a long time.

Jeremy Lin: I believe J.J. Redick

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76ers guard J.J. Redick explained then apologized for saying what sounded like a slur for Chinese people, claiming he was tongue-tied.

Nets guard Jeremy Lin:

Lin’s Asian-American heritage helps make him very popular with the same people most offended by Redick. Lin vouching for Redick will likely go a long way in diffusing tension.