The King has his ring.
Finally playing like the team the rest of the league feared Miami Heat roared to an NBA title Thursday night. NBA finals LeBron James had a triple double in the biggest game of his career, Heat role players drained threes like they were layups, the Heat offense fired on all cylinders and was aggressive on defense — all of it eventually overwhelmed them blew out the Thunder out. It turned Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena into a 12-minute Championship party in the fourth quarter.
Miami won Game 5 121-106 and are now the NBA champions. LeBron James was named finals MVP.
It was the kind of game Heat fans envisioned and the rest of the league — including the Thunder — worried could happen when the Heat really clicked. Miami looked clear and away like the best team in the league.
“Today they were on fire…” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We couldn’t handle everything they threw at us.”
Miami smelled blood in the water early. They came out with a business-like focus from the opening tip — LeBron had his head down and was driving the lane from the start, setting guys up for threes on kick outs and dominating the game.
Miami had some great ball movement, shot 51.9 percent and were 14-26 from three on the night. They overwhelmed a good Thunder team that played hard but is still learning how to execute and win on this level. They will be back. Kevin Durant brought it and finished with 32 points and 11 boards, but as a team the Thunder shot just 41.4 percent (and that went up during the garbage time fourth quarter, they were under 40 percent most of the game).
Miami started to pull away in the second quarter but in the third the Thunder made one more push and got the lead down to 7. The Heat answered with a 19-1 run that blew the lid off the game. The did it because everyone pitched in. Mike Miller, who looked like he could barely walk this series, was 7-of-11, all of his makes from three, for 23 points. Bosh was fantastic with 24. Dwyane Wade had 20. Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, pretty much everyone hit shots.
In the end LeBron and Wade were hugging on the sidelines, they are NBA champions. Together.
Take that Stephen Curry.
Gregg Popovich would pull him so fast he’d look like a fidget spinner if he tried this in a game, but during warmups before Game 4 Monday night LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down a deep three from one knee.
If Aldridge is taking a lot of threes that’s not a good sign for the Spurs, but we’ll see if he can have a big night and keep the Spurs alive in this series.
Stephen Curry‘s pregame warmups draw people into the arena early, it’s a show in and of itself.
Before Game 4 Monday night, Curry was taking a couple shots from the center-court logo. And draining them. Like layups. Because he can.
We’ll see if he can put on that kind of show when the game tips off.
This was expected. It still sucks to hear.
Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 4 vs. the Warriors Monday night.
Leonard has sprained his left ankle in Game 5 against the Rockets and sat out Game 6 of that series (a San Antonio win), then returned for Game 1 against the Warriors. He re-injured his ankle twice in that game — once stepping on David Lee‘s foot, once when Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper and took away his landing space. Leonard left that game with his team up 23 points, but the Warriors rallied back to win Game 1 and have controlled the series ever since. Leonard has not returned to the series.
San Antonio will play with pride on Monday night, but it may not be enough. You can bet the Warriors were reminded all day about taking their foot off the gas after what happened with Cleveland Sunday.
In Toronto, Masai Ujiri is the head of basketball operations and the guy with the hammer on deals. Jeff Weltman was his right-hand man and team GM.
Make that was his right-hand man, Weltman has been hired by the Orlando Magic to run its basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.
Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.
Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.
Making a move now is smart in this sense: The Magic have the No. 5 pick in this draft and would want the guy making the big picture decisions about this roster on board to make this selection.
That roster already has some quality pieces — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — but has underachieved. There were questions about the culture and a lack of accountability, and that blame ultimately fell on GM Rob Hennigan and he was let go. Frank Vogel is locked in as
Frank Vogel is locked in as coach, so how well Weltman and Vogel work together — and share a vision — will be key.
Weltman is well-respected around the league. He spent five seasons as an assistant GM in Milwaukee, and has been with the Raptors since 2013 as that team has risen up the Eastern Conference standings and had its best run in franchise history. He also has worked with the Clippers and in Denver. He’s been one of those guys expected to get a chance in the big chair for a few years now.
He’s got it, and it’s an interesting challenge in Orlando.