No matter what decision LeBron James made after “the decision” he could not win. Every move, every choice following his entrance to Miami was going to be scrutinized and criticized.
That’s not going to stop if the Miami Heat win the NBA title with a Game 5 win Thursday night.
But it might slow down. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra channeled his mentor Pat Riley when talking about LeBron and his reputation Thursday.
“You can’t win unless you win,” he said, adding that he didn’t think it fair that “somebody who has the qualities that he has would be critiqued as negatively as he is.”
LeBron will play in Game 5, Spoelstra said, adding he was moving better today. LeBron missed the end of Game 4 with cramps in his legs. A couple days of hydration and treatment should have him back to being himself, and the team will have IVs and fluids at the ready. Also, don’t be shocked if Spoelstra tries to get him a little more rest.
Spoelstra joked he was going to get Riley to crank up the air conditioning in AmericanAirlines Arena to help LeBron out.
Miami will have three chances to close out this series, and no team has ever come back from a 3-1, but the Heat have said they do not want to return to Oklahoma City for a Game 6.
The Thunder are frustrated because they’ve been close — all three losses were by single digits — but unable to close out the wins. James Harden will play despite a bruised hand suffered in Game 4. How well he plays will go a long way to determining if there is a Game 6 on Sunday.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.