Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Three

Spoelstra calls Chris Bosh Heat’s ‘most important player’

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PHOENIX — On a night when Lebron James was playing through illness and needed to save himself as much as possible, Chris Bosh provided the offensive support Miami needed to take care of business.

Bosh had 16 first-half points, and finished with 24 on 9-of-11 shooting, to go along with nine rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots. Without that effort, it’s unlikely that Miami would have had the horses to get this win. Both James and Erik Spoelstra were well aware of this afterward, and had nothing but high praise for their team’s most quiet superstar.

“He’s such an impact to our team, so efficient,” James said. “He gets his points so quietly, makes jumpshots, gets to the free throw line, makes things happen for our team and we all feed off of that. And I tried to feed off of that as well.”

Spoelstra took it a step further, after noting it took him two and a half minutes into his postgame press conference before Bosh’s name even came up.

“He is our most important player, and he’s as steady and consistent as he always has been for the last two and a half years,” Spoelstra said. “He makes it look easy and he makes it look quiet, and yet he’s so impactful in the game. He was big under the rim and not just his scoring, but the big plays defensively at the end.”

Bosh said he did come in with more of a mindset to shoulder the offense with Wade out and with James being less than 100 percent.

“We can’t always expect LeBron to be LeBron all the time,” he said. “He’s not just going to be [perfect], whether it’s physically or whether it’s a bad game. It’s just not going to be A+ all the time.

“I just try to make shots, but I don’t do anything differently. The shots were open, my teammates found me, and I was just working out of the mid-range post a little bit, just trying to get some flow going to the game and it worked out.”

The Suns slowed Bosh a little in the second half from a scoring standpoint, but it didn’t change the impact he had on his team’s success. The attention Bosh required from the defense opened things up a little bit on the wings, and James and Mario Chalmers both took advantage of the increased opportunities.

The fact that Bosh plays at an All-Star level, but does so without the ego and the need for the spotlight makes him a perfect fit to play alongside Wade and James. It also makes it easy to see why Spoelstra and James speak so highly of him, and understand just how important he is to the team’s overall success.

“I let the game develop and I let it come to me,” Bosh said. “I don’t just go hunting for anything, if I have post-ups and I get doubled I move off the ball. I don’t like to force bad shots, I like to take high percentage shots. And that’s what makes us so dangerous. We move the ball so much and we play together to put pressure on the defense.”

Philadelphia 76ers fans are celebrating wins by raising pet cats above their head

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Nothing is crazy in the world of sports, especially not traditions where you literally raise your pet cat above your head every time the Philadelphia 76ers win a basketball game. Nope. Not crazy. It’s simply part of #RaiseTheCat, a social media trend that has taken over Sixers Twitter.

Yup. Seriously.

It all started when 76ers rookie Ben Simmons shared pictures of his two Savannah cats on Instagram. They are gorgeous, expensive hybrid animals, and you know the Internet loves them a good ol’ cat.

🐯for those asking they are F2 Savannahs

A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Philadelphia has gone 8-2 over their last 10 games, and one Sixers fan decided to start a social media wave of his own after each W way back near the start of the season.

With the Sixers winning more games, there’s been more photos of cats to go around.

The trend has finally caught on, with other Sixers fans using the hashtag to proclaim their jubilee after the team wins.

And of course, Simmons himself had to finally join in:

I love Basketball Twitter.

(h/t SB Nation)

LeBron James considering return to US Olympic team under Gregg Popovich

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12:  LeBron James #6 of the United States celebrates after the Men's Basketball gold medal game between the United States and Spain on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympics Games at North Greenwich Arena on August 12, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) LeBron James says Gregg Popovich taking over as coach of the U.S. Olympic team will be a factor in whether he plays in the 2020 Tokyo Games.

James has won two Olympic gold medals, but he skipped last summer’s Rio de Janeiro Games to get rest after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA championship. On Saturday, James said Popovich “factors a lot” in his plans going forward with the U.S. team.

James was asked about Popovich, San Antonio’s longtime coach, before the Cavs hosted the Spurs.

James considers “Pop” the greatest coach in NBA history and called him a “great mastermind of the game of basketball.”

Popovich is replacing Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who led the U.S. team to three consecutive gold medals.

Stan Van Gundy to Reggie Jackson: “We’re not trading you for Ricky Rubio”

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It was rumored this week that the Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves were mulling a trade that would send Ricky Rubio to Michigan and Reggie Jackson to Minnesota. Now, Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy says that isn’t happening.

Nor was it a real offer that was even on the table.

In a video posted to the Detroit Free Press, Van Gundy went off on one of his classic fireside chats — the kind that involves profanity — on how he sees the NBA as it works.

Warning: NSFW language ahead.

While the whole thing is worth watching for the Van Gundyness of it all, here’s the meat you’re looking for:

All these rumors and stuff look I mean know it’s fun for everybody and you’ve got some source somewhere and it’s also all bullshit. Im not denying that discussion — they take place all the time – -that’s a lot different than considerations. Somebody says ‘Hey would you consider Ricky Rubio for Reggie Jackson that discussion might have taken pace. And clearly we didn’t make that move. We wanted to see if they’d go [Michael] Gbinije for LeBron.

Van Gundy said he didn’t know if the specific Jackson-for-Rubio discussion even happened, saying that Pistons president Jeff Bower only brings him trades they are actively considering.

Meanwhile, Van Gundy confirmed that he did text Jackson after his agent made contact with Bower.

“This is the crazy season. We’re not trading you for Ricky Rubio,” said Van Gundy about his text to Jackson.

Report: After fining Wizards, league issues memo warning teams on bench etiquette

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 12:  Courtney Lee #5 of the New York Knicks takes a three point shot in the first quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden on January 12, 2017 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The NBA league office fined Washington Wizards assistant coach Sidney Lowe $5,000 — and the team an additional $15,000 — for his role in distracting a New York Knicks shooter during a game this last week.

Now, the league has issued a warning to teams: make sure you’re practicing good bench etiquette, or we’re coming for your wallets.

According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the NBA sent a memo to all 30 teams on Saturday reminding them to remain on their own bench in accordance with league rules. Obviously that means no stepping onto active basketball courts:

So what are coaches needing to confine themselves to?

Official NBA rules state simply:

The coach’s position may be on or off the bench from the substitution box line (closest to the coach’s bench) to the baseline. A coach is not permitted to cross the midcourt line and violators will be assessed an unsportsmanlike technical foul immediately. All assistants and trainers must remain on the bench. Coaches and trainers are not permitted to go to the scorer’s table, for any reason, except during a dead ball.

Like we see with preseason points of emphasis, it’s possible we see additional fines in the weeks to come. Several coaches enjoy toeing the line (literally) to see what they can get away with and how far out on the court they can stand. Tom Thibodeau immediately springs to mind.

Or, it could go the other direction. Perhaps we see more coaches sitting back, respecting their distance?

Hopefully we just don’t see any more of them trying to close out on opposing shooters.