With under two minutes remaining in overtime of Miami’s game against the Magic on Monday, the Heat were trailing, and wanted to preserve every precious second on the clock to ensure enough possessions were available for the team to come back and get this victory.
They got it down the stretch, but time ended up not being a factor. That didn’t stop LeBron James from “walking the dog” perhaps earlier than necessary, a move which prevents the clock from starting while the ball rolls up the floor before a player decides to touch it.
Chris Paul is the most famous for this tactic, though now it’s done by players all over the league. But it seemed unnecessary at this point, especially in the cavalier nature (no pun intended) that James chose to use to execute it.
As the ball rolls slowly into the front court, James is not huddled closely beside it in a protective stance, nor does he seem concerned that anyone from the other team would dare try to take it. He walks calmly upright, before picking it up just as the timeline is crossed.
Josh McRoberts briefly pretends as though he is going to contest, but even that minimal effort from the opponent doesn’t phase James in the lightest.
There seems to be value in this tactic when saving time is a necessity, though it doesn’t appear that was the case in this situation. Either way, and as if the opposing team wasn’t fully aware, James made a statement with this play.
He reaffirmed to the Magic that he is the best player in the game today, and that there’s no one on that roster who would dare challenge his abilities — even as he taunts them with such a brash display of being loose with the basketball.
Steve Alford: LaVar Ball never meddled with UCLA Basketball
“Never at practice,” Alford said. “Never at practice; never called me.”
Did he ever try to meddle in your coaching?
“Never,” Alford said.
LaVar has said his other sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, will play for UCLA. So, Alford has incentive to maintain a productive working relationship with LaVar. The players’ high school coach had a much worse experience dealing with LaVar.
Alford vouching for LaVar means something, but the total picture is more complex.
Still, LaVar would hardly be the first difficult parent of an NBA player. He’s just the most public. Even if he’d try to meddle into the Lakers, they might be willing to handle that to get his talented son.
“We need to help our bench,” Wall told CSN’s Chris Miller. “Just to be honest, that was our downfall in each series that we had in the [Eastern Conference] semifinals, our bench got out played.”
It starts from upstairs – just building the right bench guys and building the chemistry. That’s all it is.
I think that’s where they won the game at. I heard Marcus Smart say after the game that I had no legs. He’s basically right. I don’t make excuses. I’m going to play. If I miss shots or make shots, I’ll live with it. I know people will say he finished oh for 11, but I play – I took everything I had in me to keep fighting.
It’s just that their bench guys came in and played well. I think Kelly Oubre could’ve played a little bit more. I wish he would’ve played a little more than Jason. But coach makes the decision, and we stick behind him 100 percent. I feel like those two guys could have really helped us.
Wall – eligible for a designated-veteran-player extension but reportedly unsure about signing one – is clearly telling the Wizards what he wants. Marcin Gortat similarly criticized Washington’s bench earlier in the season, and he apologized. Wall has the leverage not to stand by his assessment.
Both Wall and Gortat were right. The Wizards’ bench was the source of much of their problems.
Washington’s starting lineup outscored opponents by 4.7 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs. Its bench (all other lineups) got outscored 15.5 points per 100 possessions.
Only the Thunder had a similar split in net rating:
The Wizards knew their flaw and tried to hide it. Washington’s starters played 34.2 minutes per game together in the postseason – second only to the Pacers (34.5). Wall’s heavy workload contributed to him running out of gas late in Game 7 against Boston, which Marcus Smart noted.
What can the Wizards do to upgrade their bench? Spend.
They sound committed to keeping Otto Porter, a restricted free agent this summer. But that would push them near the luxury tax – so they could scrimp on the bench in a variety of ways:
Don’t re-sign Bojan Bogdanovic, another restricted free agent. He’s in line for a raise.
Trade Marcin Gortat, elevating Ian Mahinmi into the starting lineup and therefore weakening the bench.
Trade Jason Smith, who might be expendable at his salary (especially given Wall’s comments about not wanting him to play as much) but at least still provides depth.
Don’t use the mid-level exception. That’s Washington’s best mechanism for adding outside help, but it’d be costly.
Will the Wizards take any of those cost-saving measures? Wall is certainly watching.
Don’t like the wait for this year’s Finals? Here’s the top 10 plays from the last two (VIDEO)
Nobody is enjoying the week-long break between the end of the Eastern Conference Finals and the start of the NBA Finals (except maybe a few of the older Cavaliers players trying to get healthy). For those of us basketball junkies, we just want to get on to the two best teams in the league battling it out.We need a fix.
Here’s the best we can do today: The top 10 plays from the last two NBA Finals, the last two Cavaliers/Warriors showdowns. Courtesy the folks at NBA.com. There’s plenty of LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and a big shot by Kyrie Irving made the list. Enjoy. And just try to be patient.
Warriors’ center Zaza Pachulia cleared to play in Game 1 of NBA Finals
These playoffs, the Golden State Warriors have been 15.4 points per 100 possessions better when Zaza Pachulia is on the court as opposed to on the bench. That’s a bit misleading, the reason for the gaudy number is he rounds out the dominant starting lineup, which has outscored teams by 32.6 points per 100 this postseason (that is actually better than the legendary “death lineup” in these playoffs). Pachulia is just the first big in the rotation with four All-Star, powerhouse players, but he fills his role well.
Zaza Pachulia, the only injured Warrior rotation player late in the Spurs series, has participated in all parts of all three practices, without restriction on that sore right heel. He is on track to start Game 1 of The Finals on Thursday.
“We’ve done running, had scrimmages and he’s done everything,” Mike Brown said.
He will have a crucial role on the glass against the Cavaliers. Cleveland brings two dominant rebounders to the party with Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love (plus that LeBron James guy can get some boards), the Warriors will use Pachulia to counter. Before you roll your eyes, he had 13 boards in the second meeting of these teams in the regular season, a blowout Golden State win.
He’s the first big in a rotation of them the Warriors will throw at Cleveland — JaVale McGee may get a little time, but expect a lot of small-ball lineups from the Warriors. If Pachulia can give Golden State a solid 18 minutes a night where he is strong on the glass and helps protect the rim, it will be huge for them.
Pachulia is going to get his shot, he’ll be healthy and ready to go.