Three Stars of the night: LeBron, Durant and… Dragic?

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We could pretty much put Kevin Durant or LeBron James on this list anytime they play, they are the two best players walking the planet right now. It would get boring to list them every night, so we look around. But sometimes we just need to acknowledge in this space these guys are special. Oh, and you can’t stop Goran Dragic… or at least the Nets couldn’t.

Third Star: Kevin Durant (24 points, 10 rebounds)

This was a very business-like night for Durant. He took 17 shots, was knocking down threes, grabbing boards and just generally being efficient. His accomplishments this season — he’s on pace to shoot 50 percent from the floor overall, 40 percent from three and 90 percent from the free throw line. He is having one amazing season.

Second Star: Goran Dragic (31 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds)

The Suns had a chance in this one because of Dragic, who was setting guys up and making plays for three quarters, then put up 11 points in the fourth in the quarter when he and Deron Williams were driving their teams toward the finish. Williams came out on top but Dragic showed why he’s the highest paid player on the Suns roster ($7.5 million this season and the next two at that same rate).

First Star: LeBron James (32 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists)

No Dwyane Wade, so he was going to have to take on more of the offense. After a slow few minutes he realized he was playing the Bobcats and just took over the game doing whatever he wanted, running the pick and roll with Chris Andersen or just throwing down dunks. The Bobcats were largely helpless against him. LeBron would have had a triple double except he was getting some rest for the final 8 minutes of a Heat blowout. One man can’t win a basketball game, but this was as close to that as you’re going to get for a stretch.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.

LeBron James beautifully pass-fakes, makes layup in transition (video)

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LeBron James is a treasure.

Shaquille O’Neal’s big toe is seriously jacked up (PHOTO)

shaq o'neal
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Remember how we we all freaked out when we saw pictures of LeBron James‘ feet back in 2013?

You probably didn’t want to be reminded that it existed, but it does. Still. And apparently jacked up feet is the consequence of a lifetime of playing professional basketball. Once can only assume it has something to do with tight shoes and constant, hard changes of direction in said tight shoes.

We got yet another vision of what basketball shoes can do to feet on Thursday when TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal showed off his, er, little piggies.

Much to the horror of the Internet in general, it was Shaq’s right big toe that took social media by storm. Mostly because it’s not even close to pointing in the right direction.

I’m going to show you what it looks like. Be forewarned, it might just be NSFL.

Via Twitter:

Oh. Oh … why?

Social media reacted appropriately and proportionately:

Shaq did have issues with that toe during the course of his career, and at one point it was so bad that he had to have surgery to remove bone spurs from the toe in 2002.

That still doesn’t explain why it’s all over your TV and the Internet, but here we are. I am sorry.