Paul George hit a big time shot at the end of regulation to get the Pacers to overtime, but once we got to the end of the extra session, LeBron James took his turn at the last-second heroics.
With the Heat trailing by one and 2.2 seconds remaining, James receives the inbounds pass and immediately bolts to the basket. It was poor judgment on the part of George to not make sure to stay in front of James there, and LeBron had a wide open lane to his left for an uncontested layup as time expired.
The obvious question afterward was to wonder why in the world Roy Hibbert was on the bench for that possession, especially after James had made a similar play with 10.8 seconds left and with Hibbert similarly sidelined by his coach’s decision.
Had Hibbert been there to protect the rim, it may have forced James to pass the ball to an open shooter (likely Chris Bosh) once Hibbert came over to help. And as solid of a shooter as Bosh is from the outside, his percentage is far lower than the 100 percent James shoots at the rim on an uncontested shot.
Frank Vogel will certainly have his reasons, but for now, he’ll shoulder the bulk of the blame for this one as the Heat took Game 1 from a Pacers team that had every chance to steal it.
Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things
I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.
Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpoput it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.
But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.
Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction
On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.
Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February
The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11
After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.
DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’
“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”
“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”
Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.
But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.
The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.