LeBron James commits two costly turnovers in final minute of Game 2 loss to Pacers

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LeBron James won Game 1 against the Pacers in the final moments, with two drives to the basket for scores in the final 10 seconds of overtime.

To say he lost Game 2 in a similar manner would be overstating things a bit, but James did commit two turnovers on consecutive possessions with under a minute to play that ultimately led to the Pacers coming away with the 97-93 victory.

As you might imagine, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra wasn’t willing to pile on his superstar for those late-game miscues afterward.

“It happens,” Spoelstra said. “They made two good defensive plays with deflections. I would run that again, if I had the opportunity again. So would LJ. That happens. You have to give them credit for the active hands.  The possession before, if the ball would have gotten to Ray, I think he would have had a very good, clean look at it.  And those are the breaks of the game.  We just have to be a little more efficient going down the stretch.

“We had more opportunities than those two, even in transition and a couple of the turnovers and a couple of the looks that we took weren’t necessarily our best opportunities.”

Miami did have additional chances, but obviously things get magnified over a game’s final few possessions. James tried to explain from his perspective what went wrong as he tried to make plays down the stretch.

“First one, Ray came to set a pick‑and‑roll in the first one, and David West basically just put his hands up and he was able to get his hands on the ball,” James said. “A little careless on my part obviously.

“And then the second go‑round, I was able to get in the lane, I spun and I seen Ray once again wide open and I was careless once again.  I had the lane for Ray.  I maybe should have jump‑passed it over the top.  I tried to throw it through the lane, and they was able to get the hand on it again. Can’t happen in that situation. Especially being down two in a big game.”

The second possession was particularly interesting, since it featured Pacers big man Roy Hibbert defensively. Much was made of Hibbert being benched late in overtime of Game 1, but he was there this time. And with Chris Bosh on the strong side where James chose to drive, Hibbert was able to be there to help, which forced James to try to kick it back out instead of trying to make a difficult finish over two defenders.

James finished with an amazing statistical line of 36 points on 14-of-20 shooting, to go along with eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals. But the five turnovers is what he’ll focus on more than anything else as the series shifts to Indiana for the next two games, and while James wasn’t happy with his performance, he promised to atone for his costly mistakes.

“Very disappointing, of course, for me,” James said. “That’s the first thing I always look at on the stat sheet is my turnovers. I had two key ones at a big point of the game. I am very disappointed in my judgment and my plays down the stretch. But I’ll make up for them.”

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?