LeBron’s Game 7 history shows he needs help for Heat to advance

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Monday night is just number four. For some reason it feels like LeBron James has been in more Game 7s in his career, but there have been just three. Two came with the Cavaliers, one with the Heat last season.

And if you are going to draw one conclusion from those three games and extrapolate it ahead to Monday night’s Game 7 between the Heat and Pacers it is this:

LeBron needs help if the Heat are going to win.

In Miami’s three wins against the Pacers they have averaged about 21 assists, in the three losses it is 13. There are two parts to an assist — making the pass and the guy who gets the pass knocking down the shot. In Miami’s wins LeBron dishes, the ball moves and guys like Udonis Haslem hit shots. But in the losses the shots don’t fall from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, so LeBron takes on more himself and the Heat become easier to defend.

That was the case in LeBron’s other three Game 7s.

May 21, 2006: Pistons 79, Cavaliers 61: LeBron had 27 points on 24 shots against a good Pistons’ defense, but the rest of the Cavaliers combined to shoot 22 percent for the game (9-for-41). That was a Cavaliers team that had LeBron and then Larry Hughes and Zydrunas Ilgauskas as the next two scorers, it really was the LeBron show. Those Pistons advanced to the Eastern Conference finals where they fell to the eventual champions Dwyane Wade and the Miami Het.

May 18, 2008: Celtics 97, Cavaliers 91: Again LeBron had a monster game — 45 points on 29 shots. Again only one other Cavaliers player was in double-digits, Delonte West with 15. The other Cavaliers shot 42 percent overall. The Celtics had balance — Paul Pierce traded shots with LeBron and had 41 points, but big men Kevin Garnett (13) and P.J. Brown (10 off the bench) were the difference.

June 9, 2012: Heat 101, Celtics 88: This win last year completed the Heat’s comeback from 0-2 down in the Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron got help in this one — he had 31 points on 21 shots, but Wade had 23 and Shane Battier 12, and Chris Bosh chipped in 19 off the bench. The ball moved and they won — the good Celtics defense couldn’t stop the Heat offense that day.

June 3, 2013: Heat vs. Pacers: LeBron is going to need help. Look for him to try and get teammates involved early, but if things are not going right LeBron will take on more and more of the offensive scoring load. And when that happens the Pacers will be better able to defend Miami, and the spiral will continue.

But if other guys — especially Bosh, knocking down shots that force David West and Roy Hibbert out of the paint to contest his shot — get going, Miami will win. As a team.

Rumor: Paul George told former Pacers teammates he wanted to join the Lakers

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Paul George to the Lakers is a capital-T thing.

George is from Southern California, and he keeps indicating his dissatisfaction with the Pacers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Even Lakers president Magic Johnson is talking about George.

Where do rumors like this originate?

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.

Did George say he dreamed of playing for the Lakers growing up? Did he say it’d be cool to join his boyhood favorite team if the situation presented itself? Or did he say he wanted to get the heck out of Indiana to join the Lakers as soon as possible?

There are so many ways his comments to teammates could get misconstrued as they get passed down in the game of telephone.

But the Lakers threat – to whatever degree it’s real – looms, and it’ll impact how the Pacers handle their offseason.

Jazz call deactivating Jeff Withey, who was accused of domestic violence, ‘strategic basketball-related decision’

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Jazz Center Jeff Withey was accused of domestic violence in a police report filed by his ex-fiancée.

Withey played a small role in Utah’s first two playoff games, but once the accusation over an alleged 2016 incident became public, he hasn’t seen the court. Withey received a DNP-CD in Game 3 against the Clippers, and the Jazz deactivated the center for Game 4 last night.

Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News:

The team called it a “strategic basketball-related decision.”

Withey was always going to see a reduced role with Rudy Gobert returning from injury.

Though Gobert didn’t play in Game 3, the Jazz had two injured players – Gobert and Alec Burks on the inactive list – so Withey was active but never played. But Withey was active for Game 1, which Gobert started healthy before injuring his knee 11 seconds in.

Therefore, deactivating Withey in Game 4 for Joel Bolomboy, a little-used second-round rookie who has yet to play in the postseason, is a curious choice for basketball reasons. It’s almost as if that wasn’t the reason.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.