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.

Report: Gerald Green to sign with Milwaukee for training camp (at least)

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How good is the hot chocolate at the BMO Harris Bradley Center?

I ask because it appears Gerald Green is going to be playing in Milwaukee, at least for training camp, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Free-agent swingman Gerald Green has agreed on a contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, league sources told The Vertical.

Green will sign a non-guaranteed deal for training camp and is expected to compete for a regular-season roster spot. Milwaukee has looked to add depth at the wing positions, bringing Green and veteran guard Brandon Rush to camp.

The Bucks have 14 guaranteed contracts, so it is Rush vs. Green for that final roster spot. Green played solidly last season in Boston despite inconsistent minutes, but was not brought back as the Celtics revamped their roster. Green shot 35.1 percent from three last season, can play decent defense, and is a good veteran presence on a team with young players.

As for why I asked about the hot chocolate…

Draymond Green: I laughed in Kevin Durant’s face over Twitter fiasco

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Kevin Durant said he hasn’t slept in two days and isn’t eating due to his Twitter fiasco.

Draymond Green – who was mocked by his Team USA teammates, including Durant, over his own Snapchat snafu – said he got revenge.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Green:

It’s a little payback. I stood right there, over there, laughing in his face. And it felt pretty damn good, too.

The Warriors’ chemistry is either in a touchy spot or light years ahead.

Report: Former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett signing with Suns

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Getting cut by the NBA-worst Nets was a low point for former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett, but at least he had a guaranteed salary and got paid out through the end of the year.

That won’t be the case with the Suns.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

This is a no-risk flier for Phoenix. If Bennett plays well enough in the preseason, the 24-year-old will make the regular season roster. If not, the Suns won’t owe him anything.

Bennett has a chance to stick. Phoenix has just 13 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving two standard-contract spots open on the regular-season roster. Bennett will compete with Derrick Jones Jr., Elijah Millsap, Peter Jok and anyone else the Suns sign.

I don’t love Bennett’s odds. He hasn’t looked like an NBA player, and he’s reaching the age where current production matters more than potential. But by virtue of being the top pick a few years ago, he carries more intrigue than the typical player of his caliber.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey: Lottery-reform proposal ‘not doing a whole lot’

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Rockets general manager Daryl Morey supports the NBA’s lottery-reform proposal:

But that doesn’t mean Morey believes the proposal is a silver bullet.

Morey, via Bleacher Report:

Let’s be clear. This reform is not doing a whole lot, right?

And I keep saying: If it was already in place, no one would talk about it. If it wasn’t in place – all these people are talking about it because it’s coming up for probably a vote here in a minutes. Otherwise, no one would be talking about it. Everyone would be like, “Oh, yeah. Of course the bottom three lottery odds are flat. That’s how it’s always been.” It’s a very minor change, and it fixes some pretty important problems in terms of how the incentives work at the bottom of the draft, and I don’t think it changes much in any other way.

And then the best argument is the people who are frustrated the league is unbalanced between destination and non-destination cities, they say, “Because that whole system might be broken, I’m going to be against this minor, logical, simple reform.” I don’t really buy that. Let’s fix the other issues in another way, but you can still be for this reform and say we need larger reform that attacks those issues in a more fundamental way. But it doesn’t change that this is a good, logical step we’re taking.

Morey is aggressively logical, and you can see that at work here. If the new rule is better than the old rule, owners should vote for it. It shouldn’t matter which was already in place. For similar reasons, I argued against shelving lottery reform just because new national TV contracts would increase the salary cap.

Morey is also right that this is a minor reform. There’s still value in tanking, even if not quite as much. Finishing with the league’s worst record still guarantees a top-five pick with team control for five years and the inside track on keeping the player for far longer.

There’s even still value in jockeying among the league’s three worst teams, which will have identical lottery odds if this proposal passes. If a team isn’t drawn for the top four, it will be slotted in reverse order of record. The No. 1 seed in the lottery has a 20% greater chance than the No. 2 seed of picking higher between the two, and the No. 2 seed has a 20% greater chance than the No. 3  seed of picking higher between the two, according to fantastic Ryan Bernardoni of Celtics Hub.

So, this lottery reform might only minimally change behavior.

Another thing to consider: NBA owners are far more risk-averse than Morey. If this reform passes, owners will take years to evaluate it before making more meaningful changes to address the problem (if you believe there’s a problem at all). So, a step in the right direction (again, if you believe this is the right direction) is effectively a small step and a pause that could delay bigger steps.