LeBron James,Dwyane Wade

LeBron, Wade say fatigue was a factor in Game 1 loss to Spurs


The Heat had to play seven hard-fought games against the Pacers to reach the championship round. The Spurs, meanwhile, had 10 days to rest after taking care of the Grizzlies in just four games in the Western Conference Finals.

After a rough fourth quarter for Miami led to San Antonio taking Game 1 on the Heat’s home floor, both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade said afterward that fatigue was a factor for their team down the stretch.

“The fourth quarter was the difference,” James said. “I can see it on a few of our guys’ faces. Felt a little fatigued, still a little banged up from that seven‑game series. They looked like they were rested in the fourth quarter. They took advantage of that.”

“Obviously I thought that we were a little fatigued, honestly, in the fourth quarter, looking around,” Wade said. “We looked like a team that came off a seven‑game series.”

James and Wade aren’t into making excuses after a loss; they were simply telling it as they saw it during the game’s final 12 minutes. And the numbers back up what they had to say.

Over the first three quarters of the game, Miami was shooting better than 48 percent from the field, and had committed a total of just four turnovers during that span. In the fourth quarter alone, the Heat shot just 27.8 percent (5-of-18) and turned it over five times.

In fact, James uncharacteristically asked for some rest to start the fourth, which had him and Wade sitting on the bench at the same time.

“I told him I needed one,” James said, when asked why head coach Erik Spoelstra chose to rest him to start the period. “At that point I had played the whole third. I had been accustomed to being able to start the fourth. But the third quarter was so — I was in the paint, defensive rebounding, I was closing out Kawhi Leonard on shooters. It took all in the tank from me in the third quarter. So I needed a little breather.”

The fatigue isn’t going to go away for the Heat in this series, and even though it wasn’t anywhere near the main reason they lost to a team far more rested, it was clearly a factor that showed some measurable results.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.