Miami Heat v San Antonio Spurs - Game 5

Spurs lead Heat 61-52 at halftime of Finals Game 5

23 Comments

SAN ANTONIO — We’ve got another good one here in San Antonio, where the Spurs came out with aggression and were able to contain a late run from the heat to take a 61-52 lead into halftime of Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

The Spurs made a change to their starting lineup in this one, inserting Manu Ginobili in favor of the previously ineffective Tiago Splitter. The move paid immediate dividends, as Ginobili set the tone with his aggression and had seven points and three assists in the game’s first five and a half minutes.

Once he took a seat on the bench, Tony Parker got San Antonio out to a big lead by attacking the paint time and again, particularly against Norris Cole, and getting to the rim for easy scores or trips to the free throw line.

Miami largely was settling for jumpers early on, and that was due to the Spurs packing the paint and making the right rotations defensively. That helped the Spurs end the first quarter on a 15-2 run to take control of the game.

San Antonio extended its lead to as many as 17 points in the second, before the Heat began to climb back into it. A 12-0 run in a two-minute span showcased what the Heat do best, which is getting out in transition and swinging the ball to the open shooters in the halfcourt sets. LeBron James started getting into the post and scoring inside, and the run was highlighted by a monster dunk on the break from James, and a four-point play from Ray Allen.

The half ended with a drive from Parker right down the middle of the lane for a reverse lay-in right before the buzzer.

Th Spurs are getting balanced scoring from everyone, with four starters in double figures and Kawhi Leonard one point shy of joining the club. For the Heat, it’s LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh doing the bulk of the damage, with the team doing its best work in this game once Erik Spoelstra held both of his point guards out of the lineup at the same time.

Miami’s Big Three finished the half with 40 of the team’s 52 points, and you get the feeling that a special performance from LeBron or Wade — or possibly both — is going to be required for the Heat to end up pulling this one out.

NBA: Kenneth Faried got away with foul on decisive basket in Nuggets’ win over Bulls

1 Comment

The Bulls’ biggest loss Friday was Jimmy Butler to injury. His absence certainly contributed to a loss to the Timberwolves the following night.

But Chicago also lost to the Nuggets on Friday, and perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if the game were called correctly down the stretch.

With Denver up two points and 21.1 seconds remaining, Kenneth Faried offensively rebounded a free throw and scored. The Bulls then intentionally fouled down the stretch, and Faried and Danilo Gallinari added a few free throws in the Nuggets’ 115-110 win.

One problem: Faried should’ve been called for offensively fouling Taj Gibson on the key putback, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Faried (DEN) extends his arm into Gibson (CHI) and dislodges him, affecting his ability to retrieve the rebound.

This was a huge swing. Instead of Taj Gibson – a 69% career free-throw shooter – going to the line for two attempts with Chicago down two points, Faried put the Nuggets up four. Even if Gibson split at the line, the Bulls would have been in significantly better shape.

As usual, we can’t know what would’ve happened if this call were made correctly. But it significantly set back Chicago.

NBA considering if jump-on-back foul should be flagrant foul

Leave a comment

The video above is an intentional foul — Chris Paul jumped on the back of Dwight Howard. The same thing has happened to Andre Drummond.

Is it a flagrant foul?

The Boston Celtics tweeted this out on Sunday.

The NBA was quick to let people know that this is just something under consideration — there has been no change in the rules. This may well be where the league is headed, but it’s not there yet.

The NBA defines a flagrant foul as “unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.” To me, leaping on a player’s back like that qualifies. (A flagrant two foul is “unnecessary and excessive contact” and leads to an ejection; this is not that.)

Jared Dudley — one of the more vocal players on union issues — added a good point.

Consider this part of the coming changes on the intentional fouling rules period. But this one tweak could come much faster.

NBA: Foul on Cavaliers that sparked Celtics’ comeback called in error

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith makes a move on Boston Celtics' Evan Turner (11) during the third quarter of a NBA basketball game in Boston Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
4 Comments

The Cavaliers were in great shape against the Celtics on Friday, leading by four points with seven seconds left.

Then, it all went so wrong for Cleveland.

J.R. Smith was called for fouling Evan Turner on a made layup, cutting the margin to two points. Turner missed the free throw, but the ball went out of bounds off the Cavs. Then, Avery Bradley made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Boston the win.

Rewind, though, and an incorrect call drove the sequence, according to the NBA.

Smith shouldn’t have been called for fouling Turner, per the Last Two Minute Report:

Smith (CLE) makes incidental contact with Turner’s (BOS) body as he attempts the layup.

If this were officiated correctly, the Cavs would’ve had the ball and a two-point lead with 5.9 seconds left. That’s not a lock to win – they’d still have to inbound the ball and make their free throws – but it’s close.

Cleveland is definitely entitled to feel the refs wronged them out of a victory.

Report: Kevin Durant has “done his due diligence on the Bay Area”

4 Comments

Kevin Durant has not made up his mind about what he will do as a free agent this summer. Until his playoff run ends, whenever that may be for the Thunder, his focus will be on bringing a title to Oklahoma City.

But even he admits he can’t help but think about free agency a little.

The buzz around the league is Golden State is at the front of the line if Durant decides to leave OKC, and he has done some research, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The Warriors play in front of an intimidating Oracle Arena crowd and are expected to debut a new San Francisco arena in 2019. Durant has quietly done his due diligence on the Bay Area, too, sources told Yahoo Sports.

His people — specifically agent Rich Kleiman and personal manager Charlie Bell — would be stupid not to have done some research on not only Golden State but on every other team he might consider: Houston, Miami, Washington, both teams in Los Angeles, the Knicks, and on down the line. Golden State, playing with Stephen Curry, certainly would have its attractions.

I’m still in the camp that Durant signs a 1+1 deal to stay in Oklahoma City (meaning he can opt out after one more season, in 2017), and it’s all about the cash. While he could get 30 percent of a $90 million cap this summer (about $27 million a season to start), with one more year of service in 2017 Durant could get 35 percent of $108 million ($37.8 million to start). That’s a lot of cash. Plus he gets one more chance at a ring with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, who both are 2017 free agents.

But you can be sure whatever Durant decides, it will be well researched and thought out. And he’s not going to announce it in a live special on ESPN.