Make no mistake, the Miami Heat know exactly who is standing between them and a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals — the wall that is 7’2” Roy Hibbert and his Indiana Pacers.
The Heat also know no game in December is going to determine the outcome of what is a seemingly inevitable Eastern Conference Finals matchup between those teams in late May.
So Miami heads into Wednesday night’s rematch with Indiana — the Pacers came from behind to win on their home court last week — not thinking about this being any kind of a statement.
Case in point — LeBron James remains a game-time decision with his sprained ankle and some other key Heat players will not be part of this game.
The Pacers are not at 100 percent either — coach Frank Vogel is ill and could miss the game. Plus they are still without Danny Granger.
The Heat will give lip service to playing their style and they will come out with a real effort Wednesday — a lot will fall to Chris Bosh, he has to nail 18 foot and longer jumpers to draw Roy Hibbert out of the paint, and he has to be strong on the boards.
Indiana has said before they want the No. 1 seed badly — if there is another Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals between these teams they want it at their place. That’s a good motivation; they seem more focused early this season than the Heat.
Still, the fact remains that regular season matchups of teams are poor indicators of postseason success. When these two teams meet in the playoffs they both will be very different teams — Indiana likely have Granger back (or whomever they trade him for) and the Heat will have several players in the lineup.
This game is more like the scripted early moves of a chess match; the real play will not come for a while. Still, this should be fun to watch.
The Harlem Globetrotters dropped the Washington Generals as an opponent a couple years ago – a sad development for basketball traditionalists.
But the sport’s most-lopsided rivalry is returning.
Darren Rovell of ESPN:
Sources said the Generals will be put into rotation to play the Globetrotters again as early as this summer and will take on a greater life than before as the lovable losers.
This just feels right. There’s a spirit about the Generals that complements the Globetrotters so well.
The current, authoritarian government in Turkey is not big on dissent (they have beaten protestors of the Turkish regime at a march in this country). Or human rights.
So what’s real trouble for them is opposition and dissent from a famous, well-known person.
Which brings us to Oklahoma City big man Enes Kanter. He is a native of Turkey, and he has been outspoken in his opposition to that country’s current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Last week the Turkish government revoked Kanter’s passport while he was traveling the globe promoting his charity. He barely got out of Indonesia and was able to get to Romania, where he was detained for a stretch before getting to return to the United States via London.
Now, the Turkish government has issued an arrest warrant for Kanter, reports the Agence France-Presse.
Turkey issued an arrest warrant on Friday for Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter, accusing him of being a member of a “terror group”, a pro-government newspaper reported.
A judge issued the arrest warrant after an Istanbul prosecutor opened an investigation into Kanter’s alleged “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”, Sabah daily reported.
He is in no danger of being extradited by the United States because of this. If anything, it strengthens his case for U.S. citizenship based on asylum.
Kanter is a supporter of the Gülen movement in that country, which is led by the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who currently lives in Pennsylvania. That movement has opposed Erdogan (who recently won a disputed election in that country that gives him sweeping, almost dictatorial powers). Erdogan blamed Gulen for masterminding a failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, one with members of the military involved (after that attempt members of the Gulen movement have been swept up by the government all over Turkey). This has come at a cost for Kanter, who has been disavowed by his own family because of his political beliefs.
Kanter is not about to back down from his position. Which means it may be a long time before he gets to visit his homeland again.
Duke guard Frank Jackson declared for the 2017 NBA draft with an outside shot of going in the first round and a likelihood of getting picked in the second-round.
This won’t help his stock.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Duke’s Frank Jackson, a well-regarded point guard in the 2017 NBA draft class, underwent right foot surgery and is expected to be fully recovered sometime in July.
When Jackson recovers will determine whether he plays in summer league, and that can affect transition to the pros as a rookie.
The bigger questions: Will this hinder his athleticism long-term? Does this put him at greater injury risk?
Jackson, a 6-foot-4 scoring guard, relies on a strong first step to attack the basket and high elevation on his jumper.
If there’s consensus on the top prospects in the 2017 NBA draft, it’s:
1. Markelle Fultz
2. Lonzo Ball
3. Josh Jackson
That squares nicely with the Celtics picking Fultz No. 1 and the Lakers taking Ball No. 2.
But what about the 76ers, who pick No. 3? They already have a playmaking forward with a shaky jumper in Ben Simmons. Jackson isn’t the cleanest fit. Even if they plan to deploy Simmons at point guard, they could still use a traditional point guard for support/insurance.
Enter De'Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith Jr.
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
The 76ers could also get a workout with Ball. There will be point guard options.
I’m just unsure any of them, assuming Ball is off the board, trump Jackson.
Philadelphia’s starting small forward is Robert Covington – a nice player, but not someone who should influence draft decisions. We can lightly pencil Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons into the 76ers’ starting lineup the next time the team gets good, but the rest of the lineup is open. Pondering Jackson’s fit into a half-blank canvass is overthinking. Embiid is an excellent outside shooter for a center, and Philadelphia’s eventual guards (or shooting guard and power forward if Simmons plays point guard) could be good shooters.
The 76ers’ should draft the best prospect available. If that’s Jackson, so be it. They should consider Fox’s and Smith’s fit only if those point guards are in the same tier as Jackson.
That said, don’t rule out the possibility of Fox and Smith working their way into that level. They’re intriguing players.