Blazers’ Wes Matthews warns reporter after 30-point loss: ‘If you kill us, you’re going to look dumb come next game’

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Much like the defending champion Heat, the Blazers are in the middle of a rough stretch that has seen them drop seven of their last 11 games.

The difference in Portland is that all but one of the losses have come against teams currently in playoff position in the standings — not that it was any consolation after being blown out in Charlotte by a 30-point margin on Saturday.

Wesley Matthews wasn’t ready to admit that the loss was a sign of a deeper issue, however, and had an unusually strong response to the mere suggestion of it.

From Joe Freeman of The Oregonian:

“I don’t think it’s a larger issue,” Wesley Matthews said. “We played bad. They played well. They played like they had something against us from what we did to them at our place. We didn’t shoot it well the first half, they shot it well. Big Al had a good night, Kemba Walker had a good night. They’re a playoff team and they’re all NBA players. We didn’t play well. They played great.”

When a reporter told Matthews he wasn’t sure if it was more appropriate to kill the Blazers for their general ineptitude or dismiss the hideous performance as just one of those nights in a grinding 82-game season, Matthews looked at him sideways and issued a challenge.

“If you kill us, you’re going to look dumb come next game,” he said. “Because we’re going to be a whole new team, we’re going to be the team we’re supposed to be. So you go ahead and kill us. And you’re going to have to come back and see us in the locker room and be like, ‘Aw shoot.’ So I’m just going to save you. Write that. Write it all.”

It’s not like the Blazers are even at full strength, with LaMarcus Aldridge missing his fifth straight game due to a back issue, and there’s no timetable for when he may return. But 30-point losses are troubling no matter the context, and Matthews’ frustration level afterward was completely understandable.

His words carry additional weight, however, considering his team’s next game comes on the road against the equally-cranky Miami Heat.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.

LeBron James beautifully pass-fakes, makes layup in transition (video)

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LeBron James is a treasure.

Shaquille O’Neal’s big toe is seriously jacked up (PHOTO)

shaq o'neal
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Remember how we we all freaked out when we saw pictures of LeBron James‘ feet back in 2013?

You probably didn’t want to be reminded that it existed, but it does. Still. And apparently jacked up feet is the consequence of a lifetime of playing professional basketball. Once can only assume it has something to do with tight shoes and constant, hard changes of direction in said tight shoes.

We got yet another vision of what basketball shoes can do to feet on Thursday when TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal showed off his, er, little piggies.

Much to the horror of the Internet in general, it was Shaq’s right big toe that took social media by storm. Mostly because it’s not even close to pointing in the right direction.

I’m going to show you what it looks like. Be forewarned, it might just be NSFL.

Via Twitter:

Oh. Oh … why?

Social media reacted appropriately and proportionately:

Shaq did have issues with that toe during the course of his career, and at one point it was so bad that he had to have surgery to remove bone spurs from the toe in 2002.

That still doesn’t explain why it’s all over your TV and the Internet, but here we are. I am sorry.