As you would expect, Greg Oden tried to play down his starting against the Trail Blazers Monday night.
Portland is the franchise that drafted him No. 1, that bet its future on him, and he played well for them until his body betrayed him and he required multiple knee surgeries. Because it was Kevin Durant taken behind him it was a pick that changed the fortunes of two franchises.
Monday night Oden will start for the Heat as the struggling Trail Blazers come to town but Oden played down the reunion, as was reported by CSNNW.com.
“It’s a game we need to win. We’ve been up and down. It’s just about this team and about us getting a win right now….
“Every game I’ve played is basically a circled date. I’m not trying to look at any team just because I used to play for them. I’m happy to be out there playing against anybody.”
This may have some emotion, but there is no bitterness here — even in Portland most people were rooting for Greg Oden to make it back.
He’s a well liked person who had to go through incredible amounts of rehab and effort just to make it back on the court. He could have walked away from the game with a boatload of money but wanted to play bad enough to fight all the way back. He provides some size that Miami needs come the postseason, especially with the big front line of Indiana looming out there.
Miami has struggled of late, going 4-7 in their last 11, finding they can’t just flip the switch like last season. There are a whole lot of factors that play into it — injuries, Dwyane Wade’s maintenance program, trying larger lineups — but it has LeBron James calling his teammates out. Through this, Eric Spoelstra seems committed to giving Oden the starter’s role and building lineups that way (probably largely with Roy Hibbert and Indiana in mind).
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.