There are a couple questions about whether the Brooklyn Nets can replicate what got them a Game 3 win over Miami. First off, can they hit 15-of-25 from three again?
Second, can they keep LeBron James and the Heat out of the paint again?
In Game 1 of this series the Heat had 29 shots at the rim (in the restricted area), in Game 3 just 13. After a hot first quarter in Game 3 LeBron got just one shot at the rim the rest of the game. (For more detail on this, check out John Schuhmann’s work at NBA.com.)
Paul Pierce thinks he is just the guy to do it — he wants the LeBron assignment in Game 4, he told ESPN. He’s had it more in recent games and done a solid job at points.
“I went to J-Kidd [for] Game 2 and said I want that assignment. … I think I’ve guarded him more than anybody in this gym. I know his tendencies a little bit more and I just try to step up in that role and try to lead that way….
“You know you’ve got to have that type of mental [approach] when you’re going against a juggernaut,” Pierce explained about establishing a no-fear mental edge following Nets’ practice. “When you go against the best … a lot of series are won on fear factor, or the non-belief. When you have that non-belief, then you have no chance. What I try to do in this locker room and with my teammates is just try give them belief — that we can beat this team. They’re not unbeatable. You’ve got to have that mental [approach] if you’re trying to get over that mountain that you’re trying to climb.”
Pierce is right, even if he said it in an overly dramatic way — you can’t play in awe of the other team. The Nets do not play with fear.
That’s different from keeping a motivated LeBron and Dwyane Wade from getting to the rim. And in Game 4, after a loss, you can expect them to show up motivated. In the first quarter against an attacking LeBron in Game 3 Pierce was left to make a flagrant foul (and even then LeBron scored).
Watch early and see if Miami is getting to the basket or settling for jump shots. If they are making plays at the rim — and LeBron is still the best finisher at the rim in the game — it’s going to be a long night for Brooklyn.
“I didn’t see my career in Miami ending like this. I didn’t get a call or a test or anything like that.”
That was Chris Bosh‘s comment in his latest self-directed video, one where he learns that he failed his physical with the Heat and they are not looking to bring him back. In that video he says that his career is not over, and along the way he takes some shots at team president Pat Riley and the Miami organization, saying they did not communicate with him.
Riley countered that it was Bosh who cut off communication, as told to Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald.
Bosh has never been cleared by the team.
Bosh’s time in Miami is over, and those bridges are aflame right now. There is no going back. The problem is there are no good alternatives for him or the team moving on from this situation (unless he wants to forfeit a vast majority of the $75 million he is owed to facilitate a buyout). This situation is going to drag out for a while.
It looks like Donatas Motiejunas is about to go the route Tristan Thompson did — it worked out for the Cavaliers’ big man.
But this would be a huge bet on himself by Motiejunas.
The Lithuanian is headed toward playing this season on a qualifying offer with the Rockets, then becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer, according to the latest report from Adrian Wojnarowski and the team at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Last season the Rockets tried to trade Motiejunas to the Pistons (where he would backup Andre Drummond), but Pistons voided the deal, saying he failed his physical. Motiejunas slammed Detroit for the move. This summer Motiejunas was a restricted free agent, but he didn’t land any offers from other squads (teams were convinced the Rockets would just match any reasonable offer).
That gets us to where we are today, where Motiejunas appears headed to signing the qualifying offer, then testing the market next summer as an unrestricted free agent. It all seems a little messier than it had to be, but this is where we are.
The Sixers cannot catch a break. Or, to be more accurate, they are catching too many.
After center Joel Embiid is finally set to take the court after missing the past two seasons with a foot injury, now Ben Simmons — the recent No. 1 pick and point forward who had created a lot or buzz — has suffered a fracture to his right foot, the team has announced. Simmons will miss time, exactly how much depends on the course of treatment, but with this injury the shortest recovery time is 6-8 weeks.
From the Sixers official press release:
After receiving an X-ray and MRI of the foot and ankle, the images were reviewed by Sixers Head Physician Dr. Christopher Dodson and Sixers Chief Medical Officer and Co-Chief of Sports Medicine Orthopedics at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center Dr. Jonathan Glashow.
It was determined that Simmons suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot. Further medical evaluation and treatment options are being considered at this time and additional updates will be provided when appropriate.
The first reports out of practice were Simmons had rolled his ankle. Clearly it was much more than that.
The injury is commonly known as a Jones Fracture, which is what Kevin Durant suffered a couple years back and has hit a number of NBA players in recent years (Cameron Payne, Jodie Meeks and others). The fifth metatarsal is the bone that runs from the base of the little toe up to the ankle on the foot. Even in a serious case surgery can repair it, however, healing can be slow because that is not an area of the foot with great natural blood flow. The Sixers and Simmons have to be patient so this doesn’t become a lingering issue (remember Durant needed multiple surgeries and missed a lot of time).
This just sucks for the Sixers, who see Simmons as the playmaker at the core of their young roster — one they hoped to have fully on the court this season. Now that will at least be delayed a while.
If anyone in the NBA should have a thick skin when it comes to talk of player conflicts and trade rumors, it should be Kevin Love. Those stories have been like a cartoon cloud following his every step since he landed in Cleveland.
And he doesn’t give a… you know.
The Cavaliers just won a title with Love playing a key role, and yet the cloud still follows him. Love was asked about the stories of his fit with his team after practice Friday (video below, if you’re easily offended by language don’t hit play).
“I love this team. There will always be stories. I don’t think they’ll ever leave. Frankly, I don’t really give a s—.”
It’s amazing what winning can do. If the Cavaliers had not come back from 3-1 down in the Finals, the consensus around the league was that Cleveland would have made significant roster changes last summer and Love likely would have been the big name out the door. In some parallel universe that happened.
But not in this one — Love has a ring. And he’s still a Cavalier. And he doesn’t care what his critics think of that.