We’ve already covered the fact that the Heat and the Pacer don’t like each other, based on playoff series the past two seasons along with a whole host of intense regular season battles.
It’s a little bit more personal between Dwyane Wade and Lance Stephenson, with the two having gone at it verbally more than once, and with Stephenson being ejected for taunting Wade back on March 26.
Wade had continual knee issues during Miami’s run to the title last season, so much so that the team was extra cautious with him this year, to the point where he appeared in just 54 games during the regular season, while being held out to rest for the majority of the others.
Stephenson mentioned Wade’s history of injury when speaking to reporters on Saturday.
From Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post:
Looking ahead to his matchup with Wade, beginning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday (3:30 p.m., ABC), Stephenson revealed that making Wade’s problematic right knee “flare up” is part of his strategy.
“D. Wade — I think his knee is messed up, so I’ve got to be extra aggressive and make him run and have him running around and make his knee flare up or something,” he said after the Pacers practiced this afternoon. “I’ll do anything as much as possible.”
You’d like to hope Stephenson was joking here, maybe by complementing his opponent and implying that unless Wade were slowed by injury once again, he’d be tough to stop.
But given the rivalry that exists between these two teams, and with a trip to the Finals at stake, it’s unclear if that was the case.
The Bulls suffered a rough loss in Boston last night.
It didn’t get better afterward.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge – who played for Boston in the 80s – pleaded ignorance to any nefarious plumbing:
I think the idea that teams plot to shut off the visitor’s hot water is often overstated. Arenas have complex infrastructure, and things can go wrong on their own. Sometimes, the home team loses hot water, but that never gets remembered.
But reasonable excuses don’t make a cold shower in the moment any more tolerable.
Robin Lopez had reason to be upset from the Bulls’ Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.
This miss was all on him.
Dwyane Wade (26 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) was the Bulls’ best player in their Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.
But the 35-year-old guard clearly didn’t go all out on every possession.
Players can justify not closing out by claiming they were prioritizing rebounding position. Wade clearly has no such excuse.
The Los Angeles Clippers dropped Game 5 to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night, and find themselves down 3-2 as they head back to Salt Lake City for Game 6. The Clippers have had to deal with Utah’s formidable defense, so much so that they’ve built in counters to Jazz defenders overplaying shooters like JJ Redick.
One example of this countering method could be found in Game 3, when the Clippers ran a split cut for Redick. Instead of fighting endlessly around screens for a 3-point shot as you might expect, LA took the easy route and simply cut Redick to the basket for an easy layup as a means to take advantage of an overeager defender.
We’ve talked about the Split Cut here on NBA Playbook before. The Los Angeles Lakers used it earlier in the season to beat the Golden State Warriors, the team that uses the split cut perhaps the most out of any team in the NBA.
Other teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, have adapted the Warriors’ use of the split cut as a counter for their own offense this season, which is a testament to just how useful it is.
If you need a reminder, a split cut all about a screener coming up to screen, then cutting toward the basket before his screen action fully takes place. It’s about timing, and catching defenders off guard when they go to set up their recover positions for screens.
For a full breakdown on the split cut and how the Clippers used it, watch the video above.