In most cases, players avoid talking directly about their opponent when about to compete at the game’s highest level for its greatest prize.
But given the situation facing Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs, who are headed for a rematch of last year’s epic Finals against the Heat that took all seven games to be decided, you can understand his exuberance.
“We’re happy to be back here this year, we’re happy to have another opportunity at it,” Duncan said after the Spurs eliminated the Thunder on Saturday. “We’re happy that it’s the Heat again. We’ll be ready for them. We’ve got some experience, obviously, from last year against them, and we’ll go back and look at some film. And we’ve got that bad taste in our mouths still. Hopefully, we’ll be ready to take it this time.”
The Spurs, of course, feel like they should have won it last year.
San Antonio led by five with 28 seconds remaining in Game 6, and it seemed like the championship was about to be theirs — Heat fans were headed for the exits, and the infamous yellow rope had been brought out to prepare for the trophy presentation.
But we all remember what happened next. Miami staged a furious comeback, Ray Allen hit one of the greatest shots in NBA history, and the Heat went on to win that game in overtime, and the series in Game 7.
The Finals loss was as painful as they come for the Spurs, and they’ve overcome that disappointment admirably by methodically marching back to this point to have a rare shot at redemption — one that Duncan had no problem being excited about as soon as the reality of a rematch with the Heat began to set in.
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.
Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.
Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?
Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?
“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.
“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”
I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.
But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.
The 76ers lost a heartbreaker to the Celtics last night, dropping Philadelphia to 0-16.
Jahlil Okafor was apparently in a foul mood after the game.
We’re told everyone got up and fled the scene and no arrests were made.
We’re told the altercation began because one of the men in the other group yelled at Jahlil, “The 76ers suck.”
We spoke with a rep for Jahlil who tells us … Okafor says he was being heckled from the moment he left the club and felt threatened because people swarmed him on the street.
This video obviously doesn’t show everything, but it certainly makes Okafor look like the aggressor.
Okafor will probably face punishment from some combination of the legal system, NBA and 76ers.