SAN ANTONIO — The Spurs got the best of both worlds — an up-tempo game and 15 points out of Tim Duncan rolling to the rim — and that got them a 54-49 lead over the Heat at the half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
It was a tightly contested half, but the Spurs at home are just executing at a level the Heat have not had to face coming out of the Eastern Conference. Their passing was crisp and it led to 50% shooting overall for the Spurs — plus they were 7-of-14 from three. Manu Ginobili has 11 for the Spurs, Tony Parker 10.
Miami has 13 points from LeBron James on 5-of-9 shooting, a dozen points from Dwyane Wade, 10 each for Chris Bosh and Ray Allen.
It’s a myth that the Spurs want to play slow and the Heat fast, over the course of the season it was the opposite (Spurs one of 10 fastest, Heat one of five slowest) and in what had to be a good sign the first half was played at the Spurs pace.
Miami went small from the opening tip, staring Rashard Lewis at the four and Bosh at center. Gregg Popovich stayed, big, with Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan as the front line, although Boris Diaw came off the bench for 17 minutes and we are going to see a lot of him (maybe starting the second half).
Miami raced out to 7-2 lead thanks to Bosh hitting his first two shots, but Spurs settled down and came back quickly, leading to a tight first quarter.
What kept the Spurs ahead was Ginobili, who went 3-3 from beyond the arc early, which electrified the AT&T Center. Heat’s defense not as consistent this playoffs but this level of Spurs ball movement and shooting would expose anyone.
If the Heat are going to win Game 1 in a very warm AT&T Center (conditioning will be an issue for players, it’s hot in here and not in a Nelly way) they are going to need LeBron James to be the best player on the planet. Because at home the Spurs will be the Spurs and that has been a force at home.
The Bulls’ point-guard position is a quagmire.
Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne are both injured (and not necessarily good). Jerian Grant is maybe an adequate backup pressed into starting. Ryan Arcidiacono is on a two-way contract.
Enter Kay Felder.
The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived forward Jarell Eddie and center Diamond Stone, and claimed guard Kay Felder off waivers.
Felder was waived by the Hawks, who acquired him in a salary-dump trade from the Cavaliers. Cleveland drafted Felder No. 54 last year, but ran out of roster spots this year.
Felder is only a moderate prospect. He impressed in the D-League, but at 5-foot-9, he has significant limitations. (His size also makes him incredibly fun to watch when he gets rolling.)
For Chicago, he’s a quite-noteworthy addition.
Dwyane Wade revealed last year that LeBron James refuses to use his phone internationally unless he’s on Wi-Fi.
LeBron’s friend and new Cavaliers teammate again brought up that claim, and LeBron confirmed – then went even further about his own cheapness.
LeBron in a joint interview with Wade on ESPN:
No. I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.
LeBron – he’s just like us!
As funny as that line is, keep watching to see LeBron hilariously explain how his hairline affects his interviews.
Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.
In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).
Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.
Jazz point guard Dante Exum hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – an injury that immediately looked like it could be season-ending.
Though Utah doesn’t outright say Exum is done for the year, this doesn’t engender much hope.
The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.
After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.
Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).
The Jazz will start Ricky Rubio, and Raul Neto will be the primary point guard behind him. Wings Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles can all share facilitating duties.
Utah will probably be just fine without Exum this season, which speaks to his marginal place long-term.