The NBA Finals are not over.


Game 1 winners won 75 percent of NBA Finals.

Until LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat.

Since, Finals Game 1 winners are 0-for-3 in claiming the championship.

We’re always prone to read too much into a single victory at this stage of the season – especially when there are no other games to balance our perception of a series.

That’s less true this year, because LeBron missed most of the fourth quarter last night due to cramps. If he returns healthy in Game 2, that changes everything.

Yet, there are a lot of people who watched the San Antonio’s Game 1 win and have gotten caught up by it. They saw the Spurs win by 15, absolutely dismantling Miami. They saw how the Heat couldn’t even outscore San Antonio with LeBron on the court and were already losing when he left. They saw the Spurs commit an uncharacteristic 22 turnovers and win anyway.

Watch all that, and it’s easy to get carried away.

It’s also a mistake.

Beyond the LeBron factor, recent history tells us the Finals are far from over.



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What explains this trend?

Erik Spoelstra is one of the most-willing adjusters of anyone who’s ever coached an elite team. Even after wins, he’s not afraid to change lineups and strategies. Heck in all Miami series since the big three joined forces, Game 1 winners are just 9-6. (All-time, meaning adding 2006, Game 1 winners are 0-4 in Finals involving Miami.) The Heat have personality to overcome this.

While Miami’s fluid approach might play a factor, the the better explanation is it’s just coincidence. Game 1 winners sometimes lose the series, and in the long run, it’s bound to happen a few times in a row just as a rolled die can land on the same number a few times in a row.

But the lesson holds true – there’s still plenty of basketball to be played. San Antonio didn’t clinch the series last night. A team can’t guarantee itself a Finals victory after only Game 1.

Unless the Heat already did.

Report: Clippers hiring ex-Cavaliers executive Trent Redden

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The power dynamics within the Clippers are shifting, and the ground apparently hasn’t settled yet.

Doc Rivers has been stripped of his presidency. Jerry West became a consultant. Lawrence Frank now holds the most prestigious title in the front office, and newly hired Michael Winger will report to him. Also falling under Frank in the organizational chart? Trent Redden.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

Longtime Cleveland Cavaliers executive Trent Redden will join the LA Clippers’ front-office staff as assistant general manager, league sources said on Monday.

Redden was ousted in Cleveland with David Griffin. He’ll help the Clippers simply by providing another capable executive. They’ve long needed to add front-office employees (and pay for them).

But Redden also exacerbates the issue of Frank’s underlings having far more front-office experience than him. As the Clippers try to establish their new setup, we’ll see whether that creates complications.

Warriors’ Steve Kerr: I expect to coach all season and for many years ahead

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr has missed significant time the last two seasons due to complications from back surgery.

Could those issues derail his career?

Kerr, via Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I fully expect to coach all year,” Kerr says in a no-nonsense tone. “That’s my expectation. And for many years to come.”

On the most basic level, it’d be good if Kerr feels well enough to coach. The headaches sound miserable, regardless of his job.

But it’d also be ideal if the NBA didn’t lose one of its best coaches just as he’s getting started. The 51-year-old Kerr might wind up the greatest coach of all time. Obviously that’s a long way off, but he has that potential – health permitting.

Quinn Cook signing two-year contract with Hawks

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The Hawks began last season with just two point guards, one fewer than most teams – especially notable because neither starter Dennis Schroder nor backup Malcolm Delaney was experienced for his role.

Schroder and Delaney return, but Atlanta is adding another option – Quinn Cook.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Cook is a borderline NBA player. He might not make the regular-season roster. He also might supplant Delaney for a rotation spot.

A 24-year-old who has spent most of the last two years in the D-League (also getting stints with the Mavericks and Pelicans), Cook is a good outside shooter. He’s also steady, if unspectacular, in his lead-guard duties.

This is a solid flier at a position the Hawks could use depth.

Knicks sign Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jamel Artis

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The Knicks signing Nigel Hayes leaked first.

But New York didn’t stop there.

Knicks release:

The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Like Hayes, Artis (Pittsburgh) and Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) went undrafted this year – making them eligible to be waived and assigned to the Knicks’ minor-league affiliate. That’s likely all three’s fate.

But first, each will have an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one roster spot for someone on a standard contract. Chasson Randle (unguaranteed) is the incumbent choice, but these three could supplant him.