If you thought the Spurs hot fourth quarter of Game 1 was just all about LeBron James being off the court, I hope you were watching Game 3.
San Antonio shot an NBA record 76 percent for an NBA Finals half — they started out 19-of-21 in the first quarter, “cooled off” to shoot 25-of-33 for the half, they were 7-of-10 from three and Boris Diaw, inserted into the starting lineup for Tiago Splitter, was +22 in the first half.
The result was a 71-50 San Antonio lead at the half. Which is even more impressive when you remember they are on the road.
The Spurs first quarter was insane as they hit 9-of-10 inside 8 feet, 4-of-4 from three, and missed their only shot from the midrange (remember the Heat forced the Spurs into 23 midrange shots in Game 2, but they were getting to the rim again in Game 3.
Kawhi Leonard, who had not stood out in the first two games, had 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the first half. Danny Green added 13 after starting 6-of-6 shooting.
The Spurs at one point had the lead up to 25.
The Heat defense was not sharp, although it wasn’t as bad as the Spurs made it look — Miami miss some rotations and were late on some closeouts, but even when they defended the pick-and-roll well (as they did for stretches) it didn’t matter. San Antonio just hit the shot.
The Heat shot 56 percent themselves and got 16 points out of LeBron James, but they also had 10 turnovers.
The Heat went on a run at one point getting the lead down to “just 14” but the Spurs had pushed it up by the half again.
After missing two entire seasons, all signs are pointing to 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid finally taking the court this season. Last week, Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Embiid has looked great in his workouts and is on track to play in the preseason, and Embiid himself echoed that sentiment over the weekend. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Marc Narducci that he feels “100 percent.”
There’s always a possibility and fear that Embiid’s recurring foot problems will come back, but for now, all indications are that he’s feeling good and will be able to contribute this season, which should make Sixers fans excited.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.