Dwyane Wade says health was not a factor in poor Game 4 performance

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SAN ANTONIO — Dwyane Wade disappeared in Miami’s Game 4 loss to the Spurs, and his poor performance that saw him finish just 3-of-13 from the field and lag significantly on the defensive end appeared to be more than just a random off night.

Wade lacked any type of speed or explosiveness, and after a successful season-long maintenance program aimed at keeping his historically ailing knee healthy enough for a run into late June, it appeared to be failing him at the worst possible time.

Everything is just fine from a health standpoint, however, if Wade is to be believed. Speaking to reporters at the Spurs practice facility on Saturday, he said Game 4 was an aberration, and nothing more than a bad game where he simply missed shots.

“I was 3 for 13,” Wade said. “That doesn’t happen to me often. I’m a very high‑percentage shooter. Whenever something is that way, there is always something that’s pointed out. There’s nothing wrong. I got quality shots, I missed them. For whatever reason. They played good defense on some, some I missed. But that’s the nature of the game.”

Wade was pressed further on the issue, and was asked if he felt he was laboring a bit near the end of Game 4 — something that seemed apparent on both ends of the floor.

“No, man,” he said.  “It’s like I said, when you shoot 3 for 13, they can point at anything. I’m fine. Way better than I’ve been in a long time. There is nothing I point out at all. Last year I was on one leg and did all right. I’m totally fine, man. I didn’t play well in Game 4. Has nothing to do with my health at all.”

When Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was asked about Wade’s health, he was a little less convincing.

“You’d have to ask him, but nobody’s going to make any excuses at this time,” Spoelstra said. “He wouldn’t want me to make one for him. I don’t think anybody that’s playing minutes at this time of year is feeling 100% and feeling spry and like they’re 16 years old.

“But that’s part of competition, how you manage everything, your body, your mind, manage frustration, manage elation, manage everything in between, and through all that trying to figure out how to get the job done. And so that’s been our focus. I know that’s Dwayne’s focus, as well.”

Overall the Heat appeared to be a relaxed and loose bunch, especially considering the fact that they’re facing elimination on Sunday, which would mean that a rare run at a title would be ultimately lost. Wade has faced similarly long odds before, and was part of a Miami team that came back from an 0-2 deficit to win it all back in 2006. He said that reflecting on the way that championship was won was certainly on his mind heading into Sunday’s critical Game 5 contest.

“I’ve thought about it,” Wade said. “We were down 2-0 and down 13 in Game 3 and won four in a row. You think about all of those things. You have to pull from your experiences and know where you came from to know where you’re trying to go.”

“We’re going to try to win a ballgame,” he said. “We’re going to try to keep this series alive.”

Reports: Cleveland, Boston in “serious” trade talks for Kyrie Irving

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Among the list of teams that have the pieces to offer Cleveland everything they are asking for in a Kyrie Irving trade, the Boston Celtics might be at the top of the list. They can send back a quality point guard in Isaiah Thomas, they have a number of rotation players who can help now, they have the Brooklyn pick next year or the Lakers’ pick (protected), and they have young stars such as Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum who could be thrown in a deal.

The question is, would the two top teams in the East want to do business with each other, potentially helping the other out? Can you see Dan Gilbert helping the Celtics? Danny Ainge helping the Cavaliers?

The two sides are at least talking seriously, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

I get why Boston would want Irving over Thomas — he’s younger, taller, and has a couple of years left on his current contract. Plus, if Boston is going all in for a ring Irving is a fit. I get why Cleveland would want Thomas back in an Irving trade, it puts a scoring point guard next to LeBron James and keeps them as the team to beat in the East next season.

The unprotected first-round Brooklyn pick would have to be part of the deal as well for the Cavs, although maybe the Lakers’ pick works, depending on who else is involved.

It’s the rest of the deal that becomes harder to puzzle out. The Cavaliers are going to ask for Jayson Tatum and Jae Crowder, and Boston is going to laugh. Mostly, Boston can’t give up Crowder, they need his wing defense against Cleveland and, theoretically, Golden State. Boston would prefer to send Thomas, Jaylen Brown, whichever pick, and some players such as maybe Marcus Morris. That may not be enough for Cleveland. Danny Ainge has a long history of getting serious in talks, asking for a lot, then deciding it wasn’t enough and pulling back.

That said, the pieces can be made to work. But do these teams want to deal with one another? Maybe so.

Mike D’Antoni thinks “synergy” between James Harden, Chris Paul will be beautiful thing

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It’s been one of the most interesting questions of the offseason — how will Chris Paul and James Harden share the ball and control of the Rockets?

In particular, how will they do it in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system that made Harden an MVP candidate and is not the calculated, surgical style that CP3 uses to carve defenses up?

Mike D’Antoni isn’t too worried about it. In an interview with our old friend Matt Moore of CBS Sports, the 2017 NBA Coach of the Year said the greats figure out how to work things out.

Team USA is an interesting example. Mike Krzyzewski wants to play fast (the USA is far more athletic than any team they face, they should take advantage of that) but he gives his players freedom within that outline to do what works. D’Antoni sounds like he wants to give Paul and Harden some space to figure out how to play together, what works for them. (The advantage is Team USA plays inferior opponents, often vastly inferior, and that will not be the same case for the Rockets in the NBA.)

Do the same rules apply if/when Carmelo Anthony gets traded to Houston? Probably.

D’Antoni is rightfully high on the Rockets’ offensive potential.

The real question is on the other end of the court. The Rockets were a middle of the pack defensive team last season (18th in points allowed per possession), but they have added quality defenders in Paul, P.J. Tucker, and Luc Mbah a Moute. Can the Rockets become a top-10 defensive team, one with players who can match up with Golden State? Because we know the Warriors are going to finish the season top three on both ends of the court.

It’s going to be a fascinating season in Houston.

Morris twins have day in court next week on 2015 assault charge

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Back in 2015, brothers Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris — both then playing for the Suns — were investigated and eventually charged with felony aggravated assault joining three other men to allegedly beat up Erik Hood at a recreational basketball tournament in the Phoenix area (hood ended up in the hospital with a broken nose and other injuries). The motivation allegedly had been Hood sending “inappropriate” text messages to the Morris brothers’ mother. From the start, both brothers have denied any involvement.

Next week, the brothers will get their day in court. The Boston Globe has the details (Marcus now plays for the Celtics, Markieff for the Wizards).

Celtics forward Marcus Morris and his brother Markieff, each facing aggravated assault charges stemming from an incident in 2015, will get their day in court on Aug. 28 in Arizona.

Often cases like this are pled down to a lesser charge that the defendant accepts, and that usually happens close to trial. However, it is unclear if the Morris twins would be willing to do that — any admission of guilt would likely come with some level of suspension from the NBA in addition to whatever punishment is ordered by the court. If convicted of a felony, each Morris brother would face a minimum 10-game suspension from the NBA.

If the Morris twins were not involved, they are right to fight this. Either way, it will head to court next week.

Watch Lonzo Ball dodge relentless stream of LeBron James questions (video)

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Shortly before the draft, Lonzo Ball was asked in a televised interview to pitch LeBron James on joining the Lakers – and did.

A couple months and a tampering investigation into the Lakers later, Ball learned his lesson.

Sports Illustrated:

Rohan Nadkarni’s questions were all in good fun, and he couldn’t trick Ball into tampering, anyway. The NBA has essentially decided it won’t punish players for tampering with each other.

Ask Ball an honest LeBron question, and he’ll give an honest answer.