2014 NBA Finals - Practice Day And Media Availability

Kawhi Leonard on being mentioned as a possible Finals MVP: ‘It doesn’t mean nothing to me’


SAN ANTONIO — Kawhi Leonard has had two incredible performances in consecutive contests to help put his Spurs up three games to one on the defending champion Heat, and within one game of winning an NBA title.

Leonard may be the first name mentioned in the Finals MVP conversation, along with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and even Boris Diaw, because that’s just how balanced this San Antonio team is.

But given his reserved nature, he couldn’t even pretend to care about an individual achievement that is far from certain, and with so much at stake.

“It doesn’t mean nothing to me,” Leonard said at Saturday’s media availability at the Spurs practice facility. “Just try to go out and win the next game, and that’s all I’m doing.”

Leonard comes across as incredibly calm, focused and professional considering the way he’s proven capable of playing on the game’s biggest stage at such a young age. He speaks mostly in a monotone and at a predictable pace, but his emotionless responses to reporters’ questions aren’t given out of some kind of disdain for the process.

Instead, he just seems completely dialed in at accomplishing the task at hand.

On what the anticipation is like heading into Game 5, when the championship is within reach:

“It feels the same for me as any game going into it,” Leonard said. “All I’m thinking about is playing. I’m not worried about if we win or lose, and we just want to go out and play.”

On whether or not he allows himself to feel a sense of happiness or satisfactions privately after turning in performances like he has over the past two games:

“No,” he said. “I mean, because those are not my expectations. I’m trying to win a championship, and until we win, that’s when I’ll be satisfied.”

You get the idea.

The Spurs have a gem in Leonard, an amazing player with a seemingly limitless ceiling who fits perfectly into San Antonio’s team-first culture. And San Antonio’s long-tenured leader in Tim Duncan wouldn’t change a thing about him.

“That’s his nature,” Duncan said. “That’s how he is. You let your play, you let your game, you let your winning do your talking.

“I’ve never said anything to Kawhi about how he carries himself.  That’s how he chooses to carry himself.  He doesn’t talk to us, so I’m guessing he’s not going to go out there and talk to anybody else.”

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell

After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.

LeBron James: I’m healthier than a year ago


LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.

It’s working.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.

“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”

LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.

But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.

The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.

It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.