The Miami Heat have represented the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals for each of the last four seasons, but that obviously is likely to change now that LeBron James has left to return home to Cleveland in order to once again play for the Cavaliers.
Miami managed to bring back a more than reasonable roster under the circumstances, signing Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts in free agency, in addition to re-signing Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on multi-year deals to return to the Heat.
But at least in Bosh’s case, a return was anything but a foregone conclusion.
Chris Bosh said Thursday that he was “close” to leaving the Miami Heat before ultimately deciding to sign a five-year, $118 million contract to stay with the team.
“It was close. I’m not going to lie,” Bosh said on “The Zaslow and Joy Show” on FM 104.3 The Ticket in Miami. “It was close. It was a weird situation because we were waiting so long and I didn’t know what was going on.
“I think you’re always in a situation where it is close even if you don’t leave because teams got very aggressive on me. And I guess as soon as LeBron made up his mind, that’s when everything could fall in line. But I was just waiting, so I didn’t know what was going on.”
Bosh had a max contract offer from the Rockets on the table, one that was so legit that Houston cleared cap space by getting rid of Jeremy Lin in order to sign him, with no guarantees that Bosh would commit to coming to Houston.
But Bosh had maintained that he wanted to remain in Miami with or without LeBron, and once the Heat lost the game’s best player and came at Bosh with a max contract offer to stay in town, that made his decision one that was easier than expected.
LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry
“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”
“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”
LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.
Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)
But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.
First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:
Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.
That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.
The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.
Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to the league:
Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.
But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.
Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.
Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)
Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.
The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.
It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.