USA Basketball announces 12 man roster for World Cup; Parsons, Hayward, Lillard, Korver cut

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The roster is set and Mike Krzyzewski decided to go with three big men.

In the late hours after Team USA dismantled Puerto Rico at Madison Square Garden, USA Basketball announced the 12 man roster headed to Spain for the World Cup. That team is:

Guards: Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Klay Thompson.

Forwards/centers: DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay, Mason Plumlee.

That means the last set of roster cuts were Gordon Hayward, Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver and Damian Lillard. (Bradley Beal and John Wall had been cut previously.)

Coach K went with all four centers men making the team — Davis Cousins, Plumlee and Drummond — a sign that the team is still looking ahead to a potential match-up with Spain in the gold medal game. While Davis will start at center and get the most run the four big men is a sign the team is looking ahead to a potential gold medal game against the host Spaniards, where Team USA will need the size (Spain rolls out Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka).

Team USA will still be a guard-driven team — they will pressure and run and count on nobody being able to slow them much.

Leaving Korver and Lillard home hurts the outside, shooting, but with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, James Harden and the rest the USA will have no problem scoring from beyond the arc (which is closer in international ball than the NBA).

Team USA is still a gold medal favorite. They are in a soft group and after that the easy side of the single elimination bracket if they win the group. The likely toughest team they face is Lithuania (ranked fourth in the world) — Spain, France, Argentina, Greece are all on the other side of the bracket. But beating Spain in Spain will be a real test.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.

LeBron James beautifully pass-fakes, makes layup in transition (video)

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LeBron James is a treasure.

Shaquille O’Neal’s big toe is seriously jacked up (PHOTO)

shaq o'neal
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Remember how we we all freaked out when we saw pictures of LeBron James‘ feet back in 2013?

You probably didn’t want to be reminded that it existed, but it does. Still. And apparently jacked up feet is the consequence of a lifetime of playing professional basketball. Once can only assume it has something to do with tight shoes and constant, hard changes of direction in said tight shoes.

We got yet another vision of what basketball shoes can do to feet on Thursday when TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal showed off his, er, little piggies.

Much to the horror of the Internet in general, it was Shaq’s right big toe that took social media by storm. Mostly because it’s not even close to pointing in the right direction.

I’m going to show you what it looks like. Be forewarned, it might just be NSFL.

Via Twitter:

Oh. Oh … why?

Social media reacted appropriately and proportionately:

Shaq did have issues with that toe during the course of his career, and at one point it was so bad that he had to have surgery to remove bone spurs from the toe in 2002.

That still doesn’t explain why it’s all over your TV and the Internet, but here we are. I am sorry.