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Three Things We Learned Thursday: Is it time to worry about Cavaliers?

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If you spent Thursday worried that Sharknado is real, we understand. Here is what you missed around the NBA as you prepped for that looming disaster.

1) Is it time to worry about Cavaliers?
First, let’s give credit where credit is due: There is no stopping the TNT Bulls — Thursday night made 20 straight home wins for Chicago when the game is broadcast on TNT. Nikola Mirotic is lighting it up of late, and he dropped 28. The Bulls needed the win, they remain a game back of the Pacers and Heat for the final playoff slots in the East, however, the Bulls have a much easier schedule the rest of the way. They should get in, and this win helps.

That said, the Bulls are not the big story out of that game. Rather, it’s the stumbling Cavaliers — they have lost three straight, and will finish March 6-10 with the worst defense in the NBA during that month. They have fallen behind Boston as the top seed in the East and simply look nothing like a contender. After this loss, LeBron James said “we’re just in a bad spot right now.”

Is it time to worry if you’re a Cleveland fan?

There are plenty of reasons to shoot that idea down: The Cavs remain the most talented roster in the East, and getting to the playoffs healthy is what matters most because if they do they are still the favorites. This is the same core roster that won the NBA title last year, they are just a little bored, but they can flip the switch (see LeBron’s first half against the Bulls for example). Also, getting the No. 1 seed is not that big a deal — LeBron has been to six straight NBA Finals, but four of those years his team did it out of the two seed.

Still, there is real reason for concern. The Cavaliers defense has been flat-out a disaster since the All-Star break. It feels like that switch might be harder to flip in the postseason. Part of it is effort, but if the team is not building good habits now what will they fall back on in the playoffs. Some nights the offense can still cover up the bad defense, but Thursday night Kevin Love fouled out with eight points on 10 shots, and Kyrie Irving going cold if he got chased off the arc (2-of-13 on twos). Those guys can’t be off and have this team win when they defend like matadors waiving their cape at the bull going by.

It still comes back to this for me: Which team in the East can beat a healthy Cavaliers team four times in seven games? I still don’t see one. But if they are still defending poorly by the start of the second round, that may change.

2) LeBron James passed Shaq for seventh on the All-Time NBA scoring list. Shaquille O’Neal just got a statue put up outside Staples Center in Los Angeles, he’s been riding high, maybe he needed to get knocked down a peg.

While LeBron was trying to will his team to play better against the Bulls, he passed former teammate Shaq and moved into seventh on the all-time NBA scoring list.

Next up on that list for LeBron is Dirk Nowitzki, although he remains a moving target.

3) Houston Rockets set record for most made three pointers in a season. When you think about how they’ve played this year, it seemed inevitable. With this vintage James Harden jab step then step-back three, the Houston Rockets hit their 1,078 three-pointers on the season, passing the record set last year by the Warriors.

It’s an impressive feat, but considering the direction of the NBA it likely lasts about as long as the Warriors’ record did. Here’s a look back at the best threes from the Rockets this season.

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.