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Cavaliers not happy LeBron James not among top three MVP finalists

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The three finalists for the NBA MVP award race are James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Kawhi Leonard. Those three received the most votes, we just don’t know the order yet. The winner is going to be announced June 26 at an awards ceremony in New York.

Notice who is not on that list? LeBron James.

The man who has dominated the postseason, and who averaged 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game through the regular season likely finished fourth. As you might imagine, LeBron’s teammates thought he was robbed. Here’s what they said, via James Herbert of CBSSports.com.

“I think it started with Shaq,” Cleveland forward Richard Jefferson said. “It started with Shaq where every year he was the most dominant guy. Every year, you had to game plan. Every year there were teams going and signing guys to million-dollar contracts to compete against them, and he was just dominant, winning three championships, and he only had, what, one MVP? It started then. And like they say, nobody roots for Goliath.”

“It’s almost like when Jordan was playing, he could have won it every year but they wanted to give it to somebody else,” J.R. Smith said. “But it’s fine. I mean, it’s just another chip on his shoulder, which helps us.”

“He’s driven by a totally different monster,” Smith said. “He’s not playing for Russ or James. Like he said earlier, he’s chasing a ghost. Right now, that’s the only thing that can literally compare to him. I think he’s just in a totally different space, and when he’s playing like he’s playing, not hesitating on his jumpers, transition 3s, pull-up 3s, pull-up jumpers not even with his feet set, he’s just got an extreme, extreme confidence. It’s almost like a supreme being type of level.”

LeBron himself largely shrugged at the vote. A ring and a Finals MVP would mean more to him then a fifth regular season award.

LeBron had a fantastic season and, when focused, is the best player in the game right now. He unquestionably had a phenomenal season, the thing is so did the other three.

However, LeBron led a team that went 12-15 after the All-Star break, seemed to take the month of March off on defense, and in the process lost the No. 1 seed. While Westbrook/Harden/Leonard were pushing themselves and their teams to close out the season, LeBron and the Cavs were cruising. In a tight race (even for an individual award) that made the difference. LeBron will finish fourth (fifth is wide open).

Bottom line, there were four candidates who had the numbers to win the award this year, you can make a case for any of them, but the way the Cavs — with LeBron as their unquestioned leader — finished the season hurt his chances. Both he and the Cavs flipped the switch in the postseason, but this remains a regular season award.

NBA fines Kyrie Irving for profanity directed toward fan in Philly (VIDEO)

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We were waiting for this moment this weekend and now it’s here. Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving has been fined $25,000 by the NBA for cursing at a fan in Philadelphia after the Celtics beat the 76ers.

This comes in the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins getting fined the same amount for getting into a similar altercation with a fan.

The NBA released the news Sunday in a statement issued through their PR department.

Via Twitter:

If you haven’t seen video of the incident, you can watch it below. Fair warning, there is obviously some very NSFW language in the media the ahead.

For what it’s worth, Irving said that he did not regret saying anything to the fan.

Via ESPN:

“At the end of the day, we’re human. It’s in heat of the moment and frustrations arise, we were at halftime, we were down by 4, in an environment, a season-opener in Philly. Being with a young team like we have here and staying composed, handling that before we go in the locker room and addressing what we have to do in the locker room and going out and handling business and getting the W, that’s really the only thing that matters to me.

“It’s up to the league at this point. But, like I said, I’m going to take full responsibility for what I said. I don’t have any regrets for it.”

Boston’s next game is on Tuesday at home against New York.

Bobby Portis apologizes for punching Nikola Mirotic in the face (VIDEO)

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As if this season wasn’t going to be hard enough for the Chicago Bulls, it started off on the wrong foot when Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic got into a fight during practice. That fight resulted in a facial fracture for Mirotic, putting one of Chicago’s best players out for multiple weeks.

Portis addressed the issue this week by apologizing to fans, the team, and Mirotic. However, Portis said that he has not heard from Mirotic since the fight, and that he did not respond when he tried to call his teammate.

Video of Portis’ apology is interesting if only because it’s a bit hard to discern the level of sincerity.

Via Twitter:

Chicago is 0-2 on the season. Portis is in the middle of serving an 8 game suspension for the incident.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scores career-high 44, dedicates game to father

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — After scoring a career-high 44 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo wrote a note on the game ball.

“This is for daddy. We got a win tonight,” the 22-year-old Milwaukee Bucks player said, remembering his father, Charles, who died last month at age 54.

Antetokounmpo scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a dunk that put Milwaukee ahead 111-110 with 11 seconds to go.

After a timeout, Damian Lillard found Jusuf Nurkic running open down the lane, but Antetokounmpo blocked his shot at the basket, sending the 7-foot center crashing to the floor.

Antetokounmpo, starting his fifth NBA season, made 17 of 23 shots with eight rebounds and four assists as Milwaukee kept pace with a Portland team that had dominated its first two opponents. The Bucks star is averaging 38.3 points through three games, up from 22.9 last year, 16.9 in 2015-16 and 12.7 in 2014-15.

“Seventy-nine more. This is just the beginning,” he said, thinking about how many regular-season games remain.

After Nurkic was rejected at the basket, Khris Middleton was fouled and made both free throws.

“They committed two guys to Dame, so somebody was going to be open,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said, referring to Lillard. “Turned out to be Nurk but they made a really good defensive play.”

Lillard scored 26 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter. CJ McCollum also scored 26, and Nurkic had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Tony Snell scored 17 points and Middleton added 16 for Milwaukee.

 

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant ejected at end of loss to Grizzlies

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Stephen Curry is going to get fined for this.

The former MVP was frustrated, his team losing and thinking he was fouled by Mike Conley as he attacked the rim late in the Warriors loss in Memphis Saturday night. Curry threw his mouthpiece at the referee, which deservedly got him ejected instantly.

Durant followed him to the locker room, making a gesture that will earn him a fine as well.

The Warriors are 1-2 to start the season and there are a lot of factors at play. The China trip does this to teams, and throw in three straight trips to the Finals on top of it and it has an impact. The team is a little banged up. However, the biggest issue is their defense is a mess right now.

The Warriors will straighten it out eventually, but the start of the season could be a rough one for them.