LeBron James, for better or worse, drives Cavaliers in Game 1 loss

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LeBron James drove 1-on-3, and Ian Clark picked his pocket from behind. The Warriors pushed the ball the other way, getting Kevin Durant an open 3-pointer.

LeBron never even crossed mid-court.

Cleveland called timeout, and LeBron finally crossed half-court to take a seat for the rest of the night. He finished with a monster stat line – 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists – but a troubling Game 1 loss.

The Cavs’ offense? Sloppy. Their defense? Lazy and uncoordinated.

And LeBron contributed majorly to those problems.

He committed eight turnovers and allowed his primary assignment, Durant, to go off for 38 points. LeBron’s help rotations were even less impressive.

LeBron has now posted 28-15-8 in the Finals more than anyone else combined over the last 25 years (thrice to once each by Draymond Green and Shaquille O’Neal). But this wasn’t the LeBron who put the Cavaliers on his back in last year’s Finals. He wasn’t nearly sharp enough, setting the tone for a Cleveland team that committed 20 turnovers and eventually broke down on numerous defensive possessions.

Asked what stood out about the Warriors performance, LeBron gave a two-letter answer before elaborating.

“K.D.,” LeBron said.

“You take one of the best teams that we had ever assembled last year, that we saw in the regular season and in the post-season, and then in the off-season you add a high-powered offensive talent like that and a great basketball I.Q. like that, that’s what stands out.”

If that were an admission of his own team’s inferiority, LeBron snapped out of it quickly.

“I mean, it’s no if, ands, or buts. It is what it is. We got to figure out how to combat that, which is going to be a tough challenge for us,” LeBron said. “But that’s what stands out.”

If it means his own individual performance fades into the background, LeBron might gladly give Durant center stage.

LeBron’s dominant start – 13 points, four shooting fouls drawn, on aggressive drives, five rebounds and three assists in the first quarter – turned into an uneven showing. The Warriors pestered LeBron with the ball, took away his passing lanes and exposed his defense. LeBron’s big traditional numbers will mask some of his shortcomings, but there were reasons LeBron was -22, his worst plus-minus game in this Finals trilogy.

LeBron wasn’t bad tonight. It’s hard to be bad with a 28-15-8.

But the Cavs need him to be so much crisper to have a chance against Golden State.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.

Report: Other small-market teams championing Pacers’ tampering allegation against Lakers

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The NBA, at the Pacers’ request, is investigating whether the Lakers tampered by making impressible contact with Paul George.

Bob Kravitz of WTHR

In fact, there’s word that other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, “Good for you. Fight the good fight.”

Small-market teams whine too much about the disadvantages they face, but tampering isn’t really a market-size issue. Remember, under Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers were known as the only team that didn’t tamper.

The Lakers have advantages because George is from the area, and Los Angeles offers immense marketability. That’d be true whether or not they contacted George or his agent before he officially became a free agent.

I understand the desire to take down the big, bad Lakers – especially now that they appear poised to become truly big and bad again. But it’s hard to find a team that can cast a stone at them from anywhere other than a glass house.

Report: Clippers hiring ex-Cavaliers executive Trent Redden

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The power dynamics within the Clippers are shifting, and the ground apparently hasn’t settled yet.

Doc Rivers has been stripped of his presidency. Jerry West became a consultant. Lawrence Frank now holds the most prestigious title in the front office, and newly hired Michael Winger will report to him. Also falling under Frank in the organizational chart? Trent Redden.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

Longtime Cleveland Cavaliers executive Trent Redden will join the LA Clippers’ front-office staff as assistant general manager, league sources said on Monday.

Redden was ousted in Cleveland with David Griffin. He’ll help the Clippers simply by providing another capable executive. They’ve long needed to add front-office employees (and pay for them).

But Redden also exacerbates the issue of Frank’s underlings having far more front-office experience than him. As the Clippers try to establish their new setup, we’ll see whether that creates complications.

Warriors’ Steve Kerr: I expect to coach all season and for many years ahead

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
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Warriors coach Steve Kerr has missed significant time the last two seasons due to complications from back surgery.

Could those issues derail his career?

Kerr, via Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I fully expect to coach all year,” Kerr says in a no-nonsense tone. “That’s my expectation. And for many years to come.”

On the most basic level, it’d be good if Kerr feels well enough to coach. The headaches sound miserable, regardless of his job.

But it’d also be ideal if the NBA didn’t lose one of its best coaches just as he’s getting started. The 51-year-old Kerr might wind up the greatest coach of all time. Obviously that’s a long way off, but he has that potential – health permitting.