LeBron James: ‘We don’t play slow-down basketball’


Of the 15 Warriors-Cavaliers NBA Finals games the last three years, Games 1 and 2 this year have been the fastest-paced. Golden State has run Cleveland off the floor in both contests.

Should the Cavs try to reduce the tempo?

LeBron James:

That’s not our game. We don’t play slow-down basketball.

We play at our pace, and we play our game. We’ve got to this point playing our way. We’ve won a lot of games playing the way we play. So, we’re not going to change.

There is a logic to slowing the pace. LeBron and Kyrie Irving are exceptional isolation scorers against set defenses, and Kevin Love can isolate in certain matchups. Even if that scheme isn’t as efficient as running and hunting 3-pointers, it might be worth the defensive tradeoff. The Cavs have been awful at getting back and picking up men in transition. A slower tempo could also alleviate the Cavaliers’ depth issues.

But Cleveland is 0-5 with the estimated pace below 90 in the Finals against the Warriors and 6-2 with it between 90 and 99, per Basketball-Reference. The estimated pace was 99.5 in Game 1 and 106.4 in Game 2 this year.

Playing slow is playing scared. It’s what the Cavaliers did in 2015 with David Blatt, and they performed better than expected, pushing Golden State to six games. Tyronn Lue had the Cavs play unencumbered last year, and they won the title.

Ultimately, I’m not sure there’s a right answer. No matter how fast Cleveland plays, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are still on the other side.

I think playing slower would make the Cavaliers less likely to embarrassed, but continuing to play fast would give them best chance to win the series. Speed increases variance, and Cleveland should increase variance.

That said, the Cavs could stand to slow down in certain situations rather than force transition. Especially in Game 1, they got just a little too out of control and turned the ball over, leading to easy Warriors points. Again, LeBron and Irving isolations or pick-and-rolls are good fallback options.

The trick is doing that while maintaining an attack mentality. Given LeBron’s comments, it sounds like a balance this team isn’t trying to recalibrate.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

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.