This is the confidence that comes with NBA championship rings and multiple Finals appearances.
For Toronto, landing the first No. 1 seed in franchise history and having every Eastern Conference playoff series they are in start at home is a huge boost. Out West, having home court in a possible Game 7 against the Warriors in the Conference Finals is something the Rockets want. Badly.
On the other hand, LeBron James and Draymond Green said Thursday the Cavaliers and Warriors, respectively, could not care less about seeding.
LeBron has been to the Finals seven straight years and reached that peak from a bunch of different seeds, and he’s won critical games in hostile arenas. Having to win a game in Toronto or Boston in May is not going to shake his confidence, as he said Thursday.
LeBron is a bad-ass, and he knows it. So does everyone else.
Golden State’s Green also essentially said “seedings, we’re talking about seedings?” when he was asked about the Rockets’ 17-game win streak and the Warriors trying to chase them down for the top seed.
“I guess you always want the No. 1 seed. It is what it is. You know we’re not gonna spend the rest of the year trying to fight for the No. 1 seed. If that happens it happens, our goal is to get better each and every day. If we’re getting better each and every day and we’re at the top of our game at the right time I don’t care where we playing. We’ll be just fine so our goal is just to get better.”
Steve Kerr and the Warriors care far, far more about being rested and healthy when the postseason starts than seedings.
Despite the upstart challengers in both conferences, the road to the NBA Finals goes through Oakland and Cleveland. Even if the road doesn’t start there in either conference. If you want the title holder’s belt, you’re going to have to knock him out.
The last time Kevin Love suited up for the Cavaliers, it was still January and Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, and Jae Crowder were still on the team.
That is about to change tonight — Love will return from a fractured hand and play for the Cavaliers, but on a minutes restriction to start, interim coach Larry Drew confirmed.
Cleveland needs Love back. The Cavaliers went 11-9 without him in this stretch (and 6-7 since the All-Star break) with an offense that has still been top 10 in the NBA but a defense that is holding them back. The Cavaliers’ defense is just not on the same page right now, and the more time the regular rotations guys get to play together, the better they should be before the playoffs start.
As Love rounds into form, the Cavaliers have to figure out their rotations. Does Love start Love next to Larry Nance Jr., or does Nance come off the bench again? Probably the latter, but the Cavaliers will toy with the rotations (and do that more when Tristan Thompson returns).
What happened to Steve Francis [after his playing days]? I was drinking heavily, is what happened. And that can be just as bad (as drug use). In the span of a few years I lost basketball, I lost my whole identity, and I lost my stepfather, who committed suicide.”
—Steve Francis, writing in the Players’ Tribune earlier this month, about his journey from selling crack to the NBA, and what happened after.
Addiction, once it’s got you, never goes away. The fight to stay sober/clean is a new one every day.
Steve Francis was cited for public intoxication in Burbank, Calif., after an incident at a hotel bar, according to TMZ (since confirmed by other reports).
Francis, 41, was arrested around 11:40 PM after police were called for a disturbance between two men at a hotel in Burbank.
Law enforcement sources tell us when cops arrived, Francis was intoxicated. He was arrested for being drunk in public.
Francis was transported to jail … before being given a citation and released around 7 AM Monday morning.
Francis denied in the Players’ Tribune article rumors he had a drug problem, but he owned up to drinking.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said the Pacers “could have done better” than trading Paul George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Gilbert would have company with egg on their face if more people shared their views on the deal when it happened.
Lakers coach Luke Walton – whose team plays Indiana tonight – joined the club with an admission.
Originally, I thought it was kind of a lopsided trade, but I’m man enough to admit that I was wrong. Indiana has, I think they’re probably the surprise team of the season so far. They’re playing unbelievable. They have that three seed. And both of those players they got in the trade, they’re playing some really, really good basketball. So, obviously, a good trade for both teams.
Me too, Luke. Me too.
George is basically who we thought he was. But Oladipo and Sabonis have taken major steps forward. Sabonis’ growth as a second-year player was more predictable. Oladipo’s breakthrough seemed far less likely – and has carried far larger ramifications.
Oladipo was fine in Oklahoma City and Orlando, but he got into the best shape of his life and developed his outside shooting, particularly off the dribble. He has become a true star, putting up big offensive numbers while remaining a plus defender.
All the credit goes to Oladipo for making it happen and Pacers president Kevin Pritchard for ensuring Indiana reaped the rewards. I bet even Pritchard is surprised by Oladipo’s level of play, but Pritchard bet on Oladipo. Pritchard gets credit for the outcome.
People like Walton and myself eat crow.
Ray Allen wrote a book that spills a lot of dirt on Rajon Rondo – how Rondo told Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Allen and other Celtics he carried them to the 2008 title, how Rondo clashed with Doc Rivers.
Rondo, via Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe:
“He just wants attention,” Rondo said. “I need actually some sales from [the book], only [publicity] it’s been getting is from my name. I need some percentage or something.”
“Obviously, that man is hurting,” Rondo said of Allen. “I don’t know if it’s financially, I don’t know if it’s mentally. He wants to stay relevant. I am who I am. I don’t try to be something I’m not. I can’t say the same for him. He’s looking for attention. I’m a better human being than that. I take accountability for my actions. Certain [stuff] happens in my life, I man up. But he has a whole other agenda.”
“He’s been retired for whatever years, and now he comes out with a book,” Rondo said of Allen. “People do that in that situation they need money. He should have hit me up and asked me for a loan or something. It’s no hard feelings.”
Obviously, Allen wants attention. He’s promoting a book.
But that doesn’t make the stories in the book inaccurate.
Allen and Rondo, now with the Pelicans, have feuded for a while. Neither is completely reliable about the other. Both are too colored by their dislike for each other.
I doubt Rondo knows about Allen’s financial situation. Rondo is just trying to dig at Allen, like Allen dug at Rondo in the book. Famous people write books for many reasons. Financial gain isn’t necessarily Allen’s primary motivation. Allen has a lot of time in retirement.
I’d rather hear Rondo address the book’s claims. He’s extremely forthright, even admitting he’s difficult to coach. He might corroborate the stories involving himself and Rivers. Telling Garnett, Pierce and Allen he led them to the championship? I’d like to know Rondo’s side of that story.