Author: Brett Pollakoff

Detroit Pistons v Cleveland Cavaliers

J.R. Smith: ‘We all know who the real MVP is’


The MVP award has come down to a two-man race as the regular season draws to a close, and it’s essentially an impossible choice.

There are extremely solid arguments to be made for handing it to James Harden or Stephen Curry, and no reasonable person could be upset with either of them winning it based on the incredible performances each has put together over the bulk of the season.

But there are politics where the award is concerned, and we’ve seen voter fatigue surface when the same player’s name continues to come up in the discussion. That may be part of the reason why J.R. Smith believes that no matter who wins it this year, LeBron James remains the league’s most valuable.

From Dave McMenamin of

“Who? The real MVP?” Smith said … “There’s a lot of speculation about who should get the award, but we all know who the real MVP is.” …

“In actuality, if you really wanted to, you could give it to him every year,” Smith said of James, who won the award four times in his first 11 seasons in the league. “I mean, the numbers, what he does for teams. You see one year removed from a team like Miami — and they probably won’t even make the playoffs — to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since he left and then, all of the sudden, we’re a 52-win team. So, I don’t think you can do that with anybody else that’s in our league right now.

“Not to knock anything from the other two guys [Stephen Curry and James Harden]. They’re having great years, career years for both of them, but if you want to be realistic about it, you could give it to him every time.”

James’ value to a franchise is almost immeasurable; it’s why a Cavaliers beat writer is going to vote for LeBron, despite the questions of home cooking that his choice will inevitably bring.

But the award almost always goes to the best player on one of the league’s top few teams, and one that’s put up a number of transcendent performances in the very same season. Harden and Curry both qualify this year, just as Kevin Durant did a season ago.

Smith isn’t wrong. But being actually the most valuable is not what the award is about.

WATCH: Giannis Antetokounmpo uses spin move off the dribble to get free for two-handed slam

Milwaukee Bucks v Los Angeles Clippers

I’m not sure how you stop a seven-footer like Giannis Antetokounmpo once he gets going like this off the dribble, and apparently, neither was Jerami Grant of the Sixers.

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The combination of speed, length and athleticism shown by Antetokounmpo here was simply too much.

MORE: Michael Carter-Williams drops 30 on Sixers in return to Philadelphia

Perhaps there’s a better way to ask Russell Westbrook if he’ll root for Spurs on season’s final day (VIDEO)

Oklahoma City Thunder v Indiana Pacers

The Thunder are tied with the Pelicans in the standings with just one game left in the regular season, but New Orleans holds the tie-breaker, and would need to lose at home against the Spurs on Wednesday for OKC to have a shot at making the playoffs.

Obviously, the Thunder’s individual players will be rooting for the Spurs that night in some capacity. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a better way to pose that question to Russell Westbrook.

“Would you call yourself a Spurs fan,” began the unfortunately-phrased query.

Somewhat predictably, Westbrook’s reaction was priceless.

LeBron uses incredible no-look bounce pass to find Mozgov for the slam (VIDEO)

LeBron James

LeBron James posted a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in an easy win over the Pistons Monday, but this pass early in the game to Timofey Mozgov may have been his prettiest play of the night.

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Having the vision to pull of this play is one thing, but then having the skill and precision to execute it is what makes LeBron one of the game’s best.


Nets no longer control their playoff destiny after loss to Bulls

Joe Johnson, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol

NEW YORK — Heading into Monday night’s home contest against the Bulls, the Nets sat in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings, and were fully in control of their playoff destiny with two games remaining in the regular season.

After a disappointing performance in which Brooklyn was shredded 113-86 by a very good Chicago team, that is no longer the case.

“It was a disappointing loss, but the way I look at it, we have one more game left,” Nets head coach Lionel Hollins said afterward. “We have to win it. And the other teams have to win, too.

“Indiana has to win — if we win Wednesday and they don’t win both games, we’re still in. So that’s the way I’m looking at it.”

That’s the optimistic view, one that Hollins and the rest of the Nets are now forced to take. Brooklyn trails Indiana by a game in the loss column, so if the Pacers can manage to win their last two — at home against Washington Tuesday, and then at Memphis on Wednesday — the Nets will miss the postseason.

This was the second game in less than 48 hours where Brooklyn was blown out in the second half. After losing in Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon by 23 points, the effort at home against Chicago was just as discouraging. Hollins gave credit to his opponents’ strong defense, however, and essentially said that a loss, no matter how it comes, is simply a loss.

“It doesn’t really matter how you lose,” Hollins said. “It could have been a last-second shot; it still would have been a loss. It’s disappointing to lose like that, but we played two really good defensive teams, two athletic teams, two long teams. When you go in and shoot 20-for-50 in the paint, that means they have something to do with that, as well.”

In the Nets locker room, the players seemed to be taking the loss a bit harder than their head coach.

“I honestly can’t explain it,” said a dejected Joe Johnson, when asked about the way the team has dropped its last two games. “I don’t even know how it’s possible.”

Perhaps more telling of where the Nets are right now was Johnson’s answer to a question about whether or not the team has the mental toughness to be able to rebound from these two consecutive dismal performances.

“I have no idea,” he said. “I can’t answer that.”

Hollins is a veteran, both as a player and as a head coach, so perhaps his words about being shut down by two good defensive teams, as well as the fact that the Pacers need to win out for the Nets to be eliminated can be taken to heart by his players before a home game against the Magic on the final night of the regular season.

But on this night, many of the guys seemed to be coming to the sobering realization that an opportunity may have been lost.

“All we can do is just take care of that one game,” Deron Williams said. “It’s our fault. We put ourselves in this position.”