Author: Kurt Helin


Jimmy Butler got up for alley-oop against Bucks (VIDEO)


Jimmy Butler has been in a lot of highlights this preseason. Some not as much fun, like him and Kevin Seraphin getting tangled up in the Bulls/Wizards meeting.

But Butler was having fun against the Bucks.

The ball went to Doug McDermott at the left elbow and Butler simply curls from his space setting screens near the other elbow toward the basket, loses his defender, and he gets a great pass from McBuckets to finish.

Expect a few of these this season from Butler, too. The Bulls have the best passing front line in the league and smart cuts will get rewarded.

Heat players happy that first game against LeBron, Cavs behind them

Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers

It got as much hype as any preseason game in years — LeBron James and his Cavaliers take on his old team the Miami Heat down in Brazil.

The Heat players are mostly just glad that’s over.

For a couple days before there were some verbal jabs. When the game tipped off LeBron was booed some early by the pro-Heat Brazilian crowd, but Cavaliers went on to win the meaningless preseason game in overtime (the Heat scrubs came back from 10 down in the fourth quarter on the Cavs scrubs to force OT). When it was done both Chris Bosh and Erik Spoelstra told Brian Windhorst of ESPN they were happy its as all over.

“I like the fact we could get everything out of the way,” said Bosh, who had 19 points in the game. “Just let everybody see it, so we can move on. As far as seeing LeBron on another team, we’re pretty much over that now.”

“There was a certain level of strangeness to it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think it benefits both teams to get the awkwardness out of the way in the preseason.”

You’d like to think this is in your past Heat players, but it’s not.

Most sports fans are not paying a lot of attention to the NBA right now. They will be on Christmas Day — and that is the next time you face LeBron and the Cavaliers. They come to Miami just a few hours after Santa.

That is when all this is going to be dredged up again, all the questions will be asked by the media again, the Miami fans will be fired up again. You’ll say “we’ve moved past this” for a week beforehand, it will not slow the train.

After Christmas, then it will mostly be over.

Mavericks’ Raymond Felton out at least 10 days, likely longer, with high ankle sprain

Raymond Felton

Dallas was going to try and make this season work with a three-headed point guard monster of Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and Raymond Felton.

Well, at least for the rest of training camp it and maybe much longer is a two-headed monster… or what you might call a regular rotation.

Felton is going to be out for a little while after spraining his ankle in Friday’s preseason game against the Thunder, as reported by Earl K. Sneed of

Ten days is likely low, high ankle sprains can take or month or more. Ten basically takes us to the end of training camp and beyond that we’re into the start of the season.

Nelson is the starting point guard in Dallas right now, with Harris and Felton fighting for the minutes behind him. Obviously this gives Harris the leg up.

Felton will get his chance at some point during the season, it’s a long grind. The question is can he can just stay out of the Lockhart Smokehouse enough to stay in shape to take advantage of the opportunity?

“Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo with block, then dunk (VIDEO)

Milwaukee Bucks Media Day

It may just be preseason, but Giannis Antetokounmpo is making plays.

The Bucks point forward was putting on a show Saturday night. First he blocked the Bulls’ Taj Gibson, then he got out and ran the other way and finished the transition play with authority.

He is going to be a lot of fun this year.

Report: Referees to focus on illegal screens, verticality this season


It’s one of the fun questions at the start of every NBA season: What are the referees going to focus on and call the first half of the season.

Every year the NBA referees are given new points of emphasis, and we get these calls for the first half of the season. Then between a combination of players adjusting and the referees reverting to form, the game kind of finds its equilibrium by the All-Star Game.

So what are the referees going to focus on this year? Illegal screens (a big NBA issue), verticality, and allegedly traveling. Jeff Zillgitt of the USA Today tweeted this out on Friday.

The use of a central replay center (something all the major sporting leagues have or are going toward) should speed up replays. Should. I’d like to think it will lead to more consistency of calls, too, but I will need to see that to believe it.

That’s pretty much the same with all of this. Whatever the referees call now, by the All-Star Game things will return to NBA normal.