Tag: Chris Bosh

Dallas Mavericks v Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James: “(The Bulls) are a team that’s much better than us right now just off chemistry”


Don’t we all just want to fast forward to the Bulls vs. Cavaliers Eastern Conference Finals?

That showdown will be epic. The long NBA season has a way of surprising us, but with just more than a week until it tips-off officially it seems clear that Cleveland and Chicago are the cream of the crop in the East. Those two teams face off for the first time Monday, albeit in a meaningless preseason game (but at least one where both coaches have said they plan to run more of their regular rotations out there).

Who will win that matchup come May? Way too early to say.

But right now the Chicago Bulls are the better team. That’s not me saying it, that’s LeBron James saying the Bulls are better today, as reported by Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

“We haven’t done anything right now. They’re a team that’s much better than us right now just off chemistry. They’ve been together for a while. The system has been there for a while. So, we have a long way to go.”

He’s right.

The Bulls have their identity, honed through years of Tom Thibodeau yelling at them. They play tough defense, they are physical, and they have the athletes who can score in the halfcourt. This season with Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah they may have the best passing front line in the league, they have Derrick Rose and his slashing game (if he stays healthy). The Bulls know who they are and what they want to be.

The Cavaliers are figuring all that out.

Cleveland has a new coach with a new system, plus new players in LeBron and Kevin Love who are going to get a lot of touches and bend the offense their way. Much like when LeBron joined Miami with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade — where it took them really a season and a half to find their groove — it’s going to take the Cavaliers time to find out what really works.

The question is will Cleveland have figured it out enough by May to beat the Bulls? And if so, beyond that can they beat the best of the West in seven games? They’ve got time to be better than Chicago, but also a lot of work to do to reach that goal.

LeBron James reveals (?) his recruiting pitch

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

LeBron James, in his first stint with the Cavaliers, tried and failed to recruit Michael Redd, Joe Johnson and Chris Bosh to Cleveland.

His second term with the Cavaliers has gone much better on that front. LeBron has successfully lured Kevin Love, Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and James Jones.

LeBron is a proven NBA champion, one of the best players of all time and an unselfish teammate. Of course, players want to join him, but everyone likes to be wooed a little bit.

How has LeBron convinced those players to join up?

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

As soon as James committed to return, he immediately recruited Love, Miller, Jones, Marion and Allen, who has yet to decide whether he’s going to play this season. James’ sales pitch: “It was nothing really,” he said. “Either you want to play here or you don’t.”

No wonder LeBron didn’t get any stars to join him in Cleveland the first time. That’s a terrible sales pitch.

Hopefully, that’s just LeBron being evasive with the media. He might want to keep his sales pitch private.

Otherwise, landing Love, Marion, Miller and Jones was a total fluke and the Cavaliers will run into problems down the road.

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 preview: San Antonio Spurs

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five

Last season: Going to be hard to top that.

Coming into camp with a fire lit under them following an hard-to-swallow loss to Miami in the Finals (remember the Ray Allen three?) they played with a real passion all season. Tim Duncan continued his renaissance (not that his game really ever dipped much). What’s more, their offense really blossomed into something beautiful — they moved the ball, moved off the ball, read defenses and carved them up like a surgeon nightly. San Antonio’s offense was a thing of beauty. It didn’t even matter when the starters were out — remember Tony Parker was injured for the closeout game against the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals and the Spurs won without him. In the Finals it looked like LeBron James would lift the Heat to a Game 1 win, but as the temperatures rose inside the AT&T Center and LeBron cramped up the Spurs took the opener. By Game 3 San Antonio had adjusted to the Miami pressure and took complete control of the series. They got their revenge and a fifth title in the Gregg Popovich/Tim Duncan era.

Signature highlight from last season: So many to choose from, but when you think about top highlights of the Finals rejuvenated Manu Ginobili throwing down on Chris Bosh has to be near the top of the list.

Key player changes: There were none. Nada. The Spurs just won an NBA title (and have been to two-straight Finals) playing some of the prettiest and best team basketball we have seen in decades, why would you tinker with that? Duncan opted in then everyone else got in line, including Boris Diaw and Tony Parker signing extensions (as did Popovich). The only change of note is the addition of Kyle Anderson, the rookie drafted out of UCLA (who will be brought along slowly). There are questions looming about the future, but for this season getting the band back together was always the smart plan.

Actually, the biggest off-season change may have been bringing in Becky Hammon, the first full-time female assistant coach in NBA history.

Keys to the Spurs season:

Can Tim Duncan, Spurs core continue to outrun father time? This has been an annual question for at least six years and the last few the Spurs have had no problem keeping their distance. Part of that is the much-discussed minute management — last season the Spurs had no player that averaged over 30 minutes a game. Everybody gets nights off. But the other key is the Spurs have injected youth and athleticism around the Duncan/Parker/Ginobili core — Kawhi Leonard is on the verge of superstardom, there is Danny Green and Patty Mills along with others to provide that spark.

Will the Spurs be fat and happy after winning a title? This is Popovich’s big concern. Last season, after the sting of a very painful Finals loss, the Spurs were motivated all season. They would put in the extra effort in pracitce, the film room, wherever. Will they still do that after winning a title? I would bet yes, this is a veteran team not a young one. But, as Popovich said, human nature is to let up a little.

How big a contract year will Kawhi Leonard have? Coming off a Finals MVP, Leonard is going to get paid one way or another next year (either he gets a contract extension before Halloween or he becomes a restricted free agent next summer). Nobody thinks the Spurs are letting Leonard go, the only question is money (a lot of Spurs players take a discount to stay, but will Leonard on his first big deal after his rookie contract). Popovich leans on Leonard to cover any position one through four — he drew the LeBron James assignment in the Finals and did as well as one could. Plus, he had three straight 20-point games in the Finals. He is athletic and can finish at the rim and is deadly with the corner three the Spurs thrive on. He is only getting better and this could be a monster season for him as Popovich entrusts him with more and more responsibility.

Why you should watch the Spurs: Forget that they are elite title contenders, you should watch them because they play a selfless, pure, beautiful brand of basketball and they they aren’t going to be around forever doing that.

Prediction: 59-23, they could win more but Popovich will be willing to sacrifice a couple wins to keep guys rested. That will be enough to be one of the top two seeds in the West (likely the top seed) and they will set the bar to win a title. The Spurs are not coming back to the pack, if another team is going to take the title away from them that team is going to have to improve enough to outright beat them. Not sure any team can do that if the Spurs are at their peak.