Tag: LeBron James

Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers

Ten must-watch games from new NBA schedule


It’s the reason broadcast networks are paying ungodly sums of cash to secure rights to leagues like the NBA — you need to watch live. This isn’t Top Chef where you can set the DVR and then watch it later in the week, when it comes to sporting events you need to carve out the time to watch the games.

But what games are good enough you tell your girlfriend you have to work late that night, and then head to the bar with your buddies to watch because you don’t want to miss them? (Remember, do not post pictures of yourself at said bar to social media that night.)

That’s why we’re here. The following are 10 games you do not want to miss this coming season.

• Oct. 27, New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors: The championship banner is going up at Oracle Arena, the first title for the Golden State franchise since before Led Zeppelin broke up. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the entire Warriors band are back to defend the title. Well done by the NBA to set the Pelicans as the opponent — their new coach is Alvin Gentry, who last season masterminded the Warriors’ offense. Also, Golden State swept New Orleans out of the first round of the playoffs, but this is going to be a better Pelicans team.

• Oct. 28, San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder: I can sum up why to watch this game in five words — how does Kevin Durant look? The former MVP battled foot injuries last season but is back and expected to be ready opening night. While you’re at it, see how LaMarcus Aldridge looks in Spurs black and gray. 

• Nov. 11, San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers: There was only one big time free agent that switched teams last season — Aldridge, who jumped from Portland to San Antonio, where he teams up with and becomes the heir apparent to Tim Duncan. But he’s got to go back to Portland some time, and that is Nov. 11. How will Blazers fans treat Aldridge? You can be sure Damian Lillard will be pumped up to get the win.

• Nov. 11, Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks: I know how Mavericks fans are going to treat DeAndre Jordan, who first said he would come there as a free agent then changed his mind. The Clippers were already one of the more hated teams by many fans around the league, this just played right into that narrative.

• Nov. 23, Philadephia 76ers at Minnesota Timberwolves: Who did you think should go No. 1 last draft, Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor? Flip Saunders had the only vote that counted and he cast it for Towns, and while that may be the right call long term (I think it will be) Okafor will be the better rookie. Watch these two young bigs go head-to-head (on League Pass because the Sixers are not on national television once this season).

• Nov. 30, Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics: There has been no better rivalry in NBA history than the Celtics and Lakers, and Kobe Bryant has added to that with a must-watch Finals series. Kobe very well may walk away from the NBA after the season, and if so this will be his final game in the Boston Garden. That will be emotional.

• Dec. 23, Dallas Mavericks at Brooklyn Nets: Deron Williams returns to Brooklyn. The Nets paid a lot of money for him to turn their franchise around in a Chris Paul kind of way, and they did not get their money’s worth. So they just paid him to go away. Now he returns, and he should not expect a love-in from Nets fans.

• Christmas Day, Dec. 25, Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors: Were you not entertained by the NBA Finals? It had Stephen Curry and LeBron James, and that helped draw the biggest NBA television ratings since the Jordan era. The NBA puts its biggest stars on its biggest stages, and this is that. The difference is this time LeBron has Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love healthy.

• Jan. 18, Los Angeles Clippers at Houston Rockets: The Clippers were up 3-1 on the Rockets in the second round of the playoffs, and were in total control of Game 5. And then the wheels came off. The Rockets played better, the Clippers looked exhausted (worn down by an epic series with the Spurs the round before), and Houston came back to take it. This eats at Chris Paul like you would not believe. Clippers/Rockets is becoming a real rivalry and all their meetings this season will be entertaining.

• April 13, Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers: Is this Kobe’s final game? It will be the last game of the season for the Lakers (who are unlikely to make the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference). Kobe does not know right now, and there’s a chance he may not know when this game tips off, or at least not be saying publicly. But this game could be the end of one of the great careers in NBA history, and that is as must watch as it gets.

New NBA schedule reduces “four games in five nights,” back-to-backs. It’s a start.

Denver Nuggets v Houston Rockets
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More and more, coaches are resting their best players during the regular season — because the analytics tell them to. Guys bodies wear down from the grind — 82 regular season games plus playoffs, cross-country travel, games packed tightly together. It has become a growing story around the NBA in recent years — fans are paying big money for tickets to watch Blake Griffin or LeBron James, only to seem them in street clothes because the team is playing four games in five nights.

Back All-Star Game weekend, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would look into this and find a way to space games out more starting the next season.

They certainly did.

Last season there were 70 times teams had four games in five nights (almost always on the road), this season there are just 27. Eight teams have none of them, including the Spurs.

This season teams have an average of 17.8 back-to-back games, down from 19.3 last season. The number of “long distance” back-to-backs (across a time zone) went from 111 last season down to 84 this time. The system is not perfect — Golden State, Detroit, Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers — still each have 20 back-to-backs, but it’s an improvement.

That’s some steps in the right direction.

It’s not going to instantly end the rash of injuries to star players that we saw last season, but it’s a start to reduce the wear-and-tear on NBA players’ bodies which accumulates into injuries.

Next year the NBA schedule could start even a week earlier, and that space would be used further reduce those congested games.

Ideally that will mean fewer games where stars are rested, but we will have to see how that plays out.

In the end, this is about good business and the product on the court. As scientific evidence mounts that fatigue both impacts the quality of the game and increases the chance of injury, reducing that fatigue is going to happen one way or another. If the league can’t do it through better scheduling — and we all know the owners and players are not going to agree to reduce the number of games — then the coaches will take matters into their own hands. As Gregg Popovich has done for years.

Adam Silver has been wisely proactive with this schedule. But it is just a first couple steps.


Plenty of LeBron James, Stephen Curry on big stages as NBA releases 2015-16 schedule

2015 NBA Finals - Game Six

For NBA junkies, this is like opening presents on Christmas morning — the NBA schedule is out.

There are 1,230 games out there to be played starting on Oct. 27 and running through April — and that’s before the two months of NBA playoffs start. It’s a marathon.

But there are highlights — and the NBA still is the master of getting its biggest stars on its biggest stages, meaning you’re going to get a lot of LeBron James and Stephen Curry. Here are some schedule highlights.

• Opening night, Oct. 27, we get a double-header on TNT:

Cleveland at Chicago: Arguably the two top teams in the East. Well, no argument about Cleveland in the top slot, but are the Bulls and new coach Fred Hoiberg going to grab that second slot? Also, LeBron James vs. Derrick Rose in a rematch of a fun playoff series from last year

New Orleans at Golden State: Stephen Curry and the Warriors swept Anthony Davis and the Pelicans out in the first round of the playoffs last season, but it wasn’t that simple. Now a healthy and improved New Orleans — with coach Alvin Gentry, just hired away from the Warriors — comes to the Bay Area looking to spoil the night the banner goes up at Oracle (title teams often struggle in this game, they tend not to be focused).

Also that night, but not nationally televised, Detroit at Atlanta.

• The next night, Oct. 28, San Antonio at Oklahoma City: Is Kevin Durant all the way back? How is LaMarcus Aldridge fitting in with the Spurs? We will get some early (but far from definitive) answers to those questions.

Also Oct. 28, New York is at Milwaukee — the first time the Bucks have opened at home since 1984. Milwaukee made the playoffs and looks like a team on the rise, and they have been rewarded with a dozen nationally televised games.

Finally that same night, Minnesota is at the Los Angeles Lakers — No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns of the Timberwolves vs. No. 2 D’Angelo Russell of the Lakers.

• On Oct. 29, Dallas at Los Angeles Clippers. DeAndre Jordan’s first matchup against the Mavericks — the team he reversed course on and spurned this summer — is in the friendly confines of Staples Center (where they are happy to have him back).

• Wednesday, Nov. 11, will be the night of returns:

San Antonio at Portland: The one big free agent changing teams this summer was LaMarcus Aldridge heading to San Antonio. How will he be received by Blazers’ faithful, and can the Spurs beat a fired up Damian Lillard and Portland?

Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas: Now it gets fun. Jordan faces the team he agreed to play for then backed out on in the American Airlines Arena — it is going to rain boos in Dallas like a Spring thunderstorm.

• Dec. 5, Cleveland at Miami: Everybody has pretty much moved on from LeBron heading home (except maybe Pat Riley) but this is still a matchup of two of the top teams in the East.

• Dec. 23, Dallas at Brooklyn: Deron Williams returns to Brooklyn — where his star never burned as brightly as Nets fans hoped — with his new team the Dallas Mavericks.

• Christmas Day, Dec. 25, the unofficial start of the NBA season for casual fans, will feature five games again:

Chicago at Oklahoma City: Two teams near the top of their conferences and with star power will pay in the first of two ABC national games. Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol vs. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Cleveland at Golden State: This NBA Finals matchup features the two biggest stars in the game — Curry and LeBron James — and drew the biggest NBA television ratings since the Jordan era. You think the NBA would miss a chance to put that in their prime Christmas slot?

Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers: Is this our last Christmas with Kobe Bryant? This is all you need to know about the strength of the Lakers’ brand — as bad as they were last season, for all the questions about the one coming up, you can’t get them off the Christmas Day card. Or, look at it this way: The Lakers have 19 nationally televised games, the same number as the Western Conference Finalist Houston Rockets.

The other two Christmas Day games: Anthony Davis and New Orleans at Miami, then San Antonio at Houston.

• Jan. 14, Orlando vs. Toronto: It’s the rare mid-week NBA day game — because it’s being played in London at the O2 arena.

• On Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 18), the TNT double-header is the other NBA Finals rematch with Golden State at Cleveland, then at night a great playoff rematch with Houston at the Los Angeles Clippers.

• Feb. 6, Oklahoma City at Golden State: The last two MVPs — Durant and Curry — face off in a national ESPN game, part of their new Saturday night package (which starts in 2016 after the college football season).

• Feb. 8 Los Angeles Lakers at Indiana: A couple years ago Roy Hibbert was seen as a cornerstone of a young, impressive Pacers team. Now they have pushed him out the door. This is the night he returns to the Fieldhouse in Lakers gold to take on the Pacers.

• Feb. 18, coming out of the All-Star break, TNT has a killer double-header: Chicago at Cleveland, followed by the Spurs at the Clippers.

• Last season there were 70 instances where teams had four games in five nights (almost always on the road), it’s one of the big complaints of teams and where they often rest guys. This season there are just 27 instances, the league has worked to cut those back.

• Teams will have an averaged of 17.8 games in back-to-back situations, that is down from 19.3 last season. Improved, but the league has a long way to go here.

• Entering year three of their tank-a-thon, the Philadelphia 76ers have no national television games scheduled. The Pistons, a team that could be in the playoff mix in the East, also are not on the national schedule.

• Once again, there is a

LeBron James says he has not made a decision on playing in 2016 Rio Olympics. Yet.

USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp

LeBron James is in Las Vegas for the USA Basketball mini-camp. He’s not just making a token appearance and then heading off to Tao, rather he put on the No. 27 jersey — no headband — and worked on his low-post game. By the way, former Pelicans coach Monty Williams can’t really check him down there. Shocking.

So does that mean LeBron is in for a USA Basketball record fourth Olympics next summer in Rio.

That decision has yet to be made, he told Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated.

The Cavaliers are the clear favorites to come out of the East and make it to the NBA Finals — that would be six straight NBA Finals appearances for LeBron. He is already ninth on the NBA’s all-time minutes list (counting regular season, playoffs and international play) and by the time next summer rolls around he’s likely seventh.

If he wants to beg off next summer, you can’t blame him (it’s not like he hasn’t made a commitment to USA Basketball and won a couple golds already).

But he will get pressure from Nike, plus a third gold (something nobody else has in basketball) would become part of his legacy.

There’s a lot to think about, but no reason to think about it until next spring and summer. You can be sure Coach Mike Krzyzewski is not giving away his roster spot.

Report: LeBron James might actually practice at Team USA minicamp

US forward LeBron James and US forward K
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LeBron James planned to make a brief appearance at USA Basketball’s minicamp this week and then leave early.

As of yesterday, that hadn’t happened. But USA Basketball counted on him to attending, and there’s no good reason to change that expectation.

In fact, LeBron might be even more involved than it seemed.

Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

Cleveland Cavaliers’ forward LeBron James is reconsidering his initial plan of sitting out Team USA’s minicamp in Las Vegas this week, league sources informed Northeast Ohio Media Group.

According to sources, James may partake in parts of Wednesday’s morning non-contact session

LeBron watching practice would be ceremonial. He just needed to appear in Las Vegas to meet USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo’s attendance requirement.

Participating in the practice would be ceremonial, too. Neither LeBron nor Team USA needs him on the court today to prepare for Rio.

But this is part of the reason Colangelo has so much faith in LeBron. The Cavaliers star has repeatedly shown his commitment to the American program, and getting on the court – even if just to work up a light sweat – only affirms that pledge.