Apparently Camelo Anthony doesn't want a title, just wants out

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Thumbnail image for CAnthony_stares.jpgThe trading of Carmelo Anthony before the start of the season has gone from “if” to “where and for whom” if we are to believe the latest reports. And we do, as all signs point that way and have for a while.

But from the list of possible trading partners out there — both the ones preferred by Anthony and the ones the Nuggets ownership has forced into the conversation — it is clear that winning a title is not why Anthony is doing this.

From what we can gather and other reports, the list of teams Anthony is interested in includes New York, Orlando, Chicago, Houston and New Jersey. The Nuggets want young players and picks, so they have brought the Clippers and Golden State to the party.

Who on that list is closer to winning a title than the Nuggets? None, really. Unless Anthony thinks he can draw Chris Paul to wherever he lands to form a new superteam, which is a pretty big gambit. But he gets no closer to a title with any realistic move right now.

Maybe Orlando would be a contender. But they would have to get past Miami and Boston in the East (and Chicago is pretty good, too). And while Boston will fade Miami is going to be a powerhouse — an only improving powerhouse — for the next five years. While the Lakers are a power in Denver’s way in the West, their window is shorter.

In the west Houston makes some sense — if you think Yao Ming can stay healthy and ignore how good the Lakers are. Getting Anthony would recreate the concepts behind the McGrady/Yao pairing that never quite panned out. And the Rockets could offer a nice package in a trade of something like Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, plus they have something the Knicks do not — Knicks draft picks. The Rockets could offer up their own 2011 pick (which comes with the right to flip with New York) and the Knicks 2012 pick.

Anthony allegedly pushed for New York but the Nuggets see no sense in that because what can the Knicks really offer? The expiring contract of Eddy Curry, somebody like Wilson Chandler and picks in 2014 and 2016? Not enticing.

The Clippers are considered frontrunners and they certainly could put together a package of nice young players. Chris Kaman would be a big salary piece but Eric Bledsoe and maybe even Eric Gordon could be part of the package, along with picks. But do not think Blake Griffin will be part of the deal, the Clippers are too invested in him.

This also is where cooperation comes in — would Anthony really do a sign-and-trade to the Clippers? Would he trust the prime of his career to Donald Sterling? Anthony and the Clippers need to be on the same page here.

The Nets may make the most sense. They are soon to be New York, they have young players like Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, the big contract of Troy Murphy could be part of the deal. What the Nets would want is to keep Brook Lopez and rookie Derrick Favors to pair with Anthony, in what could be a very good combo going forward.

But with the Heat looming in the East, is that closer to a title than Denver right now? No.

Which makes me think more and more that winning is not the primary motivation here.

Watch all of LeBron James’ 46 points in Game 6

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There is going to be a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals Sunday because of LeBron James.

George Hill had a strong game (20 points), Jeff Green and Larry Nance Jr. had their moments, but it was all about LeBron — 46 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists in 46 brilliant minutes.

Rather than try to describe his game to you — including the dagger threes late — just watch.

And enjoy. There are still some people out there (mostly on Twitter, it seems) who just want to tear LeBron down for some reason. I pity them. Not just because they are wrong, although they are. Rather, it’s because they are depriving themselves of enjoying one of the greatest players ever to lace them up. LeBron can bully people in the paint, hit step back threes, is as gifted a passer as the game has seen, and just plays a smart, high-IQ game we have got to watch grow over the years. If you can’t enjoy that, you don’t love basketball.

LeBron James is a force nature, scores 46, wills Cavaliers to win forcing Game 7

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What more can be said about the brilliance of LeBron James?

We can point to his 46 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists Friday night in a win-or-go-fishing elimination game. We can point to how he lifted the team up when Kevin Love went down after a blow to the head (more on that later). We could talk about how this is his seventh 40+ point game of the playoffs, the last guy to do that since Michael Jordan in 1989 (when Jordan was 25 and had yet to win a title).

Or, we can just show you his back-to-back dagger threes in the fourth quarter over Jayson Tatum.

That is art on a basketball court.

LeBron got a little help Friday night at home, and with that the Cavaliers won Game 6 109-99, forcing a Game 7 back in Boston on Sunday night.

“It feels good just to play for another game, and like I’ve always said ‘Game 7’ is the best two words in sports,” LeBron said. “And for us to be on the road in a hostile environment where we have had no success up to this point, we should relish the opportunity and have fun with it.”

LeBron was nothing short of brilliant (remember 10-12 years ago people were trying to say he was afraid of the big moment, damn that sounds silly now). He is historically brilliant in Game 7s, but he can’t do it alone.

George Hill, the second best shot creator on the team, had 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Jeff Green had 14 off the bench, and Larry Nance Jr. had a timely 10 points and 7 rebounds.

Nance’s play was crucial because Kevin Love went down 5 minutes into the game after banging heads with Jayson Tatum while setting a screen.

Love’s was being checked for a concussion and his status for Game 7 is not known. (If he does have a concussion, it’s unlikely he clears the league protocol in time to play in two days.)

Despite LeBron and all of it, the Celtics had their chances in this one.

Boston got off to a fast start because Jaylen Brown had 15 first-quarter points and the Celtics shot 61 percent as a team, none of which seemed sustainable but it got them out to a 25-20 lead after one. Then the Cavaliers came on in the second with a 20-4 run behind LeBron, and once they had the lead the Cavaliers never let it go.

Boston will look back on not grabbing rebounds — Cleveland grabbed the offensive rebound on 36.6 percent of their missed shots, a very high percentage — and the fact the Celtics missed nine free throws and think things could have been different.

Boston is going home, where they are 10-0 these playoffs and for some reason inexplicable even to Brad Stevens, they play much better. The Celtics have a great defense, smart players, and a real chance.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James. That may be enough.

“We have one more game to be able to compete for a championship, what more can you ask for?” LeBron said.

Kevin Love being evaluated for concussion, out for second half

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It happened just five minutes into the game — Cleveland’s Kevin Love and Boston’s Jayson Tatum banged heads.

Love was in the midpost and part of his job was to set a screen for George Hill, who was racing out to the arc. In doing so, Love and Tatum banged heads and it wasn’t pretty.

Love spent a few minutes on the ground, went straight to the locker room, and has not returned to the game.

Tatum did not leave the game.

There still is no official word on if Love has a concussion. If he does, he will go into the league’s mandated concussion protocol — which means to be cleared he has to be symptom free through a series of physical tests — and it would be a challenge for him to be back for a Game 7, if there is one.

And their likely will be one. After struggling in the rest of the first quarter without Love, the Cavaliers have gotten solid performances out of Hill, Jeff Green, and of course, LeBron James has been brilliant. The Cavaliers have a comfortable 15-point lead late in the third quarter.

NBA Finals schedule drops, Game 1 Thursday, May 31

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We don’t know where the NBA Finals will be played, but we know when.

Next Thursday the eyes of the NBA world could be focused on Oakland or Houston, and the following Wednesday that may shift to Boston or Cleveland. All four of those teams still have a chance to make the NBA Finals.

What we know is the dates for the games. Here is the schedule:

Game 1, Thursday, May 31, at 9 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors

Game 2, Sunday, June 3, at 8 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors

Game 3, Wednesday, June 6, at 9 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers

Game 4, Friday, June 8, at 9 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers

Game 5, Monday, June 11, at 9 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors

Game 6, Thursday, June 14, at 9 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers

Game 7, Sunday, June 17, at 8 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics/Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets/Golden State Warriors

Games 5, 6, and 7 are if necessary. All games will be broadcast on ABC.

There were no surprises here. The date of the start of the NBA Finals has been set since before the season started (it always is, to help broadcast partners and international media plan). The game pattern follows the same as last year, when the NBA changed it to make sure there was at least one day off in addition to travel days when the venue switches cities.