Miami’s celebration only issue in mind of Mavericks

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It became the hot topic Thursday night after the Dallas Mavericks evened the NBA finals 1-1 with a 95-93 win in Game 2 — how Miami’s celebration midway through the fourth quarter sparked Dallas’ comeback. If it did. Players were asked about it and it became the hot discussion on twitter.

What you think of the celebration says more about how you feel about the Heat then it does about what actually happened.

What happened is this: With 7:20 left in the game LeBron James led another Heat break, but he passed to Mario Chalmers, who had defenders getting back collapse on him under the basket. So he kicked it out to Dwyane Wade in for a corner three, right over the arms of Jason Terry. The arena erupted. The Heat were up 15 and in control. That felt like a dagger, except we anyone who knows Dallas knew it was too early.

After the shot Wade stood there for a few seconds with his shooting arm extended, then kept it up as he walked past the Dallas bench (a timeout had been called). Then beyond the bench area LeBron James met Wade, said a few words, did a little head bob and fake punched him in the chest a few times, then moved on. That was it.

Frankly, by NBA standards, it was a four on a scale of 10. Watch the video by following this link. DeShawn Stevenson has had bigger celebrations over a made three this series. Forget someone like J.R. Smith.

But that’s not how Dallas saw it. Look at the quote from Tyson Chandler, via Royce Young at CBS Sports Eye on Basketball.

“He celebrated in front of our bench,” Tyson Chandler said. “I think it angered a lot of us. We came out there and responded.”

As you might imagine, Dwyane Wade felt differently.

“A celebration is confetti, champagne bottles. This was no celebration,” he said. “It was a shot made going into a timeout. Every team does something. That’s the game. If it pumped them up — they won the game. Obviously it did something.”

And that’s what is key here — the celebration itself was nothing. Jason Terry’s airplane takeoff has more taunting in it than what Wade did. It’s really about your perception.

If you hate the Heat and are looking for fuel for that fire, have at it. Dallas talk radio is going to eat this up.

What really matters is it fired up some Mavericks players. Although not Dirk Nowitzki, who didn’t see it. What should have fired them up is how they were getting abused at that point, but the celebration touched a nerve. What we should be talking about is how well they played down the stretch, how they changed the series. It’s an insult to the Mavs to talk about this as the spark to the comeback and not the fire they have shown against the Thunder, Lakers and Blazers.

It didn’t play a huge role in one of the most amazing comebacks in NBA finals history, that was more about double screens for Jason Terry that the Heat could not adjust to (a great play call), it was about the Heat trying to kill the clock then running isolation plays with time winding out, it was about shot selection for both teams. It was about the Heat’s defense slowing down as the Mavericks stepped up. It was about heart.

But the celebration, that was nothing, except when it became something in the minds of the Mavericks.

PBT Extra: Five players to watch heading into the NBA’s trade deadline

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It’s going to be a slow NBA trade deadline this year.

The reason it will be relatively quiet on Feb. 7 (the deadline day) this year is reflected in the five players to watch talked about in this PBT Extra. The bottom line: There are far more buyers than sellers.

Take Trevor Ariza in Washington, for example. A number of playoff teams are looking for wings on expiring contracts to help them out — the Rockets and Lakers are at the front of that line — but Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has said the team the team will not tank, so is Ariza even available.

Or, what about Terrence Ross in Orlando? Another wing a lot of teams have interest in, but is Orlando selling?

And while the Dallas Mavericks have made public overtures about reconciliation with Dennis Smith Jr., sources tell me the plan on both sides is still to find a trade, it’s just right now the offers are lowball ones (because the Mavs have no leverage and there will be good young point guards such as Terry Rozier and D'Angelo Russell available in July as restricted free agents, and teams like them better).

Still, there will be trades. These are the guys to watch.

Report: Hornets rookie Miles Bridges to compete in dunk contest

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Want to see more dunks like this and this?

Watch the dunk contest during All-Star weekend.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

Miles Bridges, the No. 12 pick in last year’s draft, has quickly proven himself as belonging in the Hornets’ rotation. He’s active, capable of getting to the rim and picks up defensive concepts quickly.

But like most rookies picked in the middle of the first round, he hasn’t yet earned a national profile.

The dunk contest will be his opportunity to change that.

Bulls’ Wendell Carter reportedly out 8-12 weeks following thumb surgery

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Wendell Carter Jr. has had a strong rookie season in Chicago: 10.3 points a game, 7 rebounds, showing real strength and touch inside and getting 67 percent of his shot attempts in the paint. The advanced stats like him: He’s got an above average PER and Value over Replacement Player, something very rare for a rookie. He looks like a key part of the future in Chicago.

And he’s out for the next two-to-three months.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune first reported that Carter might have ligament damage in his left thumb requiring surgery, and that coach Jim Boylen said Carter was seeing a specialist. Shams Charania of The Athletic took it to the next step.

That’s a blow to his development but doesn’t really change the trajectory of a Bulls team that will pick high in next June’s draft.

This does not change the Bulls’ plans heading into the trade deadline — big man Robin Lopez is still available (but likely will end up a buyout candidate) reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Bobby Portis will get more run with Carter out.

The young Bulls have been hit hard by injuries this season.  Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Portis have all missed time, and Denzel Valentine has yet to play a game for Chicago this season.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis: ‘We will never, ever tank’

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Before the season, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis stated his goals: 50 wins and the conference finals.

Washington is 19-26 and 11th in the Eastern Conference.

Time to shift priorities?

NBC Sports Washington:

Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington:

The Wizards are too talented to tank right now. Led by Bradley Beal, they have a roster of capable veterans. They just traded for Trevor Ariza, making that even more true.

As bad as they’ve been, the Wizards are just 2.5 games and three teams out of playoff position. They will likely miss the postseason, but there’s no alternative better than trying to get there. They’re too far down the road toward winning now to simply pivot into a rebuilding.

But what about if the Wizards get eliminated from playoff contention with games left in the season? They won’t tank down the stretch to improve their draft position? What’s the point of that?

And what about future seasons? Washington will have a tough time building a satisfactory winner after signing John Wall to a super-max extension that kicks in next season. That difficult-to-move contract almost mandates the Wizards prioritize the present. A healthy Wall is good enough to ensure Washington can’t bottom out – for now.

Wall be 32 in the final year of that deal. The Wizards could be in ruins by then. Taking the option to tank off the table would be a mistake.

To be fair, I’m not totally sure Leonsis is doing that. Owners almost never admit to tanking. Most deny it.

But this goes a level beyond. This is far more forceful than Leonsis had to be, which makes me believe it’s actually his plan.

That’s fine right now. Eventually, it could make a futile situation far worse.