The King has his ring.
Finally playing like the team the rest of the league feared Miami Heat roared to an NBA title Thursday night. NBA finals LeBron James had a triple double in the biggest game of his career, Heat role players drained threes like they were layups, the Heat offense fired on all cylinders and was aggressive on defense — all of it eventually overwhelmed them blew out the Thunder out. It turned Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena into a 12-minute Championship party in the fourth quarter.
Miami won Game 5 121-106 and are now the NBA champions. LeBron James was named finals MVP.
It was the kind of game Heat fans envisioned and the rest of the league — including the Thunder — worried could happen when the Heat really clicked. Miami looked clear and away like the best team in the league.
“Today they were on fire…” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We couldn’t handle everything they threw at us.”
Miami smelled blood in the water early. They came out with a business-like focus from the opening tip — LeBron had his head down and was driving the lane from the start, setting guys up for threes on kick outs and dominating the game.
Miami had some great ball movement, shot 51.9 percent and were 14-26 from three on the night. They overwhelmed a good Thunder team that played hard but is still learning how to execute and win on this level. They will be back. Kevin Durant brought it and finished with 32 points and 11 boards, but as a team the Thunder shot just 41.4 percent (and that went up during the garbage time fourth quarter, they were under 40 percent most of the game).
Miami started to pull away in the second quarter but in the third the Thunder made one more push and got the lead down to 7. The Heat answered with a 19-1 run that blew the lid off the game. The did it because everyone pitched in. Mike Miller, who looked like he could barely walk this series, was 7-of-11, all of his makes from three, for 23 points. Bosh was fantastic with 24. Dwyane Wade had 20. Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, pretty much everyone hit shots.
In the end LeBron and Wade were hugging on the sidelines, they are NBA champions. Together.
Dion Waiters was suspended the first game of the season for the Heat for “conduct detrimental to the team” following a clash with coaches and management.
Waiters got another 10-game suspension for “conduct detrimental to the team” right after — but not officially related to — his panic attack on the team plane following his apparent overdose on THC-laced “gummies.”
The NBA players’ union is appealing both suspensions, reports Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.
This is all about the money Waiters did not get from his salary after being suspended without pay, an estimated $913,000 total. However, it does not include the $1.2 million bonus owed if he played in 70 games, a figure he could no longer reach after the 10-game suspension (Waiters has yet to step on the court for the Heat this season).
The suspension is up Dec. 1 and Waiters can return to the Heat roster then. This case will take longer to work its way through the appeals process than that, this is just about Waiters getting paid.
When James Harden and Russell Westbrook share the court this season, the Rockets are +8.9 points per 100 possessions. That is fueled by a surprisingly good defensive rating that has them giving almost exactly a point per possession.
All of that is much better than many pundits predicted, as they questioned how to isolation players with questionable defensive chops would fit together.
Not Paul George. He thought this would work from the start, as he told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.
“I knew it was going to work,” George said at the morning shootaround before the Clippers face the Rockets on Friday night. “Russ is a winner. Russ wants to win, Russ does whatever it takes to win. My time playing with him, Russ doesn’t really have an ego. He puts his ego to the side.
“He allowed me to be myself, he allowed me to be comfortable. And I had one of the best career [years] I had while playing alongside him. Russ is a heckuva teammate.”
James Harden — averaging 38.4 points, 7.5 assists, and 5.8 rebounds a game — would likely agree with George.
George, however, surveyed the situation with Westbrook and OKC — after Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers knocked them out in the first round — and decided to move on and team up with Kawhi Leonard with the Lakers. He may have liked Westbrook as a teammate, but the two of them (with that talent around them and few ways to make real upgrades) had limits on how far they could go.
That remains the question about these Rockets, one that is not going to be answered until next April at the earliest.
Andre Drummond is thriving.
The Pistons are not.
With Drummond headed toward free agency, that leaves major questions for Detroit. Should the 4-10 Pistons hope better health – especially for Blake Griffin – allows them to get back on track this season? Should they keep Drummond and attempt to re-sign him as a key player future seasons? Should they trade him to get value now?
Drummond’s market – both for a trade or in free agency – is somewhat limited. The NBA is overstocked with capable centers. His game, built mostly on rebounding, trends toward old-school. Drummond is better than most players of his ilk. The question is about cost.
But at least one team outside Detroit is apparently interested – Charlotte.
Sean Deveney of Heavy:
The target, according to league sources: Pistons big man Andre Drummond, a player in whom the Hornets have had an interest for at least a year.
Charlotte projects to have about $27 million in cap space next summer. That might be enough to lure Drummond with a multi-year deal.
But Drummond’s player option for next season he said he plans to decline is worth $28,751,774.
So, it might make sense to trade for Drummond now to secure his Bird Rights. That way, the Hornets could exceed the cap to re-sign him.
They’d also get an upgrade at center over Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo this season. Charlotte (6-9) is in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Even with Drummond, I wouldn’t pick the Hornets as likely to make the postseason, but that’s the type of low-level goal they often prioritize.
Charlotte has expiring contracts to facilitate a trade – Biyombo, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Hornets would also have to surrender assets that tempt Detroit (draft picks and/or young players).
There’s a path to a satisfactory trade… if the Pistons are open to dealing Drummond.
DeMarcus Cousins got married this past summer, but his 7-year-old son didn’t attend the wedding due to a dispute with the boy’s mother and Cousin’s ex-girlfriend, Christy West. That blew up into an ugly situation where Cousins was ultimately charged in Alabama with a third-degree harassing communications misdemeanor, tied to the domestic situation.
Now, those charges have been dismissed, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Cousins remains out for the Lakers after tearing his ACL this past summer, and he is not expected to return. Because of the surprisingly good play of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee — particularly as mobile defenders who can show out on the perimeter and recover — the Lakers have not missed Cousins’ presence.
I have no specific knowledge of this case or the truth of what happened between Cousins and his ex. As far as I know, there was nothing to this and should have been dismissed.
However, as someone who spent a chunk of years on a police/courts beat as a young reporter, I feel the need to add this: Domestic violence/harassment cases are exceedingly difficult to prosecute. It can be a he said/she said situation, and unfortunately, often the abused women recant their testimony (whether it was true or not). The situations are a complex mix of emotions and fear, ones that make getting justice difficult. Talk to any prosecutor (or long-time police beat officer) about domestic violence cases and they will tell you horrifying stories. It is a situation that, as a nation, we need to address.