Ray Allen chooses Miami Heat over Boston Celtics

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If you can’t trust the team owner to break news, who can you trust?

Miami Heat owner Micky Arison tweeted this Friday night:

Its 2:30am in London and I was just woken up with great news. Welcome to the family #20!!

Ray Allen has chosen the Miami Heat over the Boston Celtics for next season. He sacrificed a larger paycheck and familiarity to go after a ring in South Beach.

Allen has called the Celtics to inform them of his decision, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (and the NBC Sports Network). Allen’s agent has confirmed the decision to the Associated Press. It’s as official as it can be until Allen signs a contract on July 11.

This is a huge free agent get for the Heat — they have spent two seasons trying to find a consistent three-point threat to go around LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Shane Battier struggled last season (but was better in the playoffs). Mike Miller has been banged up for two seasons, but you saw what happened in Game 5 of the NBA finals when the Heat had him knocking down open looks — they were an unstoppable offensive force. The penetration and threat of LeBron and Wade give guys at the arc time to set their feet — plus pretty much pitch a tent, light a bonfire and make some smores — before they have to shoot.

Allen, the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers made and shot 45 percent from beyond the arc last season, should thrive in that setting. Which was why he was the Heat’s top free agent priority. LeBron and Wade were tweeting him, and Pat Riley was working his magic. Riley’s sales job was impressive and really helped sway Allen, Wojnarowski reports. He sold him the same way he sold Wade and Bosh (and the way the Celtics sold free agents to come during the big three era) — shared sacrifice to chase a bigger goal.

Miami could only offer half has much money as Boston — $3 million to take his talents to South Beach vs. $6 million to stay in green — but this wasn’t really about money. Allen has made a lot of money, $178 million over the course of his career. It was about the chance to win a ring. It was also about how he fit in — Boston wants to expand Avery Bradley’s role and just agreed to terms with Jason Terry as a free agent (who is an upgrade over Allen at this point in their respective careers). Allen’s role there was shifting.

You can bet this adds some fire to the rivalry on the court and in the stands between the Heat and Celtics. Allen has left his home for the last five seasons and where he won a ring in 2008 for a hated rival. Some Boston fans will turn on Allen now. Be ready for plenty of “Judas Shuttlesworth” jokes. But he was a free agent who played out his contract and had the right to make his call. How much of a role his reportedly strained relationship with Rajon Rondo, or how much he was frustrated about the Celtics shopping him around at the trade deadline, played into his thinking are good questions we may never know the answer to. But there seemed to be something after all the trade rumors around Allen — he asked for three years, $27 million to stay in Boston, reports the Herald. Boston would go no higher than two years, $12 million.

With the Heat he plays a key role with a great shot at another ring, and that seemed to matter.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue on Kyle Korver’s playing time: Brad Stevens ‘threw us for a loop’ by not playing Semi Ojeleye

AP Photo/Charles Krupa
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LeBron James is obviously the Cavaliers’ best player. Cleveland’s second-best player? Usually Kevin Love, but Kyle Korver has made a case lately.

So, how did Korver play just 19 minutes, including none in the first quarter, in the Cavs’ Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night? That was his playoff low, besides Game 1 against the Pacers, when he was still recovering from injury.

Blame Boston coach Brad Stevens removing Semi Ojeleye from his rotation.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue:

Well, initially, he’s been putting [Semi] Ojeleye in, so that’s been kind of Kyle’s matchup when he comes in the game. He didn’t play him tonight, so it kind of threw us for a loop.

This won’t slow the talk of Stevens being a genius. He neutralized one of Cleveland’s best players simply by not using a limited rookie.

Still, Lue’s strategy held some merit. Korver is a defensive liability, but Ojeleye’s offensive limitations make it hard to take advantage. Ojeleye’s biggest strength, his physical strength, is of limited utility in trying to stick tight to Korver on the perimeter.

In Games 1-4, Cavaliers with Korver on and…

Ojeleye on:

  • Offensive rating: 111.9
  • Defensive rating: 102.1
  • Net rating: +9.9

Ojeleye off:

  • Offensive rating: 97.0
  • Defensive rating: 109.5
  • Net rating: -12.5

That said, Korver is too good to plant on the bench. Other perimeter options – J.R. Smith, George Hill, Jordan Clarkson and Jeff Green (who actually played fine last night) – are just so unreliable. Lue shouldn’t just wait for the perfect matchup to use Korver.

But will Lue get it, anyway?

Stevens:

We believe in Semi and we think he’s a big, huge part of our team. It would not be a shock if he plays a ton for us in Game 6.

Lue better develop a plan for using Korver in Game 6 Friday, with contingencies based on Stevens using or not using Ojeleye. I wouldn’t trust Stevens’ declaration one bit, and Lue doesn’t want to get thrown for a loop again.

PBT Extra: Rockets showed defense, resilience, can Warriors show same in Game 5?

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Game 4 was an epic game, and the Houston Rockets proved they are a serious threat to knock the Warriors off the top of the mountain. They took Golden State’s big punch to start the game (a 12-0 run) and Stephen Curry haymaker in the third, cranked up their defense, got a great game from Chris Paul, and evened the series at 2-2.

Heading back to Houston, we can expect more of the same out of the Rockets Thursday night — they know a win in Game 5 puts them in a very dominant position in the series.

The question is, do the Warriors have another gear? That’s one of the topics I get into in this PBT Extra. For a few seasons now, the Warriors have been able to play lockdown defense and hit tough shots in the clutch, with Kevin Durant making them especially hard to stop, but in Game 4 when it got tight they looked tired and slow. Houston’s ball pressure threw Golden State off its game, and fatigue had set in for the Warriors. Can they not only go on big runs but slow down Chris Paul, James Harden and the Rockets’ attack?

Thursday night is going to be interesting.

LeBron James recalls six turnovers with striking precision (video)

AP Photo/Charles Krupa
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LeBron James showed off his memory after the Cavaliers’ Game 1 loss to the Celtics, detailing every play of the beginning of the fourth quarter:

He was at it again after Cleveland’s Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.

Asked about his six turnovers, LeBron perfectly described six turnovers:

The turnover LeBron very noticeably said went off Jeff Green‘s hands was actually assigned to Green. So, that meant LeBron omitted one of his own:

Still, this was incredibly impressive. It was also maybe a little passive-aggressive, the way LeBron notes the ball going off Green’s and J.R. Smith‘s hands.

So, it was quintessential LeBron.

Celtics top Cavaliers in Game 5, setting up Game 7 in Boston?

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LeBron James and a couple Cavaliers teammates left the court well before the Celtics dribbled out their 96-83 Game 5 win Wednesday.

The Cavs are already moving on.

Game 6 will be Friday in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers – down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals – must win to avoid elimination. The way Boston has played on the road, it’s even easy to look ahead to Game 7, which is scheduled for Sunday in Boston.

Still, the Celtics bought themselves leeway with their decisive win in Boston tonight. They led by double digits the final 20 minutes, breaking the Cavs’ momentum after two straight wins in Cleveland.

“It’s tough going on the road, playing against somebody else in their house with their crowd,” said Jayson Tatum, who had 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks tonight. “So, we were just comfortable. We came back home and defended home-court like we have all playoffs.”

Boston is now 10-0 at home this postseason – but just 1-6 away. Fueled in part by that historic split, no game in this series has been close. All five have been decided by at least nine points, and the average margin of victory – 18 – is in the 97th percentile for largest ever in a 3-2 best-of-seven series.

So, just as two big Celtics wins in Games 1 and 2 didn’t deter the Cavaliers, this one likely won’t, either. The Cavs should be heavily favorited in Game 6.

Beyond, if it gets that far? That’s a much bigger tossup.

Teams up 3-2 in a best-of-seven series have won 85% of the time. But Boston is missing a key reason it secured home-court advantage, including a chance to break the 2-2 at home rather than on the road – Kyrie Irving. And LeBron James is downright scary in a Game 7, even on the road.

The Celtics at least took care of business tonight, showing a far greater sense of urgency than Cleveland. Brad Stevens changed his starting lineup, inserting Aron Baynes for Marcus Morris, and tightened his rotation to just seven players until garbage time. Boston ran the floor much harder than the Cavs, decisively outrebounded them and beat them to loose balls. Even in altercations, the Celtics had a man advantage.

LeBron (26 points, 10 rebounds five assists and six turnovers) never made his presence felt in the way usually necessary for the Cavaliers to win. Cleveland’s four other starters combined to score just 24 points, two fewer than LeBron did himself.

After Boston seized control early, the Cavaliers made few adjustments in strategy or effort – as if they’re saving those for later.