One man does not win or lose an NBA playoff series.
But J.R. Smith’s shooting woes — 7-of-22 in the Knicks Game 4 loss Tuesday night — are symptomatic of the Knicks problems in this series. Indiana is a good defensive team that has taken away the Knicks first option (Carmelo Anthony is not efficent right now) and nobody else is stepping up to help him. Not Iman Shumpert (0-for-6 Tuesday), not Tyson Chandler or Kenyon Martin inside, and Jason Kidd last made a field gold during the Nixon administration (actually it’s been just three weeks, but still).
But J.R. Smith is the poster child for the Knicks shooting woes, and after the Game 4 loss Smith told the New York Post he is to blame for the Knicks shooting woes.
“I take the blame for this whole series,” Smith said. “I’ve been letting my teammates down, I’ve been letting my coaches down, and it doesn’t feel good.”
In this series Smith is 18-of-64 (28.1 percent) and 6-of-26 from three. Ouch.
Credit the Pacers defense for some of this — they are long and physical and you don’t get easy looks against them. They have taken away the easy first and second options out of the Knicks offensive sets. During the regular season when the Knicks offense broke down Anthony or Smith could create their own look in isolation and bail the offense out. Go isolation against the Pacers and they destroy you.
But the Knicks also moved the ball strong to weak so much better in the season, especially during their win streak they shared the rock beautiffuly. But now even when Pablo Prigioni does that now, the shot gets missed.
And that’s not all on Smith. He’s part of a larger problem.
Kobe Bryant has become acclaimed for his filmmaking, even winning an Oscar.
But his sustained prominence in basketball retirement, especially considering his new industry, has sparked questions about why he hasn’t been swept up by #MeToo. After all, Bryant admitted in 2004 to having sex with a woman who didn’t view the encounter as consensual the year prior. (That statement part of Bryant moving on and readily accepted by the public, which shows why a reckoning in our handling of sexual misconduct was so necessary.)
Bryant was selected to judge a film festival, but a petition emerged to prevent his participation. Apparently, 159 signatures were enough for the festival to change course.
Evan Real of The Hollywood Reporter:
Kobe Bryant has been removed from the Animation Is Film Festival jury following backlash stemming from a 2003 rape allegation. Though the former L.A. Lakers star was set to serve as a juror at the annual event this weekend in Hollywood, organizers announced on Wednesday that he will no longer participate.
On one hand, it’s not surprising the petition received just 159 signatures. Bryant remains highly popular and is beloved by many.
But this also shows the power of a relatively small number of voices speaking up.
Pistons star Blake Griffin learned his lesson after getting his dunk blocked by Nets center Jarrett Allen in the preseason. In the regular-season opener, Griffin went up even harder.
And Allen still stopped him!
Rumors about Kevin Durant leaving the Warriors are intensifying. Even people within the Golden State organization are bracing themselves for him to depart in free agency next summer.
Not even the Warriors collecting their championship rings could stop the momentum.
In fact, last night’s celebration contributed to the noise.
Kevin’s brother, Tony, commented on Kevin’s Instagram post featuring the rings, “Filling the hand up before we get outta here!”
Rob Perez of The Action Network:
My best guess was “here” meant the Warriors’ arena in Oakland. This is their last season there before moving to a new arena in San Francisco Francisco.
Or maybe “here” meant in the NBA. Careers in the NBA are finite.
Another thought that crossed my mind: “Here” could have meant in this world. Lives, too, are finite.
The only clear part: Tony wants Kevin to win a handful of rings. The deadline is nebulous.
Of course, the loudest speculation was “here” meant playing for the Warriors and this being the last run. But Tony sharply denied that.
If you want to be a conspiracy theorist, perhaps Tony meant leaving Golden State after this season but Kevin just instructed him to downplay it to quiet chatter. I suppose that’s possible, though it wouldn’t jibe with Kevin’s tell-the-truth-about-free-agency approach.
Occam’s Razor suggests taking Tony at his word, and that’s what I’ll do.
After sitting out while
awaiting a trade rehabbing after injuring his wrist, Jimmy Butler practiced with the Timberwolves for the first time last week. He reportedly showed up late, talked a ton of trash and led third-stringers to a win over the starters then left early.
Amidst widespread speculation they had to trade Butler after that, the Tom Thibodeau-run Timberwolves put out word they considered it their best practice of the year.
Maybe Thibodeau is that insanely competitive. Maybe he was just trying to preserve leverage.
If it were the latter, he sure stuck to his story.
Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN:
Teams who talked to Minnesota after his first practice, literally the day after his practice, Minnesota was asking for more then than they were before the day. Which tells you this: Minnesota is not trading him. They’re asking for packages that know teams aren’t going to agree to.
The Timberwolves are in a though spot. Butler is an excellent player, but everyone knows he wants out. I don’t blame them for trying to maximize their limited leverage.
How will Butler react to this revelation, though? Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he told Butler the team would seek a trade. Butler pledged to play hard in the meantime.
But if Butler playing hard just makes it less likely Minnesota will trade him, will he feel as if the team isn’t holding up its end of the bargain? Then what?
It has long seemed Taylor and Thibodeau are on different pages on several issues. Though Taylor just backed Thibodeau, Butler could drive a wedge even deeper between the owner and president-coach.