The last time the Heat and the Spurs played in Miami, it was Game 7 of the NBA Finals last June, in a contest that meant the world to each respective franchise.
When they met again for the first time since then in a preseason contest in Miami on Saturday, the game meant absolutely nothing. Which might explain why, after playing in each of his team’s first five exhibition games, LeBron James decided to sit this one out.
From Michael Wallace of ESPN.com:
James said the decision to sit was part of the team’s “maintenance” process. Heat teammate Dwyane Wade played Saturday, but has skipped three preseason games.
“No, no injuries — just not suiting up,” James said. “It’s OK for LeBron to take one off.”
James also plans to miss the Heat’s final preseason game Friday at home against the Nets.
If LeBron says it’s OK for LeBron to take the night off, then who are we to argue?
In all seriousness, there’s nothing to be gained by James suiting up for every single preseason matchup. The team returned its core players from a season ago, so there aren’t any new faces the reigning MVP needs to get accustomed to playing with — unless you’re counting a reserve like Michael Beasley, which would be silly.
James will be in the lineup one more time in the preseason against the Pelicans this Wednesday, before shutting it down to prepare for opening night against the Chicago Bulls on October 29.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis Grizzlies guard/forward C.J. Miles is expected to miss the remainder of the season after injuring his left foot over the weekend.
Miles left a 135-128 loss to the Washington Wizards on Saturday due to left foot soreness. The Grizzlies announced Tuesday that an MRI revealed a stress reaction.
The 6-foot-6 Miles appeared in 53 games this season for the Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. The Grizzlies acquired him from Toronto in the Marc Gasol trade Feb. 7.
Miles came off the bench in 13 games with the Grizzlies and averaged 9.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 22.6 minutes.
With his recent outburst at hecklers in Utah, Russell Westbrook ignited a long-overdue discussion of how fans interact with players during games. The Jazz even recently banned a fan who repeatedly called Westbrook “boy” last year.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t an isolated case of that racist language being used toward a player.
Pistons Blake Griffin confronted a fan in Minnesota in December.
Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
The fan was seemingly ejected. The Timberwolves didn’t respond to questions whether he faced additional punishment.
I’m all for good-natured heckling. Racist taunts are completely unacceptable – and maybe still more common than we realized. Because Griffin didn’t get as enraged as Westbrook on video, this got swept under the rug.
It shouldn’t be Griffin’s responsibility to fix this. Teams must do a better job holding accountable fans who cross the line.
Jim Boylen is making friends within the Bulls.
Outside the organization? Not so much.
Boylen and Doc Rivers got ejected for yelling at each other during the Clippers’ win over Chicago on Friday. Rivers blamed Boylen for instigating.
Then, Boylen called timeout with the Bulls up 14 and 40 seconds left against the Suns last night. Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov appeared to take exception.
The Suns intentionally fouled, stopping Chicago from running its after-timeout play. As the game ended, Boylen gave the customary wave to the opposing coach – and was clearly rebuffed.
Kellan Olson of 98.7 Arizona Sports:
Was Boylen trying to rub in the victory? He pulled his starters during the timeout, giving him plausible deniability. It’d also be reasonable to use the timeout as a teaching opportunity for running an after-timeout play.
But the Suns don’t have to like being used for practice. They’re in the midst of a trying season, especially Kokoskov. His bitterness is understandable.
I don’t think either coach was wrong here. Both were doing what was best for their teams. The Bulls should get experience running situational plays. The Suns should find motivation to no longer get treated like a pushover.
Boylen strayed further from the accepted norms, but I rarely support unwritten rules. If the Suns didn’t like it, they should have done something about it – which they did by fouling to stop Chicago’s play. It was petty, but it was well within their rights. Just like the Bulls were calling timeout.
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the NBA’s most popular players. They led the league in All-Star fan voting the last two years. Antetokounmpo is favored to win MVP this season, and LeBron is generally recognized as the best player in the world.
So, tonight’s Lakers-Bucks game is losing a lot of luster.
This is what happens when you get a game-winner blocked by Mario Hezonja. You must take a seat for at least one game.
The Lakers are apparently going through with a plan to rest LeBron James in one game of back-to-backs. This isn’t that. The Lakers were off yesterday then have tomorrow and Thursday off.
LeBron missed 18 games earlier this season with a groin injury. That’s the type of injury he could play through – while at risk of aggravating it. Maybe he came back before fully recovered in order to make a playoff push.
LeBron’s activated playoff mode went nowhere. The Lakers are almost certain to miss the postseason. At this point, it makes sense to be cautious with the 34-year-old LeBron.
The Bucks should also be cautious with their superstar – but for the opposite reason. Milwaukee is 2.5 games up on everyone else in the league.
Antetokounmpo injured his ankle against the 76ers on Sunday. He stayed in that game, scoring 52 points in a loss. Hopefully, this is minor. The Bucks also play the Cavaliers tomorrow, so maybe Antetokounmpo will play the other half of the back-to-back.