Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while getting a tattoo of that selfie you took…
Paul George, Indiana Pacers. He is the reason the Indiana Pacers came from 19 points down to win. Check out his second half stat line: 28 points on 7-of-10 shooting (6-of-8 from three), 8 rebounds, and 2 steals. He finished with 39 points for the game. Early in the season we were all talking about George being in that elite 10 (give or take) players in the NBA who can lead a team to a title. Not sure the Pacers are going that far, but George looked like that guy again.
Darren Collison, Los Angeles Clippers. For three quarters the Clippers were mostly jump shooters — they were not getting easy buckets, they were not getting to the rim. Then in the fourth quarter Doc Rivers made a desperation move — go small, put Chris Paul on Kevin Durant and Collison on
Russell Westbrook, which frustrated the Thunder offense (see the next entry). When they got frustrated, they didn’t protect the rim as well and Collison took advantage — he had 12 fourth quarter points and hit 3-of-4 shots at the rim. Collison was part of the double teams on Durant that had some success. He simply out-played his former teammate Westbrook in the fourth and that is a key reason the Clippers came back and won.
Oklahoma City’s fourth quarter. It wasn’t Chris Paul’s amazing defense on Kevin Durant that turned this game around (Durant was 4-of-5 for 10 points in the quarter), it was how Oklahoma City responded as a team to that desperation move by Doc Rivers that doomed them. Oklahoma City rightfully thought Durant should be able to post up CP3 and so they tried to isolate that — and the other motions of their offense ground to a halt. The Thunder went away from what worked to become singularly focused. The Thunder spent the fourth quarter trying to get deep into the shot clock and go with isolation plays, and that is what the Clippers were able to defend. The Clippers doubled, the Thunder missed on opportunities — then the Thunder let their frustrations cary over to the defense end. The Clippers scored lm That was the bigger problem, the Clippers got 14 shots in the restricted area in the fourth quarter alone, another two inside 8 feet. The Clippers are too athletic, too good to let them waltz into the lane. Those are correctable problems for the Thunder, ones more about mindset and poise than skill.
Joel Embiid is a big man like we haven’t seen in some time. He’s both an interior force and a range shooter, and is one of the more talented 7-footers in recent NBA memory.
So it makes sense that the Philadelphia 76ers star leans toward former big men when it comes to discussing the greatest players in league history. While most are obsessed with the back-and-forth between Michael Jordan and LeBron James, Embiid told Jason Concepcion of the Ringer this week that he didn’t think either were the best player ever.
To Embiid, Wilt Chamberlain is the true GOAT.
“He’s not the GOAT. To me, you got Wilt Chamberlain. I mean he has all the records. They’re never gonna be beaten. I don’t see anybody getting 100 points in a game. That’s it, he’s the GOAT.”
Chamberlain doesn’t seem to be brought up in the GOAT conversation much anymore, but his prowess was legendary and it’s mistaken to say that he only played against smaller, less athletic white players.
It’s sort of cool that Embiid decided to choose a different player as is greatest of all time. Whether or not that’s true — or whether Embiid truly believes in his choice — is another thing altogether.
I’m not sure how excited I am to watch “Space Jam 2”. I think LeBron James is a slightly better actor than Michael Jordan, and the original “Space Jam” was nothing to shake a stick at. I’m the perfect age for Space Jam to have meant something to me, but having watched the film as an adult I can tell you it’s largely underwhelming.
Still, Space Jam 2 is set to film this summer and we finally have a confirmation of that fact from LeBron himself.
Speaking at All-Star Weekend, James told a crowd in Charlotte that they are indeed going to film once the season is over.
I think filmmaking has evolved, particularly animated filmmaking in the wake of things like Toy Story, Shrek, and other big franchises. There is no doubt that Space Jam 2 will be a better movie than the original. The director of the film certainly thinks so.
Kids will love it, and it’s exactly the kind of thing that James want to get involved in when he moved to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer.
I’m sure that basketball Twitter will have a steady stream of opinions when it comes out in theaters. Maybe I will catch it when it’s on at Netflix a month later.
Anthony Davis recently made mention that all 29 NBA teams other than the New Orleans Pelicans are on his list to land when he becomes trade eligible again this summer. Teams like the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Clippers will vie for his services with the best packages they have the to offer.
But which of these teams will be long-term solutions for Davis, whose current contract runs out in the summer of 2020?
That is likely to be where the conversation around Davis shifts as we move into the spring. In fact, according to Shams Charania, at least one interested team isn’t on Davis’ radar long term.
Davis and agent Rich Paul severely overplayed their hand when it came to negotiating a trade request with the Pelicans as they tried to steer Davis to the Lakers before the deadline.
New Orleans remains firmly in control of Davis and any offers for him, although it’s possible the player could retain some additional influence by making it known that he would not re-sign anywhere outside of his preferred destinations. According to Charania, that’s the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, and Bucks.
Still, a player’s status as a potential risk in free agency is affected by how good he is and how close to a championship the receiving team thinks they are. We saw a Toronto Raptors take a chance with Kawhi Leonard, who could very well leave this summer.
Might a team trade for Davis without the guarantee that he could leave in 2020? That seems possible, and I wouldn’t rule out anything wild happening in trade market come summer.
LeBron James spent just four years with the Miami Heat, grabbing two championships with pals Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. LeBron then left South Beach to bring a title to his native Ohio with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James is now part of the Los Angeles Lakers, an organization that Miami Heat president Pat Riley is innately familiar with (Riley was on the coaching staff of the Lakers from 1979-90). Riley was famously upset when he took the podium in the summer of 2014 after James had informed him that he was not going to come back to Miami.
We are approaching the half-decade mark from that interaction, and Riley appears to have cooled off a little bit.
Speaking with ESPN’s Dan LeBatard, Riley said that he felt disappointed because of how long a tenure that Heat team could have had.
I’m not sure if it’s fair to say that Miami you would have been a “10-year team”. Chris Bosh last played in February of 2016, and Wade hasn’t been a starter-level player for some time.
Still, it’s true that if LeBron would have stayed in South Beach that the Heat would be a perennial Eastern Conference Finals team and perhaps a real dynastic challenger to the Golden State Warriors.