MIAMI — We all expected a team to come out in Game 4 playing desperate, knowing the series could be on the line, playing like this game meant everything.
We didn’t expect that team to be the Spurs.
San Antonio moved the ball, played smart and energetic defense, knocked down their shots (they shot 55.6 percent in the first half) and just outplayed a flat Miami Heat squad, leading 55-36 at the half.
Miami started out the game trying to get Chris Bosh touches, but their offense quickly devolved into a lot of pick-and-rolls or isolations with almost no weakside movement. The Spurs play smart, hard working defense seemed to contest everything — they were much sharper on defense than they were in Game 3 — but the Heat made it easy on them.
Miami shot 35.3 percent in the first half. Dwyane Wade looked old and like a guy with bad knees — he was getting in close but was 1-of-6 shooting inside 8 feet.
Miami’s lack of energy showed on both ends. They tried their usual trapping defense but when it’s done without real energy and intent the Spurs just shred it with passes. Defensively the Heat were not disrupting passing lanes, allowing Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw to get ball inside (or Tony Parker to drive it there) and pass out to shooters. The Heat close outs were those of a Tuesday night in February in Milwaukee, not the NBA Finals.
Parker had 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting, Danny Green was 3-of-4 from three, and Patty Mills was 3-of-5.
The Spurs have owned the last six quarters of this series.
Erik Spoelstra got so desperate he went with Toney Douglas for a while to try and spark the team. It’s a sign he has no more answers.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has had a rough couple of weeks.
And now he’s been dunked on by LeBron James.
Bet he didn’t see that coming. LeBron took to Twitter to stand in solidarity with MLB players (well, not the players on the Astros, but the rest of them) in the wake of the Houston Astros cheating scandal.
First things first: Tighten up your hashtags, LeBron. That’s too long.
LeBron’s frustration follows a long list of MLB players who have spoken out with a similar sentiment: Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, and Aaron Judge, to name a few.
Manfred came down hard on the Astros, but was it hard enough? He suspended GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for a year without pay, and the team subsequently fired both of them. Manfred fined the Astros $5 million, and took away their first- and second-round draft picks for the next two drafts.
The Astros apologized, but without seeming terribly apologetic. Manford could strip the Astros of their titles, but the NCAA did that to Louisville and did anyone actually notice?
I appreciate LeBron’s outrage, and I don’t doubt his sincerity. However, if you think the NBA is on some moral high ground and some organizations wouldn’t cheat to win, I have this Nigerian prince who has a business proposition I want you to meet.
Kyrie Irving missed 26 games this season with shoulder bursitis, but rather than have surgery he got a cortisone shot eight weeks ago and was able to return to the court for nine games. Eventually, a knee issue sidelined him.
Now he has re-aggravated that shoulder and, once again, will see a specialist, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson told the media on Tuesday.
There are no details on if there is a specific moment the re-aggravation happened. Irving had been trying to avoid surgery, but that could be back on the table. Irving and the Nets may take a few weeks to make their decision on a next step.
Atkinson may not go there but the rest of us can — it would be a surprise to see Irving back this season. At this point, the smart play is to let Spencer Dinwiddie run the offense the rest of the way, play hard and see what happens in the playoffs, then return next season with a healthy Irving and Kevin Durant.
Irving has played in just 20 games this season, but without him the Nets are still the seven seed in the East at 25-28.
The Cavaliers brought in Michigan coach John Beilein to install his motion offense, to develop young players, and to build a culture that could win big in Cleveland.
None of that happened. The Cavaliers are 14-40, they have the worst net rating in the league and are bottom seven in both offense and defense, their young talent — players such as Collin Sexton and Darius Garland — are not developing, and the Cavs’ players have clashed with Beilein and each other, and the team abandoned Beilein’s motion offense less than a month into the season. It’s been rough.
Now he’s going to walk away, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The Cavaliers return to practice Wednesday and it is likely J.B. Bickerstaff — a former NBA head coach in Houston and Memphis, and the lead assistant on Beilein’s staff — will take over as head coach. Whether that is for just the remainder of this season, or beyond, remains to be seen.
Bickerstaff would be the fourth Cavaliers coach in less than two seasons since LeBron James left the organization.
Beilein struggled to adapt to the NBA coaching style — the lack of practices, the losing, the fact that good NBA players have more organizational power than the coach, and that he couldn’t treat those players the way he did his college players. He was unable to relate to players, and his relationship with them became an issue when he reportedly said they were “no longer playing like thugs” during a film session. Those NBA players were not giving a college coach the benefit of the doubt, he had to prove himself to them. He didn’t. At age 67, Beilein wasn’t able to adapt to the NBA game.
He was in the first year of a five-year contract worth more than $4 million a season (the last year of that was a team option). Beilein is unhappy enough to leave that money on the table to walk away. He could return to college coaching as soon as next season if he wanted, there would be a long line of universities interested.
Hiring Beilein is a big miss for GM Koby Altman (the first GM owner Dan Gilbert gave a second contract to; Gilbert pushed good GMs like David Griffen out the door). The revolving door of coaches is not the sign of a strong and stable organization. The Cavaliers need to develop a culture and they need a new coach who can deliver that.
Reggie Jackson came to Detroit to be the outside to Andre Drummond‘s inside. That never panned out, in part due to a rash of injuries to Jackson that kept a lot over a couple of those seasons.
Drummond has been traded to Cleveland, and with that it was time for the Pistons to move on from Jackson as well. That has happened, the Pistons and Jackson have agreed to a buyout.
Once Jackson clears waivers, he is headed to the Clippers reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Jackson has only played in 14 games this season due to injury but has averaged 14.9 points and 5.1 assists a game when he has played, plus is shooting 37.8 percent from three. Jackson is making $18 million this season, the final year of a five-year, $80 million contract he inked back in 2015. He is a free agent this summer.
Why the Clippers? They are contenders, and Jackson is friends with Paul George.
The Clippers get two things out of this. First, they get a third point guard who can spell Patrick Beverley 10-12 minutes a night down the stretch (and fill in if Beverley suffers an injury). Second, the Clippers keep a playmaking guard away from the Lakers.
Detroit saves a little money and takes another step to clear the roster for a rebuild. They have Derrick Rose and Brandon Knight at the point guard spot, don’t be surprised if they call up a few guys from the G-League to see if they can find a longer-term option.