PBT’s Top 10 Stories of 2014, No. 3: San Antonio Spurs put on clinic in NBA Finals

1 Comment

Father Time finally lost a foot race.

Everyone had written obituaries for the Tim Duncan Spurs — multiple times over the previous years — but that team died like Freddy Krueger. The Spurs under Gregg Popovich had spent the past several years reinventing themselves. Tony Parker was now the focal point of an offense that had the best ball and player movement we have seen in the NBA in decades. They had rejuvenated their defense behind a renaissance of Tim Duncan. They had found the needed injection of youth and athleticism in Kawhi Leonard. They had found role players like Boris Diaw that were a perfect fit for what they wanted to do.

The final ingredient was the Spurs came into last season angry and motivated after a gut-wrenching Finals loss to the Miami Heat the year before thanks to a Ray Allen three.

By the time the Spurs reached the 2014 Finals they were playing the beautiful game, just tearing teams apart with their passing. That continued with the Heat. San Antonio’s offense was unstoppable against Miami scoring 119.0 points per 100 possessions – the best offensive rating in any Finals since at least 1978 (which is when the NBA starting tracking turnovers).

San Antonio beat the Heat in five games, just dominating the last three. Miami had no answers. It was the Spurs fifth title in the Tim Duncan era and grew the Spurs’ legacy in the past 15 years to as great as any other franchise — the Lakers may have five titles as well but they could not come close to the sustained level of success of the Spurs.

“We’ll never play better than we did the last three games against Miami (in the NBA Finals) Won’t happen,” Popovich said earlier this season to PBT. “We can’t play any better than that at both ends of the floor. If we got to that level I would be thrilled.”

If they get back to that level, the rest of the NBA should be afraid.

 

Kyrie Irving (shoulder) out for Nets-Pacers

Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyrie Irving missed the Nets’ win over the Bulls on Saturday.

He’s not healthy enough to play the Pacers tonight.

Nets public relations:

Kyrie Irving (right shoulder impingement) is OUT.

Brooklyn (5-7) lags behinds Indiana (7-6) in the Eastern Conference’s middle morass. The Nets must try to catch up in the playoff race without their best player.

But it’s a long season. Brooklyn has plenty of time to gain ground. Spencer Dinwiddie is capable in relief, and the unselfish Nets can create ball movement while Dinwiddie rests.

I’m more concerned about next week. A segment of Brooklyn’s schedule:

  • Nov. 24 at Knicks
  • Nov. 25 at Cavaliers
  • Nov. 27 at Celtics

That’s the team Irving spurned in free agency, the team Irving requested a trade from and the team Irving just left after pledging to re-sign. Those are juicy matchups. Hopefully, Irving is healthy enough to play in all three.

Ray Allen says he would’ve returned to Celtics if they signed Kevin Durant in 2016

Elsa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ray Allen left the Celtics on bad terms in 2012. He finished his career with the Heat in 2014.

But Allen apparently could have come back with Boston in 2016… if Kevin Durant signed there first.

Allen, via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston:

“I had a conversation with (Ainge) and I told him this was my last-ditch effort. I would’ve went back,” Allen said on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria” radio show.

“This was when Kevin Durant was a free agent. He was thinking about going to Boston. And I said, ‘Hey, if you guys land Kevin, I would certainly look at lacing them back up one more time and try to make something good happen here in Boston.’ “

This is a fascinating “what if?” – for the Celtics on the court and for Allen’s legacy in Boston.

But it also probably didn’t come close to happening. Durant said his top two choices in 2016 free agency were the Warriors and Thunder. Even Allen himself said he never neared a comeback.

Still, it’s interesting – after all the animosity – Allen even spoke to Celtics president Danny Ainge about returning.

European coach berates his players: ‘You’re good guys. F— you’ (video)

Mikhail Serbin/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Remember Luigi Datome? He spent a couple seasons with the Pistons and Celtics.

He makes an appearance in this wild video featuring Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic (warning: profanity):

A partial transcript the best I could muster:

YOU’RE GOOD GUYS. IN YOUR EYES, YOU’RE GOOD GUYS. F— YOU, EVERYBODY! F— YOU, OK!

F— YOU, GIGI DATOME. OK? SHAME ON YOU. AND YOU…

Festivus isn’t for another month, but someone is already ready for the airing of grievances.

Report: Rockets waiving Ryan Anderson

Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
1 Comment

To facilitate a trade from the Rockets to the Suns last summer, Ryan Anderson reduced the guarantee of his 2019-20 salary by $5,620,885. Anderson barely played in Phoenix, got traded to the Heat, barely played in Miami and got waived. He again signed with the Rockets this summer.

Now, after barely playing in Houston, Anderson will continue his odyssey elsewhere.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Anderson was guaranteed $500,000 on his minimum-salary contract this season. By the time he clears waivers, he will have earned $434,704. So, assuming Anderson goes unclaimed, Houston will be on the hook for the remaining $65,296.

This might end the career of the 31-year-old Anderson. Once a premier stretch four, he no longer stands out in a league where 3-point shooting has become a common skill for power forwards. He’s also a major defensive liability.