CHICAGO — On the heels of Derrick Rose’s miracle game-winner in Game 3 of the Bulls-Cavs series, LeBron James returned the favor with this long jumper at the buzzer to break an 84-84 tie and regain home court advantage:
James says he overruled David Blatt on the play call.
“To be honest, the play that was drawn up, I scratched it,” James said after the game. “And I told coach, ‘Just give me the ball. Either it’s going to overtime or I’m going to win it for us.’ It was that simple.”
Originally, James was supposed to take the ball out. He wasn’t having it.
“I told coach there’s no way I’m taking the ball out unless I could shoot it over the backboard and go in. So, I told him to have somebody else take the ball out and get out of the way.”
It worked, and rather than going home to Cleveland on Tuesday in a 3-1 hole, James and the Cavs have tied the series at two games apiece.
“I’ve made big shots before in the postseason,” James said. “Obviously this was a big one for our team. You don’t want to go down 3-1 to anyone. I was able to regain home court with the shot. For me, I just don’t like letting my teammates down. I did that on a few plays late in the fourth quarter. There were a couple of offensive foul calls. I was happy to be able to make a play at the end.”
Ja Morant points out one person who didn’t vote him Rookie of the Year
Crowley stood up for his vote, and everything was good between them (at least on social media).
@JaMorant Ja is a transcendent player- no arguing that. But the ROTY should go to the most impactful. The NBA built a TV schedule around Zion and expanded a bubble for Zion. His 24 games were must-see TV. I'll take that 24-and change PER and stand on that side of history.
While the votes come from media members, the NBA goes out of its way to put together voters who see things differently, something ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne talked about is an excellent thread on Twitter, although she was speaking about the case for LeBron James over Giannis Antetokounmpofor MVP.
A word about awards voting. The NBA goes to great lengths to get a broad cross section of voters who all have different criteria for voting. That is intentional. You want a broad cross section of broadcasters, beat writers, columnists, radio play by play guys, former players.
Some voters prefer statistical based arguments. Some vote for who they think the best player is. Sometimes it’s best player on best team. Some are swayed by leadership. Each year, each vote is different. But if you have a broad cross section that should even out.
To be clear, I was one of the Morant voters, and I will readily admit that Zion is the better player (at least right now). I consider the impact on winning heavily when voting, which led me to Morant because he played 59 games before the bubble and had his team in a playoff position, while Zion played only 19 and did not (only games before the NBA restart in Orlando were to be considered, per NBA rules). I also expect and respect the fact that not everyone will see it that way, or even define what matters most in winning the award the same way. Diversity of thought and views is a good thing, it leads to better outcomes. Crowley should vote what he sees and believes, and that should be respected.
Unanimous or not, Morant will go down as the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year. The voting will be a footnote at most.
Boston’s Gordon Hayward warming up, available to play in Game 3
Brad Stevens says Gordon Hayward will come off the bench and will be on "minutes monitoring." Stevens said it will be up to Hayward if he can go, but said that he expects him to play tonight in Game 3, as @wojespn reported earlier.
Hayward’s return gives the Celtics another versatile player who can create his own shot and knock down the open looks others create for him. Hayward can run pick-and-rolls with the second unit while Tatum and Walker get rest. He’s the Celtics’ fourth-best scoring option right now, but he’s more dangerous than any other team’s fourth scorer.
Miami leads the series 0-2. If Boston doesn’t find a way to break down Miami’s zone defense and defend the rim better themselves this series is going to be short. Maybe Hayward can help with that on Saturday night.
Ty Lawson dropped by team, reportedly banned from Chinese league after social media posts
“His inappropriate words are inconsistent with the social responsibilities and values abided by our club and have brought serious adverse social impacts to the club and the league. We will not sign him for the new season.”
Lawson’s quickness and ability to create space and score could help some NBA teams, but incidents like this make it less likely an NBA team would roll the dice on the 32-year-old point guard. Lawson spent eight seasons in the NBA then the last two in China.
Mike Brown reportedly on list of Indiana coach interviews
Brown was the head coach of both the Cavaliers and Lakers, leading the Cavaliers to the Finals in 2007 and being named Coach of the Year two years later. Brown has been the lead assistant under Steve Kerr for a few years now and has undoubtedly soaked up knowledge on setting up a modern NBA offense.
Whoever fills Nate McMillan’s shoes in Indiana has a tough job. Expectations may be high from ownership, but McMillan’s Pacers’ teams played hard and defended, making them difficult to play against. Their offense also was old school, which is why McMillan was fired after the Heat swept the Pacers in the first round, but it wasn’t terrible. How big a leap this team makes may rely less on the style of play and more on if Victor Oladipo has returned to his All-NBA form.