After a first half where the Raptors had hung close with the Cavaliers, things were starting to unravel a little. You could feel Cleveland was starting to take control of Game 2, more than that as they got hot there was nothing Toronto could do about it.
With 2:35 left in the first half, the ice-cold Kyle Lowry subbed out of the game — then went on walkabout back to the locker room.
It ended up being during one of the most critical stretches of the game, and Lowry just walked off — not injured, not followed by training staff, just by himself. Lowry was criticized on the ESPN broadcast for it, while the NBA Twitter reaction ranged from confused to ripping him (online this, combined with former Lowry mentor Tyronn Lue saying Lowry wanted to get together with him Wednesday to watch the Thunder/ Warriors game, led to a lot of questioning of Lowry’s priorities and toughness).
After the game Lowry was asked about his walk.
“Just to kind of decompress, get back there, kind of relax my body and relax my mind,” Lowry said. “And knowing that we had a chance to kind of make some things (happen). I wanted to get myself going and get my teammates going and get the team going. It was nothing more than just kind of to decompress, breathe and get back out….
“I’ve done it plenty of times. It’s just now with the magnitude of the situation, it shows a little bit more.”
It was an odd thing to do at an odd time. Clearly Lowry was frustrated — he was 1-of-8 from three in Game 2, and he has 18 points on 8-for-28 shooting through two games against the Cavaliers — but leaving the court to gather oneself at a critical juncture of the game doesn’t seem the most supporting thing a teammate can do.
Toronto isn’t going to win a game in this series without All-Star level Lowry playing, and so far that guy has been missing.
Doc Rivers was not out of a job long.
Considered an elite coach and true leader of men, someone pushed out the door in Los Angeles by a frustrated owner in Steve Ballmer, Doc Rivers has accepted a deal to become the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Joel Embiid welcomed his new coach on Twitter.
This hiring was expected, and it came together fast. Rivers was let go by the Clippers on Monday and by Thursday had agreed to the deal with Philly.
Rivers signed a five-year deal and will not have any front office responsibilities, according to multiple reports. However, Philadelphia was looking to add more voices underneath GM Elton Brand and Rivers comes out of a collaborative front office situation with a lot of voices having a say. Brand and Rivers instantly clicked, according to reports.
Rivers jumps from one franchise with expectations of contending for a title but having fit and chemistry issues on the roster, to another.
Doc Rivers needs to find an offensive system in Philadelphia where both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can thrive next to each other, along with Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford in some capacity. There’s not much spacing or shooting there, which is why Shake Milton was getting a lot of run from former coach Brett Brown late in the season. That said, Harris played his best basketball in Los Angeles under Rivers and if he can find a way to better utilize players it will be a plus for Philly.
Roster tweaks would be coming, but with Rivers the idea will be finding a way to build around the stars they have in Embiid and Simmons. The plan is not to break everything up.
The buzz around the league is that Tyronn Lue will take the Clippers job, which leaves Mike D’Antoni looking at places such as Indiana and New Orleans.
Vince Carter’s 22-year NBA career ended amid the chaos of coronavirus, preventing him from getting the deserved fanfare.
But fellow players will send Carter into retirement with the NBA Sportsmanship Award.
NBA players have selected Vince Carter as the recipient of the 2019-20 NBA Sportsmanship Award, the NBA announced today.
Carter, who spent the 2019-20 season with the Atlanta Hawks, announced his retirement from the NBA in June after playing a league-record 22 seasons. He receives the Joe Dumars Trophy as the winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award. Dumars, a two-time NBA champion and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, played 14 NBA seasons and won the inaugural Sportsmanship Award in the 1995-96 season.
Each NBA team nominated one of its players for the NBA Sportsmanship Award, which is designed to honor a player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court. From the list of 30 team nominees, a panel of league executives selected one finalist from each of the NBA’s six divisions. Current NBA players selected the winner from the list of six finalists, with more than 250 players submitting their votes through confidential balloting conducted by the league office.
Full voting (with first-, second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place votes and voting points):
1. Vince Carter (Hawks): 143-70-34-13-4-2-2,520
2. Garrett Temple (Nets): 22-78-63-52-25-26-1,746
3. Steven Adams (Thunder): 34-57-41-52-58-24-1,632
4. Harrison Barnes (Kings): 24-25-75-48-35-59-1,418
5. Langston Galloway (Pistons): 23-22-29-60-79-53-1,244
7. Tyus Jones (Grizzlies): 20-14-24-41-65-102-1,016
What a nice honor for Carter, who gracefully aged from high-profile star to veteran mentor.
Bam Adebayo‘s and Goran Dragic‘s injuries… not looking great for the Heat approaching Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
This is a disaster for Miami. The Lakers dominated Game 1, and now the Heat have two starters hobbled at best. At worst and more likely, Adebayo and Dragic are out.
Adebayo would be the bigger loss. Miami was completely overmatched when facing Anthony Davis without a center. Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard can try to keep up, but they’re far from great solutions.
At least the Heat have more options at point guard. Kendrick Nunn can get an elevated role (especially after excelling in garbage time of Game 1). Jimmy Butler can become the de facto point guard. Tyler Herro can also play the position. But Dragic was playing so well during Miami’s run through the Eastern Conference. This is also a major setback.
Doc Rivers is gaining momentum in the 76ers’ coaching search.
As for the job Rivers left behind with the Clippers… Clippers assistant and former Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, unsurprisingly, has the inside track.
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Clippers are planning to interview other candidates, starting soon, sources said.
The New Orleans Pelicans are planning to interview Lue in the near future too, sources said.
Lue would be a sensible hire. He has championship experience, which would help the Clippers hit the ground running in a make-or-break season before Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can become unrestricted free agents. Lue managed stars in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The Clippers must improve their chemistry around their stars. And the last time Lue got promoted from assistant to head coach, his team won a title.
New Orleans also has an appealing job. But the Clippers are far closer to championship contention. And if both teams want Lue, I bet Clippers owner Steve Ballmer would outspend Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.
Still, the Clippers are conducting a coaching search. Other candidates could emerge. This isn’t necessarily Lue’s job for the taking.
How long would he wait on L.A. if the Pelicans make an offer? Lue has shown he values being entrusted.