LeBron James had a legendary individual performance in Game 3 of the NBA Finals last night, but even he couldn’t do everything. He ended the first and third quarters on the bench, resting for just two minutes and 23 seconds. In that span:
Warriors 12, Cavaliers 0
12-0! In a game Cleveland lost by just five, this was perhaps the most incredible stat.
In one sense, the Cavs lost down the stretch. But they really lost because LeBron doesn’t have unlimited endurance.
He faded late, seemingly weighed down by such a heavy workload. Yet, his breathers were still too long for the Cavaliers to win. They just collapsed in his brief rests.
Here’s every time someone played 90% of his team’s minutes in a playoff game and saw his team outscored by at least eight without him since 2001 (as far back as Basketball-Reference records go):
The only time a team fared worse while a high-minute player sat in this span was Game 4 of the 2011 Eastern Conference finals. The Bulls got outscored by 17 points in the 3.8 minutes Carlos Boozer sat in a 101-93 Heat win.
What LeBron did is almost always enough. Teams with a player who played 45 minutes and was at least +7 were 224-7 in the playoffs since 2001.
But the Cavs’ supporting cast is too meager. The Warriors are too much.
LeBron is the best player in the world. That just doesn’t seem to cut it in this series.
Terry Rozier takes solace in how much Danny Ainge believes in him.
But I didn’t appreciate how deep their bond went.
Appearing on Bleacher Report’s live draft show, Rozier was asked to predict the Celtics’ No. 27 pick. So, Rozier called Ainge to ask. Shockingly, Ainge answered – with Boston on the clock. Almost certainly not knowing the call was public and live, Ainge revealed the likely selection:
Good thing the Celtics stuck with Robert Williams. That would have been extremely awkward otherwise.
As is, it was only a little awkward. Williams said today he doesn’t like to be called Bob.
Paul George has openly stated the appeal of playing for his hometown Lakers. He has also openly stated the appeal of staying with the Thunder.
That has created significant confusion about his upcoming free agency.
Could George find a compromise outcome?
Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:
More than one rival team has suggested to me that they expect George to strongly consider a two-year deal with the Thunder at $30.3 million next season and $32.7 million in 2019-20 that includes a player option to return to free agency next summer.
This makes sense on paper.
A 1+1 contract would give George more time to determine whether he and Russell Westbrook can win together in Oklahoma City without getting stuck there long-term if they can’t. The Thunder were starting to put it together when Andre Roberson got hurt. Perhaps, Roberson getting healthy would swing Oklahoma City’s fortunes.
George would also be eligible for a higher max salary in two years – 35% of the salary cap, up from 30% if he signs now. So, a short-term contract would allow him to maximize his potential earnings.
But George said he wanted to sign somewhere long-term this summer. He also suffered an extremely gruesome leg injury just a few years ago. He might not want to bypass guaranteed money to gamble for a little more later.
Are these rival teams just looking at the general outlook for a player in George’s position without considering his specific circumstances? Or do they know something? George could have informed teams he might become available in 2019 or 2020 so they should prepare.
I’m skeptical this is more than speculation by opposing teams. But the possibility that they’re basing their expectations on inside information makes this worth monitoring.
Mikal Bridges‘ mom jumped up, pumped her fists and screamed “Yes!” through her giant grin.
The 76ers – the organization she works for in human resources – had just drafted her son No. 10 overall. Bridges, a Philadelphia native who played at Villanova, seemed as if he’d stay home for his pro career.
She’s very, very excited. She’s been wanting this. She’s probably more excited than I am. She was about to cry and all that. She said she didn’t want to ruin her makeup, so she’d try to hold it in. But no, she’s very excited. I’m her only son. I’m a little mama’s boy. Her son is right there around the corner again, and it’s just really cool.
Except, as Bridges was talking, the 76ers were trading him to the Suns for No. 16 pick Zhaire Smith and the Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-rounder.
That extra pick carries major value. Even if you like Bridges much more than Smith – which I did, especially considering their fits in Philadelphia – that’s hard to pass up. The NBA is a business after all.
But it’s lamentable how this played out.
The Kings drafted Marvin Bagley No. 2 last night (seemingly for bad reasons, which doesn’t at all eliminate him from being the right pick but makes it less likely he is). He’ll join a young core also comprised of Bogdan Bogdanovic, De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles.
That group excite you?
Kings general manager Vlade Divac isn’t reducing expectations.
Lina Washington of ABC 10:
To be fair, in 2012, the Warriors were coming off a 23-43 season with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson already on the roster and had just drafted Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes. Everyone would’ve laughed at calling Golden State a “super team, just young” then. But those four (plus Andre Iguodala) eventually led the Warriors to a championship.
But, really: Nah.
Entering the 2016-17 season, then-Knicks guard Derrick Rose said, “They’re saying us and Golden State are the super teams.” We mocked Rose relentlessly, and of course, the Warriors went 73-9 while New York finished just 32-50.
How long until Divac’s young super team reaches even 32-50?