Three Things to Know: Kyrie Irving can play home games. That doesn’t make Nets favorites.


Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA great.

1) Kyrie Irving can play home games. It doesn’t make Nets title favorites.

Kyrie Irving got his wish — he will soon be able to play home games in Brooklyn.

Not because Irving did the mature thing and got vaccinated, but because New York Mayor Eric Adams will officially announce Thursday he’s exempting athletes and performers from the city’s vaccine mandate for private workers (but if you work in government and other jobs covered by the mandate, you still have to be vaccinated). Adams had echoed players like Kevin Durant, who had said the exemption for visiting players/performers made it unfair: unvaccinated players from other teams could play at the Barclays Center, but not Irving. Adams is changing that.

Now Irving can take the court for the Nets’ final nine games, plus playoff games (except any in Toronto, where he cannot travel because he is unvaccinated).

Are the Nets back to being title favorites?


Without question the Nets just got much better and more dangerous with the Mayor’s move. Brooklyn just got a top-15 player in the world and its second-best player back for every game, not just half of them. They become a bigger playoff threat.

It’s not enough to make them favorites in the East, and Wednesday’s loss to the shorthanded Grizzlies is a reminder of why.

Irving scored 43 points on 15-of-27 shooting, with six 3-pointers and eight assists in Memphis.

Kevin Durant added 35 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists. Brooklyn scored 120 points and had an efficient 119.6 offensive rating for the game. With those two stars on the floor, Brooklyn will be an offensive force.

Brooklyn still lost to the Grizzlies by a dozen points. A Grizzlies team without Ja Morant.

And therein lies the biggest problem for the Nets — they are not a good defensive team. They are bottom 10 defense in the league this season, a 114 defensive rating via Cleaning the Glass. When Durant and Irving are on the floor together this season, the defense is slightly worse (-0.6 worse in net rating; if you want to argue that’s basically the even as the season rating, fine, it’s still bottom 10).

Memphis attacked and got the shots it wanted, with seven players in double figures scoring and three with 20+ (Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, and De'Anthony Melton). Without Ben Simmons on the court — and he is not currently doing any on-court work — there are multiple places to attack the Nets defense.

Now project ahead to the postseason (likely without Simmons, but if he returns, fitting him in will not be simple). The Nets are the No 8 seed and coming out of the play-in tournament. As of today, they would have to travel to Toronto for the first play-in game (where Irving cannot go), but the Raptors could pass the slumping Cavaliers and send Cleveland to the play-in. If the Nets lose that first game they will host a win-or-book-your-flight-to-Cancun game against the winner of Hornets Hawks.

The Nets will win one of those two play-in games, probably the first one.

Their reward for winning that first game would be the 76ers, or — much worse for the Nets — Celtics or Bucks in the first round. Without Simmons, Brooklyn doesn’t have the defender to stop Jayson Tatum, let alone Tatum and Brown and a Celtics team with the best offense in the league since the All-Star break (Durant is a good defender, but how much can be asked of him carrying a massive offensive load, too). The Nets don’t have the defenders to stop Giannis Antetokounmpo with Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday.

We saw the Nets beat the 76ers recently (Philly has its own defensive issues, and James Harden would need to show out big in this series for the 76ers to win). Miami’s halfcourt offense can bog down and they need a lot out of Jimmy Butler (like they did in the bubble). Brooklyn against Miami or Philadelphia would be a great series, but it’s a toss-up. Miami can defend. Philly has Joel Embiid. Both could beat the Nets.

Botton line: Even with Irving the Nets have not shown themselves to be good enough to be considered title favorites.

But the Nets did get better on Wednesday.

2) What does Butler/Spoelstra/Haslem incident on Heat bench mean?

Miami Heat players should have been frustrated and pissed off — they were getting run out of the gym by a Warriors team sitting Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

That bubbled over to an altercation on the bench between the firey and opinionated Jimmy Butler and coach Erik Spoelstra, with Udonis Haslem in Spo’s corner.

After the game, as expected, the Heat played it off as just run-of-the-mill stuff. Spoelstra joked it was an argument about postgame dinner reservations. Bam Adebayo said this is what Heat practices look like. Other players said it was frustration from losing and nothing to worry about.

Does this bench blowup mean anything?

Probably not. Lowry and his teammates are not wrong; this is a veteran group capable of putting it behind them and moving on, focusing on the playoffs. This loss should have frustrated Miami. Still, the Heat are the No. 1 seed in the East and will enter the playoffs that way.

However, the last three Heat games against quality opponents — Warriors, 76ers, and Timberwolves — are all losses. The Heat are a title contender, but they haven’t played like the Bucks or Celtics in recent weeks. Miami’s halfcourt offense can get stagnant. There are issues to work out before the playoffs.

3) Karl-Anthony Towns, Jae Crowder get into it, but Suns just do what they do

Minnesota has been a dangerous team of late, Karl-Anthony Towns has been playing at an All-NBA level, and he was feeling it as the Timberwolves jumped out in the first half on the Suns.

Towns threw down a poster dunk on Jae Crowder and let him know about it, and the veteran forward was not going to take it.

Minnesota led for the vast majority of three quarters, then in the fourth the Suns did what they always do: executed. Devin Booker was 3-of-3 shooting for 11 points, Landry Shamet came off the bench and hit a couple of 3-pointers and had 10, and Deandre Ayton scored 11 of his 35 on the night in the fourth. Towns and the Timberwolves could not stop Ayton inside as he added 14 rebounds to the mix on the night.

Ayton outscored Towns by 20 and his team got the win. Without their All-NBA point guard Chris Paul. Consider this your 3,547th reminder the Suns are the best team in the NBA.

Highlight of the Night: Damian Jones with game-winning tip for Kings

No Domantas Sabonis for the Kings, he was out against his former team. No Richaun Holmes either.

That left Damian Jones as the starting center, and he was up to the task — he had the game-winning tip-in.

It was not exactly the revenge game Tyrese Haliburton hoped for, he shot 4-for-14 for 13 points but did have 15 assists. Davion Mitchell had another strong game for the Kings, 25 points and seven assists, that’s a couple in a row for the rookie.

Yesterday’s scores:

Knicks 121, Hornets 106
Pistons 122, Hawks 101
Kings 110, Pacers 109
Celtics 125, Jazz 97
Warriors 118, Heat 104
Grizzlies 132, Nets 120
Suns 125, Timberwolves 116
Thunder 118, Magic 102
Mavericks 110, Rockets 91
76ers 126, Lakers 121
Spurs 133, Trail Blazers 96

USA Basketball to host to Puerto Rico in World Cup tuneup in Las Vegas

Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

USA Basketball has finalized its schedule of exhibition games leading into this summer’s FIBA World Cup, announcing Tuesday that it will open the five-game slate against Puerto Rico in Las Vegas on Aug. 7.

It will be the only World Cup warmup game in the U.S. for the Americans, a team that will be coached by Golden State’s Steve Kerr. His assistants are Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Tyronn Lue and Gonzaga’s Mark Few.

The roster of NBA players is still being assembled.

“Puerto Rico, obviously, we’re familiar with them,” said Grant Hill, managing director of USA Basketball’s men’s national team. “We’ve competed in the World Cup qualifiers, although neither team had their full heavy roster, if you will, its strongest roster. But it’s an opportunity to throw our guys into the fire. The games, the exhibition games, the lead-up, we’re going to get a lot of basketball in us before we play for real. And that’s good.”

After the Puerto Rico game, the U.S. will leave for Malaga, Spain, and games there against Slovenia on Aug. 12 and Spain on Aug. 13. The final two pre-World Cup games for the Americans will be held in Abu Dhabi, against Greece on Aug. 18 and Germany on Aug. 20.

From there, the Americans head to Manila, Philippines, where they will remain for the entirety of the World Cup. Half of the 32-team World Cup field will have group-stage games in Indonesia or Japan; the Americans are among the 16 that will open the tournament in the Philippines, which will also play host to the medal rounds.

The game against Puerto Rico will coincide with the end of the U.S. team’s training camp in Las Vegas.

“Our preparations for the 2023 FIBA Men’s World Cup begin in Las Vegas and we are excited to return to a city that regularly and graciously welcomes USA Basketball,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball’s CEO.

The men’s national team played four exhibitions in Las Vegas in 2021 before the Tokyo Olympics, going 2-2 in those games. The Americans opened with losses to Nigeria and Australia before beating Argentina and Spain prior to departing for Tokyo.

“The Nigeria game was important,” Hill said. “It let everybody know that we can’t just show up.”

In Japan, the U.S. won its fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal.

The U.S. opens World Cup play against New Zealand on Aug. 26, followed by group games against Greece on Aug. 28 and Jordan on Aug. 30. The tournament – one of the major qualifiers for the 2024 Paris Olympics – runs through Sept. 10.

Bob Myers stepping down as Warriors president, GM

2022 Golden State Warriors Victory Parade & Rally
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The architect of the four-time NBA champion Golden State Warriors, the former agent turned two-time Executive of the Year Bob Myers is stepping away from the franchise.

This had been rumored all season and Myers confirmed it to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN prior to Myers’ formal press conference Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s just time,” Myers told ESPN.

Warriors ownership wanted to keep Myers on board and reportedly made generous contract offers to retain him, but Myers just wanted to back away from the job.

Myers took over a Warriors franchise in 2012 that had already drafted Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but was still being led on the court by Monta Ellis and David Lee. Myers drafted Draymond Green (in the second round), eventually traded for Andre Iguodala, built out the roster, fired Mark Jackson and replaced him with Steve Kerr, and generally built a championship team. When that team fell short in 2016 — and boosted by a one-time spike in the salary cap due to a new television deal — Myers brought in Kevin Durant to form one of the best, most dominant teams the NBA had seen, and they won two more titles. After Durant left and due to some brutal injuries, the Warriors stumbled for a few years, but in 2022 found their footing again and won a fourth ring. Myers helped guild all of that.

It is expected Mike Dunleavy Jr. — the No. 2 man in a Warriors front office that values a lot of input from different voices and isn’t classically hierarchical — will take over as the man in charge. Wojnarowski reports that Kirk Lacob, son of owner Joe Lacob, also is expected to have an expanded role.

This changeover comes at a critical time for the Warriors (and adds to the end-of-an-era feeling), heading into an important offseason for the franchise. Green is expected to opt out of his $27.5 million contract for next season and is looking for the security of more years — and this past season showed the Warriors cannot win at a high level without him. However, the Warriors will want him back at a lower figure than that $27.5 million per year. Klay Thompson is set to make $43.2 million next season and is extension eligible, but he is not a max player anymore and the Warriors will want those future years at a much lower price. Then there is Jordan Poole‘s extension kicking in — at $28.7 million — after a down season. The tension following Green punching Poole tainted the entire Warriors’ season, and there is a lot of speculation around the league Poole could be traded.

Myers built strong relationships with the Warriors’ players, and he would have been better positioned to talk to Green and Thompson about sacrifice to keep the team together. That is a tougher sell for Dunleavy.

Don’t expect Myers to jump straight into another NBA job — although offers will come to him fast — he is expected to take a year or more and step back from the game before deciding his next move.

Heat’s Tyler Herro reportedly targeting Game 3 return during Finals


Tyler Herro fractured his hand just before halftime of Game 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks, and following his ensuing surgery the target timeline was he could be back for the NBA Finals. That led to a lot of “good luck with that” comments on social media (not to mention comments about his sideline fits).

The No. 8 seed Miami Heat are on to the NBA Finals, and Herro hopes to return to the court when Miami returns home for Game 3, reports Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT.

Maybe he returns, perhaps that is optimistic (Game 3 is Wednesday, June 7). Herro is still feeling pain in his right hand, he told reporters after the game.

Herro averaged 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists a game for the Heat this season, shooting 37.8% from 3. He was the team’s secondary shot creator after Jimmy Butler, a guy counted on to jumpstart the offense at points.

If he returns, Erik Spoelstra has to return him to the sixth-man role where he thrived a season ago. The starting lineup without him was better defensively, and with the emergence of Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent, the Heat don’t need the offensive spark with that first group (less Herro has meant more Jimmy Butler with the ball, and that’s a good thing). The second unit could use the offensive spark Herro brings.

It’s something to watch as the Heat return to the NBA Finals for the first time since the bubble, this time facing the formidable Denver Nuggets.

Three takeaways from Heat playing with intent, beating Celtics in Game 7


Is there a more Miami Heat way to win a series than going on the road and ripping the heart out of Boston fans in their own building in a Game 7?

Is there a more fitting way for this era of Celtics to lose this series than to play poorly until their backs are against the wall, then flip the switch and look like the best team in the NBA, only to not quite get all the way there?

In those ways the Eastern Conference Finals worked out the way it should have, with the Miami Heat taking charge of Game 7 in the first quarter and never looking back. The Heat beat the Celtics 103-84 to advance to the NBA Finals (which start Thursday in Denver).

Here are three takeaways from Game 7.

1) Caleb Martin embodied the difference in this series

Jimmy Butler was officially voted MVP of the Conference Finals. He averaged 24.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game through the series, numbers that are hard to argue. He is the best player on the team.

However, he won in a tight 5-4 vote over Caleb Martin — who had 26 points and 10 rebounds in Game 7, but more than that embodied the difference in this series. Martin played with intention, focus, and with a commitment to the system every night in a way the Celtics don’t do consistently. Martin, a guy waived by the Hornets in the summer of 2021, has had to scrap and fight for everything he’s gotten in the league, and with that comes a hardened edge.

“To the untrained eye, he just looks like he’s an undrafted guy who has been in the G League, who has started with Charlotte and now he’s here,” Butler said of Martin. “Started on a two-way contract. That’s what it looks like to y’all. To us, he’s a hell of a player, hell of a defender, playmaker, shotmaker, all of the above. Everybody [on the team] has seen Caleb work on those shots day in, day out. It doesn’t surprise us. We have seen it every single day. I’m so proud and happy for him.”

Martin’s shotmaking also embodied why the Heat won — they were simply better at getting and hitting the shots they wanted all series long. It was historic shotmaking.

Bam Adebayo had another rough offensive outing — 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting with a lot of good looks missed — but his defense was stellar and that was reflected in his +22 on the night, the best of any starter on the team. He remains vital to what they do.

2) Jayson Tatum‘s rolled ankle proved too much for Celtics

The Celtics didn’t lose this series because Jayson Tatum rolled his ankle on the game’s first play.

They lost this series because when they went down 0-3 in the series they left themselves no margin for error — everything had to go perfectly. It never does, just ask the other 150 teams in NBA history to go down 0-3 in a series. Tatum went on to score 14 points, but he admitted he was a shell of himself.

The Celtics needed to collectively make up for Tatum being slowed (much the way the Heat’s role players such as Gabe Vincent stepped up with Tyler Herro out).

Jaylen Brown didn’t, he ended up shooting 8-of-23 for 19 points, but with eight turnovers. Derrick White had 18 and was the best Celtic in Game 7. Malcolm Brogdon tried but could not play through an elbow injury he may need off-season surgery on (and coach Joe Mazzulla stuck with him a little too long).

The bigger problem was Boston was 9-of-42 (21.4%) on 3-pointers. Miami leaned into their zone defense (which allowed them to keep Duncan Robinson on the floor) and while the Celtics did a better job of getting into the middle of that zone, but they still needed to knock down shots over the top of it. They failed.

When the Celtics’ shots aren’t falling it bleeds into the other aspects of their game — the defensive lapses come, the mental focus goes in and out. Consistency is not a hallmark of these Celtics.

We’ll get into Boston’s future in the next couple of days, they should and will re-sign Jaylen Brown and make another run, but this core needs to look at itself in the mirror and figure out why it can’t play closer to its peak nightly.

3) The Heat are the life lesson you want to teach

As a parent, there are a lot of life lessons you try to pass on to your children, although you eventually realize that it’s more about what you show them day-to-day than what you say in any moment that really resonates.

One thing I want to show my daughters, what I want for them is to be resilient like this Miami team — a group that took a punch to the gut in Game 6, stumbled, got up off the ground, shook off the dust, and came back with more resolve and focus.

“I think probably people can relate to this team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after his team advanced. “Life is hard. Professional sports is just kind of a reflection sometimes of life, that things don’t always go your way. The inevitable setbacks happen and it’s how you deal with that collectively. There’s a lot of different ways that it can go. It can sap your spirit. It can take a team down for whatever reason. With this group, it’s steeled us and made us closer and made us tougher.

“These are lessons that hopefully we can pass along to our children, that you can develop this fortitude. And sometimes you have to suffer for the things that you want. Game 6, the only thing that we can do is sometimes you have to laugh at the things that make you cry…

“We have some incredible competitors in that locker room. They love the challenge. They love putting themselves out there in front of everybody. Open to criticism. Open to everything. But to compete for it, and that’s a beautiful thing.”

They did compete harder than the team in Green across from them, and that’s why Miami tips off in the NBA Finals on Thursday night.