James Harden is simply too good to struggle the way he did (4-for-13) before nailing three treys late to make the score line look closer than it actually was.
In some ways, the great start by Thabo Sefolosha actually hurt Harden. Sefolosha’s defence kept him on the floor longer than usual, seemingly knocking Harden, the sixth man of the year, out of his offensive rhythm for most of the contest.
Oklahoma City hung with the Spurs — even led them for much of the game, but in the end, San Antonio did what it always does — execute to perfection.
This was a massive missed opportunity for Oklahoma City. Perhaps the teams’ only chance to win the series.
The odds of the Thunder winning three-of-six from here against that group of Spurs are extremely low.
LEBRON CAN’T BE STOPPED
Doc Rivers thinks Miami might be even better without Chris Bosh than with him because his absence means LeBron James and Dwyane Wade get more touches.
It sounds crazy, but the logic makes some sense.
“Obviously, Bosh makes them better but in some ways you can say they’re more dangerous ... They’re more aggressive. It almost activated them to be more aggressive which puts a lot of stress on your defence,” Rivers said.
James, the NBA’s MVP, has been unstoppable sans Bosh, averaging nearly 10 trips to the free throw line.
Wade has looked great at times as well.
At one point early in
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston on Monday, James notched more points (13) than the entire Boston team (11).
In his previous three games, all wins over Indiana, James averaged 32.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and eight assists.
Bosh went through an on-court workout on Sunday, but Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said it was merely a progression in his “rehab” and not actual basketball work.
Bosh has been out since May 13th, but the longer the series goes, the more likely he is to return.
Perhaps the trick for Miami when he does come back is to cut his shots in half and let him contribute in other ways.
LOTTO TIME BECKONS
On Wednesday we’ll find out if the Raptors do their traditional move back, or if they get some lottery luck on NBA Draft lottery day in New York City.
The Raptors go in with the eighth-best odds of moving up in order to select Anthony Davis.
Last year they moved back two spots, but still were lucky enough to claim their No. 2 target (after Kyrie Irving), Jonas Valanciunas.
Cleveland moved up from No. 8 to draft Irving last year, Toronto would love to see history repeat itself.
Since 1994, one team in each of the 7-9 spots has won the lottery.
What spot has been the luckiest? Oddly, not No. 1 (two wins, though those resulted in LeBron and Dwight Howard). No. 3 (four wins) and No. 5 (four) have won the most times.
Teams in the No. 4 slot have never moved up to No. 1, while No. 8 had never done it until last year.
The Brooklyn Nets will be looking to move into the top three, since anything else gives Portland the pick (from the Gerald Wallace trade). If Golden State drops from its current spot (No. 7), Utah gets the pick, but the teams are reportedly discussing a deal that would protect Golden State from losing it this year under any scenario.
BRAZILIAN BLUR STRUGGLES
There was a lot of moaning that the Raptors didn’t get enough (a second-round pick) in exchange for pending free agent Leandro Barbosa. The argument here was always that the trade made sense, the Raptors got extra space to help make a deal for established talent prior to
July 1 and a draft pick. Barbosa was OK in Round 1 for Indiana, but had a terrible time against Miami. His Player Efficiency Rating of 6.56 was the second worst of anybody with 200 playoff minutes so far, according to ESPN.
Indiana’s three-guard sets did not work well as Wade teed off against smaller opponents.
Meanwhile, Barbosa’s outside shot failed him.
AROUND THE RIM
Duncan told Yahoo! Sports that he will re-sign with the Spurs. “Though I shouldn’t say that; I have to threaten them that I’ll leave,” started Duncan ... “No, I’m not going anywhere. You can print that wherever you want to. I’m here and I’m a Spur for life” ... Miami forward Udonis Haslem admitted the obvious — that his flagrant foul on Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough was retaliation for the former UNC product’s rough treatment of Wade. “I can’t imagine anything I wouldn’t do for Dwyane,” Haslem told the Miami Herald ... Doug Collins is signed through the next two seasons, but Philadelphia wants to extend its coach for even longer. Collins told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “As long as (managing owner Josh Harris) wants me here, I’ll be here for him. I’m totally committed.”