Breakfast Special: Cavs Win By Three Referees

LeBron James scored 46 points. Victor Oladipo committed two quick fouls early, ended up with six turnovers, and yet managed to be plus-11 in a game Indiana lost 100-97. Cleveland attempted 22 free throws to Indiana’s 12. From where you’re kneeling, must look like an 18-karat run of bad luck. Truth is? The game was rigged from the start. But seriously, what a monster game from LeBron, calling back to Game 6 in Boston in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. 46 points on 17-of-24 shooting, more made (10) and attempted (13) free throws than the entire Pacers team (9-of-12), 12 …

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The Cleveland Cavaliers Panic At Being Deader Than Disco

The Pacers and Cavaliers tip off Game 2 in Cleveland tonight, and after Indiana went into the land of the burning river and smoked the Cavs 98-80 in Game 1, there are a lot of reasons for the Cavs to be in full-on pants-soiling terror mode. O how do I love thee, Indiana, let me count the ways… Problem 1: It Wasn’t LeBron James Who Had the Bad Game LeBron wasn’t exactly a superhero in Game 1. He was 7-of-17. But he had a triple-double (24 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists), playing 44 minutes with a respectable if not great …

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Breakfast Specials: Two Truths and a Portland Lie

Consider the Western Conference. Below the Rockets and Warriors, who were beyond shadow of doubt the best two teams in the group, and above the Clippers, who were clearly tenth-best and had five wretched teams below them in the tankosphere, there were seven teams who were separated by three games in the standings, including five teams that had just a single game between them; fourth went 48-34, eighth went 47-35. Now consider that one of those teams, the Pelicans, had a major change of identity midway through the season when DeMarcus Cousins went down, took time to adjust, and emerged …

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Breakfast Special: Heat In Six

Another playoff series started for real on Monday, as the Miami Heat solved the Embiid-less Sixers and dealt them their first loss since the Pacers beat Philadelphia on March 13, a span of 17 straight wins. They did this by partying like it was 2006, with Dwyane Wade scoring 28 points off the bench, making his first seven shots before finishing 11-of-16, and doing all of the above in just 26 minutes. Meanwhile, James Johnson threw an efficiency party of his own, scoring his 18 points on 7-of-7 from the field including a pair of three-pointers; his only miss was …

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Breakfast Special: Weekend Game 1 Roundup

It was a busy weekend in the NBA as the playoffs got up and running, and if the saying holds true that “a series doesn’t start until the road team wins a game”, well, a couple of series just got started, including one blowout… Pacers 1, LeBron’s Impenetrable First-Round Reputation 0 LeBron James is supposed to be this magical superman who can singlehandedly will a terrible team to somehow not be terrible even though he was on and played all 82 games for that team. And with the Pacers winning 98-80 in Cleveland on Sunday, the biggest margin of the …

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Grading My 2018 Preseason Picks: Eastern Conference

Looking back on the preseason previews, I covered the Western Conference and went 8-4 on my picks where I set a specific “over or under” bet in the article. Sure, I got two other picks wrong without saying a number, and the 15th case was simply saying the Warriors were good without providing context, so I gave myself an 8-6-1 record. Did I do as well in the East? Besides being one of the legion of people who didn’t see the Pacers coming, I mean (more on that later.) In order of publication: MIAMI HEAT Over/Under: 43 Pick: “But a …

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Grading My 2018 Preseason Picks: Western Conference

Before the season, I stuck my neck out and made 30 predictions for 30 teams, trying to decide whether they would go over or under their Vegas expectations. Of course, there’s plenty of stuff I got right. But there’s also a lot of stuff I got hilariously wrong, so let’s go through real quick and see how I did, in order of posting date for the previews, and starting with the West (East coming later this morning): DALLAS MAVERICKS Over/Under: 35.5 Pick: “Expect about 30 wins.” (Under) Actual: 24-58 So I overrated them. I did, however, predict Harrison Barnes would …

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2018 NBA Western Conference Playoff Preview and Finals Pick

We’ve done the East, now it’s time for the West. As per usual, these are much more gut-instinct heavy than the usual fare around here, because if history has taught me anything, it’s that you can do a bunch of extra work, crunch a bunch of numbers, and be just as wrong, because the playoffs are just a completely different beast from the regular season. Round 1 HOUSTON vs. MINNESOTA – Rockets in 5 I’d have said sweep here, but reportedly Chris Paul is battling some injuries sustained late in the season, which means that the unbeatable triumvirate of CP3, …

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2018 NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions

The playoffs are upon us, and things tip off Saturday. Which means it’s time to make wild guesses that are almost assuredly going to be wrong, but at least there’s no Maryland-Baltimore County around to render the entire thing utterly silly. In a seven-game series, that just would’ve meant Virginia in five. We’ll start today with the Eastern Conference, do the West later this morning, then go ahead and stick the Finals pick at the end of that West article, so please do stay tuned. This is also going to be a lot more free-flowing and gut-based than your usual …

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All-Everything Postseason 2018 NBA Team Awards

Most of what I’ve had to say about these guys, I said in my companion piece about the end-of-season awards. I will say this: Picking All-Defense is so subjective and I can only watch so many games, so there is a lot of shot-in-the-dark and a lot of “in case of argument, let Basketball Reference be the final arbiter” that I’m convinced there’s no way to try and rank defenders on anything other than reputation, fan bias, or woefully inadequate counting stats like steals and blocks. Defensive Rating tends to overweight players on good defensive teams. Steals and blocks are …

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