Playoff Recap: Cleveland 105, Toronto 103 (or, The Truth Doesn’t Make a Noise)

John Kuntz, Cleveland.com

We’ve run out of ways to praise The King. In the 15th year of his reign, Saturday the fifth of May 2018, the Cavs build a 14 point lead going into the fourth quarter on the strength of incredible games from Kevin Love, Kyle Korver, and most especially LeBron James. Then we watched it melt away due to some disastrous lineups by Tyron Lue. Free throw misses and a clutch triple from OG Anunoby left the game tied at 103. With eight seconds left, James caught the ball in the back-court, used a Love rub screen at midcourt, turbo-buttoned past Anunoby at the left wing, pulled up on one leg and banked in a runner off the square that dropped calmly through the net as the buzzer sounded and the Q exploded in jubilation. Here it is in all it’s glory.

“The bank shot,” might have been the most difficult make of James’ career, and it destroyed the Raptors souls when it fell through the twine. It spawned a legion of comments all across the internet from players and fans. It erased a fabulous comeback by Toronto and absolved Tyronn Lue of an absolutely incompetent fourth quarter. There are so many noteables about LeBron’s dominance that it’s hard to list them all.

Pic via cavaliersnation.com

Yeah, that was one of the greatest game winning shots I’ve ever seen. Heck. We’ll be watching videos of people reacting to it for years. We could spend this entire recap explicating it. Heck. Bryan Windhorst did. We’ll be showing that shot to our grandkids some day. It will be as iconic as Jordan’s shot over Ehlo. It was the absolute signature (for now) on a career that isn’t even close to being over yet.

But it never ever should have even gotten to that point. Let’s go through the game to see how it did. The First Quarter started out with the Cavaliers playing stout defense, and closing off the lane as Korver took a charge from new Toronto starter, Fred VanVleet. The Cavs established Kevin Love in the post, he kicked out to Korver on the wing, who found Hill in the right corner for three. Love’s passing was on point all game, and a few plays later, he found LeBron on this sweet bouncer.

Cleveland kept hitting Bron in the post, and playing solid defense. Valnciunas, DeRozan, and VanVleet all seemed cold, and for the Cavs, K-Love post-ups, cut action, and LeDrives set up good looks and swings to the shooters. Cleveland was up 18-7 at the 3:44 mark before Kyle Lowry and C.J. Miles brought some answers for the Raps. Unfortunately, James subbed out at the 2:55 mark for Hood, and the foreshadowing of doom began.

Hood committed the first of many terrible fouls by hitting Lowry on a drive. (Ok, this one wasn’t that bad, but it was the start of a pattern.) Clarkson completed a gorgeous reverse and then bricked his next two shots. His jumper is currently MIA, and one good make usually begets two bad misses. Jeff Green smoked C.J. Miles (a theme the Cavs would repeat throughout the night) on a drive and dunk before Rodney fouled Ibaka for two freebies with two seconds left in a quarter that ended 24-19, Cavs.

The King returned in the second quarter with the “plauge” lineup of James, Clarkson, Hood, Green, and Thompson. Green lost VanVleet on simple screen and pop action, and then Rodney Hood chased C.J. Miles around a right wing screen and gave him an and-1 on three pointer with a reckless closeout. Ugh. Fortunately, Miles missed the freebie.

Sandwiched between those two was a miracle Jordan Clarkson triple that came after he trapped himself in the right corner, shouldered Lowry to the ground (probably a flop), and then hit a rare threeball. In case you’re counting, that was a 10-7 stretch for Toronto that should’ve been 10-4, with three Hood fouls in 4.5 minutes before Smith mercifully subbed in for Rodney.

The Cavs got Bron isolated at the top of the key against Pascal Siakam four times in a row, and the King turned it into a personal layup line as he abused Siakam and help defender, Serge “Chewy” Ibaka. Cleveland ended up with nine straight points to one Siakam putback on that action before Jordan Clarkson bumbled the ball out of bounds on a mind numbing possession.

The Cavs went cold, but were defending. Jordan Clarkson made his only good defensive play of the game, a transition steal when he hustled back and broke up a lob from DeRozan to Valanciunas. Still, big V kept pressing his advantage inside and the Raps cut it to one before a filthy K-Love J off a very nice setup from Bron and a screen from Hill.

The Cavs turned the lead into a wall, as OG Anunoby cut it to one twice before LeBron, Jeff, Kyle, George, and Keven blew up the Raptors with a 16-2 run to close the quarter. In the middle of that, Dwane Casey had a meltdown because a holding foul on Ibaka at the top of the key did not result in an and-1 for Toronto, and instead became a non-shooting foul for the Raps. You be the judge. Also, enjoy Dwane Casey losing his ****.

https://youtu.be/plnkKNg4kUw

Two-zus proved he isn’t just a three point shooter as he back doored his way to a layup, drained a pullup, and then buried a left corner trey with Miles in his grill. Kev hit a trey, and then Jeff Green punctuated the half with a wide open dunk because Toronto was so worried about all the shooters, all while Hill and LeBron set perfect screens and threw perfect passes to put the Cavs up 55-40.

The Third Quarter got started when LeBron used a Hill outlet to motor past Anunoby on the left wing and thump one with no one guarding the rim. It was an eerie preview of the game winner. Everyone who watches the LeBron except for Anunoby knew he was going left there, and James left OG in his jetwash.

Toronto got it going with a 12-0 run behind a whole lot of free throws including a really bad Jeff Green foul on a VanVleet triple try, and some cold offense from the Cavs. LeBron answered with an and-1 then found George Hill in the left corner for another trey, and Threezus went draino for a 9-3 answer.

At the four minute mark, Kevin Love conjured some really aggressive play in the post to score nine straight for Cleveland to put them up 16 even with James off the floor. A Siakam layup, two Delon Wright freebies, and a sweet feed from Hood to Green (Rodney’s only decent contribution of the evening) left the Cavs up 79-65 entering the final frame.

The Fourth Quarter saw everything the Cavs had built evaporate. James and the gang that couldn’t shoot straight (Thompson, Hood, Green, and Clarkson) started bleeding points to VanVleet, Ibaka, Wright, Miles, and Anunoby. First, Rodney induced yet another scream inducing foul by nailing VanVleet who scored got the hoop and the harm.

On the replay, it appears Ibaka double-arm shoved ragdoll physics engine Rodney Hood into the guard, but still. Hood stinks. Cleveland kept losing Toronto shooters. Whether it was a slow Jeff Green closeout, the failure of J.R. Smith to get around Serge Ibaka’s giant butt, or everyone going under on Lowry, the Raps scored three straight triples, and the Cavs only had LeBron and Jeff Green going. A block by the suddenly energized Serge Iblocka (as Hubie Brown kept calling him) led to a Lowry layup, and capped a 13-6 run for Toronto before Ty Lue timeout. Remember, this was all coming with the Raps supposed best player, DeMar DeRozan, on the bench.

Thank God for LeBron James who came in and dropped a pair of jumpers to push it back to 10 including this filthy step-back over our favorite Canadian pylon, C.J. Miles.

Toronto, and especially Kyle Lowry wouldn’t go away though. Lowry abused Kevin Love on three straight possessions, first iso-ing him for a layup, then abusing a lazy switch for three, then Kyle fiund Ibaka for a trey when Kev had dropped too deep. That three cut the Cleveland lead to just four. Meanwhile the Cavs weren’t using Love on offense, and LeBron couldn’t score every time down the court to keep Toronto at bay.

The Cavs seemed to right the ship when Hill and Korver hit buckets, but the Raptors scored on Love two more times! In his defense, Anunoby dropped a miracle bank three, and Love got whistled for a foul on a Lowry drive in which Kyle drove to his body and flailed his way into a call. (Fortunately, James got the same call two minutes later). James was doing everything he could do to stem the tide, including yet another and-1 (missed freebie) against C.J. Turnstiles, and another impossible turnaround over the former Cavalier to put Cleveland up five with two minutes left.

OG Anunoby is going to be a player. He was absolutely relentless and fearless. He got his own miss and scored (over Love) before James missed a “prevent offense” triple. Lowry got trapped on the right wing with five seconds left on the shot clock and called Toronto’s very last timeout of the game with his team down three and a minute left. It resulted in this baffling look by VanVleet with DeRozan still on the bench.

James was fouled, made one to put the Cavs up four. To prove that it wasn’t just Kevin Love that he could smoke, Lowry put Jeff Green on roller skates to score a layup, and then Green made 1-2 at the line with 15 seconds, giving the Cavs just a three point lead. So many options here, but the Cavs elected not to play the foul game with over ten seconds left on the clock (a move I agree with), and C.J. found OG Anonoby on the left wing who pumped, lost Jeff Green, and then drilled a triple to tie it with 8.0 on the clock.

What a game. Well, we all know what happened next. The best player in the world went 94 feet and broke Toronto’s heart.

Whew

There was lots of teeth gnashing over the way the fourth quarter was coached, and when I started this recap I was blaming coach Lue for playing the death (to the Cavs) lineup. Hood, Clarkson, and Thompson went -8, -11, and -9 for the game. And while the Toronto run started with the plague lineup on the floor, much of the run continued when the Raptors absolutely abused Kevin Love. I’m not sure I can blame the comeback entirely on Lue.

Thankfully, C.J. Miles was a worse defender than Kev, and LeBron is the greatest player on earth. It is maddening that Cedi Osman has two minutes of bad shooting in April and loses his spot in the rotation while Rodney and Jordan continue to play.

According to basketball reference, Hood is shooting a TS% of 45% (13% from three), has a net rating of -29 in the playoffs, and Clarkson is dropping a mind numbing 38 TS% and is a mind numbing -34 on net rating. It would be almost impossible for Cedi Osman not to be better than Hood and Calderon not to be better than Clarkson. I think they even inspired this SNL sketch.

Tristan Thompson should probably not be getting all of Nance’s minutes, and his late series energy from Indy seems unsustainable, but he is at least putting up a +24 net rating with a 70 TS% (before Saturday’s game). Hood went scoreless, and Clarkson went for five on 2-7 shooting. As Tom Pestak said in the live thread, the Cavs will not survive Ty Lue not playing his best lineups against Boston and the West. Don’t expect him to change a thing unless the Cavs lose a game though. And yes. We’ve all been sitting here for weeks beating the stinking rotten corpse of this horse.

Love, to his credit, made big plays, even though he was a liability late (though the Cavs didn’t get him the ball). He still finished with 21 and 16 rebounds. Kevin  was also a defensive rebound machine throughout the night, eliminating second chance opportunities for Toronto and finished a game high +20. His play through the first three quarters was inspired.

Kyle Korver and George Hill were both great, combining to go 6-9 from downtown and finishing with 18 and 12 respectively. J.R. was mostly a no-show as he dropped zero, took one shot, and finished -4.

And the King. He was sublime… again. The Cavs needed every one of his 38 points, seven dimes, six boards, and three steals. He even had a block on a three. Yeah, he missed a clutch freebie late, but went 9-11 from the line.

In an age when everything is subjective, when the truth of what is real and isn’t is filtered through belief systems, and people make a living convincing us that lies are truth, it is a blessing to watch a moment that cannot be denied. Even basketball fans are claiming somehow that Philadelphia players didn’t screw up a game, that Boston players didn’t make amazing plays, but that somehow the guy sitting on the sideline deserves all the credit.

Fortunately we have no such illusions. The greatest player in the world was given eight seconds to run down the court, and make a shot to win a game. He took on five defenders, elevated, spun a ball up with one hand. It caromed off the glass and silently fell through the net. That moment is an unassailable truth. The Cavs won. LeBron James is the greatest basketball player on planet earth. Neither of those things are refutable.

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Tom Pestak
Admin
16 days 7 hours ago

RAGDOLL PHYSICS ENGINE FTW

daspec90
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daspec90
16 days 8 hours ago

Right now, the Cavs have 7 “contributors” in their rotation: their very good starting five plus Green and TT. I can see why, for future rounds, they might want that eighth spot to be more offense (Clarkson or Hood). Disappointing that neither one is stepping up.

Jason
Guest
Jason
16 days 7 hours ago

And TT is pretty spotty. I would go 6.5.

Cedi & Nance should play more. I have hope JC gets hot. He is an irrational confidence guy. That xan be good and bad. Hood is shooting with no confidence.

Simmo
Guest
Simmo
16 days 7 hours ago

Yes. TBH I was expecting Hood to start looking more comfortable by now. Having listened to JC talk about his game, I felt he would be useful in reg season games but not playoffs. He’s a competitor to the core, but seems to have one gear & minimal versatility. I still don’t know much about Hood’s game, mostly because he hasn’t shown us much when given the opportunity. Starting to wonder if it’s same deal as Crowder, just struggling to find his spot in the Cavs specific style of play. Hope for his sake if he gets the chance tonight he knocks down several shots, can’t have many opportunities left.

Mike Podracky
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Mike Podracky
16 days 5 hours ago

Simmo I actually hope Hood doesn’t get another chance tonight. In Game 3, he committed 4 fouls in 11 horrific minutes missing two wide open jumpers. After 10 awful games….enough! Hope Lue sticks to what he said by playing Cedi for Hood, and giving Jose some or all of Clarkson’s minutes. I really think Hood is your classic soft Dukie, and is not mentally strong

RightDownEuclid (the first)
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RightDownEuclid (the first)
16 days 16 hours ago
RC Kim
Member
16 days 18 hours ago

The Cavs are the Greeks in the movie “Troy” – squabbling, chaotic but blessed with a (occasionally passive-aggressive) demigod who can singlehandedly win pretty much any battle.

The Celtics are the Spartans in “300” who use discipline, strategy and smart planning to perform far beyond what their numbers and talent should conceivably allow.

The Sixers are Rufio and the Lost Boys in “Hook”, exuberant and creative and fun to watch do their thing, but ultimately too impulsive and inexperienced to win against grownups.

And the Raptors are the Egyptian Swordsman from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” who looks impressive, swings his sword around a bit and then gets casually shot like the throwaway gag he actually always was.

EvilGenius
Admin
16 days 7 hours ago

I love this take… except I wish you’d have used the epic Homeric poem The Illiad as a basis of metaphor instead of that travesty of a film… lol

Scotch
Guest
Scotch
16 days 14 hours ago

RC Kim this is quite funny. And accurate in a way.

Except it’s all matchups. The 76rs vs the Pacers probably nets Indiana a 2nd round, but the 76rs vs the cavs probably nets Cleveland a 5 game gentleman’s sweep.
The 300 celtics vs the Cavs? Likely another gentleman’s sweep. There is just no accounting for the difference lebron makes. He is an outlier on defense and on offense.

It’s kinda like pitting an attack dog against a man with a dog whistle: the dogs can push as hard as they want, but once that dog whistle sounds, the dogs are confused and dont know what to do next.

RC Kim
Member
16 days 14 hours ago

Spartans at Thermopylae all die at the end. Chose that example for a reason. ;-) And yes, I am better at randomly throwing shade than at analyzing basketball.

RightDownEuclid (the first)
Guest
RightDownEuclid (the first)
16 days 16 hours ago

lol nice

Anonymous
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Anonymous
16 days 20 hours ago

At this point, I’m wondering if Cedi has ever played more minutes in his career than this season? Maybe Lue is trying to save his legs for next year? It’s not like we are playing bad without him lol just those stretches with Hood…

Raoul
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Raoul
16 days 8 hours ago
John B
Guest
John B
16 days 9 hours ago

Yeah I doubt it. You don’t save 22 year old kid’s legs in the playoffs.

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
16 days 20 hours ago

Love surpassed Brad Daugherty and Zydrunas Ilgauskas in Cavs postseason scoring, poetic since they are two of the best centers in the team’s history — the position he is now grudgingly playing. — Jason Lloyd

Arch Stanton
Guest
Arch Stanton
16 days 20 hours ago

RC Kim
Member
16 days 18 hours ago

We’ll definitely hear the rumors, but Stevens doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would have any interest doing something so disruptive when the team is in a groove. If Hayward was practicing that would be one thing but he still can only run on a treadmill or something. Also, I have a bad feeling that Danny Ainge plans to move him and the 2019 Kings pick for Kawhi or something like that, and wouldn’t risk re-injury to him now.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
16 days 14 hours ago

Yuck, yuck, yuck. Don’t even say that. Don’t even say that about Kawhi. You just gave me nightmares. God, if Kawhi is actually done in SA, that would probably get it done. Ugh.

RC Kim
Member
16 days 13 hours ago

It depends entirely on whether Kawhi is willing to commit beyond one year (and we haven’t heard from his camp either way) but it would seem to make sense for both sides.

EvilGenius
Admin
16 days 8 hours ago

I think Kawhi and PG-13 team up in LA next year…

Raoul
Guest
Raoul
16 days 8 hours ago

I think Kawhi comes to Cleveland to play with LeBron.

EvilGenius
Admin
16 days 7 hours ago

Who you giving up to make that happen? It would take whoever the 8th pick is and probably Love and Cedi to come close to what either the Lakers or Celtics could offer…

Elijah Kim
Member
16 days 7 hours ago

Think the Lakers would be willing to part with an Ingram/Ball/Kuzma (obviously not all three)?

Celtics make so much sense…. They could give away Tatum or Brown along with Rozier and draft picks…..

Both of those are “better” than the 8th pick and any Cav not named LeBron or Love so I don’t know how big of a move forward it is if the Cavs aren’t willing to involve Love.

MikeO
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MikeO
16 days 6 hours ago

I still expect the Spurs to offer the Supermax and Leonard to take it, but if they were of the mind to trade him, if Boston called, I’d say Tatum and Brown or pound sand. Celtics would almost certainly say no, and that’s fine. Then I’d look at other trading partners. Really tired of every team bending over for Danny Ainge.

warriorsfan
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warriorsfan
16 days 4 hours ago

It will be risky for good teams on the rise to trade for one year rental of Kawahi.

MikeO
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MikeO
16 days 7 hours ago

I’d give up Dion and Anthony Bennett…wait, what year is this again?

Patrick
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Patrick
16 days 21 hours ago
Back home in VA after witnessing The Artistry first hand. A few observations from the cheap seats. * Before I figured out 18 referred to the current calendar year on the rally towel/dishrags, I thought this was kind of an odd time to have a tribute to Hot Rod Williams. * Black t-shirts with yellow lettering — just a bit too Pittsburgh for my tastes. * There was lots of grabbing/shoving including after whistle blown. Surprised that LeBron and/or JR didn’t receive a technical at some pt (largely due to baiting from the Raptors). * Nice standing O for Mark Price. * First half LeBron – lots of points but I noticed fairly well into action he had only 1 rebound and 1 assist. * With about 5 min left, wife reminded me of potential mirror image of Game 1. I was reminded too much of Orlando YOLO 3’s. Maybe after lots of missed bunnies in game 1, you get to have all your 3’s bounce around and in. * Had no idea DeMar sat entire 4th. Did notice when JV was in/out of lineup. * While JR didn’t score, this didn’t stand out to me as problematic given DeMar.… Read more »
Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
16 days 21 hours ago

Oladipo will join Chuck, Kenny, Shaq, and EJ for the halftime TNT show next.

daspec90
Guest
daspec90
16 days 22 hours ago

I think that the Cavs played a superb first half. In particular, Kevin Love was very effective in pulling Valanciunas out to the three point line, faking him out and then streaking past him for a layup (proving everything, including quickness, is relative).

TV63
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TV63
16 days 22 hours ago

Btw Those last 2 paragraphs are PERFECTLY worded! So true… So true. Thank You

TV63
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TV63
16 days 22 hours ago

I think I want frame this. It’s that good , a masterpiece of art in those words.

Simmo
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Simmo
16 days 21 hours ago

It had me at “caromed”.

TV63
Guest
TV63
16 days 22 hours ago

Cavs were really doing great most of the game. It was about the last 3 minutes, thanks to a couple of Ref calls, stupid line-ups, Lowry went hot. It was desperation ball. Then Damn, Poof, Tie game just like that! Lebron did the impossible and amazing shot. Most of us on here appreciate the true greatness he has been blessed with and worked for. It’s utterly ridiculous for some of these sports personalities Still… throw shade at him during this time. I ‘m not a fan of the SNL skit at all. Of course New York wouldn’t know how to recognize a good basketball team because it’s been decades since they seen one there. So let’s just ridicule Lebron’s team because they are too stupid to know what other NBA players are out there. I’ll give you, during Pacers series it was bad, but still not as bad as the pitiful Knicks who can’t string 2 wins together. They would be fortunate if they had Love, Green, Hill, Korver on any of their teams . Well that’s envy for you.

RC Kim
Member
16 days 18 hours ago

They got complacent with a big lead at home and up 2-0 in the series, it happens, especially to this team. Glad they pulled it out.

John B
Guest
John B
16 days 21 hours ago
Jordan myth/legend worshippers like skip Bayless and the few remaining Kobe diehards take offense at any comparison. Unfortunately, the numbers (clutch or otherwise) don’t stack up in the playoffs for Kobe. It is not even close in terms of playoff clutch. While Jordan by the numbers (regular season/playoffs last 24 seconds of tie game or down a possession) and eye test is inarguably the most clutch player of all time, looking at the teams he had to beat in the 90s, I would say the time in the when Jordan played 90s was the weakest or second weakest era in the nba history as far as the amount of talent on the top teams. By that I mean it was far more diluted across the league than the 60s, 80s, and mid 2000s to now. Most of those teams had one superstar and maybe another borderline all star/non-hall of famer. Lakers were past their peak. Boston was a shell. Blazers had Drexler (great but not top 5 player at that point) and Porter. Knicks had Ewing (great), mark Jackson (good pg who can’t score) and J Starks (not an allstar). Phoenix and Utah were closest to super teams. Barkley was… Read more »
RC Kim
Member
16 days 18 hours ago
Jordan played in an era which was much more of a head coach’s league IMO, and most coaches felt like running their system was more important than simply amassing the most talent. Obviously there were super teams like the Lakers and Celtics but by and large it was a smaller-time terroritorial league and most owners were content to let their front office and coaches run their teams like glorified college teams with the head coach as disciplinarian and floor executive. I would say back then many coaches were as well known and popular as the players – Riley, Hubie, Larry Brown, Chuck Daley, Don Nelson, George Karl, Phil Jackson and so forth. It probably isn’t a coincidence that when it became a player’s league in the mid-2000s a lot of longtime coaching geniuses mysteriously lost their fastballs. A lot of head coaches I think preferred to just have a star who was loyal to them rather than loading the team with multiple stars because it was easier to manage the locker room that way. Anyway it was just a different league back then and Jordan, Phil Jackson and Jerry Krause did a good job arbitraging it to multiple titles. I… Read more »
JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
16 days 14 hours ago

Good points.

RC Kim
Member
16 days 14 hours ago

Anyway what I was trying to say is that teams are a lot smarter about things like cap space and player evaluation and development, so while Jordan clearly didn’t have it easy teams were not vert sophisticated about how to build teams that could take him down, or pose really unique challenges that tested the limits in his game. He also didn’t have to deal with the best international players during his prime. So I am comfortable saying in their eras LeBron and Jordan are 1a and 1b and equally great in their ways.

Kobe is a cross between Russell Westbrook and Donald Trump. He had a lot of charisma and knew how to market himself as an all-time great, whether it was true or not. But yeah, there is no universe where he is objectively top 10 all time. When healthy T-Mac was slightly better, and that’s just a fact.

Elijah Kim
Member
16 days 7 hours ago

100% agree.

The Bulls were so dumb they had to tell Pippen/Rodman/Kukoc to take so much less just to get everyone to come back for the second three-peat.

They literally paid Michael his $30M+ and were like… crap, who is he going to play with again?
Look it up, Pippen wasn’t even the second highest paid player for many of those teams… Kukoc made more than him and everyone just sweeps this under the rug.

Kobe is going to be looked worse as history gets longer and longer. The game is much more analytically driven and no one will be able to defend the 44% shooting KB that never shot over 47% for a season and averaged 10-20 ppg less in the Finals runs with Shaq in their first three-peat. “But he’s a killer”

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
16 days 6 hours ago

Come on, Tmac never even shot 46% for a season! Lots of guards back then never shot that high. Hell, LBJ only shot 47% his first few years in that era. He didn’t shoot 50% until 2010, and by that team the league had changed defensively from the brutal grindhouse beat em up hand checks for a full 90 feet that was the late 90s early 2000s.

Dude was a top five player by the end of those championships. He just was and I despise the guy as a human being and in a lot of ways as a player. Was he the best, second best, third, fourth at any given time? No, probably not. During the second and third championship it went something like Shaq, Duncan, KG, maybe Webber, and Kobe. AI was the most overrated player from that era and maybe ever to live.

He was as efficient or more efficient as tmac, Pierce, Carter, were shooting their peak scoring seasons. 46% and 85+% from the line was really good for a volume scoring guard from the mid 90s until the mid 2000s. His clutch reputation is obviously way way overblown as I stated above.

John B
Guest
John B
16 days 9 hours ago

Sure. T Mac’s offensive peak may have been more efficient but from a longevity standpoint Kobe is up there. His 35 ppg season was actually fairly efficient for a high volume guard back then and similar in efficiency to Tmacs 32 ppg year. Basically same PER/TS as LBJ that year where he scored 31.5 ppg.

Also not sure Tmac was ever near as good defensively as Kobe was during those shaq Lakers years. The guy was a great perimeter defender during that nearly part of his career. Not so much after Shaq.

Yeah he probably is not top ten, but he did win two championships without Shaq. Can’t believe I have actually defended the dude as much as I have.

John B
Guest
John B
16 days 9 hours ago

Actually I sort of take back the defense part. Hard to say how accurate DBPM is but Tmac owns him at his peak and generally for his career.

Jason
Guest
Jason
16 days 18 hours ago

Good post. Early 2000s were pretty soft: Shaq & Kobe beat Iverson’s Sixers, Kidd’s Nets, and Miller’s Pacers in the Finals.

I get ticked when the GOAT conversation is only MJ and Bron. As if Russell & Kareem (or even Wilt) should not be in the discussion.

Kobe is but should not be. Hell, he is not even top 10 (Magic, Duncan, Bird, Oscar, Shaq, Mikan). Top 20 for sure, borderline 15: Doc, Kobe, West, Moses, Dream, Pettit, Baylor, Mailman, Havlicek.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
16 days 14 hours ago
For sure the GOAT discussion should include Russell, Kareem, maybe even Wilt considering those Boston teams he was up against. To be honest I have said before because of the reasons above, Kareem or Russell would be my pick. Do I truly believe they were better than Jordan? Maybe not, but a case could be made for those guys. A lot of people had Wilt in there even after the Jordan era. My dad did for along time, maybe still does, and he watched all those guys in their primes as an adult. As far as the early 2000s I would agree. Mikan was obviously the first player that completely changed the game. I don’t know much about his competition though. A case could be made big O for or against top 10 in my opinion based off that he was never the best player on his championship team. Still hard to fault him for being on the royals up against the Celtics and Sixers. However, the lakers top two guys were both two all timers and their peaks are pretty far up there. Kobe I agree somewhat. However, even if Kobe is not top ten he is definitely a… Read more »
Raoul
Guest
Raoul
16 days 8 hours ago

I heard Isiah Thomas 1 discuss GOAT this morning. Although IT is a smarmy douche, his analysis sounded pretty good. His theory is that Kareem is #1 (based on degree of, and length of, total domination), and MJ and LeBron are tied for #2.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
16 days 6 hours ago

That is who I voted for in the poll on ctb awhile back. I mean, 19 time all star, 17 of which were warranted, 6 time MVP, 2 time finals MVP, an absurd 15 time all NBA, 11 time all defensive, same number of ships as MJ all during periods that had more super teams. Pretty ridiculous.

TV63
Guest
TV63
16 days 21 hours ago

Good point.

John B
Guest
John B
16 days 21 hours ago

Point being I don’t think any of those teams they beat had two guys like Shaq and Kobe at their peaks, Ray Allen, Pierce, or KG in their primes, a San Antonio with 4 top 20 guys (2015), or a top 3 guy and two top 15 guys (2007 Spurs), or an OkC with the second best player, a top ten (at the time with how he was playing back then), and a guy that would become a top 5 guy, or obviously the Warriors the most talent assembled since the 60s Celtics.

John B
Guest
John B
16 days 21 hours ago

And no I don’t think Shaq was the player he would become in la, nor do I think Hardaway was on Kobe’s level, though obviously he was good. Shaq wasn’t even the best all around center in the league when Jordan played him. Too bad we never got to see Houston and Chicago in the finals.

Mike Podracky
Guest
Mike Podracky
16 days 23 hours ago

Great cap, Nate that was equal to the game in observation and analysis. My favorite post game clip from last night was the ESPN Top Ten Plays of the Day. Literally all ten were various angles of LeBron’s epic buzzer beater. A lifetime memory for me being at this game. And also the buzzer beater against Indy. The GOAT argument is clearly MJ now with James trying to chase him down, and LeBron has already passed Jordan with game winning shots as you noted.

Jason
Guest
Jason
16 days 18 hours ago

Any GOAT discussion that does not include Russell & Kareem is a joke.

Elijah Kim
Member
16 days 7 hours ago

Kareem deserves to be up there for sure. Bill Russell is a great player but he won his first championship against a team with a losing record and there were literally 8 teams in the NBA……

Mike Podracky
Guest
Mike Podracky
16 days 9 hours ago

Your stubbornness in always putting James so low on the all time list is really the laughable issue. Virtually no one who is a respectable NBA analyst or publications like SI have him below top three. Bill Russell was great for his time, but can’t hold James’ jockstrap.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
16 days 8 hours ago

Meh. If Jordan is in the conversation then Russell, Wilt, and Kareem are. I am ready to die on that hill. No I don’t put Jordan as one over those guys necessarily.

John B
Guest
John B
16 days 21 hours ago

In the last 5 seconds. Jordan is something like 9/18 go ahead in tie game or down the last 24 in the playoffs and of those 3/7 in the finals and 3/3 facing elimination. I don’t think from what I remember seeing LBJ is anywhere near 50% on those in last 24. He was 8/20 as of Chicago shot. Not sure what he is now as I don’t know if he had taken any from then to the last 2.

believeLAND
Guest
believeLAND
16 days 23 hours ago

Brown, Rozier, Smart, Morris, Baynes, Ojeleye, Yabusele- Boston has made it a point to add physical, tough versatile defenders, and has collected more than anyone. Won’t stop Brown tho.

believeLAND
Guest
believeLAND
16 days 23 hours ago

‘Bron*

\"new\"nomad
Guest
\"new\"nomad
17 days 2 minutes ago

SOMEBODY POSTED LAST NIGHT THAT THEY THOUGHT —-HOOD / CLARCKSON / NANCE MIGHT PERFORM BETTER IF / WHEN WE REACH THE NBA FINALS—I AM INCLINED TO AGREE WITH THAT —JUST THINK THEY AREE MORE CONFORTABLE WITH THAT STYLE OF PLAY—–BUT THEN AGAIN BY THEN TY WON’T BE PLAYING THEM

\"new\"nomad
Guest
\"new\"nomad
17 days 4 minutes ago

wow evil just listened to your interview with ‘schwabbie ” ——YOU DID US PROUD !!!——BUT MAN THIS MIGHT BE A COMPLIMENT OR AN INSULT — YOUR ‘VOICE ” SAYS THAT YOU ARE IN YOUR MID TO LATE 20’S ——GREAT STUFF !!

EvilGenius
Admin
16 days 23 hours ago

Thanks NOMAD… I sound younger than I am… lol

Vintage
Guest
Vintage
17 days 1 hour ago

Looks like it’s going to be a relatively short 2nd round in both conferences

Charlie E
Guest
Charlie E
17 days 1 hour ago

Great cap.

Watching the lead drain away I really thought Toronto had a chance to steal a win back, but at the same time I knew that LBJ would come through, so I in that way, the end felt kind of inevitable. That was really something — just pure awesome.

\"new\"nomad
Guest
\"new\"nomad
17 days 2 hours ago

AM 4-0 SINCE NOT POSTING DURING THE GAME —————–YOUR WELCOME !!——–REALLY THINK LEBRON IS CLOSING IN OR HAS SURPASSED MJ AS GOAT—–YES MJ MIGHT HAVE MORE CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS– BUT BELIEVE LEBRON HAS CARRIED LESS TALENTED TEAMS MORE/ FURTHER ——–IF BY CHANCE THE CAVS WOULD WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR IN MY OPINION THAT WOULD VAULT LEBRON PAST MJ —-JUSY MY OPINION ——-WILL KEEP ON ‘NOT ” POSTING DURING THE GAMES ALL THE WAY UNTIL WE PUT THE CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS ON !!!—GO CAVS !!

daspec90
Guest
daspec90
16 days 22 hours ago

I agree!

3+1>6
2+1+1>6

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
17 days 32 minutes ago
His teams before Pippen are pretty awful. However, MJ retirement year bulls go 55-27 and tie for sixth best record in the league. They are eliminated in the second round in a seven game series with the knicks who come out of the east and lose to the rockets in seven games. Next year, MJ only plays 17 games. Bulls go 47-35 for 10th best record. They are eliminated in the second round in 6 games with MJ by Orlando who comes out of the east and gets swept. Prior to MJ coming back the bulls were 31-31, after 13-4. I think you’re right. All of LBJ’s teams in his first Cleveland stint are 20-25 win teams without him. None of them make the playoffs. Miami is likely a second round or Ecf team. His current teams probably sneak into the playoffs with Kev and Ky in the 7-8th seed and get eliminated or maybe swept in the first round. Expect Kevin and Ky teams likely win between 37-42 games without LBJ. This year’s team probably gets <20 wins. If you look at the cavs record without LBJ in his second stint, it is possible none of the Ky and… Read more »
Kevin
Guest
Kevin
17 days 2 hours ago

Thanks for the cap. Reliving that game will never get old.

What is getting old is seeing Draymond drill threes. I’m convinced he’s the reason the Warriors are unstoppable. Double he shooters and he just hits open threes with that broken shot. Life isn’t fair.

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
17 days 1 hour ago

If he’s hitting threes at 50% and at volume, they are completely unbeatable.

EvilGenius
Admin
17 days 2 hours ago

Great cap Nate! Even as the lead bled away in the fourth, I had no doubts LeBron and the Cavs would rip out the collective hearts of the Raptors yet again… In the end, the money was in the bank (so to speak)… Getting my broom ready for Monday…

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
17 days 2 hours ago

Yep felt the same. I can’t place why exactly, but I it was because I felt like James could get to the rim anytime he wanted against Anunoby and Miles. He didn’t always try, but it seemed like if he had to, he could have.

That and the raptors seem to find ways to make mistakes based of all available history.

MJ 45
Guest
MJ 45
17 days 3 hours ago

I always thought LeBron’s peak would be 2009, when he was so physically and athletically destructive on both ends that he looked like was flying. Legit like he was playing at a different level than everyone else

But his control and confidence the last 2 years have made me reconsider. This is just unbelievable

Jason
Guest
Jason
16 days 18 hours ago

He was not championship level until 2012.

He was unreal at times (2007 vs Pistons). We weon 60+ games twice. But the outside shot was weak and got exploited (2007 Spurs, Big 3 Celtics, 2011 Mavs).

But he brought Miami back from the brink vs Boston & Indy and has been unreal ever since.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
17 days 2 hours ago

I think his true dominant peak may have been sometime during the Miami years when you take into account how good defensively he was in 2013 and that his outside shot was better then than it was in 2009.

He certainly is not as good defensively over whole games as he was 2008-2014. Offensively he is probably close to the peak Miami years and maybe a bit better. I think his post game has improved more since then. He isn’t the physical freak he was back then, but his jumper may be more consistent.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
17 days 25 minutes ago

Also, if he was willing, you could probably put LBJ in the triangle and succeed. I don’t think you can run the lbj offensive system with MJ and expect him to succeed with the players LBJ had during his first stint. Would he get points? Sure. But I don’t think he carries those other guys near as far in Mike Brown’s system. I think MJ does win in 2011 though with that Miami team. LBJ really did collapse those finals.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
17 days 24 minutes ago

Whoops, wrong post. Supposed to be additional comment to Nomad.

believeLAND
Guest
believeLAND
17 days 3 hours ago

Thanks for the recap Nate, awesome job.

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
17 days 3 hours ago

Kind of a crummy game for TT. But putting him out there with that garbage lineup isn’t doing anyone any favors.

Arch Stanton
Guest
Arch Stanton
17 days 3 hours ago

Arch Stanton
Guest
Arch Stanton
17 days 3 hours ago

Nice write up. Was that SNL skit from last night?
I wonder if Lue plays Hood so much because he’s from Missouri?

CLF
Guest
CLF
17 days 3 hours ago

Hood’s from Mississippi IIRC and went to Duke.

Arch Stanton
Guest
Arch Stanton
17 days 4 hours ago

“C.J. found OG Anonoby on the left wing who pumped, lost J.R. and then drilled a triple to tie it with 8.0 on the clock.” —- correct me ignore I’m wrong, by OG pump faked Green not JR.

Arch Stanton
Guest
Arch Stanton
17 days 4 hours ago

Meant to say correct me if I’m wrong. My iPhone is stupid.

Arch Stanton
Guest
Arch Stanton
17 days 4 hours ago

Phil Hubbard
Member
Phil Hubbard
17 days 4 hours ago

cc: @awfulannouncing

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