Week That Was In The NBA

Heat Win Back-to-Back NBA Championships

On Thursday, the HEAT won their third NBA Championship and second in two seasons as LeBron James captured his second Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP award.  In a series where big moments were often owned by the “other guys”, like when Ray Allen hit the game tying three-pointer that sent Game Six to overtime, the HEAT leaned heavily on James for just about everything.  James averaged a double-double 25.3 points and 10.9 rebounds in the Finals, but in the HEAT’s three victories over the final four games, he stepped that up to 34 points and 11 rebounds.  Two triple-doubles in the Finals sums up just how dependent the HEAT were on the Finals MVP.

NBA.com reported the infamously fickle Miami fans turned out in force for the celebratory parade and rally.

“With an estimated 400,000 people lining the downtown Miami streets, the Heat held their parade and an in-arena rally afterward Monday. James stood atop a double-decker bus with a cigar in his mouth for the parade. Shane Battier blew kisses to the crowd, Dwyane Wade raised three fingers aloft and Chris Andersen flapped his arms in a nod to his "Birdman" moniker.”

James move to Miami in 2010 has produced the legacy he was hoping for.

Spurs Blow It in Back-to-Back Games

As well as James played in the Finals, the Spurs lost this series as opposed to being beaten. 

In Game Six, the Spurs led 75-65 at the start of the fourth quarter, but gave in all back within six minutes only to recapture a five point lead with just 28.2 seconds left in the game.  Missed free throws by Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard in those final seconds would have put the game out of reach or just one defensive rebound and the Finals belonged to the Spurs. 

In Game Seven, it was Tim Duncan who couldn’t hit the short hook shot over Shane Battier in the paint for the tie with 48.9 seconds left in the game and then couldn’t finish the uncontested tip-in of his own rebound.  Those missed shots will haunt Duncan this summer.

After Ginobili played his best game of the playoffs in Game Five, he was a one-man wrecking crew of the Spurs hopes in Games Six and Seven.  Ginobili turned the ball over 12 times during the final two games in Miami.  It’s doubtful the HEAT would have even been in Game Six without his help.  One of the NBA’s most exciting players over his 11 seasons in San Antonio, the 35-year-old Argentine was a mere shadow of his former self during this postseason.

Playoff series often hang on the ability to capitalize on the mistakes of your opponents.  In Miami, the HEAT beat the Spurs by taking advantage of the opportunities the Spurs handed to them and to a large extent that has been the formula for the HEAT’s success over the past three seasons.

Clippers Trade For Doc Rivers

On Sunday night Hoopsworld reported the Clippers had successfully acquired Boston’s Head Coach Doc Rivers for a first round draft pick.

“Sources confirmed on Sunday that the Clippers will sign Rivers to a three-year, $21 million contract. They will send a first-round pick as compensation for the Boston Celtics, who have agreed to release the coach from the three years, $21 million he has remaining on his deal with the club.”

The original deal was assumed to include a trade for Kevin Garnett, but this aspect unwound as it potentially broke league rules regarding dependent transactions and Rivers didn’t finally sign his new contract with the Clippers until Wednesday.  The trade part of the deal is still subject to league approval, but there is no precedent for declining the move.

Rivers is a players’ coach and one of the most respected executives in the NBA.  Stealing him away from the Celtics for a non-lottery draft pick is a huge win for the Clippers as an organization.  The magnitude of which is emphasized by giving Rivers a title senior to that of Vice President of Basketball Operations Gary Sacks as reported by Eric Pincus of Hoopsworld.

“The Los Angeles Clippers officially announced Glenn “Doc” Rivers on Tuesday — not only as head coach but also senior vice president of basketball operations.”

Respect for the Clippers franchise just took another big step forward over the past week.

With Rivers heading out of town, watch for rumors about Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and every other player on the Celtics roster to begin heating up.  It’s hard not to view Rivers departure as the warning siren for a pending demolition.

Finally It’s Head Coach Brian Shaw

Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports confirmed that former Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw has finally landed a head coaching job.  Shaw was the heir apparent in Los Angeles following Phil Jackson’s retirement, but the Lakers went in another (unfortunate) direction and Shaw has been interviewing for alternate head coaching jobs ever since.

“Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw confirmed in a text message to USA TODAY Sports that he has an agreement to become the Denver Nuggets head coach.”

Shaw replaces the 2013 NBA Coach of the Year George Karl and will get to run a team that has enjoyed ongoing regular season success that has not translated to the postseason.

NBA Draft Goes Tonight

There are numerous rumors about teams trying to move in and out of this year’s draft and everyone should be on their toes for possible trades, but this hasn’t been the easiest draft class to get excited about.  Still, a deal or two is almost certain to go down before the 2013 draft is over.

The draft order for the lottery picks is as follows:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Orlando Magic
3. Washington Wizards
4. Charlotte Bobcats
5. Phoenix Suns
6. New Orleans Pelicans
7. Sacramento Kings
8. Detroit Pistons
9. Minnesota Timberwolves
10. Portland Trail Blazers
11. Philadelphia 76ers
12. Oklahoma City Thunder
13. Dallas Mavericks
14. Utah Jazz

The 13 players invited to the 2013 NBA Draft’s Green Room include:

Nerlens Noel, Kentucky Freshman
Ben McLemore, Kansas Freshman
Otto Porter, Georgetown Sophomore
Alex Len, Maryland Sophomore
Victor Oladipo, Indiana Junior
Trey Burke, Michigan Sophomore
Anthony Bennett, UNLV Freshman
C.J. McCollum, Lehigh Senior
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia Sophomore
Steven Adams, Pittsburgh Freshman
Cody Zeller, Indiana Sophomore
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse Sophomore
Sergey Karasev, Triumph Moscow

Notable omissions include Junior Kelly Olynyk from Gonzaga and Freshman Shabazz Muhammad from UCLA.  Karasev’s inclusion in the Green Room is interesting as the international forward was not made available for private workouts prior to the draft and could go anywhere from nine to nineteenth.

There is no consensus as to which prospect will be taken first overall, but the Green Room invites do provide a very good indication of the likely lottery picks.  This draft does have talent.  It just doesn’t have the obvious future superstar.

Raptors Bryan Colangelo Steps Down

According to James Borbath, former Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo has stepped down from his new position of President Team and Business Operations to become a consultant for MLSE and the Raptors.  It is expected Colangelo will land with another NBA franchise sometime in the future.

Stephen Brotherston has covered the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the ACC since 2009.  You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

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