Shootaround (June 8) -- LeBron James feeling drained 'mentally and physically' by Finals
Plus, a look at whether or not Fred Hoiberg is interested in a college job & more from around the NBA
This morning’s headlines:
- Cavs, LeBron fall into 3-0 Finals hole
- Report: Hoiberg ‘not interested’ in Ohio State gig
- Erving, Johnson say their teams could be Warriors
LeBron feeling worn out by these Finals — From a pure numbers perspective, LeBron James has been dazzling in The 2017 Finals with his averages of 32 points, 12.3 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game. Yet after last night’s loss in Game 3, his Cleveland Cavaliers are down 3-0 in The Finals and both he and the team are looking worn out, writes Shams Charania of The Vertical:
LeBron James walked out of Quicken Loans Arena, slight limps and laughs leading to his exit to the loading dock. He delivered his hometown franchise a championship in 2016, delivered on his mandate as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ savior, and this NBA Finals series had promise as another legacy moment. Seven straight trips here, and this run could turn into the most demoralizing of them all.
James and the Cavaliers have fallen to a 3-0 series deficit to the Golden State Warriors in this Finals Trilogy. He scored 39 points, with 11 rebounds and nine assists, and received a brilliant performance from Kyrie Irving in the Cavaliers’ loss in Game 3 on Wednesday night. Yet these Warriors have driven James to defeat over and over and over, driven him to the edge of his own stability.
“I’m drained right now, both mentally and physically,” James said.
The Warriors have become so powerful, so fast, and Kevin Durant changed every dynamic of this matchup. He’s the answer to LeBron, the creator of offense in any moment for Golden State. He’s been the best player on the floor in the most critical times, and the leader for Finals MVP so far. On Thursday, here was Durant stepping into a 3-pointer, down 113-111, and draining it in front of the Cavaliers’ bench for the lead. Golden State scored 11 consecutive points to end Game 3, and left the Cavaliers with the cold reality: No one has come back from 3-0, and they too will succumb to the inevitable.
For now, James has no reason to move his game out West, out to the Warriors’ territory and eliminate meeting them in the final round. Throughout the postseason, Irving has repeatedly used the term “while it lasts” in regard to the Cavaliers, and both he and James have slowly but surely realized the Warriors are not to be threatened right now. For as rugged as those old San Antonio Spurs played James, for as disappointing as the Dallas Mavericks’ series was for him in 2011, these Warriors are pushing toward dynastic levels. Their weaponry is unmatched, and James saw this coming.
One year after the Warriors witnessed “The Shot” from Irving, Durant delivered the 3-pointer for the 3-0 series lead, and Andre Iguodala blocked James’ 3-point attempt to tie the game from the right corner, sealing the victory. The Shot and The Block, Golden State edition.
This has separated the Warriors from the Cavaliers, from the rest of the league. Their waves of production go on and on. Klay Thompson added 30 points and six 3-pointers, and Curry had 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Draymond Green dealt with foul trouble, but impacted the stat sheet. The final member of the Core 5, Iguodala, had his usual line: seven points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals and that crucial block.
“It’s first to four, but obviously we know what we’re up against,” Cavaliers guard Kyle Korver said.
A 3-0 series deficit, and now James returns home to treatment to prepare for Game 4. The pursuit of another championship here will continue, but for how long? How much longer are these Cavaliers and the remainder of the league looking so far up to the Warriors?
Report: Hoiberg has ‘no interest’ in Ohio State job — Before he was coaching the Chicago Bulls, Fred Hoiberg forged his sideline reputation as the coach at Iowa State. He was 115-56 in his five seasons there and in some NBA circles, there has been talk that Hoiberg would perhaps one day return to the college game. After Thad Matta’s recent firing at Ohio State, speculation surfaced that Hoiberg was interested in that job. But Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com says that’s not the case:
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg emerged as a candidate for the vacant head-coaching position at Ohio State, according to a Wednesday-night report.
But as of Wednesday evening, senior Bulls officials weren’t aware of Ohio State’s apparent interest, and sources tell CSNChicago.com that Hoiberg has “no interest” in the position.
Ohio State parted ways with coach Thad Matta earlier this week and has begun a search for his replacement, armed with the second biggest athletic department budget in the NCAA, behind the University of Texas.
Hoiberg has three years and $15 million left on his deal with the Bulls, a tenure that has come with mixed reviews locally and across the NBA.
CBS Sports reported the Buckeyes’ apparent interest Wednesday evening, and some felt a retreat back to the collegiate ranks would be best suited for Hoiberg, as the Bulls haven’t surrounded Hoiberg with a roster best suited to his style and he’s been subject to criticism — along with a seemingly lukewarm endorsement from the front office in the season-ending news conference last month.
Hoiberg, who coached at his alma mater, Iowa State, before taking the head-coaching position with the Bulls two years ago, is familiar with Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith. Hoiberg was a player at Iowa State while Smith was the athletic director. Smith ran that department from 1993 to 2000, before his path eventually led him to Ohio State.
Erving, Magic think their teams could have beaten Warriors — In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Philadelphia 76ers (led by Julius Erving) and Los Angeles Lakers (led by Magic Johnson) ruled the NBA landscape. The teams met in The Finals three times in a four-year span and as the Golden State Warriors inch closer to a 2017 title, Erving and Johnson think their teams could have topped Golden State’s. ESPN.com has more:
“This is a phenomenal team,” Erving said of the Warriors on Mornings with Keyshawn, Jorge & LZ on ESPN LA 710. “They can put up points. And they do play team defense. They hustle. They scrap.”
During the regular season, the Warriors went 67-15 and led the league in points, field goal percentage, assists, steals and blocks. They are currently 14-0 in the playoffs and have beaten the Cavs by an average of 20.5 points per game through two contests.
The 1982-83 Sixers were no slouches, going 65-17 during the regular season. The only team stat they led the league in was rebounding, a possible edge over the Warriors, who were seventh in the category this season.
Philadelphia had to play only three series to win it all in 1983, and they went 12-1, sweeping Magic’s Lakers in the Finals.
“When you have a team with the makeup of our team back then, we could play slow, we could play fast,” Erving said. “Moses [Malone] was such a dominant force. I have visions of him grabbing the rebound a few times and taking it coast to coast.”
Erving praised his team’s 4-4-4 makeup.
“You know we had four centers, four guards and four forwards, so a lot of the parts were interchangeable,” he said. “We had a guy like Bobby Jones coming off the bench.”
Erving also praised his coach.
“And Billy Cunningham being the task master that he was, we would have figured it out,” he said. “We would have figured out how to play against this team and how to beat this team.”
Johnson went a lot further than finding a way.
During a recent event associated with the Finals that included former Lakers coach Pat Riley, Johnson said of the Warriors: “We would probably sweep ’em.”
Johnson added that “they’re too small.”
Riley piled on: “Try to put somebody on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.”
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Paul Pierce calls Kevin Durant the “new best player in the NBA” … The “Jimmy Kimmel Show’s” Guillermo had some fun at NBA Finals media day … No matter what the tape measure says, New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis says he’s 6-foot-10 … Former Indiana Pacers standout Antonio Davis had some pointed words about the direction his old team is going … ICYMI, Lonzo Ball had his first pre-Draft workout with the Lakers yesterday …