Double over and clutching his stomach in the second quarter.
This could be the lasting memory Miami Heat fans have of Chris Bosh for the foreseeable future, or at least during the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
Before entering Sunday's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between Miami and the Indiana Pacers, these were two teams who have remained injury-free during the playoffs but that all changed when Bosh was forced to miss the entire second half with a strained abdominal muscle.
And while LeBron James and Dwyane Wade did the heavy lifting for Miami as the Heat defeated Indiana, 95-86, at AmericanAirlines Arena, the focus now shifts to Bosh's health and the pending MRI.
This much we do know: Miami will need another impressive tag-team performance from Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf if Bosh is not available. And now we know that Bosh's MRI revealed a strained abdominal and that Bosh will be out indefinitely, leaving that hole in Miami's lineup.
Kyrie Irving exceeded expectations this season. People thought the number one overall pick out of Duke would be good this year, heading into this Lockout shortened season, but not this good. In only his first season he cemented his name amongst the list of the league's best point guards. Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rando, Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving; top-6 in the game, no particular order. Some may even argue that Kyrie Irving is in the top-3.
He played only 11 games at Duke last season, prior to becoming a member of the Cavaliers, and he turned 20 in Cleveland just a couple months ago. He could have been an All Star this past season though, and he will be one for 10 years starting in year two of his career.
One month after this past All Star break, Irving also had the injury depleted Cavs somehow in contention for the playoffs still too. Before Cleveland graciously and spectacularly tanked during the last quarter of the season, Cleveland was only one game behind New York for that eighth playoff spot, with Milwaukee lurking. The only reason why they were that close then was Kyrie Irving.
He averaged 18 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists per game this season, with a PER at 21.49. He hit five game-winning baskets this season too, including a monster shot to beat the Boston Celtics earlier this year in Boston. According to the AP, Cleveland Plain Dealer and ESPN.com, Irving will be named the NBA's Rookie of the Year for all that too in a development that is surprising to specifically nobody. This in addition to being named Rookie of the Month three times and winning the Rookie/Sophomore Challenge MVP Award already this season.
He also would have won Rookie of the Year if Ricky Rubio had stayed healthy too, just so we are all clear on that.
He obviously won it running away though only after Rubio's unfortunate and sad injury. Irving, Rubio and Isaiah Thomas were the three rookies who impressed me the most this season personally however. It will be interesting to see how the voting shakes out once the Rookie of the Year Award becomes official.
Kenneth Faried, Derrick Williams and Brandon Knight will also get a few votes themselves too I think, but it will shake out with Irving on top just as soon as he gets back from vacation. Iriving is in the Bahamas right now, which is why they have not announced this award yet, I think. Well deserved vacation though.
Every morning, we'll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
1: Clippers advance
Never before have the Clippers won a game 7 in a playoff series. Only twice before have the Clippers advanced to the second round of the playoffs. But they did both yesterday behind good, tough minutes from Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans (they got all but two rebounds for LA in the 4rth quarter) and a huge boost from their bench scorers. Chris Paul had 2 points and no assists... which accounted for all of the starter production in the final quarter.
The win is a huge boost for Vinny Del Negro's credibility, but I'm going to wait before I go drawing up any contract extensions. It's one thing to barely out-coach Lionel Hollins. It's another to out-duel Gregg Popovich.
Congratulations, Clippers. Your reward is now facing a rested San Antonio Spurs team that's itching to play some ball. Good luck with that (I have Spurs in 6).
2: Indiana hangs tough
The Miami Heat beat Indy in a hard fought Game 1 yesterday that sort of highlighted a few things we already knew about each team.
The Heat are susceptible to a point guard who... well... any point guard who is any good. Darren Collison is pretty good and he's super fast and he did a pretty good amount of damage. The Pacers don't have the one "go-to" guy who can take over in the clutch. Despite all their weapons and wonderful team play, they don't have the one guy who can take over when the pressure jumps... which was a major factor in the fourth quarter.
The teams were tied going into the final quarter, but Miami took advantage of a little hot-potato offense on Indy's side to win by nine. Frank Vogel's biggest challenge will be to come up with some late-game offense that can turn chaos into calm... all in the face of Miami's swarming late game D.
Dwyane Wade with the chase-down block
Marc Gasol with the nifty and-1
LeBron, Wade, Alley, Oop
4: Line of the Night: LeBron James: 32 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists
Half of those came in the fourth quarter. 16 fourth quarter points put the Pacers away as LeBron continues to try to shake the "not clutch" label. Of course, LeBron did the same thing in the first few rounds of last year's playoffs, and then he wilted in the Finals.
Still, his playoff performances have been spectacular, and he did it again yesterday. There are some who would say he got a little extra boost from the officiating, but I'm not going to get into that here. I'm just saying that's what some people are saying. But he didn't needed any boost. He was going to wreck the Pacers in the fourth yesterday no matter what.
5: You can quote me on that
"We knew when Chris went down we needed to flip a switch and become the one and two options" -Dwyane Wade, on his and LeBron's reactions when Chris Bosh fell to an abdominal strain
"It was Game 7 pressure and jitters. We wanted to do well. We just wanted to let it rip. You walk up here and have two strikes on you in the ninth inning and you have to let it rip. And we didn't." -Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins
Frank Vogel will kill me already for calling this an upset despite his Indiana Pacers being down 1-0 in their playoff series with the Miami Heat.
Undoubtedly, though to many NBA observers, a Pacers victory in their second-round matchup with the Heat would be nothing less than an upset of monumental proportions. Miami after all is the world beaters with the supposed cake-walk to the NBA Finals thanks to Derrick Rose's injury and Chicago's subsequent elimination.
The Celtics, even, are the real opponent awaiting the Heat, not the third-seeded Pacers.
Face Indiana at your own risk though. This is a team that is feeling extremely confident after a virtual sweep of Orlando in the first round, closing out the five-game series with four straight wins. What the Pacers lack in experience (and maybe some poise), they make up for in athleticism and versatility. The Pacers were a matchup nightmare for the undersized Magic and had plenty of time to experiment.
So maybe the Pacers should not be dismissed so quickly.
Vogel, for one, continues to brashly display his confidence in his team as they prepare to face off against the top remaining seed in the Eastern Conference. He isn't short on belief or bravado when it comes to his Pacers.
"I think we're just embracing the challenge," Vogel told the Associated Press. "I feel like we are one of the best teams in the league. We are not viewing this in any way, shape or form like a David-vs.-Goliath type of meeting. We are not the underdog here. This is two heavyweights going toe to toe.
"I don't think we're underdogs by any means. Miami has more recognition, honestly, with their big three guys, but I think we're a good team as well."
Certainly, the Pacers have done their fair share of flying under the radar. Indiana earned the third seed in the Eastern Conference, but there was definitely a movement among many Magic fans and probably some Hawks fans to "tank for sixth" and avoid a matchup with the experienced Celtics. It seemed Boston was the team everyone wanted to avoid in the first round. Of the top four seeds, Indiana seemed the ripest for an upset.
The Magic, even without Dwight Howard, learned to be careful what they wished for. Indiana very realistically could have swept the undermanned Orlando team and virtually did.
Thursday there was a report that Denver Nuggets Forward Chris "Birdman" Andersen was being investigated by the Internet Crimes Against Children task force in Colorado. The only details that were given was that Andersen's home was searched but he was not arrested or charged with anything.
Friday, the Denver Post reported that Andersen's lawyer, Colin Bresee, had released a statement suggesting that a California woman was attempting to extort Birdman.
"A female fan in 2010 mailed Mr. Andersen multiple letters and included several photos in which she was scantily clad. Chris and this woman communicated with each other and in 2011, this woman, who represented herself as 21 years of age, flew to Colorado, showing her required identification. After leaving Colorado, she became upset at his lack of interest. In 2012, she threatened to retaliate if he did not provide financial remuneration."
Bresee went on to say that in an email the woman told Anderson she wanted "everything on her Amazon wish-list, five thousand dollars for her bedding stuff and her Victoria's Secret wish-list." No other detail about the investigation were given. Andersen was excused indefinitely from the Nuggets while everything is sorted out.
The Denver Nuggets traded Nene for JaVale McGee earlier this season. The Denver Nuggets are going to Los Angeles to play a Game Seven against the Los Angeles Lakers. I'm not saying the first move here caused that second effect, but it certainly did nothing to hurt those chances.
JaVale McGee is a guy it's becoming harder and harder to put into a box. Not because he's too tall for most boxes, and even if he could fit he'd certainly jump out, but because of what he just might become afterall. He's literally one of the best pure athletes of any size in today's NBA from a running and jumping standpoint. In addition to that he's a seven footer. You don't need to be Dr. Jack Ramsay to put those two together and deduce that he maybe should be a superstar. He isn't yet, but maybe this move to Denver will help him get there.
It appears the Nuggets think so at least, according to the Denver Post earlier this week. Even before McGee helped Denver blow LA out in Game Six, the front office was already saying they wanted JaVale back long-term.
Opportunities. That was the plan when Denver acquired McGee from Washington. The Nuggets' front office knew McGee had an abundance of athleticism, but he developed bad habits playing for a poor team.
"Our intent was to get JaVale for the future, not just for three months," Nuggets executive Masai Ujiri said.
Asked Wednesday whether McGee, a restricted free agent this summer, is a player he wants to lock down for the future, Ujiri said, "One hundred percent."
Will he ever mature as a person to be serious enough to max out his skill-set, that is the question Denver appears to think he is answering with a resounding yes right now. Can a team tolerate his mother at games making strange comments to media sometimes too? They also don't appear to be worried about that either in regards to JaVale. If he helps them beat Kobe and the Lakers in Game Seven, it just might take a lot of dollars to keep him too. I hope he stays though, he seems to be trending upward right now, and that's a good thing for everybody. Except maybe Andrew Bynum right now.
I’ve always been opposed to “one-and-done” players. I’ve never liked that guys go to one year of college, just because they’re required to before entering the NBA draft. Especially as a Texas Longhorn fan, it sucks to watch your team get blown up after every season because so many guys are leaving for the NBA.
The NBA’s players association wants the rule to go back to the way it was, where players can come straight out of high school. The NBA wants to extend the age limit to 20 and keep players in college for two years. Of course, for either side to get their way, the other side wants them to make big concessions, which is something we all know neither side likes to do.
"In our view, an increase in the age limitation benefits the teams and owners in a variety of ways," said union spokesperson Dan Wasserman. "These benefits include a reduction in compensation paid to some of the league's best players over the course of their careers. Although we are always willing to discuss any topic with the NBA, it will be difficult to make any progress in this area if the league seeks unilateral concessions from the players."
So basically, if the NBA was going to reduce the age limit back to 18, they’d want the players to give up something, and if they were going to push the age limit to 20, the players would want something from them. No one ever gets anything for free.
If a player has to stay in school longer, the NBPA would want that player to have insurance if something were to happen to him and a better rookie contract when they get to the NBA.
Now that the series is over between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony can go back to being friends. The two NBA superstars have known each other for a long time, and while they’ve built a solid rivalry over the last couple years, off the court, they’re best buds.
"It's always special any time we are on the court together period, the All-Star Game or the Olympics or the first time competing in the postseason," James said. "He's one of the best friends that I have. It was great to finally go through a playoff series against him. He's one of the best players we have in this league and one of the biggest competitors we have in this league."
The Miami-N.Y. series wasn’t the drawn out, 7-game slugfest that everyone was hoping for. The Heat made relatively quick work of the Knicks and even though we saw some inspired efforts from Anthony, he’s still stuck in LeBron’s shadow. The emulation of the “Big 3” in New York isn’t paying the same dividends as the one in Miami and Melo’s career accomplishments don’t really measure up to LeBron’s. Despite the clear disparity, when the two of them are on the court together, they rise to another level of competition.
"They've been running into each other for a long time," said Dwyane Wade about the two. "You can see it on both of their faces, they love it, the competitive nature of them both. As a teammate, I enjoy it because I know Melo is going to push LeBron, he's going to challenge him and you need that.”
The Knicks may still be a few solid moves away from competing with the top teams in the East, but if they get there, the Melo-LeBron rivalry is something that everyone would enjoy watching for years to come. The fact that they’re friends, only makes it more fun to watch.
A year ago, after a first round exit in the Playoffs, when this blog was in its infancy, Jeff Garcia urged the Magic to "stay the course." He urged the Magic to hold onto Howard and make changes to the front office in an effort to improve and return to the Eastern Conference elite.
Orlando opted for Jeff's course of action, doing everything the franchise could to persuade Howard to stay in Orlando. there were plenty of hiccups as Howard seemed certain to leave after announcing that he had requested a trade in early December. He then reneged on that decision, reneged on that decision again and ultimately waived his early termination option and remained in a Magic uniform past the trade deadline. At least for a few more weeks before a herniated disk in his back forced him to miss the final 16 games of the season and the postseason.
The Magic did indeed stay the course. And it left the franchise in a wreck.
After Orlando's five-game elimination from the Playoffs this year, the future seems just as uncertain as it did a year ago with the same decision concerning Howard standing in the way.
There is more this year though. The Magic's other captain has a player option and it is becoming more and more apparent that he will opt out of his contract and become a free agent.
So why would Jameer Nelson do this and risk getting a contract that is worth less than the nearly $8 million he would receive for the final year of his contract?
You officially have company in the flopping department in the NBA.
Instead of being replaced by another player known for being a bit dramatic and over-selling foul calls to the refs, an entire team on the “stop the flop” campaign has essentially replaced Griffin.
On Thursday, Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel made a plea to the officials who will be calling the second-round series between the Pacers and the Miami Heat which starts on Sunday.
Vogel’s gripe: stop the flop already.
"They are the biggest flopping team in the NBA," Vogel said.
"It'll be very interesting to see how the referees officiate the series and how much flopping they reward.”
Vogel isn’t really saying anything that the general public and NBA pundits haven’t said before when it comes to Miami, but you have to hand it to him for putting the Heat on blast and handing them the title of “biggest flopping team” in the league on the eve of Game 1. Consider this Indiana’s way of trying to gain the pre-game advantage against a team that could very easily sweep through the conference semi-finals.