Knee Jerk Reactions — iPhillySports

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Houston, we don’t have a problem. I’ll let Kevin walk you through the particulars and the nitty-gritty from last night, but there seemed to be this mild collective panic on Twitter, and I would imagine all the anti-LeBron process goons are hastily reconfiguring their stances. Mitigating factors: Six days off is a long time, especially […]

Houston, we don’t have a problem.

I’ll let Kevin walk you through the particulars and the nitty-gritty from last night, but there seemed to be this mild collective panic on Twitter, and I would imagine all the anti-LeBron process goons are hastily reconfiguring their stances. Mitigating factors:

Six days off is a long time, especially against a team playing every other night and fresh off game 7 heroics. The Sixers looked flat, they weren’t getting elevation on their jumpers, their defensive intensity resembled a practice tilt, and they clearly spent more time trying to work through whatever their preparations were while Boston, which had less than two days to prepare, just played. The only thing that worries me is an additional two days before Game 2. That will serve the Celtics much more than it will the Sixers, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Sixers lost Game 2 as well… before coming home and then rattling off four straight wins to take it in six once they hit their stride and Boston runs out of gas.

Three-point shooting: The Sixers shot 5-26 from three, and the Celtics were 17-35. Yes, not all shots are created equal. Take, for example, this Al Horford three:

But the point remains: Even a small reversion to the mean – with the Sixers shooting their regular season average from three and the Celtics shooting theirs – would’ve ended this game 110-105, Sixers.

Terry Rozier. Unsustainable. He’s a ball of energy, and last night he thrust himself upon a Sixers team that had been playing itself for the last week. Shame on the Sixers for not being ready and appearing almost lazy on defense, but that’s not their identity.


Other notes:

I think people hate Ben Simmons. He gets under opposing players’ skin more than any player I can recall. His body language just exudes go fuck yourself. Is there a little bit of jealousy there? You bet. Did that 60 Minutes Australia piece suck and not tell us anything new? You bet. Is someone going to club Simmons live on the court because they can’t take his demeanor and I’m so much better than you shtick? Probably. If there’s ever a player who’s going to get jumped on the court, it’s Simmons.


The Markelle Fultz memes are plentiful. This Tweet stung:

For the foreseeable future, I’m going to provide all Markelle Fultz commentary through the lens of my wife, who doesnt’ really watch basketball but occasionally pops in when the game is on. Last night, after I explained to her about the whole Jayson Tatum thing, she calmly said, “Well, what I have seen of Fultz, he just doesn’t look confident. He’s scared. Even I can see it and I don’t watch basketball.” No surprise. The thing with Fultz – who it feels unfair to pick on since he didn’t play – is that he sailed through the draft process as the consensus number one pick and it seems no one… except for Danny Ainge… raised a red flag with regard to his psyche. None of us know him, he rarely talks to the media, and the Sixers will tell you he is a great kid who is trying, but it’s highly uninspiring when you see his peers perform at such a high level with him sitting on the sidelines looking like a little kid. He may turn out to be just fine, or great even, but it’s concerning that he can’t even crack the lineup when his team sorely needs some scoring pop when the shots aren’t falling. He is effectively out of the rotation, which has to be nearly unprecedented for a number one pick who played in college.

Still, we all knew Jayson Tatum was the most NBA-ready player in the draft. While he’s surpassing expectations, this isn’t surprising. Drafting Fultz was more about two years from now. So while it sucks that he’s a total non-factor right now, if he get outs of his own head and remembers how to shoot, he could become an elite third wheel on a perennial championship contender. The draft should not be judged on this season’s results, as hard as it is to sit here and watch as Tatum destroys the world.


He’s a rookie! Neat chant, assholes. Is there anything more predictable than us repurposing it for Ben Simmons in Games 3 and 4?


I really need Robert Kraft away from the Sixers. Here he is with Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck. That’s Michael Rubin a few seats down. Kraft and Rubin are friends, and before the game Kraft was shown hugging Joel Embiid. Despite this, Kraft was visibly cheering for the Celtics. And yet, Rubin, during a CNBC appearance earlier this year, explained that he was rooting for the Patriots in the Super Bowl (despite being from Philly and owning a team here!) because he’s such good friends with Kraft. So how does Kraft return the favor? By cheering against him. Rubin’s courtside game took a hit here. Ban Kraft from The Center.


As I stadium tunnel geek, I found this very cool:

from Crossing Broad

via Knee Jerk Reactions — iPhillySports


LeBron vs. Lance: A Rivalry Filled with Flops, Fouls and Folk Heroes — High Velocity Sport

News, sports

B/R Lance Stephenson will probably never win a playoff series against LeBron James. I guess that’s kind of like saying Drake will never get together with Nicki Minaj, or that I will grow a second head. Some laws are immutable, and this is one of them. It’s the Lance Stephenson Doctrine: Thou Shalt Not Advance […]

via LeBron vs. Lance: A Rivalry Filled with Flops, Fouls and Folk Heroes — High Velocity Sport  

Lance Stephenson will probably never win a playoff series against LeBron James. I guess that’s kind of like saying Drake will never get together with Nicki Minaj, or that I will grow a second head. Some laws are immutable, and this is one of them. It’s the Lance Stephenson Doctrine: Thou Shalt Not Advance in the Playoffs Against LeBron.

Stephenson can huff and puff and try to blow Bron’s house down, but when the dust settles, the King remains the King. James’ 44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in Game 5 of the Indiana Pacers-Cleveland Cavaliers first-round series put the Cavs one game away from vanquishing another pretender to the throne. No matter how it ends, though, the series will stand as another chapter in an epic LeBron-Lance rivalry that dates back to the 2012 playoffs.

Stephenson, in a way, is the anti-LeBron: the 40th overall selection in the 2010 NBA draft and somewhat of a project who developed into a useful role player and made a name for himself through his tenacity and personality. LeBron, on the other hand, was a can’t-miss No. 1 pick who seemed destined to become an all-time great.

That Stephenson has grown into LeBron’s most persistent annoyance should not be a surprise. Nor has he given up that title. He’s pushed, shoved, cajoled and coerced James as much as possible in the hope that one sweet day, he’ll break the spirit of the game’s best player. Still, Lance—ever the underdog—has yet to come out on top.

Indeed, Lance vs. LeBron might be the greatest one-sided rivalry in sports since the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals (or the Cleveland Browns versus the other 31 teams in the NFL), but how did it start? Why does this titanic struggle endure through the six different stops Stephenson has made in his NBA career and the seven straight Finals James has reached? Why has Lance refused to concede defeat? Why hasn’t LeBron just punched him in the face?

So many questions, which we will attempt to answer with an entirely too detailed examination of their duel. In the process, we hope to explain to you, the faithful reader, why the real winner of this rivalry is not LeBron, but Lance, a folk hero for our modern times.

Stephenson had always been a pest, starting with his miming of the universal symbol for choking when James missed a free throw in the third quarter of a Pacers win in the 2012 Eastern Conference semis. In a series the Miami Heat won, it was a blip on the radar. But what really jump-started their animus was the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals, when Stephenson blew in LeBron’s ear during Game 5. Creepy, yet simultaneously hilarious, the moment cemented the feud in the imaginations of NBA fans everywhere. To this day, it remains a legendary meme. LeBron did his best to deny Stephenson the satisfaction of a visible reaction, but he still offered up a mild headshake of disbelief. That someone would go to these lengths to disrupt his game was hard for LeBron to accept, but it was only the beginning.

In Game 6 of those 2014 conference finals, Stephenson tried to burrow deeper into LeBron’s psyche. Instead of invading his space with his breath, he touched LeBron’s mouth. It was almost a slap but slightly more playful than that. It comes off sort of like he’s trying to feed a pet, if his pet were a human being who’s very good at basketball.

I don’t even know what this was. In the same Game 6 in 2014, Stephenson wouldn’t let LeBron get up after falling on the baseline. Was he sitting on him? Expressing dominance? Showing off the high quality of the stitching on his shorts? Whatever it was, it sent a message to LeBron: I’m up here, and you’re down there.

One of Stephenson’s most potent weapons in his war with LeBron is the flop. Even the most minor contact can send Stephenson flying across the court as though he’d been kicked by an angry racehorse. He played dead here in Game 2 of the 2014 East finals but was aware of the cameras enough that he opened his eyes to glance forward, barely stifling a wink. With this, Stephenson established himself as the quintessential “guy they warned you about.”

Pity the man when he tries to face up the GOAT. Stephenson did his best to go one-on-one with LeBron in Game 2 of the first round in 2017 and failed spectacularly. But, as a consummate troll, he fouled immediately. One must remind his foe that the battle might have been lost, but the war continues.

Stephenson’s flop in this game from earlier in the 2017-18 season didn’t just amaze fans for its brazenness, it also appeared to injure LeBron. Perhaps Lance had finally gone too far.

Or not. In Game 4 of this first-round series, Stephenson tied up LeBron and forced a jump ball during the final minutes of a close contest. Preventing James from scoring was something of a victory, but Stephenson took it to another level, snatching the ball from his opponent’s hands and raising it like a big-game hunter’s trophy. Stephenson’s face was simultaneously proud and shocked as he played to the home crowd in Indianapolis that has come to love him despite his deficiencies as a player.

And that is the genius of Lance Stephenson. That’s the reason he is still occupying LeBron’s attention all these years later. Despite his physical inability to truly challenge LeBron on the basketball court, he’s crafted a career out of being an irritant. He’s known. He’s loved. Sometimes, he’s hated, but most importantly, he’s become a character.

In the modern NBA, it’s better to be seen than not. Stephenson wins not because he’ll ever be the lead scoring option on a championship team, but because he’s demanded we notice him despite that.

NBA News

via Bleacher Report – NBA

April 27, 2018 at 05:34AM





LeBron James” by Erik Drost 
“I would disagree with that. I think our league has been built the right way as far as when it comes to the postseason.” “It’s cool to mess around with the All-Star Game, we proved you can do that, but let’s not get too crazy about the playoffs.”

The above quote by LeBron James is what most of us saw when we got the notification from whatever sports app we use. My guess is that several people saw that one quote by LeBron and thought something along the lines of LeBron wanting to keep the playoffs the same because right now nobody in the Eastern Conference can beat him. I envisioned that quote to give LeBron haters another reason to hate on LeBron.

It’s fair to think that if that’s the only quote you saw, but there’s so much more LeBron had to say about why the playoffs should stay the same, and he’s absolutely right. The NBA wants to change the playoffs to something crazy. A 16 seed playoffs where two Western or Eastern Conference teams can end up playing each other in the Finals. Now there’s even talk of them doing a play-in game for the bottom two seeds in each conference. While the idea of those might be cool, it shouldn’t happen.

To my knowledge, one of the biggest reasons the NBA is considering changing the playoffs, is because the Western Conference is a lot more loaded and competitive than the Eastern Conference. It’s been that way for several years. It’s also because LeBron James has ruled the Eastern Conference for years now, going to 7 straight NBA Finals.

“There’s been dominant conferences throughout time. You know obviously in the 80’s you had mix-matched together Lakers who dominated the league at one point and you had Boston who dominated the league. In the 90’s you had Chicago who dominated the league. You know, San Antonio has had its run, we had our run in the East with Miami, Golden State is having its run.”

LeBron is right on the money here. Was it a huge deal when Michael Jordan ruled the Eastern Conference? Was it when Kobe Bryant ruled the Western Conference? Teams change all the time, and so does dominance. LeBron James wasn’t always the player who made it to 7 straight Finals you know. He used to be the guy who had everyone wondering why he couldn’t win a single championship. During that time there were teams like the Celtics, Pistons, and even the Magic had a little run at the top. In the Western Conference you had the Lakers and Spurs in the Finals just about every year.

The Celtics are good now, but it wasn’t always like that. The Pistons aren’t great now, and the Magic are one of the worst teams in the league. The Spurs aren’t the team they used to be, and the Lakers are not the Kobe Bryant in his prime Lakers by any means. Again, teams change and so does dominance. The Warriors are currently having their time of dominance, but it won’t always be like that. Things will change over time. There will come a time when LeBron doesn’t make it to the Finals because things will change.

“It just changes the landscape of the history of the game if you start messing with seedings or playoffs and you start talking about well if this team played this Western Conference team would he have,” James added. This is another thing that bothers me about this. People say things like, “LeBron wouldn’t have made it the Finals if he played in the Western Conference or if he played the (insert team of choice here) in the playoffs.” People make it sound like LeBron getting to the Finals 7 straight times is easy. They make it sound like he didn’t play any good teams to get there or like he didn’t have to try.

What would happen if there’s a 16 seed playoff and LeBron still makes it to the Finals? Is that system automatically going to be deemed flawed too? LeBron James is one of the greatest players of all time. That’s why he’s been to 7 straight Finals. Michael Jordan is one of the greatest of all time. That’s why he had 6 championships. Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest of all time. That’s why he won 5 championships. It’s not because of what conference they played in.

I haven’t heard of any problem like this in the NFL, which has a slightly different but essentially the same playoff system. Tom Brady has been to 8 Super Bowls and has won 5 of them. Is the NFL considering changing their playoff system because Tom Brady rules the AFC? No. Teams change in the NFL just like they do in the NBA. The Jaguars were bad for years, and then last year they went to the Conference Championship game. At the end of last season, nobody thought the Eagles would win the Super Bowl because they were terrible the year before.

There’s no reason for the NBA to change the playoff system. It’s always been like that and it should stay that way. If they don’t like the Warriors and Cavs going to the Finals every year, all they have to do is wait. It won’t be that way forever.