It's over. We lost. Or didn't you hear?
But that's alright. Because clearly Cleveland needed the King more than Phoenix did. All over television, radio, and social media Cavaliers fans expressed how proud they were to be from Northeast Ohio.
The very return of LeBron to Cleveland brought tears to the eyes of many fans, one radio host remarked, "This is the first time someone chose us."
This is disturbing.
I've been to Cleveland. I did not care for it. As someone born and raised in the Hoosier State who now calls Southern California home, I can appreciate that we all have different tastes, and what works for me might not work for you.
That said, if the catalyst for eliciting such an emotional response of loyalty for your community is the return of a professional athlete, you live in a dump. I remind people at every opportunity that I'm from Indiana, rarely does that conversation involve the Indiana Pacers.
Maybe I'm wrong though. This report reads that LeBron's return will bring Cleveland upwards of half a billion dollars. That leads me to ask two questions. One, do you think the blubbery mess we were exposed to last weekend had these financial repercussions in mind? Two, do you think they are the beneficiaries of such a financial windfall?
LeBron knows you're nuts. That's why he signed the contract he did. And you can bet, if every single move next season isn't to his liking, he's gone. On the court, off the court, James is in charge. Dan Gilbert owns the team, LeBron operates it.
Lest it be said that I'm unfair to a sports town that's been through more rough times than perhaps any other city in America, I'll confess. Sports has also brought me to tears. I can remember exactly where I was watching that game. I was crushed. Absolutely, positively crushed.
I was 11.
Get it together, Cleveland. Have some pride. In less bat s*** crazy NBA news:
Seth Curry's audition has commenced.
Doing NBA business in Las Vegas was advocated by Robert Sarver, per Commish Adam Silver.
You'll have to wait at least one season for the Bogan Bogdanovich experience to kick off.
And finally, if you want a taste of what those Cleveland fans were feeling, grab a pair of headphones, crank up that terrible "Coming Home" song, and take a look at what the NBA would look like, if every player "went home."
Langston Galloway was the highlight of the day. The Knicks as a team have had some of the best energy here, which is mainly due to Thanasis Antetokounmpo who I talked about on Friday. Galloway has been his running mate in being loud on the bench and doing all the things you see the emphatic bench player do. He was ranked in the top 100 by a lot of sites for this upcoming draft so you look at that kind of guy to have a chance to make a roster. I don't really see that from this game, but he had a great moment to remember here in Vegas today.
Galloway only played 10 minutes on Friday missing all of his shots and did not play on Saturday. He responded today by scoring 17 points in the first half and the best part was the starters on the bench like Tim Hardaway Jr., Shane Larkin, and Cleanthony Early going bananas once Galloway got on a roll. It's always cool to see the best players on the team getting rowdy for some of the guys who don't get a chance to play much, and they were going insane after every make for Galloway. Kudos to Derek Fisher for keeping in Galloway for most of the second quarter. Bullets..
Yawn. Our second straight blowout of the day was between two teams that have not been that interesting to watch. Bruno Caboclo is an interesting prospect, but he's most certainly not in the "can't miss" realm like others. He's proven that he's a reliable three-point shooter and can play defense, but he's lost on the floor a lot and that will just take time. I think he's a lot closer than he was evaluated, but there's no question he's still a project.
Nerlens Noel was superb. Noel is just about everything you could ever want out of a low post defender. He was the best one I saw in Vegas by a landslide and I think it will translate to his rookie year. Noel has spectacular instincts when it comes to poking for a strip, getting in the right position for a blocked shot, and blocking a passing lane. Noel had 4 blocks and 2 steals at the end of the third quarter and that's not counting all of the strips he had that didn't get taken and all of the shots that he altered significantly because of his closeouts. His agility and movement on the floor is great and that allows him to make these recoveries for himself or his teammates.
Offensively you can see where the potential is. It really is a question of "if" when it comes to him being a reliable post-up option, but he's got the feel for some of it so far. His bounce and length allows him to get a hook shot off, but it doesn't have that great of a success rate so far. His jumper is still a work in progress but it does look half decent in terms of both his misses and his makes. It's a KG like super high release that is pretty much unblockable. If he can bring consistency to it like KG did later in his career it would be a monster weapon. The area of his game that is both the most promising and the most troublesome is his work off the dribble. He has such a quick step that he can get by just about any center so when he faces up that's what he looks for. His ball handling is so sloppy and loose that it makes it really easy for other defenders to poke it away and it's something that has to be developed. He is such an athlete though that he can shake someone.
I'll mention this only once before I start a fire in the comments (this probably already will but that's the nature of the beast), I was all in on him over Len. The explosion and instincts of Noel defensively are so rare and I don't think Len will ever be able to touch him on that end. Len's face-up game is enticing and he shows some good instincts offensively, but I think Noel has shown enough offensively like I said so the difference is not as incredulous as it is on the other end. I wasn't a fan of it then and after seeing both in person my opinion hasn't changed. It's going to be really fun to see them over the next couple of years and of course I am rooting for Len to prove me wrong. I am more so hoping that both stay healthy enough so that we can have that legitimate discussion a couple of years down the road.
The final game here was a treat and featured two of my favorite teams to watch throughout my stay in Vegas. Milwaukee has two can't miss guys in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, while the job that Dante Exum and Trey Burke do moving the ball for Utah is endlessly entertaining. Despite being a sloppy game like most, this one was fun to watch and featured a lot of these guys trading shots.
The one thing that stood out to me that almost made me explode in basketball nerdness was Antetokounmpo guarding Exum. It was fascinating to see Exum plot his attack against a guy who was long enough and quick enough to at least make it somewhat difficult for him to get to the rim. Antetokounmpo isn't a lockdown defender yet and still has some things to figure out there, but his athleticism and build get him so far already. We are very lucky as NBA fans to have these two ridiculously exciting players to watch on two very bad teams.
Tomorrow the Suns play the Sixers at 5PM. For a preview of the Sixers you can check out what I wrote about them here. As far as the Suns go, I would love to see something like Warren at the 4 with a Curry and Ennis backcourt with the offense centered around those two. Noel did not play in any games the day after a previous one in Orlando so that's something to keep an eye on. K.J. McDaniels on Warren will be tremendous. There are only 3 games in each arena tomorrow so my post will be up around 7PM.