The Cleveland Cavaliers wrapped up the Eastern Conference Finals with a convincing win in Toronto last night, to finish off the Raptors in six games. The Raps getting two was more than many expected when the series started, and it's worth pausing to congratulate them on a fantastic season--finishing 2nd in the East in the regular season and reaching the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. Also a salute to the great fans in Toronto, who stayed and cheered on their team well beyond the final buzzer.
But the Cavs were clearly the class of the conference again, and reach the Finals for the 2nd consecutive year behind the brilliant LeBron James, who went for 33-11-6 in last night's win, absolutely dominating the game. The Cavs found their three point accuracy, which had been so lethal earlier in the playoffs, but disappeared for a bit against the Raps. Last night's 17-31 performance ended the Raptors hopes on their home floor.
This marks the 6th straight season LeBron James has made it to the NBA Finals, an absolutely incredible achievement.
The Cavs await the winner of the Warriors-Thunder Western Conference Finals, with the Thunder holding a surprising 3-2 edge and the chance to close it out tonight at home.
Warriors at Thunder
8:00 pm CDT
The Warriors stayed alive with a home win in game five, but have a tough task tonight, as the Thunder dominated them in both earlier games in Oklahoma City in this series. The atmosphere in the arena is going to be bonkers tonight.
Elsewhere, the Rockets have hired Mike D'Antoni to be their head coach. D'Antoni, who had great success with his SSOL Suns teams, struggled with dubious personnel at later stops. D'Antoni is a believer in high tempo basketball, spreading the floor, and having shooters everywhere. He deserves acknowledgment for helping usher in the current style of basketball prevalent in the NBA, but whether he has the chops or personnel to turn the Rockets into a contender remains to be seen.
The Wolves (along with several other teams with lottery picks) will be attending a workout by Jaylen Brown on Cal's campus today. Brown is an interesting and somewhat divisive prospect. His play as a freshman was not particularly impressive, and he lacked the statistical markers we tend to like to see to make us comfortable with prospects. On the other hand, his physical profile is, as they say, prototypical for an NBA wing.
What interests me, however, is the apparent disconnect between his on court IQ and his off court IQ. One of the consistent complaints about Brown's play (albeit as a freshman) was his poor feel for the game--which is one of the weaknesses highlighted in his DX scouting video.
On the other hand, he is by all accounts a fantastically intelligent person. He chose Cal for its academics, and while he spent just one year there, apparently took a rigorous course load. He apparently likes learning and likes asking questions. This appeals to me. I like smart players--as Jeff Van Gundy sometimes says on television: "Dumb gets you beat." I think smart is good--it means better able to learn, to understand concepts, to process information. The question is whether that off-court intelligence will translate to smarter on court play with Brown.
At any rate, the Wolves will get to see him in person today.
Today's musical birthday is Gladys Knight, born in 1944
Have a great weekend.