Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler says he didn’t hold up his end of bargain after Game 6 loss, vows ‘we’ll be back’

Miami Heat All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler raised his game to a superstar level during the postseason, but the veteran is leaving the bubble with a sour taste in his mouth following Sunday’s 106-93 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals because of a promise he felt he didn’t deliver on to team president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra.

“This is what my team needed me to do, the organization asked of me,” Butler said. “I told them that I would win them one and I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain, so that means I got to do it next year. I told Coach Pat, I told Coach Spo I’m here to win one. I didn’t do my job, so moving forward, I got to hold up my end of the bargain.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Despite his assessment, Butler’s teammates and coaches know there wasn’t much else Butler could have accomplished. He led the fifth-seeded Heat to within two games of an NBA championship, putting together one of the most unexpected runs to the Finals in recent memory. In 20 postseason games, Butler averaged 22.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists, including a triple-double in Games 3 and 5 of the Finals.4

“Jimmy has a superstar competitive spirit to him,” Spoelstra said. “If you try to evaluate him or put him in a conventional box of how you view a modern-day basketball player, you’re totally missing the boat on JB. He is a winner, he is a leader, he is a motivator, a mentor and just a supreme competitor. And when you get to this level, I think so many people forget about that, the competition and what you can bring out of an entire franchise when you’re wired to that level of fierce competitiveness.”

Butler’s confidence and work ethic lifted the organization over the past three months, bringing a new level of praise to the culture that Riley created over two decades ago when he arrived in Miami. The passion and mental toughness Butler and his teammates showed throughout their time in the bubble left an emotional Spoelstra wiping away tears to start his postgame news conference Sunday night.nfl cheap jerseys nike

After congratulating the Lakers organization on its championship and thanking the NBA for putting the bubble together, Spoelstra thanked the Heat families for supporting the group and then spoke passionately about his team.

“This locker room, regardless of whatever happens in the future, we’re going to remember this year, this season, this experience and that locker room brotherhood for the rest of our lives,” Spoelstra said. “You’re in this business to be able to be around people like this. And I can go on and on. But the guys that competed and played in this series, we had several guys that were not even close to being 100 percent. Probably shouldn’t have been playing, but that’s how this group was. They wanted to do it for each other. And I just, I’m really bummed that we couldn’t find a way to get over the hump and finish the season with a win.”

The only solace for Spoelstra and the Heat is that they feel confident that Butler will eventually be able to lead the group to the top in the future. Butler has forever changed the narrative that followed him throughout his career regarding whether he could be the face of a championship-caliber team and fit in well within the context of the locker room. The professional marriage Butler formed with the Heat — after agreeing to terms last summer and having the organization complete a sign-and-trade deal with the Philadelphia 76ers to land him — paid immediate dividends for both player and team. Butler appreciated the work ethic that the young Heat players showed and the Heat loved how hard Butler played on a nightly basis.

Los Angeles Lakers betting favorites to win next season’s NBA championship

The Los Angeles Lakers went from missing the playoffs in 2019 to winning it all this season, and oddsmakers have installed them as the team to beat again in 2021.

The Lakers, who finished off the Miami Heat on Sunday to win the franchise’s 17th NBA championship, are listed at the favorites at +375 to win next season’s title at William Hill U.S. sportsbooks. The LA Clippers are next at +400, followed by the Milwaukee Bucks at +550 and Golden State Warriors at +800.

After missing last season’s playoffs, the Lakers could be found at around 20-1 at some sportsbooks entering the summer. But their odds improved rapidly with the addition of forward Anthony Davis to go along with LeBron James. By time the season tipped off, the Lakers were the consensus favorites, and bettors were on board.

At William Hill U.S. sportsbooks, more bets were placed and more money wagered on the Lakers to win the NBA championship than any other team.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“Hats off to the bettors on this one, they bet [the Lakers] from the beginning,” said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill U.S. “They identified them, thought [Davis] would be the missing piece and it looks like they were right.”

The Lakers were favored in each of their 21 games in the playoffs.3

“We had some really big decisions on them through the entire playoffs,” Bogdanovich added.

While this offseason is unique, due to the shift in the schedule caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s not expected to feature as much star-power relocating as last summer did when Davis went to the Lakers, Kawhi Leonard bolted Toronto to join the Clippers and Kevin Durant left Golden State for the Brooklyn Nets.cheap nike nfl jersey

Durant missed all of the 2019-20 season because of an Achilles injury but is expected back next season to team with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. The Nets are 10-1 to win next year’s championship, followed by the Boston Celtics at 12-1.

Golden State guard Klay Thompson is also expected to return from injury after missing all of last season, which has boosted the Warriors into the top tier of oddsboards.

While the Lakers were among the favorites all season, their Finals opponent, the Miami Heat, were not. Miami entered the season a 100-1 to win the title. The Heat are 15-1 to win next year’s title.

Doc Rivers says 76ers’ talent reason he took coaching job

When Doc Rivers and the LA Clippers parted ways after seven years together last week, Rivers was expecting to take a break from coaching after spending 16 consecutive seasons patrolling NBA sidelines.

But then, within a few hours of that news becoming public, he’d received a call from the Philadelphia 76ers. After a whirlwind courtship, Rivers was introduced as the team’s new head coach Monday afternoon, citing it as too good of an opportunity to pass up.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“I love coaching. I absolutely love it,” Rivers said on a video conference call with reporters from the practice court inside the team’s Camden, New Jersey, practice facility. “But I was not going to just coach anybody, I can tell you that. I was ready to take a break … it just depended on the team that was available, and if that team in my opinion was ready to win.”

Rivers said that three teams reached out to his agent, Lonnie Cooper, within hours of the news coming out about his dismissal from the Clippers after their flameout in the Western Conference semifinals. They lost to the Denver Nuggets after taking a 3-1 lead in the series and holding double-digit leads in Games 5, 6 and 7.3

But he said he met with the Sixers first, and that it quickly became clear to him that the team’s talent, led by All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, made this a job he simply had to take.

“When [general manager Elton Brand] called, it was an easy ‘Get on the plane and take a look’ for me,” Rivers said. “You look at these players, these young players, and their potential … the fact that they’ve had so much success in so many ways at the ages they are already, and where I think they can go, for me it’s a job you just couldn’t turn down.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“That’s why I’m here. Just really excited about it.”

The Sixers, like the Clippers, failed to live up to lofty expectations this season. Philadelphia’s roster was deemed championship-caliber entering the season, but the pieces never quite fit together the way the team hoped. The Sixers ultimately wound up being swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics after Ben Simmons was lost for the season because of knee surgery. Longtime coach Brett Brown was fired the next day.

Still, Philadelphia has a roster full of talent, led by the Simmons-Embiid pairing, a tandem that Rivers immediately identified as worthy of making him choose to forgo a break from coaching and instead dive right back in again.

“They’ve won 65% of the games they’ve played,” Rivers said, referring to Simmons and Embiid, “so it clearly works when they play together. … this team is loaded with talent. We just have to figure out how to make it work the best.”

Los Angeles Lakers switch to ‘Black Mamba’ uniforms for potential title-clinching Game 5

The Los Angeles Lakers will try to win their 17th NBA championship in Black Mamba fashion.

The Lakers will wear their “Black Mamba” uniforms, which are styled in honor of the late Kobe Bryant, in Game 5 on Friday.

They were slated to wear the black alternative uniforms in Games 2 and 7 of the NBA Finals, a team source confirmed to ESPN. But on Friday, the Lakers can clinch the title, as they lead the Miami Heat 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“It means something,” LeBron James said Thursday. “Something more than just a uniform. It represents an individual who gave the franchise 20 years of his blood, sweat and tears and his dedication to his craft, both on and off the floor, to make that franchise be proud of him, and hopefully vice versa.”4

Lakers coach Frank Vogel, Anthony Davis and James have spoken often about trying to channel Bryant’s legendary “Mamba mentality” and relentless desire to win. This Lakers team dedicated the rest of the season to Bryant — who played all 20 seasons of his career in the purple and gold — following his death.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles in January.

James and Davis got tattoos in honor of Bryant. The team chants “1-2-3 Mamba!” when breaking huddles.

“If we come out and do what we’re supposed to do, then we can remain undefeated [in the alternate jersey this postseason],” Davis said Thursday. “We just think that for all the things that happened this season, with our team specifically and our organization, that to be able to close it out in the Black Mamba uniforms will just make it all worth it. Obviously his legacy in the NBA and then just with the organization, period, is something special.

“For us to [potentially] close it out in his honor is something that we look forward to, something that — an insane amount of pressure for sure, but we don’t want to lose, we don’t want to let him down.”

Davis hit a game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer against the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals and said the Black Mamba uniforms worn by the Lakers for that contest provided inspiration.

NBA playoffs: Dwight Howard gives Lakers a Game 1 jolt

The last time we saw the Los Angeles Lakers, nearly a week ago when they were finishing off the small-ball Houston Rockets in the second round of the playoffs, centers Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee had been relegated to socially distant cheerleaders on the bench. An important role in a mostly empty, fanless arena, although not what a future Hall of Famer and a two-time NBA champion were accustomed to.

But this was exactly what Howard had promised the Lakers he was up for this season, when they took him back into the organization after his ill-fated 2012-13 stint left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

In meeting after meeting with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, coaches Frank Vogel and Jason Kidd and teammates LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo, Howard assured them he would do whatever the team needed this season. To prove it, he came up with the idea of a non-guaranteed contract that would give the Lakers the ability to cut bait at any time, thereby holding him accountable for his play and actions.4

“It was about Dwight proving to himself he was ready for this role,” Charles Briscoe, Howard’s agent, said. “He’d lost pretty much everything. He felt like if he wanted to get anything back, he needed to start from the bottom and work his way back.”

In this Western Conference finals matchup against the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers were pretty sure they were going to need Howard to help defend All-NBA center Nikola Jokic.

They’d be happy if he could give them a physical presence off the bench, maybe draw a few fouls on Jokic and buy some time at center so Davis could play his preferred position of power forward.

On Friday night, in a 126-114 win over Denver in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, the Lakers got a whole lot more from Howard than they could have expected.

From the moment Howard came bounding off the bench with 10 minutes left in the second quarter, he changed the dynamic of the game. He started wrestling with Jokic inside as they battled for post position. Howard cut back door for alley-oops, drove hard to the basket, blocked two shots, created two steals and drew four fouls in his first seven minutes.

“I had a chance to get there once and always promised myself if I had a chance to get back there, I’d give my teammates everything I got and lay it all out on the line,” said Howard, who lost in his only NBA Finals appearance in 2009 with the Orlando Magic.nfl cheap nike jerseys

Perhaps most importantly, Howard caused Jokic, Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap to pick up their third personal fouls and take a seat before halftime. Although the Lakers did not extend their lead while those three key Nuggets were out, getting those players in foul trouble seemed to knock them out of stride.

Celtics ‘played with the right mentality’ in Game 3 win following recent collapses, locker room outbursts

For the past two days, the basketball world waited to see how the Boston Celtics would respond to both collapsing down the stretch for a second straight game to open the Eastern Conference finals and the emotional outbursts in the locker room that followed.

But after the Celtics got themselves back into their series against the Miami Heat with a 117-106 victory on Saturday in Game 3, Boston said its response is proof that there is more than enough resolve within this team for it to turn this series around and win it.nike cheap nfl jerseys

“There are some great guys in that locker room,” Celtics guard Jaylen Brown said after leading Boston with 26 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 blocked shot in 42 minutes. “A lot of emotion, a lot of passion. But we’re a family. We’re here for each other at the end of the day. We exemplified that when we came out together. We stayed together during some tough moments.

Still, the Celtics could take solace in the fact that they controlled large portions of those games. They then proceeded to come out and do the same thing in Game 3, except this time they managed to close the door on Miami, despite a brief scare when the Heat got within five points inside the final minute.3

The difference? In Game 3, rather than falling into large stretches of passive play, as it did in the first two games, Boston was relentlessly aggressive in attacking the paint. Doing so produced a ridiculous 60-36 margin in points in the paint in Boston’s favor, allowing the Celtics to dictate the tempo of the game and keep the Heat on their heels.

“Our whole team was aggressive,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “Our whole team played with the right mentality.”

That mentality was lacking in the first two games, which led to frustrations bubbling over in the locker room afterward, notably with Marcus Smart being heard among several players yelling at one another. But after the Celtics spent last season as a disjointed group that went through numerous locker room spats during the season, this version of the team has had practically no such moments.

After the Celtics responded with an impressive performance Saturday, the players shrugged off the idea that there would be any long-term issue as a result of this moment of turbulence.

“It’s been normal,” said Jayson Tatum, who had 25 points, 14 rebounds and 8 assists in 41 minutes. “Anybody that’s played sports, played in a team game, we’re not supposed to be happy being down 0-2. If you are, then you don’t care. We care about this.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“Basketball is a game of emotions. So we want guys to be frustrated, be upset, to care. It’s nothing personal. We just have to figure some things out. It’s nothing more than that.

“You’re supposed to talk it out, figure it out and come together for the next game. Leave what happened in the past in the past because you can’t change it.”

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta says GM Daryl Morey’s job is safe

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has declared his intention to rely on Daryl Morey to lead the franchise’s coaching search, squashing speculation that Fertitta would also seek to make a change at general manager.

“Daryl Morey’s job is safe, and I’m sure he’s going to pick the right head coach,” Fertitta said Tuesday during his weekly appearance on CNBC.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

The Rockets, who were eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals, are searching for a new head coach after Mike D’Antoni informed the franchise on Sunday that he did not intend to return. D’Antoni’s contract expired at the end of the season after extension discussions broke down last summer.4

There had been leaguewide speculation about Morey’s job security since his tweet supporting protesters in Hong Kong in October damaged the NBA’s and Rockets’ business relationships with China, costing Fertitta millions of dollars in sponsorship money. However, Fertitta has been consistently adamant that he was committed to Morey, calling him “the best general manager in the league” in an interview with ESPN on the night of the controversial tweet and never wavering in his plan for Morey to continue running the Rockets’ basketball operations.

Morey has been the Rockets’ general manager since 2007-08, and Houston has not had a losing record during his tenure, advancing to the playoffs in each of the past eight seasons. He signed a five-year contract extension in March 2019.

This will be the fourth coaching search that Morey has conducted with the Rockets but the first since Fertitta bought the franchise. Fertitta made it clear that Morey will be primarily responsible for the hire to replace D’Antoni, whose 217-101 record with the Rockets gave him the best winning percentage (.682) in franchise history.

“I personally wouldn’t know what coach to hire,” Fertitta said on CNBC. “That’s why you have a basketball operations team made up of a half-dozen people that use all sorts of analytics and experience. They’ll make a recommendation to me. I’m the sign-off guy.cheap nike nfl jersey

“I wouldn’t know how to interview a basketball coach. To be successful in business — and I say this in my book — you better know what you know, and you better know what you don’t know. And I surely know what I don’t know when it comes to basketball.”

Shaun Livingston returns to Golden State Warriors in front-office role

Former Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston has rejoined the organization in a front-office role as director of player affairs and engagement, it was announced Tuesday.

Livingston will report directly to Warriors president and general manager Bob Myers.

“I think it’s always been something that’s on the radar towards the latter part of my career,” Livingston said of a front-office role during Tuesday’s conference call with reporters. “Once I got back out west, you start thinking about the next chapter a little bit. So just throughout my career, thinking about the post-career transitioning, what it is I want to do? What are the passions? I always thought that I would have a good feel in the basketball office, so that’s kind of how it came about.”

Livingston, 35, played five seasons with the Warriors, beginning in 2014-15, and won three NBA championships while playing for coach Steve Kerr. Livingston was a respected member of the roster and trusted confidante. As he embarks on the next stage of his professional career, he is looking forward to helping in a variety of different ways.3

“I think it’s going to be more of a hybrid role,” Livingston said. “In a sense of I’m coming in this first year, just trying to put my head down and really get to work on the other side of things. Just learning about the other departments, scouting, draft, of course. But then also working with the team, whether that’s working with rookies or young players or any of the players.”

Livingston said he always felt “the stars were aligning,” as far as a front-office role was concerned, and that he feels refreshed after retiring before the beginning of the 2019-20 season. As part of his time away from the game, Livingston said he took a brief course at Harvard for a few days at the end of February focusing on the business of sports with some other professional athletes.

He believes his new role with the Warriors will get him to his goal of becoming an NBA general manager.

“I think that’s the end goal,” Livingston said. “But I know I have a ways to go, just starting out. So, again, just being able to learn the ins and outs from the ground floor up a little bit. Just kind of getting my hands dirty and really being in the mix. But also trying to provide value; I don’t ever want to hold anything back from the team or not spend time with the coaches or staff and players, if that’s going to help the team moving forward.”

Livingston is hopeful the Warriors’ championship window will remain open for a while now that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are fully healthy and ready to return together for the 2020-21 season.

“It’s hard to say,” Livingston said of that window. “It really depends on a lot of factors: health, what kind of roster, performance, what happens [in the future]. It’s hard to say, but I can definitely see within a three- to five-year window. It’s still open.

“Now will there be interchangeable parts? We don’t know. We don’t know any of that stuff. It’s a lot of unknowns, a lot of factors. That’s why it’s more of just putting your head down and just kind of seeing how the group looks now — where are we at now and how can we get better.”

Toronto Raptors’ Serge Ibaka plays vs. Boston Celtics despite ankle sprain

Despite his sprained left ankle, Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka played in Wednesday night’s double-overtime victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Ibaka came off the bench and played 21 minutes, contributing 13 points, three rebounds and three blocks as the Raptors won 125-122 to even the series at 3-3.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

Ibaka was in a walking boot while he addressed the media on Tuesday.4

Coach Nick Nurse said pregame that Ibaka was “OK” and that there wouldn’t be any limitations on him.

Ibaka, who has not started any games for the Raptors in this playoffs but serves as a key figure off the bench, is averaging 12.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game against Boston this series while shooting 49.7% overall and 49.4% from 3-point range. He also had three 20-point games in the Raptors’ first-round sweep against the Brooklyn Nets.

On Tuesday, Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said he was confident that Ibaka was going to play because of how well Ibaka takes care of himself.nfl nike jersey cheap

“Obviously we need him out there,” VanVleet said on Tuesday afternoon. “I haven’t spoken to him about how he’s feeling or anything, but just knowing him personally, I would be surprised if he wasn’t out there. Serge is probably the best I’ve ever seen at taking care of his body and recovering and following his routine. Hopefully he can get back feeling good today and be ready for us tomorrow.”

Rockets’ Robert Covington expected to play; no broken nose, concussion

Houston Rockets forward Robert Covington passed a concussion protocol test, does not have a broken nose and is expected to be available for Game 4, he said Wednesday.

Covingtonm who left Tuesday’s Game 3 loss after a collision with Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis, is officially listed as questionable for Thursday’s game.nfl nike jerseys cheap

“I did everything I was supposed to do yesterday, went through the protocol today and everything just to see how I was feeling and refresh the tests, just to see if things had gotten any worse,” Covington said before practicing Wednesday. “But I passed with flying colors, so on to preparing for tomorrow.”3

Rockets sixth man Danuel House Jr. is listed as out for Game 4 after he missed Game 3 due to personal reasons.

The Lakers lead the series 2-1.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Covington crashed to the floor with 4:50 remaining in the Rockets’ 112-102 loss after taking an inadvertent elbow to the face from Davis. Davis also went down, holding his hip after being hit by Covington’s elbow, but remained in the game.

“I think he got hit in the nose, and he was bleeding pretty good,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said about Covington on Tuesday.

The players collided while scrambling for a rebound after Covington was knocked off-balance by a push in the back from Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma. Covington said the back of his head hit the floor when he fell.

Covington had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals in 36 minutes before being injured. The Rockets were already down a player in the frontcourt rotation, as sixth man Danuel House did not play because of personal reasons.