Eric Freeman

  • Dwane Casey was a habitual line-stepper in the Raptors' Game 4 win

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 4 hrs ago

    The conference finals obviously feature a great deal of intensity from all participants, enough so that many often let their emotions carry them over the bounds of typical NBA standards and practices. Draymond Green's kick to Steven Adams stands out as perhaps the worst possible such scenario (if you think it was intentional, at least), but more often these cases don't become so controversial. They're just an accepted thing when these players have so much on the line.

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    Sometimes the coaches get involved, too. That's what occurred with Toronto Raptors head honcho Dwane Casey on a few notable possessions late in Monday night's critical Eastern Conference Finals Game 4 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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  • Raptors salvage pride in Game 3, hand Cavs their 1st playoff loss

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    The first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals confirmed what most observers thought entering the series — that the Cleveland Cavaliers are far superior to the Toronto Raptors and every other team in the conference. Cleveland took a 2-0 lead in the series by a combined 50 points, extended their playoff winning streak against the East to 17 games, and essentially made their participation in the NBA Finals a formality. Meanwhile, the Raptors looked overwhelmed and overmatched, a conference finalist more by default than by merit.

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    Biyombo's effort and toughness inside obviously had the practical effects of ending and extending many possessions, but he also sent a message that the Raptors would not be easily eliminated despite the tenor of the first two games. Others scored more, but Biyombo's night is the best evidence of why the Raptors won this game.

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  • LeBron flopped hard on an inadvertent swing from his teammate

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    NBA fans love to point out when a player flops after minimal contact, but in most cases the offending party at least has the excuse of exaggerating to call attention to a foul that might not get whistled otherwise. LeBron James technically flopped to sell such contact in Saturday's Eastern Conference Finals Game 3 between his Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors. It just came from a teammate, not a Raptor.

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    With 43 seconds remaining in the first half, Raptors center Bismack Biyombo fouled Kyrie Irving in transition. Cavs big man and Toronto native Tristan Thompson took exception to the foul and approached Biyombo, who was then accompanied by Raptors guard Cory Joseph. LeBron and DeMarre Carroll joined the minor face-off soon after, and it looked as if the whole thing would end rather quickly with a technical or two to end any further escalation.

    Rob Perez of Fox Sports came up with the best explanation — the return of Lance Stephenson:

    Let no one ever claim to LeBron will not do whatever it takes to win.

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  • Curry's 3rd quarter burst puts away OKC for series-tying blowout

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 5 days ago

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    The Oklahoma City Thunder's surprising Western Conference Finals Game 1 victory on Monday stood out as an example of a team finding its best form at the right time, but it also found the history-making Golden State Warriors making uncharacteristic and frequently baffling mistakes. A team known for its late-game poise made a habit of taking bad shots and seemed intent on seeking out daggers even when down. It was far cry from what NBA fans saw over and over during their 73-win regular season and already in the playoffs, when the Warriors appeared only to improve during winning time.

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    The identity of Wednesday's biggest difference maker should not come as a surprise. Stephen Curry followed up his disappointing Game 1 with a suitably MVP-like performance in Game 2, scoring a team-high 28 points on 9-of-15 from the field, 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, and 5-of-5 from the line.

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  • Jeff Hornacek reportedly set to become the next Knicks coach

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 5 days ago

    The New York Knicks have reportedly found their next head coach, and it's not someone with strong ties to team president Phil Jackson or the triangle offense.

    As first reported by Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, the Knicks are nearing an agreement with Jeff Hornacek, most recently of the Phoenix Suns. Hornacek was fired by the Suns in early February following a terrible run of form and several public disagreements among players and the organization.

    Breaking: Knicks will hire Jeff Hornacek as head coach, per NBA source.

    On Hornacek-Knicks: It's "as close as humanly possible," per source, tho not official. Deal is expected soon, barring any unforeseen snags.

    The New York Daily News and New York Post reported that negotiations between Hornacek and the Knicks were ongoing and a deal was not yet in place.

    We'll find out soon enough what Hornacek plans for the Knicks and whether the triangle offense will be a part of it. For now, though, the good news is that the worst-case scenario looks like it will not come to pass.

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  • Embiid says he'll be ready next season in more great Sixers news

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 6 days ago

    Tuesday was unquestionably a good night for the Philadelphia 76ers, who won the draft lottery to obtain the No. 1 pick after a 10-72 season. It's not clear if that reward will prove to be worth three years of unrepentant losing, but it at least validates a great deal of ex-GM Sam Hinkie's controversial plan and gives the franchise real hope for the future. Adding Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram (or a mystery candidate) will give them a bright prospect with the chance to grow into stardom.

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    The night got a whole lot better shortly after it was revealed that the Sixers had won the first pick. Barring any setbacks, Hinkie's highest-profile draft selection will be available to play his first game for the franchise when the 2016-17 season begins. After two seasons lost to foot injuries, center Joel Embiid says he will be ready and in uniform:

    The #3 Pick from the 2014 draft is gonna be ready too... Let's get it

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  • A Warriors exec told Luke Walton the Lakers had lost their pick

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 6 days ago

    Luke Walton's future lies with the Los Angeles Lakers as the storied franchise's next head coach, but for now he remains an employee of the Golden State Warriors as they attempt to win back-to-back championships. Tuesday was therefore an important day for Walton for two reasons — the Warriors had to make adjustments ahead of Wednesday's Game 2 with the Oklahoma City Thunder following a Game 1 loss, and the Lakers were set to find out if they would keep their top-three protected first-round draft pick or ship it to the Philadelphia 76ers.

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    Before lottery, Warriors PR czar Raymond Ridder texted Luke Walton that Lakers got 4th pick. Luke fell for the prank, now has last laugh.

    [ STACK: Jamal Murray drained 25 3-pointers in 2 minutes at pre-draft workout ]

    If Walton is laughing, it's probably from a sense of relief.

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  • Sixers win 2016 draft lottery to validate Sam Hinkie's plan

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 6 days ago

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    More than a month after Hinkie resigned his post as general manager, the Philadelphia 76ers won the draft lottery and will select first in the 2016 NBA Draft. The Sixers' NBA-worst 10-72 record gave them the best odds of winning the lottery at 25 percent, and the percentages went in their favor. In fact, the draft order held exactly to form for the first time ever, with no teams jumping into the lottery-decided top three and no changes among that trio. It appears that Dikembe Mutombo really can see the future.

    PROCESSSSSSSSSSSS pic.twitter.com/VDbpc9uUB5

    THANK YOU HINKIE pic.twitter.com/nllA0WnfsV

    Check out the full lottery order below:

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  • Westbrook leads comeback as Thunder stun Warriors to take Game 1

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 7 days ago

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    The early analysis of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder cast the matchup primarily in terms of tactical advantages and disadvantages. Monday's Game 1 served as a reminder that a team can appear to lose the majority of those matchups and come out ahead thanks to bursts of excellence and the avoidance of huge mistakes. Sometimes tactics don't matter nearly as much as a more obvious factor — which team makes more game-winning plays.

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    Curry with the Warriors’ main adjustment: “We have to be better at being us."

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    Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • The Thunder eliminated the Spurs with more overwhelming defense

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 11 days ago

    The Western Conference semifinals series between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder started with a blowout of epic proportions. The Spurs dominated the Thunder in every facet, winning by 32 in a fashion that seemed to serve as a statement on not just one particular game but the matchup as a whole. It was a brutal result that acted as a sign of clear superiority.

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    The Thunder offense thrived not so much with its typical star-focused dominance as it did by not making mistakes. Though usually prone to turnovers, the Thunder committed just three in the first half. They did not give the Spurs any chances to get easy baskets, and this half-ending shot from Durant looked like a dagger despite there being 24 minutes left to play:

     

    Tim Duncan on his future: "I'll get to that when I get out of here and figure life out."

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