NBA Monday Morning Shootaround: James Harden, Floyd Mayweather and More

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NBA Monday Morning Shootaround: James Harden, Floyd Mayweather and More
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Welcome to "The Monday Morning Shootaround," Bleacher Report's recap of the weekend that was in the NBA. In this week's edition of the MMS, we'll let you know which teams have already started their offseason, tell you how you can buy season tickets for $1 per game, and show you that NBA players want the exact same things in life as the rest of us.

 

The Opening Tip

* The defending champion Dallas Mavericks were the first team to book its offseason fishing trip as they were swept out of the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday. James Harden led the charge with 29 points off the bench as the Thunder overcame a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to win 103-97. The series win may just be the start of the Oklahoma City dynasty, while the Mavericks are sure to re-tool in the offseason in an attempt to claim their second NBA title next year.

* The New York Knicks put their vacation plans on hold with their thrilling 89-87 triumph over the Miami Heat on Sunday, avoiding a sweep. Carmelo Anthony was in full "heroball" mode with 41 points, and the Knicks earned their first playoff victory in 11 years. The news isn't all good for New York, however: point guard Baron Davis left the court on a stretcher in the third quarter with a dislocated right patella.

* Yesterday afternoon, the Philadelphia 76ers took a 3-1 series lead with an 89-82 victory over the Chicago Bulls. Even without Derrick Rose (torn ACL) and Joakim Noah (ankle sprain), Chicago held serve with Philadelphia for most of the game, thanks to a yeoman-like effort from Carlos Boozer (23 points, 11 rebounds). But Sixers' point guard Jrue Holiday hit two huge three-pointers late to seal the win for the Doug Collins' squad. In four games this postseason, the 21-year-old Holiday is averaging 19.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 5.0 APG.

 

The Two-For-One

* You may remember Pamela McGee (mother of Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee) from her inadvertent kiss on the lips of NBA legend Julius "Dr. J" Erving at the 2011 Slam Dunk Contest. Anyway, here she is showing you why she's quite possibly both the best and the worst person to sit next to at an NBA game.

 

 

* The Los Angeles Lakers are growing together as a team right before our very eyes. This was made clear after Game 3 of their series against the Denver Nuggets when we learned that in Kobe Bryant's world, there is no country for Andrew Bynum criticism:

 

 

The Full-Court Press

* Could a boatload of cash be enough to entice the Zen Master to come out of retirement? The New York Knicks owe it to themselves to find out, says Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

* Orlando's Ryan Anderson is the recipient of the NBA's Most Improved Player Award for 2011-12. Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova and Minnesota's Nikola Pekovic rounded out the top three.

* In other award news, Eric Freeman and Bethlehem Shoals of The Classical discuss the merits of Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins for MVP. We think that they're at least 12 percent serious.

* Jerry Stackhouse—who plays for the Atlanta Hawks—picks the Miami Heat to win the NBA title this year. So there's that.

* Andrei Kirilenko hasn't yet agreed to a deal with the Brooklyn Nets, but that doesn't mean that it won't happen, either.

* The finalists for the 2012 U.S. Men's Olympic team are officially set. With Orlando's Dwight Howard set to miss the Games due to injury, don't be surprised if the Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis finds his way onto the final 12-man roster.

* A total of 500 lucky people could potentially see every Charlotte Bobcats home game next season for a grand total of $43. On second thought, maybe they aren't so lucky...

* Perhaps no player in the entire league gives his team more of a boost than Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen. Oh, by the way, he just happens to be a fantastic defender as well.

* Well-written James Harden profiles are great. Well-written James Harden profiles with Pokemon and Andrew Toney references? Infinitely better.

* "The Diesel," "The Big Aristotle" and "Wilt Chamberneezy" are just a few of the names that Shaquille O'Neal has been called over the course of his NBA life. Add one more to the list: "Doctor."

 

The Four-Point Play

How good is de facto No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, asks Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick? One NBA general manager predicts that not only will the highly-regarded Davis be "way better" than Blake Griffin, but that he might even outdo Kevin Garnett.

 Your memories of long-time NBA referee Joey Crawford probably revolve around a particular call (or 10) that he made against your favorite team. No one really notices referees unless they do something "wrong", but 35 years after he got his start, Crawford finally gets to tell his side of the story.

* A team whose offensive sets are mostly isolation plays for Carmelo Anthony is a team that will not have playoff success, writes Howard Beck of the New York Times. Just ask the New York Knicks. Or the Denver Nuggets.

* Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry were the No. 2 and No. 4 picks in the 2001 NBA Draft, respectively. One is an NBA champion who just won the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award. The other...has had much less success.

 

The Tweet of the Week

Millions of people watched the Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto boxing match on Saturday night. But one person who didn't tune in—Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green—gave his thoughts on the one fight that nearly every fan of the sweet science has wanted to see for years now:

We can only hope, Jeff. We can only hope.

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