All the need-to-know info from the trade-deadline eve slate.
The Perfect Trade Deadline Appetizer
The Wolves and the Cavs engaged in a blissful overtime shoot-out on Wednesday night, combining for 278 points in a 140-138 Cavs win. Cleveland and Minnesota shot 59 percent and 58 percent from the field, respectively, and their 40 total 3s were the most two teams have combined for in league history.
It was an instant classic that required a herculean performance from LeBron, who needed to pull from every fiber of his energy to ensure that the Cavs wouldn’t lose another prime-time game and continue their stumble. LeBron played 48 minutes. Forty-eight! He scored 37 points and added 15 assists and 10 rebounds, racking up a triple-double that culminated in a ridiculous game-winning shot at the buzzer:
Jimmy Butler played 46 minutes and scored 35 points. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 30 and didn’t miss a single one of his six 3s. But it wasn’t enough. A day after Isaiah Thomas criticized the team’s in-game adjustments, head coach Ty Lue made a key one: He consistently switched 22-year-old Cedi Osman in on defense and took Thomas out down the stretch. Thomas finished a minus-6 on the game (the lowest on the team), while Osman was a plus-7 (tied for the highest with Kyle Korver). The tinkering helped, but it would have been rendered meaningless had LeBron not hit a version of the Christian Laettner shot to give the Cavs a much-needed win. Oh, yeah, and there was this block, too:
This wasn’t as much a game where the Cavs showed they could still flip the switch as it was one that showed that LeBron still is the switch.
The Pistons Keep Rolling
I’ll admit it: I wasn’t sure how the Pistons would fare after adding Blake Griffin to the mix. Sure, on paper, it’s hard to deny the talent boost they’d be getting, but over the long run, the investment felt like a bigger risk than the potential return could make palatable. That’s still the case, but so far, the move is having its intended effect. Detroit is undefeated since.
Griffin had 25 points on Wednesday night. Andre Drummond posted 17 of his own and grabbed a season-high 27 boards. Stanley Johnson had a much-needed breakout game, pouring in 19 points and making three steals, and the Pistons won their fifth game in a row, beating the Nets 115-106. They’re now tied for the last playoff spot in the East and just three games out of the fifth seed.
Miami hung with Houston on Wednesday night in South Beach for as long as a team can hang with the Rockets these days. Of course, the difference once again in the Rockets’ 109-101 win was the MVP front-runner.
Harden turned it on in the fourth, when he scored 13 points—including a couple of dagger 3s—to end the Heat’s chances and complete his 41-point, six-assist night. It’s a testament to Mike D’Antoni’s system and Harden’s talents that a night like that barely registers anymore.
When It Rains, the Pelicans Close Their Doors
In a scenario that feels too on-the-nose, the Pelicans’ game against the Pacers on Wednesday was rained out. No joke. This was the scene at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, where a roof leak wouldn’t stop wetting the floor.
The team announced the game would be played at a later date. But hey, at least fans will be getting refunds and Mardi Gras will still happen.
The D in Dragic Is for Dimes
The Spurs Are Interested in Avery Bradley
The Spurs have emerged as a trade suitor for the Clippers' Avery Bradley, according to league sources— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 8, 2018
Bradley feels like a perfect fit for the Spurs. Without Kawhi Leonard in the fold for an indefinite amount of time due to a hamstring injury, I’m sure Gregg Popovich would like some perimeter defense. The cost, however, looks to be a first-rounder.
Group Chat Live for the NBA Trade Deadline
Join us on The Ringer tomorrow as our Group Chat team breaks down all the action from the deadline live. Also, before then, you can brush up on all of our trade deadline coverage here.