Eric Freeman

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Eric Freeman is a contributor to Ball Don't Lie. As a lifetime fan of the Golden State Warriors, he has learned not to set high expectations for his favorite teams. Eric is also a co-founder of The Classical. He lives in San Francisco.

  • A decent number of NBA teams enter the regular season with little expectation of winning enough games to qualify for the postseason, but few have ever done so quite as brazenly as the 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers came into this season with a roster that many thought could challenge for the worst record of all-time, cast away several veterans before the trade deadline, engaged in a record-tying 26-game losing streak, and generally looked like a squad with no designs on a winning season. If a basketball fan or analyst took issue with teams tanking over the past few months, it's a safe bet that the Sixers were mentioned.

    With a 19-63 record, Philly finished with the NBA's second-worst record — ahead of only the tanking-averse Milwaukee Bucks — and have a 19.9 percent chance of winning the draft lottery. By most metrics, that's a terrible season. So it's a little weird to hear franchise owner Josh Harris call it the exact opposite. From Dei Lynam for CSNPhilly.com (via PBT):

    "I

    Read More »from Philadelphia 76ers owner Josh Harris calls 63-loss season a 'huge success'
  • Grizzlies rebound from furious Thunder comeback, even up series with OT win

    The Memphis Grizzlies are known for their toughness, a quality that's given birth to a franchise motto (Grit and Grind) and the sort of ever-present identity that makes them a fearsome opponent in any circumstance. In Monday night Game 2 of their first-round series against the No. 2-seed Oklahoma City Thunder, that resilience helped them withstand what could have gone down as a legendary comeback.

    Let's start with the Thunder's massive plays late in regulation, because they spoke to the overall quality of this game and the general desperation of playoff basketball. With 18 seconds remaining in regulation and Memphis up 98-93 after having bounced back from a lead-stealing dunk from OKC star Kevin Durant, the game appeared to be near its end. The Grizzlies had controlled tempo for the vast majority, imposed their style at both ends and appeared heading to a series-tying victory.

    Unfortunately for them, the Thunder had other ideas. Durant, the NBA's presumptive MVP this season, came

    Read More »from Grizzlies rebound from furious Thunder comeback, even up series with OT win
  • Raptors GM Masai Ujiri fined $25,000 for 'F--- Brooklyn" comment at Game 1 rally

    The NBA playoffs mark a period of intense competitiveness throughout the league, but there is still a baseline for respecting peers. On Monday, we learned that cursing a first-round opponent in a public forum is not within the NBA's definition of acceptable behavior.

    At a fan rally before Saturday's Game 1 of the series between the Brooklyn Nets and host Toronto Raptors, general manager Masai Ujiri said 'F--- Brooklyn" over a microphone to the assembled crowd, with a fan video quickly gaining attention on social media and in various reports. On Monday, Ujiri was fined $25,000 for his comment, as announced in an NBA press release.

    Earlier reports had suggested that Ujiri would merely be warned, apparently due to the Ujiri's lack of a previous offense and the comment's having taken place at a fan rally, not a press conference. Yet it's fairly easy to understand why this fine went through. Ujiri apologized for his choice of words, but the NBA typically doesn't put up with such comments

    Read More »from Raptors GM Masai Ujiri fined $25,000 for 'F--- Brooklyn" comment at Game 1 rally
  • Josh McRoberts dunks on Chris 'Birdman' Andersen in Heat-Bobcats Game 1 (Video)

    The Charlotte Bobcats entered the NBA playoffs without a single national TV appearance during the 2013-14 season. In their first game in front of that wide audience, one player produced arguably the single most impressive play of the postseason so far.

    Less than a minute into the fourth quarter of Sunday's series-opening game against the defending champion Miami Heat, forward Josh McRoberts slipped past LeBron James, took a pass from teammate Luke Ridnour, and unloaded on Heat big man Chris "Birdman" Andersen for the emphatic posterization. (All Josh McRoberts posters are on perpetual discount, by the way.) Check out the video below:

    Unfortunately for the Bobcats, this play was not representative of the rest of the game. Although Charlotte held a third-quarter lead, Miami took control with an 18-4 fourth-quarter run to grab a 99-88 win and a 1-0 series advantage. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 50 points on 18-of-32 shooting, while Al Jefferson was the Bobcats' top performer

    Read More »from Josh McRoberts dunks on Chris 'Birdman' Andersen in Heat-Bobcats Game 1 (Video)
  • Craig Sager's son interviews Gregg Popovich during Spurs-Mavericks Game 1

    The beginning of the NBA postseason is typically a joyous time around the sport, but this year's festivities have been marked by some uncharacteristic sadness. On Tuesday night, Craig Sager Jr. announced his father, TNT reporter Craig Sager, had been diagnosed with leukemia. Sager, a fixture on broadcasts for decades and known around the culture for his colorful wardrobe, will miss the entire postseason while undergoing treatment.

    For Sunday's opening broadcast of TNT's postseason coverage, the entire crew decided to pay tribute to their absent colleague. That included a special interview with Sager's greatest antagonist, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. For the on-court interview between the third and fourth quarters of Game 1 between the top-seeded Spurs and their in-state rival Dallas Mavericks, Craig Sager II took the microphone to speak to Popovich. Take a look (via The Point Forward):

    Popovich and the elder Sager are well-known for their testy interviews, although

    Read More »from Craig Sager's son interviews Gregg Popovich during Spurs-Mavericks Game 1
  • Shot clock problem forces PA countdowns and air horn at Raptors-Nets Game 1

    The opening game of the NBA playoffs was meant to display the best the league has to offer. Instead, it ended up with a goofy technical malfunction that turned the end of Saturday's Game 1 between the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets into a goofy scene.

    Approximately halfway through the third quarter at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, both shot clocks malfunctioned and turned off, forcing a stoppage in play. Arena workers and technicians attempted to install portable clocks at the corners of the court, but those didn't work either.

    So, with the break in play stretching on, they decided to resort to a decidedly more analog solution. Public address announcer Herbie Kuhn informed the players and crowd when the shot clock had reached 10 seconds, then five seconds, and then counted down to zero from there. Except, when the shot clock expired, there was no horn — he just said "horn."

    Yes, it was all very bizarre.

    In the fourth quarter, one of Kuhn's scoring table compatriots got control

    Read More »from Shot clock problem forces PA countdowns and air horn at Raptors-Nets Game 1
  • Kevin Durant's game-winning dunk finishes off a likely MVP season (Video)

    Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant is the NBA's likely MVP for the 2013-14 season. While LeBron James might still be the league's best player, depending on how you rate such things, there's little question that Durant has put forth the best campaign of any player. Apart from winning his fourth scoring title in five years, Durant has improved in virtually every aspect of the sport and carried OKC through several lengthy periods of absence for co-star Russell Westbrook. It's hard to imagine him having done more to help his team.

    In Wednesday night's regular season finale against the Detroit Pistons, Durant put an exclamation mark on his already amazing year. With the Thunder needing a win to lock down the West's No. 2 seed for the playoffs, the lackluster Pistons held a meaningful lead for much of the contest. Then, in the fourth quarter, Durant took over. With OKC down 111-110 and under 20 seconds on the clock, Durant took an inbounds pass, went to his left, and dunked on both

    Read More »from Kevin Durant's game-winning dunk finishes off a likely MVP season (Video)
  • Check out the first-round matchups for the 2014 NBA Playoffs

    After nearly six full months and 82 games for each of the NBA's 30 teams, the regular season now gives way to the postseason. With no clear favorite, a massively competitive Western Conference, and two big rivals atop the Eastern Conference, this year's playoffs figure to be worth the wait.

    Without further ado, let's take a quick look at the first-round matchups, along with full schedules (all times Eastern and some quick analysis. (We'll publish in-depth previews for every series later this week.)

    WESTERN CONFERENCE

    No. 1 San Antonio Spurs (62-20) vs. No. 8 Dallas Mavericks (49-33)

    Game 1: Sunday, April 20, at San Antonio, 1:00PM on TNT

    Game 2: Wednesday, April 23, at San Antonio, 8:00PM on NBA TV

    Game 3: Saturday, April 26, at Dallas, 4:30PM on TNT

    Game 4: Monday, April 28, at Dallas, 9:30PM on TNT

    Game 5*: Wednesday, April 30, at San Antonio, TBD

    Game 6*: Friday, May 2, at Dallas, TBD

    Game 7*: Sunday, May 4, at San Antonio, TBD

    The eternally effective Spurs bounced back from last

    Read More »from Check out the first-round matchups for the 2014 NBA Playoffs
  • Kobe Bryant went to France before the Lakers finale, refers to season as 's---'

    This Los Angeles Lakers season was always going to be a trying one full of challenges, but the reality has been something akin to a worst-case scenario. L.A.'s most popular squad enters Wednesday night's season finale at the San Antonio Spurs with a 26-55 record, second-worst in the Western Conference and sixth-worst in the entire NBA. The franchise will have to consider many options this summer as they attempt to reload and return to relevance.

    The most bizarre aspect of this terrible season, though, has been the relative absence of Lakers icon Kobe Bryant. In his 18th season, Kobe managed to participate in only six games as he struggled to recover from a torn Achilles tendon and subsequent injuries. He has been a presence around the Lakers, but he hasn't been the sort of ever-present force that has made him the NBA's most popular active player around the world.

    It now appears that Bryant has ended his 2013-14 responsibilities with the Lakers a little earlier than originally intended.

    Read More »from Kobe Bryant went to France before the Lakers finale, refers to season as 's---'
  • Blake Griffin gets 16th technical, will miss Clippers' finale in Portland (Video)

    The battle for playoff seeding in the Western Conference could determine several teams' fates this spring. With all eight playoff teams having looked very dangerous at some point in the regular season, first-round matchups figure to go a long way in figuring out which franchises avoid upsets or put themselves in position to surprise NBA fans. There are many quality teams in the West, so seeding might mean less than the ideal matchup.

    Heading into the final day of the regular season, the Los Angeles Clippers will be without Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick as they determine whether they enter the playoffs with the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. The team announced late Tuesday night that neither player will make the trip to Portland for the Clippers' regular season finale. 

    That decision comes after Griffin was assessed his 16th technical foul of the season with 3:23 remaining in the second quarter of Tuesday night's eventual 117-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets. The All-Star power forward earned

    Read More »from Blake Griffin gets 16th technical, will miss Clippers' finale in Portland (Video)

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