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.

  • 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)
  • With the NBA postseason nearly upon us, it's time to sort out stars' legacies. While various statistical milestones and awards confer legitimacy on careers, championships tend to carry the most prestige of all. If a great player retires without a ring, he's going to be diminished in the eyes of many fans and basketball lifers.

    This phenomenon just happens to be the subject of the newest ad from Foot Locker. In this 30-second spot, Portland Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard talks about picking up new Adidas gear at Foot Locker — maybe because he just signed a giant contract with the shoe and apparel giant — and says that he doesn't want to end up like "one of those guys that never won a ring." Unfortunately, Lillard seems to have forgotten that he invited ring-less NFL legends Barry Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson to his house to watch the game. And when he tries to cover for himself, he ends up offending retired NBA stars Chris Webber and Karl Malone in the process.

    Read More »from Damian Lillard offends Chris Webber and Karl Malone in new Foot Locker ad (Video)
  • The Milwaukee Bucks are officially the NBA's worst team, secure top lottery odds

    Tanking remains a concern for many NBA fans and analysts, but there's no question why teams consider it a useful plan. Strategic losing gives teams a chance to rebuild and reload their rosters through the draft. It's the most apparent way of landing a star-quality player and becoming a true contender.

    This manner of rebuilding has become such an acceptable plan that it's easy to identify several franchises that enter the season with little hope of making the postseason. This fall, those intentional losers appeared to include the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns (a surprise playoff contender until finally being eliminated on Monday night), and Utah Jazz, among others. Yet the worst team of the 2013-14 season may not have intended to be anywhere near this terrible.

    On Monday, the Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Atlantic Division champion Toronto Raptors 110-100. The defeat pushed the Bucks' record on the season to 15-66, or three games worse than the 18-63 Sixers, who defeated the Boston

    Read More »from The Milwaukee Bucks are officially the NBA's worst team, secure top lottery odds
  • Corey Brewer scores 51 points in a very confusing offensive onslaught (Video)

    The end of any NBA season is full of bizarre and atypical events. When a team loses all hope of making the playoffs, lineups and strategies can go in weird directions. It's a good idea for fans to expect the unexpected.

    Nevertheless, there was really no way to predict what Minnesota Timberwolves wing Corey Brewer achieved on Friday night against the Houston Rockets. In a performance without clear precedent, the seven-season pro scored a career-high 51 points on 19-of-30 shooting from the field and 11-of-15 shooting from the line in 45 minutes. With star power forward Kevin Love, guard Kevin Martin, and center Nikola Pekovic sitting out, Brewer was the focus of the Wolves' offense and a terror for the Rockets. Check out his shot chart — heavy on baskets at the rim — below:

    Corey Brewer's remarkable shot chart against the Houston Rockets (via NBA.com).

    It was surprising enough that this legitimately dramatic game-winner from rookie Gorgui Dieng seemed like the secondary story in Minnesota's 112-110 win (video via The Point Forward):

    NBA fans have seen very, very

    Read More »from Corey Brewer scores 51 points in a very confusing offensive onslaught (Video)
  • Rajon Rondo has been warned for a hilariously obvious flopping violation (Video)

    When the NBA instituted warnings and fines for flopping at the beginning of the last season, the hope was that it would curtail the practice by providing some measure of shame for the worst offenders. That hasn't entirely happened — players still sell contact really often — but it's definitely the case that we now have several working examples of the worst kind of flopping. If the league says it's bad, it's usually pretty terrible.

    Yet it's very difficult to prepare for the sheer ridiculousness of the flop that earned Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo a warning on Thursday. In the fourth quarter of Wednesday's eventual loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Rondo set up to take a charge as his Hawks counterpart Jeff Teague dribbled through the lane. Unfortunately for Rondo, Teague avoided him and passed to teammate DeMarre Carroll. That didn't stop Rondo from trying to sell the (lack of) contact anyway. Check it out below (the relevant moment starts around the 24-second mark):

     

    Brett

    Read More »from Rajon Rondo has been warned for a hilariously obvious flopping violation (Video)
  • Chris Copeland's game-winning runner sends starter-less Pacers over Bucks (Video)

    Absent any context but win-loss record, Wednesday night's between the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks was a bit of a mismatch. The 53-25 Pacers and 14-64 Bucks represent opposite ends of the Eastern Conference standings and have much different incentives to win and lose. Yet, when Indiana head coach Frank Vogel decided to sit all five of his starters vs. Milwaukee, the matchup suddenly became a real contest. The Pacers, mired in the midst of a confounding struggle, would need strong performances from their usual bench players in order to best the NBA's worst team.

    It was a tight game, with the two squads playing to a standstill into the final seconds of regulation. Would the Pacers step up to the challenge? Or would Vogel and Co. suffer the shame of losing a gimme game due to their desire to get the starters some rest?

    Let Chris Copeland, who didn't even crack the secondary starting lineup, answer those questions (via Beyond the Buzzer):

    With that runner, the Pacers came away with

    Read More »from Chris Copeland's game-winning runner sends starter-less Pacers over Bucks (Video)
  • Steve Nash passes Mark Jackson for 3rd-most assists in NBA history (Video)

    Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash has had a rough past two seasons, suffering through various ailments and looking like a shadow of his former self. Entering Tuesday night's home game against the Houston Rockets, Nash had played in only 14 games this season and was even declared out for the rest of the campaign several weeks ago, only to return shortly thereafter as a backup for starter Kendall Marshall. As Nash has documented in his web series, all of this has been a real struggle.

    The silver lining is that Nash now has something very positive to show for his efforts this season. Late in the second quarter of that game vs. the Rockets, Nash passed ahead to Jodie Meeks for an easy fastbreak dunk and his fifth assist of the night. It was also the 10,335th assist of his career, putting him one ahead of current Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson for third on the NBA's all-time list. Take a look below:

    Jackson immediately congratulated Nash on knocking him down to

    Read More »from Steve Nash passes Mark Jackson for 3rd-most assists in NBA history (Video)
  • Dirk Nowitzki passes Oscar Robertson for 10th on all-time NBA scoring list (Video)

    Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki is commonly referred to as the greatest European player in NBA history, as well as one of the best foreign players the league has ever seen. However, as his career moves along, Nowitzki figures to get more attention as one of the best players the sport has ever seen — no qualifications required.

    On Tuesday night, Dirk reached one of the milestones that will establish that legacy. On the first possession of the fourth quarter in the Mavericks' game against the Utah Jazz, the 12-time All-Star knocked down a jumper from the right wing for his 17th and 18th points of the night. The basket was a historic one that pushed Nowitzki up and over the mark of 26,710 points set by legend Oscar Robertson in his 14 seasons. Nowitzki added a 3-pointer later in the game to end the night with 26,714 career points, which puts him at 10th on the all-time list. Watch it below:

    Nowitzki now finds himself 232 points behind ninth-place Hakeem Olajuwon. Yet Olajuwon is not

    Read More »from Dirk Nowitzki passes Oscar Robertson for 10th on all-time NBA scoring list (Video)
  • Mason Plumlee blocks LeBron James on final possession to save Nets win vs. Heat

    The Brooklyn Nets and two-time defending champion Miami Heat have played four extremely close games against each other this season. Tuesday night's final regular season matchup may have been the closest of all.

    With the fourth-quarter margin never more than four points in either direction, the Heat cut the Nets' lead to 88-87 on a Chris Bosh dunk with 34 seconds remaining in regulation. After a badly missed Joe Johnson three-pointer, the Heat held the ball with 10 seconds on the clock and a chance to win with any basket in transition. Not surprisingly, the ball ended up in the hands of uber-star LeBron James. What came next was remarkable in several respects. Check out the video below:

    Nets fans saw the following: a game-saving block from rookie big man Mason Plumlee. Heat fans probably disagreed, because any number of fouls could have been called on Brooklyn players. Both Johnson and Marcus Thornton appeared to reach in before the play at the rim (which would have led to two free

    Read More »from Mason Plumlee blocks LeBron James on final possession to save Nets win vs. Heat
  • Gregg Popovich explains the Spurs' long run of excellence as simply as he can

    The San Antonio Spurs have missed the playoffs a grand total of one time since the start of the 1989-90 season, a run of excellence that matches up with (and arguably tops, depending on your perspective) any franchise in the league over the same period. They are a model of consistency and professional, largely due to the presence of longtime head coach Gregg Popovich. While Pop has not been the team's leader for all of those 26 seasons, he is the single figure most identified with that success. The man would figure to have some idea why the Spurs have maintained their high level over that period of time.

    Before Tuesday night's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Popovich explained the Spurs' impressive longevity to assembled reporters. The answer is pretty simple. From Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News on Twitter:

    Read More »from Gregg Popovich explains the Spurs' long run of excellence as simply as he can

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