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.

  • NBA fines Barnes $50k for inappropriate language to Harden's mother

    LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 11: Matt Barnes #22 of the Los Angeles Clippers goes up for a shot over Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on February 11, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Clippers won 105-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 11: Matt Barnes #22 of the Los Angeles Clippers goes up for a shot over Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on February 11, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Clippers won 105-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)Los Angeles Clippers wing Matt Barnes, one of the NBA's foremost pests and instigators, has been fined $50,000 for directing inappropriate language at a fan during Wednesday's Game 2 of the Clippers' Western Conference Semifinals with the Houston Rockets. The real news, though, is the identity of that fan.

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    The 35-year-old Barnes, got into a war of words with a fan at the Toyota Center, which is not necessarily a notable occurrence for a player with his reputation. Unfortunately for Barnes, this particular fan happened to be Monja Willis, mother of Rockets superstar and MVP runner-up James Harden. According to a TMZ report on Thursday, Barnes's comments were so bad — Deadspin collected several reports on the very NSFW language — that Harden's older brother asked him to apologize after the final buzzer:

    What we do know ... Matt's comment really pissed off one of Monja's other sons -- who was sitting next to her
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  • Bulls' Jimmy Butler named NBA's Most Improved Player

    CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 4: Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls shoots over LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half during Game One in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs 2015 at Quicken Loans Arena on May 4, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Bulls defeated the Cavaliers 99-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 4: Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls shoots over LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half during Game One in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs 2015 at Quicken Loans Arena on May 4, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Bulls defeated the Cavaliers 99-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)No one can settle on the best interpretation of the NBA's annual Most Improved Player award. But that doesn't mean the voters don't regularly settle on a very deserving winner.

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    Chicago Bulls All-Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler, the final pick of the first round in the 2011 draft, was officially announced as the NBA's 2014-15 Most Improved Player on Thursday. Butler will be presented with the award at United Center on Friday, prior to Game 3 of the Bulls' Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The news was first reported by by Marc Stein of ESPN.com on Wednesday.

    Butler received 92 out of a possible 130 first-place votes, finishing with 535 "award points," to take home the honor. (Players get five points for each first-place vote, three for each second-place ballot and one for each third-place nod.) Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green finished second, earning 11 first-place

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  • Rockets ride FTs, strong 2nd half to Game 2 win, draw even with CP3-less Clippers

    HOUSTON, TX - MAY 06: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a play late in the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers during Game Two in the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2015 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)HOUSTON, TX - MAY 06: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a play late in the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers during Game Two in the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2015 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)The Houston Rockets have avoided an unmitigated disaster. Facing a nine-point halftime deficit and a potential 2-0 hole to the Los Angeles Clippers despite the absence of the injured Chris Paul, the Rockets finally started playing with a sense of urgency and worked their way to a 115-109 Game 2 win at the Toyota Center. Houston evened the series with a combination of their strengths — plenty of trips to the free-throw line and game-changing dribble penetration from MVP runner-up James Harden. It wasn't always pretty or fun to watch, but it was necessary to keep the series competitive.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    At the same time, the narrow result arguably represented a moral victory for the Clippers, who followed up their very surprising Game 1 win with another competitive performance on the road without their all-world point guard. Blake Griffin was masterful in the first half before losing steam and seeing better coverage in the second,

    Read More »from Rockets ride FTs, strong 2nd half to Game 2 win, draw even with CP3-less Clippers
  • Cavs reportedly cancel arm sling giveaway meant to support Kevin Love

    BOSTON, MA - APRIL 26: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts after an injury against the Boston Celtics in the first quarter in Game Four during the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2015 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)BOSTON, MA - APRIL 26: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts after an injury against the Boston Celtics in the first quarter in Game Four during the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2015 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)The home teams for NBA playoff games almost always give fans some kind of item to express solidarity among the attending crowd. If a new report is to be believed, the Cleveland Cavaliers nearly went in a very different direction from the usual T-shirts and rally towels for Wednesday's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Chicago Bulls at Quicken Loans Arena.

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    According to Tom Withers of the Associated Press, the Cavs had planned an arm sling giveaway as a show of support for injured power forward Kevn Love, out for the remainder of the postseason (and several more months) due to a serious shoulder injury sustained in Game 4 of the first round against the Boston Celtics. However, the giveaway was cancelled shortly before tip-off, leaving the team with tens of thousands of the unused, presumably heavily branded slings:

    The Cavaliers canceled a plan to give away 20,000 arm slings to fans to show support
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  • LeBron James plans to get more aggressive in Cavs-Bulls Game 2

    BOSTON, MA - APRIL 26: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the second half against the Boston Celtics in Game Four during the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2015 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)BOSTON, MA - APRIL 26: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the second half against the Boston Celtics in Game Four during the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2015 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)The Chicago Bulls' Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 1 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers was both notably impressive and not especially shocking. With the injured Kevin Love and suspended J.R. Smith out of the starting lineup, the Cavs were forced to play without two key players in a system that has increasingly relied on offensive balance and outside shooters to space the floor. Tom Thibodeau rightfully noted that no team with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving can be said to be shorthanded, but Cleveland didn't look entirely prepared to make adjustments to their attack.

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    That was especially true of LeBron, who put up an impressive line of 19 points, 15 rebounds, and nine assists on a night when the Cavaliers needed a more proactive performance. To his credit, James realized as much. From Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group:

    "I might have to change my mindset a little bit obviously with Kev [Love] being
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  • Grizzlies control Game 2 from start to finish, even series with Warriors

    OAKLAND, CA - MAY 5: Mike Conley #11 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives to the basket against the Golden State Warriors in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the NBA Playoffs on May 5, 2015 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)OAKLAND, CA - MAY 5: Mike Conley #11 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives to the basket against the Golden State Warriors in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the NBA Playoffs on May 5, 2015 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)The Memphis Grizzlies looked markedly inferior to the Golden State Warriors without Mike Conley in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Based on the results of Tuesday night's Game 2 at Oracle Arena, their star point guard's return appears to have changed the dynamics of the series.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    The Grizzlies dictated the terms of the game from the opening tip to the final whistle while putting together an extremely impressive 97-90 win to hand the Warriors their first loss of the postseason and third home loss of the 2014-15 season. Conley came back from a three-game and 10-day absence due to several facial fractures and starred while wearing a protective mask, scoring a game-high 22 points (8-of-12 FG and 3-of-6 3FG) and keeping the tempo near the Grizzlies' ideal rate. Yet this was a team effort — Tony Allen keyed a tremendous defensive effort that locked down Splash Brothers Klay Thompson and newly crowned MVP

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  • John Wall out for Wizards-Hawks Game 2 with wrist injury

    The Washington Wizards grabbed a major advantage in the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a startling road win over the No. 1 seed Atlanta Hawks in Sunday's Game 1. If they want to take a commanding 2-0 lead before heading home, they'll have to do it at a serious disadvantage.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    All-Star point guard John Wall has been ruled out for Tuesday's Game 2 at Philips Arena. Chris Miller of CSNWashington.com tweeted the news less than an hour before tipoff (via PBT):

    Wall injured his wrist in the second quarter of Game 1 but did not take time out for medical attention. You can watch video of that play here:

    Shooting guard Bradley Beal suffered an ankle injury in the same game but looks ready to take the court. Wall had said as recently as Monday that he would play in Game 2, but it looks as

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  • Clippers excel without CP3, steal Game 1 from disappointing Rockets

    HOUSTON, TX - MAY 04:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers drives past Josh Smith #5 of the Houston Rockets  during Game One in the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 4, 2015 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)HOUSTON, TX - MAY 04: Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers drives past Josh Smith #5 of the Houston Rockets during Game One in the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 4, 2015 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)Few people, if anyone, gave the Los Angeles Clippers much of a chance to beat the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals without superstar Chris Paul, ruled out due to the hamstring injury he suffered in their tremendous Game 7 win against the San Antonio Spurs.

    Whoops.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    Playing without one of the league's best players and their on-court leader, the Clippers nevertheless controlled the game and took advantage of a very poor performance by the Rockets to win Game 1 117-101 at the Toyota Center on Monday night. The shorthanded Clippers stuck with the Rockets through a very ugly first half and took command in the second half with a combination of big-time shot-making and intelligent defense to turn MVP runner-up James Harden into more of a passer than scorer. Houston looked lackadaisical at both ends and will need to play much better in Wednesday's Game 2 no matter who takes the floor for Los

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  • Warriors' Stephen Curry named 2014-15 NBA MVP

    Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry was officially announced as the 2014-15 NBA Most Valuable Player on Monday morning. The news was first broken on Sunday night  by Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com and later confirmed by Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears.

    Curry received 1,198 total points in the voting and received 100 first-place votes out of 130 ballots. Houston's James Harden (936 points, 25 first-place votes), Cleveland's LeBron James (552 points, five first-place), Oklahoma City's Russell Westrbrook (352 points) and New Orleans' Anthony Davis (203) rounded out the top five.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    Poole first reported the news following the Warriors' comfortable victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

    Curry had been anxiously awaiting news of the award. A week ago, he told Yahoo's Marc Spears that he got nervous after receiving a call on his phone that said it was from "NBA." It was

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  • Warriors handle Grizzlies with ease, win Game 1 in a rout

    OAKLAND, CA - MAY 03:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors shoots over Jeff Green #32 of the Memphis Grizzlies during Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2015 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)OAKLAND, CA - MAY 03: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors shoots over Jeff Green #32 of the Memphis Grizzlies during Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2015 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)The majority of pre-series analysis said that the Memphis Grizzlies would have a very difficult time beating the Golden State Warriors without star point guard Mike Conley. Sunday's Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinals matchup did little to disabuse anyone of that notion.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    The No. 1 seed Warriors carried over the success of their first-round sweep of the New Orleans Pelicans with a 101-86 victory over the Grizzlies at Oracle Arena. Golden State used hot shooting to build an early lead and amped up the defensive pressure on Memphis in the second half to stay in firm control. The Warriors led by double digits for all but a few seconds after the halftime break and look to able to win several key matchups for at least as long as Conley is out recovering from facial surgery.

    The most anticipated one-on-one matchup of the series defined the first quarter. Warriors power forward Draymond Green appeared to have a

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