Game 7 Preview: Are The Heat Imploding?

A week ago, it was a foregone conclusion that the Heat would beat the Pacers and advance to the NBA Finals.

Last Sunday, the Heat rebounded from a tough loss and ran away with Game 3, and it seemed like the train was right back on the tracks. Since then, the Pacers have taken two of three and now SportsCenter is asking the question: should the Heat dump Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, even if they win tonight?

It's a common refrain. There was 'break up the Heat' talk after they stumbled in 2011, and even a little bit over last summer after Bosh struggled and was hurt during the 2012 title run. With Wade's struggles and injuries this season, the talk cropped up again. After both sidekicks no-showed the last few games, it's gotten louder. LeBron James made a reference to his "Cleveland days," with the implication being he was the only one on the court worth a damn and that he was carrying the team himself.

He was sort of right, of course. Wade and Bosh have been invisible at times, and we already know from past experience that LeBron can only drag a team so far by himself. He's shouldered an incredible burden at various times in his career, and Bron tends to feel sorry for himself and vent more than you'd expect from a superduperstar. But if the Heat lose tonight, and I very much doubt they will, it won't be Wade's fault or Bosh's or Bron's or Erik Spoelstra's or Pat Riley's or anyone in the Heat organization.

Because the Pacers are good. Damn good. We knew that last year, when they gave the Heat a run, but this year with Paul George making the leap to star and resurgent runs from David West and Roy Hibbert, this is a team designed to give the Heat problems. Coach Frank Vogel seems content to let LeBron get his and have the team play excellent defense otherwise. He can do that with George playing Bruce Bowen-caliber perimeter D, and with Hibbert locking down the paint like this was 1999 and big men still mattered.

The Heat have no answer for Hibbert, and certainly none for David West, who has a giant X tattooed on his massive bicep (for Xavier, but also for 'X marks where I am going to bury you on this court, Chris Bosh') and has been abusing whoever he wants.

The Heat are... well, kind of a wimpy team. They're easy to punk - several teams, including the Knicks, have gone hard after them with physical play and preening and fired-up home crowds and the Heat have several times simply walked off the court, either literally or figuratively, as time ticked away. I don't think it's a collective character flaw in the Heat's psyche - I think it's a function of having a giant target on your back, and having every single team for 100+ games play them as if it were Game 7 of the Finals. It can be exhausting to get an opponent's A+ game night after night, but that's what happens when you're the defending champion super squad.

The Heat will probably win tonight, because they're at home and they are veterans and and they have the best player in the world and they have guys like Ray Allen and Shane Battier who are adept at going off in these types of situations. Allen in particular can swing a game single-handedly with his shooting. Chris Anderson returns to give the Heat some shot blocking, attitude, and neck tattoos. Plus, the Heat lost only four times at home in the regular season - twice to the Knicks. They dropped one to the Bulls last round at home, and once to the Pacers this round despite 36 from LeBron, thanks to a huge game from Indiana's Hibbert.

So the math says, the Heat will win. Logic backs that up. Common sense too. But if the Pacers win, it's going to be because they are a better team right now than Miami. Maybe not on paper, maybe not with as many All-Stars, but in terms of matchups, and coaching, and that stupid "heart" concept, yeah - they might be better.

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LeBron James Has A Message For Los Angeles Lakers Fans

While the Los Angeles Lakers had less than an exhilarating season, its newest addition, LeBron James, isn't going to let the team's losing record deter him from championship pursuits. In an Instagram post, the 6'8" power forward reassured purple and gold fans that the franchise will be better and stronger next season.

"Believe me!" James began. "Promise #LakerNation the spell won't last much longer! I swear. The marathon continues!" The Lakers' record currently stands at 32 wins and 41 losses. In late February, after the team succumbed to a 110-105 defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies, James told reporters that the losing streak is something he can't adjust to.

"The last few years, everyone's so accustomed to the losses that I'm just not accustomed to. I'm not accustomed to it," he said, per USA Today. "I would never get comfortable with losing." Ahead of the 2018-19 season, James joined the team after leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time.

The 34-year-old pro-athlete has seen 13 playoffs since his tenure in the league. His postseason appearances have also amassed three NBA championship titles.


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A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on Mar 24, 2019 at 12:43pm PDT

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Cam Newton Says Practicing Celibacy Has Made His Mind Stronger

It might be the offseason for Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, but that doesn't mean the game is over just yet. Part of his time off includes engaging in self-made challenges and this month, the athlete has decided not to get down in the bedroom.

The fashionable athlete shared the details behind his challenges on The Late Late Show with James Corden. The 29-year-old broke down his twist on New Year's resolutions with his latest challenge possibly taking the cake for being the hardest thus far.

"Every month I try to challenge myself in many, different ways," the Atlanta native started. He pledged to veganism for the month of February and dedicated the third month of the year to nothing less than chastity. "And then March, I hope this is an adult crowd — it looks like it is — no climax."

Newton's revelation was met by exclaims from the crowd and of course from Corden himself. "It's challenging," the father of three responded. "For me, doing certain things that challenge me in the off-season that I can't necessarily do, so now when the season comes along it makes my mind stronger; I feel like if I go back and I say "I did those things," I'm mentally stronger."

Newton subtly teased the notion of celibacy on his Instagram account earlier this month with a photo of a flower.

Some of his challenges have stuck around longer than a month, like his journey with veganism. We can only wonder what challenges April will bring.

Check out the full interview up top.

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Ex-Basketball Player, Cliff Dixon, Killed While Celebrating His Birthday

Cliff Dixon, former basketball player and Kevin Durant’s longtime friend, was fatally shot in an Atlanta strip mall Wednesday (March 20), while celebrating his 32nd birthday.

According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Dixon had just arrived at SL Lounge when he was shot multiple times in the parking lot. He was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital where he died from his injuries. Police responded to the incident at around 1 a.m. The gunman fled the scene by foot and remains on the loose, Fox 5 reports.

Dixon turned 32 earlier in the week. His final post was promoting his birthday bash.


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We litty tonight @slloungeatl come catch the vibe

A post shared by Cliff Dixon (@cldtoon) on Mar 20, 2019 at 4:21pm PDT

A native of Maryland, Dixon attended Suitland High School where he first met Durant, whose mother ended up taking him in when he was 16 years old. After graduating high school, Dixon attended community college before transferring to Western Kentucky University where he played basketball for two seasons. In 2014, Dixon headed overseas to play ball in Austria.

Durant saw Dixon an “adopted brother. The NBA player's mother, Wanda Durant, extended “deepest condolences & prayers to Dixon’s mother, siblings, friends and loved ones, in a heartfelt statement on Twitter Thursday (March 21). “Our family was an extension of his & we shared wonderful memories. His transition is an incredible loss for all of us who loved him, he will be missed dearly.”

The Durant family extends our deepest condolences & prayers to Cliff’s mother, siblings, family & friends. Our family was an extension of his & we shared wonderful memories. His transition is an incredible loss for all of us who loved him, he will be missed dearly #CliffDixon RIP pic.twitter.com/QuIRt0hIIu

— Wanda Durant (@MamaDurant) March 21, 2019

Dixon was most recently linked to reality star Erica Mena, but the pair split last year. Mena joined Meek Mill, Dave East, and a chorus of others in posting tributes to Dixon on social media.

Read the dedications below.


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Damn that’s fucked up @cldtoon rip! Y’all 2 guys showed me nothing but love since we met! #restwellprime I had some good nights with yall! 🤞🏾🤞🏾

A post shared by Meek Mill (@meekmill) on Mar 21, 2019 at 10:02am PDT


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I Can’t think of no memories with @easymoneysniper or @tdurant And u wasn’t there. We been cool since like 16-17 years old 🤦🏽‍♂️U was just in my session in Atlanta listening to my album this shit super wacc!!!! Rest in heavenly peace bro u ain’t deserve whatever happen to u all we talked about was ball bitches and gettin to it!!!! God bless you cuzo real shit 🙏🏽 @cldtoon @akbar__v hold ya head I know y’all was close ✊🏾

A post shared by Freaky Forever Mugga � FTD ENT (@daveeast) on Mar 21, 2019 at 3:29am PDT


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#EricaMena speaks on the passing of her ex, #CliffordDixon. We're sending our deepest condolences to his loved ones 🙏🏾

A post shared by The Shade Room (@theshaderoom) on Mar 21, 2019 at 1:09pm PDT

Better days.

Rest In Peace, Cliff Dixon. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/p8Q8UwvRVZ

— Timeless Sports (@timelesssports_) March 21, 2019

Rest In Peace to Cliff Dixon who was killed in Atlanta, GA early this morning celebrating his birthday 😔 pic.twitter.com/n4A0e4SXh5

— DC Maryland Virginia (@DMVFollowers) March 21, 2019

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