What appeared to be a likely sweep entering Sunday night is now a competitive series, with Jimmy Butler leading the way as an underdog Heat squad looks to pull off one of the greatest Finals upsets in recent memory.
Let’s not understate the task ahead. Miami still trails a team with two first-team All-NBA talents, one of whom is perhaps the greatest player of all-time. The other wreaked absolute havoc at the rim through the first two games, channeling prime Shaq with his dominance of the paint. LeBron James and the Lakers aren’t in trouble, no matter what Jimmy Butler says.
We shouldn’t completely write off the Heat entering Game 4 on Tuesday night. Erik Spoelstra’s team is tough as nails, and they’re led by a truly innovative head coach. The Heat have a max player of their own, and they sport a pair of emerging All-Stars to boot. Miami faces an uphill climb, but not an impossible one.
So what do the Heat have to do to even the series on Tuesday? Let’s examine three keys to victory.
Jimmy Drives the Bus
Miami’s offense is ideally an egalitarian one, predicated on motion, quick passing and a collective unselfishness. The Heat looked like the mid-2010s Spurs at their best this season, pinging the ball around the perimeter to a cadre of open shooters. Bam Adebayo’s emerging brilliance as an offensive fulcrum opened the Heat attack, and Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro feasted on clean looks. That hasn’t been the case against the Lakers.
Injuries to Adebayo and Goran Dragic have forced Miami to alter its attack. Game 2 still featured many of the Heat’s pet sets as though Adebayo was still present, and the results were predictably disappointing. The lack of gravity in the middle allowed the Lakers to swarm Robinson and Herro. Miami’s dearth of secondary ball-handlers was exposed. The injuries took an obvious toll.
Butler posted a solid stat line in Game 2 despite Miami’s blowout loss. He was downright brilliant in Game 3. The Marquette product bruised his way into the lane time and again on Sunday night, channeling Dwyane Wade with his continued commitment to driving downhill. Butler is a relentless worker. He’s a true leading man. With a depleted roster, Butler put his head down and hit 14 of 20 shots, adding 14 free-throw attempts in the process. It wasn’t even pick-and-roll that necessarily freed Butler. He often took advantage of mismatches in transition, and he had little problem burrowing his way into the lane against Danny Green and Kyle Kuzma. It may not be pretty, but at this point, Butler’s solo act is really the Heat’s only option. A performance like Wade in 2006 is necessary for Miami to hang its fourth banner. Sunday night was a good start.
Defend Davis at All Costs
Spoelstra’s vaunted zone stymied the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, but it looked absolutely dreadful early in the Finals against the Lakers. Miami’s 2–1–2 look allowed the Lakers to consistently find the hole in the middle of the zone, often springing James to roll downhill with little resistance. The defense left Miami with a devil’s bargain. Hold position on the baseline, and James will score with ease. Step up against the future Hall-of-Famer, and a lob to Anthony Davis is on the way. Los Angeles invited the zone with relative glee in the series’s first two games.
A minor tweak helped swing the contest in Game 3. Miami still used plenty of zone, but they opted to pack the paint, often using a 3–2 zone to place plenty of bodies on Anthony Davis. The Heat fronted Davis and then provided help on the back side, daring the Lakers’ role players to beat them from three. Miami’s gamble paid off. Davis took just nine shots en route to 15 points. Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo went 3-21 from the field. You can’t stop everything against Los Angeles. Daring the non-superstars to beat you is really the only hope. Quieting Davis remains the key to the series for Miami.
Big Men Step Up
Perhaps this isn’t exactly what you want your season to hinge on if you’re a Heat fan, but Miami’s depleted center rotation is quite important if Adebayo misses Game 3. Andre Iguodala hasn’t found the fountain of youth and Solomon Hill isn’t quite playable, leaving Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard as two necessary cogs in the rotation. The results have been relatively encouraging thus far.
Leonard posted a plus-13 in under 13 minutes in Game 3, while Olynyk scored 17 points with a trio of threes. It’s no secret why the two centers posted solid nights. Olynyk and Leonard provide solid spacing from beyond the arc, and Olynyk in particular can do damage against Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris. Butler and Olynyk have solid chemistry in their two-man dance, averaging 122.1 points per 100 possessions together in the Finals. The Heat can still toe the line between spacing the floor and providing adequate size on the other end. Continued strong play from their centers is necessary for Spoelstra to pull off the juggling act.
Naylor: David Braley symbolized the past 30 years of the CFL – TSN
How to sum up David Braley’s meaning to the Canadian Football League?
Braley, the Ontario-based businessman and former Senator who passed away Monday at the age of 79, was at various times the owner of three teams in a nine-team league, including the Toronto Argonauts in whom he held a secret ownership position at the same time he owned the BC Lions.
He served as the CFL’s chairman of the board and took on the commissioner’s role in 2003 after he led the charge to oust Michael Lysko in 2002.
And until recently, when poor health interfered with his ability to participate in the business of the CFL, he was a powerful presence among league governors, so much so that every commissioner had to be aware of where Braley stood on key issues and be prepared to deal with being on the opposite side.
It became a common refrain among people within the league that there would be no Canadian Football League without Braley. And yet, he was both loved and loathed by those within it. Some considered him the league’s biggest benefactor, while others considered him a ruthless profiteer.
Braley grew up in Hamilton, Ont., rooting for the Tiger-Cats. He had played football in high school and at McMaster University, and was a Tiger-Cat season ticket holder before, during and after his ownership of the team, which went from 1989 until he sold the team in 1992 over his opposition to the CFL’s plan to expand to the U.S.
He re-entered the CFL officially as the savior of the Lions in late 1996, one of three CFL franchises insolvent by the end of that season. Braley claimed a federal cabinet minister had warned him that the CBC would bail as a TV partner if the league couldn’t field a Vancouver franchise the next season, so he stepped up.
When the Toronto Argonauts went bankrupt in 2003 under the ownership of Sherwood Schwartz, Braley was front and centre in the search for new owners, trying to broker a deal with Toronto businessmen David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski.
The pair balked at the losses they’d be inheriting with the Argonauts. So Braley offered to be their partner, an arrangement that was known only by then-commissioner Tom Wright and select others before it was revealed in a 2009 Globe and Mail story.
The league subsequently passed bylaws requiring internal disclosure of all financial arrangements between teams. Braley eventually took over full ownership of the Argos in 2010, then sold the team to Bell and Larry Tanenbaum in 2016.
In its darkest hours, the CFL could always count on Braley, or so it seemed. He was there when the Lions and Argos needed new ownership, but also at various times over the past three decades when teams found themselves short on cash.
It’s believed he loaned money to every team in the CFL at least once, except for the Edmonton Eskimos. That includes to the Tiger-Cats during the years after he sold them to a non-profit group when he would continue to quietly write cheques to help the team make payroll. Braley’s name may not have been on the franchise, but he remained its primary financial backer.
That kind of financial influence in such a small league granted him enormous power, and Braley was never shy about trying to wield his influence over the direction of the league.
He also appeared to be rewarded with a disproportionate number of occasions to host the Grey Cup, which, in most circumstances, is a surefire money-maker. The Braley-owned Lions or Argos hosted the game five times over a 10-year period from 2005 to 2014.
Braley had created his wealth from scratch, taking a loan to purchase an industrial distributing company from a former neighbour, then shifting its focus into becoming a global auto parts manufacturing giant.
He was a well-known for his frugality as his wealth, a pattern demonstrated when he purchased the Tiger-Cats from an ailing Harold Ballard for $500,000, financed with proceeds from the team’s five-year sponsorship agreement with Player’s Tobacco.
That frugality was legendary in the CFL. Despite his wealth, Braley was known to be reluctant to spend on what he considered unnecessary frills for his teams and the league.
His views on the business of the CFL were rooted in traditional approaches to marketing and selling tickets, and he privately railed against the league putting every game on television, favouring blackouts because he believed it would mean better business at the turnstiles.
He had waxed about selling the Lions for at least a decade, engaging with different groups of potential owners but always deciding either the timing or the group itself and what it was willing to pay for the team wasn’t right.
That seemed to do the franchise no favours as he continued to hang on as both his own health and that of his franchise was slipping.
Though the belief in Vancouver is that any Lions business turnaround has to start with new ownership, Braley’s ownership has been viewed as a safety net for the franchise during the pandemic, given his willingness to financially stabilize the franchise.
He was believed to be among the owners who were willing to play a shortened 2020 season, even without government support.
Braley in so many ways symbolized the past 30 years of the CFL: rooted in tradition, dependent on philanthropy and run by a powerful few.
There will never be another like him.
Edmonton Oilers dressing room icon Joey Moss dies
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Gretzky’s call has been difficult the last two years with Alzheimer’s and the complications involving Down syndrome at this stage of Moss’ life and especially this year with his hip surgery and the isolations involving the hospital and the facility relating to the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19, however, was not a factor in his death.
“Janet & I are saddened to learn about the passing of Joey Moss. Not only was Joey a fixture in the Edmonton dressing room, he was someone I truly considered a friend. We will miss you Joey and you will always live on through our memories. Our thoughts are with Joey’s loved ones,” Gretzky said in a statement.
“On behalf of all the players who had the honour to get to know him, we are so saddened to hear the news of Joey’s passing. We were all lucky enough to be part of his life for a lot of years. His love for life always brought a smile to anyone who met him. Whether it was a coffee before practice or a big hug after a great win or a tough loss, he would put life in perspective. He will be missed but not forgotten, Once an Oiler always an Oiler. RIP Joe.”
There was almost certainly never a member of a sports franchise custodial staff so loved by a community or as famous as Joey Moss.
There are a lot of much less famous members of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame than Moss, who was inducted in 2015.
Stafford, whenever asked about Joey Moss, always made the point:
“He’s not a locker room attendant to anyone who knows him and works with him. He’s part of the team. In a lot of ways he’s the face of the Oilers.”
Source: – Edmonton Sun
Longtime Oilers locker room attendant Joey Moss dies at 57 – Sportsnet.ca
EDMONTON — Joey Moss, a longtime Edmonton Oilers locker room attendant, died Monday at the age of 57.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 27, 2020
Moss was born in 1963 with Down Syndrome, the 12th of 13 children to Lloyd and Sophie Moss.
He became the Oilers’ locker-room attendant in 1984 when superstar Wayne Gretzky was dating his older sister, Vikki. Moss joined the Edmonton Football Team in 1986 and held roles with both organizations for over 30 years.
Heartbreaking to hear about Joey Moss passing away. He is the soul of the @EdmontonOilers. I’ll remember him singing the anthem w/pride, getting fired up about wrestling and always asking if I combed my hair with a pork chop. My deepest condolences to the Moss family. pic.twitter.com/Ssa0ZBcoSn
— Andrew Ference (@Ferknuckle) October 27, 2020
He worked with the CFL club from the opening of training camp in June until mid-August, at which time he headed over to the Oilers locker-room for the NHL season _ capturing the hearts of Edmonton sports fans along the way, particularly with his enthusiastic participation in the national anthem before the start of every hockey game.
Moss helped the training staff with such tasks as filling water bottles and equipment duties, but became more than an attendant over the years by providing inspiration to everyone in the locker-room.
Moss was awarded the NHL Alumni Association’s “Seventh Man Award” in 2003, for those “whose behind-the-scenes efforts make a difference in the lives of others.”
A little numb and horribly saddened by the news… but #yeg legend Joey Moss has passed away at the age of 57. Not even sure where to start… but condolences to the entire Moss, Eskimo & Oiler Families. He left a wonderful legacy & will be deeply missed by so many. #RIPJoeyMoss pic.twitter.com/GvyeqTFjiB
— Bryn Griffiths (@BrynMightyMouth) October 26, 2020
In October 2008, Moss was honoured with a mural in Edmonton for his service with both clubs. In 2012, he received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal honouring significant contributions and achievements by Canadians, and was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
Moss also inspired the Joey Moss Cup, a tournament held at the end of Oilers’ training camp.
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