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LeBron, Cavs see similarities in Patriots' Super Bowl comeback

LeBron, Cavs see similarities in Patriots' Super Bowl comeback

The last 11 months in sports have been exceptionally good for wild finishes in championship games. The NCAA Tournament was won on a last-second shot. The NBA Finals went seven games and down to the final minute. The World Series went seven games and the seventh needed 10 innings to end 108 years of heartbreak. The NCAA football title game was won in the last second. And Sunday's Super Bowl was the first ever to go to overtime and end on sudden death.

The winners of one of those epic games, the Cleveland Cavalieres, are in town to face the Wizards on Monday night, offering LeBron James and company to offer their thoughts and draw comparisons to what they were able to do last June against the Golden State Warriors, coming back from being down 3-1 in the series to win it all, to what the New England Patriots did in the Super Bowl.

Naturally, they see some similarities.

"The game ain’t over til it’s over," James said. "You gotta play the game out and as a fan watching the game you see the ups and downs. But, you seen the momentum start to change a little bit when they was able to get that first score, so I never counted him out."

"I know with the Patriots and our team, we have greats. Having LeBron James on your team, Kyrie who is great and then having a Tom Brady and one of the best coaches of all time in all sports [in Bill Belichick], you just got to have that belief," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, who watched the game at the MGM with several players, said.

"Being down 3-1 where no team in NBA history has ever come back from in an NBA Finals and then I think the largest lead [overcome] in a Super Bowl was 10 and they were down 25. And to come back being down 19 to start the fourth quarter, I mean, everyone counted them out. They counted us out the same exact way and for those guys to come back and win was just unbelievable."

The comparisons between LeBron and Brady are not lost on LeBron himself. He said he has a mutual respect for the Patriots' legend.

"I just see greatness in Brady. He’s very calm. He’s very calm, no matter the situation, no matter the situation, no matter what was going on throughout the game. He’s just very calm. Worrying about what the next play was, worrying about making the next completion," James explained. "Just keeping his guys mentally focused on the job at hand. You’ve got to have that. You’ve got to have a sense of calm when everything else and everybody else is erratic, you’ve got to have a sense of calmness about you as the leader because your troops see that. When they see that, then they feel good about themselves."

With all of those comebacks, is it now en vogue - maybe even preferable - to have the odds stacked against you with a championship on the line? Not quite.

"I don’t know. I guess you’d rather have a lead than not have a lead," James said. "Just look at what’s been going on in our major sports, let’s just say it’s been great for the fans."

[RELATED: Wizards-Cavs: Oubre likely will spend time defending Irving]

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Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

Associated Press

Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

The Washington Wizards have an opening on their coaching staff, as assistant Sidney Lowe has left the team to join the Detroit Pistons.

Lowe, according to ESPN, will be the top assistant on new Pistons coach Dwane Casey's staff. 

Lowe spent two seasons under head coach Scott Brooks in Washington. A D.C. native, Lowe starred at DeMatha High School before playing at NC State and then in the NBA.

Lowe was the head coach at his alma mater for five years from 2006 through 2011, but has otherwise been an NBA lifer. He served as head coach of the Timberwolves in 1993-94 and head coach of the Grizzlies from 2000 to 2002.

The Wizards have several coaching hires to make now. They have a new G-League team set to take the court in the fall and will need to hire a staff sometime this summer. 

With Lowe gone, they could choose to promote from within or go outside the organization.

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Little information out there about Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon

USA Today Sports Images

Little information out there about Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon

Wizards fans will know a lot more about 2018 second round pick Issuf Sanon once he takes the floor next month in the Las Vegas Summer League, but for now the 18-year-old point guard remains a bit of a mystery.

There are limited highlights on YouTube and stats available to evaluate him. Most who have an opinion on the player are operating on little information. 

For now, what we have are some video compilations and quotes from the team. Team president Ernie Grunfeld described Sanon on Thursday night and says he's a player who could someday play both guard positions at the NBA level.

"[He’s a] very talented point guard, combo guard who is very athletic and he has real good upside," Grunfeld said. "Very athletic [and] very talented. [He] makes plays, he has a nice shot and he’s playing very tough competition.”

Grunfeld mentioned Sanon's athleticism many times. The Wizards saw Sanon at the NBA's international combine and love his combination of size and speed. He is 6-foot-4 and 1/2 and noticeably faster than those he competes against in the Premier A Slovenian League. 

Grunfeld likened Sanon's size and speed to Tomas Satoransky, a point guard currently on the Wizards' roster.

"He's a good ball-hander, very competitive and a lot like Tomas. We drafted Tomas at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA.”," Grunfeld said.

The highlights available of Sanon show a guy who clearly stands out above his competition. He has a knack for getting to the rim and can finish in a variety of ways. There are also many clips of him blocking shots, sometimes in the post and often from behind on the fastbreak.

NBA.com has an interesting breakdown of Sanon's most recent season in the Slovenian league from an advanced stats perspective. They applauded his defense and the numbers suggest he puts that unique athleticism to use on the defensive end of the floor.

Had a remarkable year defensively for his age. Gets in a stance and competes to help make up for his lack of experience. Pressures the ball with quick hands, but lacks a degree of anticipation to stay in front of elite athletes. Still figuring out how to handle ball screens without overthinking things, but held his own anyways for the most part. Allowed only 0.471 points per Isolation possession [92nd percentile]. A bit foul prone, but forces turnovers at an impressive rate. Has a good work ethic defensively which should serve him well as he gains experience.

Sports Illustrated raved about Sanon's motor on the court and his hard-nosed approach, two things that would seem to bode well combined with his explosive athleticism:

Rangy, athletic combo guard who plays both ends of the floor. Puts pressure on the rim. Likes to get downhill and attack the basket. Shows flashes in transition. Lots of natural talent.

Sanon spoke with Wizards reporters soon after he was drafted on Thursday night and said Russell Westbrook is a guy he models his game after. He plays at a much lower level of professional basketball, but there are similarities with Westbrook in Sanon's size and knack for scoring at the rim.

The stats only tell so much of the story, as he was going up against lower competition. It is worth noting, however, that his shooting percentage was low pretty much across the board. In 22 games during the 2017-18 season, Sanon shot 29.3 percent from three and 40 percent from the free throw line.

The Wizards have realistic expectations for Sanon, knowing it could take years before he even plays in the NBA. Many second round picks never make it at all.

Grunfeld pointed to Satoransky's career path as a possible timeline for Sanon, meaning the Wizards may not bring him over until he's in his 20s. He won't be able to help at backup point guard right away, but someday perhaps he can put his athleticism to use and actually help the Wizards.


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