Rajon Rondo doing the little things helps Celtics hold on

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Most of the talk surrounding the finish of Sunday’s wild Cavaliers-Celtics tilt has been about LeBron James horrible, horrible, terrible decision to pull up for a three on a fast-break with four seconds remaining in the game and the Cavaliers trailing by two. (To be clear: that was a horrible decision.) 
However, as bad as LeBron’s decision to pull up from three was instead of try to tie the game or even get an and-1 by going to the basket, the Cavaliers may still have been able to tie the game if it weren’t for Rajon Rondo. When explaining why he pulled up for that shot, one of the arguments LeBron made is that Antawn Jamison had good rebounding position if he missed. Looking at the video (2:18 mark to see the play in question), you can see that LeBron was correct. Jamison is well ahead of the pack when LeBron is rising to shoot, and appears to have the inside track on a potential rebound. When LeBron’s three misses, Jamison is in position to grab the short rebound and J.J. Hickson is in position to grab the long one. 
Unfortunately for both of them, Rajon Rondo ran back down the floor, went up for the rebound, and was able to get in there and keep Jamison from getting a handle on the ball, giving possession and the game to the Celtics. Rondo is one of the best rebounding guards in the league. On Sunday, his rebounding acumen and hustle allowed the Celtics to hang onto a win against their conference rival.
One last thing: I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to steer the discussion away from how bad that three-point attempt by LeBron was. LeBron is one of the most unstoppable players ever in transition. The Celtics looked gassed and had coughed up a 22-point lead already. LeBron is a 33.5% three-point shooter on the year, was 0-7 from beyond the arc at that point, and was off-balance and going full speed. There was not a good chance he was going to make that shot. If there are multiple options available, and the one chosen has a very low probability of working, it’s probably best to make a different decision. All I’m saying is that Rondo’s heads-up play to ensure the win for Boston deserves a bit of attention as well. 

Byron Scott doesn’t care about exhausting Lakers in preseason

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The Warriors use wearable technology to track players and have rested them when the data revealed fatigue. Gregg Popovich is holding relatively healthy Spurs out of practice. Heck, Popovich doesn’t even send himself to every preseason games.

Meanwhile, with the Lakers…

Lakers coach Byron Scott, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

“I don’t necessarily care about tired legs in preseason,” Scott said. “I think everything that we’ve done thus far will pay off at the end of the day. You’ve got some guys that might have tired legs and [are] a little worn out, but all the running as far as getting into that physical condition that we need to get into, I think in December and January, it will pay off.

“So I’m not necessarily worried about guys having tired legs in preseason. They’ll just have to kind of fight through that fatigue part of it. And I think mentally it gets them a little stronger anyway.”

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers coach has a reputation for demanding a lot of running in the preseason. It’s important in his mind because the Lakers will be better conditioned than other teams down the road.

Players, predictably, aren’t as enthused about it.

Bresnahan quotes just two players, Brandon Bass and D'Angelo Russell, and neither expressed much resistance to Scott’s methods. But I trust Bresnahan to read the team’s pulse.

I also think Scott is right: Fighting through fatigue builds mental toughness. But it also makes players tired, and it’s not the only way to instill toughness. The Warriors are tough. The  Spurs are tough. They didn’t have to run their players into the ground to get that way.

Scott loves to project himself as old-school and anti-analytic. Thankfully for the Lakers, his actual methods aren’t as bad as he conveys. For example, he said the Lakers would take an absurdly low 10-15 3-pointers per game last season. In reality, they hoisted nearly 19 per game, 25th in the league. That might not have been enough for that roster, but at least it wasn’t leaps and bounds below the norm.

So, I’m not convinced Scott is pushing the Lakers as hard as he wants everyone to believe. But he’s  clearly giving them a bigger workload than many teams.

If the Lakers are playing relevant games late in the season, this could come back to bite them. On the bright side, they probably won’t have to worry about that problem.

Tony Parker wants to play six more seasons with Spurs

Tony Parker
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Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.

Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.

Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”

That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)

Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.

But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.