NBA Playoffs Celtics Cavs Game 1 Halftime: Celtics have all the answers so far

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For all the improvements the Cavs were supposed to have made, in Game 1, the Celtics looked like they had all the answers.

The Celtics lead 54-43 at the half, Rajon Rondo has 19 points and 8 assists, LeBron James looks hurt and the Cavs look lost.

The Cavs worked to get inside position on offense from the get go, but everything would rim out. Shaquille O’Neal wound up in foul trouble, while getting shoved to the middle of the paint by Kendrick Perkins who is proving there is literally no big man he cannot defend one-on-one. James took only two jumpshots in the first half, and while he was able to create off the dribble, get to the rim, and collect free throws, he looks tentative and limited by the strained and bruised elbow.

Antawn Jamison is doing a good job conceptually on Kevin Garnett, maintaining position and getting a hand-up, but Garnett’s simply using his height advantage and getting the buckets to fall. The lone bright spots for the Cavs have been Delonte West and J.J. Hickson, not exactly who you want the game to rest on. Hickson provided a significant boost on offense, but also gave up multiple possessions on defense due to blown assignments.

But Rondo has been the difference maker. Right now, Rajon Rondo is the best player in this series with LeBron injured. If the Cavs can’t buckle down with their help defense and convert inside, the Cavs could be looking at a very familiar situation of being down 0-1 despite homecourt advantage.

And one final note. If you’re looking to locate a pin, feel free to head down to the Q. Because you can hear one drop as the arena is dead silence. Stark contrast to the other crowds we’ve seen in the playoffs.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.