NBA Playoffs Celtics Magic Game 1: Stan Van Gundy believes giving valor to the victor


svg.jpgOurs is not a very positive society, in terms of the media, in case you haven’t noticed.

So when the Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated by the Boston Celtics, the turn from all over, including from this blog, revolved around the failure of LeBron James and the Cavaliers, and James’ legacy. As a side note, oh, yeah, the Boston Celtics managed to dismantle the team with the best record in the league, get all of their weapons going and win in convincing fashion.

But Stan Van Gundy thinks that to gloss over what the Celtics did to crucify James and the Cavs is a flawed design.

From the New York Times:

“It does a disservice to all of them,” Van Gundy said. “I feel bad for
him only in the sense that you’ve taken a team that basically, because
of one guy, made it inevitable that nobody can possibly beat them,
they’re going to win a championship. Then, instead of just going, ‘Wow,
the Celtics are good and they played great.’ Now, it’s, ‘What’s wrong
with LeBron? Why did he play the way he did in Game 5? The talent around
him is not good enough. Mike Brown can’t coach.’ You go through all the
negatives. You can’t say — I can — but I guess you guys just can’t
say, ‘They lost to a damn good team.”

Well, then, Stan, tell us how you really feel. You’re usually so reserved, after all.

Van Gundy’s point is a strong one. Why do we seek to simplify the Cavaliers’ failures into some sort of spiritual vaccum (“They have no heart.”) or a catastrophic X’s and O’s disaster? We gloss over some pretty important facts, like the Celtics working hard for high percentage shots, out-executing consistently, coming up with every loose ball, and playing a brand of defense easily identifiable as the type that puts rings on fingers.

Van Gundy often has difficulty with how things are portrayed, but this is a particularly sound piece of perspective. The Cavs won more games than any other team in the league. They made the second round. The Celtics were simply better.

However, none of this will stop questions about how the Cavs accepted that fact. There were particular points in the final two games of the series where the Cavs and James simply seemed to accept that they were bested. It didn’t come easy, so they took their ball and come home. But pointing that out shouldn’t overshadow the job the Celtics did just because it’s sexier.

And having equated the word “sexier” with something involving Glen Davis, I will not spend the rest of the day vomiting.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.