NBA Playoffs Celtics Magic Game 3: Where losing momentum is about the only Celtics concern

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TAllen.jpgNBA coaches tend to operate like a lazy politician — they use fear. Scare the team by showing them their mistakes and the consequences, press the buttons on their fear of failure (or threaten their playing time), motivate them to work and focus to avoid that.

Doc Rivers has to find another way — there’s not much he’d want to change about the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. The games were close, but the Celtics defense was fantastic and they closed out games on the road. They are up 2-0. About the only thing the Celtics have to worry about is a loss of momentum. So we’ll try to play that up.

In the last round against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics got a momentum turning win at Quicken Loans Arena, tying the series at 1-1 heading back to Boston. Everything was going the Celtics way…

Except for the schedule. They had to take three days off, a game on Monday and the next one on Friday. Momentum took a holiday. The Cavaliers came into Boston and smacked the home team around good, winning by 29.

Now in the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston went on the road and momentum was all theirs — they took two games from the Magic. Boston’s defense slowed Orlando’s perimeter players, Kendrick Perkins and friends have played the mighty Dwight Howard man-up pretty well. Everything is going the Celtics way…

Except for the schedule. Three days off again.

Frankly, it’s just not much to worry about. The Celtics are coming home and it’s much more likely they sweep the Celtics than lose four out of five.

But the Magic remain a dangerous team. They did not get an invite straight to this round, they swept out two teams to get here (including a Hawks team that had a better record than the Celtics). Ignore them and start thinking about the Lakers at your own peril. What you don’t want to do is have a game that gives the Magic hope.

At home, Boston can try to push the pace a little on offense — get some turnovers and have Rajon Rondo convert that to easy buckets. At home, the Celtics role players should step up and provide more. They should get some bench play.

Defensively… don’t change a thing. Keep the Magic in the halfcourt, play Howard with just one man (who cares if he scores 30 again?) and stay home on the perimeter shooters. Don’t let them start driving into the lane for easy buckets, keep defending the rim.

Just keep doing what they have been doing. And keep momentum on their side.

Before season starts, watch top 10 dunks of preseason

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Starting Tuesday night, the games matter. The dunks matter.

But before we move onto those dunks, let’s have some fun with the top 10 dunks of the meaningless preseason. They may not matter, but they certainly were fun.

Of course there are some expected highlights — can you have a dunk reel without Russell Westbrook? — but game-winning dunks always get the top slot.

Carmelo Anthony says rather than take knee during Anthem he wants action in communities

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks looks on against the Cleveland Cavaliers during their game at Madison Square Garden on March 26, 2016 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Colin Kaepernick certainly fired up a discussion — not always the conversation he intended, but a discussion of the treatment of African-Americans in our society was part of that conversation.

No NBA player has taken that same step through the preseason, taking a knee during the national anthem (only anthem singers have done that). Some teams are locking arms during the anthem in a show of solidarity, but they stand in two orderly rows.

Carmelo Anthony explained in an interview with Bleacher Report that what he and many others want to see is the next step in Kaepernick’s protest — action in the community.

“I’m past the gestures,” New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony told B/R Mag. “I’m past that. It’s all about creating things now and putting things in motion. So, that’s what I’m on. I’m trying to get guys on board with that and help them understand that—enough of the gesturing and talking and all of that stuff—we need to start putting things in place….

“He’s done it,” Anthony said of Kaepernick. “He was courageous enough to do that. He created that. He created the kneeling and that protest. And people fell in line with that. Some people supported it. Some people didn’t. But at the end of the day, and I’m not taking nothing away from him…I just don’t think the gesturing is creating anything. I think it’s bringing awareness, but I think doing stuff and creating awareness in the communities [is more effective].”

What are those things? Players, the players’ union, the NBA itself, and it’s teams are all working to figure that out. This is not something where one blanket program fits all — what is needed in communities in New York is different from the needs in Milwaukee, is different from the needs in Sacramento. This needs to be local, with players involved.

There have already been some steps. The Bulls held a basketball tournament between police and a mentoring agency, which was followed by a panel discussion. Dwyane Wade biked with police through Miami. The Grizzlies have revived the Police Athletic League in Memphis. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there are teams from New Orleans to Los Angeles are working to bring youth and police together to talk.

It’s a start. A good start.

There is no one magic gesture, no one simple measure that can heal the deep divides in our nation right now. There are no easy answers, and as a nation we can be too dependent on easy answers. We need to listen. We need to talk to each other, not at each other. We need to practice empathy.

NBA players can help lead that effort, that conversation. It would be the next step after a protest — to act on those steps. Good on Anthony and the NBA for attempting to go down that road.


Rockets change from earlier reports, waive Pablo Prigioni, keep Tyler Ennis

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 17:  Pablo Prigioni #9 of the Houston Rockets celebrates in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers during Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Toyota Center for the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 17, 2015 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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The Rockets traded for Tyler Ennis., sending Michael Beasley away in the deal.

Which is why it was a bit of a surprise on Monday when early reports had the Rockets waiving Ennis, but either the report was off or the Rockets changed their minds.

With Patrick Beverley out injured, this leaves the Rockets thin at the traditional point guard spot. However, in practice James Harden, Eric Gordon and others will initiate Mike D’Antoni’s offense, so the bigger challenge will be defensively. Prigioni was not much help there at this point in his career.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a team snaps up Prigioni as insurance, or he certainly can make money overseas. Prigioni played last season as a backup point guard for the Clippers.

Want some dance lessons from Hassan Whiteside? We got that.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: A portrait of Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Miami’s Hassan Whiteside is a lot of things: An elite shot blocker, up-and-coming NBA star who worked hard for the right to be that, a Heat cornerstone.

Dance instructor?

I’m not sold, but he’s showing off his groove in this Twitter video.

When you get a $98.6 million contract, you can do whatever you want. So he can be a dance if he wants to.