NBA Playoffs, Lakers Suns Game 3: The Suns try to keep it simple, stupid

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Hill_Bynum.jpgAlvin Gentry asked his team to step up its defensive game as they came into the Western Conference Finals with the Lakers. He asked them to front to keep the ball out of the post, to pressure the ball out of Kobe Bryant’s hands, he asked them to do things a little bit differently and count on rotations. He asked them to take their defense to the next level.

Didn’t work. Not even close. In two games the Lakers have scored 132.6 points per 100 possessions, just a ridiculous number (best regular season number was 112.7, by Phoenix, ironically). The Lakers have done whatever they wanted.

And while we and others have piled on Amar’e Stoudemire for his defense — and it has not been good — the problem is much larger than one man. This is a whole team failure. There were no rotations behind Stoudemire. There was terrible communication and recognition of assignments. Watch these videos for the details. It was a team failure.

So the Suns are going back to simple back home for Game 3. Back to what they did prior to this series, Gentry said. Maybe that will help.

The Suns are also counting on scoring more at home. They will play at a little faster pace, and they hope to suck the Lakers into that pace more. Some of their role players will need to step up — backup guards Goran Dragic and Leandro Barbosa were a combined 2-10 with six points in Game 2. They should — they need to — play better at home.

Then there is Channing Frye, who has been a disaster this series and needs to show up if the Suns are to have any chance.

The Lakers role players have stepped up — Jordan Farmar is 8-11, Ron Artest is 12-23 and Shannon Brown 5-9 in this series. The Suns need to slow them down, because if the Lakers stars and subs are scoring you are doomed.

The Suns may be doomed anyway. They cannot change the core problems of size and skill inside. But they can mask the problem with some better scoring and some improved defense. That may come at home.

Just keep it simple stupid, and hope that is enough.

Edmond Sumner declares for NBA draft despite torn ACL

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Edmond Sumner has grown about five inches since high school.

That has helped turn the 6-foot-5 Xavier point guard into an intriguing NBA prospect — but also seemingly contributed to physical complications. Sumner missed nearly all of his freshman year with knee tendinitis. Then, after a promising second season and start to his third, he tore his ACL in January.

Still, he’s entering the NBA draft.

Sumner:

Rick Broering of Musketeer Report:

Like with Duke’s Harry Giles, medical testing will be huge with Sumner. But at least Giles ended the season on the court. Sumner might not be healthy at all during the pre-draft process.

Sumner looked like a borderline first-round pick before the injury. This probably pushes him into the second round.

His long strides provide impressive speed and quickness, and he’s still shifty. Add quality court vision, and his ability to drive by defenders is even more valuable.

A 6-foot-8 wingspan and good lateral mobility also help make him a quality defender.

But it’s also concerning that so much of his positives could be undermined by his knee issues, especially considering his unreliable jumper. If Sumner can’t move like he did before getting hurt, I don’t see how he sticks in the NBA.

If Sumner’s knees check out, it’s worth rolling the dice on him and hoping his jumper develops. He might even be OK without shooting range, though that’d lower his ceiling considerably.

Again, though, the first thing is examining his knees.

PBT Extra: Can Boston hang on to the No. 1 seed in East?

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In an unexpected twist as the season winds down, the Cavaliers have stumbled — 8-11 since the All-Star break — while the Celtics have just kept on winning. Suddenly the Boston Celtics are on top of the East with the best record.

Can they stay on top through the rest of the season?

Does it matter to the Cavaliers?

I cover all this ground in the latest PBT Extra.

Draymond Green on Raiders move to Las Vegas: I won’t attend another game

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The Raiders are moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, and Draymond Green — whose Warriors also play in Oakland is not pleased.

Green, via Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:

I wouldn’t attend a game. I won’t attend a game.

“And I’m not a diehard Raiders fan, but I support the city of Oakland. It ain’t for me and I feel like all fans should feel that way. You just don’t do that. Come on man, that’s ridiculous.”

“If I were the fans, I wouldn’t attend a game for the next two years. But that’s just me. That’s ridiculous. No way I’d pay my money to attend a game.”

 

Um, does Green realize the Warriors are also moving from Oakland (to a new arena in San Francisco)?

Green:

“It’s one thing if you’re moving them from Oakland to Fremont or something,” Green said of the Raiders. “To Las Vegas?

OK, that’s Fair. I am just being pedantic. I don’t actually see moving across the bay as similar to the Raiders moving hundreds of miles away.

Green:

“That’s like moving the Dallas Cowboys or moving the Packers,” he said. “Moving the Raiders? You can move a lot of teams. Ain’t many fan bases like the Raiders fan base. That’s like moving the Boston Celtics from Boston or the Lakers from LA.

“You just don’t move certain franchises with the fan base they have.”

But seriously this time: Someone tell Green that the Raiders have already moved from Oakland to Los Angeles and back to Oakland — hundreds of miles each way and a ridiculous drive in traffic.

I get that Green — who grew up in Detroit Lions territory, roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers and is pictured above in a San Francisco 49ers jersey — just wants to connect with Oakland fans, but this argument is just intellectually dishonest.

Lonzo Ball: I’m better than Markelle Fultz

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Who should go No. 1 in the 2017 NBA draft?

A pair of Pac-12 freshmen point guards, Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, lead the discussion.

Fultz looks like the leading contender, but Ball doesn’t buy into the conventional wisdom.

Ball, via ESPN:

“Markelle’s a great player, but I feel I’m better than him,” said Ball, who led the Bruins to a pair of blowout victories over Fultz’s Huskies this season.

“I think I can lead a team better than him,” Ball added. “Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

This will get spun into a discussion of Lonzo’s father, LaVar Ball. But, without digging deeply, D'Angelo Russell, Shabazz Muhammad and Enes Kanter each claimed to be the best player in their respective drafts. Look further, and there are many more examples.

Reaching Lonzo Ball’s level usually comes with supreme confidence. This is normal — not a cause for concern about the influence of his boastful dad.

And for what’s it’s worth, I’d favor Ball over Fultz right now, though there’s still more information to gather in the draft process.