Orlando thought they were ready — they were a confident team coming off two playoff sweeps, their offense was clicking.
Then reality hit hard — Boston’s defense was overwhelming at the start of Game 1 for Orlando. Long arms and quick feet were everywhere. The Magic were coming off a long layoff, and there just is no way in practice to simulate what Boston does. The Celtics were up 7-1 in the blink of an eye. They led by 10 in the first quarter, as Orlando struggled to adjust. The lead got up to 15 and stayed in double digits for much of the second quarter.
The Magic adjusted — or Boston got sloppy, or some combination thereof, chose your own narrative — and almost came back to win. But that was an uphill climb.
The Lakers come into these finals confident group. They come in playing their best basketball this season, with Kobe Bryant on fire.
But they also come in off playing the defensively-challenged Phoenix Suns, who got some notoriety with their zone because it cut the Lakers shooting from an insane 58 percent in the first two games down to a just very good 50 percent in the next couple games. Before that, the Lakers played the undersized and outmanned Utah Jazz.
Could the Lakers be unprepared for the reality of the Celtics defense? Could the Celtics race off to an early lead and again hang on to steal Game 1 on the road.
Yes. Yes, they could.
You hear college football players say it all the time — you can see a team on film but the reality of their speed/size/strength doesn’t hit you until the ball is snapped. The Celtics defense is that way.
The Lakers know what is coming. They know there will be ball pressure on Kobe and others will have to step up, that ball movement is key. They have faced this defense before. But there is no way to replicate the Celtics speed, length and anticipation in practice. And coming off two soft defensive series, the Lakers have seen nothing like the Boston reality since a couple games in Oklahoma City (the Thunder are long and quick and pretty disciplined on defense).
Nothing is certain or easily predictable in this series. But don’t be shocked if the Celtics are up after a quarter against the Lakers. They bring a different reality to Staples Center than anyone before them.
Addressing coach Frank Vogel on Monday, Pacers president Larry Bird said: “What I don’t want to do is leave Frank hanging — there’s other jobs out there he could get.”
Two days later, Vogel is still left hanging.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
If Bird’s statement isn’t the kiss of death, I don’t know what is.
Vogel is a good coach, and based on what we can see from the outside, the Pacers should keep him. But if Bird is waiting this long to give Vogel a new contract, that’s probably a telltale sign.
I doubt this lasts past tomorrow. Bird won’t want to get grilled about Vogel’s job status then do it all over again once he makes a decision. And at face value, Bird has the decency to end this saga before Vogel misses on the Rockets job (which I think would be an excellent fit) or any other.
Stephen Curry said there’s a “pretty good” chance he plays in Game 3 Saturday.
The bad news: Warriors general manager Bob Myers says Curry isn’t qualified to make a definitive statement.
Myers on 95.7 The Game, as transcribed by Diamond Leung of The Mercury News:
“I know everybody wants to know is it going to be Saturday, is it going to be Monday? It’s in that range, but it’s hard to say. But those games (3 and 4) are so close together.
“I don’t know if he’s coming back (ahead of the two-week timetable),” Myers said. “Nobody knows. He doesn’t know. He thinks he is, but that’s good.”
The good news: Myers puts Curry on a similar timetable. With Golden State leading the Trail Blazers 2-0, it probably doesn’t matter whether Curry returns Saturday, Monday or next Wednesday for Game 5.
As long as he’s healthy enough to stave off a potential Portland comeback and produce in the conference finals, the Warriors can’t ask for more.
Eric Griffin – a 25-year-old former D-League All-Star who signed with the Heat, Mavericks and Pistons the last three preseasons and was still trying to play his way into the NBA – has been charged with attempted murder.
Sam Gardner of Fox Sports:
Griffin was arrested Friday on attempted murder charges after he and another man, 23-year-old Daquan Lundy, allegedly fired several rounds at a third individual outside an Orlando, Fla., apartment building.
The alleged victim, 24-year-old Treavor Glover, told police he was approached by two black males as he walked from his car to his apartment at approximately 1:19 a.m. on April 27.
Glover told officers that he’d never met or seen either of the men who attacked him, but informed police that his girlfriend’s brother, Gino Nicolas, was murdered in a separate shooting the week prior and claimed that rumors are circulating among Nicolas’ friends that Glover is friends with the alleged shooter in that case.
Klay Thompson capped a 9-0 game-tying fourth-quarter run with a 3-pointer, and Draymond Green had a message for the Trail Blazers:
Terry Stotts did, but that didn’t stop the bleeding. Their swagger running high, the Warriors pulled away for a 110-99 win.