NBA finals Celtics Lakers: What happened to Tony Allen?


Oh, it was all going so well.

Tony Allen was the hero of the first two rounds of the playoffs. Largely considered an afterthought coming into the season, and a no-show for much of the regular season until Marquis Daniels’ injury history popped up, Allen developed into a huge component for the Celtics off the bench in the first few rounds of the playoffs.

Then, in Orlando, he started to struggle a little bit, and in the first game of the NBA finals, he was an abject disaster. More stunning is that it’s not as if Allen hasn’t been in key positions this postseason. He guarded Dwyane Wade, the Dwyane Wade during the first round, and did time checking LeBron in round two. He was hitting huge shots, making key plays, and playing great defense.

And then melted down in Game 1.

Allen had 4 points on 1-4 shooting, no rebounds, no assists, 1 steal, 1 block, was blocked once, had 2 turnovers and four fouls in 16 minutes in Game 1. That’s a pretty efficient dose of sucking for a guy who was considered to be a huge swing player for the Celtics, helping their bench improve from a weakness to a strength in the playoffs.

Part of Allen’s struggles, obviously, was Kobe Bryant, who if you haven’t heard, is quite good. While Allen’s able to stay with quick guards, Kobe’s at an elite level, and because of the bigs he’s now facing, he’s getting clipped on screen and rolls much harder than he was in the first two rounds. From there it becomes simply a level of increased aggression. The Lakers are playing with a cutthroat sense of urgency the Celtics haven’t faced before and that Allen may not be adjusted to. The fact that he can’t even switch due to Ron Artest’s bullishness and Lamar Odom’s size means that Allen has very little he can provide in terms of matchups. Expect his minutes to decrease in Game 2 unless Doc Rivers really thinks it was just a bad night for TA (along with the entire Celtics team).

Allen may not be a star player, but he’s the kind of player that championship teams need to step up. If he and his bench cohorts can’t make an impact for the Celtics, that’s yet another advantage that goes into the Lakers’ column.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.