NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 2: Can Pau Gasol keep it up

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Gasol_Garnett.jpgTalking to a Celtics blogger last night, he was pretty candid about how Gasol-Garnett I wound up. “(Gasol) murdered him.” Reds Army was still confident the Celtics would rebound naturally (both literally and figuratively), but the cold hard facts can’t escape even the most stout Boston fans.

Pau Gasol railroaded Garnett on his way to eight offensive rebounds and a masterful offensive performance, showing every component you could ask for from your power forward. The question will be in Game 2, after all the jibber jabber, how both of these players respond to how Game 1 went.

If Gasol gets confident, feeling he’ll be able to repeat his Game 1 performance without a fight, he’s probably got another thing coming. KG may not be as “explosive” as he once was, but he is as tough, physical, and savvy as he’s ever been. Combine that with the new Bulls head coach’s work, and Gasol could be in for a rough day.

On the other hand, there’s nothing surprising about what Gasol did, not really. He’s the most skilled big man in the game (while Dwight Howard may be the best all around, I doubt anyone would argue that Gasol’s skill level is off the charts), and everything he did was well within his wheelhouse. We can get wrapped up in all the talk about toughness and pride, but at the end of the day, Gasol’s skills are in their prime while KG’s are on a down slide.

Perhaps most concerning for the Celtics is their lack of an alternative. Glen Davis can’t properly check Gasol’s length, speed, or versatility and would foul out before he could even order his tenth hotdog. Rasheed Wallace is somewhat of a better fit, but again, physically doesn’t have it in him to match up. The Celtics are facing a problem they may just have to live with. Which is fine, that’ usually an element in any playoff matchup. You can let a great player be great, as long as you shut down the rest of the team.

The problem is that the Celtics already are facing a guy like that in Kobe Bryant. Having two guys you just have to “accept” are going to kill you changes things from vulnerability management to “pain therapy.”

Gasol could very well have an off night tonight. But if he doesn’t, it’s difficult to see from here how the Celtics would be able to counter. That’s what happens after every game in the playoffs. We can’t see things shifting from how they were ten minutes ago.

Lonzo Ball finishes one-handed alley-oop on Willie Cauley-Stein (video)

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So much attention is paid to Lonzo Ball‘s father, jumper and passes. Those are the major storylines for the Lakers rookie.

But he has such a diverse skill set, and this is absolutely part of it. Ball is a savvy off-ball cutter in the halfcourt with the athleticism to get above the rim and finish alley-oops.

But finish them over 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who was tracking the play (though slightly late)? That’s an eye-opener, even in the Kings’ 113-102 win.

Marc Gasol makes 3/4-court shot just after buzzer (video)

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When Marc Gasol‘s 3/4-court attempt went through the net, it seemed to barely matter the ball left his hands just after the first-quarter buzzer. After all, the Grizzlies led the Mavericks by 15, anyway.

Turns out, Memphis really needed that basket.

Watch Knicks string together 28-0 run against Raptors

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Toronto has been the second best team in the East this young season. Not that anyone is really convinced they will be called that by the time we get to the playoffs (or even the All-Star break, or even Christmas), but for the first 16-18 games of the season their new move-the-ball offense had them at 11-5 and looking solid.

Wednesday night the Knicks dismantled the Raptors.

Especially in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 28-0 run to blow the doors off the Raptors (video above). The Knicks dominated the third 41-10, when Toronto shot just 1-of-16 from the floor.

New York is gaining confidence with each win this season, they are a fun team to watch that is starting to find an identity (now that a certain three-sided shaped one is not being forced upon them). Kristaps Porzingis is a monster, and while the Knicks overpaid the market for Tim Hardaway Jr. he has lived up to his contract this season. With rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina showing some nice defense and playmaking skills as a rookie (although he is undoubtedly still a work in progress), you can see a path to a strong future unfolding. There are real reasons for hope in New York. Someone just keep James Dolan distracted and away from the basketball operations side of the building.

Devin Booker forces OT with deep turnaround buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Bucks beat Suns (video)

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I’m not sure who benefited from Devin Booker‘s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing 3-pointer. The Suns still lost to the Bucks, 113-107. The extra five minutes featured more of the same relatively bad basketball we’d seen between Phoenix (bad) and Milwaukee (shorthanded) through 48 minutes.

But darn if this shot wasn’t really cool and clutch.