In Game 2, we saw the series we hoped we would get. Both the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics put in huge performances in a back and forth affair that featured tremendous individual efforts on both sides of the green and yellow divide. Unfortunately, this meant that one team was going to be left with a disappointing waste of a phenomenal game under the biggest of circumstances.
When the Lakers made a strong start to the second half, it looked like it would be Ray Allen’s phenomenal shooting performance that would be for naught. But after the buzzer sounded, Andrew Bynum finished as the player who unfortunately had to watch his best work go unrewarded.
Kobe Bryant? 21 points on 20 shots.Pau Gasol? Four field goal attempts in the second half, despite leading all Lakers with 25 points. No huge veteran play from Derek Fisher. No X-Factor play from Shannon Brown.
But Andrew Bynum showed up to play. Bynum had arguably his most important game as a Laker. He was dominant. The drop hook, working. Tenacious on the glass. Seven blocks to go with 21 points and six boards. And it wasn’t just the numbers. He was the answer for the Lakers on possession after possession, battling and battling and forcing the Celtics to recoil from the sheer force of his aggression. It was the kind of performance we’ve been waiting to see from Bynum as he constantly forced us to second guess him with his work ethic and injury history. That he accomplished all this on a torn ligament in his knee is simultaneously impressive and depressing. That he accomplished it in the loss is just depressing.
But there was of course a flip side to the bad news. The victors had their share of heroes, chief among them the cyborg Ray Allen (who we told you about earlier) and Rajon Rondo, returning to the triple double hall with 19-12-10 and 2 steals for good measure. It should be noted it took Rondo 18 points to score 19, but hey, a triple double is a triple double. (Unless it involves turnovers, in which case it’s a cruel joke.)
Rondo’s postseason was summed up perfectly on a possession late where repeated Glen Davis misses resulted in another loose ball. Rondo snatched it out of the air for another huge offensive rebound and immediately went up for a putback. It was exemplary of Rondo’s approach tonight, which was playing the numbers game. He gambled that going to the rim was better than not going to the rim and if he kept going, good things would happen. What’s odd is that his arguable biggest shot was a pull-up jumper late that seemed to dagger the Lakers’ hearts.
So now the series is tied, and the Lakers are faced with an interesting double edged sword. Frustrated because they gave up homecourt advantage and wasted a huge effort from Bynum. Comforted because it took two phenomenal efforts from Rondo and Allen to put it away in a tight one.
The battle rages on.
The No. 28 pick, R.J. Hunter became the first first-rounder from last year’s draft to fall out of the NBA when the Celtics waived him.
He won’t be out of the league for long.
The Bulls, the only team with an open roster spot, appear close to adding him.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Hunter belongs in the league. Though he must knock down shots far more reliably than he has, Hunter has potential as an outside shooter with complementary ball skills to provide value. Boston just had more NBA-caliber players than roster spots.
He’s far from a lock to succeed in the NBA, but I value Hunter about as much as Tony Snell – whom the Bulls just traded for an upgrade at backup point guard in Michael Carter-Williams. That they could so cheaply replace Snell makes that deal look even better.
Gerald Green was drafted by the Celtics and spent two seasons with them before being traded (in the Kevin Garnett deal).
After stints with the Timberwolves, Rockets, Mavericks, Nets, Pacers, Suns and Heat, he signed with Boston this summer.
Think he’s happy to be back?
Abby Chin of CSN Mid-Atlantic:
Joel Embiid couldn’t endear himself by playing in an NBA game, because he’s been too injured to do that in two pro seasons.
He’s had to resort to witty nicknames, practice-gym dunks, fun-loving stunts, attention-seeking tweets and self-deprecating humor.
Embiid is scheduled to make his NBA debut tonight, when the 76ers play the Thunder. Soon, we’ll judge him more for what he does on the court.
But, first, Embiid went out with one last bang of a quote.
Embiid, via Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:
“You know how I learned to shoot?” Embiid says. “I watched white people. Just regular white people. They really put their elbow in and finish up top. You can find videos of them online.”
LeBron James might be the greatest athlete in NBA history.
But even he has shown signs of decline at age 31.
He has gotten multiple back injections and even took a break during the season to rehabilitate in Miami. The forward has treated the last two regular-seasons as glorified warmups for the playoffs.
Just where does LeBron stand physically?
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue gave quite the answer.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
Lue said James, at 31, “had a chance to get tested this summer and they said he had a body of a 19-year old. Maybe he’s getting younger. Benjamin Button.”
It was a little perplexing because neither James, nor his personal trainer, Mike Mancias, nor general manager David Griffin had any real idea what test Lue was talking about.
This reminds me of Derrick Rose attributing the Knicks and Warriors being super teams to “They’re saying.” Who is they, and what are they smoking?
That LeBron, Mancias and Griffin won’t cop to knowing is quite revealing.
LeBron does not have the body of a 19-year-old. Years of other-worldly play and long playoff runs has taken a toll.
Because he’s declining from such a high peak, LeBron should remain elite for a while. His athleticism might even fluctuate as it trends downward overall.
But Father Time is undefeated, and LeBron didn’t just get a mid-career reset to his rookie physical form.