NBA finals, Lakers Celtics Game 2: Milk cartons, desert islands, and Kevin Garnett

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Garnett_solo.jpgAfter Ray Allen was plagued by foul trouble in Game 1, it was Kevin Garnett’s turn to fade into the background as the calls piled up against him in Game 2.

KG’s final stat line — six points, four rebounds, and six assists — is probably too rosy a representation of his overall impact; Garnett would occasionally make a play of some import, but for the most part, Kevin was invisible. That’s not what the Celtics have come to expect from Garnett in these playoffs, and Boston will need something more if they’re going to really put pressure on the Lakers.

Boston’s overall defense was improved from their Game 1 calamity, and Garnett does deserve some credit for that. In terms of his ability to function defensively in a team setting, KG wasn’t exactly awful.

Still, his one-on-one defense was poor yet again, which says as much about the superior play of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum as it does about Garnett’s ineffectiveness. This is not the best defense Kevin is capable of playing, and whether it’s a “lack of explosiveness,” a bad match-up, or anxious whistle-blowers that ail him, he desperately needs to make some kind of impact in future games.

Ray Allen is not going to shoot 8-of-11 from three every night, and Kobe Bryant won’t always go 8-for-20 from the field. Ron Artest won’t always be such a possession-killer, and Rajon Rondo may not always rack up a triple-double.

Even if the things didn’t go perfectly for Boston (Paul Pierce’s performance in particular left a bit to be desired), a lot went right. Certainly enough to off-set superb outings from Gasol and Bynum. The only problem is that aside from a nice feed to Kendrick Perkins here or a big make over Ron Artest there, Garnett really wasn’t a part of it.

Expecting KG to best Pau Gasol would be a bit much, but it would certainly be nice to see him do more than simply dress out. He wasn’t inefficient and he didn’t hurt his team while he was on the floor, but Garnett seems an awfully uncomfortable wallflower.

It’s nice for Boston to take a game even without KG’s help, but the disappearing act needs to stop now. If anyone can find the Kevin Garnett that completely shut down his defensive assignments in the first three rounds, tell him to come to the front of the store: his teammates and coach are looking for him.

Underdog Cavs insist they have plenty of bite for Finals

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — They are defending champions and decided underdogs.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, however, say they aren’t using any snubs to get ready for the NBA Finals.

Set for a third straight championship matchup against Golden State, the Cavs are ignoring the Las Vegas odds makers and others who don’t think they have a shot at beating Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant & Co.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue doesn’t feel his team needs the underdog label for inspiration, saying being in the NBA Finals is “enough motivation alone.”

Kevin Love was reminded that Warriors forward Draymond Green said earlier this season that he wants to “destroy and annihilate” the Cavs in the Finals. Says Love said: “He wanted us, and he has us starting next Thursday.”

 

Check out Kawhi Leonard’s highlights from this past season (VIDEO)

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Russell Westbrook and James Harden were putting up the bigger numbers, they were drawing more attention. And while MVP is a regular season award, nobody has boosted their MVP credentials more in the postseason than Kawhi Leonard.

He had a really impressive regular season, too. Since we’re on a long break between games, enjoy the highlights of Leonard’s season. He may enter next season as the MVP favorite.

Kevin Love on Cavaliers: “I don’t feel like we’re underdogs”

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Kevin Love and Las Vegas bookmakers do not see things the same way.

In Vegas, the Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the title — bet $100 on them to win and you get back $41.7 (or less). Cleveland is a heavy underdog.

Love sees a confident team that is the defending NBA champions, as he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“The whole underdog thing is funny to me, because, yeah, at the end of the day we are defending our title,” Love said Saturday after the Cavs’ first practice in preparation for the Warriors since clinching a spot in the Finals. “We’re trying to repeat, which is so hard to do. I think we will use it as fuel, we will use it as motivation, but the idea of playing into it? It’s tough for me to say that is the case. I don’t feel like we’re underdogs. We match up well with them, and I think they’d say the same about us.”

What else was he going to say?

More than any other team in the league, the Cavaliers are built to give Golden State trouble. The Cavaliers can exploit mismatches, be physical on defense, and they have LeBron James, Love and Kyrie Irving. Three NBA stars.

Is that enough against four NBA stars is the question.

Mike Brown still waiting on Tyronn Lue to pay up overdue bet

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Mike Brown is ready for Tyronn Lue to pay up on a nearly two-decade-old bet. Yep, Lue owes him $100 and Brown plans to accept it at long last – perhaps even during the NBA Finals when they see each other.

All this time Brown never wanted the money he earned by beating Lue in a shooting contest when the Cavaliers coach was an NBA newcomer, yet Golden State’s acting coach – who spent two stints leading Cleveland – joked how Lue can surely afford it these days.

“I’m glad he finally admitted that he owes me money because for many years he wouldn’t admit that he owed me money. He does owe me $100 and since he got his new deal hopefully he can afford to pay me now,” Brown said Saturday post-practice. “I asked him many time for it but he’s denied it. He’s denied that the game ever took place.”

Lue insists he has tried to pay up – time and time again, to no avail.

“Mike, I owe him $100 from when I was a rookie. That’s all I ever know about Mike,” Lue said Saturday. “I tried to pay him and he wouldn’t take the money so he says I always owe him. He’s always been a great guy.”

The 40-year-old Lue was rewarded with a contract extension after the Cavs’ championship run last June for the city’s first major sports title in 52 years. Cleveland overcame a 3-1 Finals deficit to the Warriors, and now the teams are preparing to face off for a third straight year.

“I think what it has to do with, it has to do with the fact he’s got a nice, long, fat contract with the Cavs and he realizes that he can finally afford to pay me the money that he owes me for the shooting game back in 2000 or whenever it was,” Brown said with a grin.

Brown acknowledged he cannot recall any other details such as how many shots each man made, saying: “I don’t even remember, that was back when I was in shape and a good shooter. He’d kill me now”

“Yeah, he was with the Spurs and I was with the Lakers and we had a little shooting contest and I lost,” Lue said. “He wouldn’t take the money so from now on 19 years in a row always says, `You owe me $100.’ He won’t take the money. Always been close to Mike and I like Mike a lot, respect him a lot.”