NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 3: Blogbook had as many field goals as Ray Allen

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A collection of thoughts on Game 3 between the L.A. Lakers and Boston Celtics:

  • So here’s the trick. I need to somehow convey that the Celtics and Ray Allen didn’t fail tonight necessarily without sacrificing the respect the Lakers’ defense earned in defending Jesus Shuttlesworth. You see, to say the Lakers shut him down would simply not be accurate. The Celtics still repeatedly created opportunities for Allen, using those double screens to force baseline shots and creating spacing issues to open up the perimeter off the dribble. Allen got looks, ones that weren’t rightly contested by LA. They simply didn’t drop. They weren’t bad shots by Allen, they just didn’t fall. And even when you’re as good a shooter as Allen is, you’re going to have those nights, just as you’re going to have Game 2s where you can’t miss if you’re shooting underhanded. You need breaks as much as anything in this game, and sometimes you’re not going to get them.
  • But let’s also not make the mistake of saying the Lakers had nothing to do with it. The Lakers decided to go ahead and gamble giving up some inside passes by having their bigs extend out on Allen, to interrupt passing lanes and contest shots (see: Gasol’s massive block). The good news is that with the Lakers anticipating more and more of Allen’s location, he drifted further and further to the corner, which made opportunities for those entry passes that much rarer.
  • One monumental change in Andrew Bynum in this series has been how prepared he’s been at all times on offense. It’s one thing to be tall and beastly. It’s a whole other to always be ready for those little last-second dump offs, focused on where the ball is and what to do with it instead of looking for the rebound before the shot is up. Those little dunk shots Bynum are getting are just as much his work in being mentally prepared for them as they are the great passes he’s getting.
  • Glen Davis may want to try jumping from time to time in post defense. You can have as great a gravity base as you want, but when Gasol turns, you have to contest or he’s just going to plop it in .
  • Sometimes there IS a story in the boxscore. Rajon Rondo, 11 points on 10 shots, 8 assists, zero turnovers, 3 rebounds. The Celtics may need an efficient scoring night from Rondo at some point in this series and it remains to be seen if he’s got that kind of versatility in him. The calls aren’t coming when he drives, and that midrange isn’t as automatic as it was in Orlando.
  • Luke Walton continues to be both sides of the coin for this team. Great hustle plays, terrific defense, some fantastic, timely passes. Walton’s been in that offense long enough to know how it breathes and play with resiliency and focus. On the other hand, he’s limited so badly in some athletic possessions and when he dribbles I keep thinking we’re going to see a cop pull him over for driving under the influence.
  • Rondo’s defensive reputation was set on fire in a hobo’s trashcan tonight as Derek Fisher sliced him and diced him.
  • Davis, as unbelievable as it is when you see his form, was terrific at attacking the glass offensively. He’s just got an ability to hesitate on his release for the long arms to pass their apex before he shoots that Perkins doesn’t have. The fact that he wails around like a drunken seal on every play helps his FT/FG rate as well.
  • Zero turnovers for the Lakers in the fourth quarter, but really, some of those Kobe Bryant shots should have counted as such.
  • The Lakers managed to win this game with a medicore performance from Bryant (and yes, 29 points on 29 shots is a pretty mediocre performance considering his play down the stretch), especially down the stretch. That’s huge. Because on the flip side, the Celtics were unable to win when Garnett responded. The Celtics still need 2 of the big 3 to show up if they want to win. Game 2 was an aberration in many respects. They have to get points from 2 of the Big 3.
  • It cannot be overstated how brilliant the offensive rebounding was for the Lakers tonight, and vital. The Lakers’ offense stuck in the mud and then dug its head in the sand like the ostrich it sometimes is, but those offensive rebounds provided redemption. That’s a huge element in a lower possession game like this.
  • Odom’s performance (5-5 for 10 points, 5 rebounds) wasn’t dominant by any means, but it didn’t need to be. Simply being efficient and aware is enough for the Lakers to get the separation they need sometimes. 
  • Ron Artest with only 23 minutes tonight. Perkins with only 21. Adjustments.
  • Game 4 is officially a must-win for the Boston Celtics. 
  • And, oh, yeah, that Derek Fisher guy is old and good and makes good old plays.

Heat’s Justise Winslow fined $15,000 for stepping on Embiid’s mask

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NEW YORK (AP) Miami’s Justise Winslow has been fined $15,000 by the NBA for attempting to damage Philadelphia center Joel Embiid‘s facemask during Game 3 of their playoff series.

Winslow intentionally stepped on Embiid’s mask after it had fallen onto the court with 7:51 remaining in the second quarter of the 76ers’ 128-108 victory on Thursday night.

The NBA cited Winslow for unsportsmanlike conduct in announcing the penalty Friday.

Embiid was wearing the mask for the first time after returning from a 10-game absence caused by a broken orbital bone around his left eye.

Philadelphia leads the series 2-1. Game 4 is Saturday.

Defense found: Bucks overwhelm Celtics for 116-92 win

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Khris Middleton scored 23 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 19 and the Milwaukee Bucks used a dominating first half to overwhelm the Boston Celtics 116-92 on Friday night, narrowing their deficit in the first-round playoff series to 2-1.

Eric Bledsoe and Jabari Parker each added 17 for the energized Bucks, who held the Celtics without a field goal for nearly an 11-minute stretch of the first half.

Milwaukee found its defense after a disheartening 14-point loss in Game 2, getting contributions from up and down the roster.

Backup center Thon Maker scored 14 points and had five of the Bucks’ 12 blocks. Pesky guard Matthew Dellavedova, a veteran of a championship run with the Cleveland Cavaliers, helped hold young Celtics point guard Terry Rozier to nine points on 2-of-7 shooting.

“The activity, if you take the stat sheet out of it, the activity and the energy that we brought … as you go through the game, that’s what you need, is the energy first,” coach Joe Prunty said.

Al Horford scored 16 for the Celtics, who fell behind by 23 at halftime and got no closer than 76-62 with 3:06 left in the third quarter on Jayson Tatum‘s 3-pointer.

The game was so well in hand that the Bucks closed out the victory even with Antetokounmpo on the bench for much of the fourth quarter with five fouls. Middleton had eight points in the fourth.

Game 4 is Sunday in Milwaukee. The Celtics will need to get off to a much better start if they want to avoid going home for Game 5 with a 2-2 series tie.

“We got into a hole. This is new for our group,” Horford said. “They had it going … and we really didn’t have an answer for them tonight.”

Milwaukee hustled for loose balls and stayed active around the paint, used its length to get deflections and disrupt Boston in the lane.

The 7-foot-1 Maker, in particular, provided a huge boost to help Milwaukee counter what had been a decisive edge off the bench for the Celtics. Maker got extended minutes only because starting center John Henson missed the game with a sore back.

Nearly everything else went Milwaukee’s way, too.

Parker, who voiced displeasure this week after playing just 24 minutes over the first two games, was 7 of 12 from the field and played 30 minutes. Bledsoe, outplayed by Rozier in the first two games, shot 8 of 13.

“Good win, lots of positives tonight. Quick turnaround … so we’ll have to do it again on Sunday,” Prunty said.

 

Wizards show some fight, top Raps 122-103, get series to 2-1

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WASHINGTON (AP) — All of about 2 1/2 minutes into the game, Washington forward Markieff Morris and Toronto’s OG Anunoby needed to be separated after a near-fight that drew in other players.

Early in the third quarter Friday night, Raptors guard Kyle Lowry was called for a flagrant foul when he swiped a hand across Bradley Beal‘s forehead as the Wizards guard went in for a breakaway layup. Later in that period, things really came close to spiraling out of control, but John Wall‘s bodyguard interceded when Washington’s All-Star jawed with Toronto’s Serge Ibaka.

As that scene unfolded on the court, spectators directed “U-S-A! U-S-A!” chants at the opponents from Canada, and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” blared over the arena’s speakers. Amid all the ruckus, Beal and Wall kept their heads and helped the Wizards pull further and further away for a 122-103 victory.

What was once a dull, lopsided series is suddenly quite interesting.

Beal heeded his coach’s plea to “do his job” by scoring 21 of his 28 points in the first half, Wall delivered 28 points and 14 assists, and the eighth-seeded Wizards cut their Eastern Conference first-round playoff deficit to 2-1.

“We’re not going out to try to box every game,” Beal said, before describing Morris as “a bully with a smile.”

Added Beal: “We came out tonight with an edge about ourselves.”

After letting the Raptors grab the first 2-0 series lead in franchise history, the Wizards came home and checked off every box coach Scott Brooks presented. They got Beal more involved after he made only three shots in Game 2; they actually led after the first quarter, 30-29; they produced 19 turnovers that led to 28 points.

“They came out and punched us,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “And we allowed them to.”

He meant that figuratively, of course, but the choice of words sure seemed apt.

The Raptors did appear to take the worse of the physical nature of the game.

DeMar DeRozan, who led Toronto with 23 points, wore a Band-Aid under his right eye afterward. Reserve Pascal Siakam held a bag of ice over a cut on his lip that required three stitches.

“Ain’t nobody fighting out here,” said Lowry, who had 19 points and eight assists. “I mean, it got physical, but ain’t nobody fighting. It’s a heated moment, but that’s the game of basketball.”

Each team boasts a pair of elite, All-Star guards. This time, Washington’s pair came out on top.

The start initially had the look of “Here we go again,” as Toronto moved ahead 27-18. The Raptors, after all, outscored Washington by an average of 11 points in the first period over Games 1 and 2. But this time, Washington responded with a 12-point run capped by Beal’s 3 with under a minute left.

Beal scored 12 in the quarter a day after he, Wall and Brooks met to discuss ways to get Beal more involved in the offense. Entering Friday, Beal was averaging only 14 points in the playoffs, well below his 22.6 average during the regular season.

“We need both our guys to step up,” Brooks said about Beal and Wall. “It was good tonight.”

 

Pacers erase 17-point deficit to take 2-1 lead over Cavs

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic scored 30 points, leading the Indiana Pacers back from a 17-point halftime deficit for a 92-90 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night for a 2-1 lead in their first-round series.

Cleveland was 39-0 during the regular season when leading after three quarters and kept that perfect mark intact with a Game 2 win.

The incredible second-half charge came exactly one year after Indiana blew a 26-point halftime lead in a historic playoff collapse against the Cavs.

This time, the Pacers delivered a devastating blow to the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs – on a night LeBron Jones joined Michael Jordan as the only players in playoff history to record 100 double-doubles. James finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Cleveland from losing its first game this season after leading following the third quarter.

The biggest reason for the collapse: Bogdanovic.

After charging back with striking distance, he completed a four-point play to finally give the Pacers an 81-77 lead with 6:10 left. Bogdanovic followed that with another to make it as seven-point game.

Then James answered with the next seven to tie it.

Bogdanovic came right back with a layup and another 3 before Thaddeus Young scored to give the Pacers a 91-84 cushion with 53 seconds left.

James knocked down a 3 to cut the deficit to four, and the Cavs got another 3 from Kevin Love with 7 seconds left to make it 91-90.

Darren Collison made 1 of 2 free throws with 5 seconds left, giving Cleveland one more chance. But J.R. Smith‘s long desperation heave came up short..