NBA finals, Lakers Celtics Game 4: Should we expect more of L.A.'s 1-2 pick-and-roll?

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Thumbnail image for Fisher_Bryant.jpgOver the final six minutes of the fourth quarter in Game 3, the Lakers leaned rather heavily on an unconventional set: the 1-2 pick-and-roll, in which Kobe Bryant wold set a high screen for Derek Fisher (or sometimes vice-versa).

Some teams feature 1-2 pick-and-roll plays regularly in their offense, but it just isn’t a set that makes a ton of sense for the Lakers. For one thing, Fisher isn’t a point guard that can explode off of screens, mostly because at this stage in his career, he can’t really explode at all. Fish’s forays to the basket are typically thinly-veiled attempts to draw a foul and get to the line, and while there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, it’s not a go-to offensive sequence late in a close game.

The 1-2 is also a bit odd to see considering that Fisher’s shooting is typically only effective in spot-up situations. Derek just isn’t particularly good at creating his own shot off the dribble, even if he can knock down an open three with the best of them.

Game 3 was apparently a bit of an exception, as Fish hit a number of tough shots on the move in the game’s final minutes. A runner on the right wing, a pull-up on the left with contact, and a few prayers answered along the way; all of which are compelling reasons for the Lakers to be wary of going back to the 1-2 pick-and-roll extensively in Game 4, even if it was pretty successful on Tuesday.

It’s extremely unlikely that Fisher would be able to make those tough looks he hit in Game 3 if given another opportunity tonight, and you can bet the Celtics will be better prepared than they were last time around. So much of its effectiveness is predicated on Ray Allen’s inexperience defending screeners and Rondo’s experience with shot-blocking big men as his screen partner. Factor in Boston’s defensive changes in Game 4 and Fisher coming back to earth, and the 1-2 pick-and-roll seems like a relic of games past.

That is, unless Fisher and Bryant can flip the script on the 1-2, and use it to manufacture scoring opportunities for Kobe and the other Lakers. If the Celtics overcompensate to defend against Fisher’s scoring — which is a bit of a long-shot admittedly, as Doc Rivers will no doubt instruct his team to surrender more of those contested shots to Derek if it means keeping the ball out of Kobe’s hands — through instinctive rather than cerebral defending (the compulsion to run toward an open opponent with the ball can be overwhelming for some players), L.A. could again capitalize on the 1-2 pick-and-roll as an effective late-game strategy.

Report: 76ers sat Jahlil Okafor because they were close to Trail Blazers trade

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 26: Jahlil Okafor #8 of the Philadelphia 76ers controls the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Wells Fargo Center on October 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Thunder defeated the 76ers 103-97. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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The 76ers sat Jahlil Okafor for two games last week, openly acknowledging they were discussing trading him. Then, they played him in their final game before the All-Star break.

That prompted speculation that no deal fell through, but that Philadelphia was bluffing being close in order to drum up interest.

But maybe there actually was a near-trade.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

On the surface, this makes sense. We know the Trail Blazers were interested in a cost-controlled center, because they traded for Jusuf Nurkic.

But that trade also makes Portland perfect cover if the 76ers are just trying to deflect from a gambit gone wrong. Not only were the Trail Blazers plausible trade partners, they already made their deal. So, there will be no questions about revisiting discussions.

Locker room drama? Player recruitment? Paul Millsap, does that go on All-Star weekend? “Rarely ever”

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 17:  Paul Millsap #4 of the Atlanta Hawks speaks with the media during media availability for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans on February 17, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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NEW ORLEANS — Russell Westbrook vs. Kevin Durant spreading tension throughout the locker room. Players trying to convince Carmelo Anthony he should agree to a trade to their city. Players coming up and trying to recruit free agents to be this summer like the Hawks’ Paul Millsap.

It’s how some fans picture it is inside All-Star weekend locker rooms, all sorts of palace intrigue playing out like a soap opera.

“Rarely ever,” Millsap said of these kinds of things coming up. “For us, we get away from regular season basketball. It’s not about our respective teams, it’s about what’s going on now. You may share some stories, but we’re not talking about (regular season drama).”

Fans can be deeply invested in what happens during the regular season — heck, Eric Gordon heard boos from frustrated Pelicans fans before he won the Three-Point Contest Saturday.

But for the players, it’s a vacation. A chance to get away from all that drama.

“No, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter at all,” Millsap said of the regular season minutia that can dominate the league. “Once you get down here we’re all teammates. That’s how guys treat it. To get here, we’re enemies, but while we’re here everybody’s teammates and are fun to have in the locker room. It’s just a good time.”

They’re more likely to talk about the parties around town.

“Some,” Millsap said with a laugh. “But it’s just more general conversation, almost nothing about the season.”

Most of the recruitment comes in the summer, and most via text. Some players don’t like each other, just like nearly everyone reading this has someone at their office/job they don’t like working with (except me, all my bosses should be canonized they are such good people). Come the office Christmas Party, people put that aside and just get along. Same thing All-Star weekend for the players. Everyone just gets along and tries to enjoy the experience.

When play starts up again next week, the drama can return.

Draymond Green: ‘Shaqtin A Fool’ treats JaVale McGee unfairly

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) is greeted by forward JaVale McGee in the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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NEW ORLEANS — JaVale McGee has fired off at Shaquille O’Neal about “Shaqtin A Fool,” TNT’s blooper segment. Now, the oft-mocked Warriors center has someone else sticking up for him.

“I think JaVale is unfairly treated on Shaqtin,” Golden State forward Draymond Green said. “This year has given me a little different outlook on it.

“I just think there’s some stuff that goes on there about JaVale that really shouldn’t be on there. But, because it’s JaVale…”

That is true. McGee goofs that wouldn’t register if they were by other players make Shaqtin. But McGee still produce plenty of worthy candidates.

And it’s not as if Green is completely turned off.

“I like the show,” Green said. “It’s funny as hell to me. But that aspect of it has kind of given me a little different view.”

PBT Extra: Despite Russell Westbrook’s triple-double pace, James Harden is MVP frontrunner

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The NBA’s MVP race is down to two men. Sure, you can make a case for Kawhi Leonard or LeBron James, some even want to throw Isaiah Thomas in the mix, but the best any of them is going to do is down the ballot in the final three slots.

The top two are reserved for James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

In this PBT Extra, I discuss that while Westbrook is on pace for a historic season — averaging a triple-double of 31.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10.1 assists a game — it is Harden who is lifting his team to higher heights, and that very well could win the beard the award.