NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 4: Blogbook drools like a Big Baby

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A collection of thoughts on Lakers-Celtics Game 4…

  • If Glen Davis is a Drunken Seal, tonight was the big show at Sea World and everyone clapped for him. Davis was a beast, and his ability to create shots against the Lakers’ bigs was pretty much the difference in the game. Davis’ emotion seems like a caricature of itself at times, but tonight it also served as the ripcord to kickstart the Celtics’ motor. Offensive rebounds aren’t easy to come by against the Lakers, and Davis got four of them. It was his yelling and screaming that brought the crowd back into it and the Celtics fed off that. It’s the circle of life, really.
  • Andrew Bynum is the difference. I don’t know how else to put it. I could talk about the rebounding, but that leaves out the defense. I could talk about the defense, but that leaves out the drop-off pass work. I could talk about the dump pass buckets, but then… you get the point. The weird thing has been that you can’t noticeably see the effect of the knee injury. He seems healthy on the floor, but is obviously telling the trainers something. You have to think Jackson yanked back on Bynum’s minutes tonight to give him time to rest up for a pivotal Game 5. It fits with Jackson’s M.O. They need him more than any other player outside of Pau and Bryant for Game 5.
  • Paul Pierce’s ability to get space returned tonight, and not a moment too soon. Pierce’s step back elbow jumper is one of the most central parts of the Boston attack and it’s been silent in the Finals until tonight, when Pierce got it going at several points on his way to 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting. He had 5 turnovers, but you’ll gladly take that if it means he’s being aggressive with the ball. Artest got clipped on screens tonight and didn’t have the same tenacity to peel off them as he did in Game 3.
  • Rajon Rondo is off. Don’t know if it’s the muscle spasms or the defensive switches and pull-outs to the free throw line, but something’s not right. He’s not dictating the tempo nor the offense the way he has throughout the playoffs. Just three assists for him tonight, and the layups. Ye Gods, the layups. Kid got enough iron to form Optimus Prime. Rondo had a .62 points created per possession used mark tonight, That’s a fairly terrible figure and one that the Celtics need to find a remedy for. As well as Derek Fisher has been playing, Rondo should still be getting his.
  • Rasheed Wallace’s outburst after a questionable third quarter foul call while defending Kobe Bryant (after some terrific perimeter defense by Tony Allen to force him inside) was perhaps the longest single stream of obscenities in the history of network television.
  • That said, Sheed did manage to have more good plays than bad, particularly the late arcing three he drained that helped fuel a massive Celtic run.
  • The Lakers have to consider this somewhat of a letdown game, considering they had a nine point lead, Rondo didn’t go off, Allen didn’t go off, and Garnett was contained. More and more it feels like whichever bench contributes more decides who wins the game.
  • Luke Walton, zero minutes. Huh? After a Game 3 where he came up huge with hustle and savvy, Walton gets a DNP-CD tonight, with no official explanation regarding an injury. You have to think his back injury must be worse than they let on, because the Lakers needed a jump and Walton would have been a perfect candidate. Even if he would have allowed more damage from Paul Pierce, he may have helped out the offense which the Lakers desperately needed.
  • Pau Gasol had 44 minutes tonight, and still didn’t see the ball enough. 21 points on 13 shots and you still feel like they left a few bullets in the chamber with Gasol. He had one particularly terrific play where he went baseline, managed to worm space and create a bank shot that was straight out of the Tim Duncan playbook. Gasol’s brilliance continues to shine, even as the Laker offense underrates him.
  • Anyone else think Andrew Bynum’s going to play a ton of Starcraft II when he’s recovering from knee surgery in five weeks?
  • Nate Robinson is everything Stephon Marbury was supposed to be that wasn’t. The fiery former Knick who comes off the bench at point guard and produces points.
  • Bryant is struggling in the fourth quarter in this series, putting in heavy minutes then finding even tighter defense in the closing minutes. He scored 12 in the 4th tonight through sheer will power.  He’s probably due for an outright explosion, but it’s a trend worth noting as the series continues. That said, some of his shots were pure perfection tonight. 

Kyrie Irving feels validated after hitting game-winning shot to bring title to Cleveland

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Back in July during the pre-Olympics USA Camp in Las Vegas, I asked Kyrie Irving what had changed for him, what was different for him after winning an NBA title. His answer was about the doors it opened, the possibilities that suddenly felt available to him. A month after winning the title he still seemed a little overwhelmed by the experience, and he hadn’t fully processed it yet. Which is completely understandable.

Now, as training camp is set to open for the Cavaliers and their defense of that title, Irving clearly has gotten used to being a champion — and he feels validated. Look at what he told Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Yes, my life’s changed drastically,” Irving told cleveland.com Saturday, during Irving’s friendship walk and basketball challenge downtown for Best Buddies, Ohio — an organization that gives social growth and employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“It’s kind of, you’re waiting for that validation from everyone, I guess, to be considered one of the top players in the league at the highest stage,” Irving said. “That kind of changed. I was just trying to earn everyone’s respect as much as I could.”

It’s amazing to think of the impact one shot — Irving’s three over Stephen Curry with 53 seconds left in Game 7 — can have. If he misses, there is less pressure on the Warriors to answer with a three, maybe they come down and get a bucket inside for two (one could argue they should have done that anyway rather than hunt for the three), from there maybe the Warriors win. If so, that could change everything from Kevin Durant‘s summer plans to what the Cavaliers’ roster looks like today — there’s a good chance Cleveland’s lineup would have changed if they lost to the Warriors two Finals in a row.

One shot can have that kind of impact on a player, too.

Kyrie Irving was one of the top five point guards in the NBA for a while, a score first guy but one who had some floor general in him and got some steals. A lot of time seemed to be spent focusing on his flaws defensively and passing. But with that shot, he feels validated. If he carries that confidence into next season, the Cavaliers just got better.

Check out top 50 plays from Kevin Garnett’s Hall of Fame career (VIDEO)

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First Kobe Bryant. Then Tim Duncan.

Now Kevin Garnett. The Hall of Fame class in five years is going to be stacked.

But before we move on from Garnett’s announcement this week that he is retiring after 21 years in the NBA, let’s look back at his greatest plays (compiled by the folks at NBA.com). Enjoy this for 11 minutes rather than watching your NFL fantasy team flounder. Again.

D’Angelo Russell said he used to play as Luke Walton on NBA 2K; Stephen Jackson calls that crap

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 30: D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during a news conference to discuss the controversy with teammate Nick Young before the start of the NBA game against the Miami Heat at Staples Center March 30, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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Did anyone ever fire up NBA 2K9 back in the day, decide to be the soon-to-be-champion Lakers, look at a roster with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom then say “I’m going to be Luke Walton”?

D'Angelo Russell says he did.

The Lakers young point guard has praised the new Laker coach at every turn — Russell and Byron Scott did not get along, the point guard is much happier now — and that includes talking about Walton’s playing days to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

“I told him I remember playing with him on (NBA) 2K; I used to always play as him. I’m a fan. I’m definitely a fan. Because he was a point forward. I can’t speak on Elgin Baylor and all those guys, but my era, I know he was a point forward.”

Really? NBA veteran and current analyst Stephen Jackson called Russell out on that.

Jackson has a point.

Report: No, J.R. Smith isn’t talking to Sixers

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 22: J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates with the fans during the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 championship victory parade and rally on June 22, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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What is with the ridiculous, unrealistic Philadelphia 76ers rumors of late? Last I checked recreational use was not legal in Pennsylvania. Not that the law is stopping anyone.

The latest silliness follows this logic:

This summer the Sixers made runs at veteran guards such as Jamal Crawford and Manu Ginobili (and they forced the Spurs to pay up for the Argentinian to keep him).

The Cleveland Cavaliers and J.R. Smith are in a staring contest, and Smith remains a free agent.

The Sixers have more than $22 million in cap space still.

So…

No. Not happening.

Or, we could have just asked Smith who has said he is not talking to other teams and doesn’t want to play anywhere but Cleveland.

I can get why Sixers management would want to bring a veteran and beloved, hard-working pro such as Ginobili in to lead and mentor a young team. Does Smith bring that same demeanor? I get that Smith in Cleveland has developed his game, and that he has matured and backed off his hard-partying ways (he gets a hall pass for the days after winning a championship), but is Smith the veteran you bring into a young locker room?

Can we move on from the ridiculous in Pennslyvania? Well, probably not until after the election, that is a battleground state.