Rajon Rondo has arguably been the MVP of the playoffs up until the Finals. He has been brilliant, dominant at both ends of the floor. He’s been so good that smart, reasonable people, like myself, lost their minds and actually started wondering if Rondo was the best point guard in the league.
And he’s been severely limited by such a simple element of basketball. Free throws.
ESPN’s Chris Forsberg reports in the Daily Dime that Doc Rivers has started wondering if Rondo’s lack of aggressiveness in going to the rim against Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum is due to his 26.7% free throw shooting in the Finals. Worse than 30% for a point guard. Yeesh. From Doc’s mouth to your eyes:
“Just in Game 3, I thought was the only game,” said Rivers. “I thought
he just tended not to drive more. But I thought he went right back to
it. So that’s how much he’s grown. A year ago or two years ago, that may
have been the last layup of the series and [Thursday] night in the
third quarter he came out, he was aggressive, he was attacking, and
that’s who he has to be.”
Rivers says he responded in Game 4 and that he expects Rondo to go back to his dominant ways for the rest of the series. But with that in mind, the Lakers have done a good job of distributing fouls, and with this in mind, they’re likely to lower the boom on Rondo if he enters the paint.
On the flip side, if Rondo starts knocking them down, it’s only going to fuel his efforts. Once Rondo slices and dices the Lakers a few times by getting and-ones or converting both free throws, it’s going to force them to adjust to him. And that’s where the Celtics will get what they’ve been looking for, open looks for the Big 3. That’s the best model for them to win this series. Force the Lakers to adapt to their offense and then torch them with their advanced weaponry. Heart and perseverance will take you a long way but not to the title.
Rondo can be the deciding factor in this series for the Celtics. But he’s got to knock them down at the stripe.
HOUSTON (AP) Stephen Curry scored 32 points, Klay Thompson had 25 and the Golden State Warriors built a big lead early and held on for a 113-106 win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.
The Warriors scored 37 points in the first quarter and never trailed on the way to their eighth straight victory and 60th this season.
Golden State led by eight after a pair of free throws by Curry with just over three minutes left. Patrick Beverley countered with a tip-in layup for Houston, then was fouled when he was knocked to the ground on a screen by Draymond Green seconds later.
James Harden missed a layup on the next possession before Green added a shot on the other end to put the Warriors up 107-99.
Another layup miss by Harden followed, and Curry made a 3-pointer with 1:46 left to send fans streaming to the exits.
There was a scary moment during the matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets on Tuesday night. During a change of possession, Houston’s Trevor Ariza and and Golden State’s James Michael McAdoo got tangled up and fell together on the floor.
McAdoo was under Ariza and wound up getting his head slammed into the hardwood. He was immediately taken off the floor and sent to the locker room.
The NBATV broadcast said McAdoo received stitches but did not test positive for a concussion. He is averaging 8.7 minutes, 2.9 points, and 1.7 rebounds per-game for the Warriors.
Jusuf Nurkic did not enjoy his time as a member of the Denver Nuggets. His trade to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Mason Plumlee was a welcome change of scenery.
On Tuesday night, Nurkic got to take on his old team with huge playoff implications at stake. Portland beat the Nuggets, 122-113, moving a game ahead of their rivals in the race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and giving them the best tiebreaker between the two.
Nurkic was impressive, blasting his old squad with 33 points on 12-of-15 shooting, adding 16 rebounds, three blocks, and two assists.
Nurkic was interviewed in the arena after the game, and he was obviously happy he helped his team while also sticking it to Denver. Speaking with Portland reporter Brooke Olzendam, Nurkic took one last shot at the Nuggets, telling them to enjoy their summer.
Nurkic quite possibly sent the Nuggets packing for the year with the game at the Moda Center on Tuesday, so he might have been the guy who helped start their summer.
Still, that is ice cold.
Miami Heat forward James Johnson is one of the NBA’s best in-game dunkers. On Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons, he yammed down a huge one-handed slam that embarrassed Marcus Morris and drew gasps from the crowd at the Palace.
The play came midway through the fourth quarter with Johnson at the top of the key. After a quick pass over to him, Johnson gave a quick hesitation before driving to his left and past his defender.
With the quick step, Johnson’s only remaining opponent at the basket was Morris, who was unfortunate enough to find himself between the high-flying Heat and the rim.
This is what happened next:
Morris was whistled for a foul on the play.