NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 5: Rajon Rondo may actually be a weakpoint?

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rrondo_odom.jpgRajon 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.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin: ‘We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says’

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The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.

Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.

He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):

We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.

The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.

But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.

Not that Lin cares what I say.

Check out Top 10 blocks from Summer League (VIDEO)

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When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.

But there were some great blocks.

Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.

 

Memphis Grizzlies sign former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies have signed former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, a second-round pick in last month’s NBA draft.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Brooks was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 45th overall pick. The Grizzlies acquired him in exchange for a future second-round pick.

Brooks, 21, averaged 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior at Oregon last season. He was named the Pac-12 player of the year and helped Oregon earn its first Final Four berth since 1939.

 

Report: Even after Kyrie Irving requests trade, Carmelo Anthony still focused on Rockets, not Cavaliers

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Carmelo Anthony was reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Rockets or Cavaliers. Cleveland never seemed overly interested, but Houston was. Anthony became set on the Rockets, even reportedly expecting a trade to Houston.

Then, Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavs.

That has thrown everything for a loop. Maybe Cleveland is more keen on trading for Anthony now? The Knicks are reportedly interested in trading Anthony and draft picks for Irving.

But any deal still depends on Anthony’s approval, and it’s now unclear he’d still grant that for the Cavaliers.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

However, a source close to Anthony said late Friday that the All Star forward is focused on getting a deal done with Houston.

Consider this another indication LeBron James will leave Cleveland next summer. Of course, Anthony might have other reasons for preferring Houston. But when reading tea leaves on LeBron’s future, this is a clue.

I doubt LeBron has completely decided his plan, and he hasn’t even necessarily shared his thinking with Anthony, a close friend. Remember, LeBron edited his coming-home essay while on a flight with an unknowing Dwyane Wade, another close friend. But it was one thing for LeBron to strand Wade in Miami, a desirable city where Wade was happy even before LeBron arrived. It’d be something else entirely for LeBron to ditch Anthony in Cleveland. If LeBron is considering leaving, maybe he’d tell Anthony to stay clear.

Anthony could also be operating without hearing directly from LeBron. But if LeBron’s friend believes LeBron might leave, that’d still say something (though obviously not as much).

Back to the possibility that Anthony prefers the Rockets for other reasons. What happens if New York and Cleveland agree to a trade? Does Anthony still hold out for his top choice? Or does he relent and accept what was once his second choice? For now, it seems as if he’s still angling for Houston and will cross other bridges if he reaches them.