NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 6: Blogbook thinks the C's have 'Tremors'

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kobeyelll.jpgA collection of thoughts on Lakers-Celtics Game 6…

  • You’re all familiar with “Tremors“, right? Classic mid-90’s comedy horror film about gigantic sand-worm-like creatures that come up from the ground and suck people into the earth, eating them? Yeah, the Lakers were a lot like that tonight.

  • They overwhelmed Boston from the beginning, and you could see why. All their defensive lapses were gone. Most telling was actually their perimeter defense, not their interior, surprisingly. The Lakers simply cut off all the angles, getting back to their style of using their insanely long limbs to interfere with passing lanes and obstruct vision, constantly forcing resets of the offense on the perimeter.

  • When the Celtics did manage penetration, they had to slide past the first defender and over the second. Just as the Lakers’ defense is supposed to work. No drive and kick opportunities were available with weakside help coming from the perimeter, essentially trapping the ball mid-air.
  • Now, all of that on its own isn’t enough for this kind of blowout. The Lakers got help from the Gods. Celtics don’t miss layups. Celtics don’t settle for long range jumpers early in shot clock, and Sasha Vujacic does not shoot 50% from the field. These things do not happen without divine intervention. But then again, the same can be said for the Shrek and Donkey game, for Pau Gasol going MIA, and for the Ron Artest zaniness (well, the last one, maybe not). Things go both ways in a seven game series. That’s why it goes seven.

  • The momentum did shift way too much for Boston to be comfortable tonight. There’s the feeling of “we let them get this one” and then there’s “they stole our lunch money, pushed us in a puddle, sprained our center’s knee, and then spat on us.” And the Lakers spat and spat. They’re now lacking interior depth with Perkins potentially out, struggling from the field again, turnover prone, and looking overwhelmed by a home crowd that, very honestly, has never been all that good. But they were loud tonight, and fed off the Lakers run. If there’s anything that will get the Staples crowd to care (besides tacos), it’s beating the crap out of the Celtics.
  • Here’s a fun one. Here is the combined, sum percentage for Rajon Rondo’s field goal percentage, three point percentage, and free throw percentage. 33%. Combined. 0-1 from 3-point land, 0-2 from the stripe. 10 points, 6 assists, and an absolutely horrible night, encapsulated by the missed dunk of his in the third quarter. If it wasn’t over (and it was over), it was over, then.
  • Pau Gasol is alive, and back to being dominant. Those assists are so vital. Working out of the high post, whipping cut passes, overreaching down low, tossing off easy ones, the Spaniard had the whole thing going. Just a brilliant performance, one worthy of the crowd. Or Oklahoma City’s. Somewhere loud and on time.
  • Bryant took 19 shots but also had 9 rebounds, and worked in the flow of the game. He passed to open teammates, working to create high quality shots, and didn’t try and take the game over. A performance worthy of his soon to be Finals MVP trophy.
  • Seriously. Up from the ground. Ate them alive.

PBT Podcast: Celtics win over Warriors, all things Boston with A. Sherrod Blakely

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The Boston Celtics are for real.

In case you had any doubts, they ran their streak to 14 wins in a row by coming from 17 down – twice — to beat the Golden State Warriors. The Celtics have the best defense in the NBA, and it threw the Warriors off their game, something few teams have been able to do over the past few years.

Kurt Helin welcomes in A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston to talk about what this win means to the Celtics, why their defense is so good, how Kyrie Irving is fitting in, how young stars such as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are rising up, and what is the deal with Marcus Smart. Also, there is a lot of Brad Stevens love.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Grizzlies’ Mike Conley out at least two weeks with sore heel, Achilles

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Injuries are already starting to shape the playoff chase in the West — Rudy Gobert is out for at least a month in Utah, and the Clippers have lost six in a row as they battle injuries to three starters.

Now add the Memphis Grizzlies to the mix.

Mike Conley, the point guard who, along with Marc Gasol, is crucial to Memphis’ success, will be out at least two weeks to rest a sore left heel and Achilles, the team announced Friday. He could be out longer, Conley has had issues with this Achilles before, the team will want to be cautious, and by far the best treatment is rest.

Conley averages 17.1 points per game, is a great floor general running the offense, and is a quality defender at the point.

Memphis is 7-7 on the season and tied with Oklahoma City for the final playoff slot in the West, but the Grizzlies have dropped six of their last eight. What’s more, they are entering a gauntlet part of the schedule without Conley: Their next game is against Houston, then Portland, and in the next 10 they have the Nuggets, Cavaliers, Timberwolves, and Spurs (twice). The danger is they fall far enough back from the playoff chase they struggle to catch up again.

Expect to see a lot more Tyreke Evans, who has been strong as a sixth man but now will have much more asked of him. Also, more playmaking duties will fall to Gasol, working out of the elbow, and both Chandler Parsons and Mario Chalmers will get the ball in their hands. The question is what do they do with it.

Stephen Curry, was Warriors/Celtics a Finals preview? “Very, very likely, right?”

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The Golden State Warriors remain the prohibitive favorite to win the NBA title.

Thursday night, the Boston Celtics earned some validation that they belong in the conversation. Using a stymieing defense that threw off the vaunted Warriors offense, Boston came from 17 down in the third quarter to beat the Warriors.

With the Cavaliers stumbling out of the gate, does this make the Warriors/Celtics game a Finals preview? Stephen Curry (who was 3-of-14 shooting with four turnovers on the night) said yes, as you can see in the NBC Sports Bay Area video above.

“Very, very likely, right?” Curry said. “They’re playing the best right now in the East. Obviously, they need to beat Cleveland, who’s done it three years in a row. We’ll see, but I heard the weather’s great here in June.”

The weather in Boston is great for a short window in the spring, then the humidity kicks in. But that’s not the point.

I came into this season thinking the Celtics were a year away still, and when Gordon Hayward went down it strengthened that belief. But this team is a contender now — they are far better defensively than expected, and young players Jaylen Brown (22 points against the Warriors) and Jayson Tatum have stepped up more than expected. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford have developed a fast chemistry. And Brad Stephens is proving he is in the very upper echelon of NBA coaches.

It’s not even Thanksgiving, talk of the NBA Finals is premature. Curry is right, the Celtics still have to go through LeBron James and his Cavaliers to reach the Finals, which will not be easy.

Still, June basketball in Boston seems like a real possibility again.

Report: Momentum building toward ending one-and-done rule

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“My sense is it’s not working for anyone. It’s not working certainly from the college coaches and athletic directors I hear from. They’re not happy with the current system. And I know our teams aren’t happy either in part because they don’t necessarily think that the players are coming into the league are getting the kind of training that they would expect to see among top draft picks in the league.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that during the NBA Finals last year about the one-and-done rule for players trying to enter the NBA — they can’t be drafted by NBA teams for one season after their high school class graduates, so the best players go to college for one season (and most go to classes for less than that). As Silver said, nobody really likes the system, but it was the compromise struck between the owners (who would like to raise the draft age to 20 or higher) and the players’ union (who want the draft age at 18, as soon as guys come out of high school).

However, momentum is building to change the rule, something we have written about before and now is gaining more traction, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

With momentum gathering to reshape the one-and-done draft entry rule, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts met with the new Commission on College Basketball in Washington on Thursday, league sources told ESPN….

Nevertheless, there’s a growing belief within the league that Silver’s desire to end the one-and-done — the ability of college basketball players to enter the NBA draft after playing one year in college — could be pushing the sport closer to high school players having the opportunity to directly enter the league again. For that change to happen, though, the union would probably need to cede the one-and-done rule and agree to a mandate that players entering college must stay two years before declaring for the draft.

While the NBA and players’ union will talk to the NCAA about their plans, ultimately the college body has no say in what the NBA draft and eligibility rules are.

The best players of their generations came straight to the NBA out of high school — Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, and others —  however, what bothered owners were the misses in the draft. There were busts, and owners/GMs want to reduce as much risk as they can in the draft (even though there are busts on guys who they saw plenty of in college, hello Michael Olowokandi).

NBA teams are now better suited to develop players than they were a couple of decades ago — every team has an assistant coach focused on just that. The best teams in the NBA right now — Golden State, Boston, San Antonio — are the best at developing players. That’s not a coincidence, and it has teams copying (or attempting to) what the successful ones do. Combine that with the growth of the G-League and teams growing their understanding how to use it, and they are better positioned to draft a player out of high school and develop him over time than they ever have been.

 

There are still a lot of questions and hurdles. If a player declares for the draft and has an agent, but isn’t drafted (or even isn’t drafted in the first round, so no guaranteed contract) will he have the option to come to college for two (or three) years anyway? Will the NCAA allow that? And Silver has talked before about the changes in the draft needing to reflect changes in how we develop players down to the AAU level, which is its own complex set of problems.

It’s not moving quickly, but these are steps in the right direction. One-and-done doesn’t work well for anyone. The college baseball style rule (go straight to the pros or spend three years in college in that sport’s case) isn’t perfect, but it’s better than the system in place. There seems to be momentum toward change. Finally.