NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 6: Lakers bench arrives just in time

8 Comments

Something about home cooking. Does the bench body good.

There’s been a high level of complexity to the results of the NBA finals thus far. Everything from the Lakers’ ball movement to the Celtics rebounding have influenced the outcome. But a consistent factor in deciding these games has been the output of the respective benches. And in Game 6, along with their starting counterparts, the Lakers’ bench finally showed up.

In the Lakers’ three losses in this series, their bench has scored just 37 points. In their three wins? 62. And 25 of those points came in Game 6. Lamar Odom is the real fifth starter for the Lakers, but tonight Sash Vujacic (Machine!)’s 9 points, to go with Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown’s understated 8 points combined were a huge difference.

LA outscored the Celtics 25-13 in bench points, and still held a 17-13  advantage without Odom. That Odom decided to actually make an impact (though only scoring 8 points) was just a bonus.

Farmar and Brown, when motivated as they often are by a home crowd, provide defensive intensity and transition buckets. Perhaps nothing so encapsulated the Lakers’ night than Farmar’s diving recovery of a loose ball, feeding Bryant for a transition drive that led to a foul. It was a perfect example of the kind of play that the bench failed to make in Boston and that the Lakers desperately needed in Game 6.

The Celtics’ bench is all primary bigs outside of Nate Robinson, but with the three headed monster of Farmar, Brown, and veteran’s veteran Derek Fisher, the Lakers overwhelmed Rajon Rondo, who had another absolutely horrific game.

Maybe it’s the roar of the celebrity crowd, maybe it’s the sunny weather, maybe it’s just the realization that they were needed tonight (along with an entire team effort that swarmed the Celtics).  But whatever the reason, the Lakers’ bench stepped up tonight, and that’s part of the reason they get another game to make their final statement as to their importance on this top-loaded Lakers squad. If they play like they did tonight, they’ll have another ring as role players on a star studded team.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

Leave a comment

Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

7 Comments

Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

Getty Images
10 Comments

NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

Getty Images
Leave a comment

DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.