NBA finals, Lakers Celtics Game 7: Is losing Kendrick Perkins that big a deal?

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Thumbnail image for Perkins_hurt.jpgThey’re done for, right? Boston’s defense without Kendrick Perkins in the middle — that’s a donut. A donut the Lakers are eying like Homer Simpson. Right?

Not exactly.

If the Lakers could roll out a healthy Andrew Bynum then yes, no Perkins would likely mean a dunk fest. But Bynum is dragging around his own bum leg, and the Celtics have stopped fearing him on offense. Perkins had been helping off Bynum to Pau Gasol or any Laker driving the lane.

Bynum may now be matched up on a smaller defender to start the game, but he can’t really exploit that.

Gasol, on the other hand, is the one people see going off without Perkins pushing him around. But that’s not necessarily true. I watched all of Gasol’s shots after Perkins went out in Game 6 and — once you remove all the easy transition and offensive rebound buckets — he was 3 for 9 shooting.

He had a nice turnaround over Rasheed Wallace, and had a beautiful left-handed hook over Kevin Garnett at one point. But he also missed an in-the-key fade away over Big Baby as well as a quick a turnaround in the lane over him. He missed on one post up move on Garnett. The Celtics were able to push him off his spot.

What Perkins provided in the halfcourt others can provide — Sheed is long and can be a good post defender, Big Baby can provide that physical presence. Both can slow Gasol if Boston can keep the game in the half court.

Where Gasol can exploit any Celtics defender is if he beats them down the court in transition or they do not box him out on the boards. The Celtics without Perkins were very guilty of both of those last game. Both are also correctable mistakes, things that simply require focus.

The same rules apply to Lamar Odom — in the halfcourt he has struggled all series against Boston. But if he is allowed to get a rebound then run out and lead the break he is very dangerous. Boston needs to keep him caged.

More Sheed could be key in another way — his ability to shoot the three can pull Gasol out away from protecting the basket. He can open up the floor for the slashing drives of Rajon Rondo or Paul Pierce. Big men who can stretch the floor have been a problem for the Lakers all season.

Certainly Boston is going to be missing something without the fire of Perkins defending the paint. But for one game, against these Lakers, it does not have to be a championship-costing injury to the Celtics. If their other big men can execute.

NBA introducing 2-for-1 All-Star voting days

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The NBA changed its All-Star format this season from East vs. West to captain-picked teams (though still naming players equally from each conference).

That apparently wasn’t a big enough overhaul.

After including media and player votes last year, the league is making All-Star starter selection even more complex.

NBA release:

NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon will tip off with an early voting period exclusively on the NBA App and NBA.com beginning Thursday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.

Voting via all other channels, including Amazon Alexa for the first time, will launch on Monday, Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.

Additionally, new for this season, five “2-for-1 Days” will allow fans to have their votes count twice on Dec. 31, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 when voting through the NBA App and NBA.com, along with Sina Weibo and Tencent in China.  All “2-for-1 Days” will be designated 12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. ET.

TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, on Thursday, Jan. 18 during TNT NBA Tip-Off

The network will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET. 

The team rosters for NBA All-Star Game 2018 in Los Angeles will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.

I suppose this is to drum up interest on otherwise quiet voting days. After all, this is really just about the NBA selling itself.

But the All-Star voting process has always left something to be desired. I don’t see how this changes that.

Report: Lakers ‘longshot’ to sign LeBron James

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Preeminent NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski called it “likelyLeBron James would sign with the Lakers or Clippers next summer. The Clippers have since been somewhat debunked as a LeBron destination. There’s circumstantial evidence linking LeBron to Los Angeles.

Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

So imagining James’ last act coming in purple and gold isn’t without basis. But as of now, it’s also a longshot, according to league sources.

Shelburne and Windhorst are highly credible. I doubt they’d report this without connected sources.

LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, and manager, Maverick Carter, have recently publicly downplayed the importance of Los Angeles to LeBron. That felt like a coordinated attack on the LeBron-Lakers rumors, and this fits as a continuation.

But why wage that campaign? To keep the Cavaliers focused while LeBron still plays for them, even if he might leave after the season? To lower expectations among the Lakers’ massive fan base, so as not alienate those people (potential customers of the many LeBron-connected brands) when LeBron inevitably signs elsewhere? Both could be true, but there’s obviously a difference between each driving LeBron’s camp.

DeMarcus Cousins barrels in for powerful putback dunk over Bucks (video)

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When DeMarcus Cousins builds up a head of steam like this… poor John Henson (and kind of Khris Middleton).

This helped the Pelicans pull away for a 115-108 win over the Bucks last night.

Enraged Jason Smith restrained from Mario Chalmers (video)

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During the Wizards’ win over the Grizzlies last night, Mario Chalmers tried to stop Jason Smith from shooting after Smith had been called for travelling. It’s a fairly common tactic, one pioneered by Kevin Garnett. Players don’t want their opponents to gain confidence by seeing the ball go through the net, even after play stops.

But Chalmers held onto Smith’s arm, and Smith took umbrage.

NBC Sports Washington:

I think it’s more likely, after halting Smith’s shot, Chalmers was trying to hold up Smith rather than yank him down. But I can’t know Chalmers’ intentions, and holding up a falling person by his arm isn’t very effective.

The double technical foul called seems about fair.