It’s not all that difficult to figure out how the Lakers won the NBA title while shooting an impressively awful 32.5% from the field. With the Laker bigs as active as ever on the offensive glass, L.A. managed 12 more field goal attempts and 20 more free throw attempts than the Celtics. Those are free possessions conjured by effort and size alone, and even if the possessions gained were used somewhat haphazardly, that’s still an outrageous amount of extra opportunities. Even if most were misses (and that they were), the few hits were enough for volume to win out.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the impact of Kendrick Perkins’ absence. Perk trailed only Kevin Garnett among the Celtics in defensive rebounding percentage this season (and by a slim margin at that; KG grabbed the defensive board 24.8% of the time while on the floor, and Perk got the rebound 24.4% of the time), and his size and rebounding abilities are even more important against a team like L.A.
It’s not quite as simple as pointing to Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis, either. They combined for 17 rebounds in a low-possession game, which is frankly even better than should be expected. The problem big for the Celtics turned out to Kevin Garnett, who not only failed to grab more than three boards of his own, but was clearly incapable of preventing Pau Gasol from grabbing offensive rebounds at will. The Spaniard finished the nine offensive boards without Garnett boxing him out properly or Perkins to clean up the mess, which is a bit of a problem.
Maybe Gasol still would have been a prolific offensive rebounder with Perkins on the court. After all, it’s not like Perk’s mere presence would make Garnett a better rebounder. Still, it’s tough to shake the feeling that Boston having another big body on the floor would make some kind of difference. If not one less offensive rebound of Gasol, then maybe one less for Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, or Ron Artest.
I don’t know, but one of those offensive rebounds — and especially one of the put-backs that followed — might have had an impact on the game. Y’know, considering the final stages of the fourth quarter teetered between a one-possession game and a two-possession game. Or that Boston was forced to take desperation threes and intentionally foul down the stretch. This was a tight enough game that every little bit counted. Even if Perkins wasn’t going to put up 20 and 10, he could at least be expected to do that much.
The Warriors let Briante Weber go (to the Hornets). Golden State wouldn’t do that without another third point guard lined up.
The likely replacement: Jose Calderon, who’s being bought out by the Lakers.
Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:
Calderon is in the process to be bought out by the Lakers, after which he will become a free agent. Once he clears waivers, the Warriors, according to multiple sources, will be waiting to offer a physical examination and a contract.
The 35-year-old Calderon hasn’t been good in a few years. He’s a major defensive liability, and his lack of burst makes it more difficult for him to capitalize on his remaining offensive skills: a smooth standstill jumper and acute passing.
But the Warriors won’t ask much of him, sticking him behind Stephen Curry and Shaun Livingston. Draymond Green can also be a de facto point guard, and so can Andre Iguodala.
Contending teams too often fill their deep bench with over-the-hill veterans whose experience make them seem reliable but are actually overwhelmed in the moment due to a lack of athleticism. Golden State made that mistake last year with Anderson Varajeao, who didn’t make a shot in 41 Finals minutes and was -9 in Game 7.
Calderon offers a much better chance of succeeding if pressed into a limited role. If he plays important minutes, he’ll bring a steady style, best he can still execute it.
But the Warriors better hope Calderon remains glued to the bench during the playoffs. That presents a far more dependable path to victory.
The 76ers could finish the season with the last No. 1 pick and the best rookie in years sidelined.
One one hand, Philadelphia should be thrilled that describes two players.
On the other hand, it’s not ideal to have so much talent injured.
No. 1 pick Ben Simmons is definitely out for the rest of the year. And it doesn’t sound encouraging for Joel Embiid, who has been hampered by a knee injury.
Joel Embiid on Monday will have an MRI on his injured left knee and is now listed as out indefinitely.
Embiid has been experiencing swelling and soreness in the left knee injury that has caused him to miss 16 out of the last 17 games. Bryan Colangelo announced back on Feb. 11 that Embiid has a minor meniscal tear. In his most recent press conference last Friday, Colangelo had targeted this Friday’s home game against the Knicks as a possibility for Embiid’s return. Now, that isn’t the case.
Embiid had been the biggest ray of hope for Philadelphia, but the 76ers shouldn’t chase watchability down the stretch. Sit Embiid until he’s fully healthy and secure the best draft position possible.
Maybe Embiid’s body just can’t handle the rigors of NBA basketball, but Philadelphia has no choice but to hope for the best with him and Simmons. And hope the nail the their first-round pick this year and get the Lakers’ first-rounder.
This could still be a dangerously good team in coming years. The Process created that potential.
But the threat of injury always looms around the corner, maybe especially so for Embiid.
And then there was Derrick Rose.
The Knicks’ big-name offseason acquisitions* are falling one by one.
New York is releasing Brandon Jennings. Now Joakim Noah is out.
*I’m not counting Courtney Lee, who is unknown to far too many casual fans.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Prepare for the talk next fall about Noah feeling refreshed and ready to help the Knicks.
But this surgery won’t reverse the underlying problem: Noah is a 31-year-old big man with heavy mileage. He can manage his knees, but it’s probably too late for him to regain enough athleticism to reliably contribute.
Just three years and $55 million+ remaining on his contract, which already looked like the NBA’s worst deal and is now even more unfavorable.
The Kings reportedly coveted Buddy Hield in last year’s draft. Once the Pelicans picked him No. 6, Sacramento traded down from No. 8.
Several months later, the Kings traded for him in the DeMarcus Cousins deal.
Kings owner Vivek Ranadive apparently communicated his intentions at the Pelicans’ two games in Sacramento this season.
Sean Cunningham of ABC 10:
Vivek always, every time — even the past two times — he always talk about, “We’re always pushing hard for you.” He said, “We’re still going to get you.” He kept saying that.
I was surprised with him saying that, but now, when I saw I was going to Sacramento, I said, “Oh, these guys are really serious about me.” I just kind of know they were determined about getting me.
This is wild!
Hield obviously doesn’t outright say the Kings’ front office rushed this trade through before the Cousins-loving owner, awestruck by the prospect of having the next Stephen Curry, changed his mind. But Hield’s statement runs right in line with all those rumors.
Even at face value, Ranadive’s words, assuming Hield is accurately conveying them, are something — especially for an owner who has denied much basketball involvement.
Sacramento is some kind of place.