Celtic defector Tom Thibodeau reflects on the Shaq signing

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Thibodeau.jpgTom Thibodeau will always have a special place in the Celtic lore. While he may not have been the physical manifestation of the Boston’s remarkable Championship-level defense or knocked down clutch shots, he was as much a part of the C’s 2007 title formula as anyone. As the architect of the team D that reintroduced the Celtics to greatness, Thibs has firmly established himself among a select group in “never-have-to-buy-your-own-drink-in-Boston-again…y’know-if-people-actually-knew-what-assistant-coaches-looked-like” territory. Ya dig?

So the fact that Thibodeau is the current head coach of the Chicago Bulls doesn’t preclude him from weighing in on all things Celtics. He’s still a valued perspective among the Boston faithful, and he has enough of both a basketball and Celtic pedigree that when he speaks, the fans listen.

The floor is Thibodeau’s, from a spot on ESPN Radio via Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston, and the topic of conversation? Shaquille O’Neal: 

“It’s an interesting move,” said Thibodeau. “It’s a calculated risk. I
think there are things he brings to the table. I think the big thing is
with [Kendrick] Perkins being out until January, and you never know how
long it will take when he does come back, Perkins is a very underrated
player. I think he’s a huge key to the team defense. So I think what
they’re doing is trying to protect themselves until Kendrick can come
back.

“Shaq is a guy you can throw the ball to. He can still get a pretty
good shot up. His size is a factor. You start looking at their length
up front now. They added a couple 7-footers with Jermaine O’Neal. He really had a terrific season last season with Miami, so they added
some shot-blocking there. I think part of it is trying to hold the fort
until Kendrick can come back, but when he does come back, you’re going
to have three guys at the center position, so that could be tough.
I think he does add some things to their team.”

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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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

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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.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?