Boston far from dead, but they better get well fast

17 Comments

This series is far, far from over.

Miami set the tone in Game 1. They got the big game they needed from Dwyane Wade, the Heat were more physical, the Heat bench stepped up and most surprisingly it was Boston players that lost their composure. (That said the second technical on Pierce was just bad — are you really going to start T’ing up every guy who swears at an opponent on the court?). Miami looked better, Boston looked dead.

But Boston has been dead before. It was just one year ago to the day when LeBron James and his Cavaliers dominated the second half (58-39) and won Game 1 at home of a second round series against Boston. Pundits started putting nails in the Celtics coffin.

We remember how that turned out.

Boston is not dead this time either. There is a lot of this series left and they have made it to the finals two of the last three years because they know how to adjust. And while they can take a couple positives from this game, they have a lot of work to do if they are going to win it.

For positives, Boston did a solid job keeping the Heat out of the paint. They even forced Dwyane Wade to take a lot of midrange shots, but he hit 6-of-12 from there (all from the left side of the court). LeBron got some tough shots to fall. Boston can hope that the Heat will not shoot that well from the midrange again. Boston also can do a better job contesting the three-point line and maybe not losing track of James Jones. Boston’s defense was not as good as it normally is and it had nothing to do with Kendrick Perkins. It was in areas the Celtics can improve.

On offense, Rajon Rondo must have a better game — him against the Heat point guards is the matchup the Celtics need to dominate. Rondo must have big games, but in Game 1 he basically played the Miami point guards to a standstill. That can’t happen, the Celtics offense goes as he goes.

Also, for a game Glen Davis was wrong — Miami’s bench was better. Much better. Boston’s bench shot 34.8 percent. The Heat’s bench has been playing pretty well through the playoffs and it had Jones in this game. Boston needs to swing that.

Boston can adjust. Boston can play a lot better. Its stars can play with more composure. They can be smarter.

They will have to. Miami has compiled a team of sharks, and they taste the blood in the water.

But don’t think Boston is done. Not yet.

PBT Extra: How big a threat are Pelicans to Warriors?

Leave a comment

Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans were the surprise of the first round of the NBA playoffs. We knew they were good, but they looked dominant on both ends sweeping the three-seed Portland Trail Blazers right out of the postseason (and into a somber period of reflection).

New Orleans looked like the best team in the West in the first round and now they take all that momentum to Golden State where… let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In this PBT Extra I discuss how the Pelicans have found an identity, but the matchups against Warriors are dramatically more challenging than what they saw in Portland. And that’s before Stephen Curry returns to the fold.

The Pelicans are a great story, but the pecking order in the West is real for good reason.

Nuggets’ Mason Plumlee undergoes surgery to fix core-muscle injury

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Leave a comment

DENVER — Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee underwent surgery to fix a core-muscle injury.

The team said Plumlee had the procedure performed Thursday morning by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia.

Plumlee is expected to return to basketball activities this summer and be ready for training camp in the fall. He averaged 7.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists for a Nuggets team that narrowly missed out on the postseason.

The 28-year-old Plumlee was acquired by Denver as part of a deal in February 2017 that sent center Jusuf Nurkic to Portland. Plumlee signed a three-year, $41 million deal with the Nuggets last September.

 

PBT Extra: Spurs many off-season questions start with Kawhi Leonard

Leave a comment

San Antonio has a lot of roster questions heading into this summer. When Danny Green opts out at $10 million a year, how much do they offer to bring back a key wing defender? What about Tony Parker, an unrestricted free agent? Will Manu Ginobili come back at age 78 41 for another season?

But at the top of the list: Can the Spurs relationship with Kawhi Leonard be repaired?

If so, do they trust his health enough to offer him the $219 million designated veteran max extension?

If not, do they test the trade market (likely we will know the answer to that around the draft, well before July 1)?

I get into all of it in this latest PBT Extra.

NBA makes it official: LeBron did goaltend on Oladipo’s final shot

Getty Images
11 Comments

Ultimately, this is moot. Nothing changes — not the critical last Pacers possession, not the fact LeBron James drained a three afterwards (and may well have anyway). All it provides is a little validation for frustrated Pacers fans and players.

Yes, LeBron did goaltend on Victor Oladipo‘s shot with 5.1 seconds remaining in what was then a tie game between the Pacers and Cavaliers. The NBA confirmed it in its Last Two Minute Report on Game 5 in that series. From the report.

“(Above the rim view) shows that James (CLE) blocks Oladipo’s (IND) shot attempt after it makes contact with the backboard.”

Oladipo called it goaltending. However, the officials didn’t call goaltending on the play, therefore it was not reviewable. Often on bang-bang plays like this one an official will call goaltending just to give themselves the chance to review it, but this crew did not (and that is a tough call to make accurately in real time).

From there, LeBron went on to hit the dramatic game-winning three that gave Cleveland the win and a 3-2 series lead.

The report also concluded that it was Thaddeus Young who knocked the ball out of bounds on the baseline with 27.6 seconds left, knocking the ball out of LeBron’s hands. The ball bounced on the line — and was therefore out, but the official didn’t call it — then bounced back up, hit LeBron on the arm and went clearly out of bounds. The referee called the second bounce after it hit LeBron. From the report:

“(Video) shows that Young (IND) deflects the ball away from James (CLE) and it lands out of bounds, but there is no whistle. The ball then bounces and hits James’ arm and lands out of bounds again, which is called. Possession of the ball is incorrectly awarded to the Pacers.”

One other note to Pacers fans: The goaltending call is not why Indiana lost. Oladipo shot 2-of-15 on the night. Darren Collison had a very an off night, was not aggressive, and was 1-of-5 shooting. There are a myriad of plays and decisions that go into a game, one blown call is not why the Pacers lost.

The question is can they regroup at home, get more secondary playmaking and buckets from someone other Oladipo, and can their defense force a Game 7? It can, but they have to put the end of Game 5 behind them first.