Shaquille O’Neal will be back in Game 3 for Boston.
Probably for about 10 minutes, 15 tops. There are questions about how effective he can be as he has not really played since January. And the Heat have said when he is on the floor they are going to try to run on everything because they don’t think he can keep up.
In a best-case scenario for Boston, for around a quarter of the game Shaq’s offense can make the Heat pay for their small lineup with Joel Anthony at center.
That is not enough.
Boston is going to need to get a great game out of Rajon Rondo, which in part means they need to get more out of the pick-and-roll. Miami has backed off that play, given Rondo room and he has not made them pay with either a jumper or a drive that leads to an assist. It has to. Also, the Paul Pierce with Garnett pick-and-roll has led to nothing either (except Heat defensive traps and some poor ball movement by Boston). That has to change.
And that aggressive (except on Rondo) pick and roll defense has been key for the Heat, if they can keep it up they can win in Boston. But will the Celtics feel more comfortable and will the shots fall for them in the Garden?
Boston also needs Kevin Garnett to do more than play Chris Bosh to a standstill. If one team can win that battle, they will have a huge advantage.
Boston is going to need a complete game from all their key players — they are not the more athletic team in this series and so far their veteran savvy has not made up for it. Starting today it will or Boston will join the Lakers on playoffs death row.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.
On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.
But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.
Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.