Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Two

NBA Playoffs: Shaq is back, but Boston needs more


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.

Gordon Hayward goes behind Jordan Clarkson’s back with dribble

Gordon Hayward, Nick Young
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Utah’s Gordon Hayward abused the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson on this play.

First, Hayward reads and steals Clarkson’s poor feed into the post intended for Kobe Bryant, then going up the sideline he takes his dribble behind Clarkson’s back to keep going. It all ends in a Rudy Gobert dunk.

Three quick takeaways here:

1) Gordon Hayward is a lot better than many fans realize. He can lead this team.

2) It’s still all about the development with Clarkson, and that’s going to mean some hard lessons.

3) Hayward may have the best hair in the NBA, even if it’s going a bit Macklemore.

(Hat tip reddit)

Could Tristan Thompson’s holdout last months? Windhorst says yes.

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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VIZZINI: “So, it is down to you. And it is down to me.”
MAN IN BLACK nods and comes nearer…
MAN IN BLACK: “Perhaps an arrangement can be reached.”
VIZZINI: “There will be no arrangement…”
MAN IN BLACK: “But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.”

That farcical scene from The Princess Bride pretty much sums up where we are with the Tristan Thompson holdout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, minus the Iocane powder. (Although that scene was a battle of wits in the movie and this process seems to lack much wit.) The Cavaliers have put a five-year, $80 million offer on the table. Thompson wants a max deal (or at least a more than has been offered), but he also doesn’t want to play for the qualifying offer and didn’t sign it. LeBron James just wants the two sides just to get it done.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN thinks LeBron could be very disappointed.

Windhorst was on the Zach Lowe podcast at Grantland (which you should be listening to anyway) and had this to say about the Thompson holdout:

“I actually believe it will probably go months. This will go well into the regular season.”

Windhorst compared it to a similar situation back in 2007 with Anderson Varejao, which eventually only broke because the then Charlotte Bobcats signed Varejao to an offer sheet. Thompson is a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavaliers can match any offer, but only Portland and Philadelphia have the cap space right now to offer him a max contract. Neither team has shown any interest in doing so.

And so we wait. And we may be waiting a while.