Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Three

NBA Playoffs: The Miami Heat show their ugly side in Game 3 vs. Celtics

10 Comments

Welcome back the Miami Heat we have mocked and derided all season. We’re glad you could visit after the impressive, competent team that has inhabited your body for eight weeks. They were no fun at all, what with their championship aspirations and focused intensity.

The Boston Celtics rediscovered themselves in Game 3 on Saturday, as they got back to what they do best, hitting big shots and shutting off the opponent’s airflow defensively. But for the time being, let’s shelve Rajon Rondo’s heroic performance, Boston’s stellar defense, and Kevin Garnett eating Chris Bosh alive alone for a second. Actually, you know what? Let’s start there, but on the flip side.

Remember those halcyon days of the first round when Bosh was facing inferior defenders and could thrive at the elbow? Yeah, neither does he. Bosh admitted after the game that he had a bad game, as if six points, five rebounds, one assist and two turnovers with a blocked shot begins to describe how pitiful he was in this game. Garnett turns 35 in 12 days. However, if Garnett can figure out a way to transfer Bosh’s pride into physical years of life, he’s going to last longer than Indiana Jones. Garnett ruined Bosh in Game 3 as he has throughout the matchup in the regular season and playoffs. Bosh’s 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting in Game 2 feels like a relic. There was simply no way to describe how badly Garnett shook and baked Bosh in the block. The rebounding, the works. But, hey, maybe Bosh would have produced more had the ball moved at all on offense.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, when moving through the flow of the offense, are a deadly combination. James and Wade, when freezing the offense with over-dribbling, head fakes, and isolation, always isolation, are just as thoroughly inept as any bottom-feeding lottery squad. Guess which team showed up in Game 3?

In the continuing evolution of the question of who is the real leader of the Heat, Game 3 represented a significant development. Maybe the Heat can’t close without Wade plugged in. But they have no such opportunity when James drops a 6-of-16 performance with as many turnovers as assists. In short, when James is neutralized, so go the Heat.

There were questions about the Heat’s mental focus and toughness going into the playoffs. A 2-0 lead over the defending Eastern Conference champions had quelled some of that, but the Heat had never been behind in the fourth, never been trying to overcome a deficit on the road in these playoffs against a real contender. They got a taste of that experience against the Celtics on Saturday night. And the Celtics beat them with one arm tied behind Rondo’s back (almost).

So we’ll wait till Game 4 on Monday to see if the Heat can put together another impressive performance, or if they’re back to their same old tricks of disappointment and failure.

Maybe the Celtics were just giving it one more try. Maybe it was just the emotion from Rondo’s return to action after dislocating his left elbow. Maybe it was just a momentary diversion in the Heat’s ascension to the title they planned in the summer. Or maybe it was Miami showing that as long as they can’t race out to a big, fun lead, they’ll still revert back to the same habits we’ve come to mock or be frustrated with. Game 3 was a flashback for the Heat, in a real bad way.

To avoid trash talk, Steven Adams told Kevin Garnett he didn’t speak English

Kevin Garnett
2 Comments

Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.

Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.

Brilliant.

Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.

Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy “encouraged” by players speaking out, protesting social issues

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 17: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons yells to his players during the first half of the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on April 17, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption ***Stan Van Gundy
2 Comments

Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.

Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.

A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…

“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”

Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.

The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

2 Comments

It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford suggests allowing teams to advance ball in final two minutes without timeout

Steve Clifford
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
Leave a comment

The final minutes of a close NBA game rank among the best moments in sports – which is pretty remarkable, considering frequent stoppages interrupt and impede enjoyment of the game.

Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout.

Coaches should probably call fewer timeouts, because drawing up a play also allows the defense to set. But timeouts give the offense the option of advancing the inbound spot into the frontcourt, a key advantage. So, teams will keep calling timeouts.

Unless…

Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:

For Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, the ability in the final two minutes of a game to advance the ball without requiring a timeout to be called could speed up the action. That has been used on a trial basis in the D League and in Summer League, and several coaches felt it worked well.

“The game is at an all-time high in popularity, but a lot of people complain about the last two minutes,” Clifford said. “I think it would add a different dimension but it would also be a good thing in addressing our biggest issue.”

Not that the coaches would be willing to lose any of their timeouts, though. They just wouldn’t save them specifically for that purpose.

I’m here for that.

I’m unsurprised control-seeking coaches want to keep all their timeouts, and reducing those seems unlikely, anyway. The NBA pays its bills through commercial breaks.

Would moving those advertising opportunities earlier in the game pay off? Audiences are probably larger in crunch time, but an action-packed closing stretch could hook fans and grow overall audiences. It’s always a difficult decision to forgo maximizing immediate revenue in pursuit of more later.

But I’m fairly certain fans would appreciate the change, which is at least a starting point in considering it.