For much of the season, Rajon Rondo has seemed to be a one-man fast break for the Celtics, pushing the ball up after a stop and then, if nothing is materializes, waiting until his teammates bothered to join him in the front court.
Boston is dead last in the league in pace (90.2 possessions per game, via Hoopdata) which is not what Doc Rivers wants. He wants his whole team to up the tempo, to get some easy buckets.
He got it Sunday against Chicago — 97 possessions. And he told ESPNBoston.com he wants to see more of that.
“I thought we played at a better pace today,” said Rivers. “You could see it: We were trying to run today. And that’s how we have to play. If we didn’t turn the ball over, we would’ve had far more points. But I just liked our pace and that’s all we talked about after the game in Toronto and today in our morning walkthrough — was enough of the walking.
“And it was not Rondo, it’s the team. The bigs have to run the floor. Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] have to run the floor. And it does a lot of things: We get early posts from our bigs, we get jump shots from the break, and we get Rondo in the open court. And when you walk, it’s easy to guard.”
Boston is again one of the best defensive teams in the league — the best fast breaks come off good defenses (misses and turnovers). And good defensive teams that get a few easy buckets in transition become much harder to beat.
Boston isn’t going to run like Denver, but we’ll see if they can keep up even a modest pace increase over time.
Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.
There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?
Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:
Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game — but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.
In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.
Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.
That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.
If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.
First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.
Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.
Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.
Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.