Celtics, Heat Game 2: Boston needs to get some buckets

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Everyone is focused on Rajon Rondo’s comment that those driving Heat players — particularly Dwyane Wade and LeBron James — “have to hit the deck, too.” Because Boston had a big problem in Game 1 and Boston’s mindset when they have a problem is to fix it by tightening up their fantastic defense.

But the Celtics defense wasn’t the problem in Game 1. Rather it was the offense that scored just 79 points on 39.5 percent shooting.

Miami isn’t Philadelphia — LeBron and Wade are too good, the Heat are going to get some points on the board. Boston can grind down the tempo (they did that well in Game 1), they can be more physical, and they can foul (which isn’t a great idea because Wade/LeBron get a lot of and-1s and knock down their free throws). Boston can play a better defense and if they score 79 points again it will not matter. That will not be enough. Not this series.

Boston needs to find its offense if it wants to even this series.

Which means Boston needs a whole lot of Rondo — he has to control the flow of the game. The Celtics need the Rondo that hits the mid-range jumper and finds the open man. Miami may not have a traditional shot blocker but because of their crazy athleticism they block and alter a lot of shots close to the rim. Boston struggled in the paint in Game 1.

Boston needs some Spurs offense — drive and kick, beat the Heat with corner threes. Get Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce knocking down the midrange after the extra pass. They have to hit a lot of jump shots to open up the paint.

Problem is, they aren’t hitting a lot of jump shots. This is far from the lineup of shooters San Antonio rolls out. Ray Allen has morphed into a Metta World Peace level shooter. Pierce is getting around on a bum knee (plus has LeBron on him). Avery Bradley is in surgery recovery. Marquis Daniels never could shoot the three. Nor Rondo.

KG has been maybe the most steady outside shooter the Celtics have. I expect more of the offense to go through him in Game 2, either in the post or at the elbow. We’ll see how that works. Miami is going to protect the paint and just try to close on shooters until the Celtics make them pay the price for it.

During the regular season the Heat and Sixers defense were at about the same level, and the Celtics Game 1 offensive output showed that. Thing is, 79 points had you in the game against Philly. Its’ a loss now.

And really worrisome, the Heat did not play that well. If they come out hot on offense, it could be a long night for Celtics fans.

Joel Embiid scores over Carmelo Anthony, then they exchange words (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid gives zero… well, you know where I’m going with that.

Embiid trolls the world and backs down from no man, and that includes Carmelo Anthony. Late in the fourth quarter of the barn burner between the Thunder and 76ers Friday night, Embiid backed ‘Melo down and scored over him, then did a little jawing — which Anthony didn’t appreciate.

I love that Embiid egged on the Sixers crowd after this. He knows his audience.

Embiid talks a lot — A LOT — but he is backing it up.

For example, in the first overtime Russell Westbrook thought he made a drive that was going to win the game, and Embiid rejected him.

If you did not watch this game, go find a replay. This is the new best game of the season.

Rudy Gobert leaves game vs. Celtics with likely knee sprain. Again.

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Rudy Gobert missed 11 games this season due to a bone bruise in his knee. While the Jazz defense suffered as should have been expected with their anchor gone, their offense found a groove without him — and with more Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors — resulting in Utah going 7-4 with their star center out.

Now the Jazz will be without him again for a while — he seems to have sprained his left knee just minutes into Friday night’s game against the Celtics when Favors fell back into him. That is the same knee he injured before. Gobert was forced to leave and will not return to the game.

If that diagnosis holds, it will be weeks again the Jazz will be without Gobert.

The Jazz know how to play without Gobert. Favors moves to center and while he’s not near the same defender his offensive skills got them buckets and opened up the floor. The rookie Mitchell, as well as Ricky Rubio at points, took advantage of it to give the Jazz a top-10 offense with Gobert out. They need to find that groove again.

Still, Utah needs Gobert back and himself to really reach the heights they are capable of.

Veteran NBA official Monty McCutchen to be head of referee development, training

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After 25 seasons running up and down the NBA hardwood and refereeing more than 1,400 games, NBA official Monty McCutchen got a promotion.

He officiated his last game Thursday night in Minnesota and will move to a desk at the league office where his new title is Vice President, Head of Referee Development and Training.

“Monty has earned the respect of players, coaches and his peers during an exemplary career as an NBA official,” said Senior Vice President, Head of Referee Operations Michelle D. Johnson (who started on the job in October).  “He understands as well as anyone what it takes to be an outstanding referee and how the league can best support its officials.  With his wealth of insight and experience, Monty is uniquely suited for a leadership role in our officiating program.”

“I’m excited for the opportunity to channel my passion for the officiating profession in a new way,” McCutchen said.  “While I’ll miss officiating games, I’m grateful to continue working with our incredibly talented referee staff as part of an organization so dedicated to excellence and innovation.”

Despite what some fans like to blast on Twitter (especially during the playoffs), NBA officials are the best trained and flat-out best basketball referees in the world (if you don’t think so, watch the college/scab referees from the last lockout of the refs, it was painful). Could they improve? Sure. Hopefully, McCutchen can help do that in his new position.

Kristaps Porzingis officially day-to-day, questionable vs. OKC

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Knicks fans can exhale now.

There was understandable concern after face of the franchise Kritaps Porzingis had to leave the game in Brooklyn Thursday night following a non-contact injury.

Turns out there is nothing to worry about. After the game, Porzingis spoke to the media and was standing on the leg, a good sign. By Friday, after a day of treatment, he was doing well. Officially Porzingis is day-to-day and may sit out Carmelo Anthony‘s return to Madison Square Garden Saturday, but the injury is nothing serious. Ian Begley of ESPN has the details.

Porzingis’ knee was “worked on” on Friday and the discomfort in his knee decreased, league sources told ESPN. It is unclear if Porzingis underwent an MRI or had X-rays to further determine the extent of the injury but sources say he did not undergo significant testing because it wasn’t warranted based on the state of the injury.

Good. We don’t need another star down with a major injury this season.

Especially Porzingis, who has led the Knicks to a 15-13 record (sixth in the East, in the playoffs) while putting up All-Star numbers: 25.5 points per game, shooting 39.5 percent from three, plus grabbing 6.6 rebounds a game. Maybe more impressive is how he has anchored a solid Knicks defense this season with his rim protection. Stay healthy and he should make his first All-Star team this season.