Boston Celtics' Rondo, Garnett, Allen and Pierce speak during a timeout during Eastern Conference Finals NBA basketball playoff series in Miami

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


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.

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell
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After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.

LeBron James: I’m healthier than a year ago


LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.

It’s working.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.

“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”

LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.

But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.

The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.

It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.