Celtics-Heat Game 4: It was more about the Celtics defense than anything

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“OH, LEBRON PASSED! HE SHRINKS FROM THE MOMENT!”

“WADE COULDN’T HIT THE BIGGEST SHOT WHEN HE NEEDED TO!”

OK, moving back to the real world, where fairytales aren’t spun on the dreams of angels and people are taking it one game at a time giving 110 percent, there’s something that’s going to be lost in the incessant nonsense you will be hearing all day tomorrow.

Boston won that game. Miami didn’t lose it. Boston won it. It was Boston that came out and smacked the Heat in the mouth out of the gate, taking the life out of them in the first half, and pounding the shovel on their head. It was the Celtics who responded to a second-half collapse and rallied to force overtime, then made the plays to win.

And most importantly? It was Boston who triple-teamed the best player on the planet and made him pass, and the Celtics who got a hand up in Dwyane Wade’s face to keep him out of the lane . Boston committed three defenders to James and attacked his angles. James had Pietrus going to his left. But the Celtics have always played James so well to that side of the floor, he opted to go middle. And that’s when two more defenders jumped him. The result was a bad pass to Udonis Haslem and a contested fadeaway from UD resulting in overtime.

There, the Celtics ran the right coverage at Wade. Wade was going to shoot. That was always clear. But instead of allowing him inside, where he’s a dangerous scorer, they did enough to work him into a 3-pointer. Wade is 2-of-7 from three in this series, and 28.7 percent from three in the playoffs. That’s defense. Forcing your opponent to take an uncomfortable shot from a place they can’t hit.

Rajon Rondo attacked. The officials were involved. Kevin Garnett was big. But the reason Boston is headed back to Miami with a whole new series and all the momentum?

Boston’s defense stepped up. It wasn’t the Heat failing. It was Boston playing better. Miami wasn’t worse.

Boston was better.

Chris Paul’s son joins him on Clippers bench in rout of Lakers (video)

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Is this disrespectful to the Lakers? Absolutely.

And I love it.

Chris Paul and the Clippers crushed their Los Angeles counterparts, 133-109, last night. The Clippers, who’ve won 13 of 14 in the series, have practically run out of ways to show up their crosstown rival on the court. If it now takes bench visitors, so be it.

This is the best late-blowout bench behavior since LeBron James led the Cavaliers in the water-bottle challenge in a December win over the Knicks. This would rank higher if Chris Jr. didn’t also joined the bench in the Clippers’ November win over the Mavericks, which is the pictured on this post.

Jawun Evans leaving Oklahoma State for NBA draft

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You’ve probably heard of the top college point guards for the 2017 NBA draft: Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith Jr., De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. You might have even heard of French point guard prospect Frank Ntilikina.

Which point guard will be drafted next after those six?

One possibility: Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans.

Evan Daniels of Scout:

Evans looks like a second-round pick, but a dearth of point guards projected into the latter half of the first round could boost his stock.

He’s ultra quick and ultra aggressive and led the nation’s top KenPom offense. Evans relentlessly attacks the rim, often while forcing transition opportunities. That gets defenses scrambled, creating kickout-passing lanes and offensive-rebound opportunities.

However, the 6-foot Evans doesn’t finish that well at the rim – creating a major question about how he’ll translate to the NBA. The bigger defenders in the paint might limit his kickout passes, too.

His size also presents major problems defensively, though a 6-foot-4 wingspan at least helps.

Evans is good enough on jumpers to keep defenses honest, and at Oklahoma State, he had to create so much for himself. It’d be interesting to see whether limiting his burden improves his efficiency or whether his helpfulness is limited to having the ball in his hands.

My guess is the latter, and I’m unconvinced he’s good enough to demand such a role in the NBA. But the possibility is strong enough that I’d be excited about rolling the dice on him in the second round.

Shabazz Muhammad awkwardly mentions Collective Bargaining Agreement during halftime interview (video)

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The Timberwolves surprisingly led the Spurs by nine at halftime last night, which takes us to Shabazz Muhammad‘s mid-game interview.

Muhammad:

We’re doing a great job on defense, Wiggs, myself, everybody. It’s a tough team, especially Kawhi and the guys. So, we’re doing a really good job and everybody’s collective – Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Um. What?

To be fair, I can’t even imagine what type of nonsense I’d spew in the midst of a taxing workout or a high-pressure situation – let alone something that qualifies as both.

Unfortunately for Muhammad, Minnesota eventually fell to San Antonio, 100-93. But hopefully, he can laugh at this moment. He should, at least.

hat tip: reddit user cjsplash

Duke’s Jayson Tatum, California’s Ivan Rabb declare for NBA draft

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Wednesday a couple of forwards expected to go in the first round of June’s NBA draft said they plan on making the jump to the NBA.

As expected, Duke’s Jayson Tatum and Cal’s Ivan Rabb made their decisions official.

Duke announced Tatum’s decision.

Tatum is expected to be a top-five pick, DraftExpress.com currently has him as the No. 4 pick. The 6’8″ wing can flat-out score the rock, which is why teams are intrigued, as Rob Dauster of NBC’s College Basketball Talk told us in a recent podcast. However, teams wonder if he can create shots for others and not just himself, and if he’s going to be a good defender at the NBA level. He has the physical tools to do be a good defender, but will he put in the work game in, game out?

Rabb is a 6’10” sophomore who has a great NBA build and athleticism to spare, but at the NBA level everyone is a great athlete. Rabb doesn’t have a great perimeter game and needs to develop one and be a consistent defensive force to be a difference maker (or have a lengthy career) at the NBA level. DraftExpress.com has him going 22nd in this draft, and his stock seems to have fallen over the course of the season.