Kevin Garnett: ‘I would do anything for’ Rajon Rondo

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It can be a little difficult keeping track of the feuds among the members of the Boston Celtics’ last title team.

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce don’t like Ray Allen. Doc Rivers reportedly tried to fight Rajon Rondo. Rondo said he “didn’t feel anything” when Garnett and Pierce were traded.

It’s dizzying.

But between Garnet and Rondo, it’s all love.

Garnett, via Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:

“It’s always good to see your little brother, man,” Garnett said before Thursday’s game. “I worry about his health. I know he wants to play. I know he wants to help that team. I try to keep an eye out for the young boys [in Boston], just to see how they’re doing.

“I know he’s eager to play, and I know he’s eager to get back out. My only concern is always health-wise. Rondo knows his body, he knows himself. I’m just glad he’s still able to fulfill his dream and play the game that he loves. Anytime, that’s first and foremost. Everything else is secondary.”

“Absolutely,” Garnett said when asked if Rondo being on the court will make his return to Boston mean even more. “That’s a little brother, man. We all grew together. When we grew, it wasn’t something we did minimally. We all gave all of ourselves to each other, and we grew in that. That connection, you grow with it through time, and it’s one of them connections that you look at as forever.

“That’s my little brother. I love Rondo. He knows that, and I would do anything for him. All in all, I’m just happy that he’s back, and I’m just happy he’s able to be healthy and continue to be able to do one of the things he does best.”

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Garnett and Pierce will return to Boston for the first time as Nets on Sunday, and with Rondo healthy, most of the old gang will be participating in the game, and that will make the night even more special.

It’s great Garnett has such a strong bond with Rondo. They won a championship together, and seeing up close the amount of sacrifice it takes to reach that level certainly brought them closer.

But I can’t read that quote – “it’s one of them connections that you look at as forever” – without thinking about Ray Allen, whom Garnett has feuded with the last couple years. Why wasn’t that connection forever?

Garnett surely has his reasons, and he’s entitled to them. That the relationship between him and Rondo has survived Garnett switching teams, especially comparatively, says a lot about how close those two are.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.