Author: Matt Moore

Philadelphia 76ers  v Boston Celtics - Game One

Video: Rajon Rondo has “big game DNA”


CSN New England’s A. Sherrod Blakely talks about Rajon Rondo’s “big game DNA” after the Celtics Game 7 win Saturday night.

It should be noted that Rondo’s Game 7 career averages entering Saturday were 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists, which is obviously good, but not by any means monstrous. Still, Rondo’s ability to take over the game should not be understated. A recent study showed Rondo as one of the league leaders in “hockey assists” (passes which lead to a pass which leads to a score. What’s maybe most amazing is that Rondo had a shaky if not terrible Game 7 until the fourth quarter. He piled up the assists, but not at his usual hyper-productive rate, missed several layups, and turned the ball over seven times.

And yet, he was still the reason the Celtics won the game.

This is what’s great about the NBA, player like Rajon Rondo, that leave the debate open while extending their team’s season and making memories for the fans. Rondo’s a lot like pizza. Even when he’s terrible, you’re still going to have it because it’s freaking pizza.

Report: Magic ‘targeting’ Thunder, Spurs executives

Dwight Howard

Now this is more like it.

No more Shaq nonsense. No more ridiculousness. The Magic are reportedly in pursuit of interviews for three members from the Spurs-Thunder tree for their open GM position. From Yahoo! Sports:

Thunder vice president and assistant general manager Troy Weaver and Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey have been targeted, and Orlando has been granted permission to talk with Weaver, sources said. The Spurs’ OK of permission for Lindsey is imminent, sources said.

Orlando has also been granted permission to speak with Oklahoma City’s assistant GM Rob Hennigan, who came into the league with the Spurs.

via Thunder, Spurs executives among strong candidates for Magic’s GM – Yahoo! Sports.

The hiring of any of those targets would be a move in the right direction for the Magic, who need to move past temporary solutions and desperate maneuvers to keep Dwight Howard and establish a culture of winning in Orlando. Weaver has worked in the past with the Thunder’s D-League team, helping to develop young talent which have gone on to play for OKC and in some cases start elsewhere.

It would be interesting if Lindsey were hired and Dwight Howard traded, if for no other reason than it would make two former Spurs front office members hired within two years who wound up having to trade their superstar. Former Spurs assistant GM Dell Demps joined the Hornets in 2010 and wound up having to move Chris Paul.

But this is the kind of move that the Magic are desperately in need of. They want to win now. But that’s not really feasible, given conditions. Better to put themselves into a long-term position by establishing a culture that can succeed. Hiring members of the two organizations to most successfully do that over the past five to ten years is a good way to do that. The Spurs have won because of Tim Duncan, the Thunder because of Kevin Durant. But they’ve also won because management hasn’t acted imprudently, has drafted well, and built a culture of sustained success.

This is the way you rebuild.

The Celtics are OK with a quick turnaround vs. Miami

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat

The Celtics wrapped up their series with the Sixers on Saturday night, and now have to fly to Miami Sunday morning for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against a Heat team that has been healing and waiting for five days. Considering the age and injury status of most of the Celtics, this might be cause for concern. Naturally, the guys in green are laughing that off and talking about how it’s actually a good thing they have to turn around and start a series against the best remaining team in the playoffs (outside of them, in their minds):

“It’s a quick turnaround, but I kind of like it that way,” Pierce said following the Celtics clinching 85-75 win. “It keeps us in rhythm, it keeps us playing. We’re an older team so we don’t want to sit around for too long. You know we like the fact that we usually go right into it. We have tomorrow off, we’ll probably watch some film, go over scouting reports, shootaround on Monday, and that’s it.”

“I prefer it myself,” said Ray Allen. “We get back to business. We have a day to rest and then we’re back out there playing. At this point, everybody’s going to be what they’re going to be. You’re going to be tired or you’re going to be fatigued or whatever it is. We have to continue to take the rhythm that we have and now we have to change it and reconfigure how we think defensively and what we run offensively. The series changes. We don’t have a lot of time, but we have veteran players that know how to adjust to a new series.”

via Celtics on short turnaround: Bring it on.

In reality, it’s not going to help much even if they had gotten more time. Paul Pierce’s strained MCL is still going to be sore, Ray Allen’s bone spurs in his ankle will still bother him, Avery Bradley’s not coming back. Nothing changes with a few more days of rest. But the idea that it’s a good thing? That’s a bit much. We’ve seen layovers from long series hurt teams routinely as opponents can outrun a gassed team especially considering the emotional letdown after a Game 7. The Celtics are pros and will be ready, but there’s just no way this is an advantage.

Then again, the Celtics do fight the most when their backs are against the wall.

Sixers-Celtics Game 7: Rajon Rondo when you need him

Boston Celtics guard Rondo drives to the basket past Philadelphia 76ers guard Turner during the first quarter of Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series in Boston

There is an argument to be made that Rajon Rondo is the single most compelling player in the NBA, at least the one still playing in these now Conference Finals after the Celtics’ 85-75 win in Game 7 over the Sixers to advance to face Miami. And if anything, Game 7 reinforced that idea as he was cementing the Celtics’ place in the penultimate seven-game series of these playoffs. Rondo was 3-9 for 7 points through the first three quarters. He was sloppy. He was disinterested. He was all the things you worry about with Rajon Rondo.

And then, when Paul Pierce got his sixth foul late in the fourth, Rondo took over. Pierce picked up his sixth at the 4:16 mark. From then on, Rondo went 3-3 from the field, 4-4 from the stripe, scoring 11 points (of Boston’s final 14) and grabbing three rebounds on his way to being the only Celtic besides Larry Bird to snag a triple-double in a Game 7. Rondo can’t shoot, play off him. That’s the book. That’s the story. That’s the scheme.

And he just knocked them down.

There will be talk of the Celtics’ defense, which was its typical self against another terrible effort from the Sixers. There will be talk of KG’s intensity and Ray Allen coming alive. But the story, the obvious story that will be talked about because it is the story, is Rajon Rondo, and how when it looked like the Celtics might have another late collapse, he found the weakness in his game and turned it into a strength. But in reality, Rondo’s long two to really put the Sixers away is in the range he’s hit 4/7 in these playoffs, and shot 43 percent in the regular season. It was not a fluke. He can hit it. He did. He knocked down free throws, which is actually a bigger concern. And the Celtics are moving on.

Coming out of the first-round series with the Hawks, when Chris Bosh went down, it appeared like things were lining up for the Celtics to make a run to the Finals. Everything appeared set. An easy run against the Sixers, face a reeling Miami team or an out-classed Pacers team, get to the Finals and see what happens. The possibility is still there but the confidence is shaken. Ray Allen hit two big 3’s late. But he was 2-7 from three for the night, 3-11 from the field, and struggled to make cuts the night through. Paul Pierce has lost a step. Avery Bradley is out for the season. There are question marks about Greg Stiemsma and Keyon Dooling off the bench. There are reasons to doubt.

Which is why Game 7 encapsulates the Celtics and where they stand. The Big 3 will do some things, especially Kevin Garnett. They’ll provide some support. But against the Heat, as it was in Game 7, it will be on Rondo to make the plays, to make the decisions, to be greater. Last year he was taken out by a dislocated elbow when Wade pulled him down. This year, barring horrible luck, he’ll play. And he’ll have to be the difference for the Celtics if they want to get past the team that ushered them loose in five games last year.

But for now, it’s a win for the Celtics, another trip to the ECF, their third in five years of the Big 3 era, and a feeling that no matter how badly they play, they’ll find a way.

No matter how dark it gets, Rajon Rondo will find the light.

Celtics-Heat begins Monday.

Warriors working to leverage future assets to get back future asset they already leveraged

Warriors logo

The Warriors are in a hurry to rebuild, apparently.

After trading Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh to get what they considered to be their franchise defensive center, a must for Mark Jackson’s plans since he was hired, the Warriors shut down their entire team and tanked so hard in order to keep their draft pick. They owe Utah a pick, and if it’s eight or higher in this draft, their 2012 pick goes to the Jazz. They landed at the seven spot in the lottery order, meaning if any of the seven teams behind them leapfrog into the top 3 with the lottery, the Warriors would be without their pick. They don’t like that plan.

So ESPN reports the Warriors are looking to trade future assets in order to make sure that doesn’t happen.

But the Warriors, sources say, are prepared to sacrifice a trade asset or two before Wednesday’s lottery to make a deal with Utah that would wipe out the stipulations in place for the 28 percent possibility that the pick falls outside of the top seven.

One source with knowledge of the discussions described the chances of a trade by Wednesday as “likely.” Yet it remains to be seen whether the teams can agree to a deal without involving current players, as Golden State apparently prefers.

Among the Warriors’ options to retain their 2012 pick outright is offering Utah a combination of future draft considerations, cash and/or a relaxation of the current restrictions on Utah’s rights to the pick in question in either 2013 or 2014. At present, Golden State’s 2013 pick is top-seven protected and its 2014 pick is top-six protected.

via Sources — Golden State Warriors eye trade with Utah Jazz to secure lottery pick – ESPN.

So because they sent away a short-term future asset, they’re willing to possibly part with a future asset to get that other future asset back. Got it.

Well, they’re in a hurry. You can appreciate that.

Honestly, it might be better to liquidate the pick this year and get it out the way. The Warriors will have a  year to evaluate whether Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut are enough to win with, then add a pick. If the pick lands in the top 3, it’s worth it. With the overall estimated value of this draft plumetting in the eyes of scouts, it might be better for the Warriors to abandon it. Then again, because of that drop in value, the Warriors might be able to get it back for better value than expected.

It’s not a major development, but it does show how aggressive the Warriors will be in trying to get back on track as quickly as possible.