The Cavaliers and Celtics meet for the fourth time tomorrow, but you have to ask yourself if this meeting can tell us much. Usually when two title contenders meet in April, there’s high drama and questions to be answered. But given what we’ve seen this season, the result would have to be extreme to bear any fruit in this instance.
We’ve not only seen the Cavs run away from the Celtics twice, making them look every bit the aging, worn-out team their critics claim they are, but we’ve seen the Celtics fall regularly to other teams, most recently the Rockets.
If the Celtics win, would you really think them more capable of ousting the Cavs in the playoffs if they were to meet? With the Cavs having essentially locked up homecourt through the playoffs, they have very little play for, and are still without the services of Shaquille O’Neal. The Celtics on the other hand were on a bit of a reclamation run before losses to OKC and Houston sent them back reeling.
If the Cavaliers win tomorrow, it will simply be a validation of everything we’ve already assumed, that they are the pre-eminent team in the East, and the Celtics are simply not in a position to compete this season.
A Celtics win, at best teaches that they’re capable of putting together a viable threat still. But it won’t erase the struggles they’ve had this season, or any shining light to guide the way to the Finals.
That said, I wouldn’t expect this to be any less of a battle. Neither team likes one another and the Celtics desperately needs to re-establish some measure of legitimacy.
And the Cavs are loath to relinquish the throne.
With the NBA dissecting video from Saturday night’s game between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers like the Zapruder film, it was only a matter of time before we saw suspensions handed down for Chris Paul, Brandon Ingram, and Rajon Rondo.
On Sunday, the league announced its decision.
After reviewing tape, the NBA determined that Rondo did indeed spit on Paul. Ingram was seen as the initial instigator, and thus was served with a heavier sentence.
The finally tally was:
- Four games for Ingram
- Three games for Rondo
- Two games for Paul
Here’s the relevant details per the NBA’s release.
Ingram has been suspended for aggressively returning to and escalating the altercation and throwing a punch in the direction of Paul, confronting a game official in a hostile manner, and instigating the overall incident by shoving Rockets guard James Harden. Rondo has been suspended for instigating a physical altercation with, and spitting and throwing multiple punches at, Paul. Paul has been suspended for poking at and making contact with the face of Rondo, and throwing multiple punches at him.
We have been waiting on these suspensions largely to see how the NBA would discipline one of the first actual fights in some time. A maximum of four games seems a little light to me. Carmelo Anthony was suspended for 15 games in 2006 when he clocked Mardy Collins during a fight between the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets.
Rondo only getting three games despite having spit on an opponent is also pretty wild. That’s crazy disrespectful and I would not believe you if you tried to tell me that this bad blood will end here.
Both the Lakers and Rockets will miss some of their most important players as they start duking it out in the tough Western Conference.
The second anniversary of the death of NBA broadcasting legend Craig Sager is on Dec. 15 of this year, a span that has seemed too quick for those of us who grew up watching the colorful sideline reporter.
Sager passed in 2016 due to complications from leukemia, and the outpouring in his memory since from those around the NBA has been significant. While Sager is no longer with us, his memory lives on.
Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook pay tribute to Sager’s memory with a pair of custom Air Jordan 1s inspired by Sager’s famous sideline attire.
Sager was known for wearing crazy patterns, everything from hounds tooth to polka dost to tartan. I think Westbrook’s shoes paid fitting homage to Sager’s sartorial flair.
Perhaps Jordan would be willing to join forces and put the shoes on the market to benefit the Sager Strong Foundation? I’m sure these would sell well and come at a premium.
Jimmy Butler is still a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, largely for reasons that are beyond the capacity of most rational NBA fans.
Butler continues to play with a team as they enter the beginning part of the season, although owner Glen Taylor and his front office are professing to still be looking for a suitable trade partner.
Meanwhile, the tension between Butler and teammates Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns must be palpable. It certainly has affected Towns at least in one way, as the Timberwolves big man missed a free throw after Dallas Mavericks fans chanted Butler’s name during one of Towns’ trips to the line
It’s hard to say whether Towns missed that free throw simply because of the chance or because sometimes guys miss free throws. Towns is an 84 percent shooter from the charity stripe, so you’d expect him to miss one once in a while.
Things continue to be weird in Minnesota, and this odd homeostasis can’t last for long.
Did Rajon Rondo spit on Chris Paul?
That’s the question everyone’s asking after Saturday night’s big brouhaha between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets which led to several objections and coming suspensions from the league office.
Various angles have been analyzed at length on social media, and indeed it was always apparent the NBA viewing public-at-large would get to the bottom of things. Around 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, we came to our logical endpoint.
Thanks to this new video, it does appear that Rondo spit at Paul.
The NBA league office is still reviewing the tape, but according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski they appear to have the clip in question in hand.
There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to the coming suspensions. First, how much Brandon Ingram will be penalized for instigating the entire thing with his shove in the back of James Harden. Ingram also came in with a flying punch to Paul’s face that might be looked at a bit more severely.
Second, both Paul and Rondo landed punches, but if Rondo indeed did spit on his competitor that’s a level of disrespect — not to mention responsibility for making the first move against Paul — that might get him a tougher sentence.
We haven’t seen a real fight in the NBA in some time, where actual punches were landed and things got more serious than just guys running between tunnels underneath Staples Center. How the league punishes these guys this early in the season will dictate to us in the future how they feel about this kind of tension spilling over into violence.