The Celtics can beat the Cavs. If everything breaks their way.

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The Celtics can too beat the Cavaliers.

If Ray Allen is on fire from three. If LeBron James makes a bad decision with the game on the line and goes for the win, then misses a PUJIT three. If the Cleveland coach gets ejected. If Rajon Rondo can keep his turnovers down. If Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t play. If the game is in Boston. If the Celtics can make the key plays to hold on at the end after being up by 21 in the third.

Sure, they can do that four out of seven in the second round. Don’t see the problem.

That was a fun game to watch. At this point in the season, when so many teams are mailing it in, it’s great to see a game that foreshadows the playoffs. Except that in literature, foreshadowing hints at a potential outcome. As Matt Moore told us before, this result said nothing about the outcome of a series between these two.

For three quarters, it was that kind of game for Cleveland. When JJ Hickson just swatted a Kendrick Perkins shot inside, the ball went right to Ray Allen standing alone at the three-point line. Nylon.

Where Atlanta could not match the runs Cleveland would make the other night, for three quarters the Celtics looked like the veteran team with a counterpunch. And Cleveland looked flat. Mike Brown tried to fire up his team with the worst acting job ever in getting tossed from the game in the third quarter. Razzie bad.

(Hey Can we start giving those away for the NBA? Worst flop, worst acting job by a coach, worst effort by a team to pretend like they cared the last two weeks of the season (we want the Knicks to win something).

Then Cleveland got focused. They outscored Boston by 13 in the third, after trimming the lead in the third. LeBron turned into the unstoppable force that he is. Cleveland started defending and rebounding like they can when focused.

The key may have been when LeBron made an Adam Morrison quality decision. Down just two with less than 20 seconds left after Kendrick Perkins reminded us why to foul him with the game on the line, LeBron had the chance on the fast break to drive and get the tie on a layup (and try to draw the and-one). Instead he went for the Kobesque game wining three.

LeBron – be yourself. He missed it.

Celtics win. Good win. They held on by the hair of their chinny chin chin. But it’s a win. Doesn’t change what would happen over seven games in the second round.

One last look back: Best dunks of All-Star Weekend (VIDEO)

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Defense? That’s one thing that rarely makes an appearance All-Star weekend.

Combine that with the game’s best athletes and what you get are three days of insane dunks.

The NBA put this together, the best dunks of All-Star weekend in Charlotte. Enjoy.

Wizards’ Bradley Beal: ‘Recruiting process is really going alright…I’m trying’

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LeBron James went out of his way to say he was not recruiting guys on his free-agent heavy All-Star Team.

Bradley Beal had no such hesitation, he tried to recruit guys, as he told Chase Huges of NBC Sports Washington.

“The recruiting process is really going alright. It’s going alright. I’m trying,” Beal said. “This is new for me. I’m definitely getting some ears and seeing what guys are looking for.”

Beal was too smart to name names — that would have brought a fine from the league — but he said some guys asked if he was happy where he was, while other guys he talked to about the possibilities in Washington.

The problem is while the Wizards will have some cap space after trading Otto Porter and Markieff Morris (and assuming they don’t pick up the option on Jabari Parker) but they will be nowhere near the max cap space needed to land the elite free agents at the All-Star Game (Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, etc.). Even the second-tier All-Star free agents such as Khris Middleton will get max offers. Same with players who just missed the game, such as Tobias Harris.

If the Wizards renounce free agents they can get to $9 million in cap space, stretch and waive Ian Mahinmi and they can get to $18 million. That’s the top end. Meaning the Wizards will have room to make moves for good rotation players, but with John Wall‘s supermax extension kicking in at $38 million next season flexibility is limited. Genuine upgrades will be hard to come by.

Predicting what Washington GM Ernie Grunfeld will do next summer is a fool’s errand, but Beal is doing his part to try and bring more talent into Washington.

Kevin Garnett says 2000 Olympic team had $1 million bounty to dunk on Yao Ming

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Team USA earned a Gold Medal in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, led by Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, and Alonzo Mourning. Lithuania made the Americans work that year, losing by just nine in pool play then by two points in the semi-finals.

That’s not what anyone remembers from those Olympics, they remember Vince Carter doing this to 7-footer Fredric Weiss of France.

Recently Garnett sat down with Dwyane Wade for an interview (which airs on NBA TV today) and he told a fantastic story about that dunk. (Hat tip to Yahoo Sports)

Everything just paused. First of all, people didn’t know, we had a bounty out on Yao Ming. The whole USA team had a bet. We had a million dollar bet on who was going to be the first person to dunk on Yao Ming. None of us did. We all tried to dunk on Yao, but he would block it or we would miss. So, the first thing I thought of when I saw Vince dunk over Frederic was oh s***, you won the million dollars. But then I realized it obviously wasn’t Yao. I pushed Vince, and if you look at the clip, he almost punches me in the face by accident. But my first thought was, oh s***, you won, you got the million.

KG has the best stories.

MSG denies rumor James Dolan looking to sell Knicks

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Rumors that James Dolan is considering selling the Knicks — which elicits a “Hallelujah” chorus from Knicks fans — have been cropping up for a couple of years now. There were rumors he wanted to spin off the Knicks and Rangers into their own company to be sold. That’s just one, there are others — he confirmed he got a feeler $5 billion, but never a firm offer, for the Knicks — and each time he has shot them down.

This is no different.

On his latest Podcast, the Ringer’s Bill Simmons said he had heard that Dolan wanted to focus more on concerts/in-game experiences in Madison Square Garden and that the Knicks were “available.”

The Madison Square Garden Company released this statement (hat tip New York Daily News).

“The story is 100% false. There has been nothing. No discussions. No plans to have discussions – nothing.”

That’s pretty unequivocal.

While Dolan may entertain the idea on some level of selling the Knicks, until he takes concrete steps to do so — not rumors, but actual, documented moves — I’m not buying it. He’s sitting on a gold mine that keeps going up in value, despite how he manages it, so why sell now? Knicks fans that buy this rumor will likely end up like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.