How Rajon Rondo did his damage in game four

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Rajon Rondo had one of the best games in the playoffs in game four, destroying the Cleveland Cavaliers with his scoring, rebounding, and passing. In game three, the Cavaliers had success slowing Rondo down by packing the paint in the half-court and forcing him to stay on the perimeter. In game four, Boston was able to get out on the break much more. Rondo thrived in the full-court game, and now the Cavs are searching for a way to slow Rondo down in game five.

With that in mind, let’s look at how Rondo got his points and assists in game four. Do they need to make adjustments in the half-court game, such as switching LeBron James onto Rondo, or do they need to focus on limiting Boston’s transition opportunities? Let’s see:

Scoring:

In transition (7 seconds or less after a Cleveland miss or turnover):

-Rondo makes layup six seconds after a missed three

-Rondo draws a shooting foul two seconds after a Cavalier turnover

-Rondo draws shooting foul four seconds after a three-point miss

-Rondo draws shooting foul four seconds after a Boston block

-Rondo draws shooting foul seven seconds after a Cavalier turnover

-Rondo makes layup four seconds after a Cavalier turnover

In semi-transition (8-10 seconds after a Cleveland miss or turnover):

-Rondo draws shooting foul nine seconds after a Cavalier turnover

-Rondo draws shooting foul nine seconds after missed three-pointer

After dead-ball situations (Boston takes it from out of bounds):

-Rondo makes assisted 7-footer

-Rondo makes layup

-Rondo makes 19-foot jumper

-Rondo makes 17-foot jumper

-Rondo makes 16-point shot

-Rondo makes floater

Other:

-Rondo makes floater after offensive rebound

-Rondo is intentionally fouled with 17 seconds to play

Rondo only scored 12 points against the Cavaliers when the Celtics were forced to take it from out of bounds, and six of those 12 points came on jump shots. Considering he only shot 9-21 from the field, the Cavs should be willing to live with how they defended Rondo’s scoring in half-court situations — it was in the open floor where Rondo drew all those fouls and really did his damage. But what about the assists?

Assists:

Transition (7 seconds or less after a Cleveland turnover or miss):

-Rondo finds T. Allen for a dunk five seconds after a Cleveland turnover

-Rondo finds Davis for a layup seven seconds after a Cleveland turnover

Semi-Transition (8-10 seconds after a Cleveland miss or turnover):

-Rondo finds R. Allen for 8-foot shot 9 seconds after a missed three

-Rondo finds R. Allen for a three 8 seconds after a miss

-Rondo finds Davis for a layup eight seconds after a Boston block

Half-Court Situation:

-Rondo finds R. Allen for a 20-foot jumper

-Rondo finds Garnett for a make

-Rondo finds Tony Allen for layup

-Rondo finds Garnett for a jump shot at the end of the shot clock

-Rondo finds R. Allen for a jump shot

-Rondo finds T. Allen for a layup

Other:

-Rondo finds Garnett for a layup six seconds after a Cleveland make

-Rondo finds Pierce for a dunk after an offensive rebound

-Again, only 12 of the 27 points created by Rondo’s assists came in half-court situations. Rondo had an amazing game, but Cleveland can live with what he did in the half-court. In game five, limiting Rondo’s transition opportunities by turning the ball over less (17 for the Cavs in game three), giving Boston fewer chances to run off of long rebounds (17 missed threes for the Cavs), getting some offensive rebounds (the Cavs had three all game), and getting blocked less (the Cavs had eight of their shots blocked), will be just as important in stopping Rondo as anything they do when he has the ball.

Rondo is too quick, too good around the basket, too athletic, and too good of a passer to be stopped in the open court. If the Cavs want to slow him down at all, they can’t allow him to play his game.

Lakers loving LeBron’s leadership in first practice together

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) Although the Lakers’ first official practice of the LeBron James era was focused on defense and learning new terminology, they ended it with a good old-fashioned 3-point shooting contest.

The Lakers’ new superstar was just another teammate during the spirited back-and-forth competition Tuesday. When James wasn’t draining his own 3s, he marveled along with everybody else at the surprising perimeter prowess shown by JaVale McGee, the 7-foot veteran with exactly one 3-pointer during a game in his 10-year NBA career.

The Lakers have many weeks of work ahead to become a cohesive team assembled around James, but he can already sense they’re heading down the right path. They’re planning to have plenty of fun along the way, too.

“I’m not a very patient guy, but I understand that I have to be patient right now,” James said. “I’ve got to be patient with myself, too, because this is a new start for me. It’s my first year in a new system. I know how to play the game of basketball, but this is all new to me, too. So I have to be patient with myself, not only with my teammates.”

James was both upbeat and businesslike after his first workout under coach Luke Walton, who entered the NBA in the same draft class as James in 2003. The Lakers will hold double practices and a scrimmage on the first two days of camp leading toward their preseason debut in San Diego on Sunday night.

James intends to enjoy the process in his new city.

“We’re here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to someday hoist the trophy,” James said. “Obviously that’s the end of the road, but you have to have those types of championship habits every day, not only on the floor, but off the floor as well. … Everyone is excited to get back to work. That’s a good thing. No one is coming in today and wishing it was still summer. It’s the best time of the year. Basketball season is back up, baseball season is on its way to the playoffs, and the NFL is in Week 4. So what could you ask for as a sports fan?”

James naturally becomes the center of attention on any team, and he quickly assumed a leadership role for the Lakers. He’s also eager to see his veteran teammates assert themselves to help the Lakers’ young returning core, whether it’s Rajon Rondo instructing his fellow guards on assignments, or Lance Stephenson vocally calling out defensive instructions in half-court work.

“He’s LeBron. He’s one name,” Rondo said. “It speaks for itself. He’s been a leader and a mentor in this league for a long time, on and off the court. He has a blueprint off the court as well. So he embraces his role. He embraces all the pressure that he’s ever dealt with in his career, and he’s always risen above the occasion.”

Although Walton and James are just getting to know each other, the coach is grateful that his new star is leading by example from the opening practice.

The Lakers have lacked this level of respected on-court leadership in the two seasons since Kobe Bryant’s retirement, but LeBron and his fellow new veterans have strong ideas about how an NBA team must approach its work to be a winner.

“I could see it yesterday,” Walton said. “The way he’s approaching (practice) has changed from the pickup we were playing in the summer. It definitely set the tone. We’re on a journey that started today, and we’re very serious about the business that we got done today.”

More AP NBA: http://www.apnews.com/tag/NBA and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Sports

Dion Waiters looks a little out of shape as training camp starts (PHOTO)

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Each summer in the NBA we have to sit around and watch as players seemingly add pounds of muscle to their body. Over the course of the season, this added muscle typically melts away as players spend less time in the weight room and start running more than ever.

#MuscleWatch is a hilarious and staid part of the summer. But its cousin, Weight Watch, is a bit different.

On the flip side, some players show up in worse shape than they ended the season prior. Boris Diaw used to be the king of the early fall extra poundage. Now it appears that Miami Heat wing Dion Waiters is carrying a little bit of baggage with him as he starts training camp.

When Waiters’ headshot was published this week, Twitter had a bit of a field day with it.

Via Twitter:

This is not to body shame Waiters in anyway of course. As an athlete, his body is up for intense scrutiny with regard to his readiness for the season. And, how Waiters looks heading into training camp is markedly different than how he looked last summer.

No doubt when training camp starts, Waiters will get himself into shape and he will be ready to play by the time games start in October. Still, it’s always shocking to see a professional athlete add some lbs.

Damian Lillard says he started breaking Twitter news to put the ‘shoe on the other foot’

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Damian Lillard surprised us all this summer when he shockingly started tweeting out new destinations for media members as they changed jobs. It was a twist on the typical script, which would normally see journalists break news about athletes.

It was a fun moment on social media, and most people sort of shrugged it off as Lillard reporting information fed to him by members of the media who could be considered his friends.

Left unsaid was the place Lillard’s newsbreaking had with regard to the natural opposition some NBA players feel toward the media. No doubt Lillard getting to break some news instead of having news broken about him gave him some kind of satisfaction. While speaking to The Athletic’s Sam Amick this week, Lillard said as much.

Via The Athletic:

It was just a case of putting the shoe on the other foot. I think there’s a lot of stuff that we go through as players, or a story might come out that might have a little bit of truth, but somebody adds (to it) or put their own spin on it or whatever. We don’t have a chance to say, ‘No, I don’t want that to get out. Yeah, it happened, or yeah that’s accurate but I don’t really want that story to be told at the moment. I don’t want to have to deal with that right now. Our situation is just not considered a lot of times.

I’m just basically showing you how it feels to be vulnerable, I guess, or to be at somebody else’s mercy about something that you might not want out.

… It’s almost like anybody can report anything now. I’m not a journalist, I’ve never done this before, but all of a sudden I can report something and it’s fair game, you know what I’m saying? Why is that even respected? Now if it was CJ, that’s one thing, he went to school for journalism, and he does that. He does podcasts, and he writes articles and things like that. I don’t, so that was part of it. Anybody can drop this information.

Lillard isn’t exactly wrong here. Modern journalism is so skewed from what it once was, it’s hard for those in the industry to even keep track of who is reliable and who is not. The availability of social media and mobile audio and visual capture means that just about every citizen can relay first-hand information quickly. And while it’s a bit of a stretch for Lillard to say that his teammate CJ McCollum is more journalistically reliable than he is, the Blazers star seemingly becoming frustrated with the idea of journalism-as-horsetrading strikes home.

As professional sports across the world have grown in value, and truly become multibillion-dollar businesses, so too has the public relations aspect of professional sports. Beat reporters no longer fly on team planes, and everyone from the athletes to the teams and the agents want to try to control the message. That has driven a wedge between sports journalists and athletes in today’s coverage.

Even Lillard’s description of his reason for dropping his information came, in part, from a stated desire for better public relations management. That is, that stories often are not narrowed to information the athlete wants available, and may come at inconventient time for athletes.

Of course, “I don’t really want that story to be told at the moment” isn’t a good reason not to publish something. That’s what delineates journalists from public relations. But in an era where high-powered media entities wield power with information that is, altruistically, perhaps more trivial than necessary, it seems possible that the pillar on which journalistic ethics once stood has slowly begun to erode. If that’s the case, it’s reasonable to think there are times which you can’t blame players on being upset with writers.

Who knows if Lillard will continue to dip his toes in the news breaking pool? The season is not far away, and he’s probably too busy working out.

Report: Cavaliers, Larry Nance Jr. talking contract extension

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When the Cavaliers made the trade deadline deal with the Lakers last February, they got Larry Nance Jr. (the son of a Cavs legend) and Jordan Clarkson (surrendering Channing Frye, Isaiah Thomas and a 2018 1st round draft pick that became Moritz Wagner).

Nance is the one the Cavaliers seem intent on keeping, and they may extend him, reports Tom Withers of the Associated Press.

This seems like a good fit for both sides, if they can find a number that works. The Cavaliers are committed to not bottoming out right now — which is why Kevin Love got a new massive contract — and Nance fits with that.

This is not going to be a max contract, but Nance has made it clear he likes playing in Cleveland and wants to stay. After he came over last season he averaged 8.9 points on 55 percent shooting, 7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.4 steals a game. Those numbers could go up with LeBron James no longer in the picture.