NBA finals, Lakers Celtics Game 2: Milk cartons, desert islands, and Kevin Garnett

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Garnett_solo.jpgAfter Ray Allen was plagued by foul trouble in Game 1, it was Kevin Garnett’s turn to fade into the background as the calls piled up against him in Game 2.

KG’s final stat line — six points, four rebounds, and six assists — is probably too rosy a representation of his overall impact; Garnett would occasionally make a play of some import, but for the most part, Kevin was invisible. That’s not what the Celtics have come to expect from Garnett in these playoffs, and Boston will need something more if they’re going to really put pressure on the Lakers.

Boston’s overall defense was improved from their Game 1 calamity, and Garnett does deserve some credit for that. In terms of his ability to function defensively in a team setting, KG wasn’t exactly awful.

Still, his one-on-one defense was poor yet again, which says as much about the superior play of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum as it does about Garnett’s ineffectiveness. This is not the best defense Kevin is capable of playing, and whether it’s a “lack of explosiveness,” a bad match-up, or anxious whistle-blowers that ail him, he desperately needs to make some kind of impact in future games.

Ray Allen is not going to shoot 8-of-11 from three every night, and Kobe Bryant won’t always go 8-for-20 from the field. Ron Artest won’t always be such a possession-killer, and Rajon Rondo may not always rack up a triple-double.

Even if the things didn’t go perfectly for Boston (Paul Pierce’s performance in particular left a bit to be desired), a lot went right. Certainly enough to off-set superb outings from Gasol and Bynum. The only problem is that aside from a nice feed to Kendrick Perkins here or a big make over Ron Artest there, Garnett really wasn’t a part of it.

Expecting KG to best Pau Gasol would be a bit much, but it would certainly be nice to see him do more than simply dress out. He wasn’t inefficient and he didn’t hurt his team while he was on the floor, but Garnett seems an awfully uncomfortable wallflower.

It’s nice for Boston to take a game even without KG’s help, but the disappearing act needs to stop now. If anyone can find the Kevin Garnett that completely shut down his defensive assignments in the first three rounds, tell him to come to the front of the store: his teammates and coach are looking for him.

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

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Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.

Watch Curry, Klay in 3-point shooting contest in Japan. Yeah, they’re good at this.

NBA Japan Games Saturday Night
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The NBA went to Japan to promote the brand, play a few games in a huge market — Japan specifically but Asia as a whole — and put on a show.

Is there a better show than Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson draining 3s? Here they are in a 3-point contest during a basketball exhibition (there were some pro dunkers) in Tokyo on Saturday.

Stephen Curry, was there any other possible outcome?

It’s preseason and they are the defending champs — they should be having fun, playing with some joy.

Thompson took part in the shooting contest but is not playing in either of the exhibition games in Japan as the Warriors ease him back into play this season. It’s a marathon of a season and the Warriors need the best version of Klay starting in April, not October.

Report: Pelicans, Nance agree to two-year, $21.6 million extension

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Larry Nance has been a stabilizing influence in New Orleans since coming over mid-season as part of the trade for CJ McCollum. Nance is a versatile player who can play the four or the five, knocks down his threes, is very strong on the glass, can be a disruptive defender in passing lanes, and fits in — and he has the veteran attitude of work this team needs.

So the Pelicans have reached an extension to keep the 29-year-old around for two years past this coming season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a signing that should make Pelicans fans happy. Importantly, it makes CJ McCollum happy — they are tight and this is something McCollum wanted to see. The money on this deal seems fair, about the league average for a solid rotation player.

Nance is the kind of veteran this team needs considering its young core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram (just turned 25), Herb Jones, and guys like Trey Murphy III, Jose Alvarado, and others. Nance compared it to the young Lakers teams he was on, but noted that team lacked the same level of veteran leadership this Pelicans team has.

We may see more Nance at the five lineups — small ball with Zion at the four — to close games this season in New Orleans, that could be their best lineup because Nance can defend but also spaces the floor for Zion on offense. Coach Willie Green has a lot of different players and matchups to experiment with.

And now he has the stability of Nance for a few more years.

Durant tired of talking Nets dramatic offseason: ‘I didn’t miss any games’

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No team had an offseason quite like the Brooklyn Nets. First, they would not give a long-term extension to Kyrie Irving, which sent the star guard looking for a new team (but there were no offers that worked for everyone, so he opted in with Brooklyn). Then Kevin Durant asked for a trade, and to gain a little leverage reportedly threw down an ultimatum of him or the coach and GM. No trade could be found — how much the Nets wanted one is up for debate — so he is back in Brooklyn. And all that is not even getting into the return of Ben Simmons, a trade for Royce O’Neal, or anything else.

The Nets drama and how they move past it has been the talk of training camp. The only talk at training camp, it feels like.

When asked Friday if there were any inaccuracies in the reporting of the Nets summer he would like to clear up, Durant sounded weary of rehashing the summer.

The only thing that will start to move the conversation in a new direction is the Nets playing and winning games (they open the preseason Monday against the 76ers). And even those wins will have the shadow of the offseason cast over them. Durant and Irving made this bed.

Part of the fascination is the Nets remain the team hardest to predict in the league. They arguably have the most talented roster in the league and, if everything comes together just right, they can contend for a title. It’s also possible the wheels fall off early and by Christmas the Nets are looking to trade Durant again. Both things feel possible (even if reality most likely lands somewhere in the middle).

That uncertainty about the Nets’ future is the drama that will keep eyeballs on them — which also means more questions about this past offseason. Durant can choose not to answer them, but the questions aren’t going away.