A collection of thoughts on Lakers-Celtics Game 6…
You’re all familiar with “Tremors“, right? Classic mid-90’s comedy horror film about gigantic sand-worm-like creatures that come up from the ground and suck people into the earth, eating them? Yeah, the Lakers were a lot like that tonight.
They overwhelmed Boston from the beginning, and you could see why. All their defensive lapses were gone. Most telling was actually their perimeter defense, not their interior, surprisingly. The Lakers simply cut off all the angles, getting back to their style of using their insanely long limbs to interfere with passing lanes and obstruct vision, constantly forcing resets of the offense on the perimeter.
When the Celtics did manage penetration, they had to slide past the first defender and over the second. Just as the Lakers’ defense is supposed to work. No drive and kick opportunities were available with weakside help coming from the perimeter, essentially trapping the ball mid-air.
Now, all of that on its own isn’t enough for this kind of blowout. The Lakers got help from the Gods. Celtics don’t miss layups. Celtics don’t settle for long range jumpers early in shot clock, and Sasha Vujacic does not shoot 50% from the field. These things do not happen without divine intervention. But then again, the same can be said for the Shrek and Donkey game, for Pau Gasol going MIA, and for the Ron Artest zaniness (well, the last one, maybe not). Things go both ways in a seven game series. That’s why it goes seven.
The momentum did shift way too much for Boston to be comfortable tonight. There’s the feeling of “we let them get this one” and then there’s “they stole our lunch money, pushed us in a puddle, sprained our center’s knee, and then spat on us.” And the Lakers spat and spat. They’re now lacking interior depth with Perkins potentially out, struggling from the field again, turnover prone, and looking overwhelmed by a home crowd that, very honestly, has never been all that good. But they were loud tonight, and fed off the Lakers run. If there’s anything that will get the Staples crowd to care (besides tacos), it’s beating the crap out of the Celtics.
Here’s a fun one. Here is the combined, sum percentage for Rajon Rondo’s field goal percentage, three point percentage, and free throw percentage. 33%. Combined. 0-1 from 3-point land, 0-2 from the stripe. 10 points, 6 assists, and an absolutely horrible night, encapsulated by the missed dunk of his in the third quarter. If it wasn’t over (and it was over), it was over, then.
Pau Gasol is alive, and back to being dominant. Those assists are so vital. Working out of the high post, whipping cut passes, overreaching down low, tossing off easy ones, the Spaniard had the whole thing going. Just a brilliant performance, one worthy of the crowd. Or Oklahoma City’s. Somewhere loud and on time.
Bryant took 19 shots but also had 9 rebounds, and worked in the flow of the game. He passed to open teammates, working to create high quality shots, and didn’t try and take the game over. A performance worthy of his soon to be Finals MVP trophy.
Seriously. Up from the ground. Ate them alive.
Report: Warriors’ Patrick McCaw cleared, will be available for Game 6
The Golden State Warriors are planning to activate swingman Patrick McCaw for Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
McCaw, on paper, would help the Warriors — he’s a 6’5″ switchable defender who can provide some offense in transition. That’s especially true if Andre Iguodala is out for Game 6 (his status is a game-time decision). McCaw played about 17 minutes a night for the Warriors during the regular season.
However, the idea of taking a second-year player who has not been on a court in six weeks and throwing him into Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals — a win-or-go-fishing game for Golden State — is risky, at best. Don’t expect him to get on the court unless this is a blowout.
Kevin Love in concussion protocol, listed as out for Game 7
As if winning a Game 7 on the road against a younger, more athletic team that has not lost on its home court all playoffs was not difficult enough, things just got harder for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kevin Love has a concussion and is not expected to play in Game 7 on Sunday.
STATUS UPDATE: @kevinlove is experiencing concussion-like symptoms and has been placed in the league’s concussion protocol. He is now listed as OUT for Game 7 in Boston. DETAILS: https://t.co/VXk3tptOwo
While it is technically possible for Love to clear out of the concussion protocol in 24 hours, it is highly unlikely. He would have to pass a rigorous physical test and have no concussion-related symptoms, something cleared by both the team doctor and a league-approved neurologist. This is something that tends to take days if not weeks to get over.
Love was injured just five minutes into Game 6. Love had set up position in the midpost and was setting a screen for George Hill, who was curling out to the arc. Jayson Tatum was trailing Hill and he banged heads with Love. It wasn’t pretty.
Love spent a few minutes on the ground, went straight to the locker room, and did not return to the game.
LeBron James is going to have to carry even more load in Game 7, and now more pressure falls on George Hill (the bellwether for this Cavs team), J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and others to step up without Love there to space the floor and get buckets.
Report: Raptors interview Spurs’ assistants Ettore Messina, Ime Udoka for coaching job
San Antonio Spurs assistant coaches Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka interviewed with the Toronto Raptors for the franchise's head coaching job on Thursday and Friday, respectively, league sources told ESPN.
Raptors’ president Masai Ujiri fired Dwane Casey right after Casey’s peers voted him Coach of the Year for leading the Raptors to 59 wins and the No. 1 seed in the East. That said, after several frustrating years of running into the brick wall that is LeBron James in the East, maybe the Raptors did need a new voice and some changes to try to take the next step (especially with Boston and Philadelphia coming on fast in the East hierarchy).
But if you’re going to fire a 59-win Coach of the Year kind of guy, you better have an impressive replacement in hand or at least a clear plan.
Ujiri reportedly wanted Mike Budenholzer, but the former Hawks’ head coach took the job in Milwaukee after meeting with Toronto.
The leading candidate for the job is still considered to be Nick Nurse, the Raptors’ assistant who was in charge of their changed and improved offense last season. The Raptors also interviewed two other internal candidates, assistant coach Rex Kalamian and G-League coach Jerry Stackhouse.
It was the kind of injury that has felled many players — think of Rudy Gobertthis season. Twice. A player falls into the side of another player’s leg, putting a strain on the ligaments.
That’s what happened in the fourth quarter of Game 6 in Cleveland Friday night, Larry Nance Jr. falls back and LeBron James‘ knee bent in a way it should not.
“After the game, I didn’t know who got me,” LeBron said. “But after the game, Larry asked me if I was I OK, so I’m guessing he was the culprit of it. I just felt someone fall into my leg and my leg kind of went in. I felt some pain throughout my entire right side of my ankle into my leg. I was just hoping for the best, obviously, because I’ve seen so many different injuries, and watching basketball with that type of injury, someone fall into one’s leg standing straight up. Luckily, I was able to finish the game.”
James scored 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting with a couple of dagger threes to secure the win after that scare, but he didn’t seem to have the same lift after that and was seen favoring his leg walking out of the building.
This was LeBron leaving last night, still favoring his right leg. He said treatments would begin the moment he got home and it would include some wine. pic.twitter.com/jEOGGAgi0r
Of course, LeBron will be good to go for Game 7 in Boston Sunday. If Friday night was any indication, he’s not going to be slowed by it at all.
“As soon as I leave here, I’ll start to prepare (for Game 7),” LeBron said from the podium postgame. “I’m going to get in the car and head back to Akron. As soon as I get home, I’ll start my treatment. I’ll do the same all day tomorrow from before we leave to go to Boston, and then once we get into Boston I’ll do that as well. Try to get as much sleep as I can with tonight and with tomorrow and even on Sunday before the game. That’s the best recovery that you can possibly get, is when you’re sleeping. It’ll be around-the-clock treatment, and we’ll see what happens.”
What’s going to happen is a dramatic Game 7 in the Garden, and we know that for Cleveland to have any chance LeBron has to be superhuman. Again.