NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 6: Blogbook thinks the C's have 'Tremors'

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kobeyelll.jpgA 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.

Rumor: Raptors trying to trade up in draft for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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The Raptors have major problems in the playoffs annually.

Is a coaching change enough to fix them?

Toronto already fired Dwane Casey and promoted assistant Nick Nurse after a highly successful regular season. Perhaps, major roster turnover could follow.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander projects to be a late lottery pick. The Raptors have no selections in this draft. So, acquiring one high enough to pick the Kentucky point guard would take plenty.

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are stars. Toronto’s bench is stocked with solid young players. O.G. Anunoby is very promising.

So, the Raptors have pieces to move. The only question how much they’d package for a draft pick.

Toronto already has Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright at point guard. But Lowry is 32, and VanVleet will be a restricted free agent this summer. If they really believe in Gilgeous-Alexander, the Raptors should try to get him.

All that said, this is the time of year rumors – both credible and not – fly. So, it’s worth remaining skeptical while still considering the validity of what reputable reporters like Stein convey.

Luka Doncic, Donte DiVincenzo, Jerome Robinson among NBA draft invitees

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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Of course DeAndre Ayton will attend Thursday’s NBA draft. The Suns will likely draft him No. 1 overall.

But what about more marginal first-round prospects?

The NBA’s draft invite list is an important tool in judging their stock. The league wants to avoid players sitting in agony until their names are called. So, the NBA works to invite only the prospects most likely to get picked high in the draft.

The full list of invited players (which the league notes is subject to change):

Luka Doncic will go high in the draft, and though how high is still uncertain, his inclusion on this list says nothing about his stock. It just speaks to whether we’ll see him Thursday night. His attendance will depend at least on when Real Madrid’s season ends, though the NBA is apparently confident enough to list him.

Jerome Robinson has climbed draft boards since the season ended. He must be impressing in workouts and interviews.

Donte DiVincenzo is a bit of a surprise selection, as he’s not widely viewed as a first-round lock. Perhaps, the league is looking to capitalize on his popularity stemming from a breakout NCAA tournament championship game.

This will only reinforce the idea Chandler Hutchinson received a promise. Otherwise, he’s a surprise invitee.

Among the top players not attending: Kevin Huerter (Maryland), Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Troy Brown (Oregon) and Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech). Though they could go higher than players listed here, that says something about Huerter’s Evans’, Browns’ and Okogie’s stock, too.

Report: Rudy Gay opting out of Spurs contract

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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Kawhi Leonard reportedly wants to leave the Spurs, but he’s at their whims.

This doesn’t mean Rudy Gay will depart San Antonio, but he’s taking control of his future.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Gay’s option-year salary was $8,826,300.

I doubt Gay, who turns 32 this summer, will draw such a high starting salary on his next contract – though I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. He could likely get a multi-year deal with a higher total value.

Or he could chase a ring elsewhere.

Remember, Gay gave up money to leave the Kings last summer. No matter how much the Leonard situation should make us rethink the Spurs’ culture, San Antonio probably isn’t “basketball hell.” Still, the Spurs clearly don’t look as appealing as they once did, and Gay has shown how much he values team quality.

Gay is coming off a nice season, and San Antonio might try to re-sign him. Danny Green has a $10 million player option for next season, which will swing whether the Spurs have the flexibility for a bigger move this summer.

Report: LeBron James’ camp likes Collin Sexton

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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In 2014, LeBron James tweeted his fondness for Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier. The Heat traded up to get Napier in the draft, but LeBron left for the Cavaliers that summer, anyway.

Could history repeat itself, this time in Cleveland?

LeBron has already talked up Oklahoma point guard Trae Young, but maybe LeBron and his camp want the Cavs to take a different point guard – Alabama’s Collin Sexton – with the No. 8 pick.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, via Jordan Zirm of ESPN Cleveland:

The Cavaliers should take the best prospect available. Worrying about what LeBron might want makes a mistake only more likely.

LeBron might stay in Cleveland, but as 2014 showed, it won’t be because of a draft pick. If he stays, it very well could be by opting into the final year of his contract. His player-option salary ($35,607,968) is slightly higher than his projected max salary as a free agent (about $35.35 million). If LeBron opts in, the best chance of keeping him long-term is building a better team around him.

That means taking the best prospect at No. 8 or trading the pick for someone who can help LeBron win now. If the top prospect is Sexton, that’s fine. But the Cavs are fare more likely to appease LeBron by getting the pick right in the long run rather than choosing the prospect he wants now.