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.
Oscar Robertson, one of the NBA’s all-time greats and one of only two men to average a triple-double for a season, was recently given the NBA’s Lifetime achievement award. And with good reason — he was a legend on the court, but off the court his lawsuit paved the say for the NBA/ABA merger and the freedom of modern free agency.
In his career, he won just one title, with the Bucks in 1971. (He got it when he joined the Bucks and paired with a young Lew Alcindor — not yet Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — just a reminder for the “count the ringzzzz” crowd that basketball is now and always was a team sport that requires multiple stars and quality role players, plus a little luck, to win a title. Nobody can do it on their own and context matters.)
Robertson recently put his championship ring up for auction, and it fetched $75,948.
That was one of 51 items from The Oscar Robertson Collection put up for auction, which also included game-worn jerseys, his Indiana State championship ring from high school, and more.
Jahlil Okafor is trying to take advantage of his chance with the New Orleans Pelicans this season.
He talked about it in an Instagram post, and most people focused on the pictures of his improved physique. Which is improved.
However, the text was interesting:
I’ve learned how to identify and manage different stressors such as anxiety. Learning how to identify certain stressors has also allowed me to over come them…. Mental health awareness is a cause I will fight for the rest of my life and if you’re struggling today don’t be afraid to speak with someone and seek help. I would like to thank @kevinlove and the @playerstribune for helping me identify my feelings and informing me what I was dealing with was in fact normal.
NBA players stepping forward and admitting they need help dealing with mental challenges and illness is a good thing. Kevin Love helped Okafor, and hopefully Okafor talking about it will help others.
Okafor has a clean slate in New Orleans. He missed much of last season due to injury, and between his time with the Sixers and Nets he was on the court for just 353 minutes total. In New Orelans there are bench minutes available (behind Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic, and Julius Randle, but Okafor needs to show he can run the floor and play the up-tempo style the Pelicans employ. Okafor’s below the rim, back-to-the-basket offensive game, plus he poor defense, have held him back. If he’s got his body and mind right, maybe some of that can change.
R.J. Hunter has just not been able to find a home and stick in the NBA. He was a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics in 2015 and expected to be a sharpshooter at the NBA level. He went on to play in 35 games for Boston his rookie season, but during the following training camp they cut the former Georgia Tech shooting guard. The Chicago Bulls picked him up on a non-guaranteed minimum contract, he played a total of three games for them, then was cut loose. Houston eventually had him on a two-way contract the second half of last season, where he played five games for the big club and spent most of the season in the G-League.
He played for the Rockets at Summer League and averaged 11.2 points a game on just 40 percent shooting. Now, the Rockets have cut him loose, too. Via Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (for now, he moves over to The Athletic in the coming weeks).
Hunter will look for another chance in the NBA via the G-League, although he may be at the point he considers the overseas money he could earn.
In the G-League last season, playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, he averaged 20.4 points per game with an impressive 60.4 true shooting percentage, and shot 37.7 percent from three. However, he has never been able to transfer those numbers, or anything close to it, over to the NBA level. He has tried to broaden his game and be more than a shooter, but the consistency has just never been where he needs it to be.
He has talked about learning and maturing through all of this. Hopefully he has, and it pays off for him at his next stop. Wherever that may be.
And the rich get richer.
Kobe Bryant is a smart man who studies whatever he does. He was that way on the court, breaking down film on opponents and knowing what was coming next, being one step ahead. He’s done the same in his post-NBA life, which is in part how he won an Oscar. He is calculated.
The same with his investments. Before he stopped playing, he invested in a new sports drink called BodyArmor. (Did you notice the last couple years of his career he always took down or at least turned the label away of NBA sponsor Gatorade when he sat at a podium to speak?) This week, his investment in that company paid off big time, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.
On Tuesday, Coca-Cola announced it had purchased a minority stake in sports drink BodyArmor.
Bryant made his first investment in the brand, for roughly 10 percent of the company, in March 2014, putting in roughly $6 million over time. Based on the valuation of the Coca-Cola deal, his stake is now worth approximately $200 million, sources told ESPN.
At least where I shop, BodyArmor — marketed as a healthier alternative to the other sports drinks — is showing up in the same spaces as Gatorade, Powerade, and the rest. It’s got a growing market share, with more than $400 million in sales expected this year.
I guess Kobe can afford college for his daughters now. Although, he may have already had that covered.