NBA Playoffs: Boston got one, but can they beat a better Heat?

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Boston looked good in getting the Game 3 — they were defending again, they had the inspiration of Rajon Rondo’s rreturn, they got big games from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce…

Which is to say just about everything except Rondo’s elbow went right for Boston. Don’t expect that to be the case a second game in a row. This time things will be closer, and Boston is going to have to fight and defend harder to get the win.

The Heat are going to make starting lineup changes, and the smart money says they will start Mario Chalmers at the point and his job will be to attach himself to Rondo’s right him and play him hard. Force him to go left. Do not back off all the time and do what he wants, he’s not going to shoot a jumper. If Rondo can handle that pressure the Celtics will be one up.

The other big advantage in Game 3 was that Kevin Garnett dominated his matchup with Chris Bosh, who did his Pau Gasol impression for a game. Boston needs to win this battle again, if Miami and Bosh can force it to a stalemate (as it was the first two games) they win.

Boston once again has to keep LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh in check — that is where the majority of the scoring has to come from for the Heat. There is no balance. The three combined for 44 points in Game, while Pierce and Garnett had 55. Boston needs that kind of win, again.

The Celtics stand a better chance of getting one big game out of their role players — Delonte West is the most likely. While Miami will not get a lot of points out of their subs (unless the Celtics leave James Jones open a lot again) the bench battle is one the Celtics must win big.

The Celtics need things to go right, but they have been here before. They are used to the pressure and the intensity. They know how to make things go right.

Does Miami? That may be the biggest question. This is the first real big test of the playoffs, the first real question asked of this Heat team. How do they answer? With renewed defensive intensity, or do they still look like a deer in the headlights?

Either way, you can bet this game will be a lot closer than Game 3, likely going right down to the wire.

Lonzo Ball bypasses open layup for no-look backward bounce pass, leaves Luke Walton staring into abyss (video)

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Lonzo Ball missed a layup early last night. That might have made him overthink later, when he was ahead of the pack on another fastbreak. Instead of shooting the open layup, Ball bounced the ball behind him without looking, leading to a turnover and open Heat 3-pointer.

On the bright side for the Lakers, they still beat Miami.

On the bright side for us, we got this great Luke Walton reaction GIF:

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LeBron James says he was referring to only arena, not consideration of signing with Knicks

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After the Lakers beat the Heat in LeBron James‘ and Dwyane Wade‘s final game together, the stars shared an eyebrow-raising conversation on the court:

  • Wade: “I appreciate you letting it end here. I appreciate you bringing us here today.”
  • LeBron: “It was either here or at the Garden. That’s it. That’s the only places we could end it at, man.”

That prompted immense speculation about whether LeBron considered signing with the Knicks. After all, how else would he and Wade – who said he’d re-sign with Miami or retire – have played at Madison Square Garden?

Michael Duarte of NBC Los Angeles

This was always the most likely explanation. The arenas in Los Angeles in New York are the NBA’s biggest stages, and LeBron has repeatedly stated his affection for Madison Square Garden. He didn’t have to think through all the implications to say those were the only appropriate locations.

But I’m still a little skeptical.

LeBron sure was speaking up for the cameras with Wade. And that was after an on-court conversation with Wade a few years ago blew up into a big deal. LeBron also got reminded just last year, with Lonzo Ball, about how much attention those on-court talks generate.

Plus, ever since Phil Jackson bothered him with his “posse” comment, LeBron has repeatedly gone out of his way to tease the Knicks.

Ultimately, I believe the given explanation that this was just about the arena’s allure and nothing more. An offhand remark needn’t completely follow the logic that either LeBron or Wade must play for the Knicks for them to meet at Madison Square Garden. But I’m not completely sold this wasn’t a passive-aggressive dig at the Knicks.

Kings player after beating Bulls: ‘Uh-oh, another 2 1/2-hour practice for them tomorrow’

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New coach Jim Boylen has ruled the Bulls with an iron fist. His abnormally frequent and lengthy practices nearly inspired a mutiny by his players.

A 108-89 home loss to the Kings last night likely won’t ease attention in Chicago. Especially with the opponent piling on afterward.

Chicago Sun-Times:

The Bulls are the laughingstock of the NBA right now.

Even the Kings – the Kings!are mocking them.

Did Knicks have shot at LeBron James last summer? Mic picks up interesting line

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After the Los Angeles Lakers knocked off the Miami Heat in dramatic fashion Monday night, every camera person in the building rushed over to where LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were standing.

It was the last time these two men would share a court, and it was an emotional farewell as they hugged and exchanged jerseys, the cameras and mics picking up every moment.

Including when Wade thanked LeBron for seeing that their last game was played at Staples Center, one of the legendary venues of the league. But it was LeBron’s response that turned heads:

“It was either here or The Garden. That’s it.” 

Did the Knicks actually have a shot at LeBron last summer?

It doesn’t seem that way, considering LeBron made his decision to go to Los Angeles within 24 hours of the official start of free agency. There was no meeting with the Knicks, no serious contact in any way.

What LeBron was referring to (I think) was having their final game in one of the two brightest spotlights, one of the two most legendary venues in the NBA. Madison Square Garden and Staples Center have a vibe before Knicks and Lakers games that just doesn’t exist anywhere else — even when their teams are bad the venues are special and guys raise their games. It’s a combination of the markets, the big fan bases, and the history of the franchises, and the buildings (Shaq and Kobe basically built Staples Center). Much like a baseball game at Yankee Stadium/Fenway Park/Wrigley Field, there’s just something special about it that’s hard to quantify. It’s just different there.

That’s why the final game for LeBron and Wade had to be in Los Angeles or New York.

But Knicks fans, go ahead and dream of what might have been.