New York riding the wave of Jeremy Lin… but it will hit shore

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You know how you can be working hard on a really hot day, spending hours helping your friend move (including getting that couch up three flights of twisting stairs), and you really could go for a beer. When it’s all done, someone hands you a cold Bud Light and it tastes like the best beer you’ve ever had?

It’s not. It’s no Stone IPA. Bud Light is barely passable most of the time. But in the right place at the right time it seems heaven sent.

That’s Jeremy Lin in New York right now.

He’s not a great point guard, but he’s the right guy in the right place at the right time.

Lin was a curiosity out of Harvard who caught people’s eye at Summer League two years ago for the same reasons he is succeeding in New York — he plays well off the pick and roll and attacks the paint with a vengance. He makes smart plays and is crafty getting to the hoop, and he can hit open teammates when the defense comes at him. This season he generates 43.7 percent of his offense as the pick-and-roll ball handler and shoots 60 percent in that role (via mysynergysports.com).

The Knicks haven’t had anything like this since the ‘Melo trade, and suddenly Mike D’Antoni’s offense looks like that thing we remember from Phoenix. The pace is being pushed, guys are getting dunks at the rim and wide-open threes. There is spacing and ball movement again.

And Lin gets all the credit for it. He deserves it, he has given the team energy.

We all know this isn’t going to last. Right? Zach Lowe talks about it at Sports Illustrated, too. There are reasons the Warriors and Rockets didn’t give him this kind of run. (Come on New York, deep down you know it, too.) First, it’s a small sample size of success. The fact Lin turns the ball over on 28 percent of the plays where he is the pick-and-roll ball handler hasn’t caught up with him yet. He has played against teams that struggle against the pick-and-roll defensively so far. Also, eventually Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire will come back and take the ball and shots.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for Lin in New York. He may not be the long-term answer, but he can be an answer. His style of play coming off the bench with some shooters around him could give the Knicks a formidable and fun second unit. He should stick for a while — so get the guy a place to live.

And right now — with Stoudemire and Anthony out a few more games — it’s going to be fun to watch him go against John Wall Wednesday then make Derek Fisher look slow and old on Friday.

New York should keep riding the Lin wave. Just know that eventually it will get to shore.

Scottie Pippen on LeBron James, Michael Jordan: “It’s not a fair comparison”

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The battle has, stupidly, raged on between supporters of Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Both sides seem to believe their preference is irrefutably the choice for the best player in NBA history.

And because they did not play in the same era, the question will never be answered. No doubt in 50 years they will write columns about Jordan vs. LeBron, just like their fathers, and their father’s fathers before them.

James has certainly seemed to take a bit of a leap in the eyes of the NBA community this season, likely because of his wonderful performance at age 33. He’s also single-handedly won two playoff series this year. It’s been incredible.

But LeBron rising above Jordan has also brought out some more reasonable takes. Former Chicago Bulls legend and Jordan running mate Scottie Pippen spoke up recently about the debate, giving a measured analysis that I think is pretty strong.

In short, Pippen basically said you can’t compare the two because of the eras, the style, and the fact they just don’t play the same position (if LeBron even has a position, that is).

Via Twitter:

That sounds right to me.

Cavaliers’ Kendrick Perkins not into “all that new stuff” like Chewbacca

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Chewbacca was at Game 3 in Cleveland Saturday. Sitting courtside.

Why? Because growing up on Kashyyyk he played a little hoop and admires LeBron James‘ skill? Because Drake gave him the tickets? Maybe. I mean, it’s not like that was just a clever little publicity stunt for a movie.

After the Cavaliers’ win, Kevin Love decided to make a little joke of it with noted humorist Kendrick Perkins, and it went over as well as expected (with Dave McMenamin of ESPN catching it).

That’s vintage Perkins.

Celtics’ Terry Rozier on Game 3: “We needed to get our butts whooped”

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Cleveland dominated Game 3 Saturday night. They played harder, to start. The Cavaliers’ defensive pressure on the ball was better, they were sharper rotating out to shooters and covering passing lanes. Cleveland’s role players stepped up and helped LeBron James.

Boston, meanwhile, wilted in the face of that pressure Saturday, something it has done a few times on the road these playoffs. The Celtics got away from the things that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Guard Terry Rozier put it more bluntly, via A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:

“I feel like we needed this (loss) to get us back … to get us ready for Monday,” Rozier said.

Rozier later added, “We needed to get our butts whipped. Come back to reality and take care of business on Monday.”

Cleveland is a championship team — from LeBron James on down through the core guys, they all have rings. They have been down before, and heading home it was expected they would play with force. Cleveland’s back was against the wall and they responded.

From the Celtics’ perspective, they also got a little too fat and happy and were not ready for what the Cavaliers came with in Game 3.

Now the pressure is on Boston to push back, to get back to their level of execution and do it under pressure. Make the Cavaliers prove the improved defensive effort was not a one-off game. The Celtics must move the ball and play with some pace, then see if the Cavaliers can keep it together in the face of crisp play.

When this series heads back to Boston Wednesday, it will either see the Celtics in control up 3-1, or the series will be a best of three (with the Cavs still having to figure out if they can win on the road). At home, the Cavaliers are going to play with force again and have some depth. We’ll see if Game 3 was enough of a wakeup call for Boston.

PBT Extra: Can Rockets take Game 2 energy, execution on the road?

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Houston found its blueprint to beating Golden State in Game 2: Strong defensive pressure on the ball, quick switches and communication on defense, getting out in transition when possible, and starting sets earlier in the shot clock and attacking downhill with James Harden and Chris Paul.

Now can they do that on the road? Against a more focused and sharper Warriors’ team?

That will be the question in the next two games of the Western Conference Finals, and it’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.