That didn’t take long: Let the Calipari to the Knicks rumors begin

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In honesty, the buzz had started before Kentucky won the national championship, before the NCAA Tournament had even started.

John Calipari — maybe the ultimate players’ coach — was going to be in the running for the New York Knicks job. Over at Yahoo Adrian Wojnarowski writes about how the job is a perfect setup for Calipari.

He has his NCAA championship now, and the New York Knicks have three necessities that Calipari desperately needs: a vacancy, a big stage and a blank check….

The circumstances are aligned for Calipari to make a move: the validation of an NCAA title, a suspect relationship with his athletic director and his ability to leverage a monumental contract out of the Knicks. Calipari is a great salesman, and he’ll sell owner James Dolan on his ability to get the most out of Carmelo Anthony, to keep the Garden sold out and get the Knicks winning in the postseason again. Dolan can’t sell results as an owner, so he’s always selling a new savior. Now, Calipari is no longer the failed ex-Nets coach, but the national champion Kentucky Wildcats coach.

Wojnarowski goes on to make a good point — no team with a strong general manager is going to bring in Calipari. This is going to be an owner’s hire — and James Dolan is the kind of owner looking to make a splashy, big-name hire.

It is believed that the coach Dolan really wants is Phil Jackson — the former Knick player with 11 rings. But to me that seems a longshot. For one, Jackson is just now getting healthy and after watching how worn down he seemed at the end of the Lakers run, I don’t think he wants to go back. Plus, this Knicks roster poorly set up for the triangle. Jackson already has a legacy as (arguably) the greatest coach ever and he’s rich. I’m not sure he gives his life now up.

If Jackson doesn’t pan out, World Wide Wes will be there to help guide Calipari toward the Knicks.

This may not work out either. Some teams in the NBA run parts of his motion offense but certainly not like Kentucky does. He is a solid game coach but not spectacular. And while player relations are his strength, you can’t recruit your way to an NBA title.

Even so, the rumors have started. And they are not going to stop until the Knicks hire a coach next summer.

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.

Cavaliers cruise past Celtics in Game 3, change complexion of Eastern Conference finals

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The Cavaliers were heavy favorites over the Celtics entering the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron James has dominated the East for years, and Cleveland appeared to hit its stride in a sweep of the Raptors last round. Boston was shorthanded and inexperienced.

Were the Celtics’ two wins to open the series, as impressive as they were, really enough to override everything else we knew about these teams?

The Cavs walloped Boston in Game 3, 116-86, Saturday. Cleveland now has four of the NBA’s last five 30-point playoff wins – two against the Celtics last year, one over Toronto last round and tonight. (The Cavaliers lost the league’s only other 30-point game between, to the Pacers in the first round.)

Boston still leads the series 2-1, and teams up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series have won it 80% of the time.

But the team up 2-1 is usually the one seen as better entering the series. That isn’t the case here, not with LeBron on the other side. And the leading team usually isn’t so woeful on the road, which will remain a major storyline entering Game 4 Monday in Cleveland.

The Celtics bought themselves margin for error, but they blew a lot of it tonight.

It’d be an oversimplification to say the Cavs just played harder, but they did, and it went along way. They chased loose balls, tightened their defense and moved more off the ball offensively. Cleveland jumped to a 20-4 lead, led by double digits the rest of the way and spent most of the game up by at least 20.

LeBron (27 points, 12 assists, two blocks and two steals) dazzled as a passer and locked in as a defender. He received help from several players:

In a low-resistance effort, Boston didn’t goon up the game at all.

The Cavaliers still have plenty of work ahead to reach their fourth straight NBA Finals, but tonight, they showed a path to advancing. Climbing out of their early series deficit now looks far less intimidating.