Monday And-1 links: Kevin Garnett may sit out game Monday

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• Kevin Garnett may sit out the Celtics preseason game on Monday. What does that mean? That it’s preseason, nothing more.

• There’s a real trend out of New York to try and diffuse the fan frustration over Jeremy Lin leaving by slamming the guy’s game. That included an anonymous source talking to the New York Daily News, which Tom Ziller rightfully called out at SBN. First, a team paying Amare Stoudemire max money can’t complain about injury risks in contracts. Second, leave Lin alone and let your play on the court do the talking. I’m not Raymond Felton’s biggest fan but if you want to argue he’s better today than Lin, go ahead. But all that’s going to matter is how both play starting the last week of October.

• Ivan Johnson destroyed a backboard at the Hawks practice Monday. If you’re looking for a way to force practice to end early…

• Tim Duncan sat out Spurs practice Monday with an undisclosed illness. Probably something he ate. It’s not believed to be serious.

• Deron Williams liked the “Brooklyn” chant at the team’s preseason game in the Barclays Center the other night. What’s it sound like? The slow-sung chorus of Fabolous’ “Brooklyn.”

• Speaking of the Nets, one of the best bits of NBA writing on Sunday was Howard Beck of the New York Times saying Joe Johnson deserves a rest from the “iso-Joe” nickname. He’s right. He didn’t play that way in Phoenix, it wasn’t all isolations until he got in Mike Woodson’s offense in Atlanta.

• One last Nets note: Tyshawn Taylor will not play in Monday’s preseason game due to a quad injury.

There still is no timetable for Eric Gordon’s return to the Hornets’ lineup. They keep saying he wants to get in some preseason games, but I’m not sold that happens. New Orleans fans should feel a little uncomfortable. Not panicked, but uncomfortable.

• Orlando’s Arron Afflalo is out of the team’s Monday’s preseason game against the Cavs because of a sore hamstring.

• O.J. Mayo had a pretty big cut on his hand, which is why Dallas is saying he went 0-for-7 shooting last preseason game. But he’s not taking time off.

• Kevin Love hurt his elbow sleeping, but somehow he’s going to fight through that and play for the team Tuesday.

• J.R. Smith’s ankle was good enough for him to return to a full practice on Monday with the Knicks.

• Luol Deng was back at Bulls practice Monday.

• Dwyane Wade talks in some depth about his jump from the Jordan Brand to Li-Ning for shoes, apparel.

• In a sign he is feeling better, Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas is no longer wearing a compression sleeve over his calf during practices.

• Denver backup point guard Julyan Stone had hip surgery and likely is not back until January. But with Ty Lawson and Andre Miller in front of him, it’s not like he was going to be getting a lot of minutes anyway, but we wish him the best with his recovery.

Fast start, LeBron James enough for Cavaliers to hold on to win, even series

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For the first time in 11 days, we had an NBA playoff game that finished with a single-digit margin. Barely.

It didn’t look like it would be early — Boston missed lay-ups and dunks all through the first quarter, LeBron James was being LeBron James, and the Cavaliers had a 16 point first quarter lead. It was 15 at the half.

But these Celtics would not go quietly.

Boston started to find it’s offensive groove — hunting Kevin Love incessantly — but in the end couldn’t get enough stops because, well, LeBron James. He finished with 44 points on 17-of-28 shooting, his sixth 40-point game of these playoffs. He got wherever he wanted on the floor all night, carving up the top-ranked regular season defense of the Celtics like a surgeon. No other Cavalier had more than 14 points (Kyle Korver), but the supporting cast played enough defensive and made hustle plays to hang on.

@realtristan13 with the swat and @kingjames with the finish!

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Cleveland got the win, 111-102, and evened the series at 2-2. Game 5 is Wednesday night back in Boston.

What Celtics fans can feel good about is their team’s resilience and grit. Down big for the second-straight game on the road in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics fought back from as much as 19 down earlier in the game to get it to single digits and make the fans in Quicken Loan Arena nervous in the fourth quarter. That is something the team can carry over to Game 5, as they can some defensive tweaks that shut down opportunities for Korver and the rest of the supporing cast.

What should bother Celtics fans was another night where they struggled to generate offense in the face of more intense defensive pressure.

That came from the opening tip, with the Celtics missing a few layups and a couple of Jaylen Brown dunk attempts — all of which allowed the Cavs to get early offenses and mismatches going the other way. Those missed shots fueled a 10-0 Cavaliers run that had Cleveland up 19-10 early. The Celtics shot 3-of-10 at the rim in the first quarter, shot 26 percent overall, and trailed 34-18 after one.

The second quarter saw the Celtics start to find their offense — they scored 35 points on 50 percent shooting — but they only gained one point on the Cavaliers lead because Boston couldn’t get stops. LeBron had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half to pace a Cleveland team that shot 61.5 percent overall and hit 6-of-11 threes. That’s why the Cavs were up 68-53 at the half.

The Celtics energy was better than Game 2, but in the first half they looked like a young team, one that made a lot of mistakes.

In the second half, the Celtics started to figure things out — they started making the extra pass, they got stops for stretches, they looked more like a young team figuring things out. They finished the night with 25 from Jaylen Brown, 17 from Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier had 16 points and 11 assists.

They just couldn’t completely close the gap because they couldn’t get consistent stops — the Cavaliers shot 60 percent as a team for the game, and a ridiculous true shooting percentage of 59.6. Cleveland mercilessly hunted Rozier on switches — forcing him on to LeBron or Kevin Love then attacking — and the Cavs got enough from their role players. Tristan Thompson did what he needed to bringing energy in the paint and some defense, plus he had 13 points. Korver was diving on the floor for loose balls. Larry Nance Jr. had his second good game in a row. George Hill had 13 points.

And whenever the Cavaliers needed a play, they had LeBron to turn to. He set another NBA record on Monday night, most playoff field goals made for a career.

LeBron is what needs to worry Boston most of all. The Celtics will be better at home in Game 5 — they have not lost in TD Garden all postseason — but if this thing goes seven, it’s a dangerous thing when the other team has the best player on the planet.

LeBron James passes Kareem to become all-time leader in playoff made field goals

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LeBron James is already the NBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer, having passed Michael Jordan last postseason.

However, LeBron racked up his buckets in the era of the three-point shot (as did Jordan, to a lesser extent), so Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the all-time leader in field goals made in the postseason. A lot of them beautiful skyhooks that still give Celtics fans nightmares.

Monday night, LeBron made history passing Abdul-Jabar for the top spot in NBA playoff made field goals.

Just add that to the already insane resume.

Kevin Love with insane touchdown outlet to LeBron James for bucket

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Not sure what part of this was better.

Was it Kevin Love‘s length-of-the-court outlet touchdown pass that was right on the money, where only the receiver could get it?

Or was it LeBron James, with a catch in a crowd that would make Julio Jones’ draw drop?

Either way, this first quarter bucket from the Cavaliers may well be the play of the game.

Spurs disbanding all-female dance team in favor of co-ed hype team

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Is this the wave of the future?

Since then newly-minted owner Jerry Buss started the Laker Girls’ in 1979, all-female dance teams have become standard around the NBA. However, with how things are now viewed through the prism of the #metoo movement, and reports on how NFL cheerleaders were treated in places such as Washington and Miami, a lot of professional sports teams are re-thinking the concept of female dance teams.

The Spurs are apparently doing away with theirs, to be replaced by a 35-person co-ed “hype team.”

The Spurs have not said officially that this is the end of the Silver Dancers. “Lack of interest” is an odd reason to give — is there suddenly less interest now than there was five years ago? A number of teams have both female dance teams and co-ed “spirit” or “hype” teams.

Far more likely, this is about perception in what is a conservative state and marketplace.

The question is will this become a trend, both around the NBA and professional sports. As the teams try to evolve and make more dynamic their in-arena experiences, are the dance teams going to fade from view?

Just something to keep and eye on going forward.