Friday And-1 Links: Rajon Rondo is better on national television

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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 like I like a good IPA. Which is a lot.

• It’s not a myth — Rajon Rondo is verifiably statistically better on nationally televised games than others.

• Speaking of the Celtics, here is a great feature on D.J. White and his path to Boston and the NBA. Which is a heck of a trip.

• It’s not just the Celtics, there are a lot of green NBA St. Patrick’s Day jerseys. The Bulls one is cool. However, if you’re a Lakers fan and buy a green Lakers pullover you need help. And a lesson in history.

• In the first question of his chat, NBA CBA guru Larry Coon gives a great breakdown of teams options with Andrew Bynum. He said Bynum’s contract will be a real test of the new CBA — will a team give him a max deal despite concerns about his knees? I think the answer will be yes, but they can get protections. Coon lays one of those out that makes sense to me:

An Exhibit 3 (prior injury exclusion) that lets his team waive him if he’s unable to play as a result of his (specific) prior injuries. (This is what the T-Wolves have with Brandon Roy.)

• I’m going to be up front here — Adrian Dantley is one of my favorite all time NBA players. The 6’5″ guy who could post up long before some guys like MJ and Kobe made it trendy. Deadspin tells us he’s still working — as a crossing guard. No, not for the money (he has plenty of that still, the man is legendarily frugal) but because it helps cover his insurance. Which brings us to the question of why the league doesn’t have some sort of insurance for former players, but we don’t have time to discuss how that will never get approved even though it would be the right thing to do. Bottom line, Adrian Dantley is a crossing guard.

• Could Deron Williams make the Nets the best team in New York?

Sports fans get the worst tattoos.

• An interesting look at the 2008 Rockets team that won 22 games in a row. The other three teams to break that streak are the title teams of he 1971 Milwaukee Bucks and the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers. We’ll see with the Heat. But that Rockets team was just not that good and lost in the first round, they are the outlier.

Box Score Replay is a cool technology.

• You probably knew this, but Magic GM Rob Hennigan and OKC GM Sam Presti are tight.

• Some drat prospects you will not see in the NCAA Tournament, by ESPN’s Chad Ford (behind the ESPN pay wall).

• By the way, March Madness is hard on your company’s computer network.

• The Nets sent Tyshawn Taylor and Tornike Shengelia to the D-League.

• Finally, LeBron James threw down a few dunks pregame in Philadelphia (he slowed down on that since the silly controversy).

Will Chris Paul play in Game 7?

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The way Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry were shooting it probably wouldn’t have changed the outcome of Game 6, but the Houston Rockets missed Chris Paul. They missed his steadying influence on offense, and maybe more importantly on defense — Curry was directing the offense, creating space with his handles then finding people cutting off the ball and draining threes. Paul may have been able to help keep Curry in relative check.

Which all leads to this big question: Will Paul suit up and play in Game 7.

Doesn’t sound like it.

I would describe the mood of sources I spoke to on this issues as pessimistic on CP3’s chances of play.

If Paul can at all go, he will. Three years ago Paul played through a hamstring injury to lead the Clippers past the Spurs, he’ll want to do it again.

This is different. For one thing, Paul is older now, his body will not bounc he is at all limited with his movement the Warriors will target him with Curry and Klay Thompson, try to get CP3 moving laterally and exploiting him. It might now work to put him out there.

But if he can go, D’Antoni will try.

Watch best of Klay Thompson’s nine threes, 35-point night

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Stephen Curry is a better shooter. Kevin Durant is a better scorer with a bigger toolbox.

But no Warrior can get as white-hot as Klay Thompson.

He did that on Saturday night helping the Warriors to a Game 6 win, getting his rhythm and becoming a scoring machine in the second half, finishing with 35 points including hitting 9-of-14 from three, and having six rebounds. He was just as important on the other end of the floor.

“I thought Klay was amazing tonight, not just for 35 points and the nine threes, but his defense,” Coach Steve Kerr said. “The guy’s a machine. He’s just so fit physically. He seems to thrive in these situations. But he was fantastic.”

Thompson will need to bring some of that Heat in Game 7 on the road if the Warriors are going to head back to the NBA Finals.

Backs against wall down 17, Warriors crank up defense, rain threes, force Game 7

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Warriors’ fans have been asking one question since the season tipped off in October:

What is it going to take to get Golden State to truly focus and play up to their potential?

Apparently, the answer is going down 17 to the Houston Rockets in a playoff elimination game.

Houston entered Oracle Saturday night playing smart and with energy, defending as they had the previous two games and then turning that into transition buckets and threes — eight of them in the first quarter. Houston was up 17 in the first and 10 at the half.

However, Golden State had started to defend better in the second quarter and they cranked up the intensity to the level fans had hoped to see in the second half — Houston scored 39 points in the first quarter and 47 combined in the final three. The Warriors were also forcing turnovers, 21.3 percent of Rockets possessions ended with a turnover (more than one in five trips down the court). Houston had 25 points in the second half and shot 2-of-9 from three in the third quarter.

At the same time, Klay Thompson led an onslaught of threes for Golden State (Thompson had 9 threes on the night). The Warriors defense turned into offense.

The result was a dramatic turnaround and a 115-86 Golden State win, tying the Western Conference Finals at 3-3.

Game 7 is in Houston Monday night. Winner advances to the NBA Finals.

“Effort. Intensity. Passion,” Thompson said of the Warriors’ second-half surge. “When we do that, and we rotate, and we help each other we’re the best defensive team in the league.”

While it was their defense that sparked everything, the Warriors also found an offense that worked against the Rockets’ switching defense — more Stephen Curry with the ball in his hands. There are a few ways to counter a switching defense and one is a creative ballhandler who can still make plays — not just isolation plays, but who can create a little space and find guys moving off the ball despite the pressure. Curry was that guy, he was the Warriors best all-around player on the night. He had a high IQ game and added 29 points. With the offense not running through Kevin Durant isolations, it just flowed better (the Warriors best lineup of the night was Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston, and Nick Young, +13 in just more than eight minutes).

It just took a lot of pressure from a Rockets team to get Golden State into that mental frame of mind.

Houston opened this game with the same defensive energy they had the last two games, and once again it flustered the Golden State offense. Except, this time the Rockets did a much better job of turning those misses and turnovers into transition points (the Rockets averaged two points per possession on the break in the first half). Throw in some terrible defensive communication errors by the Warriors, and the Rockets were raining threes in the first half — 11-of-22, with Gordon going 4-of-4.

The Warriors had some success with an ultra-small lineup that unleashed Curry, but as soon as non-shooters were on the floor — Kevon Looney, Jordon Bell, and the Rockets were daring Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston to shoot — Houston shrunk the floor and took away passing lanes, plus contested every shot.

In the second half, the Warriors used that Curry energy and hit their threes to pull away. The Warriors were at their best with Bell as the fifth man with the four All-Stars, he brought an energy and athleticism that made things flow on both ends. Don’t be shocked if he starts Game 7 for Golden State.

If the Warriors pack up that second half energy with them and take it to Houston, there is not much the Rockets will be able to do. But do not expect these gritty, feisty Rockets to go quietly into that good night.

Rockets were draining threes in the first half against Warriors in Game 6

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The Rockets were feeling it the first half in Game 6.

Playing with an energy the Warriors lacked at least in the first quarter), Houston defended well, pushed the ball in transition, and then they just drained three after three after three.

Eric Gordon started 4-of-4 from three and the team was 11-of-22 in the first half, which made up for the 11 turnovers and had them up 17 at one point and ahead by 10 after the first half.