How many times have we seen this the last couple games of the Boston/New York series: The Celtics set their defense and for the first 15-17 seconds of the clock the clog everything the Knicks want to do. Their on-ball defenders are in the Knicks faces, their defensive rotations are sharp, there are no good looks.
Then it falls apart and the Knicks get a quality shot. Part of that is the Knicks have a lot of talent on the floor — Carmelo Anthony can score on anyone, he has 96 points in three games this series — and part of it is as the series has moved on New York has moved the ball better and better.
But in the end the Celtics not being able to keep the effort level and execution together for a full 24 seconds, or for a full 48 minutes, is the key reason the Knicks are up 3-0. Most people (myself included) predicted the Knicks would win the series, they are the better team, but we expected more of a fight to the finish from Boston.
Sunday will the Celtics finally put it all together for one game? Can they show some real pride and salvage one game in this series on their home court?
Can they? Yes. Will they? I’m not sold.
The Knicks have motivation for this game — rest. Round two likely will not start until next weekend so a win Sunday means a week off for the older bodies in blue. That matters.
New York will be without J.R. Smith, suspended by the league for his elbow to the head Jason Terry in Game 3. You’d think that be an advantage for the Celtics and in Game 3 after Smith went out the Celtics make some pushes. But the Knicks answered each one of them.
The Knicks have also played strong defense through this series, frustrating a Celtics offense missing Rajon Rondo’s creativity. The Celtics would need a massive night from Jeff Green and Paul Pierce on the offensive end to get that win. Boston would need 48 minutes of defense. It would need a strong outing from Jason Terry. And Brandon Bass.
It can happen. For stretches this series the Celtics have been able to do everything they needed to challenge the Celtics and get a win.
But they haven’t been able to sustain it. And if they don’t on Sunday at the Garden they can hop a plane to Mexico for vacation on Monday.
Kawhi Leonard reportedly wants the Spurs to trade him, ideally to the Lakers or Clippers.
Chris Sheridan of Get More Sports:
He is not going to Los Angeles…or any other destination in the Western Conference, sources are telling GetMoreSports.com.
Leonard has some leverage in that he can tell any non-L.A. team that he has no interest in signing an extension after his current deal expires in a year, and that may end up diminishing the value of offers Eastern Conference teams are willing to make.
But if you think that bothers Popovich, you don’t know Popovich. The guy would gladly take 75 cents on the dollar for Kawhi if he could ship him out of the West — even if that upsets Kawhi.
There are two choices here:
The Spurs are a well-run organization that will manage this crisis as effectively as possible.
The Spurs will outright refuse to trade Leonard to a Western Conference team.
It can’t be both.
If the Spurs trade Leonard, they should take the best offer they get – no matter who makes it. Teams like the Celtics and 76ers have better assets to dangle. But if the Lakers and Clippers are the only team with assurances Leonard will re-sign next summer, they could offer more, even assembling a package from a shallower pool of assets.
The Spurs shouldn’t worry where Leonard lands. But that doesn’t mean they won’t worry where Leonard lands.
Chris Mannix reported Kyrie Irving, when he played for the Cavaliers, told teammates of his desire to play for the Knicks. In the same discussion, Mannix speculated on the Celtics’ fear of Irving leaving in 2019 unrestricted free agency. Asked about his future in Boston, Irving gave a cryptic answer.
There’s just no good way to resolve this until summer 2019. As Irving knows, a contract extension is illogical. The largest extension he could sign, beginning July 1, would be four years, $108,053,240 ($27,013,310 annually). If he waits until 2019 free agency, he could re-sign for a projected $188 million over five years (about $38 million annually) – and even more if he makes an All-NBA team next year. In that case, his max would project to be $219 million over five years (about $44 million annually).
So, the Celtics must ride this out – or trade Irving before he gets to free agency. How do they feel about his future with Boston?
Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:
A league source said Friday that the Celtics believe Irving is happy in Boston and would like to be with the team long-term, but that there are no certainties.
This is probably correct. Irving clearly wanted out of Cleveland, so him longing for a spot on the Knicks made more sense then. Overall, Irving seems happy in Boston. A noncommittal answer from someone whose brand is mysterious ideas doesn’t set off alarms.
That said, also file this under: What else are they supposed to say? The Celtics maximize Irving’s trade value if everyone believes he’s happy and not a flight risk who should be preemptively traded.
The Celtics must closely monitor Irving’s satisfaction with them. If it seems he might leave, they ought to look hard at trading him first.
But it really seems the Celtics aren’t anywhere near that point. If they are, they’ve bluffed well.
It was the moment that defined the 2018 NBA Finals.
The score was tied with 4.7 seconds left when George Hill missed his second of two free throws, but J.R. Smith made an impressive play to get the offensive rebound — then tried to dribble out the clock like the Cavaliers were ahead.
Now, you can own Smith’s Game 1 jersey — the one he was wearing when he made a play so thoughtless LeBron James broke his own hand punching a whiteboard in frustration over it. It’s available on the NBA auction site. The bidding goes on for three more days, until June 21.
As of Monday morning, the current bid is $3000.
A Warriors’ fan is going to buy this thing, not a Cavaliers fan. They are still trying to repress this memory.
Kevin Durant and his father didn’t have the best relationship growing up. Wayne Pratt, father of the Golden State Warriors star, left Durant and his family when the sharpshooting Finals MVP was just one year old.
Pratt was in and out of Durant’s life, and eventually they reconciled. Now, Pratt is important part of Durant’s career and business decisions.
As several players decided to celebrate their fathers and the national day of recognition on social media, it was actually Pratt who decided to write a letter to his son. In a post on The Undefeated, Pratt spoke about how he was grateful to have Durant as a son and to have reconciled with him.
Via The Undefeated:
I regret missing out on your first day of school, your first haircut, holidays and the first day you picked up a basketball. But I thank God daily for creating the opportunity for us to reconnect. I’m so thankful for you opening your heart at such a tender time. Every parent-child relationship has its ups and downs and we are no exception. I feel fortunate that we have learned how to successfully navigate life’s mistakes. Thank you for forgiving me and allowing us to have the great relationship we have today.
Go back and read the full letter, it’s worth it. Seeing the vulnerability between two grown men living a real, complicated, and adult situation like this is humanizing. Plus, it appears to have had a positive ending for Durant and his pops.
Hope all you dads out there had a good one on Sunday.