In Sketches, we’ll be taking you on a quick trip through the NBA blogosphere to get our finger on the pulse of all of the key happenings and storylines in the L each day.
HOT HOT HOOPS: Joel Anthony has not-so-quietly become the defensive MVP of the series, a hybrid of Dennis Rodman’s relentless pursuit of the loose ball and Alonzo Mourning’s defensive intensity that energizes your fellow teammates. In just one example of many, the Celtic were breathing down the Heat’s neck down only 85-80 at the 5:45 mark of the final quarter when Wade missed a pull-up jumper. The ball could have easily been rebounded and in the hands of either Glen Davis or Paul Pierce with a chance to cut the lead to just 2 or 3 points. Instead, Anthony’s athleticism allowed the ball to poke free for LeBron to collect it and slam it through while getting fouled.
HEAT INDEX: Mismatches are exploited in the playoffs, but the Heat’s versatility on the floor makes it nearly impossible to create one. Their versatility is on display especially against the Celtics because Boston doesn’t have a big man who works from the block. When all else failed on Tuesday, Rivers grasped for straws and tried to run their offense through Glen Davis in the post. That didn’t work either.
EYE ON BASKETBALL: As Wade hit the three-point line he angled into the paint, lunging forward as if to drive hard to his dominant right hand. Garnett bit on the move and Wade perfectly executed the crossover second step, shifting his entire body weight back to the left. Garnett had no idea what just hit him, and continued to turn towards the middle, before realizing his error. As he spun full circle to attempt to contest the shot, Garnett lashed out with his left arm, contacting Wade as he rose to scoop in a right-handed lay-up. The most remarkable part of the move? Wade took just 2.1 seconds to go from the three-point line to the rim.
ESPN BOSTON: Rondo finished with a team-high 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting with 12 assists and six rebounds over 41:42. According to ESPN Stats and Info, it was the eighth career playoff game that he’s scored 20+ points and dished out 10+ assists. What’s more, Rondo scored or assisted on 52.7 percent (48 of 91 points) in Game 2 and the Celtics were 12-of-19 shooting (63.2 percent) off Rondo passes. Off all other passes, Boston was a mere 15-of-44 shooting (34.1 percent).
DAILY THUNDER: [I]t was a completely revamped attack on Randolph. It was obvious on Memphis’s opening possession as Randolph caught the ball on the block and went into his jab-step, pump-fake arsenal, but Ibaka was right up on Randolph. No room to breathe. No room to shoot over the top. The Thunder played Randolph entirely more physical and took him out of the positions he likes to score. This was what we expected in Game 1. This is what we expected from the Thunder’s new and improved front line. The interior was locked down. That’s the way the Thunder are supposed to play.
THREE SHADES OF BLUE: The team has improved very much, but they don’t quite suit my very favorite definition of a true contender…chameleon. There’s one particular lizard, number 22, that would have helped the Griz tonight very much…this game was just a great example of how a team gets thrown off balance when fatigue, a super-charged-up opponent, and a need to change offensive emphasis all come together. Great little no-give-up charge at the end for the sake of TV and pride, but there was never a chance to get back in it. Kind of a mirror of the last game, which is what makes a great playoff series. Almost the same score, even. Weird.
CSN CHICAGO: Excellent sources with knowledge of the situation have confirmed to me that despite reports to the contrary, Bulls star Derrick Rose did indeed undergo an MRI after re-injuring his ankle in the Bulls Game 1 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Sources told me that Rose suffered a Grade 2 sprain of one of the main ligaments on the outside of his ankle and it could affect his mobility for Game 2 on Wednesday evening. He will be treated with several different methods and is expected to start when the Bulls try to even the series.