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.
3 SHADES OF BLUE: THE ONLY FT KEVIN DURANT SHOT WAS A RESULT OF A WEAK TECH, AND HE MISSED IT. AND THIS WAS A SECOND-ROUND PLAYOFF GAME. Read that again, and then go find TA and Shane Battier and thank them. It was interesting to see how differently the two played against KD-Battier relied more on his size to fight through two and three screens at a time under the basket pre-curl, while TA relied on his speed and length to interfere with KD’s movements and catches, then climbing into his jersey once he got the ball. I’ve said it previously, but it is so, so nice to have two top-tier perimeter defenders on the Griz. Amazing stuff. Strange that the FT disparity was so huge and the Griz did so poorly at the line.
DAILY THUNDER: it’s not like KD was absolutely pouring it on the Grizzlies and Westbrook was waving him off. Durant finished the game just 2-11 from the floor and I’m not sure he got a clean look in the bunch. What people tell me about that though, is that’s somehow Westbrook’s fault.You’ve got to get him in a better position to score! You’ve got to set up teammates! You’ve got to create better looks! True, yes. But what do you want Westbrook to do — shoot and make KD’s shots for him too? At some point, it’s about Durant getting himself open. If you’re open, Russ will find you. Those last five minutes, nobody was. Who the majority is blaming for that is Westbrook, but I choose not to. It was horrific team offense and questionable play-calling from Brooks. Not just Westbrook playing hero and trying to start some alpha dog battle, as most would make you think.
CELTICSBLOG: Rondo’s arm bent at an angle that just made your heart stop as a fan. Right when the Celtics looked like they were going to take control of the game, it looked like Rondo, arguably the Celtics’ best player, was going to be done for a while. Forget about the series, I’m talking like the rest of the playoffs, and into next season done…………………Rondo would have to wait until the 4th to get back in, but he did it. It was just..one of those moments. Rondo was dragging his left arm up and down the court like it was an albatross around his neck, but he did it. The moment was brought to a climax when Rondo stole the ball from Chris Bosh (using his left arm) and sprinted down the court for a breakaway dunk. His play not only dictated the game, but it energized the team in a fashion we haven’t seen yet during this Miami series. Just an amazing performance from Rondo, and an honor to be able to watch the game.
ESPN BOSTON: Garnett, the star of the night after registering 28 points and 18 rebounds, marveled at the pain tolerance of his point guard:
“I’ve seen [Rondo] play through some [injuries],” Garnett said after the game. “I’m not going to go through the list of injuries that you all are unaware of. I’m not going to put him out there like that, but I’ve seen him play through some horrific injuries. All of us sort of looked at each other like, ‘What is he doing out here? Is he being smart right now?’
“When he came in, it was just typical Rondo. Shorty is a really tough, young individual and I don’t know what he’s going to be like when he’s 35, but right now he’s playing through a lot. He’s showing a lot of heart, a lot of grit. We see it. That doesn’t go unspoken or unseen. We see he’s out there giving his full effort. We’re following that lead.”
Rondo had 11 assists in the game and a pair of one-armed baskets in the fourth quarter.
EYE ON BASKETBALL: In response to a reporter’s question to Dwyane Wade regarding whether the play that injured Rajon Rondo was “dirty,” James covered his mouth and uttered “That’s retarded” under his breath. You know, because that won’t get picked up because he covered his mouth despite the giant microphone in front of his mouth. So here we are again, back where we were with the Kobe Bryant slur situation. As Larry Brown Sports discusses, there are a number of ways this is different from that situation. But we’re going to have the same dynamics going on. Those who defend James religiously will point to the hyper-sensitive nature of society, those who always seek to criticize LeBron will use this as yet another prime opportunity to, and everyone else will filter somewhere along the “outrage vs. outrage over the outrage” line. And nothing will really change, which is the sad part.
HEAT INDEX: When the Miami Heat came on the floor 15 minutes before Game 3′s tipoff Saturday night the arena was darkened and the seats at TD Garden were full. On the videoboard above, the Boston Celtics were shown outside their locker room jumping up and down as the theme from Rocky pulsed from the loud speakers. It was intimidating and that was before anyone had even broken a sweat. Most arenas are rowdy in the playoffs and in Boston it’s tradition. The intensity of that atmosphere got to Chris Bosh, something he admitted when looking back on his first road game in the second round. Bosh said nerves were a major factor in perhaps his worst game of the season, a six-point, five-rebound effort in 30 minutes in the Heat’s 97-81 blowout loss.
MAVS MONEYBALL: In fact, this game was full of all sorts of records for the Mavericks. Jason Terry tied the record for most threes in a playoff game with nine. He and Stojakovic combined for a disgusting 15 of 16 three-pointers, by far the best for a two-man combo. The 49 three-pointers made in this four-game series were the most ever by a team. In this game alone, they tied the playoff record for most in a single game with 20. Maybe not a record, but Peja, Jet and Barea combined to score 75 points off the bench on 27 of 34 shooting. The bench as a whole threw up 86 points, which equaled the game total for the Los Angeles Lakers. This win means more to the Dallas Mavericks than just advancing to the Western Conference Finals. They swept the two-time defending champions, in the final season of the greatest coach ever to lead a team in the NBA. They did it with grit and determination and clamp-down defense, all while being called soft by the entire sports community. They may have eight more games to win if they want to get that ring, but for now we can all sit back and revel in the glory of a massive accomplishment. I am SO proud of my Dallas Mavericks today.
FORUM BLUE & GOLD: This game truly was a microcosm of the entire series. Dallas’ ability to spread the floor with shooters and using the resulting spacing to beat the Lakers off the dribble was again the difference. Seemingly every Maverick was able to get by his man consistently and it collapsed the Lakers D, ultimately opening up shooters all over the court. The Mavs made 20 three pointers on the day with Terry (9-10!) and Peja (6-6!!) consistently reaping the benefits of a defense that had to be in too many places at once. The fact that no Laker could effectively contain his man off the bounce completely ruined any semblance of cohesiveness on the defensive end. The fact that the Mavs put on a shooting performance for the ages was just the rancid cherry on the Lakers’ poisonous sundae. They could have made only have their three pointers and the result in this game would have been the same.
(LA: Classy Right to the End.)
PEACHTREE HOOPS: At the center of all things Hawks is always Josh Smith, for better or worse. When he came out and defiantly took outside shots and was getting beat by Carlos Boozer on the other end, it was looking like a “for worse” night. But man, did he turn things around. That he is as undefendable as he was tonight going to the hoop, you wonder why he ever lets teams off the hook by launching. Smith was unconscious on the glass, pulling down (16) for the night, including (3) offensive boards in the fourth quarter. Smith was 4-14 going into the fourth quarter, and went 4-7 in the final frame to round out his puffy box score with a 23/16 and 8 assist night.
BLOG-A-BULL: Meanwhile on the other end of the court, Jeff Teague was taking advantage of his matchup on Kyle Korver. On a night where the Bulls were getting no outside shooting, from Korver especially, Thibs still rolled with him in the hope that he’d get hot (sauced) again. It didn’t happen, and Teague made him pay in breaking down the initial wall of the Bulls defense. Teague had similar success against other defenders, of course, but that final stretch illustrated what the Hawks can look like when they have a mismatch and actually use team basketball to exploit it. Smith’s night was already mentioned, but Al Horford had 20, Joe Johnson with 24, Jamal Crawford with 12, and it was created off of ball movement. This was Horford’s best game of the series, but it wasn’t as if he finally started figuring out Joakim Noah’s post defense as much as him being the beneficiary of a poor Bulls rotation earlier in the possession. Even new starting Center Jason Collins had two dunks.