Posts Tagged ‘Doris Burke’

24-Second Thoughts On Game 2




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24 – If you believe in good luck charms, then you have to believe that they can wear out, too. After just four home losses during the regular season, the Heat and 12-year-old national anthem singer Julia Dale have three playoffs losses and are just 2-2 in the previous four games. Time for a change?

23 – Does anyone else find it silly that the world of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh seems to end every time Miami loses a playoff game? After all, they’ve dropped Game 1 three times together over the past three seasons and then come back to win each of those series 4-1.

22 – Watching D-Wade firing up his team in the pre-game huddle, knowing the situation they’re in, don’t you just expect the Heat to win big here?

21 – Instant reply? Spurs commit turnover on their first possession, just like Game 1. If they only commit four more rest of the night, just like Game 1, Gregg Popovich will be a very happy — I know, that’s a relative term — man.

20 — For all the talk about how the Spurs stole the win in Game 1 with Tony Parker’s clutch shot at the end, too many people overlooked the Spurs’ poor shooting all night long. San Antonio was just 41.7 percent from the field and 30.4 on 3-pointers. If those start to drop … well, well, well, here comes Danny Greeeeen! 3-for-3 from downtown in first four minutes.

19 – This is obviously a pace and style that will make the Heat very happy. Spurs commit fifth turnover of the game with 3:23 left in the 1st quarter. They had five in all of Game 1 and the sloppy play is letting Miami be the aggressor.

18 – What’s left for the LeBron critics to pick at when he’s making the right rotations in the defense, getting that big block on Tim Duncan in the paint?

17 – Scoreboard says it’s tied at the end of the first quarter. But is there anybody who doesn’t feel like the Heat are up 22-22?

16 – Maybe he’s on his best behavior because it’s The Finals. Or maybe it’s just Doris Burke wearing basic black instead of one of Craig Sager’s psychedelic horse blankets. But the biggest under-performer of the first two games has been Popovich in his between quarters interviews. I want some nasty.

15 — Gary Neal takes the long range baton from Danny Green. He’s got eight points in his first seven minutes and the Spurs have hit 5-for-7 on 3s already. That’s one way to make up for all of those turnovers.

14 – Never mind winning the lottery. I’ve decided I could live comfortably plush for years if I just had a dollar for every casual viewer who’s ever walked by a TV and asked “Who is that guy?” the first time they’ve seen Chris “Birdman” Andersen.

13 — Give Chris Bosh credit for being active on the offensive boards. He’s already tipped the ball twice back outside to give the Heat a chance to reset for another possession and both times they’ve scored. He’s given up the long jumpers and playing closer to the basket in general.

12 – Just when everybody’s ready to push 31-year-old D-Wade around in a wheelchair covered in an afghan, here he is looking like his old self again with 10 points and four assists in a first half where LeBron (four points) has been hiding.

11 – In that open court, 1-on-1 showdown between LeBron and Danny Green, come on, admit it, how many picked Danny Boy as the winner? Green suckers James into miss the first time, but LeBron gets the benefit of bad call by ref Joe Crawford on the second time down the court.

10 — Danny Green has taken his talents to South Beach! These 3s are layups for him. Layups, I tell you.

9 – The Spurs have Kawhi Leonard backing off LeBron just a bit and have the other defenders closing down the driving lanes. If James is going to make something happen for himself in this one, it seems he would be wise to get himself down in the low post to show off those moves he learned from Hakeem Olajuwon.

8 – Paint this game Green. Danny Boy rejects LeBron under the basket at one end and then takes the ball to the hoop for his 17th point at the other end. How much longer before we’re calling him “The Chosen One?”

7 – For all the damage being done by the Spurs from behind the 3-point line, the two biggest buckets of the game so far might be those last two bombs from Ray Allen and Mike Miller. Mario Chalmers converts three-point play and 75-65 Heat edge after third quarter is the first double-digit lead by either side in The Finals. People rarely talk about Chalmers, but he has a way of stepping into the offensive gaps and drives strong to the hoop when the Heat need him.  Chalmers flies under the radar like one of those CIA drones.

6 — You can hold down LeBron’s scoring. You can open the door for every critic in every corner of the globe to rip him. But he still plays the game, sees the court and makes the right passes to his open teammates for good shots. See: Double-team from Tiago Splitter and Mike Miller 3.

5 – Now you know why Gregg Popovich looked like he was passing a kidney stone when Doris Burke asked him about those five turnovers in the first quarter. It’s up to 15 turnovers in the fourth and the Spurs are getting burned worse than English tourists on South Beach.

4 – Hello, Tiago! I’m pretty sure the last time anybody threw a tomahawk and did less damage was in the 1960s sitcom F Troop. LeBron at the rim with a facial that usually costs at least $150 at your local spa. Easily the best block of the entire playoffs. And that’s the fat lady you hear singing.

3 — Didn’t you always know that Tracy McGrady would lead a team to The Finals and play significant minutes? Well, it’s happened. That is, if you consider sitting at the end of the bench leading and sweeping up behind the elephants in garbage time significant. The only person who looks more lost and out of place is Manu Ginobili, who is forcing things way too much.

2 —  One word to define the Heat: resilient. They have not lost consecutive games since Jan. 8-10 at Phoenix and at Portland. Following their five losses in these playoffs, they’ve come back to win the next game by an average of 21.6 points. Hold off the end of the world, break-up-the-Big Three talk. Now we’ve got a series. Just the way we always knew we would.

1 — OK, maybe it’s just me.  But seeing Pop sit at the podium and explain to the assembled media that missing lots of shots and making lots of turnovers is a bad combination, I can’t help thinking of Dean Wormer in Animal House: “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

24 Second Thoughts On Game 1

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24 – Few times are filled with more excitement and dripping with anticipation than moments before Game 1 of The Finals. First, we get the lovely 12-year-old Julia Dale belting out the national anthem for the 23rd straight postseason game. Then, the White Stripes’ anthem Seven Nation Army. Rip it off!

23 — Rust? What rust? Tony Parker comes out of the box wielding the pick and roll like Zorro’s sword and carves up the Heat early for a 9-2 lead.

22 — ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy sums up those Chris Bosh 3-point shots quite accurately. If he wants to take them for the next week or so, the Spurs will be quite happy.

21 – What does more than a decade and a half of throwing your body all over basketball courts around the globe do to you? If you’re 35-year-old Manu Ginobili, it means you can’t quite elevate to finish off that nice crossover drive with a dunk.

20 Tim Duncan (0-for-5) was having problems finding his offensive rhythm, but getting his second foul on LeBron James’ drive with 1:43 left in the first quarter sends him to the bench and presents problems for the Spurs defense.

19 – The Heat are getting the ball inside for the shots they want and hit three treys in the first quarter, while the Spurs are missing easy, open looks.

18 – First big disappointment of The Finals. Episode No. 1 of “The Pop Show” is a flop as Gregg Popovich fails to bite the head off sideline reporter Doris Burke and actually answers her questions civilly.

17 Ray Allen and Mike Miller might ask the Spurs’ perimeter defenders to pass the sunscreen and serve some cold drinks. This soft — or nonexistent — pressure at the 3-point line is making it look like a relaxing day at the beach for Miami shooters.

16 – By the way, I’m totally with Van Gundy. One of the first acts for new commissioner Adam Silver when he takes over next February should be changing The Finals format back to 2-2-1-1-1. The 2-3-2 setup is the NBA’s equivalent of penalty kicks in soccer and the DH in baseball — an idea that never was good.

15 – Get a good look at Gary Neal right now. If he doesn’t start knocking down those open jumpers, Pop will stuff him away in the luggage until the Spurs get back to Texas … or maybe even until next October.

14 – Give Erik Spoelstra credit for pushing all the right buttons in the first half. He’s already gone 11 deep and his bench has outscored the Spurs’ bench 19-10.

13 – When’s the last time Dwyane Wade looked as comfortable, as active, as good this spring? Never. His 13 points are his highest-scoring first half of the playoffs. But the Spurs can’t be totally unhappy, all things considered. They’re missing open shots, not getting back in transition, yet trail by just 52-49 at the half.

12 — What’s got the Heat feeling happiest at the half? They don’t have to spend the break icing down those bruises that were so often delivered by Roy Hibbert and the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.

11 – Gotta like that Bosh has had the sense to move in from the 3-point line and work instead from 18-foot range for jumpers and drives. That mid-range shot that drives all of the stat geeks into screaming fits has a much undervalued place in today’s game.

10 – Floppers go home. Give the referees credit in this one. They stood by and watched Ginobili flop to the ground as Wade rose up and stuck the turnaround and they didn’t call anything. “Get up and play!” is the correct message.

9 – The kid is all right. The 21-year-old Kawhi Leonard is playing his first Finals game with the impossible task of guarding LeBron and he’s acquitted himself well, holding his own in the post.

8 – If the Heat are going to be able to outrebound the Spurs in every game, they’ll be getting fitted for another set of rings.

7 – 72-69 Heat after three quarters doesn’t quite feel right. Seems like Miami is in complete control and seems like the Spurs can’t get their act together at either end and yet it’s still a toss-up into the final period.

6 – Uh-oh. Look who takes their first lead since the first quarter. Parker’s free throws put Spurs in front 77-76 and this game is looking more and more like the wallet hanging out of a drunk man’s pocket, ready to be stolen.

5 – The facts, and your own eyes, will tell you what you already should know — Parker is the best point guard in the NBA right now and has been right there with LeBron as the top two performers in the 2013 playoffs.

4 – Big switch down the stretch as Spoelstra shifts LeBron over to guarding Parker. It’s what we all expected in the clutch.

3 – It’s a game of less than inches. It takes only about a zillion replays to finally show that Parker got off his desperate clutch shot a millisecond ahead of the shot clock.

2 — Go figure. LeBron rings up another triple-double, but it is outdone by Danny Green with a quad-triple. That’s four 3-pointers by the kid who finished last year’s Western Conference finals to OKC riding the bench.

1 – Parker’s 10-point fourth quarter and that amazing shot that just beat the buzzer were pretty. But the Spurs won this one with defense. Miami shot just 5-for-18 in the fourth quarter with five turnovers. LeBron and Wade combined for six points on 2-for-6 shooting and the Spurs win 92-88.

Rondo’s End Starts Future in Boston

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HANG TIME, Texas – Sometimes the decisions are made for you.

Danny Ainge can stop wondering about what to do, which direction to take with his Celtics as the NBA trade deadline of Feb. 21 draws near.

The future arrived in Boston like a punch in the gut with the sickening news that Rajon Rondo has a torn ACL in his right knee and is lost for the season.

Now it’s time to start over.

If Ray Allen having swapped jerseys for Sunday’s homecoming to the TD Garden with the Heat was first crack in the Celtics 21st century golden run that began in 2007, then Rondo’s injury sent the remnants crashing to the parquet floor.

Rondo was averaging 13.7 points, 11.1 assists and had just been named an All-Star starter for the first time. He was coming off back-to-back triple-doubles, including the double-overtime loss in Atlanta, where the injury evidently occurred.

After complaining of pain while trying to warm up prior to Sunday’s game, the point guard was taken to New England Baptist Hospital where an MRI revealed the tear.

The rest of the Celtics were given the bad news during the game and word circulated like whispers of a death in the family through the arena and the rest of the NBA world.

“We just got to rally round each other,” teammate Paul Pierce told ABC’s Doris Burke. “I feel for him. He was having such a great season … It’s disappointing news. Guys just got to step up.”

But it is one thing for Pierce to come through with a gutty triple-double performance of his own and for the Celtics to persevere through a double-overtime against Miami. It is quite another to believe that a Boston team without Rondo could take down the defending champion Heat in a seven-game playoff series. That is, assuming the Celtics even limp into the playoffs.

The win over Miami ended a six-game Celtics losing streak that already had coach Doc Rivers threatening to get one-way tickets out of town for anybody that couldn’t step up. He changed his lineup, putting rookie Jared Sullinger in to start at center in place of Brandon Bass. The Celtics are still two games below .500.

The harsh truth is that the blow is not just the end of a season for Rondo, but the end of the road for this core group of Celtics that won a championship in 2008 and lost in The Finals to the Lakers in 2010.

Ainge and Rivers might have been tempted to shake things up last summer, but wishful thinking and, perhaps, sentiment told them to try making one last run with their aging warriors. But Garnett at 36 is already playing greatly reduced minutes and Pierce at 35 had been mired in a slump of his own before Sunday and is no longer the workhorse.

Rondo, for all of his personality quirks and clashes with Rivers, was the on-court leader of these Celtics and had been for the past several seasons. He had developed a knack for rising up on nationally-televised games and in the playoffs and his efforts that often came with the gale force of a hurricane were what gave the Celtics any so-called puncher’s chance that existed.

The time now is to find out if there is a market to move Pierce as a “designated hitter” on a contending team. He’s got just one more year on his contract at $15.3 million. The two years and $23.5 million owed to Garnett could be problematic.

The bottom line is the Celtics can take a day to celebrate an emotional win in honor of their fallen star. But whenever Rondo does return, it has to be as the centerpiece to a new era in Boston.

Sometimes the decisions are made for you.

What’s Fueling KG’s Fire?





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – Kevin Garnett has made it clear on more than one occasion that those who do not believe in him are the ones that keep his wicked intensity at an all-time high.

The naysayers are the ones who help him dig down deep for the sorts of performances we’ve seen from the Celtics’ big man this postseason and the ones we will continue to see from him until he decides he’s done.

Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon‘s choice words about Garnett — he called Garnett the “dirtiest player in the league,” among other things — have kept him on edge ever since that first round series against the Hawks, an edge Garnett continues to play with as the Celtics inch closer to a return trip to The Finals.

If you thought the 2012 playoffs would serve as his platform to remind the world that he remains one of the game’s most dominant power forwards, you have a vision the rest of us lacked. But here he is, some 17 years deep into a Hall of Fame career and he’s still grinding his way through games. Not much is different for him from 10 or 12 years ago, when Garnett was still trying to become the force of nature he’s been throughout his career.

Garnett’s been nothing short of an absolute beast this postseason, leading the crowd with nine 20-point, 10-rebound games — for years the gold standard for power forward play.

He also added yet another masterpiece interview to his collection (you remember his immediate reaction after the Celtics won it all five years ago … “anything’s possible!”) when he hooked up with ESPN’s Doris Burke on the court in Miami after the Celtics’ Game 5 win over the Heat last night.

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