Tag Archives: Rasheed Wallace

Lakers’ physicality the key in Game 1 win over Celtics

Kobe and his teammates attacked the paint and pounded the Celtics on the boards in Game 1. (Pic via Getty Images/Christian Petersen)

There was a time when Pau Gasol wanted nothing better than to let his teammates do the dirty work. There was a time when he appeared to be genuinely afraid of Kevin Garnett.

Those times are only a distant memory now.

Gasol scored 23 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and even blocked three shots as the Lakers cruised to a 102-89 win over the Celtics in Game 1.

The game was won in the second and third quarters, when the Lakers turned up the intensity and began looking to run against the aging Celtics.

L.A. held a 42-31 edge on the boards and was able to get to the basket at will. The Lakers are the bigger team in the series, and also the more athletic team.

Boston needs to play harder and smarter to have a chance.

Rajon Rondo finished with 13 points and eight assists, and had a +/- of -17. Meanwhile, Nate Robinson was scoreless in 13 minutes but had a +/- of +10. Amazingly, the Celtics offense looked better when Rondo was on the bench.

Rondo was content to settle for jump shots against Kobe Byrant’s sagging defense.

Kobe finished with 30 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. He looked extremely fresh and active after another extended layoff.

Doc Rivers has some adjustments to make heading into Game 2. Kevin Garnett scored 16 points in 34 minutes but wasn’t very effective. He looked exhausted by the third quarter and struggled on both ends. Rivers needs to reduce his minutes a bit.

The same can be said for the wounded Kendrick Perkins, who was outplayed by the wounded Andrew Bynum. Perkins can barely get off the ground thanks to a balky knee.

Rasheed Wallace has played well when given a chance in the playoffs and should get starters minutes in the remainder of the NBA Finals. His shooting ability helps the Celtics space the floor for Rondo and Pierce to get to the basket.

The Celtics will look to bounce back Sunday in Game 2.

Highlights of Celtics Game 1 victory over Magic

Early Sunday I wrote that the Celtics-Magic series would be epic. That still could be the case, but Game 1 was absolutely awful.

Boston held off a late Orlando rally behind clutch free throws and held on for a 92-88 win. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce played well, and Rasheed Wallace chipped in off the bench. Rajon Rondo had a quiet game but made a few plays here and there.

Meanwhile, Dwight Howard played one of the worst games of his career. His final numbers–13 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks–were overshadowed by seven turnovers and constant complaining.

As bad as the Magic played, they could have easily won the game if a couple shots had fallen. The NBA’s best 3-point shooting team shot just 5-of-22 from downtown in Game 1.

Game 2 should be better–hopefully.

Previewing and Predicting Cavaliers-Celtics

Double-Duty: The C's need Pierce put up points and keep LeBron under control to have a chance against the Cavs. (Pic via vernoncroys.wordpress.com)

The Celtics and Cavs meet in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second time in three years with Game 1 tipping-off Saturday night in Cleveland. NBA fans should be excited for a long, physical series featuring plenty of intriguing subplots, most notably the health of one LeBron James.

LeBron practiced Friday, participating in non-contact drills and shooting mid-range jumpers and free throws–with his right hand. He is expected to continue wearing a padded shooter-sleeve on his right elbow after being diagnosed with a sprained elbow and bone bruise.

LeBron’s decision to shoot his final free throw in Game 5 against the Bulls left-handed brought needless attention to the injury. Don’t think the Celtics aren’t taking note.

Here’s a closer look at what to watch for in the series:

Key matchups

The King vs. The Truth: LeBron has been very successful against the Celtics in his career, but there is no question the C’s have made him work in the past. In previous years, Boston has used James Posey and Kevin Garnett, along with Pierce, to slow down LeBron. That won’t be the case this time around, with Posey gone and K.G. barely able to get up and down the court. It will be on Pierce and Tony Allen–a huge liability on the offensive end–to check LeBron. The Celtics defend pick and rolls better than most teams in the NBA, but LeBron should be able to dominant on the offensive end. It will be interesting to monitor how much Pierce plays LeBron–and if his offensive production suffers as a result.

The defenseless point guards: An interesting matchup between two players who don’t like to play defense. Rondo led the NBA in steals and can play d when he wants to, but tends to gamble and allow players to go around him. Williams is horrible defensively no matter how hard he tries. Both players could put up huge numbers in this series. Rondo has the ability to exploit Cleveland’s pick and roll defense, which was a huge problem against the Bulls in Game 1 and throughout the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals against the Magic. Rondo can’t shoot it like Derrick Rose, but the Celtics have good floor spacing and players able to hit perimeter shots. The Cavs will most likely play Anthony Parker on Rondo for much of the series. Williams and Parker will get open looks, and they need to connect early to keep their confidence up. Williams choked repeatedly during the playoffs last year and wasn’t great in the First Round this year either.

The men in the middle: Shaq is the headliner, but his true value (if there is any left) won’t be felt unless the Cavs advance to face Orlando. Kendrick Perkins won’t be intimidated by Shaq or Big Z and could have a big series–or he could get frustrated a be a non-factor. Kevin Garnett has very little left in the tank and needs all the help he can get. Rasheed Wallace hasn’t done anything all year, so don’t expect him to be much of a factor. Glen Davis showed signs late in the year and has been productive in the postseason before. He needs to play big against the Cavs, who need consistent production–and minutes–from Shaq, Big Z, Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson. If he gets minutes, Hickson could be key to Cleveland’s success. His athleticism and activity gave the Celtics problems during the regular season.

The second-tier stars: Ray Allen and Antawn Jamison are prone to inconsistency and don’t always get enough touches to make an impact. Jamison poses an interesting matchup for the Celtics, who will be forced to chase him on the perimeter with K.G., Big Baby, and ‘Sheed. Jamison would figure to have a big series, but it depends on how much Cleveland looks for him. The same goes for Ray-Ray, who sometimes becomes an afterthought for Boston, especially if Pierce is scoring. The player who has the bigger impact will most likely be on the winning team in this series.

Coaching: Doc Rivers and Mike Brown are extremely overrated as coaches, prone to questionable strategy, substitution patterns, and a puzzling failure to make adjustments. There is no advantage here on either side, although Brown has been woefully inept at times, most notably last year against Orlando.

The X-Factor: Most of the sexy candidates are on the Cavs roster, with J.J. Hickson, Big Z, and Delonte West poised to contribute if called on. But don’t count out Tony Allen or Nate Robinson either. Allen is a high-energy player who could bother LeBron at times, and Robinson is capable of exploding.

Predictions

If this year’s NCAA Tournament was any indication of my ability to pick winners correctly, I will probably end up picking the wrong team. With that disclaimer out of the way, I’m going to go ahead and pick the Cavs in six games. The Cavs are too deep and too good. Even with the tendency to blow leads and wilt under pressure, becoming stagnant late in games and relying on LeBron to go 1-on-5, the Cavs should be able to survive. Boston doesn’t have a clear advantage in any area in the series and no longer plays smothering defense on a consistent basis. Cleveland simply has too many weapons.

Feb. 6 Fantasy Trends

If you read my first fantasy trends segment earlier this week, you probably think I am a moron. And if you didn’t read it, don’t. I am just going to move on and learn from my mistakes. Call me Michael Phelps.

Here is a look at the good and the bad in the world of fantasy basketball…

BUY: Think about adding these players to your rosters via trade or free agency…

Kevin Durant, SG/SF, Oklahoma City Thunder-Durant isn’t getting much love, but he is quietly having a great season, averaging 25.1 ppg and 6.7 rpg while shooting 47 percent. Not too shabby. He has been on a role lately and is becoming a good all-around player. He is shooting 42 percent from 3-point range as well, and will give you between one and two made threes per game. Expect a strong finish from KD this season, so try to add him to your roster.

Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers-Iggy has played like an All-Star over the past month and figures to keep putting up big numbers now that Elton Brand is done for the season. AI is always good for some blocks and steals, and is averaging 17.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.2 rpg this season. He is undervalued by many, meaning you might be able to get him for cheap – think Stephen Jackson.

Samuel Dalembert, C, Philadelphia 76ers-The Canadian National Team member makes a lot of money to be a relatively average player. Dalembert has managed to string together solid performances in back-to-back games, including an 18 point 20 rebound effort last night. With Brand done, Dalembert will get big minutes for the remainder of the season. He usually starts slow and finishes strong, so he is worth a look.

Tyrus Thomas, PF/C, Chicago Bulls-As a life-long Bulls fan, I am well aware that Tyrus is a risk and am a bit wary of telling you to add him to your roster. He has a great deal of confidence in his horrible jump shot, which explains his pitiful 43 percent FG shooting. But he reached double-figures in six straight and grabbed at least 10 rebounds in 4 of the last 6 games. He is solid from the line and he will give you at least two blocked shots per game. Just dunk the ball Tyrus.

Anthony Johnson, PG/SG, Orlando Magic-With Jameer Nelson shelved, the egg-headed Johnson will likely be the Magic’s starting point guard for the rest of the season. He is a decent player, although don’t expect a 25-point performance like Wednesday’s again this season – the Magic can’t play the Clippers every game. Johnson will shoot a high percentage and hit a few threes, but probably won’t put up big assist numbers. He is a good bench option in deep leagues.

SELL: Make them an offer they can’t refuse…

Monta Ellis, PG/SG, Golden State Warriors-I realize that he has only played in seven games, but I don’t expect Monta to be at full strength at any point this season. He is averaging 11.8 ppg in 30 minutes per game this season while shooting only 34 percent. Don Nelson seems to love Jamal Crawford and the other Warrior guards almost as much as he loves eating. Monta probably won’t get big minutes for the rest of the season, and he has no value unless he is scoring. I suggest unloading him to a more optimistic fantasy owner.

Vince Carter, SG/SF, New Jersey Nets-The Nets suck and Carter has little motivation to play hard. Although he recorded a triple-double last week, Vinsanity will tail off as the season winds down. Move him while his still has good numbers.

Brad Miller, PF/C, Sacramento Kings-Miller figured to play well to improve his trade value, but he has struggled lately and is losing minutes to Jason Thompson. Miller is now day-to-day with an abdominal strain and should be traded soon. He will get some points and rebounds wherever he plays, but his best days are behind him – way, way behind him.

Chris Duhon, PG/SG, New York Knicks-Duhon is having a career-year in Mike D’Antoni’s system, but he playing big minutes and showing signs of fatigue. He will always have good assist numbers and takes good care of the ball, however his shooting percentage will suffer. Try to move him if you can.

Rasheed Wallace, PF/C, Detroit Pistons-Sheed’s age is showing and he dislikes his head coach. He is averaging a modest 12.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg while shooting 42 percent from the field. A trade seems unlikely, but could help to re-energize Wallace. For right now though, he should be riding the pine or even dropped if you have better options.

NBA adds H.O.R.S.E. to All-Star lineup

The NBA has added H.O.R.S.E. to its All-Star festivities after trying it out in the D-League’s All-Star game.

The contestants have not been announced yet, but the time and location have. H.O.R.S.E. will take place from 5 – 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 14th. And it’s going to be held on a crazy thing called “The Rig.”

You can see it here.

Here’s the thing about H.O.R.S.E. – All that matters is if the shots go in. This will be the lamest competition ever if it takes five shots to make one. The other thing that matters are the players involved.

Rasheed Wallace would be the best case scenario, but he likely won’t be there because he’s anti-All-Star Game. We’ll see who’s in it, and there’s a good chance that we’ll know how H.O.R.S.E. shakes out as soon as the contestants are announced.

Check back for the participants in H.O.R.S.E.

NBA Nightly Roundup: Carmelo, Bogut, Big Z return to action, Celtics win 10th straight, Calderon’s streak ends

Cleveland Cavaliers 112, L.A. Clippers 95-Big Z looked great in his return, scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 boards in only 28 minutes to help the Cavs improve to 22-0 at home. Mo Williams and LeBron struggled last night against the Magic but played well tonight. Mo Money scored 23 points and had six assists, while LBJ scored 25 and shot over 50 percent for the first time in recent memory. The Cavs are still without Delonte West, but Z’s return should spark a struggling offense and improve spacing on the floor. We’ll see how long he is able to stay healthy. Eric Gordon continued his impressive play for the Clip Joint, scoring 27 in the loss.

Denver 100, Charlotte 99-Melo returned to the court after missing the last 10 games and played well, scoring 19 points in 29 minutes. Nene Hilario was on point once again, hitting 10-11 shots en route to 22 points. The Nuggets improved to 31-16 with the win and look primed for a strong finish this season. Raja Bell scored 27 for the Bobcats.

Boston Celtics 86, Detroit Pistons 78-The Celtics slugged out a win in sad Detroit Friday, getting 22 and nine from KG and 12 assists from Rajon Rando. Jason Maxiell sparked one final run by the Pistons, but Detroit looked disjointed for much of the game. Tayshaun Prince shot just 1-7 from the field and Rasheed Wallace shot 5-16. Michael Curry is pushing Vinny Del Negro for Dumbass of the Year, as he continues to play a small lineup that allows opponents to score in the paint at will. Kendrick Perkins is a very angry man, and snapped late in the game. Perkins clotheslined Maxiell under the basket and was ejected. He will probably not get suspended, but we will keep you posted. Nobody wants to watch Brian Scalabrine.

Milwaukee 96, Toronto 85-It was a rough night in Canada. Jose Calderon missed a free throw, ending his streak of made FTs at 87. Jermaine O’Neal got ejected, and Chris Bosh and Jay Triano also got technicals. Oh and the Raptors lost to the Bucks. Hairless wonder Charlie Villanueava poured in 26 points and grabbed 13 boards for Milwaukee, and C Andrew Bogut decided to play despite suffering from back spasms and added 13 points. The Bucks aren’t very good but have a shot to make the playoffs. The Raptors are the most disappointing team in the NBA this season, hands down.

Golden State 91, New Orleans 87-The Warriors put the clamps on the Hornets to earn a tough road win. New Orleans got 31 points from Chris Paul but shot only 35 percent from the field and looked just awful. Peja and David West, your 2009 NBA All-Star, shot a combined 8-27 from the field. Corey Maggette had a big fourth quarter and finished with 19 points for the Warriors.

Chicago 109, Sacramento 88-EVD and I are lifelong Bulls fans, so we were pretty excited to learn that the Bulls won a road game on the West Coast by 21 points – until we realized that they defeated the Kings. Sacramento suffered yet another loss to an Eastern Conference team. The Kings are 0-21 against the East this season and are quietly having a dreadful season. Joke’Kim Noah scored an alleged 17 points and Tyrus Thomas added 14 and 10. I wonder if this is the first time that the two former lottery picks have both scored in double-figures in the same game.

Special Sunday Wake-Up Call

Because the NBA is a sweaty, masculine place, let’s inject some estrogen into the equation.  This is Katherine Heigl.  She dropped 80 positions in the Askmen.com list of most desirable actresses, which is crazy.  She’s Sunday’s TTT girl though, so she has something to live for.

While you stare at Ms. Heigl’s ears, eat your Cocoa Pebbles and ponder the questions of the world – This morning’s quagmire: Where did all the redheads go? – enjoy the following links…

– Eddy Curry’s ex-girlfriend was murdered in front of her three-year-old son.

– Rip should be starting with AI coming off the bench.  Yeah, whatever.

– Is Larry Hughes on his way back to the Wizards?  Bulls fans can only hope a deal happens today.

– This will never happen, but it’s fun to talk about and it gets a lot of pageviews.  Dirk for Amare.

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