Tag:Nate Robinson
Posted on: February 13, 2011 1:46 am

10 Keys to Celtics vs. Heat III

Five keys for Boston and Miami as the Celtics and Heat meet Sunday for the third time this season. Is this a must-win for Miami, even in February?
Posted by Matt Moore

Allright, Miami. We're going to give you one last shot at this to show us you have anything interesting to bring to the matchup against the Boston Celtics before we start tracing over our penciling in of the Celtics for the Finals. In the first two meetings between the two best teams in the East, the Heat were dispatched. Both games featured moderately significant leads for the Celtics late, runs by Miami to keep the television audience slightly interested, then workman-like elimination stretches from Boston to close things out. If the Heat want to showcase anything towards the notion that they are anything more than a cupcake-devouring regular season team, this is the time to prove it. Their showcase wins over the Lakers and Magic in the past month and a half will mean very little if the Celtics were to run up a 3-0 season series advantage.

There's no such thing as a must-win game for an NBA title contender in February. But this is about as close as it gets. 
And with that, here are five keys to Boston and five keys to Miami for Sunday's afternoon delight between the Heat and the Celtics. 

Boston Celtics

1. A Pointed Exchange

Rajon Rondo isn't just the best point guard on the floor, he is arguably the third best overall player in this matchup.  He's certainly made a strong case for that element in the first two games against Miami. Rondo has 33 assists and just six turnovers against the Heat this season. I'll let you soak in that stew of incredible for a moment. 33 assists. Six turnovers. Even more incredible, though, is that his games could have been a lot stronger offensively. Rondo is just 5-17 from the field in this season series, for a grand total of 12 points. Rondo's clearly shown he doesn't have to score in order to be a huge advantage for the Celtics, but if he brings his brilliant playmaking and finds his mid-range or floater falling? This thing could get out of hand before half. Matched up against either Mario Chalmers or Carlos Arroyo, Rondo is able to out-class whatever the Heat want to throw at him, and he's even got the speed and ability to take Dwyane Wade or LeBron James to the cleaners. The big key for Rondo is to stay aggressive and focused. When he's zoned in, the Heat simply don't have the personnel to counter him. 

2. Baby You Got What I Need

Glen Davis has never lost a regular season game to the Miami Heat. True story. He's 9-0 all-time agains the Heat, and while some of that is an anomaly, some of it isn't, and he's been a big factor this year against the Triad. Davis is the unofficial league-leader in charges-drawn and has made some big ones against LeBron James. The Celtics' ability to close on James not at the point of attack on the perimeter, where his size and athleticism allows him to either bust the double or pass to a cutter, but at the bucket, has frustrated James time and time again throughout the years. While Davis' blubbery reverse, tilt-a-whirl mid-range and fiercely wild, yet consistent putbacks are helpful, it's this awareness on the defensive end and his willingness to sacrifice his body to an oncoming L-Train that really makes him a difference-maker in this matchup. With a shortened bench likely for this game, expect Davis' presence to be felt early and often. 

3. In Your Head, Zombie

Kevin Garnett's cute little antics can get in the heads of some, but he hasn't really whipped out the special effects in the first two meetings. His game has raged from strong but shakey in the first meeting (10 points, 7 turnovers) to strong (16 points, 13 rebounds) in the second. But he hasn't really had any key moment of conflict, which is surprising, considering how much of a target you'd expect Chris Bosh to be for Garnett's jawing and snapping. Garnett did shut down Bosh in the season opener, but he recovered for the second. You'd think that given how emotional Garnett has played lately, this game would be ripe for a fake-fight from the former MVP. At the same time, Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen need to make sure Garnett doesn't go too far. He's been pressing his luck further and further with officials lately, and they can't afford to lose him to an ejection, not with how short the bench is. Speaking of... 

4. Protect and Serve

The biggest key for this game for Boston? Don't get injured. That's the really important message. They've already won two impressive games against Miami, they're short-handed, it's February, they're in a bit of a slump, and it's an early-start game. While a nice, comfortable victory on the back of great shooting would be rewarding, and sending an even more dominant message would do the Celtics good, the goal for the Celtics now is to get to the Finals healthy. 

5. The Kobe Treatment on LeBron

The same formula that worked in the first two games should work again. Let James score all the points he wants, but make life a living hell for Dwyane Wade and the Heat shooters. Do that, and they become as one-dimensional as the Cavs were. It's only when the cylinders get going on all three members of the Triad and then the perimeter rotations start freeing up threes for the lesser guards that the Heat become a really effective unit. As long as James is being tempted into ISO situations, the Celtics can close, harass, and limit James' domination. It's fine if he gets ridiculous numbers as long as the rest of the team struggles. Worked before, it'll work again. 

Miami Heat

1. Try, Try, Try Again

It sounds simple, but if the Heat want to walk away with their first win over the Green since forming this little group of Super-Friends, they need to give more effort. Boston's defensive unit is yet again the most feared in the league and a huge reason for why the Heat's focus seemed to go in a thresher in October and November's games.  However, there was a clear lackadasical element to the Heat's body language in those games that seemed to indicate they simply weren't dialed into these games. Against the Celtics! It should have been Boston who wasn't committed to winning a meaningless regular season game, acting as if they didn't care about such games. But instead Boston brought its A-Game and the Heat seemed content to lay down and watch them take it from them. Needless to say, the same kind of intensity from Miami on Sunday will ruin any chance they have. The Celtics are tired, worn-down, injured, and know this game means nothing for them. Yet they will still bring their focus and be ready to capitalize unless the Heat give them a reason to quit. 

2. The D-Rated Superstar

Dwyane Wade has been terrible against Boston this season. He has shot 6-28 from the field for 21 points, with 9 assists and 12 turnovers. Those are "OMG" bad numbers. Wade is an elite player and it's his ability to finish at the rim that can rack up fouls for Boston and force them to bring doubles. If they're able to simply rotate like they usually do, the Heat shooters will face contested shots, which will pile up the misses. James has brought it the first two games, it's time for Wade to step up and join him. There's no reason to think they can count on the rest of the Heat to step up against the Celtics so the two best players on the team have to set the example. Wade has had a great season, but really been shut down against Boston. That can't happen Sunday or the Heat is sunk.

3. Do-Run-Run-Run, Do-Run-Run

The Celtics don't like running teams. They still usually beat them, but they have issues with them, as we've pointed out in the past. A shortened rotation due to injury is only going to exacerbate that problem. Likewise, the Heat are at their best when they're out in transition, using the talents of James, Wade, and Bosh in space. Against the Celtics this season, the Heat actually have fewer transition plays than the Celtics, (27-25, via Synergy Sports). The Celtics do a good job of getting back immediately in transition and attacking the ball to stop it. The Heat need to be insistent in pushing, and trusting that their athletes can make things happen. If they turn the ball over, so be it. But a higher pace game favors the Heat, even as the two teams are even in pace this season at 92.8

4. Desperately Seeking X

The Heat need an X-Factor. Someone to step up and put some points on the board, make a few defensive plays, create some steals, something. Udonis Haslem was that player in the first two games, but since he's out, someone will have to step up. If either Mario Chalmers, James Jones, or Eddie House can make a significant set of plays to cap off Heat runs, they may be able to get some damage done against Boston. They'll have their opportunities. The Celtics won't over-double and will run off three-pointers, but they're also unlikely to kill themselves to contest shots they're willing to live with. The Heat have to be ready to step up in those situations. It won't take a cohesive effort from all of the role players, but someone is going to need to give them something surprising. 

5. A Step in the Right Direction

The Heat can't convert anyone about their prospects in the playoffs on Sunday. Not really. But they can make a good step in that direction. The Celtics will brush off a loss by saying they'll get it done when it counts. Miami does not have that luxury, but they still need to get some level of confidence. A loss means they were beaten in three straight by Boston, with their last matchup coming in rest-up time just days before the playoffs in April. This is their best and last shot to show they can go toe to toe with Boston, even if it's an injured Celtics team. They need to get outside the hype they brought with them this season, the injuries they've dealt with, and the newness of this team. If they want to feel confident in any way, shape, or form for a possible Eastern Conference Finals matchup with the Boston Celtics, they have to start by winning in Boston Sunday.
Posted on: January 28, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2011 3:20 am

Celtics at Lakers: What it means for Boston

What Sunday's Celtics-Lakers game means for the Boston Celtics in the first rematch since the 2010 Finals. 

Posted by Matt Moore

On Sunday, Boston travels to L.A. for Modern Celtics-Lakers XX.  The 20th time these two have met since the 07-08 season (twice in the regular season for three years, plus 13 playoff games) will still represent what many feel is a clash of the two best teams in basketball currently, as well as the resumption of the oldest and greatest rivalry the sport has ever known. With Los Angeles at 33-13 and the Celtics 35-10, the two look every bit ready to see each other once more in the Finals, even with challengers like San Antonio and Miami in their path. 

This rivalry extends beyond the history and legacies of their franchises, though. There's a genuine dislike between the two teams, even if they share a mutual respect.  The Celtics' brutally tough, bullying defense and marksman like precision clashes organically with the Lakers' smooth ball movement and overpowering height and athleticism run through the Triangle.  Doc Rivers' explosive motivational coaching approach runs in contrast to Phil Jackson's zen-like trust in his players and press-conference tweaking.  And at the end of it, they just don't like one another. 

But as the two meet in the rare regular season game that actually does seem to matter (although afterward the loser will predictably dismiss such claims), what does this matchup actually mean for Boston? 

Just for Kicks

Kevin Garnett has never been one to back down from an opportunity for dramatics. As much as his reputation is for visceral toughness and unbridled intensity, he is also a showman.  While the legitimacy of his stanchion-smashing, cobra-weaving, "Anything is possible" lunacy is up for debate, he does know how to send a message in outright terms. Nothing proves that like the shoes it was announced Garnett would be wearing for the game. Yes, his shoes. Have a look, courtesy of Nice Kicks /Aaron Knows and The Basketball Jones :

On the tongue there? That's the Celtics all time record against the Lakers, 152-120. The shoe is delicately titled "Beat L.A.."  Kevin Garnett had shoes produced for one game.  If that doesn't serve as proof of Garnett's intentions in this game, nothing will. It's just his feet, but in basketball terms, that's as good as wearing a T-shirt that reads "I plan on kicking your face in because that's what my team does to your team."  It's an outright signal of the Celtics' entire attitude, which isn't just "We're going to win" but "We're going to win because we're better than you, our franchise is better than you, and our collective being in every way is superior to yours."

It's why the Celtics don't really respect Orlando, nor do they show real signs of respect for anyone. It's part of their own personal code of conduct. But it's amped to another level with L.A. That will always be part of it as the players seek to carry on the legacy of the game built into the rivalry. But it's even more prevalent because of how things were the last time these two stepped on a court together. 

Revenge and the Art of Maniacal Maintenance

Losing to the Lakers in the Finals was devastating for the Celtics. Losing a championship series is hard for any player, but these are the Celtics, a group of veterans trying to make good on promises to themselves as well as their fans that they would collect multiple rings once among players of their caliber. Beyond that, though, losing to L.A. creates a sense of failure beyond just disappointment. You've let down the players that came before you, the players who managed to beat the Lakers, who protected that legacy (despite the Lakers having won quite a few of their own throughout the years).  It's the darkest of all places, as Garnett told WEEI this fall about his mindset after Game 7: 
“Very dark, to be honest, dark. ‘Just leave me alone, let me be my myself. I don’t want to deal with anything right now. Let me just be in a dark place.’ Just the way I replay the game over and over in my mind, trying to get a resolution to some type of place to where you can settle with it. I never found it, but that’s what it is. I say it’s fuel to the fire. [Expletive? (Bleeped completely out] .“
via Sports Radio Interviews » Blog Archive » Kevin Garnett Goes To A Dark Place In The Off-Season .

Paul Pierce wasn't in a great place afterward either, when WEEI spoke to him about it: 
How long does it take a competitive person like you to get over a seventh-game loss in the NBA (Finals)? A week? A month? Ever?

“I still haven’t gotten over it. It’s tough. Because you envision back, and say, ‘If we could have done this different, that different in the game, it would have been a different outcome.’ So, it’s hard. You think about the what ifs and all of that. I don’t think you ever forget it.”

What’s the process? Do you go in your bedroom for a couple of days and sleep, and then don’t shave for a while, or don’t bathe, and then finally come out of the shell?

“I didn’t talk to people for a long time. I didn’t watch any basketball for a long time. I sort of kind of did go into a shell. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t even want to go out and eat for a while, because you just felt that bad about the loss. But then as I got back into the gym and working out, I just used it for motivation and just sort of loosened up from there.”
via Sports Radio Interviews » Blog Archive » Paul Pierce on Losing Game 7 .

This is just speculation, but I'm betting Glen Davis' reaction was to eat a muffin. Or a boar whole, or something. Regardless, things were pretty rough for the C's after that loss. 

Nothing will really provide the Celtics with a satisfied feeling of revenge short of winning the championship, preferably over the Lakers this spring.  But this game is a chance to send a message.  It's an opportunity to go into the Lakers' house and show them that they are still every bit as tough as they have been, and even tougher with their improved depth. It's a chance to illustrate that they are the ones in control of this rivalry, even after last spring, and that even though this is just a regular season game, they can dominate at will. 

This isn't about just showing L.A. who's boss, it's about testing themselves. Being 35-10 means little to them because they don't care about beating the Nets, or the Bobcats, or even the Magic or Heat.  They want to show they can beat the Lakers.  Everything else is just a means to get there. 

And in part, the Celtics want the opportunity to show that they're right: Kendrick Perkins was the reason they lost. 

Man Down, Ring Down

Losing Kendrick Perkins before Game 7 hurt .  One of the Celtics' biggest advantages against the Lakers as opposed to nearly every team in the league is their ability to counter the Lakers' length with their own interior defense.  Perkins isn't a behemoth like Andrew Bynum, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in toughness, physicality, and savvy.  Losing him meant the Celtics lost just enough of an edge down low.

At the end of the matchup considerations, though, is this: the Celtics were without a starter for Game 7 of the Finals.  That's enough to prompt anyone to keep an excuse at the back of their minds, even if they'll publicly give the other team credit.  Perkins means a lot to this team, and even in limited minutes now that he's back, you can see what he brings the team.  

Sunday is an opportunity to showcase what they look like at full-strength, should they stay healthy till then (which is far from guaranteed, this is the Celtics, after all).  Even with Shaquille O'Neal nursing an injury and Jermaine O'Neal still struggling through his knee problems, this is the Celtics, at their core.  Sunday provides an opportunity to show the difference in the Celtics with and without Perkins. Perkins wasn't even expected to be available for this game, supposedly out another week.

But of course Tuesday he pops up healthy.  That's how this works. Some, like myself, never questioned that Perkins would be back for this game. This game matters to him. You'll have a hard time keeping him out of a game like this, even in the regular season. Because this is like a dress rehearsal.

Trial Run

There's no way to duplicate the intensity of the Finals, but this will be as close as it will get for a while, at least until the Lakers visit Boston in a few weeks.  And it's a chance to test things for future reference. How will Shaquille O'Neal do against Andrew Bynum?  How will Nate Robinson do as backup against Shannon Brown or Steve Blake?  What can a healthy Marquis Daniels do against Ron Artest

These are the questions that will be in Doc Rivers' mind, as they try and get a regular season win, but also try and figure out some things to rely on should these two meet again.  There's no way to block it out, though they may try. "It's just another game" will likely be a refrain at practice and shootaround. Don't be fooled. This is the setup, the first act of the 2011 chapter of Lakers-Celtics.  Let's draw the curtain, and see what happens.

Posted on: January 21, 2011 11:07 am
Edited on: January 21, 2011 11:08 am

Nate Robinson comes off the bench at Chipotle

Posted by Matt Moore

Nate Robinson is a burrito man. Specifically, a Chipotle Burrito man. So much so that he spent a few hours behind the counter making them for customers.  Check it out:

Couple of things here. First off, I would have snapped at NateRob, donkey or no donkey, for continually asking me about the hot sauce. Yes, I know it's hot, Nathan, that's why I asked for hot sauce. I didn't come to Chipotle to have mild food. The name of the place is freaking Chipotle. 

Also, it's unclear from this video, but considering it's Nate Robinson, I'm betting that it took him three tries to make one burrito. Since that seems to be his general approach to things. 

Category: NBA
Posted on: January 20, 2011 12:43 am
Edited on: January 20, 2011 12:51 am

DeRozan to replace Jennings in NBA Dunk Contest

DeMar DeRozan will reportedly replace Brandon Jennings in the 2011 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest, as Jennings will be scratched due to injury. Posted by Bendemar-derozan-dunk Golliver. 

Back in December, Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings suffered a foot fracture that required surgery. So it was a bit of a surprise when, in early January, Jennings was named one of four participants in the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, along with Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee and Oklahoma City Thunder big man Serge Ibaka.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday night that Jennings will be a scratch due to his injury and that he will be replaced by Toronto Raptors forward DeMar DeRozan.
The N.B.A. will add DeMar DeRozan to the slam dunk competition, which will be held during All-Star weekend. He will assume the spot vacated by Brandon Jennings, who is returning from a fractured left foot. DeRozan’s selection is expected to be announced on Thursday.
When news of the Dunk Contest participants broke a few weeks ago, DeRozan tweeted, "Dang! I'm not in the dunk contest this year?" Apparently, wishes really do come true sometimes.

DeRozan is your prototypical slam dunk contest participant, an explosive-leaping, high-flying, hard-finishing athletic wing. He finished second in the 2010 NBA dunk contest, losing to Nate Robinson, then of the New York Knicks and now of the Boston Celtics.

In the final round of last year's contest, DeRozan caught and finished an alleyoop one-handed while jumping over a teammate.  He also took off from near the free throw line and threw down with two hands. 

Here's a look at the tape, via YouTube user melo15jr5.

The 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend will be held in Los Angeles, California, and both Jennings and DeRozan are local products, hailing from Compton.

For more on the other contest participants, click here for a full analysis.
Posted on: January 11, 2011 8:10 am
Edited on: January 11, 2011 12:27 pm

The Shootaround: Heat haven't shown greatness?

Miami's coach says the Heat haven't yet shown greatness, Scottie Pippen has Dennis Rodman's back, Nate Robinson shares his thoughts on this year's dunk contest, Chauncey Billups really was sick, the latest on the Carmelo Anthony trade talks, and much more. Posted by Ben Golliver.  shootaround
  • Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstra says in an interview transcribed by SportsRadioInterviews.com that he has not yet seen greatness from his team. "We have proven that we can be great, we can be great on the defensive end of the floor, but we have not shown greatness yet. We do not do it on a possession or every single minute of the game mentality yet. We’re moving in that direction and I think our guys understand that this isn’t where we want to stop. To play really at the elite level, and we’re talking seven game series, we need to be more consistent with that and that’s what we’re striving for and working for every single day.”
  • Boston Celtics guard, and Slam Dunk contest champion, Nate Robinson says the NBA wants Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin to win this year's contest. The Boston Globe quotes Robinson: “It’s time to basically let Blake Griffin win, because that’s what they want. Hopefully the young fella can go on and get it done.’’
  • Former Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen is campaigning for his former teammate, Dennis Rodman, to make the Hall of Fame, notes NBA.com. “We all watched Dennis’ career and we know just how good he was as a basketball player,” Pippen said. “I think we all got caught up in his antics, and things he did away from the game, and it sort of disrespected or took attention away from what he did on the basketball court. But he is surely a Hall of Famer.”
  • Yesterday, we noted that there was some speculation regarding Denver Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups' absence from practice due to illness, and ongoing trade talks between the Nuggets, New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons. Billups' agent, Andy Miller, tells Yahoo! Sports not to read into it. “He’s really sick,” Miller said. “He has a headache and was feeling under the weather. There is no correlation with regard to the rumors and speculation regarding a trade scenario. Chauncey’s professionalism should never be in question in regards to his responsibilities as a professional athlete.”
  • Here's the up-to-the-minute latest on Carmelo Anthony trade talks, which includes discussion of Houston's potential involvement and Denver's reported unhappiness with the public nature of the negotiations. "The teams haven't stopped talking, but the Nuggets are trying to show people that they aren't going to be rushed into anything," adds ESPN.com.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn lets the Associated Press know that no trades are imminent for his team and that patience continues to be a virtue. "As painful as this is, there was no way to do this with a quick fix and put the team into a position to dramatically rise overnight," Kahn said after practice. "It is really painful to work your way through this process. I'm actually encouraged that maybe it won't be as painful for as long as I once worried it would be."
  • The Utah Jazz are considering changing their starting lineup to fix some slow starts. The Salt Lake Tribune writes that point guard Deron Williams wouldn't comment on any specific changes, other than to say he wants to pick up the pace. “I want to run more, that’s all I can say,” Williams said.
  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant says his knee "feels good," but he's back to sitting out of Lakers' practices after a short stretch of participating over the holidays, according to the L.A. Times. "It feels good," Bryant said after practice Monday at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo. I'm not going to answer questions about my knee every damn day. I said what I had to say. My knee feels fine. The key is to make it stay fine."
  • Toronto Raptors sophomore wing DeMar DeRozan tells TheScore.com he's not hitting the rookie wall this season. “I think around this time last year, I was so banged up,” DeRozan reflected. “I think I hit the rookie wall or something like that. I remember just being tired, being banged up and I wasn’t playing as many minutes as I am now. Just being able to get stronger in the offseason, being able to take the physicality of going inside with the big guys.”
  • DimeMag.com has an interview with Greg Minor, Antoine Walker's former Boston Celtics teammate. Minor touches on Walker's current D-League stint.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 4:30 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:56 pm

Garnett out 'couple of weeks' with calf strain

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett reportedly suffered a right calf muscle strain and is expected out for roughly two weeks. Posted by Ben Golliver

Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett dodged a bullet, as an MRI conducted Thursday after Garnett suffered a leg injury during Wednesday night's game against the Detroit Pistons reportedly revealed only a calf muscle strain in his right leg. The Celtics expect Garnett to miss "a couple of weeks." It was initially feared that Garnett re-injured his right knee during a dunk attempt, but word came out post-game that he had suffered a leg injury and not a knee injury, which could have potentially derailed Boston's title hopes. In Garnett's absence, the Celtics will turn to third-year forward Glen Davis, who is averaging career-highs in points (12.1), rebounds (5.7) and minutes (29) so far this season. The Celtics have already tapped their bench this season, using reserve guard Nate Robinson in place of starting point guard Rajon Rondo's absence due to an ankle injury. Here's the video of Garnett's injury, which occurred during the first quarter of Boston's 104-92 loss to the Pistons in Detroit. For more coverage of Garnett's injury from Wednesday night, click here.
Posted on: December 16, 2010 4:06 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:38 pm

Ainge: Rajon Rondo out 'couple weeks' with ankle

Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge reports that guard Rajon Rondo will miss time with an ankle injury. Posted by Ben Golliver

Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge told Boston radio station WEEI on Thursday that Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will miss "a couple of weeks" with a left ankle injury.  Rondo sprained his ankle while driving to the hoop during the early fourth quarter of Wednesday's game against the New York Knicks and briefly left the court with the assistance of teammates and training staff members.  He later reappeared during the game, but was clearly favoring the ankle and not moving smoothly. Here's video of the play, courtesy of NBAfufu on YouTube. And here's a snapshot of Rondo rolling his ankle on the play. You can clearly see it's a severe roll. rajon-rondo-ankle Image courtesy of @Jose3030 (as always). Prior to Ainge's declaration, Rondo told reporters on Thursday morning that he would attempt to play Thursday night, as the Celtics host the Atlanta Hawks. ESPNBoston.com quotes Rondo acknowledging pain but expecting to play.
"It hurts, but all ankle sprains hurt," said Rondo, who has also battled a sore left hamstring, which recently sidelined him for five games, and plantar fasciitis. "I expect to play. I think I'm going to do [X-rays Thursday] morning and see how I feel. Get through the night and hope it doesn't swell up."
Rondo has averaged 11.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, a league-leading 13.8 assists, and 2.3 steals in 38.5 minutes per game so far this season.   The Celtics have the best record in the Eastern Conference, at 20-4. With guard Delonte West already out with a wrist injury, the Celtics will have to lean more heavily on backup point guard Nate Robinson.
Posted on: December 16, 2010 12:06 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:37 pm

The Game Changer: Dirk downs Portland

The Mavericks put away the Blazers, the Celtics escape the Knicks, Nate Robinson stumbles, the Suns are elated, the Denver television reporter that blew the Carmelo Anthony story 'fesses up, and plenty more. Posted by Ben Golliver

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer. 


On Wednesday, after the Celtics were done breaking the Knicks' heart, the Dallas Mavericks stepped onto the ESPN stage and staked their claim to the title, "legit title contender."  The Mavericks are among the league leaders in stability, we've been watching this game core group for at least 46 years now, and, in related news, they are near the top of the leaderboard in, "Well, that was bound to happen," moments for their opposition. Wednesday night was just another one to tack onto that track record. Championship-quality teams pull out wins on their off nights, and that's exactly what happened in Texas, as the Mavericks staved off a Portland rally in the fourth quarter. A struggling Dirk Nowitzki proved for the 12,000th time that he is essentially unguardable down the stretch, scoring eight of his 21 points on an array of post moves in the final 2:24, overcoming a season-best performance from Portland power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 35 points and 10 rebounds. The Mavs caught some breaks,  a crucial no-call on Jason Terry during an Andre Miller drive swung momentum late and some poor clock management and slow fouling from the Blazers made the endgame easier for Dallas.  Another key against the Blazers, and a major x-factor in assessing the Mavericks' legitimacy as a title contender, was the play of Caron Butler. He was very effective, especially going to the basket, and his solid all-around night -- 23 points, seven rebonds and four assists -- helped provide the winning margin. His production on the year is still below his career numbers, but the total output is less important than the fit. If Dallas has things clicking and Butler is able to provide an auxiliary offensive threat alongside Nowitzki, this team will be an extremely tough out come playoff time.  The Mavericks are 20-5 on the season, and NBA.com notes that is the second best 25-game stretch in franchise history. The Western Conference -- with Dallas, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers all off to solid starts -- is shaping up to be a familiar three horse race.


Paul Pierce: 32 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a game-winner in 41 minutes in a Boston Celtics road win over the New York Knicks. Amar'e Stoudemire: 39 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks in 42 minutes in a New York Knicks home loss to the Boston Celtics. Carlos Boozer: 34 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals, one block in 26 minutes in a Chicago Bulls road win over the Toronto Raptors. Blake Griffin: 20 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block in 39 minutes in a Los Angeles Clippers road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Steve Nash: 11 points, 19 assists, two rebounds in 31 minutes in a Phoenix Suns home win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.



The Phoenix Suns survived a crazy game with the Minnesota Timberwolves in Arizona on Wednesday night, cashing in 15 three-pointers on their way to a 128-122 victory. Check out this great shot of guard Jared Dudley, who nailed three treys himself, making it rain cheers. jared-dudley


The Denver television station that reported on Tuesday night Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony had been traded to the New Jersey Nets ridiculously "stood by its story" Wednesday, prompting CBSSports.com's Ken Berger to set them straight.  On Wednesday night, the station's sports reporter Lionel Bienvenu admitted on Twitter that the station hadn't gotten it right. "We jumped the gun with a tweet that wasn't worded correctly. we never reported the trade was done. just the tweet," Bienvenu tweeted.  As any media professional should know, a good chunk of NBA breaking news is, in fact, reported on Twitter. That imaginary barrier was crossed years ago. To attempt to distinguish between a report on television and a report on Twitter is ridiculous. At this point, we should expect nothing less.  


Via Twitter superstar Jose3030 and SB Nation, comes this hypnotizing graphic of Boston Celtics guard Nate Robinson celebrating Paul Pierce's game-winner. Robinson leaps in the air not once but twice, and then comes crashing back to Earth in painful fashion. nate-rob


In case you missed it, there was an epic finish in New York between the Knicks and Celtics. Paul Pierce didn't hit the only game-winner Wednesday night, as San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili took a break from seeing UFOs to down the Milwaukee Bucks.  But did he travel? Watch the video from letreeman on YouTube and decide for yourself. Rob Mahoney investigates the "Was it a travel?" question here.


The Miami Heat won again, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 101-95 on Wednesday, to extend their winning streak to 10 consecutive games. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 65 points, 23 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and a block. Good lord.
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