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Tag:second-round playoffs
Posted on: May 8, 2011 6:07 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2011 6:49 pm
 

Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom ejected for dirty hits

Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers were ejected for dirty plays late in Game 4 against the Dallas Mavericks. Posted by Ben Golliver.

If you thought Ron Artest's clothesline of J.J. Barea in Game 2 was the definition of disgracing yourself in defeat, think again.

The Los Angeles Lakers sank to a new low, as two starters were ejected as the team was swept out of the Western Conference semifinals in four games by the Dallas Mavericks.

First, it was forward Lamar Odom, who shoved Mavericks All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki near the three-point line. With the Mavericks leading 94-68 with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Odom leaned hard into Nowitzki as he looked to establish position near the arc. Nowitzki fell immediately to the ground and Odom was whistled for a flagrant foul and immediately ejected.

Here's a look at Odom's hit on Nowitzki.


That wasn't nearly the worst of it, though. The worst came less than a minute later. 

The cheapest play of the playoffs distinction goes to Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who delivered a forearm shiver to the chest of Barea, who was exposed in mid-air as he was attempting a runner. Bynum made no play whatsoever on the ball and was issued a flagrant foul and immediately ejected. He took his jersey off and stomped off the court, with Artest serving as his escort underneath a cascade of boos.

Here's a look at Bynum's dirty hit on Barea. 

For more on the Lakers disgrace, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger has you covered.
Posted on: May 8, 2011 3:34 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 10:40 am
 

Rondo, West expected to play Game 4 after MRIs

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers says Rajon Rondo and Delonte West will play in Game 4 following MRIs. Posted by Ben Golliver.
rajon-rondo-elbow

UPDATE: Rondo was given an X-ray, MRI and CT scan and all results were negative. He's being officially listed as questionable for Game 4.

During Saturday's Game 3 against the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics guards Rajon Rondo and Delonte West both went down with injury. For Rondo, it was a gruesome dislocated elbow  while West suffered a shoulder injury just before halftime.

Boston.com reports that both players underwent MRIs and that Celtics coach Doc Rivers expects both to be available to play in Monday night's Game 4, although he expressed a bit of apprehension regarding Rondo. 
"Right now we're going with they're all playing," said Rivers, who was including Shaquille O'Neal. "Hopefully we'll know something by the end of our film session. Obviously (Rondo's elbow) was far more painful today, a lot of swelling."
"If he can't help our team (Rondo won't play)," the coach said. "And if he can play, how well can he play and will he help or hurt our team? No. 1, we're not going to hurt the player and we're not going to do anything to hurt the team. It may not be until game time and the game until we find that out. Right now, that may be the case. I am optimstic about both, that they're going to play." 
Here's video of Rondo's gruesome injury which occurred after he got tangled up with Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade.



If both Rondo and West are unable to go, look for the Celtics to activate reserve point guard Carlos Arroyo, who played for the Heat earlier this season.

For more on Rondo's heroic return, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger has you covered .
Posted on: May 8, 2011 11:12 am
Edited on: May 8, 2011 11:19 am
 

Playoff Fix: Atlanta's easy way out

The Hawks don't really have to win Game 4 to be proud of their season, it's all gravy from here, really. But if they want to make this series go longer, they're going to have to make some serious changes. 
Posted by Matt Moore




One Big Thing:  The Atlanta Hawks aren't really on the hook for Gaem 4. They stole a game in Chicago, made a good effort in Game 2, and then Game 3 really did show that they're just outclassed. The Hawks will continue to face derision from media and fans, but the reality is that they did make progress this year. They won a game in the second round. Granted, based on this pattern of improvement, they're scheduled to win the title in 2088, but still. The Hawks can be blamed for their isolation offense, for their allowance of huge performances from stars, for Josh Smith shooting 3-pointers.  But they can't be blamed for the Bulls being better, which they are. How the Hawks choose to respond in Game 4 will say a lot about them. Again, they can fold, and you shouldn't think any worse of them. The Bulls are a much better team.  But if the Hawks come out and play with fire, once again pushing the top team in the East and forcing this series to go at least some distance, they'll show that at least they're not willing to go quietly. 

The X-Factor: It's tempting to throw any number of Hawks in here: Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, but since we know we can't count on them (Teague is the best bet, can you believe that?), let's go with a Bull: C.J. Watson.  As if Derrick Rose's onslaught wasn't enough, Watson came off the bench in Game 3 with 8 points and got to the line twice in just ten minutes. The Hawks have shown they can survive big performances from stars (Dwight Howard). But if the bench is going to keep up the production, they're must going to drown defensively. 

The Adjustment: Surely, Josh Smith will start to hear the boos and recognize that you can't, you just can't keep taking those long-range jumpers. The boos from his home crowd (which will undeniably be a little less homey in Game 4)! Smith keeps taking those shots, despite the opportunity to take Carlos Boozer off the dribble and how well the Hawks play when he becomes aggressive. At this point, the best bet for the Hawks is classical conditioning using the Hawks crowd as a reward system. Maybe they should set up a bell system to tell him when to drive. Pavlov's Dog doesn't seem like a crazy approach if it gets the job done. Smith has gutted his own offense with his decision making in the playoffs. 

The Sticking Point: Jeff Teague actually played really well. There was just no stopping Derrick Rose, especially with his mid-range jumper falling. If the same is in place in Game 4, the Hawks have no shot. It sounds simple, because it is. If Rose's mid-range jumper is falling, the Hawks are done and might as well not even make the flight to Chicago for Game 5. But if it's not, and they start attacking the basket themselves, Atlanta has an opportunity to get this series further down the road. 
Posted on: May 8, 2011 1:14 am
Edited on: May 8, 2011 1:38 am
 

Playoff Fix: Lakers play for pride first

The Los Angeles Lakers look to avoid the sweep, trailing the Dallas Mavericks 2-0 in the Western Conference semifinals. Posted by Ben Golliver.
kobe-fish

DALLAS LEADS 3-0

One Big Thing: Getting swept out of the playoffs is the ultimate shot to the pride for an NBA team defending its title. For the Lakers, as cocky and proud as NBA champions get, losing to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday would amount to a crisis of character, and that's why the major protagonists, coach Phil Jackson and guard Kobe Bryant, are so adamant in their denials that it will happen. Getting swept would ruin a lot of storylines: Jackson riding off into the sunset and Bryant as Jordan redux, not to mention spoiling the three-peat. Game 4, then, is about pride first. While Bryant still believes the Lakers can take the series, first they must save some face.

The X-Factor: The return of Ron Artest from his one-game suspension for clotheslining could be a really good thing, or a really bad thing. On one hand, his presence should shore up L.A.'s perimeter defense, which was out of position and slow to close out to Dallas' shooters in Game 3. On the other, he's been inconsistent throughout the playoffs and forces Lamar Odom back to the bench following the one decent offensive game he's played in the series. The Lakers badly need "fully locked in and making plays" Artest, but have only had "distant look in his eyes, what's he going to do next?" Artest for the last week or two. He's as prideful as anyone on the roster, though, so perhaps he has a last stand left in him.

The Adjustment: Kobe Bryant's "Hero Mode" has its faults, but this is the rare occasion when he needs to do more offensively, a lot more. Bryant was overly deferential in Game 3, scoring just 17 points on 16 shots. He tallied six assists, the most he had put up since Game 4 against the Hornets, but he came up empty late in the game. L.A. simply looked lost and discombobulated down the stretch and while a ball-hogging Bryant doesn't necessarily correct that problem, it at least gives the team a direction. This is a legacy game for Bryant, in that a no-show becomes a fairly big stain on the resume while a big night, win or lose, would help him save some face.  

The Sticking Point:
 The biggest issue for Bryant has been his transformation, almost overnight, into a one-dimensional jumpshooter. A man who as recently as a few weeks ago was arguably the toughest cover in the league (at least top five) has seen vast swatches of his game evaporate. Consider this: Bryant is 31-for-65 from the field against the Mavericks in the first three games of this series. According to Hoopdata.com, Bryant is a combined 3-8 on shots from inside 10 feet. In other words, a full 88% of his attempts are mid-range jumpshots or further! By comparison, that number was a much more reasonable 60% during the regular season.

Bryant's free throw attempts are down too: He's averaging less than four attempts per game against the Mavericks after taking more than seven per game during the regular season. Given that L.A. has yet to top 94 points in the series, you'd like to see the opposite effect. If the team is struggling to score, Bryant should be driving more aggressively. 

The question for Game 4 is really quite simple: Is Bryant still capable of willing the Lakers to victory?
Posted on: May 8, 2011 12:30 am
Edited on: May 8, 2011 12:49 am
 

Miami Heat fizzle in nightmare Game 3 at Boston

The Miami Heat crash-landed in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics. Posted by Ben Golliver.
dwyane-wade-fall


Game 3, in many ways, saw the Miami Heat's greatest fears realized ... and all of them on the same night. Chris Bosh didn't show up. The role players didn't play their roles. The questionable starting lineup was worse than usual. And neither LeBron James nor Dwyane Wade was capable of an explosive performance to carry all that dead weight.

With the 97-81 home win on Saturday, the Boston Celtics chipped into Miami's series lead, narrowing the gap to 2-1, and took a huge swipe at the Heat's building confidence.

The loss, apparently, is sending Heat coach Erik Spoelstra back to the drawing board. Asked by the Associated Press whether he would consider a starting lineup change, Spoelstra said, "I will evaluate everything, A to Z." Of course there's only two players to evaluate -- Mike Bibby and Zydrunas Ilgauskas -- and that process is sure to be an ugly one.  Bibby contributed just five missed shots, one assist and one turnover in 14 minutes, while Ilgauskas played just eight minutes on Saturday and is now just 2-9 on the series. 

Not much is expected from either player, but it doesn't help that their backups are playing solid basketball. Mario Chalmers had 17 points in Game 3 after being relatively ineffective in the first two. Joel Anthony, meanwhile, had a career night, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in 33 minutes. In deciding whether to move one or both to the starting lineup, Spoelstra is balancing whether that would overly frontload his rotation. With such a short bench, Spoelstra needs any punch he can get from his second unit, and with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh already starting, the point guard and center aren't asked to do much more than knock down open shots and finish at the rim, respectively. 

Nevertheless, Miami found itself in an 18-7 hole early, and Boston began the third quarter on a 14-4 run. Those are major deficits, and are very difficult to overcome, especially on the road. 

Anthony, in particular, probably deserves the nod, given that he's already playing starter-type minutes. Spoelstra could then save Ilgauskas to match up with whatever minutes Shaquille O'Neal plays, allowing the two hulking veteran centers to cancel each other out. When it comes to Bibby, there's no easy answer: He's shooting an abominable 26.3% in the playoffs. There's no hiding that type of performance, especially against Boston's defense.

Bigger than the lineup issues was the predictable disappearance of Chris Bosh. Bosh was eaten alive by Kevin Garnett, who had a season-high 28 points and 18 rebounds. In contrast, Bosh tallied a season-low six points while grabbing just five rebounds. For a player that's battled back against criticism that he comes up small in big moments and is overly passive, he came up microscopic in a huge moment and was as passive as it gets. Bosh's Game 3 was a transcontinental pipeline to help give fuel to his haters.

No play better encapsulated Bosh's night than Rajon Rondo's miracle steal and dunk. After leaving earlier with a dislocated elbow that was popped back into place by Boston's training staff, Rondo caught Bosh napping. As Bosh went to track down a loose ball near halfcourt at half-speed, Rondo jumped him, picking Bosh cleanly before heading in for an uncontested dunk. The play began when Jeff Green over-played the passing lane to tip Bosh's lazy pass, and Bosh's effort to recover from that mistake lacked urgency and awareness. He has to do better. There's no excuse.



The struggles from Miami's role players and Bosh's wilting performance are a reminder that Miami isn't yet a monolith, or even a Goliath. They're a two-headed monster capable of playing a more athletic game than any other team in the league, but also one that over-relies on James and Wade to a precarious degree.

If there's a silver lining to Saturday's loss for the Heat, it's Rondo's injury. Without question, he will be limited for the remainder of the series and his ability to shoot the ball, which was already in question, will be virtually eliminated. Miami should be able to make the necessary defensive adjustments to capitalize on that fact: overplaying the passing lanes, pressuring Rondo as he brings the ball up the court, overplaying his right hand mercilessly and daring him to shoot from the perimeter.

In addition to Rondo's status, Miami still has plenty to bank on: homecourt advantage, the fact that Boston played with a do-or-die urgency that will be difficult to replicate multiple times, and, of course, the James/Wade combination. In other words, Saturday wasn't a knockout blow for the Heat, but it is gut check time. It's going to be a long haul to close the door on the Celtics, and it's surely going to take more than two guys to get it done.
Posted on: May 7, 2011 11:37 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2011 12:18 am
 

NBA Playoffs Heat-Celtics: Rondo is tough

Rajon Rondo returns from a dislocated elbow to help lead the Celtics to a Game 3 win vs. the Heat. How does it stack up versus history? Are we getting ahead of ourselves?
Posted by Matt Moore

Listen, I'm supposed to exaggerate this for you. I'm supposed to throw you comparisons to the "Flu Game," Willis Reed's return, or Isiah Thomas' ankle.  But I'd be doing you a disservice if I did. If I simplified what happened when Rajon Rondo dislocated his elbow (here's a lovely image, warning, graphic) to those other performances, I'd be ignoring some relevant facts that make this at the same time more, and less, impressive than those other historic performances. 

Consider the following which takes some of the glory out of Rondo's performance: 

  • Rondo finished with six points, three rebounds, 11 assists, and five turnovers. That's a great number of assists, especially considering the time he was gone, but not herculean. It wasn't Jordan's 38-7-5. 
  • It wasn't in a championship game, like Willis Reed's or Isiah Thomas'. The fact that it came in a semifinals game, no matter the opponent, puts it at a level beneath. 
  • We won't know how big his performance was until after this season is over. If Rondo's gutsy strength is what makes the difference in the Celtics' drive to the title, then it becomes much bigger. Memorable, sure, but only if the Celtics succeed not only in this series, but the next two. 
  • Rondo will be credited with creating the Celtics' comeback. In reality, the Celtics were already leading by 10 after storming out of the gate at halftime when Rondo went down. This isn't to say that Rondo's injury didn't cause the Celtics to rally around their emotional core, or that he didn't help them to hold onto the lead with his leadership. It's just that to say the Celtics were doomed before Rondo valiantly returned is a falsehood. 

That said, give these elements some thought as well:

Rajon Rondo is the youngest member of the Celtics' starting five. He has been buried at times in this series and late in the season for his mental and emotional disappearing act. He has been called out for acting childish, particularly in regards to his reaction to the trade of Kendrick Perkins, his close friend. And in a game which the Celtics absolutely could not afford to lose, Rondo not only returned from an injury which, as a player with a bright future ahead of him, and considering the severity of the injury (he dislocated his freaking arm), he had no obligation to return from. But he came back, and when he did, he played with intensity and dedication. He was essentially one-armed for the majority of his playing time and continued to command the Celtics to cut the series deficit to 2-1. 

Michael Jordan? The flu is terrible, it's tough, and Jordan's game was better. But IV fluids and the body's natural fight against disease can allow adrenaline to overcome it. Rondo's physical ability to function through the use of his arm was impaired. Willis Reed returned and made little impact to the game. He primarily serves as an iconic image, his jog from the locker room the first such image in league history to be recorded in such a big game. Isiah Thomas? Well, no one likes Isiah Thomas at this point, and ankle injuries? Who hasn't gotten an ankle injury and played through it? 

Rondo dunked. With one arm, essentially. And afterwards, instead of basking in his own toughness, or acknowledging how much pain he was in. Instead of using a humble brag to capitalize on his image, he said this:



Rajon Rondo is moody, acerbic, tough to figure out, and can infuriate Celtics fans with his inconsistency. But in Game 3 against the Miami Heat, with the Celtics desperate for a hero (and getting several), Rajon Rondo became that savior. That's not an exaggeration or cliche. Rondo fought through an incredibly tough injury (he dislocated his freaking arm, popped it back in, then played through it, for crying out loud) and may have saved the Celtics' season. 

Toughness is a core value of the Boston Celtics. And when they needed it most, the enigmatic point guard showed up and led by example, through toughness. 

Game 4 is Monday. 
Posted on: May 7, 2011 9:59 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2011 10:34 pm
 

Russell Westbrook and the evolving blame-game

Posted by Royce Young



Russell Westbrook was playing a fantastic game. One that was bringing his critics back around. One that was reminding people was an incredible talent he is at just 22 years old and in his third year as a pro. He was creating, dishing, scoring and finishing.

He had the Thunder cooking the Grizzlies, taking them up to a 16-point lead as he racked up assists and played a solid, controlled game. Oklahoma City looked downright dominant and appeared to be cruising to a 2-1 series lead and regaining the homecourt advantage.

But things felt apart in a big way the final six minutes of the fourth quarter. Spanning to overtime, where OKC lost 101-93, the Thunder went eight minutes without a basket, missed 11 straight shots and scored just 17 points the final 17 minutes, including overtime.

Most everyone with a Twitter account, a blog or even a voice pinned it all directly on the shoulders of Westbrook. Most saw it being his fault for stopping the ball, for not getting it to Kevin Durant, for killing the Thunder's chances to win this game. And you haven't heard the last of it. It's just going to get worse the more people stew on this game.

From my eyes, though, I just didn't see it that way. I'm evidently very much in the minority, but I just refuse to place the blame on Westbrook for Game 3's incredible meltdown.

Does he deserve a big slice of blame? Definitely. Probably one right out of the middle of the pie. With lots of icing. He didn’t do the things those last six minutes that he had done up to that point. The first 42 minutes, he was fantastic. Setting up teammates, scoring in rhythm, making good decisions — it was beautiful. But with the Thunder trying to hang on a lead, a lot of that flew right out the door.

Not entirely because of Westbrook, though. Again, he’s absolutely got blood on his hands. He might even be holding the knife. He entered the fourth quarter with 12 assists and finished the game with that number. That’s all on him.

But I have to stop short of joining the bash party and piling on Westbrook's game.

What the Thunder looked like those last few minutes was a team up by a touchdown and content to just run the ball three times into an eight-man front and punt. They wound the clock down with a lot of dribbling, then brought Kevin Durant to the top of the key and tried to isolate him there. But, because of great ball-denial and the fact Durant didn’t position well enough to actually receive the ball, Westbrook was basically left with a ticking time bomb in his hands. The play was a dud and he was left standing there having to make a play with five on the shot clock.

Where Westbrook failed was that he then put his nose down and tried to just make a play on his own. It was all up to him after the initial, one-option play crumbled, but he still could have drawn the defense and dished. He could've gone all the way to the rim. He settled instead for jumpers — mostly good looks too, I’d say — that he didn’t make. The offense went entirely stale, the ball stopped and nobody moved. Is that Westbrook’s fault? Or is it a product of the play call coming from the sideline? That’s the question I’m asking right now.

Everyone is griping that Durant didn’t see the ball much in those moments, but again, he was in no position to score. The Thunder basically ran the same stuff that killed Denver in Game 5 where Durant took over and started etching his name into playoff lore. Difference here was Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler weren’t on Durant. Tony Allen is terrific in ball denial and can stop Durant’s dribble. Durant just doesn’t have the ability to put the ball on the floor more than twice and get a good shot over Allen. It’s not happening.

But at any point did you really see a time where Durant was open and Westbrook truly looked him off? What I saw was Durant hovering around the 3-point line with his hand up, not moving. I mean with four on the shot clock, what do you want Westbrook to do? Kick it out there and let his buddy fire from 30 feet? Why does KD deserve the ball if he’s 30 feet from the basket, not moving and covered? How is that Westbrook being a bad point guard?

I know I’ve seen Westbrook succeed in exactly what he tried to do Saturday at least 20 times during the regular season. I’ve seen him take over when the other options (or this case, option) was locked down. It’s the great luxury the Thunder have had all season long, and the reason this team won 55 games.

Because, let’s face it, it’s not like Durant 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 Durant'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. I won't blame Westbrook for that. I blame 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.

Prepare for a comparison you’re going to hate, but I want to say it: If Dwyane Wade did exactly what Westbrook did in this game, would everyone freak out? I realize Westbrook isn’t Wade, but he is an All-Star and averaging better than 20 points a game this season. But if Wade tried to take over and LeBron was left standing with a hand up on the 3-point line, would we all yell, curse his name and place an incredible amount of blame on him? Or would we just say, "Hey, Wade's a great scorer and he's capable of taking over too." That's my point here. It's not like this was Royal Ivey trying to make something happen.

Why the Thunder quit running the offense late in the fourth is beyond me. Maybe it was indeed Westbrook, but it really appeared to be more a product of the Thunder trying to kill clock, get the ball to Durant and let him finish. It’s a good plan in principle, but it didn’t work. The cutting, moving, screening and slashing disappeared. And Westbrook is left to pick up the pieces and rescue each bad possession by making a play.

It's pretty unfair to single out Westbrook here simply because No. 35 is on the floor with him. Should the ball go there first? Yes. And if you re-watch, that was the design every time.

But once that option is shut down, you go to Plan B, which, in the Thunder's case, is a pretty good one. A lot of the criticism I see for Westbrook stems almost entirely from "Don't you see Kevin Durant over there!" and other sentences like that. I understand the idea there, but it's not really fair to me. Why does Derrick Rose get a free pass from dominating the ball and taking bad shots? Only because Durant isn’t on his team? That’s what people always tell me but it’s not like Rose is playing with two janitors, a ball boy and some hobo picked up from Navy Pier. Rose gets excused because he's a great offensive player. And so is Russell Westbrook.

It's the curse of being a scoring point guard. If someone were curling off a screen and doinking shots while Durant stood idly by, I don't think we'd say nearly as much about it.

Could he have done better? Obviously. The Thunder dropped a crucial Game 3 because the offense left early. Westbrook is the commander of that offense and he's got to do better. But blaming him only? Comparing him to Stephon Marbury? That's just, well, stupid.
Posted on: May 7, 2011 9:57 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2011 10:13 pm
 

Rajon Rondo suffers arm injury vs. Heat

Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo suffered a left arm injury against the Miami Heat in Game 3. Posted by EOB staff.

Update 10:11 p.m.: Rondo returned to the bench at the end of the third quarter, and appears to be trying to flex out his arm. Ken Berger of CBSsports.com reports that Rondo dislocated his elbow, but it was popped in. He wants to play. Which is a little insane and impressive.  

In the third quarter of the Celtics' Game 3 vs. Miami, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo were tangled up on a possession. Rondo was half wrapped around Wade, and when Wade tripped/fell his arm wrapped around Rondo and carried him to the floor underneath him. Rondo attempted to catch himself with his right arm, and landed with full weight on the arm, which popped out in a manner that very much suggested a break, or at the very least a hyper-extended elbow. It was ugly.

Rondo was helped off the floor by Celtics' staff. We'll update with any information as it comes available. 

Here's video of the incident.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com