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Celtics bounce back, Suns complete sweep

Michael Lee was in Boston on Sunday to witness Rajon Rondo's triple double and the Celtics' victory over the Cavaliers, which tied their series at 2-2.

In Sunday's newspaper, columnist Michael Wilbon paid tribute to LeBron James' amazing perormance in Friday's Cavaliers blowout.

This series resumes on Tuesday in Cleveland.

Also on Friday, Gilbert Arenas's sentence at a halfway house ended. Antawn Jamison
said he's glad his former teammate "can get to just playing basketball."

Soon-to-be Wizards owner Ted Leonsis announced on his blog over the weekend that the Mystics attendance banners have been removed from Verizon Center.

And while Leonsis is responding to fan requests, perhaps he will note this petition In support of renaming the Washington Wizards.

Back to the playoffs, a one-eyed Steve Nash led the Suns past the Spurs last night to complete Phoenix's sweep into the Western Conference finals.

Look below for highlights from yesterday's games, courtesy of NBA.com.

By Alexa Steele  |  May 10, 2010; 11:01 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Jamison reacts to Arenas's release
Next: Pollins "Living for the city" with free Stevie Wonder event

Comments

Fire Grunfeld!

Posted by: closg | May 10, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

the behind the back dime when King was swooping up top for the block was an amazing play....Rondo is singlehandedly carrying that team

Posted by: divi3 | May 10, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Let's hope Gil has been watching how Rondo, Nash and Nelson play the game versus the way Kobe and LeBron play it?

He would be more valuable to the Wizards next year if he played the point guard spot like a point guard, if the Wizards want someone who just dribbles the ball for most of the shot clock and then throws up a shot we could keep Boykins for that..

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | May 10, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I think Gil will be all out of sorts for a good part of next season, guy has been shelved for years now

Posted by: divi3 | May 10, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Couldn't agree more 78, but the question is how much of Gil's ego is wrapped up in him being the man. This was problematic before his injury but now when his head says he's an elite talent and his knee says he's got to pick his spots and do the little things...well, by this time we ought to know the result is going to be 20-25 shots a game and a shooting precentage under 40%. Hope I'm wrong, though.

Posted by: mugsybol | May 10, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

he was averaging 7 assists and 19 fg attempts....pretty sure everyone would rather see 9 assists and 15 attempts next season

Posted by: divi3 | May 10, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

PICKS

WESLEY JOHNSON, , JEROME JORDAN

OUT OF DRAFT

NEMANJA BJELICA

FA

BRAD MILLER, JAMES SINGLETON, DARIUS SOMGAILA

Posted by: glawrence007 | May 10, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

divi3

The problem is he was averaging 7.2 assists and 3.66 turnovers so that really means he averaged 3.54 assists which doesn't cut it as a point guard in the NBA.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | May 10, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope Gil has been watching how Rondo, Nash and Nelson play the game versus the way Kobe and LeBron play it?

The problem is he was averaging 7.2 assists and 3.66 turnovers so that really means he averaged 3.54 assists which doesn't cut it as a point guard in the NBA.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | May 10, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

He's not them. He can't play LIKE them.
And by your logic, Tony Parker only averages 3 assists per game, Nelson 3.3 per game and Billups 3.4 per game and Devin Harris 3.8 per game.

That's just not going to cut it in the NBA.

Let's aim higher! Tell him to play like Magic and Nick Young to play like Jordan.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | May 10, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The problem is he was averaging 7.2 assists and 3.66 turnovers so that really means he averaged 3.54 assists which doesn't cut it as a point guard in the NBA.

Posted by: bulletsfan78

Among other players averaging over 3 TOs a game....Monta Ellis, Kobe, Steve Nash, LeBron, Deron Williams, Rondo, Dwayne Wade and Russell Westbrook.....drum those guys out of the league, too.

Fact is, stats don't mean as much in this case as style of play does. And everyone's assessment is essentially correct, that (aside from playing D) Gil needs to play a little more like a PG. I'm not going to say a lot, because honestly that's just not who he is and you shouldn't hold your breath waiting for him to play that way. Obviously, they need to pair him with someone in the backcourt who can pick up some of that playmaking slack.

He needs to be willing to drop the ball in to AB on the low block, as well as set other players up, which he can do as the 7 dimes per game indicates, but it's never going to be his main focus. More movement in that direction though would be good progress.

The somewhat scary part right now is that barring any FA signings, Gil will be the 'old head' on the '10/'11 Wizards in terms of years and on-court accomplishments......

But if the Wiz want someone who actually plays like a PG --be it a true point or a lead guard / scoring point -- they need to go out and get one. Gil can play the position, but he's always going to play it the Gil way. You either accept that and accomodate for it, or you get an actual PG and move Gil somewhere else either to play the '2', not a great fit, imo, or to another team.

Posted by: ts35 | May 10, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

But if the Wiz want someone who actually plays like a PG --be it a true point or a lead guard / scoring point -- they need to go out and get one. Gil can play the position, but he's always going to play it the Gil way. You either accept that and accomodate for it, or you get an actual PG and move Gil somewhere else either to play the '2', not a great fit, imo, or to another team.

Posted by: ts35 | May 10, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Part of the problem is Ernie believed Gil could be a point guard in the NBA and look where it's got the Wizards?

The team is doomed as long as Gil has control of the ball.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | May 10, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Among other players averaging over 3 TOs a game....Monta Ellis, Kobe, Steve Nash, LeBron, Deron Williams, Rondo, Dwayne Wade and Russell Westbrook.....drum those guys out of the league, too.

Fact is, stats don't mean as much in this case as style of play does. And everyone's assessment is essentially correct, that (aside from playing D) Gil needs to play a little more like a PG. I'm not going to say a lot, because honestly that's just not who he is and you shouldn't hold your breath waiting for him to play that way. Obviously, they need to pair him with someone in the backcourt who can pick up some of that playmaking slack.

He needs to be willing to drop the ball in to AB on the low block, as well as set other players up, which he can do as the 7 dimes per game indicates, but it's never going to be his main focus. More movement in that direction though would be good progress.

The somewhat scary part right now is that barring any FA signings, Gil will be the 'old head' on the '10/'11 Wizards in terms of years and on-court accomplishments......

But if the Wiz want someone who actually plays like a PG --be it a true point or a lead guard / scoring point -- they need to go out and get one. Gil can play the position, but he's always going to play it the Gil way. You either accept that and accomodate for it, or you get an actual PG and move Gil somewhere else either to play the '2', not a great fit, imo, or to another team.

Posted by: ts35 | May 10, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I approve this message.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | May 10, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

if i could drum one thing into Gil's head it would be don't evaporate the shot clock dribbling the ball in place. Either make your move or pass it, watching your teamates run around and then trying to score off of one pass can only be so effective....and naturally leads to teamates getting all "eff this crap, why bother sprinting around when he just holds it anyway"

Posted by: divi3 | May 10, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Let's aim higher! Tell him to play like Magic and Nick Young to play like Jordan.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | May 10, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Let's water down expectations and not dare compare him to any stars. Except he makes just about as much as the players you mentioned made and will be clogging up 35% of cap space the next 4 years.

Posted by: Utilityman1 | May 10, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The team is doomed as long as Gil has control of the ball.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | May 10, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Well, it means it will be doomed until Gil's contract expires after the 2014 season because I don't see any GM taking on that much money for one of the worst defenders in the league. Unless Ernie is hired somewhere else...

Posted by: Utilityman1 | May 10, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Part of the problem is Ernie believed Gil could be a point guard in the NBA and look where it's got the Wizards?

The team is doomed as long as Gil has control of the ball.

Posted by: bulletsfan78

BF78, you've got the script flipped. There are certain players, the great players, whose game goes beyond any particular position. LeBron, Kobe, Durant, Wade and even guys a notch down like Joe Johnson, etc, who are multi-faceted great players. And the challenge isn't how do you get them to play in a particular box, but how do you harness their abiiities, and surround them with players that compliment their abilities. EG didn't sign him to be a point guard per se, EG's hope was that Gil was one of those great players.

And for a while, he looked to be that. He was averaging close to 30pts, 4rbs, and 6asts his last healthy season. If he had ever played even average defense, no one would care what position he played. Just like no one really cares what position LeBron or Wade truly are.

Because it doesn't look like the Wiz will be able to move him any time soon, the question is, does Gil have that kind of multi-faceted ability left, and if so, how do they work it into a winning team concept? If he does not have that kind of ability left, how do they use what ability he does have? Do they run him at point and find a complimentary 2? Do they acquire a legit point and use Gil at the 2? Or does he become one of the most expensive combo / #3 guards in NBA history as they try to move forward with the rest of the team?

So it doesn't really matter ultimately if Gil is a '1' or a '2' or a '1.5', the question is, how can they use him and the rest of the team to win games.

Posted by: ts35 | May 10, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Gil and Nick are effective together.

There, I said it.

Posted by: divi3 | May 10, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Seems like everyone agrees that PG isn't Gil's natural position, but setting that aside, he did a pretty good job during the 32 games he played this season. We're talking about a guy who played only 2 games in '08 and had only 8 starts in '07. Yet despite the layoff, his stats last season were right on target with his career averages. He didn't score as much as in his prime, but his FG% and 3 point % were about where they were, and his assists were up, from 5.6 to 7.2. Given the increase in assists, a .32 percentage point jump in turnovers isn't surprising.

OK, he still doesn't play defense. The real issue IMO is that most everybody, fans and experts alike, expected a significant increase in wins, and it just didn't happen. So being the acknowledged star and highest-played member, the team's failure is entirely Gil's fault, right?

I think if you watched the games, you saw that Arenas wasn't the player he once was. The obvious sign was his reluctance (inability?) to go to the basket. Happens to a lot of players as they get older or suffer injuries -- they grow fond of that outside jumper. You even see that with Kobe and Vince Carter. Gil's no exception, and I don't think we can reasonably expect that to change.

What did we learn from Arenas' 32 game stint last season? That he's still a very productive basketball player (NBA EFF +18.78) but he's no longer the core star you can build a club around. You probably even suspected that going into the season, and you were right.

The real danger IMO when he gets back on the court (whichever court in whatever city) is another injury. You can absorb one medical risk like Gil, but for a team to count on two or three of them to play major roles? That doesn't sound like much of a plan.

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"a .32 percentage point jump in turnovers isn't surprising."

Sorry, I meant .32 jump in turnovers.

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

"That he's still a very productive basketball player (NBA EFF +18.78) but he's no longer the core star you can build a club around."

For those wanting to take an optimistic view, that's ok given how many young, cheap players are on the roster and that anyone we draft is also a bargain. The next several years are to see if anybody can develop into an upper echelon player, whether that's AB, JM, or Evan Turner(!). As bad as Gil's contract may be, it really doesnt hinder developing a Eastern contending roster because we arent looking to add spendy pieces to a new rebuild anyway.

For instance, by the time AB is up Arenas will "only" have $40mill left on his deal. When JM comes up, Gil will be an expiring contract.

Talk of Arenas' contract crippling the franchise is largely hysterics...

Posted by: divi3 | May 10, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Fire Grunfeld!
Posted by: closg
...............
Well, it means it will be doomed until Gil's contract expires after the 2014 season because I don't see any GM taking on that much money for one of the worst defenders in the league. Unless Ernie is hired somewhere else...
Posted by: Utilityman1
..........
So it doesn't really matter ultimately if Gil is a '1' or a '2' or a '1.5', the question is, how can they use him and the rest of the team to win games.

Posted by: ts35
ANSWER: You can't! no matter how much EG propaganda you spew son. You rationalize grave errors into double talk rigmarole.

rig·ma·role
   [rig-muh-rohl]
–noun

1.confused, incoherent, foolish, or meaningless talk
...............
Wiz need to move ahead without Grunfeld.

Posted by: yetanotherpassword | May 10, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

and Jamison stunk out BOS Garden yesterday.

Posted by: yetanotherpassword | May 10, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I agree with a lot of what Samson just said, plus at least early on, it was clear that some of Gil's turnovers were based on rust. NOt having played much. Being injured. And maybe not being quite as physically capable. I seem to recall guys being able to take the ball from him who weren't able to do that before.

So it remains to be seen what kind of player Gil is when he gets back. He'll still be rusty for a while, the question is whether he has lost a step and if so, if he can learn to adjust.

Posted by: ts35 | May 10, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Are we planing on Arenas still?

Posted by: gtefferra | May 10, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

ANSWER: You can't! no matter how much EG propaganda you spew son. You rationalize grave errors into double talk rigmarole.

rig·ma·role
   [rig-muh-rohl]
–noun

1.confused, incoherent, foolish, or meaningless talk
...............
Wiz need to move ahead without Grunfeld.
Posted by: passanotherdoobie

A) I've never advocated for keeping EG, I just refuse to overstate facts or distort history to make a case either way.

B) You could bring in Red Auerbach, Jerry West or the GM of your choice, and it won't change the strong likelihood that Gil is a Wizard next year.

Based on the comments that you make, I'm assuming you must be unable to read, as in illiterate

il·lit·er·ate
1. showing or marked by a lack of familiarity with language
2. showing or marked by a lack of acquaintance with the fundamentals of a particular field of knowledge

Posted by: ts35 | May 10, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

So being the acknowledged star and highest-[paid] member, the team's failure is entirely Gil's fault, right?

Posted by: Samson151

To be fair, I seem to recall the criticism hitting all of the Big 3 plus BTH, EG, Flip, Abe, the youngsters, Hoops, the T-shirt cannon guy, the beer sellers, and all of section 108.

Gil isn't entirely at fault, but he bears his share. Plus I don't recall any of the other major players in this drama getting charged with a felony and suspended for the year. And only Abe has a legit excuse for their play in he second half of the season.

Posted by: ts35 | May 10, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The fact is Gilbert can't be traded and is here for good (until the last year of his expiring contract makes him trade bait). You can whine all you want about his ball hogging ways but thats his game and very very few players change their game mid career. If he adjusts his skill set according to his age like steve nash then thats a rarity. But for the time being instead of talking about Gilbert who can't be moved talk about his surrounding cast and how can they compliment him.

Posted by: jefferu | May 10, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Anybody catch the two flushes AJ threw down yesterday? At least one was off the dribble and on Perkins. He must be benefitting from logging less mins.

Posted by: millineumman | May 10, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

But for the time being instead of talking about Gilbert who can't be moved talk about his surrounding cast and how can they compliment him.

Posted by: jefferu | May 10, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

jefferu

That's the problem as long as Gil is the man with the ball his surrounding cast doesn't and coach don't matter since Gil only thinks about Gil!

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | May 10, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Arenas is what he is. Even if he's only 85% of the player he was before the injury, that still puts him in the upper reaches of guys at his position. Maybe not the A-list but in the top tier of guys just below. Best player on a title team? Probably not. But this team is years away from seriously contending in pretty much any scenario other than one where they get insanely lucky, so that's not an immediate concern. They need to concentrate on rebuilding and replenishing the talent for the long haul. In the short term if Arenas can remain healthy and productive, he can help them win some games and maybe even raise his trade stock to the point where a contending team that's looking to go all in on a final piece for a title push gives him some consideration.

Posted by: kalo_rama | May 10, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

As for Rondo, he's a helluva player, a legit All-Star, but it'll be interesting to see how effective he is when he's not surrounded by three potential HoFers who (despite being on the aged side) still demand major defensive attention. My guess is this is the last hurrah of the Big 3 in Boston, so we'll probably find out going into next season.

Posted by: kalo_rama | May 10, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

anybody got feelings on this Boston Cavs series?lmao

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | May 10, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

but it'll be interesting to see how effective he is when he's not surrounded by three potential HoFers who (despite being on the aged side) still demand major defensive attention.

Posted by: kalo_rama

Honestly, I think KG and Allen at this point are benefitting more from Rondo's presence than he is from theirs. There will probably be a bit of a dip for Rondo once the Boston 3 Party is done, but I don't think it will be a major dip.

Posted by: ts35 | May 10, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

"Honestly, I think KG and Allen at this point are benefitting more from Rondo's presence than he is from theirs."

They benefit from his ability to penetrate creating easier shots for them. He benefits from defenses being reluctant to leave them wide open to double team him and force the ball out of his hands/close down the lane.

Their presence definitely helps create openings for Rondo to score, because most coaches would still probably think that forcing Rondo into taking jump shots and scoring 25 while limiting the other 3 gives them a better chance at beating Boston than keying on Rondo and letting KG, Allen, and Pierce all put up 20 plus. If two of the three are gone next season and Rondo is in a situation where the game plan requires him to score 20-plus every game to win, the dynamic changes. Like I said, he's a great player, but he's had his success playing a certain role. That role will change considerably when the cast around him changes. There will definitely be an adjustment for him.

Posted by: kalo_rama | May 10, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

anybody got feelings on this Boston Cavs series?lmao

Posted by: lilhollywood1

I thought before the series that Cleveland would blow through Boston 4-1 or 4-2, but both teams are all over the map in this series. Boston has definitely found some match-ups to exploit.

I still expect Cleveland to win, but I won't be surprised if it goes 7, and I won't be surprised if Boston wins.

Posted by: ts35 | May 10, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Like I said, he's a great player, but he's had his success playing a certain role. That role will change considerably when the cast around him changes. There will definitely be an adjustment for him.

Posted by: kalo_rama

I get what you're saying. IMO, though, if Rondo just gets a little more consistent with his jumper and extends his range a bit, which is certainly doable in one offseason, he'll become too tough to handle just on his own merits. In terms of offensive production, Pierce is really the only other difficult-to-replace player on that team. KG isn't what he was, and you can find shooters who are good enough to replace Ray (though clearly not likely as good).

Defense is really where I think they will fall off once KG and Allen are gone (I'm assuming Pierce will still be there). There are more athletic guys at this point than either of those two, but they play smart, tough, team defense and KG is the driving force behind that.

Posted by: ts35 | May 10, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

gil was playing better than anyone could have realistically expected in his last month last season, the problem was as soon as he passed the ball caron and aj tried to get theirs and the o had no rhythm with three guys all individually trying to do their own thing, one gunner forcing up j's, which at times gil should do, is a different world than three, gil makes his teammates better, caron used to and aj never did, that being said this team is a long way from being good, luckily we've got money and picks and in the nba one transcendent talent can change the culture

Posted by: bford1kb | May 10, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

This from ESPN columnist on Rondo's performance in Game 4:

"'When you leave a player wide open to shoot the ball, you're basically telling him 'you can't shoot,' explains David Thorpe. 'But you're not making it better for your team to guard him off the dribble. That's a myth. A lot of people don't know that.'"

"It's an old idea, that if the guy can shoot, you get up into him. But if he can't, you hang back to stop the drive. Thorpe's saying that there's nothing about giving a guy a ton of room that makes it easy to stop the drive, which Rondo has just proven nicely at the expense of the Cavaliers."

"Using Synergy Sports I just watched every Rondo possession of Game 4. There's some of what you'd expect on offense, for instance Rondo missing a lot and making a few open jumpers, and getting out on the break -- he's one of the fastest players in the league -- to draw fouls and make layups. I'm not sure there's a lot a defense can do to dramatically change those things which were fairly limited anyway."

"Instead, the main thing I saw was Rondo catching the ball, or dribbling, against a set half-court defense, with an acre of space all around him, almost like he was in a bubble. There's Parker under the Kevin Garnett pick, or there he is with two feet in the paint, while Rondo is at the 3-point line."

"Rondo spent very little of that game under duress, because the defense was, by design, almost never in his grill."

"Parker is a good defender, but you have to let him defend for him to be effective. Rondo used that space to tremendous effect. He lobbed passes to teammates at the rim (eight of his 13 assists were against half-court set defense). He drifted around, so that the defense lost him entirely (for a floater in the first quarter, and a foul at the rim in the second). And, as Thorpe has described and predicted for years, as a quick guard he used that room to get up a full head of steam to blow right past defenders who have the unfair disadvantage of starting from a standstill."

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

You know after going through here, I am still kind of amazed at the fact that some think that Gilbert cannot be a asset to this team.

Lest we forget that Gilbert worked his butt off to become the player that he became.

Recognize my good friend BF78 that Gilbert earned his spot on the mountain, maybe not the top, but he is on there somewhere.

Understand this, Gilbert isn't a point guard. Do not look at him as a point guard. Look at him as a guard who hogs the ball. Hogging the ball dosen't make you a great player, ask Michael Jordan, or Kobe, they had to learn when to take control and when not to.

Can Gilbert learn that lesson? I say emphatically that he can.

Give Gilbert a point guard, a good one, one that can control the game and get the whole team involved plus Gilbert, a point guard like, uuh' uh' uh' Sean Livingston, yeah, Sean Livingston. A guard that is intelligent on the floor and has the guts to control the game, uh' uh' kinda like Rondo does for Boston.

Ya' see I like Gilbert, but like I's uh' been sayin for a whiles' now, he ain't no point guard.

For the Celtics, Rondo is effective at point for much of the reasons as alluded to above. For one, they gave him the ball and never took it away from him. He is their point guard.

Since Gilbert has been here, besides Larry Hughes we haven't had a guard good enough to handle the ball and control the flow better than Gilbert.

So too many think he is a point guard. He isn't.

If not Sean Livingston, John Wall, or whomever, bring in a first rate point guard and lets go back from here.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | May 10, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

They had to learn when to take control and when not to.
Can Gilbert learn that lesson? I say emphatically that he can.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD

Certainly Gil can learn that lesson, the question is will he, and does he want to?

One of the things that made Gil a great player was his drive to prove to everyone that he was a great player. I'm sure that drive still exists, and it might be greater than ever. The problem is that he may not be capable, at least for a while of being that great player, through a combination of his knee and the long layoffs away from basketball.

So even if Gil has your question in his mind "When should I take over and when should I lay back?", I don't think he's considering the more relevant question, which is "I am capable of taking over right now at all?" I think we saw some of that last year, where he was trying to force it, often to the detriment of the team. So the real question Gil needs to frame in his mind is "Am I willing to settle for being a good player, if I can't be a great player?"

Posted by: ts35 | May 11, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

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