Inside the Celtics’ stunning Game 1 win. Plus, Wolves’ ownership grows + ‘Clipped’ review


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Would you leave a potential college basketball dynasty to coach LeBron for a year or two? 🤔🤔🤔


Boston Blowout

Kristaps Porziņģis’ return gives Dallas trouble

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla decided to ease Kristaps Porziņģis back into playoff basketball by bringing him off the bench for Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The latter hadn’t played since April 29, the fourth game of Boston’s first-round series against Miami. When Porziņģis entered the game, though, he looked like he hadn’t missed a second of basketball. He scored 11 of his 20 points in the first quarter, during which he lit the Mavericks’ defense up.

Dallas tried a bunch of different looks on him. The Mavericks tried different defenders, but he beat them all. He thrived in the mid-post. The 28-year-old big man thrived on the arc. Porziņģis was tested on defense and protected the rim like he had bionic calves instead of a muscle that hadn’t seen much action in over a month. This was exactly the best-case scenario performance Porziņģis and the Celtics could have hoped for. It resulted in the biggest lead after one quarter (17) in NBA Finals history. The Celtics led by 21 at halftime and then were able to weather an inevitable run by the Mavericks in the third quarter.

Dallas brought the game to within eight points after trailing by as many as 29 in the first half. There was a point, in the third quarter, when Luka Dončić looked like he would outscore the Celtics himself in the period. Instead, though, the Celtics took a breath and relit the fuse to detonate the rest of Dallas’ defense.

The sheer statistical dominance in Game 1 was impressive:

  • Luka Dončić had one assist in this game – that’s it. The last time he had just one assist in a game (in which he didn’t get hurt) was May 7, 2021, in a blowout win over Cleveland. He played 23 minutes in that appearance.
  • The Celtics had nine blocks. Dallas had nine assists as a team. The last time a Celtics opponent had single-digit dimes? Back in February 2010! When did that last happen in Boston, you ask? November 1995!
  • Boston had seven different players make at least two 3-pointers. That set a single-game NBA Finals record.
  • Dallas was outscored by by 27 points from 3. That’s the second-largest such differential in a Finals game in the last five years.
  • The Mavericks had a 3-point rate (percentage of total field goals from deep) of 32.1 percent. It was their lowest single-game figure of the season (previously 32.6). 

Jaylen Brown was dominant defensively, protecting the rim and forcing everybody out of their comfort zone. Kyrie Irving missed a bunch of good shots, was forced into some tough ones, had a couple tipped and finished with just 12 points on 19 attempts. Also, the Celtics completely took Derrick Jones Jr., P.J. Washington, Maxi Kleber and Dallas’ other role players out of their rhythm early and often. This was a defensive masterclass by the Celtics. Boston is three wins away from the title.

Set your 📅: Game 2 is in Boston on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.


The Latest From Shams

Wolves ownership adds another big name

Billionaire businessman and former three-term New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has reached an agreement to join the prospective Minnesota Timberwolves ownership group of Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, league sources briefed on the agreement tell The Athletic.

Bloomberg, ranked by Forbes in April as the 12th-richest person in the world, brings a major investor to the Lore-Rodriguez group, which currently owns nearly 40 percent of the Timberwolves and WNBA’s Lynx and is in a battle with Glen Taylor for majority control of the franchises.

Adding Bloomberg would allow the group to go forward immediately with a final $300 million investment to buy out Taylor rather than waiting until the end of next season, league sources said, if things break in their favor.

We’ll have more on this story as developments unfold.


Adjustments? We’d Love Some!

Three corrections Dallas need for Game 2

The good news for Dallas is it hasn’t lost consecutive games this postseason. The Mavericks have bounced back after every loss, and three of those games resulted in a double-digit victory. But they have to correct so many things in order to do what Miami and Cleveland did to a sleep-walking Celtics squad: win Game 2 in Boston.

The one problem with that? Boston looks pretty damn awake right now. I doubt the Celtics will be sleepwalking or taking the Mavericks less seriously than necessary, with this being the NBA Finals and all. Here’s what the Mavericks need to win Game 2 and take the 1-1 split back home.

1. Move the damn ball. That’s easier said than done against Boston’s defense. But the Mavericks’ “others” must be ready to make a contribution. Washington and Jones looked scared to have the ball in their hands against Celtics defenders. Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II never consistently got loose in the middle for a lob. I’m not convinced Kleber’s shoulder even allows him to think about shooting the ball. Dončić and Irving have to beat single coverage, so these role players need to … well … fulfill their roles.

2. Find a way to funnel into Gafford’s help. Maybe the Mavs can throw some zone into the mix. Maybe their defensive coverages can vary some to confuse the Celtics. But the Mavs have to make this an ugly, physical game on defense. They have to trust Gafford to protect the rim, and they need to stay home on as many shooters as possible. Sounds easy, right?

3. Irving has to show up, and so does Dončić. It’s easy to look at Dončić having 30 points and 10 rebounds, and think to yourself that he had a fine Game 1. I don’t think he did, though. He looked a step slow, even offensively. Dončić was too consumed by the defender in front of him and didn’t use any of his normal physicality in order to gain a consistent advantage. The game was too quick for the Mavs at times, and Dončić needs to take control to slow things down. On top of that, Irving has to be a killer. He and Dončić can’t combined for 42 points on 45 shots. They need 72 or so points if they’re going to take 45 attempts.


“Clipped” Review

About the first two episodes … Mother of God!

The FX/Hulu show “CLIPPED” dropped its first two episodes. This is a story about former Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling, whose assistant (V. Stiviano) leaked audio of Sterling saying some incredibly racist and inflammatory things. This getting out wasn’t a shock because Sterling had a horrendous reputation that now looks even more embarrassing for the league, considering he owned a franchise for so long. On top of that, the 90-year-old Sterling was notoriously cheap in how he ran the team.

That incident happened during the 2014 playoffs, when Doc Rivers was trying to lead Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and future podcaster JJ Redick to glory the Clippers had never even thought of reaching. The first two episodes of “Clipped” have been eviscerated for how the basketball play and the player likenesses appear on screen. And don’t get me wrong. The likenesses are terrible – this is nothing like the casting from “Winning Time” about the Lakers of the ‘80s.

image1 90

Blake looks like Shia LaBeouf. Steph Curry reminds me of Dak Prescott, and I’m pretty sure the ghost of Biz Markie (R.I.P. 🙏) is playing Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Also, they have Big Baby using the word “sadist” in conversation, which definitely didn’t happen.

The funny thing is you don’t actually need much basketball for this story, if any at all. And if you’re not going to find identical-enough likenesses for the players, then the acting should be pristine. This show did neither. The acting for the players – and dare I say even for the great Laurence Fishburne as Doc Rivers – is so bad that it’s distracting. And you’ll find yourself laughing for all the wrong reasons.

Through two episodes, the show is honestly so bad that it’s wildly entertaining. I’m an expert on that kind of thing. I’ve seen “Gigli” almost five times (4.5). But Ed O’Neill playing Sterling is perfect casting and has provided a perfect performance. The women who play Stiviano and Shelley Sterling are excellent, as well. Maybe that’s all it will take to make this show work, even though it’s very Doc-centric so far. They set the table for the first two episodes. Now, let’s see if the show can pick it up and give us something great. It’s either that or keep it as much of a trainwreck as it is, so we can just laugh at it.


Bounce Passes

Adam Silver apologized to TNT employees for TV rights negotiations.

What would a Tom Thibodeau contract extension cost the Knicks?

If you leave the Wizards, you’ll play in the NBA Finals soon after.

(Top photo: Adam Glanzman  / Getty Images )





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