NBA PM: Celtics Have Big Opportunity vs. 76ers
The Boston Celtics have a tremendous opportunity in Philadelphia this evening. If they can beat the 76ers in Game 4 of their second-round Eastern Conference Series—something they easily accomplished in Game 3—they’ll have a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 lead over Doug Collins’ squad with the series shifting back to Boston.
And while you’ll be hard pressed to get any member of the team to look down the road in the Eastern Conference Finals, everyone knows that series is up for grabs against the third-seeded Indiana Pacers or a struggling Miami HEAT, which is playing without Chris Bosh.
The bottom line for Boston is, a win tonight puts them in excellent position to return to the NBA Finals.
Of course, that means maintaining this level of play in a hostile environment.
The first two games in Boston were decided by a point, but now nearly everyone in green seems to be either locked in, or getting to the foul line.
For instance, Paul Pierce hit just 6 of 17 shots for the Celtics in Game 3, but nailed 11 of 14 free throws and added 12 rebounds and four assists. Meanwhile, Garnett only made it to the line five times, making three, but he did hit 12 of 17 field goal attempts while adding 13 rebounds of his own.
The fact that the Celtics played well on Wednesday while getting a three-point, 25-minute effort from Ray Allen speaks volumes. If he brings his game to its usual postseason level, the 76ers might be done.
“We’ve got to do whatever we can to get you open,” Garnett told Allen, the former relayed to the Associated Press.
“I looked at him and said, `Kevin, you’re the guy getting shots,” Allen explained. “You’re the guy that’s scoring. We just won by 20. I don’t need to, for the sake of my ego, do anything like that. We just keep doing what we’re doing. If they keep guarding us this way, then you’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing.”
The Celtics have relied heavily on Allen’s shooting in recent postseasons, but Garnett hasn’t averaged over 20 points in the playoffs since 2007-08, which happens to be the last time Boston won a title.
He’s currently averaging 20.3 points per game.
Steve Nash is the new NBA Investor
In a piece that will appear in the June 4th issue of Forbes, Kurt Badenhausen presents Phoenix Suns veteran Steve Nash as the antithesis of the league’s “financial casualties.”
By making nine prudent investments—in everything from Liquid Nutrition to the Vancouver Whitecaps MLS team—Nash has built a reputation that’s in stark contrast to Allen Iverson and Antoine Walker, who, Badenhausen notes, “both blew through more than $110 million in career earnings on gambling, shaky investments and large entourages.”
Badenhausen also remarked on a dubious trend that appears to be working for Nash:
“Nash typically trades his time and endorsement for equity stakes in these businesses or gets a significant discount on his initial investment. If he likes what he sees after working with the company, he’ll invest more of his own money. Brandon Kou, who heads up Steve Nash Enterprises, says he looks at a couple of deals a week for SNE, mostly in the health and wellness, digital and mobile spaces. ‘The goal of Steve Nash Enterprises is to find interesting companies that are extensions of Steve’s passions and who he is,’ says Kou.”
Tom Brady (Under Armour) and David Wright (Vitamin Water) are two other athletes that have struck it rich with equity deals, but the trend hasn’t always been so beneficial to celebrities.
Actor Williams Shatner famously took company stock in his endorsement deal with Priceline.com. And while he did recoup some of his lost earnings after a renegotiation, the contract serves as a cautionary tail for all celebrities.
Nash’s level of achievement doesn’t seem so rare, but it really is. Magic Johnson—who Nash cites as someone he tries to emulate—has always been successful as a businessman and Michael Jordan has been in the black more than he’s been in the red. But the vast majority of ball players go from one quick buck to another, and when you’ve been attached to too many failed products, your worth as a celebrity endorser deteriorates.
The biggest mistake anyone can make is being tied to a weight-loss company, and if you don’t believe me, check out where Charles Barkley’s commercial career goes. If he doesn’t keep the weight off—and he hasn’t really lost much to begin with—he runs the risk of losing credibility with consumers.
Barkley is an affable character who will always be around the game, but Nash has positioned himself to remain profitable with or without basketball, and that should be the goal of every player that enters the NBA.
Bosh’s Absence Hurts HEAT’s Perimeter Defense?
As HOOPSWORLD’s Bill Ingram touched upon in the NBA@2, the HEAT’s defense just isn’t the same without Chris Bosh. But that’s not just true on the interior.
The Indiana Pacers hit eight of 14 three-pointers in their 94-75 win over the Miami HEAT in Game 3 of the second-round playoff series on Thursday night, and that has everything to do with the absence of Bosh.
The HEAT yielded just 33.5 points per game in the paint during the regular season, which was second best in the NBA. Of course, they did that without a true center (Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem each stand at just 6’8).
The secret was the team’s ability to pack the paint, obstructing passing lanes and forcing opponents to hit perimeter jump shots, which Miami then turned into fast-break opportunities. The Heat did yield 479 three-pointers during the regular season, which was 29th in the NBA; but seeing as they finished fourth in defensive efficiency, it seemed like the tradeoff was working in their favor.
Thanks to Bosh’s interior defense in the first-round win over the New York Knicks and Game 1 of the second-round series with the Pacers, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Co. were able to space out to the perimeter and hold the opposition to less than 25 percent accuracy from beyond the arc.
However, that all came to an end when Bosh left the floor during Miami’s Game 1 loss. The Pacers hit just 3 three-pointers in Game 2, but George Hill and Danny Granger each connected three times from deep in Game 4, and now the HEAT have a problem on their hands.
How can Miami account for Roy Hibbert in the paint, while keeping the proper spacing on shooters like Hill and Granger?
That’s a problem coach Erik Spoelstra will have to solve quickly or risk another disappointing finish.
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