Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA – Thursday, February 24, 2010: LeBron and the Cavs Comeback Strong and Dominate the Celtics
Obviously not the game last night, but I dig reposting this pic. It’s something classical
We had this conversation on my long Cavs/Nuggets report (just want you to hear it from the athletes themselves without the filters most outlets apply) from the Q and it became more than apparent last night that if Kevin Garnett isn’t healthy, the Celtics win nothing. As I’ve said before, his communication on the interior…specifically in pick and rolls allows Boston’s defense to flourish. Dude needs to rest that knee. Seriously. I can’t wait to get with LeBron next week here and ask him a few of the questions that were raised in the comments.
TNT’s NBA Thursday coverage continues Thursday, March 4 at 8 p.m. (ET) with a doubleheader featuring the Los Angeles Lakers @ Miami Heat followed by the Utah Jazz @ Phoenix Suns.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I don’t like to play bad rookies, I like to play good rookies and I’ve got a good one. Steph Curry is going to be a sensational point guard, we love him to death, he’s the perfect rookie to have and I play him every moment I can.”
– Golden State Warriors head coach Don Nelson on his reputation of not liking to play rookies.
TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith
Barkley on the addition of forward Antawn Jamison to the Cavs: “(The Cavaliers) are going to send a message tonight that we are the team to beat in the East. Mike Brown has got to speed up the tempo of the game. He’s gets a terrific player like Antawn Jamison and they are still walking the ball up and down the court. First of all, (Mike Brown) made a mistake by not starting (Jamison) from day one, he’s been the second best player on the team since he stepped out there. LeBron (James) has got to finish more instead of being the facilitator. The Jamison trade to me puts Cleveland over the hump. I wish Mike Brown would say when you get a new car you don’t drive the damn speed limit. When you get Antawn Jamison, speed the game up. Jamison is going to be a better player because LeBron is going to make him a better player.”
Smith on why he believes the Celtics are better than the Cavaliers: “I still think the Boston Celtics are a better basketball team. They reason why is they push the ball up and the Celtics and Rajon Rondo will get the old guys some easy baskets so they don’t always have go one-on-one. They get Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett (scoring) by pushing the ball up the court.”
Barkley on how forward Antawn Jamison helps the Cavaliers match up against the Orlando Magic: “(The Cavs) don’t have the disadvantage against Rashard (Lewis) and Vince (Carter). (Antawn Jamison) is going to make those guys work on the defensive end. Last year when they had 97-year-old Ben Wallace and (Anderson) Varejao trying to guard Rashard and (Hedo) Turkoglu and that was the difference in the series. Jamison is a really good player and he’s going to be better with Shaq and Mo Williams and he’s going to make those guys in Orlando work.”
Barkley on a new Rookie of the Year candidate: “I’ve got to apologize somebody, to Stephen Curry. I had already wrapped up Rookie of the Year with (Kings guard) Tyreke Evans. I still think he is the favorite, but Stephen Curry has been balling. I’m going to open it back up.”
Barkley on what the Denver Nuggets’ losses to bad teams indicates: “Everyone wonders if the Nuggets are legitimate contenders. If you lose to bad teams that shows you something, that they only get up for the big games. That shows you they don’t have that mental strength to go out and beat a bad team night in and night out. That shows a flaw. You’ve got to beat them, beat them like they stole something.”
**** **** **** ****
Game 1: Cleveland Cavaliers (108) @ Boston Celtics (88)
Announcers: Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Reggie Miller with David Aldridge reporting
Miller on the Celtics getting off to a quick start: “When (Rajon) Rondo plays at this pace, pushing the basketball and being aggressive at both ends of the floor, this is when the Celtics are at their best.”
Fratello on why Zydrunas Ilgauskas will return to Celveand for the duration of the season: “I don’t think there’s any question that (Cleveland) is the place Zydrunas Ilgauskas is going to wind up. He’s gone through so much to get himself back on the court after missing two and a half years for foot surgery early on. The Cavaliers stuck with him, they rewarded him with a huge contract, more than one by the way. I feel that’s where he wants to be, his family is there, his children are there, that’s where he should wind up his career.”
TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Cavaliers coach Mike Brown after the second quarter.
Brown on how the Cavaliers defense will adjust to Celtics guard Rajon Rondo: “Everything (Rondo’s) done is to the rim. We’ve got to do a better job, whether it’s in transition or at half court, of trying to make that paint look crowded and not let him get those layups at the rim.”
**** **** **** ****
Johnson, Barkley and Smith
Smith on the Milwaukee Bucks being a top second tier team in the Eastern Conference: “If Andrew Bogut had won four or five more games before All-Star, he was playing like an All-Star. But injuries didn’t get him over the top. He’s healthy now and playing like an All-Star. Brandon Jennings does not have to be a 55-point scorer, he doesn’t even have to be a 20-point scorer, a 16-point, eight-assist guy will get it down in Milwaukee. They are the best second-tier team. The top four are Cleveland, Boston, Orlando and Atlanta, but they are better than Toronto.”
Barkley on the Indiana Pacers: “Reggie Miller watching those Pacers is rolling over in his grave.”
Barkley on the Nuggets needing to beat teams they are better than: “If (the Nuggets) are going to get up it (only against good teams) it tells me something is wrong from a mental toughness standpoint. They are losing against these below 500 teams which they are clearly much better than. Every now and then you might have an upset, but that is ridiculous to be 12-10 (against below 500 teams).”
Smith: “That shows a lack of mental fortitude. When you get into the playoffs that’s what gets you over the hump.”
Barkley on Zydrunas Ilgauskas being allowed to return to the Cavaliers this season following his trade and buy-out with the Wizards: “That thing the Cavaliers are doing to do with (Zydrunas) Ilgauskas, that should be illegal. That’s happened the last three years, when teams work out a deal behind scenes with him, trade to get their team better and then they get to come back. I think that is really unfair and the NBA needs to close that loophole. You shouldn’t be able to go back to your team that year.”
Smith: “That circumvents the salary cap, it gives the guy an opportunity to go back. Everyone knew even before the deal was done that he would try to come back or will come back. Then why is a guy being traded? If a guy can go back to the same team it should not be in that same year.”
**** **** **** ****
Miller on the Celtics not playing aggressive defense against Cavaliers forward LeBron James: “It seems to me that no one is willing to step in front and take a charge. Someone at some point in time is going to have to step in front of LeBron James. Rasheed Wallace easily could (have). I love the aggressiveness of LeBron James taking it straight to the bodies of the bigs, put the pressure on them and get to the free throw line.”
Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison on how he plans to fit in with the Cavs: “Shaq said it best to me, ‘you’re a big dog, and there are big dogs out there. When you’re out there on the court we expect you to do big things.’ Just hearing those guys say those things and tell me you don’t have to adapt at all, we just want you to play your game, be aggressive and if the opportunity presents itself just be you.”
Miller on the remainder of the regular season revealing a lot more about Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison’s game: “A lot is going to be asked of Antawn Jamison. There is a lot that we don’t know about him, especially when you are on one of these elite teams which he is with the Cavaliers. There wasn’t a lot of defense asked of him when he was coming off the bench in Dallas, certainly there wasn’t a lot of defense being played with the Wizards the last three years. You have to compete at both ends of the floor for Mike Brown’s system to work, so we don’t know these answers to those questions yet. The next 25 games for the Cavaliers will reveal a lot.”
TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Celtics coach Doc Rivers after the third quarter.
Rivers on the Celtics needing to reestablish their pace for the fourth quarter: “We had no pace, we walked the ball up the floor, we’ve ran set offense the entire third quarter. We’ve got to push the ball up, but we’ve got to get stops. They’re scoring now and we’re walking the ball up. We’ve got to reestablish our pace.”
Rivers to Aldridge on who he will use to guard Cavaliers forward LeBron James in the fourth quarter: “We’ll put Tony (Allen), you, Reggie Miller, whoever we can get. We’re just going to keep throwing bodies at him.”
Fratello on Celtics guard Rajon Rondo taking the most field goal attempts for the Celtics: “Often times, depending on the team, it’s a good thing for the team when their point guard also takes the most field goal attempts during the course of the game. For other teams, that’s not a good thing. For (Rajon) Rondo to have 18 field goal attempts it tells you right now that Boston has been searching for points tonight because that’s not the norm. Rondo shouldn’t be leading your team with field goal attempts.”
**** **** **** ****
Game 2: Denver Nuggets (127) @ Golden State Warriors (112)
Announcers: Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins with Craig Sager reporting
Collins on Warriors guard Stephen Curry: “This kid (Stephen Curry) is a scoring machine, he absolutely has such a great feel to shoot the ball, he’s a very good ball handler and an excellent passer.”
Collins on Nuggets coach George Karl missing the game to get treatment for his throat cancer: “George, we miss you, it just doesn’t seem the same to look over and not see you on that bench. Get well soon, we can’t wait to have you back.”
Collins on Nuggets coach George Karl involving his assistant coaches regularly: “Even if George is there (the assistant coaches) have a voice. That’s one of the things he preaches, he want to have everyone to have a chance to speak. Obviously he has the final say. He gives the coaches an opportunity to give their input and then you have to sort through it to make decisions.”
Collins on the Warriors’ style of play: “(The Warriors) seduce you. All of a sudden you’re scoring against them and you think the game is pretty easy. Ask Atlanta, they were up 17 going into the fourth quarter, they thought they had the game in hand. Golden State had a terrific fourth quarter, outscored them 35 to 14 and beat Atlanta, so they care capable of throwing up huge nights. They want to run and they want to take quick shots.”
Collins on Nuggets center Nene’s talent: “(Nene) has got so much skill, he’s so light on his feet and he can use either hand. He’s a reluctant scorer though. He’s easily a 20-10 game guy but much more comfortable being a 15-points per game guy.”
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups at halftime.
Billups on his team not approaching each game like they should: “We know where our struggles have come this year, teams like this is who we struggle with. We don’t probably come to play like we should, like most championship-caliber teams do every single night. These are scary games but we’ve got to tighten up in the second half.”
Billups on the Nuggets needing to be more aggressive in the second half: “I’m going to be aggressive, all of our guys have to be really aggressive against teams like this and try not to give them too much confidence like we did the last 24 minutes.”
**** **** **** ****
Johnson, Barkley and Smith
Smith on why he should have compiled Kenny’s Pictures for halftime: “I made a cardinal rule mistake, knowing we talked about this earlier. Normally my rule is there are no pictures in blow outs, (Denver) was up 19 points, but I did not remember what Charles and I talked about, the lack of mental fortitude of the Denver Nuggets. I should have made my pictures because I should have known that they would let Golden State back in the game. That’s the reason why we said it’s going to be tough for them to be a championship contender team because they have a lack of focus, they have a lack of mental fortitude over a long period of time.”
Barkley on how the Nuggets should address their lack of focus issue: “George Karl and Chauncey (Billups) have to sit the team down and say, ‘we actually have a chance to win the championship, but unless we get better throughout the season, we’re not going to win it.’ They are going to win 50 games because they are very talented top to bottom, but you have to sit them down and say, ‘guys, we are going to get beat in the playoffs.’ They aren’t trying to beat Golden State, they are not trying to beat the Clippers. If you’re going to get to the NBA Finals you are probably going to have to play three good teams. That mental focus that they lack consistently is going to come back and bite them.”
Smith on the best way to get the attention of the Nuggets’ players: “You think about when you have a student who has trouble focusing for a whole class or period, you extend the periods and make it uncomfortable for them. So instead of practice for two hours, it creeps into 2:30 or 2:45, or we’re going to have film session on a day when you really don’t want to have a full session because you’ve got to get their attention so that there’s some urgency going on and then they have a little bit more focus.”
**** **** **** ****
Warriors guard Stephen Curry on the passionate Warriors fans: “Every night that we play here, even though our record is the way that it is, if you came here and watched us play, you would think that we are the second seed in the playoffs with the way our fans are. It’s crazy, I never saw a team have a losing record and the fans still come out. They still sell out every night and the fans still bring that energy every night and that’s what they do.”
Collins on Nuggets guard J.R. Smith’s inconsistent play: “(J.R. Smith) is streaky. A player like that who has that kind of talent, you have to sit over there and you have to live with the mistakes. He talked to Craig Sager before the game, he understands now you’re not going to win these battles against your coach. He said something interesting to Craig Sager, ‘I realized that not everyone is out against me, but people are trying to help me.’ You start listening and you make the game easier because he has so much talent. Sometimes he gets himself out of synch because he tries to do too much and he forces things. If he would just take his time, he has so much talent, the game would be so easy.”
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Warriors coach Don Nelson after the third quarter.
Nelson on his reputation of not liking to play rookies: “I don’t like to play bad rookies, I like to play good rookies and I’ve got a good one. Steph Curry is going to be a sensational point guard, we love him to death, he’s the perfect rookie to have and I play him every moment I can.”
Collins on the Warriors playing exciting basketball: “There is an old saying, if you’re going to play bad at least be exciting. And they are. They don’t come down and play a 90 or 92 point game and milk the clock. They play an open court game, they shoot the ball, they score a lot of points and they play an exciting brand of basketball. They’ve just got to get healthy and see what they have. They’ve got to get some big men healthy to see how good they are. Brandan Wright, Anthony Randolph, are these guys going to be good enough on the front line to be contributors to a playoff team?”
**** **** **** ****
Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai
Johnson, Barkley and Smith
Smith on the Nuggets playing well at home but struggling on the road: “Mental toughness comes from concentration. I think it’s easy to concentrate at home because things are familiar and you have your regular routine. But it’s difficult to concentrate on the road because your rotations are shortened and things are different. That’s what separates championship contenders and playoff teams. Right now (the Nuggets) are playing more like a playoff team instead of a championship contender.”
Barkley on the Warriors offensive mindset: “I don’t like the way that Golden State plays. They play like a playground basketball (team). They play like the Phoenix Suns used to, just trying to outscore you. Their numbers are always going to be better than they should be. They just try to outscore you, they don’t try to win and that’s what Phoenix did a couple of years ago.”
Barkley on his golf game: “I have officially retired from golf.”
Smith: “I’ve never seen anyone have a stuttering problem in sports and you have a stuttering problem on the golf course.”
Barkley: “I have decided that golf is not my game. I think I’m going to take up tennis.”
Johnson: “Do tennis players around the world a favor…don’t.”
Barkley on the Cavaliers’ style of play: “I get so sick and tired of this Cavaliers team. They play so slow. They’ve got so much talent and they keep walking the ball up and down the court. Turn ‘em loose, (Cavaliers head coach) Mike Brown!”
TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Cavaliers guard Mo Williams following the Celtics/Cavaliers game
James on Cavaliers guard Mo Williams finding his scoring touch for the first time since returning from injury: “We all said, ‘welcome back’ when he came off the court. He’s a big part of our team. He shoots the ball extremely well and he’s an All-Star point guard. I was happy to see him come back tonight.”
James on the Cavaliers’ team concept: “We’ve got a big picture here and that’s to win the NBA Championship. We can’t do it with just one guy. LeBron can’t do it by himself and the 15th guy (on the bench) can’t do it by himself. It’s a team concept and we need everybody. Everybody has to stay ready.”
Dallas Mavericks forward Caron Butler joined the Inside the NBA studio
Butler on being traded from the Wizards to the playoff-bound Mavericks: “I haven’t stopped smiling. I am truly grateful for this opportunity to be in Dallas. I have the opportunity to compete at a high level and compete for something night in and night out.”
Butler on the letter he wrote to Wizards fans following the trade thanking them for their support: “It was unbelievable and my stay (in Washington) was great. The organization and the (team owners) Polins were always good to me. I felt that I owed that to the city to reach out and thank them for accepting me with open arms when I arrived there.”
Butler on dealing with all of the off-the-court distractions with the Wizards: “It was truly tough because usually when you leave your work place, you want to go home and relax. But we were bringing the stress of work home with us. We had to deal with the trial and everything; it was getting to be overbearing. It was wearing on everybody but it was great to get out of that situation and see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Barkley on the Mavericks acquiring DeShawn Stevenson in the trade with the Wizards: “The Mavs needed toughness and they brought three tough guys in. I’m a big fan of you and (Brendan) Haywood but I’m also a fan of DeShawn Stevenson. Now, I think he’s a little crazy. Am I right or wrong?”
Butler: “He goes extremely hard and takes it to another level.”
Barkley: “I think every team needs a guy like him because sometimes you wonder, ‘is he with us or against us?’”
Boston Celtics @ Detroit Pistons Selected by Fans for Tuesday’s Fan Night Match-Up on NBA TV
NBA TV’s Tuesday Fan Night will feature the Boston Celtics @ Detroit Pistons game, winning with the most fan votes on NBA.com. The game will air on Tuesday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. (ET) with NBA TV host Ernie Johnson and analysts Kevin McHale and Brent Barry on the AutoTrader.com Pregame Show at 7 p.m. (ET). The night will conclude with host Rick Kamla and analyst Steve Smith on NBA GameTime at 11 p.m. (ET) to recap the games from across the league.
Voting for Fan Night will continue on NBA.com from Tuesday, March 2 (8 a.m. ET) – Thursday, March 5 (Midnight ET) as fans select the match-up for Tues., March 9. Fans can choose between eight teams:
- Miami Heat @ Charlotte Bobcats
- Philadelphia 76ers @ Indiana Pacers
- Los Angeles Clippers @ Orlando Magic
- Houston Rockets @ Washington Wizards
- Utah Jazz @ Chicago Bulls
- Boston Celtics @ Milwaukee Bucks
- Sacramento Kings @ Portland Trail Blazers
- Toronto Raptors @ Los Angeles Lakers
NBA TV and TNT are teaming up with the NBA on Hoops for St. Jude, a unique program that turns a passion for basketball into hope for children battling cancer and other deadly diseases. NBA TV will feature interviews on Fan Night discussing the program and will be featured prominently during the TNT broadcast this Thursday.
NBA TV will feature live game coverage on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. ET with the Houston Rockets @ Utah Jazz, Monday, March 1 at 7 p.m. (ET) with the Orlando Magic @ Philadelphia 76ers and Wednesday, Marcg 3 at 7 p.m. (ET) with the Washington Wizards @ Orlando Magic.
Fans can also stay connected to the latest NBA action every Tuesday during The Jump on NBA.com. The Jump is a live, interactive show that allows fans to send questions and comments via NBA.com, Facebook or Twitter. The show features host Kyle Montgomery and analysts Dennis Scott and Brent Barry. The show will stream live each week at 1 p.m. ET on NBA.com and air again at 5 p.m. ET.
International basketball is highlighted every Saturday at 1 p.m. (ET), as NBA TV features a Euroleague Game of the Week. This Saturday, Feb. 27 at 1:00 p.m. (ET), NBA TV will feature the match-up between CSKA Moscow with former NBA players Trajan Langdon (Cavs), Viktor Khryapa (Blazers, Bulls), and Zoran Planinic (Nets) versus Asseco Prokom.