Kyrie Irving: ‘I’m an actual genius when it comes to this game’

Ben Rohrbach | Yahoo Sports

The Boston Celtics won five straight games before getting blown out by the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series, and even still they have two chances at TD Garden to take a commanding lead in their quest to reach a third straight conference finals. They have looked little like the team that publicly griped its way through a season marked by underachievement.

One reason for that, a number of Celtics players told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, is they turned off their phones. They paid too much attention to what the media said about them — where they ranked as players or earners or trade assets — and what they said about each other through the media. Irving passive-aggressively called out Boston’s young players publicly, who in kind passive-aggressively called out Irving, and it was churned through the NBA’s content machine in a vicious cycle.

They didn’t actually talk to each other, instead relying on their social media feeds to inform them of what was happening in their own locker room, which is about as apt a commentary on today’s society as an NBA team can make. Then, according to MacMullan, Jaylen Brown confronted Irving in January, and Irving heard him out to the point he was personally counseling teammates in the weeks before the playoffs.

This is great news if you’re a Celtics fan, because for a while there, it really looked as though Irving was dousing the team in gasoline, lighting a match and preparing to walk away from the wreckage in free agency. If all it took was for the Celtics to stop listening to, as Irving put it, “fake basketball analysts,” more power to them.

“I’ve been playing basketball a lot longer than some of these people analyzing the game,” he told ESPN. “I’m an actual genius when it comes to this game. If you ask me about basketball, I will talk all day. If you ask me about spacing at the 3:33 mark of the second quarter, I will gladly explain it. I’ll tell you what plays worked, about adjustments we make. But when it comes to personal things, or comparing myself to my NBA brothers, like, ‘Do you think you are better than this guy?’ I’m out.”

I’m an actual genius when it comes to this game.

That’s the pull-quote here, and it could be rich coming through the lens of the guy who thought the Earth was flat because he watched a bunch of Instagram videos. In that case, it’s probably a good thing he put down his phone and recalibrated.

Instead, look at it through this lens: Irving is a basketball genius. He is a wizard with arguably the best handle ever. He delivered the dagger that defeated the greatest regular-season team in NBA history. He has played for Mike Krzyzewski and with LeBron James. He is one of the 10-best people in the world currently working in his profession. (Sorry about the ranking there, but it’s true.) You don’t get to that level without an understanding of the game that exceeds the 99.99999999999 percent of people who in their lifetimes have never achieved what he has done by age 27.

He certainly knows more about the game than anyone on, say, ESPN’s “First Take,” the hot-take artist panel that Irving joined in September 2017. There are few better decisions Irving could have come to than to tune them out. That alone is worthy of the genius label. It is sound advice for all basketball players, and it is all the better for the Celtics if it solves the locker-room issues they litigated through the media.

All that said, I’m still not entirely sure I understand everything Irving told MacMullan.

“I think this whole business is flawed, by the way the draft is set up, by the way the coaches and the GMs are set up, the way people get fired and traded,” he added.

“When you think about putting a leather basketball in a rim, and how many other complicated things happen because of that one simple thing, with our families and our lives, you can understand why people are struggling.”

I think he means that you can lose yourself pretty quickly in the game of basketball when you start considering all that factors into the NBA off the court. I think. That, of course, raises questions about what the league would like without the power structure and media surrounding it. It would be pure, which I think is what guys like Irving and Kevin Durant are always going on about, but it may not be so lucrative.

These are the existential questions commentators love to discuss, because they can be far more interesting than the spacing at the 3:33 mark of the second quarter. Such debates aren’t going to beat the Bucks, though, and that’s what the Celtics are after. Finally. Let the geniuses play basketball and us dummies talk about it.

Source

Cameras catch Ben Simmons elbowing Kyle Lowry in the groin in Game 3

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Andy Nesbitt | USA TODAY SPORTS

Things are starting to get more physical in the Raptors-Sixers series, which turns out to be bad news for Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, who took a shot to the groin from Ben Simmons in the first half of Thursday’s Game 3 in Philadelphia.

Lowry and Simmons got tied up a little bit under the hoop after a Sixers miss and Simmons ended up catching him with an elbow where you don’t want to get an elbow before running back down court.

Was it intentional? It sure looked like something that he meant to do but I of course can’t say for sure.

What do you think:

There was no foul called on the play, as refs missed it.

Twitter didn’t miss it tho:

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HOOP HANGOUT • NBA PLAYOFFS • GAMEDAY POST • May 3rd 2019

SportsLine

Antetokounmpo has 32, Bucks beat Celtics 123-116 in Game 3

Associated Press

BOSTON – Giannis Antetokounmpo had 32 points and 13 rebounds, George Hill finished with 21 points and the Milwaukee Bucks beat Boston 123-116 on Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Khris Middleton added 20 points.

Antetokounmpo had only 13 field goal attempts but had 16 points from the free throw line in a game that featured 53 total fouls called — 39 in the second half. Including Milwaukee’s two regular-season games in Boston, Antetokounmpo has scored 30 or more points in each of his trips to TD Garden in 2018-19.

“I’m just gonna keep being aggressive. That’s what my teammates want me to do,” Antetokounmpo said. “If I have to take it all the way, I’ll take it all the way.”

Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and Jayson Tatum had 20 for the Celtics, who host Game 4 on Monday.

Boston led by a point at the half but was outscored 40-31 in the third quarter and trailed by as many as 17 points in the final period.

The Celtics were also outscored 52-24 in the paint and had 18 turnovers leading to 28 Milwaukee points.

Irving acknowledged the fouls did slow down the game and stunt Boston’s efforts late.

“It’s getting ridiculous at this point,” Irving said, using an expletive to describe the lulls the fouls created.

Coach Brad Stevens said he didn’t think his team was overly frustrated by the foul calls.

“I just think ultimately they made a lot of plays in that quarter and we didn’t,” he said.

The Bucks started to rack up points at the line and their lead grew to 114-97 by the time Brown came back into the game with 4:53 remaining.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Antetokounmpo is hard to stop when he’s this locked in to finding ways to score and get his teammates involved.

“He’s just such a force. He can get through cracks,” Budenholzer said. “He’s going to finish or get to the free throw line a lot if he keeps playing like this.”

TIP-INS

Bucks: Finished 15 of 37 from the 3-point line.

Celtics: Finished 30 of 32 from the free throw line

Game 4 is Monday night in Boston.

Blazers go up 2-1 after 140-137 win in 4 OTs over Denver

PORTLAND, Ore. — CJ McCollum matched his career playoff high with 41 points, Rodney Hood hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 18.6 seconds left in the NBA postseason record-tying fourth overtime and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets 140-137 on Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

It was the second quadruple-overtime playoff game in NBA history, joining a 1953 game between the Boston Celtics and the Syracuse Nationals.

McCollum scored 28 points after the third quarter and Damian Lillard added 28 in the game for Portland, which stretched its winning streak at home to 12 games dating back to the regular season. Hood came off the bench to score seven points in the final OT and help the Blazers remain unbeaten at home this postseason.

Nikola Jokic had his third triple-double of the playoffs with 33 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists, but missed a crucial free throw with 5.6 seconds to go. The 7-foot center played 65 minutes, two shy of the postseason record.

Jamal Murray had a playoff-high 34 points for the Nuggets.

Hood’s jumper re-tied the game at 133 with just over a minute left in the final overtime. Will Barton missed the first of two free throws for Denver before Hood added a baseline jumper. Paul Millsap‘s hook shot with 27 seconds left gave the Nuggets the edge.

But Hood’s 3-pointer gave Portland a 138-136 lead as time wound down. Jokic missed the first of two free throws for Denver and Seth Curry made free throws for the Blazers to close it out.

Hood finished with 19 points.

Denver pulled in front 97-95 with under 3 minutes left in regulation. Lillard’s floater with 31 seconds left gave Portland a 102-100 lead, before Barton’s layup tied it. Al-Farouq Aminu missed a 3-pointer for Portland with 6.7 seconds to go.

In the first overtime, McCollum’s layup tied it at 109 with 8.7 seconds left and Jokic missed an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer.

With the game knotted at 118 in the second overtime, Jokic missed a 3-pointer and a jump ball with 5.7 seconds left was grabbed by McCollum. Portland called a timeout with 4.1 seconds on the clock but Lillard missed a 3-point attempt as time ran out.

Millsap’s jumper with 32 seconds left gave the Nuggets a 129-125 lead in the third overtime, but Lillard’s bank shot closed the gap and he added a layup that re-tied it again with 8.4 seconds left.

The Blazers, in the conference semifinals since 2016, have won the last two games after second-seeded Denver’s victory in Game 1.

Maurice Harkless started for the Blazers after rolling his ankle in the second quarter of Game 2 and sitting out the rest of the way.

Torrey Craig was also day-to-day but started for Denver, wearing a clear mask after his nose was bloodied in Wednesday’s game.

Murray struggled with what looked like a right thigh injury that he tried to remedy by riding an exercise bike during Game 2, but it didn’t appear to be bothering him Friday and he led all scorers with 16 points in the opening half.

Portland led by as many as 10 points in the opening half but the Nuggets pulled in front 38-37 on Murray’s running 3-pointer. Portland went into the break with just a 48-47 edge.

The Nuggets went ahead early in the second half. Enes Kanter, who at times rubbed the shoulder he hurt in the final first-round game against the Thunder, hit a 3-pointer followed by a layup and a free throw to tie the game at 62 and slow Denver’s momentum.

Game 4 is Sunday.