Did Kawhi Leonard Beat the 76ers?

kawhi-leonard

Some will say that Kawhi Leonard beat the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in Toronto. Yes, Kawhi had 41 points. Yes Kawhi hit the fadeaway, game winner from the right corner falling out of bounds with no time left on the clock. And yes Kawhi was the best player on the court, hands down. But the 76ers shot themselves in the foot time and again.

Note to file: that game winning shot wasn’t a swish; in other words, it didn’t hit all net. What had happened was quite to the contrary. Kawhi shot the ball high enough to get the it over Joel Embiid who was lunging at him, then the ball hit the right side of the rim, bounced up, bounced high off the right side of the rim again, then bounced twice off of the left side of the rim, THEN it fell through the net. It felt like it bounced around the rim for what seemed like an eternity, but the ball eventually bounced in, not out. Game, set, match – Toronto. But that miracle is not what beat the Sixers. The Sixers beat themselves.

First, the Sixers came out jittery, fidgety and frazzled and played that way most of the game. But at times the Sixers had the lead, and at one point they went on a 17-0 run and took what looked like a commanding seven point lead. AND Jimmy “Buckets” tied the game at 90 with 4.2 second left! (Note to file: keep Jimmy Butler and ban Brett Brown from anything that has to do with the 76ers organization from now, henceforth, and even forevermore). In other words, all of Philly is not down with Coach Brown. He’s got ta’ go.

While the Sixers had their chances, their play and their coach failed them down the stretch. Embiid and Simmons, their best players, coughed up the ball time and again, committing turnover after turnover in the final minutes. They even committed TWO – count ‘em — TWO shot clock violations with the game on the line. Oh well.

The moral of the story is this: don’t beat yourself. Unforced errors, careless mistakes and the lack of effort all combine to confound and contradict all of the positives you may have going your way, no matter how hard you try.

Let’s all learn the lesson. Don’t beat yourself.

The Boston Celtics: “Control the Controllable”

Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics

Is this the end of an era? It just well may be.

LeBron James had a 21 point first quarter and a 42 point, 10 rebound, 12 assist virtuoso, triple double performance in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics; but it wasn’t enough.  LeBron made an incredible, instant classic, step-back three-pointer in that same, ridiculous first quarter, but it wasn’t enough.  The miracle, circus shot was absurd, even by LeBron James’ standards, but it wasn’t enough.

Here’s how Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer put it:

“A step-back, fadeaway, late-clock 3-pointer with one of the league’s best defenders draped all over him. And video of the first-quarter spread like wild-fire on social media as sort of a “Look at what LeBron is doing!” snapshot of his 21-point first-quarter barrage in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Here’s the thing: The Boston Celtics liked that possession an awful lot, too. They liked how Marcus Morris made James work just to navigate from the blocks to the 3-point arc in order to set an initial screen. Or how Marcus Smart, who switched onto James, prevented the Cleveland Cavaliers star first from rolling to the basket, then denied James’ initial attempt to back Smart down.

Yes, James eventually got the ball back and made a ridiculous shot, but the Celtics made him work hard for a low-percentage look. And therein lies one of the secrets to Boston’s success through the first two games of the series: making everything hard for James.

‘If you can, watch every possession. We have a bunch of guys coming out that give everything we got every possession,’ Morris told ESPN. ‘LeBron is great, we all know that. That’s something that everyone knows. So, at the end of the day, we can’t hang our heads on shots that he makes. We know he’s going to take those shots, we know he’s going to make some shots. ‘t the end of the day, we control the controllable.’”

We control the controllable.

That’s the quote, and that’s the lesson. We must control the controllable. There’s so much in this life that we can’t and don’t control. We can’t control what others say or do. We can’t control other’s actions or emotions or responses, but we can control what comes out of our mouths and what goes on in our hearts and heads. And we can absolutely control how we treat people. You may not feel like being kind or caring or forgiving or forbearing, but you can control how you act and you react.

So control the controllable. Control what you can, and don’t worry about what you can’t.

Now, back to the presumptive Eastern Conference Champions, the Boston Celtics:

“What the Celtics have controlled is their turnovers, which has eliminated easy transition opportunities. They’ve controlled access to the paint, limiting the chances for James to drive and create for either himself or his teammates. And the Celtics have controlled the intensity, dispatching a never-ending stream of versatile defenders, essentially tasking every player in their rotation with defending James at some point.

The other thing the Celtics control: the series (2-0). Yes, Boston knows it cannot relent in its defensive tenacity as the series shifts to Cleveland for Saturday’s Game 3 (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). But an already irrationally confident group took a James haymaker in Game 2 (42 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists) and still won by technical knockout”.

http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/23541621/boston-celtics-defending-lebron-james-east-finals

And so the moral of the story is this: Exit, LeBron, enter Boston.

John Wall: Force A Game 7  

John Wall (2)John Wall and the Washington Wizards forced a Game 7 in the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals against the No. 1 Seed Boston Celtics.  This DC dandy is a fan favorite, and he reconfirmed his star status when he hit a three pointer with 3.5 seconds left on the clock. With this heroic effort, Wall and the Wiz are going back to Boston to decide the matter, once and for all.

Johnathan Hildred Wall Jr. was a NBA No. 1 draft pick in 2010, so he has a lot to live up to. This playoff year, with his team and his city on the ropes, Wall won with the weight the Washington sports world on his shoulders. And I’m happy for him.

Life is won and lost in distinct, decisive moments.  And Game 7 is one of those moments. Game 7 is when you find out what you’re made of. Game 7 is when stars are born and when memories are made.  For these reasons and many more, any and all sports fans worth their salt would pay a king’s ransom to be present at a Game 7 (at home, of course).

Life is not won or lost in abstraction. It’s won or lost under the microscope of the big stage. And to get to the big stage of Game 7, we all must win the majority of the 50/50 balls and most of questionable calls along the way.  

So when life pushes you to the brink and to the edge, push back.  Like Mandisa said, sometimes you have to “speak when you don’t have the floor and you have to go when you’re not invited.”  Boston could have/(should have?) won Game 6 on the road, but Wall and the Wiz had other plans. The same should go for you and me too. When life and living and circumstances and situations say that you should be over and done with, roundly object.

Force Game 7.

The Toronto Raptors: “Cooked, Glazed and Ready 2B Sliced”



The Cleaveland Cavaliers are up 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.  In other words, the Toronto Raptors are “
cooked, glazed and ready to be sliced.”  That’s basketball-speak and commentator lingo for “stick a fork ’em” because the Raptors are DONE!

The Raptors were in Game Three midway through the 3rd Quarter, and they actually had a small lead. But their best player, DeMar DeRozan, even with a career playoff high of 37 points, couldn’t do it all by himself. And the Raptors couldn’t separate and instead they began to oscillate between playing really good ball and playing really bad ball, and that is always a recipe for disaster.

And so the lesson is crystal clear once again. Don’t play hookey pookey with your life. One foot in and one foot out won’t cut it. Inconsistency is the mother of incongruity, and the grandchildren are bad habits, bad decisions, bad choices and bad results. 

So be all and give all and do all you can while you have the chance.  Because when you’re up you need not take it for granted.  Add to and pad your lead. Score when you have the advantage.  And don’t get lazy on defense.

Because wins don’t grow on trees, so don’t live like they do.