The NBA Playoffs Have Begun | Crooked Media
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April 19, 2022
The NBA Playoffs Have Begun

In This Episode

With Jamel Johnson (Air Buds) as special guest, Chris Mannix (Sports Illustrated) joins Jason Concepcion to help unpack a contentious Celtics-Nets first round series and Andy Larsen (The Salt Lake Tribune) returns to talk Jazz-Mavericks, Luka’s calf injury and Donovan Mitchell & Rudy Gobert’s futures in Utah.


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Chris Mannix: I’ve watched that final possession. The offense possession like a dozen times and.


Jason Concepcion: You were expecting Marcus Smart to take.


Chris Mannix: One hundred percent expecting Marcus Smart. Look, I’ve covered Marcus Smart in Boston for what, nine years now he’s been in the league like every other year, he pulls that shot.


Jason Concepcion: Hello. Welcome back, great show today the NBA playoffs are in full swing and we’ve got some wonderful talk lined up for you. Gosh, it is at my absolute pleasure to have the co-host of Air Buds and Sorry, We Love the NFL and my good friend, one of the funniest human beings ever to do it, ever to step in front of a mic. It’s Jamel Johnson. Jamel, how are you?


Jamel Johson: For a second, I thought you were going to say, like Dougie Doug or something. Oh, it is me. I’m good, bro. Happy to see you. Apologies for having to watch a Knick-less playoffs again.


Jason Concepcion: Apologies for having to watch a Wizard-less playoffs once again, but we’ll get it that.


Jamel Johson: Thank you, sir. It’s like church greetings


Jason Concepcion: And it really is. We also talk to Andy Larson of the Salt Lake Tribune about the Jazz and the Mavs will get to the Nets Celtics series with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. But first, let’s just talk about what we’ve been seeing so far with producers Ryan and Zuri, super producers Ryan and Zuri. Let’s start with Ben. The series that I think they should make the entire playoffs out of T-Wolves Grizzlies. This is the series folks that made me tweet. I don’t want to see old players anymore. I really I believe this. I think the NBA should cap old players per team at two. You can’t have more than two 30 year old players on a team. And I’m basing that on how fun T-Wolves Grizzlies are. Fellas, what are we thinking about this series? Jamel let’s start with you.


Jamel Johson: First off, I agree as a fan of the big three. I 100 percent agree. Let’s get some youth in the building. But also, I mean, you know, honestly, I’m happy to see Anthony Edwards shining. This is this is number one pick behavior and everybody was worried and he’s actually incredible.


Jason Concepcion: I love my shots is yet another iconic iconic statement from Anthony Edwards, who said after the game quote, I love my shots. Whatever shot I take, whether it’s a step back, travelers step back midrange or a floater or a layup, whatever my shot is. I like it. He also loves him. Coach may not like it, shouts the shouts of the guy. Chris Finch. But I love my shot.


Zuri Irvin: My my favorite thing he does is when he thinks he’s going to make a shot and he pumps it. But it’s like your best friend. It’s the confidence. The confidence is great. And I do wonder if we do ban old players like where do they go off if you’re over 30?


Jason Concepcion: They go to the Big Three, Big three, the big three.


Ryan Wallerson: It would actually be good for like all three levels of basketball because more college players would make the association because of age limitations. And then the Big Three would get an influx of veteran presence that we all still want to see. It would be cool.


Jason Concepcion: It’s trickle down basketball enomics. You don’t like it. Here’s the thing about that Anthony Edwards thing you were talking about Missouri. Yes, he does some goofy stuff. Sometimes it will drive you crazy. I was thinking, Man, if Tom Thibodeau was watching that, if he was the coach of that team, he’d go walk into the ocean. After some of those shots and all season, Karl-Anthony Towns has had a pension with, I think he’s too influenced by Jokic. He’ll do these very, very lazy like hook passes over the head where he’s like, kind of not looking. And it’s real slow and it’s easy to pick off having a bunch of times in the game. But when you have players that young and talented and exciting, I don’t care. I would rather watch that than Taj Gibson making the right play a million times, and he can’t jump over a business card like, I want to watch young players who are exciting. I don’t care if they make a lot of mistakes. I love this series. There’s just so much excitement. Dillon Brooks, Ja, like the young players are just showing out. It’s really, really fun.


Jamel Johson: Jaren Jackson was the weak link for the Grizz. Hopefully, he doesn’t have a little clunker in Game two.


Jason Concepcion: Seven blocks, though. I mean, like he is legitimately, if he cannot foul, he was negative. Sixteen in the game. That’s OK. If he cannot foul, I mean, like Rudy Gobert, defense ability with scoring like he’s he can be fun.


Jamel Johson: Just need you to catch those those open threes because Ja’s drawing too because Pat Beverley can’t guard him. No one in the building can guard Ja, so he will be getting open shots the whole series.


Ryan Wallerson: You know, we tried to throw a little. We tried to throw a little shade on the Timberwolves party for making the playoffs at all, saying like, Oh, this is going to be their final. You know, they came out and they got that game one win. Now they only need three more and six three of them are going to be at home. It’s interesting. So I think that we wrote them off a little bit too quickly, and I’m happy to see Pat Black men company out here, you know, representing themselves well against this two seed.


Jason Concepcion: I just want this to go seven.


Zuri Irvin: Well do you guys have? You guys have a pick for this series? Do you think Minnesota takes it or or do you even care?


Jason Concepcion: I think it’s, you know, it’s almost impossible to not overreact to a game one when you watch it, you know, and allow that to color how you feel about the series. Do they get? 23 from Malik Beasley again. You know what I mean, like, I’m hoping this goes seven and I think it’s a Grizzlies win. Ultimately, I think that they’re just too good and too deep. They are a little bit more forged in fire. I understand that they’re both kind of like inexperienced teams with regards to the playoffs. But the Grizzlies did it for an extended part of the series without Ja and show that they have an ability to go deep and to win games with with Bane and with Melton and with Jaren Jackson Jr., with Dillon Brooks. Like, they have guys that understand their role and know how to play. And I feel like the Timberwolves have a little bit further to go in terms of figuring it out. So I still pick the Grizzlies, but I I’m hoping it’s going to be a long series.


Ryan Wallerson: If you have two young teams and go six seven games in the series and there is no real loser. Obviously, someone has to be eliminated for the sake of the playoffs, but the Raps are just so good for every single young player on both rosters. I think it goes six seven games and I do think that the Grizz went out. But like going into this series, going into this season, I would look at the Timberwolves roster and say soft talent like the yellow cat, you know, so it’s it’s a situation where Anthony Edwards, even, you know, he’s figuring it out this season. He’s kind of ascending before our eyes. So I think that this is going to be a good experience for them, no matter what. And you know, you steal a road game in Game one and just like you start playing the claim, the no, the big play well at home. It can’t get to seven in a game. Seven Anything can happen.


Jason Concepcion: Anthony Edwards had two blocks in this game. I mean, you know, like they they were playing.


Zuri Irvin: I agree. I think I think Memphis and seven, I think D’Angelo wakes up at home 10 points on two for 11 shooting game one. I think he turns that around. But then probably I mean, it’s not real prediction, but I think Towns lays another egg at some point in the series, and that’s probably what


Jason Concepcion: I mean, right? Yeah, I could. I could see that. I just think offensively if he can limit his turnovers. Minnesota plays really intelligently, it’s like when he and a small on him, he’s going down low and when he had space, he’s he’s shooting from outside. That’s a dangerous player. I’m really excited. I just love this series. No more old players, no more old players. I want to see it anymore. I’m so tired of it. OK, next series. Folks, it was Schadenfreude HQ at my apartment as I was watching the Miami Heat absolutely put Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks in a fucking dungeon and then dropped the dungeon like into a hell hole. Folks, it was despicable behavior from the Heat who limited Trae Young to like one for 700 shots and multiple complaints and multiple borderline slash dirty hits after the whistle under the rim. Kyle Lowry shoving his hands all up in a Trey Young’s face, diving in his knees at the buzzer like at halftime. It was ugly and the Miami Heat absolutely rampage to a 115-91 victory. Thoughts, thoughts all around Jamel.


Jamel Johson: The Heat seemed excited to hit somebody not on their own roster. They’ve been going at it for weeks now, and they’re just so excited that there’s somebody else in similar colored jerseys, which I think helps.


Jason Concepcion: Yes, now they have extra extra incentive to be mad about something.


Jamel Johson: Exactly. And I mean, they look good, man. If Duncan Robinson is going to be doing that. I mean, what can you do? I mean, no one’s going to stop them.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, ultimately, it’s like, is he going to miss because the way they’re executing is just kind of insane.


Zuri Irvin: I just think we shouldn’t write off Trey Young, he was so great in the two play in games leading into this. And I think that they just dealt with a little lethargy heading into this game. And I think like for my money, I think Trey’s like pound for pound, the best of the basketball in the league, I think he makes the smartest decisions given his size, and I just wouldn’t write him off. I do think though, Miami in like five or six, but.


Jason Concepcion: Wait hold on a second. I’m not writing em off.  We wrote them off, you wrote them off.


Jamel Johson: As he’s actively writing.  He’s writing it in cursive


Jason Concepcion: you didn’t just write him off. You initialed at the top of the page and at the bottom of the page.


Zuri Irvin: Yeah, no, I didn’t sign my name, but my initials were on it. I just I just think, you know, we’re going to see big things from him and he’ll seal a winner too, but probably Miami.


Jason Concepcion: Uh, Ryan,.


Ryan Wallerson: I think that a gentleman sweep is probably the best that Atlanta can hope. it gets to Game six, I’d be shocked. I just think that Trey Young, the offense obviously runs through Trey Young, and it’s never going to be able to keep up with Miami without Trey Young doing well. And the defensive rotations that he’s going to see in this series are just nightmarish for him. It’s not Lowry. It’s going to be tough. It’s not tough, Tucker. It’s going to be Butler. All of them look like seventh graders playing basketball with a fourth grade one on one. And frankly, I just won’t put it out there. I think Knicks Nation is like heavy on the South Beach blow right now. I mean, I’m loving this minute. It is cathartic


Jason Concepcion: I’m not. I’m not proud of it, but I am right there. I’m enjoying this to the hilt. I absolutely love it. I love watching him struggle. It’s fun. It was fun watching him doing the Cavs honestly, like in the in the final play in game. It was fun watching him do that to another player. But I think you’re right in that those rotations, watching him against the Cavs, every time he get in that pick and roll and find space, he’s stabbing the Cavs to death, ice, picking them to death with that floater, floater, floater, floater because if you switch on Trey. If there’s any gap in your rotation, you’re dead, the heat are not showing you a gap and there’s no soft guy on, there’s really no minus defender anywhere in the rotation. That tray is going to see first three rotations, four rotations. It’s like to your point, it’s like Lowry, PJ Butler and Bam. He’s seen size, he’s seen physicality. He’s seen guys that are just in his jersey all the time. You watch him and he’s seen two guys every single time. They’re like, Listen, give up the ball. And when he gives it up, he’s not getting it back. And so both by Donovan is going to have to do some stuff. And Trey is has been resistant his whole career to playing off the ball. It’s obviously too late to be like, Hey, let’s run some off the ball shit now with Trey with with, you know, that’s off season work. But I think I am not writing them off either, but I would not be surprised at a sweep here. I would not be surprised to see it. I just think that the heat, they know how they want to take Trey out of the game. If you take Trey out of the game, there’s there’s no other way for the Hawks to get into their offense moving on. Raptors, Sixers. I was looking at this and I was thinking, man. Game seven, Doc Rivers, the Raptors.


Jamel Johson: Why is that funny already?


Jason Concepcion: I just I was expecting to say I was just getting ready and I was looking at some of the underlying, you know, like the underlying factors, the Knick Nurse Coach Raptor team, they have all these different looks. They can throw it impede and all these different looks, they can throw it harden. And ultimately, I just it was easy to criticize the Sixers coming down the stretch of the season, with Harden throwing up, you know, three four four teens and four four toes, et cetera. And it was fun and it was cute to laugh at them. But ultimately, the Sixers have the two best players in the series. And if Scottie Barnes is out, it’s kind of a wrap. The Raptors can’t score in the halfcourt like at all, like their offense is terrible, and I just feel like here’s another one where Philly and five Philly and six if if something happens up in Toronto. But ultimately, I don’t think this is in any doubt the Sixers just feel like they’re much better than the Raptors. Jamel?


Jamel Johson: Yeah, I’m going to say Sixers in six, just because the Sixers can’t win anything regular looking right that it’s going to look good while they’re going to look dumb ish in Toronto at some point. Missing Thybulle, somebody is going to do something stupid, but I do think that James Harden saved Tobias Harris’s career. He did something about the two of them together is working for Tobias, and Philly needed it. All the trips to the strip club are paying off.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, Ryan? Zuri?


Ryan Wallerson: So I think for this series, I think the 76ers in general, like we were looking at James Harden on the Nets and the dynamic just wasn’t there wasn’t right. There was always a problem that was always be whether it was magic Kyrie situation or not.


Jason Concepcion: It was always beef going into James Harden’s mouth and he was eaten in it. And he was getting bigger and bigger and bigger.


Ryan Wallerson: You know, but he wasn’t the player that the Nets needed to be the best version of themselves. And I don’t think that Ben Simmons is either. But I do think that in Philly, James Harden is able to be like if he fits the mold here, so much better because it’s not. Even if we talked about it yesterday, it’s not about the scoring prowess, it’s about his vision. Like he can go out there and rack up the assists and he can not shoot.


Jason Concepcion: That halfcourt bouncer to to Maxey was just electric, and that’s exactly the thing that they need. They don’t even need James Harden to go out there and shoot at a high percentage. We all know about James Harden struggles in the playoffs when he gets noticeably tight and the calls aren’t coming at the same clip as they were in the regular season. But like if he just moves the ball the way he did, that’s a lot. Zuri, your thoughts?


Zuri Irvin: No, I just don’t want to skip ahead, but I think we’re destined for a Bucks. Sixers Eastern Conference finals and interested parties are probably trap series for the Sixers on their way to getting there. I don’t know that Toronto prepares them in the way that they need to face the Bucks eventually in the car, but we’ll see.


Jason Concepcion: I just think, you know, I wanted the Knicks to make an offer on Fred VanVleet, even though there was no shot a couple couple of seasons back in free agency. Here’s the issue with Fred VanVleet. I just think Trae Young is able to do what he can do at his size because he has unbelievable ball handling and infinite range. VanVleet good shooter, but he doesn’t have the arsenal of if you don’t have that arsenal of moves, you’re going to struggle. And VanVleet has to work so hard to get off and to get his team into any kind of like scoring rhythm. And man, I just think it’s going to be real tough for the Raptors, depending on what happens with Barnes. But man, the Sixers look good and shouts to all my Sixers fans who are absolutely losing their shit about Tyrese Max. You look great. Nuggets Warriors. Oh, if the Warriors could play like this without curry playing well, Jordan Poole coming out pool party Jokic had twenty five and ten, but he had to work so hard for every single thing that he got. He looked gassed out at times to the point where Doris Burke was like, Yo kid looks gassed out and it’s going to be a long series without the creativity of Michael Porter Jr. It’s just like everything has to go through Jokic and we’re seeing in this playoffs. If you have one creator, Hawks, Nuggets, et cetera, you’re going to be in trouble because they’re the other team is going to take away that option. And it was looking real, rough looking, real rough for the Nuggets. Thoughts, Jamel.


Jamel Johson: Yeah, I mean, it sucks that the Warriors are good.


Jason Concepcion: It really does.


Jamel Johson: I didn’t I didn’t. Yeah, I thought we were over this. I didn’t think this was going to keep happening. But the terrible matchup for the Nuggets? Yeah. You know? Draymond. Jokic Might be the only player he can guard now because in the league entirely, yeah.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, they’re putting him through hell. They’re putting him through hell. He’s still put up his numbers, but it’s it’s going to be it’s going to be tough.


Zuri Irvin: Will Barton took 18 snaps in Game one. I don’t know if that’s tenable for


Jason Concepcion: somebody who’s got it. Exactly. I mean, that’s, you know, somebody got to do it. So he’s going to score other than Jokic either scoring or setting up people to score like somebody’s got to create. Who’s not Nikola?


Zuri Irvin: Also, what did Drake know before he put that two hundred thousand dollar bet on the Warriors to win the finals? Did he know that Jordan Poole is going to be this Jordan Poole?


Jason Concepcion: He knew that. He knew that he was rich.


Jamel Johson: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, he went into it rich? Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: OK, let’s get a Bucks ball. So I think everybody expected. I certainly was thinking Bucks in five ish. Nothing I saw really change that. The Bulls made a run here in the series with a view to who got hot at the right time. Pay no attention to his actual box score, but he got hot at the right time, keyed a little run. Caruso was devastating at times, but the Bucks weren’t just playing the bulls. They were playing their history of coming up disappointing in game ones and ultimately won the game 91 86. Giannis is just incredible, just like unbelievable. And I think the, you know, I think the Bucks are probably going to win in five. And unfortunately, it’s been a fun series for the Bulls. DeRozan struggled, which is either par for the course for him or something he will bounce back from. I guess I shouldn’t doubt him because I doubted him when they signed him and then he had a great season. But I guess I kind of doubt him in the playoffs, especially against a Bucks team that just kind of like knows what they’re doing. Your thoughts, Jamel?


Jamel Johson: I mean, yeah, it’s the Bucks do. This is the new America. Khris Middleton for president. This is just the rest of our lives.


Jason Concepcion: Are we worried about?


Jamel Johson: I don’t think so.


Jason Concepcion: Are we worried about Khris Middleton. Like he had a kind of down season and is now having a down first game of the playoffs, albeit after a long layoffs. Are we worried that he is officially washed?


Jamel Johson: Never worried. I would never. I am. If I could go to Vegas and put $10 million on just Khris Middleton. I would


Jason Concepcion: On your Drake


Jamel Johson: Yeah, just like tag that on to Drake’s bet.


Ryan Wallerson: And you know, for me, it’s like the Bulls had a good season. It was fun. It was a surprise. But when you look at the fact that they’re the fourth best record in NBA history with a negative differential, when you look at their record against teams above 500, the writing was always kind of on the wall for them than the injuries start stacking up and throwing them off. The way they want to play and the Bucks are the defending champions like we’re all expecting Giannis to have a shot at defending this title and that requires, you know, a victory in the first round so.


Jason Concepcion: negative differential negative differential was a bad indicator. Yeah, Zuri.


Zuri Irvin: I did like that. Brandon Jennings basically tweeted that Tristan Thompson is the reason why the Bull season was torpedoed. I thought he was speaking for a lot of people. Also, this reminds me of the conventional high school basketball tournament with Milwaukee and Chicago. It’s kind of on the level of Knicks, Nets, Lakers, Clippers.


Jason Concepcion: I would love for this to be more of a rivalry. Honestly, like that would be really cool.


Jamel Johson: When Caruso gets elbowed in the in the center of his head, it will be.


Jason Concepcion: Was it Doris Burke on the call for Buck’s Bulls again? I think it was right. I think at one point, she said of Tristan Thompson, Tristan Thompson getting in there, which is his job and his job really is getting in there, as we all know on and off. Is getting in there?


Jamel Johson: Shout out Christian Mingle.


Jason Concepcion: He really is. He really is getting in there. But I think I think it’s going to be a an easy bucks win, unfortunately. Suns Pelicans. Speaking of of easy wins. Great season for the Pelicans, showing the scrappiness showing that they have some depth and some exciting young players coming in. Herb Jones setting the NBA nerd-dom alight with his play on both ends of the floor. It’s so exciting and you think, man, if they add Zion to, this isn’t that great. At the same time, man, they’re not ready. And the Suns is the best team in basketball, arguably, and this is going to be a sweep. This is going to be a sweep, folks. Your thoughts Jamel?


Jamel Johson: Suns. Period?


Jason Concepcion: I mean, Chris Paul, when I loved the Pelicans, like, you know, when the when a body twitches a little bit, when someone gets knocked out or in the leg twitches. The leg twitched at Chris Paul was like, OK, we’re going make sure they’re done. We’re going to make sure the extras. Yeah, we’ll make sure they’re finished. And he just put the finishing move on them and went absolute 19 of his 30 in the fourth quarter and seemed like he assisted on everything as well. Like just went crazy, Zuri? Ryan?


Ryan Wallerson: For me, it’s very simple. These playoffs are is. This is his battleground. This is his ring. It doesn’t happen this season. I’m not going. Last year when they lost, I said it will be this year if they lose this year. I’m not putting that same level of confidence into next year. I think it has to happen right now. Everybody understands now that surely Chris Paul knows it. And until somebody gives them some legitimate opposition, they’re far and away from the league.


Zuri Irvin: Until Chris Paul turns an ankle like he always does.


Jason Concepcion: How dare you? How dare you?


Zuri Irvin: I’m not wishing injury on anyone.


Jamel Johson: It’s a podcast. He had to say it


Zuri Irvin: Hey, there’s evidence and evidence. Also heard Giannis way ahead of his time. Late in the game, he like clotheslined DeAndre Ayton.


Jason Concepcion: Oh, OK, let’s talk about that. OK, so yeah, so. So, you know, a play was was switching over, right? DeAndre Ayton was running up the court and kind of not looking what was happening. And then Herb Jones, the way I looked at it was Herb Jones was coming in and just trying to, you know, get a check on his man, like keep DeAndre Ayton from easily running up the floor. Now, usually you’d see something like that, like on a on pick and roll defense when you tag a guy. But I think he was just doing like a tag, and it just so happened that Ayton one wasn’t looking and then Jones overexcited like chemo little high and rug Etan’s bell. I was a little surprised that they didn’t know flagrant on the flagrant did. But but it it was more reckless than it was like dirty. But it was certainly intentional. And I hope Payton’s OK. Like they kept saying, Oh, the Suns ran through their concussion protocol or whatever it is to make sure that Ayton like they know they were just like you good? he was like, Yeah, I’ve good.


Zuri Irvin: Still looking terrible. Yeah, I mean, if if it was unintentional or if it was intentional, it was the most beautiful sell. The most believable sell of like. I didn’t mean to do this because right after he reaches back and and it seems like there was no ill will, but maybe he’s a great actor. I respect that.


Jamel Johson: Yeah, that’s how I pretend to hold open elevators.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, it reminded me a little bit of like Kyle Lowry diving at Trey’s ankle at the end of the first half and then extending his hand and touching his ankle as if to heal it through the power of, you know, the tears of Jesus and be like, Hey, I’m hey, are you good? Like, I’m, you know, I didn’t want to do that. You wanted to do that a little bit. You kind of a little bit wanted to do that. Any other thoughts? Yeah, this is going to be a sweep or like if somehow some way the Suns like let up, then maybe the Pelicans get excited. They get a game. They showed a little bit of life again in that third quarter, but the Suns are too good.


Jason Concepcion: [AD].


Jason Concepcion: Boston and Brooklyn, it is one of the marquee match ups of this playoffs, and to help us unpack what we saw in a electric game, one that saw the Celtics squeeze out a victory at the buzzer 115 114 over the Brooklyn Nets is Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. What an absolute cracker of a game one is that what you were expecting and any takeaways from from what was one of the games of the weekend?


Chris Mannix: No, not at all. What I expected as special. I mean, Kyrie is always an adventure in Boston, like he’s created this narrative that I don’t know, like he just is nuts. And you know how he seems to let the Boston fans kind of creep into his head and push him in a direction where he has to respond? Almost every single time is wild. And what’s also wild is that it seems to to motivate him. Like, you know, every time the Boston fans climb on him, he just seems to get hot and make a shot for shot and watching him last night. Just go off, you think for three quarters and 10 minutes that this is how it’s going to end. It’s going to be, you know, the Kyrie revenge game 6.0 if you go back to to last year’s playoffs. And so I mean, that was the first, you know, thing that just stuck with me. How he continues to let the Boston fans seemingly get to the second part was I watched that final possession the off. It’s a possession like a dozen times.


Jason Concepcion: You were expecting Marcus Smart to.


Chris Mannix: One hundred percent. expecting  Marcus Smart, I look I’ve covered Marcus Smart in Boston for what, nine years now he’s been in the league like every other year, he pulls that shot. He was four for nine from three point range in that moment.


Jason Concepcion: Say your prayers, folks. That may never happen again.


Chris Mannix: That was going up? Yeah, that was going up. So for him, not only did not take the shot, but have the presence of mind to find Tatum in that spot. I mean, unbelievable that that was the true embodiment of the evolution of Marcus Smart.


Jamel Johson: Did seem like some real growth. I never thought I’d see the day myself, bro.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, there were some possessions in that fourth quarter coming down the stretch where, you know, Marcus did call his own number a couple of times and did not come up while waiting in that moment. And you and you’re thinking, Oh God, like, here we go again. And I was 100 percent expecting himself to call his own number in that moment, and he did not. Great pass. Incredible moment. Jason Tatum, for me, like obviously incredible game. Thirty one points. But to me, it’s the eight assists when he this season, when he has five or more assists. The Celtics are like 26 and 10. So, you know, a lot of the improvement for the Celtics this season came in figuring out how to move the ball better. Chris, what did what? What was it that they did that allowed them to unlock? You know, this kind of like offensive and defensive explosion over the course of the series for the Celtics? What did you feel could do?


Chris Mannix: Well, I think he just like one of the reasons IMHO doco was second on my coach of the year Ballard, just behind Monty Williams and ahead of Taylor. Jenkins, who was fantastic all year long, was I give him a credit for coaching through the struggles like this was a Celtic team that had so many bad habits that didn’t know how to do certain things from kind of defensive philosophies with the way they switch now, which is what they didn’t do under Brad Stevens to pushing Tatum and Brown to become more of a facilitator. That’s not something that had to do in recent years. In recent years, they’ve had traditional point guards, whether it was, you know, Isaiah Thomas briefly early on Kemba Walker or Kyrie Irving, they have been able to defer to the primary playmaker more times. Not so all season long. Emails push them. You got a pass. Are you going to be a facility? Are you going to move the ball? And it really wasn’t until early to mid-January that they started doing that, that they started, you know, kind of looking to be more passers than scores. And that game one was proof positive when Tatum, you know, a lot of times when he made the right pass. Previous years, he would have forced up a shot or taken a three point shot, taken one of those terrible Kobe shots. These big obsess with over time the kind of mid range jumper fade away along the baseline, whatever. He’s just different. He’s different now, and that’s something that he was. He and Jaylen Brown have been pushed and pushed and pushed on since the start of the season. It really took until the midway point for them to actually start to get it. Just one more thought on Marcus Smart real quick only because smart like. I mean, I do some. I do some work over at NBC for pre and post game show there. And from day one, I was jumping up and down on Marcus Smart. I didn’t believe he could do this. I didn’t believe he could evolve into the player he’s become and he saw everything like he sees everything and he’s used that all season long and people that don’t believe he can be a primary playmaker. So like Marcus, to his credit, has like absorbed all the hate, like taking it all inside him and pushed it out in the right direction. That’s an incredible credit to him.


Jamel Johson: I also kind of forgot about Jaylen Brown’s defense. You know, because everything when you think about the subject, you’re like, all right, who’s going to be the man? Is it brown or is it Tatum Black? What Tatum does on offense, Jaylen Brown does on defense. And I think we saw a lot of that. But I think the real reason the Celtics are on this because Nia Long is hanging around the facility, everyone on the roster has a crush on this woman. You want to play your best when she comes. She’s not coming all the time. So you better act right when she shows up.


Jason Concepcion: Speaking of surprises, showing up Al Horford 20 points, 15 rebounds. A lot of the talk about the Celtics, once Robert Williams went out, the time lord was OK. Like to your point. Duke has implemented more switching. So how do we how do they piecemeal this together? And of course, you know, if you had to lose one of your important players, I guess Williams would be the guy that you think, OK, we the Celtics can survive this, but they got some great play out of Al Horford. Did your thoughts about about what Horford did in Game one


Jamel Johson: and is it sustainable?


Chris Mannix: Yeah, it’s sustainable. You know, I was worried early on for Boston in that game because what 18 fouls called in the first quarter? I mean, they said their depth is is not great in the frontcourt without Rob Williams, really just Grant Williams. And you know, you go deeper into that bench. You start looking at guys that you don’t want to start playing, but out to me was one of the most underrated pick ups of the off season. I mean, if you were I mean, not many people watched him play in Oklahoma City last year, but he really rehabilitated himself with the Thunder like he washed off the stench of that one season in Philadelphia. Even though we played half the year, he proved that he still had something left and we’ve seen that all season long. One of the reasons that they they can survive without Rob Williams, at least in the short term, is that even though you miss some weak side shot block with Rob Williams, you have to fundamentally change what you do with Al Horford and Grant Williams and Daniel Tice in that lineup. So with Al Horford at five, you can still switch everything in the same way you did with Robert Gibbs. Imagine if, like Al wasn’t there, like, yeah, in a different reality, like, let’s say and his freedom was still there. Like, could you imagine trying to play that defense with and is out there on the floor? You couldn’t do it because you can’t switch him onto everybody the same way you can, either because


Jamel Johson: you can’t even Nintendo Switch him. You can’t do anything.


Jason Concepcion: No, absolutely would not be possible.


Chris Mannix: No. And that’s that to me, is why I like that. Not just Al, but like Al Grant and Tice, who’s another like. Yeah, Brad Stevens really should win executive the year. I don’t even know who’s the number two choice. Not a media vote, obviously, but I mean, he did things guys that, like Danny Ainge, would never have done the things that Brad Stevens did. Never in a million years, he would never have forked over an unprotected first round pick to get Al Horford to get Kemba Walker off the books. Never, ever, ever would have done that. I highly doubt he would have given up the kind of draft capital you need to get Derrick White, who’s also been huge for this team this year. I mean, Brad in getting Al Horford in acquiring Daniel twice, by the way, he got killed for the deadline. Like, no, you only got twice for Schroder. TikTok got a crappy contract. You couldn’t get a first for Dennis Schroder. Like that was available. He only gets Daniel Tice for it. Like those two guys, Horford and Tice are the reason this team is here right now in the kind of position that they’re in.


Jason Concepcion: I guess we we simply must talk about the the vibe in the arena. The double bird flip off behind the head move from Kyrie.


Chris Mannix: Does he think he’s not going to? They’re not going to see that? Does he think he’s going to get away?


Jamel Johson: I think he’s decided he’s walking away from this playoffs with zero dollars that he just decided.


Jason Concepcion: That’s my take on it. Here’s the thing now, people. There was some outrage. There was like a tweet. It was Barstool. It’s like there’s kids in the arena. I’ll tell you right now if I am if as a child, I was at Madison Square Garden and Reggie Miller flipped me off in a playoff game that the Knicks won. That would be one of the greatest memories of my life. For absolutely, ever, for ever. That would be an absolutely thrilling thing to reflect upon. I mean, he’s going to get fined, right, which of course, the NBA has to do that at the same time. It’s kind of like it’s a little bit of spice for the pot, right? This is the it’s the playoffs. We enjoy this, isn’t it? It’s a nice thing to enjoy, isn’t it? What was what was your view of of that situation?


Chris Mannix: I thought it was a riot because again, like I said at the top. Like Kyrie just allows. Like he allows Boston fans to get into his head in ways that he’s never allow Cleveland fans to do by Cleveland. Fans have just as right as much, right, if not more, to be pissed off at Kyrie walked away from a true Championship contender. You walked away for a team you want to title with, but he’s never let the Cleveland fan base bother him in the way that was a Celtic fan base. I mean, you know, like even the times when he’s not, I’m watching him most of the game, partly because he’s going off the entire time. But even the times when he’s not flipping off the crowd, he’s reacting to them like he’s communicating with people sitting in the baseline. He’s kind of shrug their shoulders, moving his hands. As he’s hearing things people are saying to him, so he’s he’s not blocking them out one bit now. I’m curious. See what the fine is for this. I mean, there are people around the Celtics that were like pushing for a suspension.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, that’s crazy. That’s truly insane.


Chris Mannix: I agree. I agree.


Jason Concepcion: But like, you might as well try it right. You might as well throw out


Chris Mannix: exactly what it’s like. Well, the way it was I was I was sitting in the press room and I heard from a couple of people on on Sunday night where they like, you know, he did this once here. They did it there, that he’s walking the tunnel and he’s cursing out whoever as he’s going that way. So it’s like, you know, when you know, when is enough enough, when you have to do that. So I guess you could push for it’s not going to get suspended, but you’ll get the heftiest fine you could possibly get for that. I don’t think he cares. I think he’s going to keep responding in that exact same way.


Jason Concepcion: So a one point win at the buzzer. But some indicators for the Nets that I think you could spin as positive. Katie had a bad game and as we’ve seen all season and particularly in the run up to the playoffs, if the Nets are going to need both of their guys, Katie and Kyrie, to really go off for them to have a chance to win, it took it, took both of them going crazy to beat the Cavs, et cetera, and they didn’t. You know, you’re expecting Patty Mills and Steph Curry to space the floor a little bit more and allow Kevin Durant some, some more space to operate. Not to be. He shoots over everybody, but still make his life a little easier. And, you know, one shot for Patty Mills. Seth Curry was one for four from three. So there is a place where you expect a little bit of improvement. What do you think about this Series seven game series?


Chris Mannix: Feels that way. You know, I think the Celtics will live with, you know, Durant playing better is going to have to he’s not going to go nine for 24 again, even though they played great defense on. I mean, Grant Williams was excellent early on being physical. And then when he got into foul trouble, Tatum took over and I saw some numbers on, you know, kind of how well Tatum played defensively. The guys he was guard weren’t scoring and when they were scoring, it was really low percentage. So I think the Celtics will live with the kind of one on one ish coverage that they have on Durant. What they’re wary about and and have been all week is who’s that third guy like if Kyrie goes for 30 and Durant goes for forty five, will live with 70? We don’t want Bruce Brown doing what he did in the play in Game three at 18 points and even look the first half. What a Goran Dragic having the first out like 11 points. Yeah, like that was that was certainly nerve wracking to the coaching staff. There was like, we can’t allow Goran to come off the bench and be that kind of player. So look, though, if DeRay gets 30 points and needs 30 shots to get it, they’re going to call it a win. If Kyrie, you know, needs as many shots as points, they’ll take that. It’s just they’re wondering if Seth is going to go off with those three point shots or if Dragic or Brown or anybody else, even Claxton, you know, getting points in the paint. So it’s more those guys than it is Durant and Kyrie that they’re worried the Celtics.


Jamel Johson: I think we can all agree Kessler Edwards is not going to do anything,


Chris Mannix: He’s not. No. That that is that is correct. About as much as Sam Hauser will do there


Jason Concepcion: He is. Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated NBA insider Chris, thanks so much for joining Takeline. Say hi to Nia Long. Enjoy the rest of the series. It’s going to be a fun one.


Jamel Johson: Please do. Please.


Jason Concepcion: It’s going to be fun.


Chris Mannix: You got it, fellas.


Jason Concepcion: What a fun series.


Jason Concepcion: [AD].


Jason Concepcion: A season of turmoil of chaos for the Utah Jazz, but all of a sudden in the playoffs, it’s calm sailing Luka Doncic, he’s in great spirits, but he’s not on the court. And so the Jazz with a with a sloppy performance that never narcissus that never necessitated them getting out of like second or third gear, just easily dispatched with the Luka Doncic list mavericks in Game one, and that means it’s time to welcome. Our friend. Beat reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune, Andy Larsen, the great Andy Larsen, the historic Andy Larsen, Andy. How are you? How are things in Jazzi land where I can only assume that things are more tranquil than they have been all season?


Andy Larsen: Yeah. You know, we talked to Bojan Bogdanovic today and asked him, you know, like how the trust is within his teammates. And he started talking about the egos of everyone in the group. So that’s, you know, a really good sign that everyone after game one is feeling really great and everything is is awesome.


Jamel Johson: You’ve got to love it.


Jason Concepcion: I love that. What did he say? What did he say about the egos? I can’t. This is.


Andy Larsen: Let me let me pull up the exact quote. So he was he was asked if the game four win proved that they they’d have developed more trust in the fourth quarter. And he says it’s about both trust and ego. We’ve got to put our ego to the side and trust each other, especially in these moments in the playoffs. We’re here because we’re a good team. We have quality. We really have a great group of guys who aren’t looking for individual stats, especially like Rudy Gobert having just one shot yesterday and being the best player on the floor. It’s amazing. I don’t know any other player who can do that. Well, it’s inspirational stuff.


Jason Concepcion: It’s beautiful. I have chills right now.


Jamel Johson: Bojan has to be my favorite Croatian of all time, just for the record.


Andy Larsen: My favorite Bojan thing is that the Jazz accidentally upload a YouTube video calling him the the Creation Bojan Bogdanovic now a group of fans have just been caught him the creation and it’s like the best nickname going for it for him besides, I guess Bogey, but that’s boring.


Jamel Johson: The cut creator himself.


Andy Larsen: The creation the Croatian Creation Bojan Bogdanovic


Jamel Johson: an honorable mention to coach, but it’s but it’s Boyan’s time now. Here’s a question for you, sir. Why can’t  Nickeil Walker Alexander get on the floor for this team? If everyone hates each other, why not just put the guy who doesn’t know anyone.


Jason Concepcion: Everyone is strong.


Andy Larsen: He does work super hard, but like the big thing was like in New Orleans, he had the worse true shooting percentage in the league. That’s that’s actually a true stat. So I do think that Quinn cares about efficiency and not having to Nickeil miss some shots. So like, I like Nickeil a lot, especially in the draft. But like, I can’t take that many bad shots and kind of be in a good team rotation, I guess, you know, hopefully, you know, he should, you know, theoretically play over guys like Juancho Hernangomez and Daniel House and you know.


Jamel Johson: Well, now hold on. I gotta. Daniel House deserves a lot of minutes for that little stunt he pulled in the bubble for all the all the slutty boys. All the slutty boys back in the city. We appreciated that.


Andy Larsen: I agree. I love Daniel House. He has added a lot of character to this team. I’ll tell you that much.


Jason Concepcion: And he’s not afraid to shoot the ball, either. Any do you feel it’s been, as we said, up top. Lot of questions about the Jazz. A lot of criticism from many corners. It’s almost gone too far to the point where we just kind of discount the Jazzi, a solid team. Like, how much do you think that kind of the criticism about can Ken Mitchell and Gobert like, how long can the friction between them go? Is this team fatally flawed? How? How much of that criticism is warranted? And has it have we have? Has it gone to the level of we just have forgotten that this is a very, very, very good team with a player and Gobert, who alone is able to elevate a team into, you know, the elite levels of of NBA defense.


Andy Larsen: Yeah, you know, I think to some degree, probably, you know, I think essentially like the jazz, definitely. You’re right, like, have a good team and a lot of good players Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley, you know, I think you even look at the depth. It’s it’s pretty reasonable. And then I think the biggest issue is a, you know, they’re kind of pretty clearly like a step below the league’s elite both last year and this year. You know, like, you know, as much as they were good in the regular season last year, they were not that kind of caliber of playoff team. And then, you know, I think you kind of look forward and realize that they’ve got a really aging supporting cast, right? Like Mike Conley, Bug Bogdanovic, Rudy Gay, all these guys, you know, they traded away Joe Ingles. All these guys were in their thirties, mid thirties. And so it’s like, how do you build a real contender around Donovan and Rudy? You know, kind of fringe all NBA stars and definite All-Stars. But yeah, kind of fringe all NBA guys. You know, realistically, you probably need really talented role players around those guys and the Jazz have just kind of run out of assets to get those guys in order to put guys around them. You know, they won’t have free agency cap space for the foreseeable future. Utah’s not going to be a free agency destination anyway. And then like, they’ve traded all their draft picks until, you know, they can trade their next one until 2026. So it’s like it’s just kind of the math becomes difficult, too. And, you know, I think they could be a really good team. And, you know, there’s kind of a a Portland route for them to making a Western Conference finals and and really kind of contending. But it’s it’s just tough because, you know, we haven’t seen maybe Donovan and Rudy kind of take that leap like that like a job Morant did, right? So anyway, I think there’s kind of a lot of stuff going on that maybe even overrides the personality conflicts and the drama that we hear so much about.


Jamel Johson: So you think you think they’re going to stay together like someone’s got to go? And I think Donovan’s the face of the team, you think they’re going to stay together?


Andy Larsen: I think so. They’re like three big, the three big faces of a team as Donovan Broody and Quinn, right? Quin Snyder. And I don’t think all three of them go. And I think the big question is, is it one, two or three change this offseason? You know, you know, there’s so much conversation about Quin Snyder’s contract and whether or not he wants to remain in Utah or whether or not he wants to go elsewhere. When I talked to him about it on the record a couple of weeks ago, he didn’t really deny those rumors. He said it was inappropriate to talk about other coaching positions, but he didn’t actually deny that right. So I thought that that was a little bit interesting. You know, and then I do think that there’s, you know, the Donovan, Donovan and Rudy are certainly not best friends, as Quinn said in that 19 minute rant. They occasionally sit at the same table sometimes.


Jason Concepcion: I love that. I love that so much. They they sit together at lunch, sometimes


Jamel Johson: when there’s no one seat.


Jason Concepcion: So it’s great. Great.


Andy Larsen: So, you know, I think I truly don’t know if it’s one two or three of those guys like that. What’s tough is that if you trade Donovan or Rudy, you’re probably getting worse, right? Right? Yeah. I think like theoretically, like a Donovan for Damian Lillard kind of thing could be fun if you want to go. Crazy with it, but that’s probably not me. It doesn’t make sense you’re trading Donovan to the Knicks for a package of picks and young players or whatever it is, right? Or you’re trading Rudy Gobert to the Hawks or the Mavs or whatever for a package of, you know, good role players and youth. But it’s not. It doesn’t make you better. And so it’s hard to figure out like, how do you kind of recalibrate or return the Jazz to being a real Championship contender in the next like five years if you trade to either one of those guys? It is. It does just kind of make sense to rebuild a little bit. But that being said, the Jazz have the All-Star Game next year. Owner Ryan Smith cares so much about making Utah look like a cool place and kind of throwing hosting a good party there, quite frankly, that I think he’ll want to have a good team next year, to some degree. So there’s like just a lot of factors going on in this decision of how many of, you know, get one, two or three of those guys that you move on from


Jason Concepcion: with new ownership. You always look at the coaching and think, you know, the people who are running the team always want their people there. On the other hand, Quin Snyder is an elite coach like Quin. Snyder is very, very good. There have been rumors linking him to the Lakers as there have been four. Nick Nurse one. How? How? I don’t know if relieved is the way is the right word, but there must have been like a level of schadenfreude, right? When, when, when the Lakers just like bungled the Frank Vogel firing in such public like fashion? And could you take us through some of the frictions with Quinn? Because I think maybe from the outside in for people who aren’t like paying attention to the jazz on a daily right, they must they might think, well, hold on quick. There’s a great coach. Why? Why would he go?


Zuri Irvin: Yeah. I mean, I honestly don’t think that that would be Quin Snyder. I don’t think it would be the jazz firing. Quin Snyder, I think, would be Quin Snyder moving on the other direction. And by the Marc Stein report says that they’ve tried to offer an extension to continue, and he hasn’t agreed to it yet. Right. So I think that’s kind of where that’s coming from. And what Quinn cares about, I think, is I think you kind of look at his assistant coaching history for one, and he’s like, he went to five different assistant coaching. He had five different assistant coaching jobs in six years just because he was kind of trying to move around and learn as much as he could from some of the brilliant minds of the game. Like what Quinn loves, just like the X’s and O’s intellectual like chess move curiosity of basketball more than anything else. This team is like really about that like, right? He’s solved the puzzle a little bit. He made the number one offense in the league, and it hasn’t been enough, right? Like what? What is the biggest problem now? It’s like his stars don’t get along and it’s it’s a lot of kind of infighting and that kind of stuff. And then I think he’s also kind of lost some organizational control here. When Ryan Smith hired Danny Ainge to be the CEO and even the alternate governor in the board to go in the Board of governors meeting. So, you know, all of a sudden he feels a little bit uneasy of like what the franchise is going to look like moving forward, who’s making the who’s calling the shots. And, you know, I think he’s kind of open to other possibilities out there is like, Hey, you know what? What makes more sense for me in my career moving forward?


Jamel Johson: When you talk to Quinn, was he wearing that Jodeci vest? What’s up with the vest?


Andy Larsen: He’s wearing.Yeah, he’s wearing those vests all the time, and you only started doing it this year, so I truly have no idea.


Jamel Johson: Is it weights in there? Is it inflatable?


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, I was


Zuri Irvin: like, I think it’s like one of those puffy jackets, but only vest form. But I I don’t know why he wears it so much.


Jason Concepcion: I tweeted and I believe one has like and I believe this. He looks like he just came out of a bank vault, you know, with and he’s carrying like duffel bags full of diamonds and


Jamel Johson: Deutschmarks


Jason Concepcion: Deutschmarks and he’s about to escape like through an air vent and then and then hijack a subway train and escape.


Jamel Johson: He looks like Leon S. Kennedy in Resident Evil 4.


Jason Concepcion: What were you gonna say Andy?


Andy Larsen: Quinn’s got some of the craziest style in the league. Like, I guess I’ll say I don’t hate it. Like, like, he’s wearing vans every game on the sidelines. He’s worn some like Jazz kind of orange, the red orange, yellow vans kind of colors. He’s got like a inordinate number of wristbands or like bracelets on at any given time. Like one time we asked him, like Quinn, why are you wearing eight wristbands? And he, like, clammed up like all of them mean something to him in some way. But we don’t know what. He’s a very, very private person. Yeah. Which, by the way, is like one of the reasons why I don’t think like the Lakers makes a ton of sense for him because he’d be coaching the luckiest organization and like obviously the highest profile coaching job there is. But anyway, Quinn is what is remarkable. Like, I actually like respect the hell out of him. I love the guy, but he’s he’s certainly a unique human being.


Jason Concepcion: Back to the game for a second. No Luka Doncic, no Tim Hardaway Jr. It’s you know, you’re the Mavericks. Creativity is going to come down to Spencer Dinwiddie, and that’s not going to be enough. What level of concern do the Jazz have about this series? You know, assuming that Luka doesn’t play for most of it, certainly I would expect that the Mavs absolutely have to get Game two like they have to have it for this to be any kind of series.


Andy Larsen: It you would think, and yet like, you know, I think Fluke, it does come back, and if he is playing, if he is able to be healthy, then you know, obviously so much of it changes. And he can really kind of attack the parts of the Jazzi defense that are really weak. But, you know, I think they’re at this point, not that concerned. You know, I think they feel like they can defend the Mavs, as they did in Game one in future games without Luka. You know, in the end that Spencer Dinwiddie and Jalen Brunson are not that much of a threat. And then you kind of look at the Mavs bench, quite frankly, and it’s just non-existent, right? So you’ve got Maxi Kleber, who’s was a good shooter at the beginning of the year, has shot 18 percent from three since the All-Star break. You’ve got Josh Green, second year player also can’t shoot and then you’ve got Davis Bertans right, who is


Jamel Johson: who is a bum. Let me take this for you. A bum. A rec league all-star.


Andy Larsen: And that was their eight man rotation in Game one. Now, I don’t know if you played Trey Birker like Boban or what? Sterling Brown, but like, they just don’t have a lot of answers. And so anyway, it’s it’s a I think you just look at the depth and the talent the Jazz have without Luka on the floor and the, you know the Mavs don’t have a lot.


Jason Concepcion: You know what my favorite little bit from the run up to the playoffs was when, you know, Luka had the calf strain and it was unclear what was going to happen. And every Mavs comment was, Oh, well, he’s in great spirits, OK, but how how is the how is the calf? But he’s in wonderful spirits. Don’t worry about that and he’ll play. We think he’ll play an incredible. His spirits are so high and Mavs fans were like on this, on this like conspiracy theory level where they’re like, Well, no, no. Listen, why would they let the Jazzi know that Luka is healthy as if the jazz, which is, oh, well, Luka is not going to play, guys, we’re not going to game plan for him. Let’s save time here, and let’s just not prepare for Luka at all, as if they would just be like, Oh, well, if Luka showed up, they just be like, Oh my God, what’s what are we going to do? That’s been one of my favorite. That’s not really a thing that you need to answer, but that was just one of my little favorite things that was happening around the league in the last couple of weeks.


Andy Larsen: Well, and that’s like a beat writer you’re trying to figure out like, Yeah, is this guy going to play? And so you read quotes from like Spencer Dinwiddie being like, I’m very optimistic Luka’s going to play in Game one. It’s like, why did you say that he didn’t even practice? You weren’t in the same room, but clearly it’s not close, right? Mean you watch the videos that he’s, you know, he’s he’s not running.


Jason Concepcion: Tim McMahon showed it showed a video of him from the training facility where it’s like and he’s on a exercise bike, going about as slow as you can possibly go. Exercise, bike ride. It’s like not going to happen, folks.


Jamel Johson: I don’t know as long as the Jordans keep coming out. I’m fine.


Jason Concepcion: I guess it’s not necessarily safe to well, actually, let me ask this because I’ve been denounced. So Rudy dominated this game like without scoring. And I think it much like the criticism of the Jazz. Do you feel like the like I’ve never seen as disrespected a. Legitimately, elite player, ever, as Rudy Gobert, I think like Rudy is clearly a great player, an unbelievable defender, he’s like a defense in a box, like you just unpack him and you have rim protection, you have everything you need for like a top 10 defense in the league. And yet? Nobody seems to fuck with him like at all, like on like, you know, his his costar doesn’t like him. Players around the league are often making not necessarily snide but indirectly critical comments of Gilbert. What is the deal with him?


Andy Larsen: It’s the last pick in every All-Star draft play. I you know, I don’t really know it. The funny thing is, like everyone who works at the Jazz loves him, like, yeah, he’s the guy that like. When the pandemic happened, he paid arena workers to make sure that they could feed their families for the next month. You know, like. And then like again, yeah, you talk to his teammates, their teammates and he’s like, Rudy Gay, for example, is like, you know, Rudy Gobert must be important. He’s making forty million a year. It’s like, it’s like, why are you throwing these shots anyway? I truly don’t know. I think some of it is like the European thing. I think some of it is like he doesn’t play the game of, you know, he is very like, honest in press conferences, which means that honestly, he ends up taking shots at his teammates a fair a bit after, you know, after games. I think some of it is that like, he is a super duper awkward player, right? Like, I terrific defensively. Is he like a lead is? I think he’s an elite athlete, but like just very awkward about how he goes about its business. And then like, there’s the fact that NBA players worship at the church or points like that is that is what is cool to NBA players is points. And Rudy’s not a skilled offensive player, you know, like kind of all the work that they put in and jump shots and, you know, layup finishing and everything else. That’s not Rudy’s game. You know, Rudy’s figured out this very unique way of impacting the game and things that they never practice, right? Lobs, screens, you know? Killing it at pick and roll defense, and you know, that’s it’s not that sexy, I think in the end and I think kind of the respect level goes down as a result.


Jamel Johson: I blame George Bush. Yeah, man once they started calling them freedom fries. Look, this goes back. This goes way back.


Andy Larsen: Did Tony Parker get this kind of hate?


Jamel Johson: A little bit. Steven Jackson hates Tony Parker. He did get it.


Jason Concepcion: He did get it a little bit. He did get it a little bit. What can I ask? What happened when Rudy Jack Rudy Gay? That was man, the way that signing was talked about like, Oh, this is this is, we’re going to unlock it right here. This is his skill set. What he can do, this is exactly what the jazz need. And then it just never arrived. Never appeared in any kind of form. What happened?


Andy Larsen: I think A. Expectations were too high, right, like if you talked to the San Antonio people, Rudy Gay was not like an amazing player last year and then, you know, yeah, he got old and had foot surgery in the offseason. So I think there is some injury comeback there. I think he is moving less well than last year. And then I think given that he doesn’t fit a lot of what the Jazz want from that spot, which is kind of keeping the ball moving, allowing kind of the rest of the offense to work. Rudy Gay is kind of a ball in hand guy. And so like he’s been felt kind of awkward all year long of like, Hey, I can’t get my kind of spots on the floor in terms of, you know, he’s used to the mid range jumper. He can knock down threes, sure, but it’s not like his preferred game. And then he’s kind of a defensive liability with the way that he’s moving at age thirty five. And it’s just like, yeah, once overturning Gomez might legitimately be a better fit, and that’s why we saw him in Game one. So I agreed. Like, I think it’s at the point where he’s now an overpay and the Jazz might have to, like, use a pick to get rid of the contract he’s getting. DNP cds in the playoffs and it has been just like a big yeah over commitment and a and a little bit of a underperformance, I think for sure.


Jason Concepcion: Finally, Andy. I’m going to ask you two things, one, your predictions for who is in the finals and then two, let’s say me and Jamal are in, we drive into Salt Lake. It’s a beautiful day and, you know, beautiful Saturday morning we want to get some brunch. What are the spots? Where do we find Andy Larsen tucking into a delicious brunch on a wonderful Salt Lake City weekend morning? Let’s start with the first question Who? Who’s in the finals?


Andy Larsen: I’m calling a Suns/ Bucks rematch. I think so. I I love there were times and I know that the game ended up being close between the bulls and Bucks. But there are times where I watch Giannis and I’m like, How does this guy not win every NBA Finals for the next eight years, right? Like. But even just in the first quarter, like, has that incredible euro step or, you know, and then hits a three on the next possession or throws it to himself off the backboard for dunks just like stuff we don’t see. And then the Suns are obviously and


Jason Concepcion: that was and that was also like classic game one Bucks worst, worst game of the playoffs. Like, that’s what that’s going to be.


Andy Larsen: Miss every three. Yeah, just yeah. So I’m betting on those two teams. As for brunch, my spot in Salt Lake City is called Hopkins. It’s Hopkins Brewing. I have a sweatshirt of theirs.


Jamel Johson: Oh OK. I wasn’t even sure you could drink beers out there. That’s what’s up. All right.


Andy Larsen: Listen, we have and I’ll have, you know, there’s beer, these sixth ranked craft brewery scene in America.


Jamel Johson: Okay?


Andy Larsen: Six. Yeah, there are five better than us but we’re sixth.


Jamel Johson: Baltimore eat your heart out. Yeah. Let’s go


Jason Concepcion: now. Last time I was in Salt Lake, it was and it’s been a minute. But the last time I was there and we went out to drinks, there was like this interesting system where you would pay to get into the place where sometimes you wouldn’t, but they give you a ticket and the ticket was like membership to.


Andy Larsen: When was the last time you were in Salt Lake?


Jason Concepcion: It was like ten years ago, it was like membership to the yeah, the bar as a like. And so you were member of this club for the night and that got you around some sort of zoning that allowed you.


Andy Larsen: That’s yeah, that. So that was absolutely a thing. Now I’m looking it up like I think that ended in like, seriously two thousand two thousand nine. So you ever been in Utah, at least 13 coming back, baby. And yeah, now we have normal bars like the weirdest bar rule at this point is like, you can’t get doubles. Oh, and the the on draft beer, for whatever reason, has to be five percent or below. You can get anything in a can and it can be whatever, but if it’s on draft at fifty five percent.


Jamel Johson: Oh, because drafts were too delicious, that makes sense.


Andy Larsen: That’s yep, yep. I mean, that’s where they get the kids, right? See the draft and you’re like,


Jamel Johson: kids don’t know shit about draft beer.


Jason Concepcion: No, they don’t know about it. He is Andy Larson. You can find him at the Salt Lake Tribune and at Hopkins Brewery on weekends, tucking into that brunch for the top ten rated. Craft beer scene in America. Salt Lake City, Utah.


Andy Larsen: Sixth.


Jamel Johson: Aye that’s top 10.


Jason Concepcion: That’s it for me and Jamel, that’s it for us, that’s it for Takeline. Follow and subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts wherever you get your podcasts. And don’t forget to subscribe to Takeline Show on YouTube for exclusive video clips from this episode, plus my digital series All Caps NBA, which airs every Friday during the NBA season. Check it out, folks. Goodbye. Takeline is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Ryan Wallerson and Zuri Irvin, our executive producers are myself and Sandy Girard engineering, editing and sound design by the Great Sarah Dubalaska and the folks at Chapter four in our theme music is produced by Brian Vasquez. Mia Kellman is on the Zoom for vibes, and the vibes are fantastic all the time.