– What do the NBA’s most improved defenses have in common (from Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated):
Read it here: http://www.si.com/nba/2014/11/18/nba-defenses-trends-rockets-bucks-pelicans-anthony-davis
– Whatever happened to the Celtics’ potential top-10 defense? (from Chris Forsberg, ESPN):
“It’s a tough balance because we’ve got some guys that are in great position, but are not playing quite assertive enough,” Stevens said. “And we have some guys that are not in as good of position, that are pretty assertive. I think at the end of the day is we chart every single play that every single person is in and we know exactly how many controllable errors you make. And we’ve got to get better at not making those controllable errors.”
Read it here: http://espn.go.com/boston/nba/story/_/id/11899010/boston-celtics-defense-early-season-disappointment
– Paul Pierce Not Sure He’d Be Drafted Today (from ESPN News Services):
“I think a lot of these young talented kids are just rated on their pure length and athleticism, but really no basketball IQ, really no footwork, really can’t shoot the ball,” Pierce said. “When they look at [a] guy and they say he has potential, he’s fast, he has long arms, he can jump. And then he gets out there and can’t throw a rock in the ocean, or he can’t run a play. Or his basketball IQ is low. I think those things sometimes get overrated. A lot of kids get drafted just on that.”
Read it here: http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11898962/paul-pierce-washington-wizards-says-not-sure-get-drafted-today-nba
– Spurs: Building the Machine (from Paul Garcia, projectspurs.com):
” Last season, the Spurs were compared to a highly functioning machine, as the team was able to use its depth in maximizing the talent of all the player’s on the roster, while earning the best record in the NBA, and then eventually using that depth to head into the playoffs and win the championship. The offense was known as “beautiful” with the multiple passes per possession, and the driving and kicking to open shooters on the outside, as the Spurs’ system was highly praised throughout the season.
With 82 games worth of data last season, I’ve pulled some specific statistics on both ends of the floor where the Spurs excelled at last season, in an attempt to identify what made the “machine” so efficient last season. With 10 games worth of data as of Tuesday, it’s now time, though extremely early, to look at how the team is doing compared to its version of itself last season.”
Read it here: http://projectspurs.com/2014-articles/building-the-machine-volume-1.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=building-the-machine-volume-1
– Memphis Grizzlies film breakdown: endline out of bounds play against Houston Rockets (from Andrew Ford, grizzlybearblues.com):
” The Grizzlies have been one of the best teams in the league at out of bounds plays under second-year head coach Dave Joerger. He dials up creative sets with frequency, and it helps to have a veteran squad like the Grizzlies to execute the plays to perfection.
Against the Houston Rockets, Joerger designed a beautiful EOB (Endline Out of Bounds, also same thing as baseline) play for Beno Udrih that caught the Rockets off guard and gifted Udrih an easy layup. Here’s the breakdown.”
Read and view it here: http://www.grizzlybearblues.com/2014/11/19/7244545/memphis-grizzlies-film-breakdown-endline-out-of-bounds-play-against
– Anthony Davis’ perseverance paid off in his journey from Chicago to New Orleans Hornets (from Jimmy Smith, NOLA.com):
Read it here: http://www.nola.com/hornets/index.ssf/2012/10/anthony_davis_rise_to_top_pick.html
– Brad Stevens tries to follow his advice to players — don’t overreact (from Julian Benbow, Boston Globe):
” Brad Stevens is trying to get his team pointed in the right direction.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens knew how much of a pain the first month of the schedule would be, but he searched for any way to make the glass look half-full.
If you were a rookie, he said, playing 11 playoff teams in your first 14 games would be the highlight of your basketball life.
Back when he was at Butler, Stevens said, he would intentionally craft a treacherous nonconference schedule that let his team know exactly how good it was by December. Whether they got a big win or took a crushing loss, the players couldn’t let their emotions swing either way.
Now that the Celtics are nine games in with a 3-6 record, Stevens is reminding himself of the mentality he took into the season.
“We talked about not overreacting in November a long time ago,” Stevens said. “And I find myself, every morning, overreacting.”
After six losses in the past eight games, it’s hard not to. The Celtics’ last two games came down to the last possession, and shoddy execution cost them.
They fell to the Suns in the late stages Monday night, and they had LeBron James and the Cavaliers down 19 points in the fourth quarter last Friday and let them off the hook.
And two nights before that they had a double-digit second-half lead over the Thunder and watched Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow wipe it out completely.
“One of the things I’m trying to keep in mind is that we played a lot of good basketball against a lot of good teams,” Stevens said. ”
Still, the tough losses make it hard to keep any perspective about the competition they’ve faced.
Read it here: http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/11/19/brad-stevens-tries-follow-his-advice-players-don-overreact-losses/8hesMFcIEbl7fWMcjMpb2J/story.html
– Phoenix Suns’ big 3 guards find growing pains (from Paul Coro, azcentral.com):
” It was clear the Suns were getting more talented and addressing a bench issue when they targeted Isaiah Thomas as their major free-agency acquisition. It was also clear it would not be easy for their three point guards, Thomas, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, to co-exist and the rest of the team to adjust.
“I didn’t know what the hell they were doing,” Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of his first impressions when the Suns got Thomas to agree to four-year, $27 million deal. “But it really works. He’s been phenomenal for them. Honestly, everybody in this room probably thought when they did it that it was Bledsoe insurance. And, yet, it really wasn’t.
It has shown it can work … half the time.”
Read it here: http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2014/11/17/phoenix-suns-isaiah-thomas-goran-dragic-eric-bledsoe-struggling-nba/19191241/
– Bombs away? Knicks’ D plan questionable (from Ian Begley, ESPNNewYork):
” Derek Fisher said earlier this week that he’d like the Knicks to prioritize paint defense and transition defense over defending the 3-point shot.
“We talk to our guys a lot about the fact that I think the 3-point shot is being analyzed so much as one of the most efficient ways to win,” Fisher said on Sunday. “… And so we’ve kind of, I think, gone in to this emergency state of being afraid of teams shooting 28-foot shots as though that was going to beat you.”
Fisher believes that opponents “won’t beat” the Knicks from beyond the arc.
“What they’ll do is that they’ll beat you getting to the rim, getting points in transition,” he said. “If we don’t have our defense in and compact they’re going to get to the foul line.”
But it’s fair to wonder if Fisher’s approach to defending the 3-point arc will hurt the Knicks in the long run.
Last season, some of the most successful teams in the league defended the perimeter well.
Seven of the teams that ranked in the top 10 in opponent 3-point field goal percentage finished in the top six in their conference.
Conversely, only two of the teams that finished in the bottom 10 in opponent 3-point field goal percentage made the playoffs. The Knicks were among the eight teams in that group to miss the playoffs. Will they meet the same fate this season thanks to their leaky perimeter defense?”
Read it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/59872/bombs-away-knicks-d-plan-questionable
– Raptors trying to ease the workload of star guards Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan (from Eric Koreen, National Post):
” So far, the Raptors have succeeded in easing the burden on Lowry and DeRozan. Through 10 games, Lowry is playing a smidge more than 33 minutes compared to 36 last year, while DeRozan is at 34 instead of 38. The math is simple enough to figure out: Following the Rudy Gay trade, the Raptors were particularly thin on the wing last year, with the unreliable John Salmons as the primary backup to both DeRozan and Terrence Ross. That led to Casey playing DeRozan more often and also using two-point guard lineups frequently, which led to increased time for Lowry.
Lou Williams and James Johnson have effectively replaced the exiled Salmons. Johnson’s versatility has given Casey more options on the wing, while Williams has played next to backup point guard Greivis Vasquez more than Lowry has. Johnson has a severely sprained ankle, and there is no timetable for his return. That will complicate Casey’s task, surely.”
Read it here: http://sports.nationalpost.com/2014/11/18/toronto-raptors-trying-to-ease-the-workload-of-star-guards-kyle-lowry-demar-derozan/
– Steve Kerr has Golden State Warriors off to best start in 39 years (from Michael Lee, Washington Post):
Read it here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2014/11/19/the-big-shot-steve-kerr-has-golden-state-warriors-off-to-best-start-in-39-years/
– Charlotte Hornets Falling Short of Amplified Expectations in Early Stages (from Josh Martin, Bleacher Report):
Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2271832-charlotte-hornets-falling-short-of-amplified-expectations-in-early-stages
– Are The Problems In Denver Brian Shaw’s Fault? (from Michael Pina, Bball Breakdown):
Read and view it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2014/11/18/are-the-problems-in-denver-brian-shaws-fault/
– San Antonio’s path to its fifth championship began long before last season started ( from J.A. Adande, ESPN):
” If we only praise the Spurs for winning in 2014 and not for the way they played in defeat in 2013 then we’re right back where we started, making the same mistake of obsession over winning while writing off the losers and failing to acknowledge their accomplishments. Game 7 was their real triumph. That’s when they showed their character in adversity. It’s what convinced Popovich that they could make a run at it the next season.
“You guys have got it,” Popovich told his team. “It’s there. You’ve got the will, you’ve got the determination, you’ve got the fiber to do this again. And Game 7 proved it. It didn’t happen for us, but is everything going to go your way in life? You think you’re on the Earth and everything you want to happen to you is going to happen to you positively? The measure of who we are is how we react to something that doesn’t go our way.”
Listen to Popovich explain his approach to last season that got his players to take the final step, and you’ll realize it has little to do with basketball. It’s about self-determination and resolve.
“What we didn’t want to do is have them have the notion that the basketball gods got us,” Popovich said. “‘Ah, jeez, that one bounce here or we missed a free throw or we didn’t get that offensive rebound. It’s just the way it was supposed to be.’ Well, no, it’s got nothing to do with the basketball gods. You’re in charge of yourself. There are always things you can do better.
“It’s a game of mistakes. That’s why people score, because you make mistakes. So let’s figure out what we could have done, and that makes us a better team. We went through every single play of Game 6 and Game 7. We made them sit through it. We didn’t yell and scream at ’em or berate ’em or anything. We were very businesslike. ‘Here’s where we didn’t give help. Here’s where we didn’t rebound or put five men on the board.’ So we understand it’s on us. And now you can move forward. It’s on us to see what we can do to get back into that same position. Can we or can’t we?
“We may, we may not. I have no clue. But we can put out the effort both mentally and physically to have the best shot to get there. And that’s what guided us the whole year, that philosophy.”
Read it here: http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11901128/spurs-2014-title-run-started-game-7-2013-finals
– Clippers’ Jamal Crawford Conundrum (from Michael Pina, Sports on Earth):
” This is essentially a “can’t live with him, can’t live without him” impasse. Along with permeable defense, Crawford’s shot selection can be frustrating. He’s as good as anyone at hitting tough shots with a hand in his face, but when those attempts come early in the shot clock and don’t go in, it disrupts Los Angeles’ flow. That’s just who he is, though. With Crawford, you always need to take the good with the bad.
Because of how their roster is constructed (two virtuous All-Stars and a supporting cast entirely dependent on their awesomeness) the Clippers need Crawford to shore up their bench unit, space the floor and open things up for others. Without him, Paul’s burden weighs heavier than a cement truck. But at the same time, Crawford’s defensive weaknesses are problematic. He can hide often enough in the regular season, but good teams will take advantage in the playoffs. Very few matchups are ideal.
Trading Crawford has the potential to disrobe Los Angeles’ offense, reducing it to a thin, predictable attack when they desperately need a multi-pronged blitz. But at the same time, winning a championship without upgrading the perimeter defense feels impossible. How do they do that and play Crawford 30 minutes a night? It’s one tough conundrum, and — short of Douglas-Roberts, Barnes or Bullock transforming into trustworthy ball-stoppers with above-average three-point range — Rivers must figure it out before the trade deadline.
There is no obvious answer, but the Clippers’ season may depend on it.”
Read and view it here: http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/101825448/jamal-crawford-los-angeles-clippers-sixth-man-best-scoring-threat
– Watch out Eastern Conference, the Young Milwaukee Bucks are Here (from Jacob Rosen, Nylon Calculus):
” The Bucks appear to be for real.
Let’s look at four of the top reasons why this might be happening:”
Read it here: http://nyloncalculus.com/2014/11/19/young-milwaukee-bucks/
– Top 5 HORNS Sets of the Week Episode 3 (from Coach Nick, BBall Breakdown):
View it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2014/11/18/top-5-horns-sets-of-the-week-episode-3/
More Player Updates
– Alec Burks: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865615900/Jazz-guard-Alec-Burks-takes-coachs-challenge-and-comes-up-with-14-rebounds.html
– Brandan Wright: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4703736/how-is-brandan-wright-so-efficient
– Tristan Thompson: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2272211-tristan-thompson-proving-crucial-to-cleveland-cavaliers-yet-again
– Markieff Morris/ TJ Warren: http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2014/11/18/suns-markieff-morris-aims-tap-talent/19256127/
– Courtney Lee: http://www.grizzlybearblues.com/2014/11/19/7243635/welcome-home-courtney-lee
– Nerlens Noel: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/blogs/Brown-on-Noel-I-got-to-help-him.html
– Chandler Parsons: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2268420-chandler-parsons-living-up-to-huge-contract-and-expectations-sometimes