Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

– THE GRIZZLIES’ TIME IS NOW  (from Paul Flannery, SBNation):

”  Marc Gasol said he only had a few minutes, which was fine because he needed less than two to say everything that needed to be said about the 2014-15 Memphis Grizzlies, a team in the midst of both the finest season in franchise history and a late-season malaise that hints at all of their worst nightmares.

“We understand,” Gasol said. “We know. We’ve been together for a while now and the window is right now. We’re in our prime. Our maturity level and our talent are both balanced. We’re at a point where we have to do it. Of course, nothing guarantees you making it all the way. Work ethic and consistency, we believe, that gives you a lot of chances more than anything else.””

Read it here:  http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/3/15/8214505/grizzlies-marc-gasol-mike-conley-nba-playoffs-sunday-shootaround

 

 

–   As Pistons’ losing streak balloons, ‘it feels that much harder to win the next one’ (from David Mayo,  mlive.com):

Read it here: http://www.mlive.com/pistons/index.ssf/2015/03/as_detroit_pistons_losing_stre.html

 

 

 

– One-on-one with Brad Stevens: Focus on the little things (from Abby Chin,  CSNNE.com):

Watch it here:  http://www.csnne.com/blog/celtics-talk/one-one-brad-stevens-focus-little-things

 

 

Stevens Coaching Translates to NBA (from Mark Monteith,  Pacers.com):

” For those who thought the Boy Wonder coach who led plucky little Butler to consecutive NCAA championship game appearances would be swallowed whole by the villainous, voracious NBA, Stevens is reminding everyone expert coaching and people skills translate to any level. He’s enjoying himself, his players enjoy him, and the Boston fans are enjoying the Celtics’ playoff push…”

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/stevens-coaching-translates-nba-too

 

 

 

Nikola Vicevic Q &A  (from Zach Buckley,  Bleacher Report):

Read it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2396980-meet-nikola-vucevic-the-eastern-conferences-next-great-behemoth

 

 

–  Thunder video analysis: Russell Westbrook post pick and roll passing vs Raptors is perfect  (from  J.A. Sherman and Kevin Yeung, welcometoloudcity.com):

Read and view it here:  http://www.welcometoloudcity.com/2015/3/13/8193757/thunder-video-analysis-russell-westbrook-post-pick-roll

 

 

How James Harden Creates Three-Pointers (from Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland.com):

” The character of his 3 assists ranges from ho-hum to mind-bending. As I wrote a few months ago, Harden is the perfect player for the Rockets, whose obsession with 3s is well-documented. He is the perfect person to run their offense, and that compatibility is best illustrated with a few recent 3-point assists he made to Trevor Ariza.”

Read and view it here:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/james-hardens-holy-mountain-how-the-rocket-man-creates-3-pointers/

 

 

 

–  Borrego well-regarded in Orlando, despite interim tag  (from Shaun Powell,  NBA.com):

”  The people inside the Orlando Magic organization, they genuinely like him. How could they not? James Borrego is utterly embraceable. He’s just “JB” to everyone. Friendly, conversational, approachable and free of stuffiness, he still has the unassuming aura of an assistant coach, even though he isn’t. Not really.

He is valued by the team. That much is clear when you raise his name with the players and others within the building. And he comes from the very respectable San Antonio Spurs’ pipeline, which has gushed oil lately. But honestly, Borrego doesn’t quite know where he stands, or rather, where he sits, on the Magic bench. That’s the plight of the NBA interim coach, someone who lives on the edge of a branch, praying a squirrel doesn’t hop aboard. He does occupy the coach’s chair, yet he lacks a head coach’s security — as much as a head coach can be secure.”

Read it here:   http://www.nba.com/2015/news/features/shaun_powell/03/14/orlando-magic-coach-james-borrego-capitalizes-on-opportunity/

 

 

– The Utah Jazz Are the Rising Stars of the NBA  (from Mika Honkasalo,  Vantage Sports):

Read and view it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VQK7-h4AACQAnCFy/the-utah-jazz-are-the-rising-stars-of-the-nba

 

 

– Pacers’ Recent Surge Coincides with Lineup Changes  (from Aaron Fischman, Vantage Sports):

Read and view it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VQMa7B4AACQAnM6R/pacers-recent-surge-coincides-with-lineup-changes

 

 

Pau Gasol  Q & A (from Ronald Tillery):

Read it here:  http://www.commercialappeal.com/sports/grizzlies/griz-morning-after-gasol-opens-up-about-mood

 

 

–  What’s Gotten Into The Denver Nuggets Since Firing Brian Shaw? (from Brian Toporek, BBall Breakdown):

Read and view it here:  http://bballbreakdown.com/2015/03/13/whats-gotten-into-the-denver-nuggets-since-firing-brian-shaw/

 

 

 

–  In Steph Curry, Steve Kerr has right (3-)point man  (from Steve Bulpett, Boston herald):

Read it here:  http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics_nba/boston_celtics/2015/03/in_steph_curry_steve_kerr_has_right_3_point_man

 

Addiitional player notes, updates, profiles:  

 

Kyle Korverhttp://www.ajc.com/news/sports/basketball/korver-back-to-hot-hand-after-brief-respite/nkW6z/

 

Andre Miller:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wizards-insider/wp/2015/03/15/andre-miller-surprised-wizards-traded-him-to-kings/   and   http://www.sacbee.com/sports/nba/sacramento-kings/kings-blog/article14477267.html

 

Russell Westbrook:  http://www.nba.com/2015/news/03/14/westbrook-carrying-thunder.ap/

 

DeMarcus Cousins:  http://cowbellkingdom.com/sunday-musings-will-cousins-stay-or-go/

 

Gerald Green:  http://valleyofthesuns.com/2015/03/15/phoenix-suns-appreciating-gerald-green/

 

Reggie Jackson:  http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/2015/03/14/losing-streak-pistons-jazz/24795109/

 

Renardo Sidney:  http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/03/14/renardo-sidney-looking-for-one-last-chance/jt5ROElB1q4oPqeafhzO2M/story.html

 

Derrick Favors:  http://saltcityhoops.com/derrick-favors-manning-his-post-plus-player-grades-for-pistons-jazz-31415/

 

T.J. Warren:  http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/2015/3/14/8216745/t-j-warrens-cutting-ability-a-refreshing-addition-to-the-suns-offense

 

–  Lou Amundson:  http://nypost.com/2015/03/14/the-fleeting-12-team-life-of-nbas-and-knicks-most-interesting-ponytail/

 

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist:  http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/nba/charlotte-hornets/article14415113.html

 

Brandan Wright:  http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2015/03/14/brandan-wright-continues-career-comeback-with-phoenix-suns/24790393/

 

Justin Hamilton:  http://www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/296339011.html

 

Bradley Beal: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/wizards/wizards-need-brad-beal-to-take-next-step/2015/03/12/561fa6de-c92d-11e4-bea5-b893e7ac3fb3_story.html

 

Tyler Ennis:  http://www.jsonline.com/sports/bucks/tyler-ennis-shows-his-potential-for-bucks-when-he-gets-his-chance-b99461585z1-296293451.html

 

Khris Middleton:  http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/12474812/nba-khris-middleton-quietly-making-impact

 

Paul George:  http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/3/14/8215489/paul-george-return-pacers

 

Nik Stauskas:  http://hoopshabit.com/2015/03/15/sacramento-kings-need-patient-nik-stauskas/

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

Pat Riley:   NBA’s Ultimate Lifer Fights on in Post-LeBron Era  (from Ethan Skolnick, Bleacher Report):

”  These may seem to some like silly questions to ask someone like this, someone sitting in a spacious office that speaks to the spoils of victory, from the spectacular view of Biscayne Bay to a half-century’s worth of hard-earned artifacts adorning the bookcases.

Yet, in light of the Miami Heat’s recent losses to the roster and on the court, the inquiries seemed apropos.

Any shot that Pat Riley, team president and patriarch, has lost a little faith?

That the past nine months have shaken him?

“No,” Riley said, during an hour-long interview with Bleacher Report, while nearing a 70th birthday he’d rather nobody notice, even with the book Younger Next Year prominently displayed behind him. “Just disappointed. Disappointed for Erik [Spoelstra] and for Micky [Arison] and for our fans. Really disappointed.””

Read it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2392668-the-exclusive-pat-riley-qa-nbas-ultimate-lifer-fights-on-in-post-lebron-era

 

 

–  How Goran Dragic Is Fitting in with the Miami Heat  (from Dylan Murphy, Bleacher Report):

Read and view it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2393237-breaking-down-how-goran-dragic-is-fitting-in-with-the-miami-heat

 

 

 

Brad  Stevens scribbling Celtics to victories (from Chris Forsberg, ESPN):

” The Boston Celtics were down two with less than a minute to play Wednesday when coach Brad Stevens calmly jotted down a play on his trusty whiteboard. The play was designed to get the ball into Kelly Olynyk’s hands but, before breaking the huddle, Stevens told Evan Turner to look for Marcus Smart curling to the hoop for a potential early-action lob.

In the game’s most pivotal moment, Turner confidently threw an alley-oop lob to a 6-foot-4 rookie who had a single field goal up to that point. Smart caught the ball with the Memphis Grizzlies’ Courtney Lee scrambling to catch up, drew contact and then muscled home the bucket off the glass as TD Garden exploded.

Just another late-game gem from Stevens.

There has been no greater transformation for this Celtics team this season than its sudden ability to convert in clutch situations. Much of that can be traced to Stevens tasking his charges with simple but effective play-calling that doesn’t overwhelm his players and strives to put them in position to succeed.”

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/celtics/post/_/id/4718348/stevens-scribbling-cs-to-victories

 

 

 

–  Master of the Mid-range shot: Chris Paul’s Deadly Elbow Jumper  (from Kirk Goldsberry,  Grantland.com):

Read and view it here:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/monster-of-the-midrange-dont-sleep-on-chris-pauls-deadly-elbow-jumper/

 

 

 

Darren Collison Q & A  (from Blake Ellington, sactownroyalty.com):

Read it here:  http://www.sactownroyalty.com/2015/3/12/8198507/darren-collison-rehab-injury

 

 

 

–  The good and bad news about the Cavaliers’ improved defense  (from Matt Moore,  cbssports.com):

”  While everyone was busy last summer standing agape at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ conceptual offensive firepower, at the idea of those side pick and rolls with LeBron James and Kevin Love (that we still never see, by the way) with Kyrie Irving spacing the other side and Mike Miller up top, there were concerns hidden away about the defense.

The Cavaliers entered the year without a true rim protector, needing LeBron’s individual athletic and skill superiority combined with Anderson Varejao’s savvy and some veteran high basketball IQ to compensate for what was an alarming lack of perimeter and interior defenders. And for those first three months, both before and after Anderson Varejao’s season ending injury, the Cavaliers were a mess defensively.

They were lost, they were sluggish. James looked a step slow behind the men he was supposed to be chasing, Love looked completely overwhelmed and was constantly victimized, Tristan Thompson’s tremendous rebounding and effort could not compensate for constant schematic lapses.

So the Cavs took the most direct route from A to B. They went the easy (and sensible) route. They got better players. The acquisition of Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Timofey Mozgov changed everything for the Cavaliers. It gave them superior defenders in isolation situations on the wing and in post up situations down low. And it provided the kind of help defense to substantially help their pick and roll defense.

In short: the Cavs got better players, and got a lot better at defense. Before the All-Star Break, the cavs gave up 105.1 points per 100 possessions. Since the All-Star Break, that number is down to 98.0 . That’s a jump from 22nd in the league to seventh. It’s a testament to David Blatt for implementing new pieces and for the players (particularly LeBron) for stepping up to get things under control.

The Cavs are a better defensive team.

But there are still lapses, and not “well, every team has weak points” lapses. They have “they better figure this out in the next six weeks or they are going to be in trouble,” lapses.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/25103654/the-good-and-bad-news-about-the-cavaliers-improved-defense

 

 

–  SPURS WILL MAKE YOU PUT THE BALL ON THE FLOOR  (from John Schuhmann,  NBA.com):

” One reason the Spurs are so good defensively is their ability to limit their opponent’s catch-and-shoot jumpers. They allow just 21.2 per game, the fewest in the league.

Effective field goal percentage drops significantly when you can make your opponent put the ball on the floor, mostly because your pushing him inside the 3-point line. But catch-and-shoot jumpers are also better shots (for the offense) from a pure make-or-miss perspective.

The Spurs limit their opponent’s catch-and-shoot opportunities in a few different ways…

  1. They pressure the ball, making it tougher to make a direct pass to an open shooter.
  2. Their bigs hang back on pick-and-rolls, so that their teammates don’t have to help much on the roll man and can stay at home on the shooters.
  3. They close out aggressively, but at an angle to keep the ball away from the middle of the floor, where more passing lanes are available.
  4. If there is any help on pick-and-rolls, it doesn’t come out of the strong-side corner.”

Read and view it here:  http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2015/03/12/one-stat-one-play-spurs-will-make-you-put-the-ball-on-the-floor/

 

 

 

–  The Case for Each Most Improved Player Candidate (from Alex Kennedy, Basketball Insiders):

Read it here:  http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-pm-the-case-for-most-improved-player-candidates/

 

 

 

–  The Nuggets look like a completely different team since firing Brian Shaw  (from jesus Gomez, sbnation.com):

Read it here:   http://www.sbnation.com/2015/3/12/8199827/nuggets-brian-shaw-fired-melvin-hunt

 

 

 

 

– NBA stars jump through hoops to perfect shot with specialist Bob Thate  (from Chris Erskine, LA Times):

Read it here:  http://www.centredaily.com/2015/03/12/4646461_chris-erskine-nba-stars-jump-through.html?&rh=1

 

 

 

–  A chat with the Nuggets Strength and Conditioning Coach (from Mike Olson, denverstiffs.com):

Read it here:  http://www.denverstiffs.com/2015/3/12/8187397/blessed-like-hess-a-chat-with-the-nuggets-strength-and-conditioning

 

 

 

–  The problem with the Tellem’s draft and D-League overhaul proposal  (from Matt Mooe, cbssports.com):

Read it here: http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/25102954/the-problem-with-the-tellems-draft-and-d-league-overhaul-proposal

 

 

Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:

 

Nerlens Noel:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/nerlens-noel-the-other-rookie-of-the-year/

 

Andrew Bogut:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2393562-its-time-to-give-andrew-bogut-some-credit

 

Chris Paul:  http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/clippers/post/_/id/7554/paul-has-own-mvp-showing-vs-westbrook

 

Ben McLemore:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2393287-sacramento-kings-still-searching-for-the-real-ben-mclemore

 

Rodney Hood:  http://www.nba.com/2015/news/03/11/jazz-hood/index.html

 

Kelly Olynyk:  http://www.csnne.com/blog/celtics-talk/olynyk-finding-his-game-shooting-ball-more

 

Isaiah Thomas/Jae Crowder/Jonas Jerebko/Gigi Datome:  http://www.celticshub.com/2015/03/12/isaiah-thomas-jae-crowder-boston-celtics-new-players-progress-report/

 

Kelly Olynyk/Jae Crowder:  http://www.masslive.com/celtics/index.ssf/2015/03/boston_celtics_notes_jae_crowd_2.html

 

Danny Green:  http://www.poundingtherock.com/2015/3/11/8194075/danny-green-free-agent-career-year-synergy-sports

 

Terrence Jones:  http://www.oregonlive.com/nba/index.ssf/2015/03/terrence_jones_playing_well_in.html

 

John Wall:   http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wizards-insider/wp/2015/03/12/a-rejuvenated-john-wall-makes-a-significant-difference-for-wizards/

 

Alexis Ajinca:  http://www.nba.com/pelicans/news/pelicans-center-alexis-ajinca-makes-dramatic-improvement-now-thriving-during-second-nba-stint

 

Sim Bhullar:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2383520-will-sim-bhullar-become-the-next-big-thing-from-the-nba-d-league

 

Jeff Green:  http://www.grizzlybearblues.com/2015/3/12/8198647/grizzlies-dispatch-from-boston-maximizing-the-jeff-green-effect

 

Iman Shumpert:  http://www.news-herald.com/sports/20150311/cleveland-cavaliers-iman-shumpert-making-his-mark-on-defense

 

Dwight Powell:  http://www.mavs.com/how-dwight-powell-is-making-a-name-for-himself/

 

Derrick Williams:  http://aroyalpain.com/2015/03/12/george-karl-has-momentarily-fixed-derrick-williams/

 

Isaiah Canaan:  http://isportsweb.com/2015/03/12/canaan-ball-isaiah-makes-splash-for-philadelphia-76ers/

 

Seth Curry:  http://bballbreakdown.com/2015/03/11/can-seth-curry-succeed-in-the-nba/

 

James Harden/Enes Kanter:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VPzheykAACgAnSUK/pivot-point-19-death-taxes-and-harden-drawing-fouls-kanter-is-playing-defense

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

 

–  Jazz offense under Quin Snyder is making dynamic changes (from allthatamar, slcdunk.com):

” Quin Snyder has changed what the Jazz do on offense, but what exactly are the changes?”

Read it here:  http://www.slcdunk.com/research-statistics-analytics/2015/1/20/7862683/utah-jazz-quin-snyder-jerry-sloan-gordon-hayward-john-stockton-karl-malone-synergy-sports

 

–  Kawhi Leonard and the Most Unique Role in the NBA (from Drew James, airalamo.com):

”  Leonard is such a rare breed; a high IQ basketball player with supreme athleticism and elite defensive ability that also has a respectable arsenal of offensive moves. While Duncan may be the easiest to pin as the “best Spur” so far this year, Leonard is the most irreplaceable.

What makes him so valuable is that he mostly functions as apiece of the offensive system around him but does it exceptionally well. He isn’t as prone to the ups and downs as a typical high scoring star player, the defensive intensity is a valuable presence every night.

Leonard’s athleticism dominates on the defensive end, and his hustle energizes the entire team. He creates fast break opportunities and momentum swinging plays that nobody else on the Spurs can recreate in his absence, and it may be exactly what the struggling Silver and Black need to get back on track.”

Read it here:  http://airalamo.com/2015/01/20/kawhi-leonard-unique-role-nba/

 

–  Warriors Are Redefining Defense With Position-Less Approach (from Alex Torres, warriorsworld.net):

” The solution: a defense that is essentially position-less on the wings -specifically, shooting guard through power forward (yes, power forwards are increasingly becoming wings in this new-age NBA). How position-less the Warriors get depends on the lineup and is limited to SG through PF because contrary to Mark Jackson’s anti (Bogut) rim protection beliefs, a lane fortifying center is imperative for a top flight defense, and point guards simply can’t guard power forwards. But for large swaths of games the league’s best defensive team is defying NBA conventions in its flexibility.

Thanks to their mafia of 6 wing defenders, the Warriors are precisely calibrated for this. Led by Draymond Jamal Green, the group has a minimum height of 6’6”, an average wingspan of 6’11.25”, and demonstrate that viewing defense within the prism of positions is an outdated approach. The rest of the position-less defenders include, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and new member Justin Holiday. Even yesterday the Warriors signed James Michael McAdoo, an athletic 6’9” forward with a 7’2” wingspan. On a nightly basis these wings are proving that the perfect counter to motion offense is interchangeable defenders capable of switching whenever.”

Read it here:  http://www.warriorsworld.net/2015/01/20/warriors-are-redefining-defense-with-position-less-approach/

 

–  Suns wear down opponents, generate turnovers (from Paul Coro, azcentral.com):

“What we think is that, because we have a deep bench and we push the ball, that we get teams tired and then, all of a sudden, they have those mental mistakes,” Suns coach

Jeff Hornacek said. “That’s what we’re hoping for late in games, that teams are a little winded. That’s what we want to continue to push.”

The Lakers, indeed, just fumbled away many of their turnovers as they got caught up in a Suns style they could not handle. But the Suns defense also caused many of the turnovers.

Eric Bledsoe, the team’s steals leader, has the most impactful steals because he turns them into points quickly.

“I just go off the flow of the game,” Bledsoe said. “I try to read and try not to gamble too much. I pick my spots.”

Read it here:   http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2015/01/20/phoenix-suns-jeff-hornacek-defense-turnovers-nba/22071711/

 

How Korver Does It (from Jeff Siegel, hawkshoop.com):

“Kyle Korver turns 34 in March, but is having his best season and perhaps one of the greatest shooting seasons in NBA history. Korver has always been a lethal shooter; he shot 53% on threes in 2009-10 in Utah and is a career 43% 3-point shooter, but this is his first season shooting better than 50% overall from the field and he is averaging 2.9 assists per game, matching his career high from a year ago. Coach Budenholzer and the Atlanta coaching staff are relying more and more on Korver to make decisions within the offense and it’s paying off.

Nobody has a chance at the first 50-50-90 season in NBA history without a lot of help from the rest of the team. Running Korver off multiple screens is one of Atlanta’s favorite ways to find him open shots.”

Read and view it here: http://hawkshoop.com/the-korver-conundrum/

More on Korver’s shooting here:  http://atlantahawks.blog.ajc.com/2015/01/21/starting-five-korvers-3-point-layup-just-fine-with-hawks/

 

Stop Calling Mike Conley Jr. Underrated (from Jonathan Abrams, Grantland.com):

” The Memphis Grizzlies point guard is ready to shake off the label he’s carried for much of his NBA career

Today, it’s nearly impossible to imagine the Grizzlies’ success without Conley. Hollins has moved on (he now stalks the sideline for the Brooklyn Nets), but the “underrated” label that has long been attached to Conley is outdated and no longer applicable. He is one of the league’s best orchestrators for one of the league’s best teams, and he serves as the guiding, steadying influence on an emotional roster. “When you look at Mike Conley, he’s just as important to the success of the Memphis Grizzlies as Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol,” said Johnny Davis, a Memphis assistant coach when Conley entered the league. “If he goes out, you’re talking about a different team. He has evolved into one of the better point guards in the NBA.”

Read it here:  http://grantland.com/features/mike-conley-jr-memphis-grizzlies-nba-zach-randolph-greg-oden-kyle-lowry-tony-allen-marc-gasol/

 

Cavaliers change scheme in effort to fix defense (from Jason Lloyd, ohio.com):

‘ Coach David Blatt said Tuesday he looks at three statistics to measure defense: rebounding rate (the Cavs rank 13th), turnovers forced (the Cavs rank 22nd) and defensive field-goal percentage. How many times did the other team shoot the ball and how many of those went in? It’s a simple stat, it has worked for years and most head coaches still rely on it. And it’s important enough that the Cavs have that stat board hanging in their locker room every season.

The Cavs enter Wednesday’s game against the Utah Jazz 29th in defensive field-goal percentage, a sharp plunge from 12th last season. That’s part of the reason they are changing up their defensive coverages halfway through the season.”

Read it here:  http://www.ohio.com/sports/cavs/cavaliers-change-scheme-in-effort-to-fix-defense-lebron-james-misses-practice-with-flu-like-symptoms-1.560096

 

 

Nuggets Looking for Direction at Franchise Crossroads (from Zach Buckley, Bleacher Report):

Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2334755-denver-nuggets-looking-for-direction-while-at-franchise-crossroads

 

13 Observations From the D-League Showcase (from Zach Lowe, Grantland.com):

” 13. There was, of course, lots of talk about the Hawks.

The discussions especially are about whether they provide any team-building lessons for the rest of the league. The Hawks have reaffirmed the importance of ball movement, unselfishness, and shooting in a league where zone defense is legal and handchecking isn’t. But we already knew that stuff.

It has long been said that free agency below the star level is an inefficient market — that teams end up overpaying for players on the wrong side of the aging curve. There is a lot of evidence that is true. But some executives see the Hawks as proof that there are smart deals to be had in sub-star free agency if you know what players fit your culture.

Perhaps. Atlanta snagged Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Mike Scott, Pero Antic, and other free agents on what now look like bargain deals. But they also drafted Al Horford at no. 3 and chased Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James in free agency — or at least positioned themselves in hopes of doing so — at various times over the last three years. Coming away without a superstar and building this particular team was not Plan A. Nailing free agency below the superstar stratosphere requires its own brand of luck — good timing amid chaos, the interest or noninterest of rival teams, the order in which other dominoes fall, and the gamble of injury- and character-related risks. You can only plan so much. Millsap’s two-year, $19 million deal seemed wacky when he signed it, and it seems even wackier now.

Regardless: Atlanta is the toast of the league right now. What a story.”

Read Zach’s 12 other observations here:   http://grantland.com/the-triangle/13-observations-from-the-d-league-showcase/

 

3 Reasons the Detroit Pistons Are on Fire (from Jakub Rudnik, Bleacher Report):

” In what appears to be the ultimate example of “addition by subtraction,” the Detroit Pistons have been one of the NBA’s best teams since waiving Josh Smith.

They parted ways with the mercurial forward on December 22, then promptly won seven straight games and 11 of 14 overall. One can simply draw a line from point A to point B and conclude that releasing Smith is the reason for their recent success.

It is not that simple.

Sure, Detroit’s chemistry appears to be through the roof since the move, and replacing Smith with other players has changed many on-court dynamics.

But there is more than one reason for the turnaround.”

Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2337094-3-reasons-the-detroit-pistons-are-on-fire-in-the-post-josh-smith-era

Is Quincy Miller Ready To Contribute To The Sacramento Kings? (from Joshua Riddell, BBall Breakdown):

” Ranked as the #5 RSCI recruit in 2011, Quincy Miller spent two seasons with the Denver Nuggets after being selected in the second round out of Baylor, but making little impact on the team. After being released by the Nuggets prior to the start of this season, Miller has since found himself as one of the top options on the Sacramento Kings’ new project, their D-League affiliate Reno Bighorns. There, he became one of the most productive players in the D-League, ranking as the current league leader in points per game, which in turn led to a signing a ten day contract with the Kings this week.

The D-League is designed for player development, hence the name. But has Miller improved enough to become an impact player for the Kings?”

Read and view it here:  http://bballbreakdown.com/2015/01/19/is-quincy-miller-ready-to-contribute-to-the-sacramento-kings/

 

For Doc Rivers, The Devil Is In The Details (from Seth Partnow, BBball Breakdown):

” As the NBA becomes increasingly complex both on and off the floor, the level of detail coaches and front offices have to mind grows exponentially.

In games, sets become more complex with rapidly branching options to exploit tendency and confound scouting of a team’s own habits. All the while, increases in analytic rigor give a new wealth of data to use or misuse as the case may be in game planning. In the executive suite, the details of the voluminous Collective Bargaining Agreement, the impending negotiations for a new one as well as the soon to be upon us massive influx of new TV money make simple dollars and cents planning difficult, without adding in the pressures of demanding ownership, cranky agents and studying up on next year’s draft class. Basically, asking just one person to do the entire job of a head coach or general manager is requiring a worker of minor miracles.

Why, then, should we expect any one individual to handle both jobs competently?

(I)f further argument against the wisdom of the dual coach/GM set up in today’s NBA is needed, the most succesful recent holder of such power is San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich. This sounds like an endorsement, but really isn’t; Popovich realized both jobs were too big for any one individual to do, and ceded much of his personnel control to R.C. Buford starting in 2004. Usually, in the copycat world of the NBA, if it’s good enough for the Spurs, it’s good enough for everyone else. This should be no exception.”

Read it here:  http://bballbreakdown.com/2015/01/17/for-doc-rivers-the-devil-is-in-the-details/

 

In quest to finally repeat, San Antonio Spurs find that “nothing seems to be easy” (from Michael Lee, Washington Post):

Read it here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2015/01/19/san-antonio-spurs-have-struggled-to-find-consistency/

 

–  Derek Fisher doesn’t want to talk tanking ahead of basement battle with 76ers  (from Peter Botte, NY Daily News):

Read it here:  http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/knicks/derek-fisher-not-talking-tanking-knicks-76ers-clash-article-1.2085567

 

 

Additional Player Updates:

 

Timofey Mozgov:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/cavaliers/2015/01/20/russia-timofey-mozgov-cleveland-cavs-david-blatt-lebron-james/22023341/

Ryan Anderson:  http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/01/20/lets-talk-about-ryno/  and   http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VIfLgSoAACcNXOac/ryan-andersons-turnstile-defense   and  http://www.thebirdwrites.com/2015/1/21/7862183/ryan-anderson-faulty-flamethrower-synergy-sports

Victor Oladipo:  http://orlandomagicdaily.com/2015/01/21/reducing-turnovers-key-victor-oladipos-improvement/

Marcus Smart:  http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/01/21/thinking-that-celtics-marcus-smart-has-bright-future/Zz3qeZjYSb8iu5qsudPBbM/story.html   and   http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2336936-marcus-smart-beginning-to-rewrite-scouting-report-on-young-nba-career

Omri Casspi/Carl Landryhttp://cowbellkingdom.com/where-casspi-and-landry-go-the-kings-bench-goes/

Langston Gallowayhttp://nypost.com/2015/01/21/the-knicks-adviser-who-pushed-for-langston-galloway/

Jordan Clarksonhttp://bleacherreport.com/articles/2336995-los-angeles-lakers-have-no-reason-to-hold-jordan-clarkson-back-now

Ersan Ilyasova http://www.nba.com/bucks/features/mb-clear-path-beckons-ilyasova

Lucas Nogueirahttp://www.sportsnet.ca/basketball/nba/bebes-philosophy-just-keep-working/

Dario Sarichttp://www.nba.com/sixers/news/150121-transatlantic-tracker-saric

James Andersonhttp://basketball.realgm.com/analysis/236331/Euroleague-Interview-James-Anderson-Of-Zalgiris

DeAndre Jordan: https://medium.com/the-cauldron/show-him-the-money-adf6905466b9

Kevin Seraphinhttp://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-am-is-kevin-seraphin-in-wizards-long-term-plans/

CJ Miles:  http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/2015/01/20/pacers-cj-miles-skipping-college-right-move/22068047/

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

 

Raptors can see former selves in Detroit Pistons whose mid-season roster move benefited team (from Eric Koreen, National Post):

“They remind me a lot of us last year after the [Rudy Gay] trade,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

“The things they are doing defensively are sustainable. They’re shooting the lights out, and I don’t know if that’s sustainable for any team no matter who you are. But defensively they are locked in, tuned in, talking, a totally different team than they when we played them … and that’s something that’s sustainable. You waive a player with the status of Josh Smith, and it jolts you. They’re buying in. It’s clicking. You can’t put your finger on it, but something clicked.”

Read it here:  http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/01/12/toronto-raptors-can-see-former-selves-in-detroit-pistons-whose-mid-season-roster-move-benefited-team/

 

–  Title teams start with small moves, says Van Gundy (from Vincent Goodwill, Detroit News):

“At every stop, he’s routinely asked about his surprising move of releasing Josh Smith with well over $27 million left on his contract, and the answer is so common it almost feels like the words are rehearsed. But perhaps he wants to show his acumen as an executive with such statements about the unheralded Tolliver and Anthony.

“A lot of times all people focus on is major moves, but if you really look at the way people build teams, it’s little by little,” Van Gundy said.

He thinks players such as Jodie Meeks and Augustin, players signed via free agency last summer, can be helpful pieces while in Detroit but also collateral for a bigger deal should it present itself.”

Read it here:  http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nba/pistons/2015/01/12/title-teams-start-small-moves-says-van-gundy/21675363/

 

 

–  Josh Smith’s ouster only part of reason for Pistons’ revival (from David Aldridge, NBA.com)

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/2015/news/features/david_aldridge/01/12/morning-tip-josh-smith-detroit-pistons-revival-houston-rockets-state-of-new-york-knicks-grant-hill-junior-bridgeman-chris-webber-aim-to-buy-atlanta-hawks/index.html

 

– Kyle Korver Is a Mean Screener  (from Mika Honkasalo, Vantage Sports):

” Korver is about as close to a star as an off-the-ball guard who’s primary skill is shooting can ever be. One of the more interesting wrinkles in the Hawks’ offense is how Korver is used as a screener. The Hawks have interesting set plays in which Korver’s screening is terrifying because defenders often lose their own man thinking that Korver will be the one to be receiving rather than setting the screen.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VLCSqyMAACUAN25g/kyle-korver-is-a-mean-screener

 

– Kyle Korver’s “Fit” in the Hawks’ Offense (from Nathan Burchill, Vantage Sports):

” Korver fits so well because the Hawks are focused on team success not individual success. They move the ball fluidly leading to 26.8 Assist+ per 100 Chances, according to Vantage Stats. As a result, Atlanta has an Open+ Frequency of 39.6, which is best in the league. The Hawks’ offense has many intricacies, but there are three key aspects that lead to both Korver’s and the team’s success.”

Read it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VK_aBiMAACUANfyo/kyle-korvers-fit-in-the-hawks-offense

 

– Kyle Korver Is a Shot-Making Machine (from Ian Levy, Vantage Sports):

”  We often think of Korver as an extension of his jump shot form, a player who drills open shots and benefits from the abilities of his teammates to create those open shots for him. While that’s true in some cases, he has taken things to a new level this season—knocking down shots no matter what the defensive situation is.”

Read it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VLLagyMAACUAO_zv/the-pivot-point–week-12-kyle-korver-is-a-shot-making-machine

 

–  Blake Griffin’s Passing Has Reached Another Level for Los Angeles Clippers (from Fred Katz, Bleacher report):

Read and view it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2327548-blake-griffins-passing-has-reached-another-level-for-los-angeles-clippers

 

–  Too many picks? No such thing says Ainge (from Chris Forsberg, ESPN:

” Is there such thing as too many draft picks?

“No, because draft picks are always tradable; players are not,” Ainge said. “Draft picks are always assets.”

The focus for Ainge is on the future. He’ll take a minute to savor his team’s 108-100 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, a game in which recent addition Jae Crowder scored a career-high 22 points and Jared Sullinger came up with a big fourth-quarter effort while putting up 27 points and 10 rebounds against an opposing frontline that featured Anthony Davis andOmer Asik. But the quest to construct a team that wins with more regularity than Boston has shown the past two seasons is what fuels Ainge and his quenchless pursuit of picks.

So Ainge will spend the next month working the phones trying to bring back the draft picks, acquire other future assets and clear cap space, all hoping to do what Boston hasn’t done to this point: accelerate through the rebuilding process.

But Ainge’s path, murky at times before and immediately following the Rondo trade, seems pretty clear now.

“I think you have to build through the draft,” Ainge said.”

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/celtics/post/_/id/4717049/too-many-picks-no-such-thing-says-ainge

 

–  Communication a key for the Utah Jazz’s success (from Jody Gennessy, deseretnews.com):

”  Coach Quin Snyder continues to emphasize the importance of communication for his young team.

“We’ve got to keep trying, keep emphasizing it,” Snyder said. “They’ve got to keep wanting it and know how important it is. It just improves everything.”

Efficiency.

Execution.

Ball protection.

Defense.

Unity.

You name it.”

Read it here:  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865619473/Communication-a-key-for-the-Utah-Jazzs-success.html

 

–  Utah Jazz roster shows dedication to youth movement, and Dennis Lindsey’s wizardry  (from allthatamar, slcdunk.com):

Read it here:  http://www.slcdunk.com/nba-draft/2015/1/13/7536475/utah-jazz-gordon-hayward-dante-exum-trey-burke-derrick-favors-rudy-gobert-dennis-lindsey

 

 Utah’s Team-Wide Defensive Progression (from Ben Dowsett, saltcityhoops.com):

”  Most observers would count Rudy Gobert chief among the reasons for the team’s strongest run of play in two seasons, and with good cause. The big Frenchman has exploded over this period, playing over 26 minutes a night in the 13-game stretch after averaging under 18 up until that point1. He’s anchored Utah’s defensive renovation as a vocal, freakishly active presence in the frontcourt, staking an early claim as one of the league’s premier rim defenders. Opponents shoot over six percent worse within five feet when he plays compared with when he sits, per NBA.com, and the rate at which he contests shots at the rim (67 percent as of roughly a week ago) is nearly unfathomable. Much like a great shooter offensively, he affects the game even when he isn’t close to the ball, forcing teams to adjust their entire offensive ethos at times to contort their way around his presence.

But Utah’s defensive improvement has been far more than just Rudy, even if he’s likely both the catalyst and the largest (literally) reason for their recent success. It’s not at all unrealistic, in fact, to surmise that his very public ascension has actually somewhat obscured what’s been much more of a team-wide effort than many might assume.”

Read it here:  http://saltcityhoops.com/utahs-team-wide-defensive-progression/

 

Justin Holiday is Earning His Keep (from Gerald Bourguet, hoopshapit.com):

” Last July, I wrote about Justin Holiday’s successful offseason playing for the Dubs’ NBA Summer League team and went as far as suggesting the Warriors should sign him with one of their extra roster spots. But I don’t think anybody expected him to actually crack Steve Kerr‘s rotation and start logging significant minutes.

Over the last two weeks, Holiday has done just that, earning 17.0 minutes per game in Golden State’s last nine contests. How has this relatively unknown player cracked the rotation of the best team in the NBA?”

Read it here:  http://hoopshabit.com/2015/01/11/golden-state-warriors-justin-holiday-earning-keep/

(BI Note:  This story is 5 pages long – click on “next” at the bottom of each page to get to pages 2-5.)

 

 

–  Magic change the game by changing the pace (from  Philip Rossman-Reich, orlandomagicdaily.com):

” The Orlando Magic promised at the beginning of the season they would be a running team. They would push the pace and look to use their defense to generate offense.

The first half of the season largely saw Orlando slow the ball down and get bogged down in something that vaguely resembled an offense. It certainly was not a tempo offense. It was one that was slow, methodical, plodding and hesitant. The Magic’s youth was not quite unleashed.

Then Monday came. Oh, boy, Monday came.

The Magic’s offense changed immediately with Elfrid Payton pushing the pace in transition. Orlando was active and aggressive, looking to take it to the defensive-minded, Eastern Conference-contending Chicago Bulls on the road and be the aggressors. This was a Magic team that nobody had even seen to this point this season.

It made a huge difference.”

Read it here: http://orlandomagicdaily.com/2015/01/13/orlando-magic-change-game-changing-pace

 

–  BULLS HAVE NO TRICKS IN LOSS TO MAGIC (from Sam Smith, bulls.com):

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/bulls/gameday/bulls-have-no-tricks-loss-magic

 

Thibodeau calls out his players after the loss to Orlando (from Joe Cowley, Chcagio Sun-Times)

Read it here: http://chicago.suntimes.com/basketball/7/71/286895/thibodeau-calls-players-loss-orlando

 

–  Randy Wittman explains why Wizards don’t shoot many threes despite high percentage (from Jorge Castillo, Washigton Post):

” In a nutshell: The Wizards shoot the three efficiently because they don’t force threes and only players that are capable of making threes at a high rate shoot them. It helps that two players — Rasual Butler (third) and Bradley Beal (fifth) — rank in the top five in the league in three-point percentage even though they only attempt around four per game. It just so happens they don’t employ big men that shoot them like many teams in today’s NBA do; Washington’s big men are more traditional, which limits the options.”

Read it here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wizards-insider/wp/2015/01/13/randy-wittman-explains-why-wizards-dont-shoot-many-threes-despite-high-percentage/

 

–   Sixers Are No Longer League’s Laughingstock ( from Alec Nathan, Bleacher Report):

” Where the Sixers have really left their mark is on the defensive end of the floor.

Owners of the league’s sixth-best defensive rating (99.9) in December, per NBA.com, the Sixers have sustained that pace over this past week. Dating back to Monday’s 95-92 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia has held each of its past four opponents under 100 points.

With vicious rim protectors in McDaniels (two blocks) and Nerlens Noel (career-high five blocks) and a rangy 6’6” point guard in Carter-Williams, the Sixers are gradually putting the pieces together on a defense that’s loaded with athletic upside.”

Read and view it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2325853-sixers-are-no-longer-leagues-laughingstock-and-other-saturday-nba-takeaways

 

–  Covington gives Sixers space to improve  (from Bob Cooney, philly.com):

”  (H)e had an All-Star season in the D-League last year, and was also named rookie of the year. His stock was so high after that, though, that he was right back in the D-League this season. But on Brown’s team, his sweet stroke and seemingly limitless range have not only provided a luxury the coach hasn’t had since he’s been here, but also a new avenue of freedom for guards Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten.

Though teams still plant their defenses in the lane and force the Sixers to shoot from the outside, Covington is the one player on the team who demands defensive attention. When that happens, things get a little more open for drivers like MCW and Wroten.

“What you see in doses with Robert, imagine if you had a few more, or if we improve the ones that we have [with their] shooting,” said Brown. “It’s all about the space. It’s always about if you have a team that can pass and then you can create space. [The Atlanta Hawks] can all shoot threes and they all can pass. It’s not like they’re rolling out NBA All-Stars and they are elite athletes. They play as a team and they create space. Covington gives drivers like Tony and Michael room to let their games shine. It is about space and he provides us space.”
Read it here:  http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sixers/20150113_Covington_gives_Sixers_space_to_improve.html

 

Additional Player Updates:

Quincy Acy:  http://probballreport.com/ex-raptors-forward-quincy-acy-gets-his-shot-with-the-knicks/

Robert Covington:  http://www.csnphilly.com/basketball-philadelphia-76ers/sixers-discovery-robert-covington-paying-both

Jae Crowderhttp://nesn.com/2015/01/jae-crowders-emergence-paying-huge-dividends-for-star-less-celtics/

Nick Young:  http://lakeshowlife.com/2015/01/12/byron-scott-wants-nick-young-change/

Ish Smith:  http://newsok.com/okc-thunder-ish-smiths-surprising-skill-set-team-first-mentality-earns-him-guaranteed-contract-with-thunder/article/5384101

Marcus Smart:  http://www.masslive.com/celtics/index.ssf/2015/01/marcus_smart_notes_shot_improv.html

Jimmy Butler:  http://chicago.suntimes.com/basketball/7/71/286447/thibodeau-cant-stop-singing-praises-butler

Hassan Whiteside:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2326523-miami-heats-hassan-whitesides-nba-story-only-beginning-to-be-told  and  http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/1/12/7531699/hassan-whiteside-miami-heat-center-who-is

David Lee:  http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/opinion/20150113/warriors-forward-david-lee-makes-adjustment-to-coming-off-bench

Kenneth Fariedhttp://www.denverstiffs.com/2015/1/13/7532699/nuggets-coach-brian-shaw-has-unleashed-the-manimal-in-kenneth-faried

Nikola Vucevic:  http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nikola-vucevic-an-all-star-in-the-coaches-eyes/

–  Eric Moreland:  http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-pm-the-journey-of-an-undrafted-rookie/

 

Today’s Best NBA Stories

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.

 “When you think of those three guards they have, it’s amazing. It’s hard for everybody to guard. I didn’t see it but now I do.”

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 Burkshttp://www.deseretnews.com/article/865615900/Jazz-guard-Alec-Burks-takes-coachs-challenge-and-comes-up-with-14-rebounds.html

Brandan Wrighthttp://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4703736/how-is-brandan-wright-so-efficient

Tristan Thompsonhttp://bleacherreport.com/articles/2272211-tristan-thompson-proving-crucial-to-cleveland-cavaliers-yet-again

Markieff Morris/ TJ Warrenhttp://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2014/11/18/suns-markieff-morris-aims-tap-talent/19256127/

Courtney Leehttp://www.grizzlybearblues.com/2014/11/19/7243635/welcome-home-courtney-lee

Nerlens Noelhttp://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