– Terry Stotts’ Playoff Guarantee Changed The Blazers’ Season (from Joe Freeman, Oregon Live):
– Terry Stotts’ Playoff Guarantee Changed The Blazers’ Season (from Joe Freeman, Oregon Live):
– Recapping Thursday’s Games: Curry, Harden And More (from Liam Boylan-Pett, SBNation):
– Steph Curry: 51 Points Vs. The Pelicans (from Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN):
Read and view it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/golden-state-warriors/post/_/id/1362/steph-currys-becoming-legendary
– Anatomy Of A Comeback: Warriors Go On a 64-28 Run To Defeat Raptors (from Zach Harper, CBS Sports):
– Video Breakdown: Steph Curry Not Trying For 50 (from EricApricot, Golden State of Mind):
– The Polarizing Talents Of Hassan Whiteside (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):
– Hassan Whiteside’s Numbers Don’t Ring Hollow Any More (from Jesus Gomez, SBNation):
– How The Warriors Exploited Whiteside (from Jesse Blanchard, BBall Breakdown):
Read and view it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2016/02/25/the-breakdown-hassan-whitesides-terrible-defense/
– Thunder Film Room: 5 Worst Defensive Errors In Loss to New Orleans (from Anthony Slater, newsok.com):
– Spurs Maximizing 3-Point Shooting In A New Way (from Miles Wray, fansided.com):
Read and view it here: http://fansided.com/2016/02/26/san-antonio-spurs-maximizing-three-point-shooting-new-way/
– Brad Stevens (from Ben Dowsett, Basketball Insiders):
– Rambis: Knicks Scrimmage More To Improve Communication, Timing, Chemistry (from Frank Isola, NY Daily News):
– Key Stats For Teams On The Playoff Bubble (from Matt Moore, CBS Sports):
– For NBA Refs, It’s A Whole New Ball Game (from Bob Cooney, philly.com):
– Pacers: No Technical Fouls In A Month (from Nate Taylor, IndyStar.com):
– The Subtle Brilliance Of Portland (from Stephen Shea, Basketball Analytics):
– How Far Can Versatility Carry The Pistons? (from Jesus Gomez, BBall Breakdown):
Read and view it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2016/02/25/pistons-testing-far-versatility-can-carry-team/
– The Warriors And Analytics (from Mark Emmons, Lean Data Inc):
— The Kings Need To Start Playing Together (from Ailene Voisin, Sacramento Bee):
– Game vs. Cavs: Not A “Measuring Stick” For Raptors (from Mike Ganter, Toronto Sun);
Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:
– Trey Burke (from Tony Jones, Salt Lake Tribune): http://www.sltrib.com/sports/3583078-155/utah-jazz-playing-time-no-longer
– Willie Cauley-Stein (from Matt Kawahara, Sacramento Bee): http://www.sacbee.com/sports/nba/sacramento-kings/article62562822.html
– Jrue Holiday (from Justin Verrier, ESPN): http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/14838724/jrue-holiday-unsung-catalyst-new-orleans-pelicans
– Giannis Antetokuonmpo (from Josh Criswell, Fansided.com): http://fansided.com/2016/02/26/giannis-antetokounmpo-nbas-next-big-thing/
– Joe Johnson (from Kevin Pelton, ESPN): http://espn.go.com/nba/insider/story/_/id/14847673/how-much-does-joe-johnson-left-offer-contender-nba
– Josh Richardson (from Aric DiLalla, Miami Herald): http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/nba/miami-heat/article62498387.html
– Channing Frye (from Chris Haynes, cleveland.com): http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2016/02/how_channing_frye_became_the_3.html
– Brandan Wright (from Ronald Tillery, Commercial Appeal): http://www.commercialappeal.com/sports/After-Brandan-Wright-finding-his-footing-370116551.html
– Alex Stepheson (from Jacob Freedman, galencentral.com) http://galencentral.com/2016/02/25/from-istanbul-to-iowa-alex-stephesons-long-journey-to-the-nba/
– Cody Zeller (from Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observe): http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/nba/charlotte-hornets/article62519362.html
– Shaun Livingston (from Kevin Cottrell, Jr, NBA.Com): http://www.nba.com/2016/news/02/25/bridging-the-gap-shaun-livingston-providing-vital-component-to-golden-state-warriors-success/index.html
– John Jenkins, Isaiah Thomas, Phil Pressey (from Paul Coro, azcentral): http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/14838724/jrue-holiday-unsung-catalyst-new-orleans-pelicans
– Isaiah Thomas (from Donnovan Bennett, Sportsnet.ca):
– Greg Monroe (from Gery Woelfel, journaltimes.com): http://journaltimes.com/sports/bucks-beat-does-monroe-regret-signing-with-milwaukee/article_9d050a98-1e7c-5acd-9e11-1635ab04a594.html
– Michael Carter-Williams (from Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald): http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics/2016/02/michael_carter_williams_different_world
– Tim Hardaway, Jr (from Ray Glier, USA Today): http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2016/02/26/tim-hardaway-mike-budenholzer-hawks-dleague/80974866/
– Nick Minnerath (from Keith Schlosser, Ridiculous Upside): http://www.ridiculousupside.com/2016/2/26/11119074/can-nick-minnerath-carve-out-nba-future-canton-charge-d-league
– In Curry-Harden showdown, Andrew Bogut powers Warriors’ Game 2 win (from Phil Taylor, Sports Illustrated):
– How the Improvement of Harrison Barnes Mirrors Golden State’s Ascent (from Kirk Goldsberry, grantland.com):
– Jerry West helped revive Harrison Barnes (from Sam Amick, USA Today):
– The pain of James Harden (from Calvin Watkins, ESPN):
– Stats from GSW-HOU Game Two (from NBA.com):
” Examining James Harden’s success using ball screens, Stephen Curry’s 3-point shooting, Trevor Ariza’s defense on Klay Thompson and more.”
– Steph Curry is getting too many open looks against Rockets (from Neil Greenberg, Washington Post):
– HOW TO SLOW DOWN A SUPERSTAR (from Michael Pina, Sports On Earth):
The Western Conference finals are a basketball blessing. The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors have the regular season’s two most valuable players, and we get to watch them go at in a high-stakes turf war.
The first thing each team’s coaching staff probably wondered heading into the series was: “How are we going to stop James Harden/Stephen Curry?” Like a small child asking where their goldfish went after it was last seen floating belly up in a bowl, there are no happy answers to this question.
LeBron James aside — because he’s not human — Harden and Curry are the two most complete offensive weapons in basketball right now. Forget about how unstoppable they are as shooters, scorers and passers; both players almost always make the right play and consistently elevate the ceiling of everyone around them.
As hopeless as it seems, the Warriors and Rockets must slow these stars down by executing a well thought-out game plan. Here’s a look at how each defense faired in Game 1, and whether we might see changes heading deeper into the series.
– Steph Curry’s Next Stage (from Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated):
– Hawks have tough job ahead if Game 1 was series’ road map (from Sekou Smith, nba.com):
– Why Kyle Korver has gone ice cold in the playoffs (from Jesus Gomez, SBNation):
– LeBron: I played too much iso ball (from Dave McMenamin, ESPN):
– Cavaliers turn up defensive intensity in the playoffs (from Matthew Florjancic, WKYC.com):
– Unorthodox yet effective, J.R. Smith the latest difference maker for Cavs (from Jeff Zilgitt, Usa Today):
– The Hawks Must Get Back To The Basics (from Aaron Mah, hoopshabit.com):
Read and view it here: http://hoopshabit.com/2015/05/22/atlanta-hawks-must-get-back-basics/
– Ten Little Things from Conference Finals Game 1s (from Mika Honkasalo, Vantage Sports):
– ASK SAM | SAM SMITH OPENS HIS MAILBAG (from Sam Smith, bulls.com):
” Sam Smith responds to the latest round of emails from his readers”
– 76ers: The State Of “The Plan” At The Two-year Mark (from Max Rappaport, sixers.com):
Read it here: http://www.nba.com/sixers/news/150522-the-plan
– Are the Toronto Raptors making a change for change’s sake? Thoughts on decision to fire assistant coaches (from Eric Koreen, nationalpost.com):
– Misleading Assist Rates this Season (from Aaron Fischman, Vantage Sports):
” Assist rate is one of many flawed traditional NBA statistics. Its main weaknesses incude failing to adjust for pace and not counting passes to missed open shots or passes that lead to shooting fouls. Hockey assists are also ignored. Conversely, Assist+ per 100 Chances and True Facilitation have the benefit of accounting for pace and are not dependent on a player’s teammates’ ability to make shots. Two particular point guards’ passing values in the 2014-2015 stand out as being inflated by assist rate, whereas two others’ values seem to be underrated.”
Additional Player Notes, Updates, profiles:
– Chandler Parsons/Al-Farouq Aminu: http://www.mavs.com/mavs-youth-movement-plans-start-with-healthy-chandler-parsons-re-signing-al-farouq-aminu/
– 13 standouts you won’t see in the NBA All-Star Game (from Mike Prada, SBNation):
” NBA teams need balance to win in 2015. Rules changes and tactical advancements have made team play more essential on both ends of the floor. Great offenses need elite shooters, great passers, crafty screen-setters and spot-up players that are willing to actually move instead of always standing in a corner. Great defenses need guards willing to ride ball-handlers’ hips, big men to play angles to seal off the basket and all players to make third and fourth rotations to dangerous areas.
The game’s evolution has opened up new ways to qualify (and quantify) a player’s value. No longer are the elite scorers the only valuable commodity. Increasingly, it’s the decoys and the obstacles that contribute just as much to a team’s success.
That’s the genesis behind the second annual Film Room All-Star team. These are 13 players that add tremendous value to their teams without being actual All-Stars. They are the glue guys, the situational superstars … whatever other cliché you want to use, except we’re going to actually give those clichés real meaning.
A couple notes:
On to the list:”
Read and view it here: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/2/3/7921831/nba-film-room-all-stars-2015
– Dion Waiters Trade Creating More Confusion for Struggling OKC Thunder (from Dave Leonardis, Bleacher Report):
” The Oklahoma City Thunder have to wonder whether the acquisition of Dion Waiters was worth all of the confusion it has caused in the first few weeks.
In exchange for Waiters’ scoring punch, the team’s rotations have lacked consistency. Role players such as Reggie Jackson and Andre Roberson have seen their minutes fluctuate and their production suffer. Most importantly, the team doesn’t appear to be much better than it was prior to Waiters’ arrival.
Since Waiters made his Thunder debut on Jan. 7 against the Sacramento Kings, OKC has gone 7-6. Waiters has contributed 11.8 points per game, but his shooting has left much to be desired. He’s converting just 38.4 percent from the field, including 28.9 percent from three. That’s about as effective as wearing ice skates in the sand. ”
– David West Will Make No Excuses as His Game Ages and Evolves (from Jon Washburn, 8points,9seconds.com):
” “There’s a certain way you need to conduct and carry yourself and be, and you don’t compromise on that,” said West after the win. “You don’t compromise your integrity and you don’t compromise who you are. Things you’ve built in terms of the legacy you want to believe. You walk around excuse free, and rather than trying to find excuses, you try to find solutions and be accountable.”
(BI Note: This story runs two pages; be sure to click on “Next” at the top or bottom of page one.)
– Grizzlies’ recalibrated offense could take them far this postseason (from Josh Planos, Washington Post)
– The Tutelage of Chris Paul (from Danielle Greenberg, clipsnation.com):
” Chris Paul helps the Los Angeles Clippers win every time he sets foot on a court. However, he has also made his mark on the team over the years by taking younger and still-developing teammates under his wing. With the arrival of Austin Rivers, Paul has yet another opportunity to mentor a young player and help his career.”
– Wizards go through unusually ‘dirty’ practice before back-to-back (from J. Michael, Washington Post):
– Kawhi Leonard And The Spurs’ Identity (from Jesse Blanchard, BBall Breakdown):
” Not even a minute into his first game back from a month-long absence, a backpedaling Kawhi Leonard noticed Portland Trail Blazers guard Wes Matthews’ balance start to falter as he brought the ball up near the top of the key. Falling to the floor, Matthews flipped the ball towards teammate Nicolas Batum.
In the blink of an eye, Leonard extended a long arm into the passing lane, his reach beating everyone else to the ball to ignite a fast break and an ailing San Antonio Spurs team to a 110-96 victory; scoring 20 points while getting his gigantic hands on four rebounds and three steals while dishing out five assists.
“A team feeds off of each other and (Kawhi) has been an obvious important part of how we do things,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “Everything fits better together, everybody communicates better, everyone understands what to do in various situations much better.”
Missing Leonard for much of December, the Spurs slogged through only the third losing month of Tim Duncan’s career. Since his returning, they’ve gone 6-2. Popovich’s proclamation that Leonard would become the face of the franchise has come to pass. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP is one of the league’s biggest difference-makers, the Spurs best player, and currently their leading scorer. And yet, should it continue over the second half of the season, that last part might be a problem.”
Read and view it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2015/02/03/kawhi-leonard-and-the-spurs-identity/
– How Warriors built NBA’s top defense (from Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN):
” It wasn’t long ago that defensive ineptitude was a depraved aspect of the Golden State Warriors‘ appeal. Sure, they wouldn’t win during the decade and a half Chris Cohan was the owner, but they’d entertain customers as the Showtime version of the Washington Generals, a harmless farce of a team that revved the pace, scored cheap baskets in transition and propped up the opponent’s attack like a pro wrestler complicit in his own humiliation. Running fast meant more points, with the empty stats glossing the poor product like shiny wax on a rotten apple. This was who the Warriors were; even their occasional playoff teams weren’t strong defensively.
Now things are different. The Warriors are one of the best teams in the league, and generally the explanation has been shooting and the Splash Brothers. Less discussed is the scrambling, suffocating amalgam of long limbs flying at ball handlers with the speed of hurricane winds that comprises the best defense, by far, in the NBA — better than Thibodeau’s Bulls, Popovich’s Spurs and the improved Bucks, Blazers and Hawks.
The Warriors have been first in defensive rating from the day their season started — a 98-day streak that’s still going. The offense fits the vibe, makes the highlights and gets the publicity, but it’s the defense that has people thinking about titles.
How they got it here is no accident.”
And for those with access to ESPN Insider:
– Warriors chasing history — fast (from Tom Haberstroh):
” GS could become first team to rank No. 1 in both pace factor and D rating”
And from the WNBA:
– Diana Taurasi’s decision to sit out should spark WNBA salary changes (from Kate Fagan, ESPN):
Additional Player Updates:
– Marcus Smart/Jae Crowder: http://www.csnne.com/boston-celtics/celtics-nuggets-preview-crowder-versatile-bench
– Jonas Valanciunas: http://www.thestar.com/sports/raptors/2015/02/03/sitting-jonas-valanciunas-late-in-games-nothing-personal-says-raptors-coach.html and http://www.tsn.ca/talent/casey-explains-decision-to-limit-valanciunas-in-crunch-time-1.198945 and http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/02/04/toronto-raptors-need-to-nudge-jonas-valanciunas-along-if-they-want-success-in-the-post-season/
– Jared Sullinger: http://www.csnne.com/boston-celtics/sullinger-back-home-around-basket and http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/02/04/jared-sullinger-needs-back-basics/P2ylKJ7eLXJpVg49iFJ1LI/story.html
– James Harden: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=12196251
– Chandler Parsons: http://www.mavsoutsider.com/2015/02/04/chandler-parsons-worth-to-mavericks/
– How Cavs’ defense has improved with Timofey Mozgov and Kyrie Irving (from Terry Pluto, cleveland.com):
– Hassan Whiteside Has Gone from Novelty to Necessity for Miami Heat (from Ethan Skolnick, Bleacher Report):
” Every time Hassan Whiteside appears on the floor now, there’s an assumption his output will be astonishing. There’s an expectation the NBA‘s unforeseen emerging force will stamp the stat sheet with some more say-what-wait-what(?!) numbers.”
– Quin Snyder, Enes Kanter have differing views of Andrew Bogut (from Randy Hollis, deseretnews.com):
– Celtics give glimpse of defensive potential (from Chris Forsberg, ESPN):
– Pat Riley addresses Heat’s depth deficit (from Ira Winderman sun-sentinel.com):
“I don’t think there’s a player in the NBA DL I want to bring in right now,” Riley said. “And I don’t think there’s a veteran two that we’ve been offered that isn’t just of a short term.
“If I can move down the road, what I would like to move down the road with is I want to get to ‘great’ fast. I want to get there. I don’t want to get to good. I want to get to great. We’re waiting to see if something opens up. And there’s about three or four teams that are still, ‘Well, are we in or are we out?’, that all of a sudden will say, ‘OK, he’s available, they’re available.’ ”
Riley stressed while patience can be difficult at times such as these, prudence also is essential as the Feb. 19 trading deadline draws closer.
“If I could find a backup two that I really liked, that Coach really liked, that fits with us, that can be a player for us, then we probably already would have made that move,” he said. “But I also don’t want to be extorted. I don’t want to be give up too much. The cupboard is bare.”
– Andre Roberson is Oklahoma City’s X-Factor (from Jacob Eisenberg, sheridanhoops.com):
” In spite of his offensive deficiencies, in the context of the Thunder’s personnel, Roberson has actually proved to be Oklahoma City’s most valuable perimeter player not named Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook on both sides of the ball.
How, you ask? His defense is simply so good that it creates free offense for his teammates. When Roberson is on the court, the Thunder allow just 101.1 points per 100 possessions. That’s the best individual defensive rating on the team and would make OKC the second best defense in the league behind the Warriors if they kept up that pace for 48 minutes. However, once Roberson sits, Oklahoma City’s defense regresses to allow 105.3 points per 100 possessions. Those extra 4.2 points allowed per 100 possessions slide Oklahoma City from the second best to the 12th best defense in the league.
Herein lies a common misconception about basketball: you don’t necessarily need to have offensive skills to be a valuable player toward your team’s offense. If you assumed that Roberson’s defensive contributions were negated on the other side by his limited offense, you wouldn’t be alone. But you’d also be wrong.
When Roberson plays, Oklahoma City scores 106.7 points per 100 offensive possessions. That’s not an incredible clip, but it’s good enough to tie them with Sacramento and Utah for the 14th best offense in the league. When Roberson sits and is replaced by one of OKC’s three offensive-minded wings, Dion Waiters, Anthony Morrow and Reggie Jackson, the Thunder’s offense slides to just 103.5 points per 100 possessions — a mark on par with the Knicks for 23rd best in the league.
The explanation for his positive offense : Primarily, Roberson’s defense is so good that he single handedly creates fast break opportunities for his team several times per game.”
– Time to lead fast approaching for soft-spoken Kawhi Leonard (from Ian Thomsen, NBA.com):
“He’s so quiet it’s unbelievable,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “You could get him wrong, just thinking that he’s surly or whatever. But he’s really quiet, really respectful and he really cares.”
“We talk about the fact that he’s going to have to speak more — he’s going to have to,” said Popovich. “When these guys are gone, what’s he going to do? Is he going to play in a phone booth all by himself and not talk to anybody? It’s a big deal. He has become more social. But he’s going to have to become more social geometrically compared to what he is now.”
– Assessing LaMarcus Aldridge: How has the injured Blazer big adjusted his game? (from Evans Clinchy, blazersedge.com):
– Wizards’ Defense Thrives With Pierce, Despite Losing Ariza (from Jon Munshaw, bulletsforever.com):
Additional Player Updates:
– Jarrett Jack: http://fromrussiawithdunk.com/2015/01/31/jarrett-jack-fatigue-number-one-thing-never-give/ and http://nypost.com/2015/01/31/heroic-jarrett-jack-plays-all-but-47-seconds-in-nets-defeat/
– Isaiah Austin: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=141&sid=33296425
– Michael Carter-Williams/Nerlens Noel: http://www.nba.com/sixers/news/150131-mcw-noel-defense