Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

Houston defense will make Draymond Green’s judgment critical (from Rusty Simmons,

” Ideally, Houston tries to pressure the point guard, chase players off the three-point line and funnel everything into the middle — where Dwight Howard waits to erase shots (an injured knee could keep Howard sidelined Thursday).

But somewhere in between the three-point arc and the rim, there’s an abundance of space — territory where Green can stand out with his unique ability to score or make plays for others.

“Coach told me, ‘You’re probably going to have open shots, but you’re going to have to pick and choose when to take those open shots,” Green said after Wednesday’s practice. “You might have an open shot, but if you put the ball down one time and get in the paint, someone else is going to be wide open.’ He explained it, and it kind of worked out that way.”

“Draymond is one of our best playmakers,” Kerr said. “We know we have to get deeper into our offense to get good shots. He’s a big part of that, because he often catches the ball after the initial action. When he can play-make from that spot, we’re better for it.”

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–  How Golden State’s Small Lineup Flipped Game 1  (from Adam Spolane,  CBS Houston):

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Breaking Down the  Rockets’ Guide to Defending Stephen Curry  (from  Dylan Murphy, Bleacher Report):

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–  The Houston Rockets Biggest Mistake In Game 1 Vs Warriors  (from Lee Golden,

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–  Rockets’ Capela is ready for his close-up  (from Fran Blinebury,

” Seven months ago, the rookie arrived in training camp hoping to find a place in the Rockets future. Two months ago, he was in the NBA D-League toiling for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Now, if a sprained left knee keeps Dwight Howard out of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, Capela might find himself in the starting lineup against the Warriors. Or at the very least, getting significant playing time.

“When I was in the D-League, no, I would not think this was possible,” said the precocious 21-year-old native of Geneva, Switzerland. “I thought I’m not going to play this year, maybe next year. I was just trying to keep working hard and be ready when they would call me up.”

But with a live, aggressive body and a willingness to learn, Capela forced his way into the consciousness of the Rockets coaching staff and then into the playing rotation.”

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–  Bogut overcomes adversities to anchor defense  (from Ian Thomsen,

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–  Shaun Livingston’s long, broken road to unlikely postseason hero  (from Rodger Sherman,

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–  The importance of Trevor Ariza  (from Ethan Rothstein,

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– Cavs 97, Hawks 89  (from Jason Lloyd,

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Cavs vs Hawks Game One Stats (from

Smith’s 3-point shooting, Cleveland’s superior ball movement and rebound dominance, and Atlanta’s use of drives.

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–  The LeBron  factor is real  (from Paul Flannery, SBNation):

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–  LeBron James’s sidekicks, led by J.R. Smith, fuel Game 1 win over Hawks  (from Chris Mannix,  Sports Illustrated):

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–  J.R. Smith rewards Cleveland Cavaliers’ faith  (from  Matthew Florjancic,

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–  J.R. Smith gives LeBron James the help he needed to beat the Hawks (from Neil Greenberg, Washington Post):

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Frustration building for Kyrie Irving and Cavaliers take away Atlanta’s specialty (from Chris Fedor,

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–  Carroll injury looms large after Hawks drop Game 1 to Cavs  (from Zach Dillard,

” Carroll was the go-to defensive option for LeBron James. Already facing an uphill battle in a series against the four-time MVP, Carroll’s absence would force Budenholzer’s hand. This is not a position of depth for Atlanta. Reserve wing Thabo Sefolosha is out for the season after breaking his leg while being arrested in New York. Carroll was tabbed for the lion’s share of defensive possessions against LeBron…. no other Hawks defender makes life more miserable for him.”

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Update:  DeMarre is now listed as day-to-day as MRI shows hyperextension and bone bruise but no structural damage



We are a little late linking to CJ McCollum’s playoff previews:


–  Western Conference Finals Preview (from CJ McCollum, the

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–  Eastern Conference Finals Preview  (from CJ McCollum,

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–  The myth about max contracts  (from Sean Penney,

” What comes to mind when you think of a player worthy of earning the maximum amount allowed under the collective bargaining agreement? Many people seem to think that a “max contract” has to be reserved for a handful of the league’s elite, the best of the best. If the Boston Celtics are going to shell out a max contract to anyone this summer, those fans are expecting to get an MVP caliber player that will be the cornerstone of the franchise.

That is simply not the case, as not all max deals are created equal.

(J)ust because you hear that a player is rumored to be getting a max contract, that does not necessarily mean that he’s about to be paid as much as someone like LeBron James, or that the player necessarily has to be in the same stratosphere to earn it.”

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Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:


Mike Conley:


Tyreke Evans:


Allen Crabbe:


Jerome Jordan:


Perry Jones:


Reggie Bullock:

Today’s Best NBA Stories

Breaking Down How the Indiana Pacers Are Keeping Their Defensive Swagger (from Ian Levy, Bleacher Report):

” The Indiana Pacers are not the bruising championship contender they were last season. Still, a 6-9 start has them in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, a huge surprise when many projected them to bottom out completely.

Fighting through a myriad of injuries, the Pacers have maintained one of the best defenses in the league. Their respectable start has come, primarily, from clamping down on opponents’ scoring. Currently, they rank 10th in the league in defensive efficiency, allowing just 105.6 points per 100 possessions.

Although just one of their starters from last season, Roy Hibbert, has played so far this season, he happens to be the most important part of their defense.

The entire structure of the Pacers’ system is built around Hibbert‘s ability to protect the basket. On pick-and-rolls and most dribble-drive actions, he sags back into the paint. This strategy walls off the basket and cedes the space for penetrators to pull up for an inefficient long two-pointer. ”

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The Tyler Hansbrough Story:  (from Dave Zarum,

” His brash playing style and the success that it’s bred have made Hansbrough a polarizing figure, a walking archetype of the player you love when he’s on your team and hate when he’s not. But take the guy off a basketball court and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more, well, normal pro athlete. Turns out Tyler Hansbrough isn’t who you might have thought.”

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Paul Pierce, Andre Miller were teammates long before Wizards (from Jorge Castillo, Washington Post):

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Tight-knit Toronto Raptors squad care little about outside talk (from Lori Ewing, The Canada Press):

” This season’s Toronto Raptors are a tight-knit bunch. And on a day ESPN pegged the Raptors’ chances at winning the NBA title at a whopping 41 per cent, they scoffed. Anything said outside of their gym, they said, is all just noise.

“We don’t care about nothing ESPN is saying, honestly,” DeRozan said. “Nobody cares what anybody says. We care about everybody that’s got this Raptors jersey on. Everything else don’t matter to us, man.”

“We’ve got our confidence,” Vasquez added. “We don’t need anybody to talk about us, whether it’s good or bad.”

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Dallas Mavericks at Toronto Raptors preview (from Jonathan Tjarks,

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Nicolas Batum Q & A (from Dave Decckard and amlmart1,

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Justin Zormelo: Stats geek to the NBA stars, including Kevin Durant (from Kathy Orton, Washington Post):

” Justin Zormelo stands on a Georgetown University basketball court, a cellphone pressed to his ear. No answer. Where is Glen Rice Jr. ? The Washington Wizards player was supposed to be here hours ago.

Zormelo, dressed in the same baggy white Hoya shorts he wore when he was a team manager and a black T-shirt with his company’s logo on the chest, looks like someone who just wandered over from the pickup game on the next court. But unlike those Saturday morning jocks, the 30-year-old Fairfax County native has dozens of NBA clients listed in his cellphone, including Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert, Wizards guard John Wall and Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo. Not to mention the guy who helped Zormelo start it all: Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant.

Zormelo is one of the hottest trainers these days because of his creative use of stats. Not the usual stats, such as points, rebounds and assists, but an advanced analytics approach that has allowed a basketball fanatic who didn’t play past high school and never coached to help Durant become the NBA’s most valuable player.”

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Pistons’ Drummond needs to be more instinctive (from Terry Foster, Detroit News):

” Legendary Pistons coach Chuck Daly often sent a short but powerful message to budding superstar Dennis Rodman during the Bad Boys’ reign of terror.

“Don’t think,” he’d bark to Rodman. “Don’t think. Just play.”

In time Rodman became one of the most instinctive players in the NBA. He ran the floor, was strong, could defend any position and scored off of offensive rebounds and broken plays. He won defensive player of the year honors and was one of the game’s best rebounders.

Andre Drummond, the current Pistons prodigy, is similar.

Don’t think Andre. Just play the game.”

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Goran Dragic accepts cut in playing time, new backcourt dynamic (from Paul Coro,

” When Goran Dragic watched the final 13 minutes of Monday’s loss at Toronto, he was not upset with a reworked Suns rotation that is set up to play the hot hands.

He was mad at himself for a third quarter that turned from three scoring drives to three turnovers. Once Eric Bledsoe (14 fourth-quarter points) and Isaiah Thomas (12 fourth-quarter points) caught fire to bring the Suns from a 17-point hole to a one-point lead, there was nothing for Dragic to do but watch after his 21 minutes.

Dragic played fewer minutes in a game once last season, but it was due to a sprained ankle that ended his night in the third quarter at Oklahoma City.

“I had a bad game,” said Dragic, whose steady road trip ended with a six-point, four-assist, four-turnover game. “You cannot feel bad if you’re not playing good. I can feel bad for myself. But if the team is doing well, you need to be there. You need to support them. I’ll try to avoid this for the next game.””

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CBA 101: Rookie Scale Contract Extensions (from Daniel Hackett,

” Daniel Hackett continues his CBA 101 series with a look at the various rules that apply to rookie scale contract extensions in the NBA.”

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More Player Updates:

Omri Casspi

Jordan Hill

Wesley Johnson

Shawn Livingston

Josh McRoberts

Jerome Jordan

Brady Heslip:

Furkan Aldemir

Victor Claver

Marreese Speights

Marcus Smart/Avery Bradley

Brandan Wright

Shabazz Napier/James Ennis

Jeff Taylor

A. J. Price

Spencer Dinwiddie   and

Mitch McGary

Today’s Top NBA Preseason Stories

– 10 Takeaways From the NBA’s Rejection of Lottery Reform (from Zach Lowe,

” Just two days ago, higher-ups with both the Sixers and the league office expected lottery reform to pass by a vote of either 29-1 or 28-2. Over the weekend, Thunder GM Sam Presti initiated a stealth lobbying campaign against the league’s proposed changes, outlined here, which would have smoothed out the odds across the lottery. Presti raised concerns that such reform, piled atop other coming changes, would hurt small-market teams. A bunch of those non-glamour teams — including the Spurs and just about every branch of the Spurs management tree — eventually came around to the Sixers/Thunder “no” side. According to sources, the vote was 17-13 in favor of lottery reform, but 23 positive votes were needed for the proposal to pass. The result was unexpected, but what can we take away from the latest news?”

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– How Josh McRoberts is going to change the Heat offense (from Matt Pineda,

” Josh McRoberts has yet to play in the preseason for the Heat. What will his eventual return to the lineup mean for the Miami Heat?”

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– Kevin Love says he needs more inside touches to get his game back (from Chris Haynes,

“My entire life I played the game from inside-out,” Love explained to NEOMG. “So the more touches I can get inside to get myself going, the better. I’m not accustomed to starting out a game shooting a three, so it’s just something that I see.

“I’m 26-years-old and I’ve been playing basketball for quite a long time. Just finding ways to mix it up. If anything, keeping it around the basket a little bit more and the offense will allow me to get offensive rebounds. That will be tough for teams with Andy [Varejao] and myself and Tristan [Thompson] in there.”

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– Vucevic Proving His Worth (from John Denton,

“He’s very skilled. He’s not one of those guys who is going to fool you with his quickness or his athleticism, but he can get you the rebounds and points that you need every night,’’ said (Dwight) Howard, who has occasionally been resistant to give other centers credit in the past.

“I never had the mindset that I was trying to replace (Howard) because I only wanted to help the team win,’’ Vucevic said. “It’s nice (to hear praise), especially from a guy like Dwight, who is one of the best big men in the league. It means that I’ve been doing good in my short career in the NBA. When guys acknowledge you and respect your game, that’s what you want. So I’m glad that (Howard) said that.’’

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– Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Trey Burke to lead exciting, young Jazz (from allthatamar,

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-As Knicks triangle offense develops, Derek Fisher’s team still has problems on defense (from Flip Bondy, NY Daily News):

“The words, “switching defense” are an unwelcome phrase around the Garden this year, discarded like an old, preseason program. The tactic was encouraged at times by Mike Woodson, to the dismay of Tyson Chandler and other big men who felt teammates weren’t accepting responsibility for their own assignments, letting guys fly down the lane while relying too heavily on interior defenders.

Fisher reiterated Wednesday that he wants no part of that defense, which is difficult to install correctly. Too often, switching can mean abandoning the cutter and leaving him to the next guy.”

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– How the Knicks build a strong-side pick-and-roll (from Seth Rosenthal,

” Read and view it here:

– Davis-Lin pick and roll effective already (from Jovan Buha, ESPN:LosAngeles):

” “I love playing with J-Lin,” Davis said. “He’s a pick-and-roll guy; that’s what he wants to do. He gets into the lane. I’m just trying to get him open. He can take the jump shot or he can find me at the rim. He’s always looking for me, so whenever we’re out on the floor together I make sure I get him open and set good screens for him.”

The feeling of appreciation and on-court synergy is mutual.

“Ed does his job in terms of just getting me open and then rolling hard and finding the open gap,” Lin said. “Ed is one of those guys where, if he comes and sets 20 pick-and-rolls, and the weak side is there 20 times in a row and he doesn’t get the ball, he’ll still continue to do his job and get me open and roll to the right spot. That’s just unselfishness and him being smart.” ”

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– Small Forward Depth an Issue For Clippers (from Jesse Blancarte, Basketball Insiders):

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– Omer Asik Scouting Report (from Rafael Uehara, Bball Breakdown):

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– How Lance Stephenson Greatly Improves The Hornets Offense (from Matthew Hochberg, BBall Breakdown):

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– Pelicans: Utilizing More Catch and Shoot Situations (from Oleh,

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– 11 NBA Training Camp Invitees Who Look Like Locks to Make Their Teams (from Josh Martin, Bleacher report):

” Surely, the league’s players and coaches will be relieved to see the marathon of the 2014-15 regular season finally get under way. At least any injuries suffered or squabbles started therein won’t have come completely in vain.

And, well, all interested parties won’t have to spend any more time sweating out what the 12-to-15-man rosters will look like on opening night. It’ll be a sad (albeit inevitable) day for a slew of NBA D-Leaguers, international men of mystery and erstwhile hangers-on who were happy to survive the initial round of training-camp cuts and hopeful for a brighter basketball future.

But for these 11 fringe players who could actually stick with their respective clubs into November and beyond, the end of the preseason will mark a moment of jubilee in their basketball lives.”

View the slide show here:

– For those with access to ESPN Insider:

– Examining why defenders nearly never leave D-Wade open at the 3-point line (from Tom Haberstroh):

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– For professional athletes, talent isn’t enough to achieve greatness (from Tim Grover, Sports Illustrated):

Read it here:

Additional player updates:

-JaKarr Sampson:

– Jared Sullinger, Marcus Smart:   and

– Dwight Powell:

– Bruno Caboclo, Lucas Nogueira:  and

– Allen Crabbe:

– Ben McLemore:

– Otto Porter, Caldwell-Pope: