– Cavaliers: Separating Fact from Fiction (from Chris Fedor, cleveland.com):
” The Cleveland Cavaliers enter the postseason with high expectations after a midseason turnaround.
They finished with 53 wins and it will take 16 more to capture the elusive championship. LeBron James and the rest of his teammates are locked in, having already started preparation for the Boston Celtics, their first postseason opponent. Game One is Sunday at 3 p.m. inside Quicken Loans Arena, a building that has been craving postseason basketball for four years.
Many things have been said about the Cavs as they embark on the journey. Some of them are true while others are off the mark.
I compiled many of the things I have read in the comments section, on social media and nationally, and attempt to do my best to separate fact from fiction.”
Read it here: http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2015/04/separating_fact_from_fiction_w_1.html
– Cavaliers veterans send message of ‘focus, preparation and composure’ as playoffs begin (from Chris Fedor, cleveland.com):
” A menacing Big Three, an eight-man rotation that can stand tall against any foe, a healthy roster and a 34-9 record in the last half of the season, the Cavs have plenty on their side in a title chase. But experience is not an ally, with four key players — Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson — having never played on the postseason stage.
After a 34-9 sprint to finish that propelled the Cavs up the standings, an arduous journey awaits and the experienced voices will serve as a guide for the playoff rookies.
“Focus,” (James) Jones said when asked what he has learned over the years. “The game hasn’t changed. It’s still basketball and the teams we’re playing aren’t new teams to the league. They’re teams we’ve played before and we’ve seen them. We know the players and know the tendencies.
“You have to focus on yourself physically and mentally, getting prepared and focusing on your game plan, understanding your opponent inside and out and controlling your emotions. When you talk about the postseason you talk about focusing. For those guys, they’ve done it. They will just have to do it for a long period of time if we want to reach the heights we want to reach.”
“The game slows down a little more, teams are more honed into your plays because you’re playing the same team night in and night out anywhere from four to seven games,” (Brendan)Haywood said. “They know your sets just as good as you do. That’s when it really comes down to execution.”
Read it here: http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2015/04/cleveland_cavaliers_veterans_s.html
– Brad Stevens has been Celtics’ guiding light (from A. Sherrod Blakely, csnne.com):
” These Celtics are talked about in terms of being successful without having a superstar.
But they do have one.
His name is Brad Stevens.”
Read it here: http://www.csnne.com/boston-celtics/brad-stevens-has-been-boston-celtics-guiding-light
– Cavs know Celtics’ bench will be a ‘handful’ (from Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald):
” It’s a fair assumption that the Cavaliers will be focused to the greatest degree on executing their own game when they meet the Celtics in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series this afternoon.
If the Cavs do what the Cavs can do, the Bostonians may not have much of a say in the matter.
But Cleveland cannot help but be concerned a bit by Isaiah Thomas and the 19 points a game he has provided off the Celtics bench in just 26 minutes per outing.
The Cavaliers will undoubtedly focus their defense on Thomas, but, according to important reserve Shawn Marion, they will throw something else at the 5-foot-9 point guard: their own offense.
“I think it’s a collective effort,” Marion said yesterday. “We know Isaiah Thomas comes off the bench and it’s predominantly him shooting every time. He’s averaging 20 points off the bench.
“You know, he’s a handful, so we’ve got to make sure we lock in on him and make him play both ends of the floor. If he wants to shoot 20 times, he’s going to have to guard 20 times, you know what I’m saying?”
Read it here: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics_nba/boston_celtics/2015/04/bulpett_cavs_know_celtics_bench_will_be_a_handful
– LeBron James Is a Lethal Pick-and-Roll Scorer: can the Celtics Could Contain Him by Utilizing Switch-Heavy Lineups? (from Kevin O’Connor, Vantage Sports):
Read and view it here: http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VTKUdicAACYA0En7/lebron-james-is-a-lethal-pick-and-roll-scorer-but-the-boston-celtics-could-contain-him-by-utilizing-switch-heavy-lineups
– Cavalier Film Room: Switch-happy on the screen (from Kirk Lammers, yardbarker.com):
” (T)he Cavaliers have actually handled pick and roll situations quite well.
Defensively, they allowed just 0.76 points per possession on ball handlers in pick-and-roll situations, which ranks T-8th best. Teams use their possessions on this style of play 14.7% of the time, around league average. Some individual clips include Kyrie Irving (0.73 ppp), Iman Shumpert (0.79), and Matthew Dellavedova (0.79).
The Cavaliers have improved their defense drastically from January going forward. This strategy likely won’t hurt them against Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, and Avery Bradley with the Celtics, and it would probably work against either Derrick Rose or Michael Carter-Williams in the second round. However, switching their big onto the pick and roll ball handler isn’t going to work against Steph Curry, James Harden, or Chris Paul, should the wine and gold be fortunate enough to make it far enough to see one of those players again this season.”
Read and view it here: http://network.yardbarker.com/all_sports/article_external/cavalier_film_room_switch_happy_on_the_screen/18647516
– No Team Finds Open Shots Like the Hawks: Can the Nets Contain Them? (from Andy Silvis, Vantage Sports):
Read and view it here: http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VTFvMCcAAIQPyozv/no-team-finds-open-shots-like-the-hawks-can-the-nets-contain-them
– Warriors and Pelicans Game One: Film Review (from James Grayson, bourbonstreetshots.com):
Read and view it here: http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/19/warriors-and-pelicans-game-one-film-review/
– Draymond Green Presents Unique Challenge for Anthony Davis to Solve (from Ric Bucher, leacher report):
Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2435356-draymond-green-presents-unique-challenge-for-anthony-davis-to-solve
– Warriors can win by many means (from Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN):
” Draymond Green had some thoughts on unsung aspects of his squad. “We know we’re more than what some people say we are, just a 3-point shooting team,” he said after the game, referring to a stout defense that held New Orleans to a mere 13 first-quarter points. “There’s this stigma, this expectation, this belief that we can’t win if we’re not making 3s. Yet we’re the No. 1 defensive team in the league.”
Read it here: http://www.espn.co.uk/blog/golden-state-warriors/post/_/id/488/green-warriors-can-win-by-many-means
– Curry is more than a 3-point shooter (from Marcus Thompson, Bay Area News Group):
” Curry scored 16 of his team-high 34 points on layups as the Warriors held on for a 106-99 Game 1 win. Curry indeed hoisted a bunch of 3s, making just 4 of 13. But though his shot wasn’t on, his dominance still was.
But Curry is more than just a 3-point shooter. So it makes sense the team he leads is more than just a 3-point shooting team.
“Yeah, that’s just a stigma,” forward Draymond Green said. “There is this expectation and belief that we can’t win if we’re not making threes, yet we’re the number one defensive team in the league.
“We were 11 for 29 from 3, 21 for 34 from the line,” Green continued. “That’s kind of not normal. But we found a way to win the game. So we know that we’re more than what some people may say we are, just a three‑point shooting team. Yet we don’t worry about it. We just go out there and play our game. And we know we can do other things.””
Read it here: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/sports/20150418/thompson-curry-is-more-than-a-3-point-shooter
– Warriors 106, Pelicans 99 (from Adam Lauridsen, mercurynews.com):
” (T)he Pelicans’ resurgence didn’t occur in a vacuum. The run started during a particularly sloppy stretch of Warriors’ play and with Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut on the bench. After watching 12 points fall off the lead in just under three minutes, Steve Kerr re-inserted Green early in the fourth — joining Bogut — and the Warriors quickly went on a 7-0 run. When Bogut checked out again, the Warriors bled seven more points. It’s still not clear to me that Davis has any long-term answer for Green — who led the Warriors with a +23 rating — and was spectacular in the first three quarters denying Davis the ball, stripping it when he got it and keeping him off the offensive glass for easy put-back opportunities. Green received Oracle’s only standing ovation of the night, and he deserved it. But as good as Green was, he needed — and will need — help from Bogut. Davis’ ability to extend the defense opened up easy cutting lanes for the rest of the Pelicans. When Bogut can hang back by the basket — guarding Omer Asik, for example — it leaves a rim-protector behind Davis to frustrate the Pelicans’ penetration and ball movement. Davis had trouble scoring on Bogut from close range, and Bogut’s presence warded off would-be penetrators that Davis could hit with passes. It’s no coincidence that the Pelicans’ offense finally seemed to start clicking and open up when the team abandoned Asik in the middle and played its own version of small-ball, with Davis at center. The resulting sets pulled Bogut out to the perimeter to guard Davis or another Pelican, and left the rim relatively open.”
Read it here: http://blogs.mercurynews.com/warriors/2015/04/19/game-1-evolutionary-pressure-warriors-106-pelicans-99/
– Pelicans breakdown on defense against Warriors (from David Fisher, thebirdwrites.com):
Read and view it here: http://www.thebirdwrites.com/2015/4/19/8451709/new-orleans-pelicans-golden-state-warriors-game-one-analysis-breakdown
– Three things we learned from the Raptors game (from Doug Smith, thestar.com):
Read it here: http://www.thestar.com/sports/doug_smiths_sports_blog/2015/04/three-things-we-learned-from-the-raptors-game.html
– Raptors facing identity crisis after loss to Washington Wizards to open first-round playoff series (from Eric Koreen, nationalpost.com):
Read it here: http://news.nationalpost.com/sports/nba/toronto-raptors-facing-identity-crisis-after-loss-to-washington-wizards-to-open-first-round-playoff-series
– Raptors Need To Be Better At What They Do Best Than Wizards Are At What They Do Well (from Eric Koreen, nationalpost.com):
Read it here: http://news.nationalpost.com/sports/nba/toronto-raptors-need-to-be-better-at-what-they-do-best-than-washington-wizards-are-at-what-they-do-well
– Breaking it Down: Lowry’s gambling; Paul Pierce at the Four (from William Lou, raptorsrepublic.com)
” Lowry lost his gambles on Saturday and it cost the Raptors a chance at the win.”
” By now, everyone and their mother knows the Raptors couldn’t handle Paul Pierce at the four. Everyone will focus on the scoring, but Pierce’s shooting helps in so many areas.”
Read and view it here: http://www.raptorsrepublic.com/2015/04/19/breaking-it-down-lowrys-gambling-pierce-has-it-at-the-four/
– Wizards’ adjustment with Paul Pierce long overdue ( from J Michael, csnwashington.com):
” It’s a fair question to ask why this didn’t happen sooner. Even in the preseason the Wizards talked about using Pierce at power forward but it rarely happened this season. They were having trouble with Nene having to chase smaller players out to the three-point line. Pierce’s versatility, plus he has experience playing the four spot last season with the Brooklyn Nets when they upset Toronto in the first round, made him a logical choice.
It also created more playing time for Otto Porter off the bench. The small forward logged 34 minutes because of the shift and was a pest defensively which contributed to the Raptors shooting just 35 of 92 from the field for 38%.
Still bigger than the Raptors with these changes, the Wizards had a 61-48 edge in rebounds. Nineteen of them were offensive as Gooden had four and Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal three each. The move with Pierce, however, was the move that started it all.
“With me at the four, I think it really opened it up for Brad and John (Wall). I think when I spread the floor, or become a three-point drive threat, then we able to get in the lane a little bit more, find the roll man with the five guy and if they help I’m there for the open three,” Pierce said. “It’s a little bit different from us having two bigs when they kind of pack the lane in and wait for us to drive. It brings a different element when I’m able to play out on the perimeter at the four because a lot of teams are used to us picking and rolling. I’m going to pick and pop and spread the court for us to have more driving lanes. It opened things up there in the second quarter.”
Read it here: http://www.csnwashington.com/basketball-washington-wizards/talk/morning-tip-wizards-adjustment-paul-pierce-long-overdue
– John Wall and Bradley Beal were not decisive against Raptors traps in Game 1 (from Umair Khan, bulletsforever.com):
” Washington’s backcourt was held to 11-41 shooting as they failed to make quick decisions with the ball against the Raptors trapping defense.’
Read and view it here: http://www.bulletsforever.com/2015/4/19/8452165/john-wall-and-bradley-beal-Washington-Wizards-Toronto-raptors-trap-breakdown
– Rockets 118, Mavericks 108: A team effort (from Paul McGuire, red94.net):
” We may forget it from time to time, but there are other players on the Rockets besides James Harden.
Harden dropped 24 points tonight, but by his ludicrous standards did not score all that well. He took 17 free throws and shot just 4-11 from the field. Dallas was aggressive with the double team and absolutely determined to make the rest of the Rockets beat them tonight.
And that is what the rest of the Rockets did. Terrence Jones came close to a triple double, Jason Terry and Trevor Ariza blazed from three, and Corey Brewer was the hero of the fourth quarter. And while it is far too easy to massively extrapolate from just one game, there is one thing that is patently clear: the Mavericks may have an answer for James Harden. But they are as helpless as a newborn kitten in trying to stop Dwight Howard.”
Read it here: http://www.red94.net/houston-rockets-118-dallas-mavericks-108-a-team-effort/15905/
– Dwight Howard’s presence, Houston’s balance expose Dallas shortcomings (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):
Read it here: http://www.si.com/nba/2015/04/19/james-harden-dwight-howard-rockets-beat-mavericks-game-1-western-conference-first-round
– BULLS BLAST OFF IN GAME 1 (from Sam Smith, Bulls.com):
Read it here: http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/samsmith/playoffs/bulls-blast-game-1
– SPORTVU POSTGAME REPORT: BULLS-BUCKS, GAME 1 (from NBA.com):
Read it here: http://stats.nba.com/featured/sportvu_bulls_bucks_gm1_2015_04_18.html
– BBalll Breakdown on Kawhi Leonard (from Coach Nick, Bball Breakdown):
Watch it here: http://blog.mysanantonio.com/spursnation/2015/04/18/basketball-breakdown-on-kawhi-leonard/
– Do the Kings have what it takes to improve? (from James Ham, cowbellkingdom.com):
” There are four major components to the basketball side of an NBA franchise – ownership, management, coaches and players. For the last decade, the Kings have found it nearly impossible to find common ground between all four of these factions.
It takes all four aspects to find success in the NBA. That and a little luck.
Since the golden age of Kings basketball (1998-2006), the Kings have struggled to master any of these four areas of the game. The Maloof family fell on hard times financially and stopped putting the necessary money into the business. Geoff Petrie hit a cold streak, Chris Webber and Vlade Divac got old and the coaching carousel spun out of control.
But we are in a new era of Kings hoops. Everything is fresh and after this next season, there will even be a new home for the team in the heart of Sacramento. How do the Kings fare in the four categories necessary for success?
Read it here: http://cowbellkingdom.com/sunday-musings-do-the-kings-have-what-it-takes-to-improve/
– Utah Jazz Locker Clean-Out Highlights Pt. II: The Players (from Clint Peterson, purpleandblues.com):
Read it here: http://purpleandblues.com/2015/04/18/utah-jazz-locker-clean-out-highlights-pt-ii-the-players/
Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:
– Evan Turner: http://espn.go.com/boston/nba/story/_/id/12710070/evan-turner-transformed-game-become-impact-player-boston-celtics
– Isaiah Thomas: http://espn.go.com/boston/nba/story/_/id/12676881/jackie-macmullan-isaiah-thomas-made-basketball-boston-fun-again-celtics-fans
– Zach Randolph: http://www.commercialappeal.com/sports/grizzlies/griz-have-allaround-zbo-that-blazers-envisioned_77638390
– Corey Brewer: http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/04/18/qa-corey-brewer-on-trade-from-timberwolves-his-51-point-game-hardens-mvp-case-rockets-vs-mavericks/
– Andrew Bogut: http://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/Healthy-Bogut-provides-critical-presence-for-6209142.php
–Bojan Bogdanovic: http://web.yesnetwork.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20150419&content_id=118839006&oid=36318
– Jonas Jerebko/Jae Crowder/Isaiah Thomas/Gigi Datome: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics_nba/boston_celtics/2015/04/celtics_deadline_acquisitions_have_helped_fuel_run_to