– Jon Horford (from Chris Reichert, Upside & Motor): Jon Horford putting in the work to create his own path
– THE THIBODEAU STORY FROM START TO FINISH (from Sam Smith, Bulls.com):
More on the Thibodeau story (from Steve Aschburner, nba.com) here: http://www.nba.com/2015/news/features/steve_aschburner/05/28/bulls-management-diss-tom-thibodeau/
– NUMBERS PREVIEW: THE FINALS (from John Schuhmann, nba.com):
” These are special teams. Statistically, the Warriors are the best team we’ve seen since the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls, outscoring their opponents by 11.4 points per 100 possessions in the regular season. The Cavs, meanwhile, have fought through a myriad of changes (via trades and injuries) to get here, improving defensively along the way.
And the Cavs have been statistically better, both offensively and defensively, than the Warriors in the playoffs, even when you account for weaker competition. Cleveland has better marks in adjusted efficiency (taking their opponents’ regular season marks) on both ends of the floor.”
– GSW-HOU Game 5 Analytics (from Joshua Jonah Fschman, Vantage Sports):
– Appreciating James Harden (from Gerald Bourguet, hoopshabit.com):
” (A)lmost every NBA superstar has been called “overrated” or a “choker” at some point in their careers. For some reason, the vast majority of the world seems hellbent on making James Harden the poster boy for irrationally hated superstars right now, and it’s really high time this nonsense came to an end.”
– An analytic look at LeBron James’ postseason (from Shlomo Sprung, sheridanhoops.com):
– Cavaliers Overcame Many Obstacles (from Alex Kennedy, Basketball Insiders):
– Warriors/Cavs Preview (from Jonathan Tjarks, RealGM):
(Note: This is our first link to a finals preview. We expect to feature several more before the series begins.)
– Warriors Assistant Coach Alvin Gentry Q & A (from Scoop Jackson, ESPN):
– Coaches’ Agent Mike Tannenbaum helped Kerr, Blatt toward NBA Finals (from Dave Hyde, Sun Sentinel):
” A long way from the NBA Finals, a long way from his agent days, a long, long way from helping land coaching jobs for Steve Kerr and David Blatt, Mike Tannenbaum sits in his Dolphins office and shares this hope of their upcoming series:
“I’m rooting for a Game 7 overtime,” the Dolphins vice president of football operations says.
This is a rare story wrapped inside a even rarer one. Because if the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Blatt and the Golden State Warriors’ Kerr represent two first-year NBA coaches meeting in the Finals for the first time, Tannenbaum representing them both offers a good glimpse into him as well.
“It gets crazier,” he said. “They almost worked together this year.”
– Raptors need consistent defence from James Johnson (from Frank Zicarelli, Toronto Sun):
“I thought he played under control,’’ head coach Dwane Casey said of Johnson’s performance against the Lakers. “James’ strength is also his weakness. He feels like he can help on a lot of things and he gets himself in trouble, but I thought he played with a lot of discipline and that was the most important thing because he’s probably one of the most talented guys on the team in certain matchups and can fit in certain situations for us.
“The key for him is to be disciplined at both ends of the floor.”
One of the knocks on Johnson, an area of his game he acknowledges needs improving, is that he feels the need to make up for a teammate’s mistake at the expense of executing his assignment.
That’s where the strength and weakness scenario plays out. Johnson is athletic enough to lock down his man, but his athleticism gets him into trouble when he comes with help when he shouldn’t.
In preparation for the Rockets, one of the drills the Raptors used on Sunday was designed to keep Johnson in his area of responsibility.
“We worked on drills where you have to be disciplined,’’ added Casey. “We put him in situations where he’s going to be guarding guys down the stretch and into the playoffs who are very lethal offensive players and if you make a mistake in those situations, they’ll make you pay.”
– Five observations from the Thunder’s 109-97 win in Phoenix (from Anthony Slater, newsok.com):
Read and view it here: http://newsok.com/five-observations-from-the-thunders-109-97-win-in-phoenix/article/5405789
– Bulls’ recent defensive improvement good sign for playoffs (from KC Johnson, Chicago Tribune):
– Marc Gasol on the Spurs (from Ronald Tillery, commercialappeal.com):
“Their system makes you help and keep helping. They have patience. They have experience. They know how to play together,” Gasol said Sunday night. “They have everything you can ask for as far as a team goes. The players know where their shots are going to come from. They share the ball. If somebody passes up a shot it doesn’t matter. The ball keeps moving for 24 seconds. I don’t know how many passes they get in but they have a lot of patience.”
– Anthony Davis has added a new weapon to his arsenal (from Oleh, thebirdwrites.com):
” Anthony Davis is a multi-talented offensive player that can stretch defenses all the way out to the three-point line. However, opponents are aware of it and they’ve resorted to a number of gimmicks to slow him down: double teams, fronting or flat out holding him at every possible turn. Now, it appears the coaching staff is combating this while making greater use of his potential by having him dictate a greater proportion of the offense. And why shouldn’t they? Outside of Jeff Malone, AD is only the 2nd player since the 3-ball era to have a usage of over 27% but with a sub 7% TOV percentage.
The Brow’s playmaking improvement in March has been astounding”
Read and view it here: http://www.thebirdwrites.com/2015/3/30/8309819/a-new-dimension-for-anthony-davis
– Cavaliers’ Youngsters Are Ready for Playoffs Thanks to Their Veterans (from Greg Swartz, Bleacher Report):
” Their individual roles may vary, but all have been imparting wisdom on the younger Cavs.
“I just told them they need to be mentally prepared, locked-in every game. Playoff basketball is really different from regular-season basketball,” Haywood told Bleacher Report.
“It’s a little bit more physical, every basket counts. Something that seems small now is very big in the playoffs, whether it be not boxing out, not knowing a certain guy’s tendencies. Not running a play the correct way one time can cost you a game. So in the playoffs you have to be locked-in and have a super focus and be ready for a more physical style of play.”
“I think it helps a lot because we’ve got great, young guys who really listen to the older vets. They know some guys like myself and Perkins who aren’t playing that much, we can still help Tristan with things that we know about certain guys’ tendencies. How he should play certain screen-and-roll situations and things of that nature.
“The toughest thing with playing a team back-to-back-to-back is that they’re consistently geared up and more ready to play you every time they see you
“When a series goes six, seven games, by the time the end of the series comes, that team can run your plays just as well as you can because they’ve repped your plays and they know what they want to take away. That’s why the playoffs are all about execution and getting easy shots.”
– Warriors-Thunder Playoff Preview: Spacing Is Everything (from Matthew Way, Bball breakdown):
” With the news of Kevin Durant being shut down for the season, the Thunder’s path to success in the playoffs has become even more difficult. The loss of Durant is especially significant in a potential series against the Warriors. Without him, the Thunder have struggled to space the floor properly.”
Read and view it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2015/03/28/warriors-thunder-playoff-preview-spacing-is-everything/
– A GLIMPSE AT THE NBA’S FUTURE? (from SamSmith, Bulls.com):
Hennigan traded Howard. But in making that move, Hennigan declined a Los Angeles Lakers offer that would have sent All-Star center Andrew Bynum, a player who had serious knee problems and a problematic attitude, to the Magic.
Instead, the Magic agreed to a four-team deal in which they also jettisoned Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark and received young center Nikola Vucevic, rookie swingman Maurice Harkless, shooting guard Arron Afflalo, power forward Al Harrington, combo forward Josh McRoberts, a first-round draft pick in 2014 and conditional future draft picks.
Vucevic, now 24, turned out to have more value than most observers realized. Although questions persist on whether he can become an All-Star, he has developed into one of the top rebounders in the NBA and one of the league’s most gifted scoring centers.
The decision not to acquire Bynum turned out to be a masterful move. If the Magic had acquired him, it would have been an unmitigated disaster for the franchise. Because of knee problems, Bynum missed the entire 2012-13 season and is now out of the league.”
Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:
– CJ Miles/George Hill/David West: http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/plenty-subplots-pacers-win
– Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas needs to learn from Chuck Hayes (from Eric Koreen, National Post):
– Wizards’ Randy Wittman: ‘We got to grow up from an emotional standpoint’ (from Jorge Castillo, Washingotn Post):
“ We got to grow up from an emotional standpoint. We’re sometimes our worst enemy, in terms what I mean by that is, this is a game of mistakes. I’ve been around the game a long time. I have yet to see a team or a player play the perfect game. And until we get past the two or three minutes when we, as an individual or as a team, have a bad stretch, whether you turn it over or you miss a shot or you get a shot blocked or you blow a defensive assignment … You quit playing is the way I term it. We feel sorry for ourselves and put our heads down.”
“There’s no way in the world I should have to take a timeout 40 seconds coming out of halftime to wake you up because you’re feeling sorry for yourself because you turned the ball over two times in a row to start the third quarter. Now it’s [snaps] a 10-point lead, just like that.”
And from Kyle Wiedie: http://www.truthaboutit.net/2014/11/wizards-102-vs-mavericks-105-key-legislature.html
– How Erik Spoelstra Is Keeping the Miami Heat Rolling Without LeBron James (from Dylan Murphy, Bleacher Report):
– The men who would be Kings (from Patrick Redford, ESPN):
” It’s only Year 2 of the Ranadive era, but that hangdog legacy is dead. This is the team of the expanding, forward-thinking Sacramento. The noxious self-defeatism of the Maloofs is all gone and the new Kings are finally caught up with the rest of the league. Ranadive and his team are enthusiastically trying to push every boundary they can, for better or for worse. Some of their forays past the bleeding edge of basketball orthodoxy — like biometric data gathering and the idea of playing with an ultimate frisbee-style cherry picker — have drawn criticism and mockery. But look at their good ideas — like signing up for the Catapult tracking system and hiring advanced stats wizard Dean Oliver — next to the questionable ones, and you’ll see that the Kings aren’t blindly swinging out for megalomania or the sake of selling themselves as “NBA 3.0.” These new Kings are ambitious and aggressive about winning as many games as they can with whoever they employ or shuffling their roster around until it works.”
– How Bulls’ offense grew through Derrick Rose’s injuries (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):
” The substance of Chicago’s offense should be familiar to those who tuned in to watch the Bulls last season: A parade of dribble hand-offs and curl cuts, some choreographed opposite one another for maximum effect. Even more straightforward isolations and post-ups are in themselves the result of something elastic, from which a collection of bright players can read and react to the opportunities presented them.
What’s changed are the implications of Chicago’s offensive flow. The Bulls force opponents into a near-constant stream of defensive exchange and – through a mix of acquired talent and organic development – have the potency to makes those exchanges agonizing.”
Read and view it here: http://www.si.com/nba/2014/11/20/chicago-bulls-offense-derrick-rose-pau-gasol
– Hinrich/Dunleavy: Two great pros (from Sam Smith, nba.com/bulls):
“Two great pros,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. “Tough minded, give you everything they have. Both of those guys are great pros. When you have young guys like we do, that’s the best kind of leadership you can have. They come in every day, they practice hard, they execute. Do all the right things.”
Read it here: http://www.nba.com/bulls/sam-smith/two-great-pros
– Jason Kidd, young Bucks excercise power of the wind sprint (from Sean Deveney, Sporting News):
“It kind of reminds you of a backyard coach just because he will stop practice and say, ‘Get on the line, let’s get some lines in. Let’s get some ups and downs,'” veteran guard O.J. Mayo said. “It’s a little different because the NBA is not like that, but he takes it back to how he would have liked it when he played.”
There is no doubt it is an effective weapon for Kidd. Nothing punctuates a directive better than putting it with some physical exertion.
“It gets the point across,” point guard Brandon Knight said. “Sometimes a coach can say, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that.’ But guys will continue to do it. When you have got to run up and down, you have got to sprint seven or eight times, and you’ve got a game the next day, you’ll figure it out.”
” At issue is the role that Kidd’s longtime agent during his playing career, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management, played in Kidd’s attempt to achieve personnel authority with the Nets — and, when the power play failed, his role in ultimately landing Kidd a handsome raise to supplant a coach, Larry Drew, who had not yet been fired in Milwaukee.
“The blatant disregard for people is unreal,” one person involved in the NBA coaching business told CBSSports.com “I can’t believe the way these people do business; it’s amazing. They just think you can do whatever you want. It’s like it’s the wild West.”
Under review is a rule in the National Basketball Players Association’s Regulations Governing Player Agents, which has long forbidden certified player agents from representing coaches, general managers or “any other management representative who participates in the team’s deliberations or decisions concerning what compensation is to be offered individual players.” The rule has been on the books for decades to guard against the obvious conflicts of interest that would arise if an agent were operating on both sides of a player-management negotiation. The NBPA is the only one of the four major pro sports unions in North America that expressly outlaws the practice.
But under former union chief Billy Hunter’s regime, and even before, the rule was rarely enforced, creating an environment in which agents have wielded unchecked power within certain organizations while allowing themselves to be placed in the ethical quagmire of representing players and their negotiating adversaries simultaneously.”
– Derrick Rose Does Not Belong To You (from Alexander Goot, themedium.com/the-cauldron):
” Reactionary, judgmental and outlandish #HotSportsTakes aside, the commoditization of an NBA player reeks of Sterlingism.”
Read it here: https://medium.com/the-cauldron/derrick-rose-does-not-belong-to-you-cdff4cb56630
– Gregg Popovich Tells LeBron James Critics to ‘Go Swim in the Lake’ (from Kyle Newport, Bleacher Report):
More Player Updates:
– Solomon Hill: http://www.vigilantsports.com/2014/11/20/solomon-hill-hits-buzzer-beater-confidence-soars-as-he-finally-feels-part-of-the-team/ and http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nba/pacers/2014/11/19/solomon-hills-putback-gives-pacers-win/19304075/