– Why/How Isaiah Thomas Is The NBA’s Most Feared Clutch Scorer (from Mike Prada, SBNation):
Read and watch it here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/nba/la-sp-bucks-antetokounmpo-20170211-story.html
– Spurs’ Hammer Play, Kaminsky, Exum And More (from Adam Spinella, BBall Breakdown):
Read and watch t here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2017/02/18/coaches-seat-spurs-hammer-play-kaminsky-exum/
– Antetokounmpo Is Reviving The Bucks’ Franchise (from Paul Coro, LA Times):
– James Harden Discovers A Leader…In The Mirror (from Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle):
– Malcolm Brogdon: Defying 2nd Round Expectations (from Jared Dubin, VICE Sports):
From Charles F. Gardner, jsonline.com): http://www.jsonline.com/story/sports/nba/bucks/2017/02/16/malcolm-brogdon-not-playing-second-fiddle-rookie-season/97986034/
– Griffin, Clippers Putting It Back Together (from Ben Dowsett, Basketball Insiders):
– Jerian Grant Is Developing Into What The Bulls Need (from Jakob Bikshorn, Blogabull.com):
– C.J. McCollum’s Path To Stardom (from Jason Quick, csnnw.com:
– Kawhi Leonard Relishes The Responsibility (from Tom Orsborn, Express-News):
– Porzingis Still Trying To Connect With Rose (from Marc Berman, NY Post):
– Dissecting The Rose/Anthony Two- Man Game (from Zach Diluzio, Posting And Toasting):
– Hornets Need A Healthy Cody Zeller Back (from Maxwell Ogden, Hoops Habit):
– A Beautiful Diversity Among Grizzlies Big Men (from Mac Trammell, Crizzly bear Blues):
– Marc Gasol’s Remarkable Return From Injury (from Peter Edmiston, Commercial Appeal):
Read t here:
– Mason Plumlee Brings Consistency, Continuity To Nuggets (from TJ McBride, bsndenver):
– Hard Work Is Paying Off For Brad Stevens (from Jeff Zilgitt, USA Today):
– Juancho Hernangomez’ Advanced Statistics (from Matthew Huff, Nugg Love):
– Magic Working To Rebuild Young Assets (from Philip Rossman Reich, Orlando Magic Daily):
– Nuggets: 3 Players Who Came Out Of Nowhere (from Blake Holmes, Nugg Love):
– Nikola Jokic Scouting Report (from Jake Rauchbach, Denver Stiffs):
Read and watch it here: http://www.denverstiffs.com/2017/2/17/14651234/scouting-report-on-nikola-jokic-denver-nuggets
From Kyle Wagner, fivethiryeight.com:
– Emmanuel Mudiay Scouting Report (from Jake Rauchbach, Denver Stiffs):
Read and watch it here: http://www.denverstiffs.com/2017/2/17/14576130/scouting-report-on-emmanuel-mudiay
– The Guru Who Is Preparing Carmelo For His Next Act (from Hannah Withiam, NY Post):
– Ask Sam Smith (from bulls.com):
Read it here: http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/ask-sam-mailbag-021717
– The All-Star Game Has Become Unwatchable (from Alex Novick, Sporting News):
– Marcus Smart Is Reaching Untouchable Status (from Liam O’Brien, Hardwood Houdini):
– D-League: Scott Wood is More Than Just A Specialist (from Angelo Mendoza, Blue Man Hoop):
– Kawhi Leonard: The defending champion’s champion defender (from Brayden neubauer, pounding therock.com):
” Standing 6’7″ with a ridiculous 7’3″ wingspan, Kawhi Leonard is nearly a perfect basketball specimen. That, combined with his basketball instincts, makes him a nightmare for opposing offenses.
His freakishly long arms give him the ability to keep his distance when guarding on the perimeter. He can stay back preventing his opponent from waltzing right around him on the drive, but can still extend to get a hand up to quickly contest the shot.
Additionally, the length helps when defending against smaller guards. Now, his job isn’t to chase around the NBA’s quickest point guards, but sometimes when faced with a switch or a ball pick-up in transition, he ends up guarding a player a ½ foot shorter than him.
When caught in this situation, he is still able to get low and smother the smaller opponent without much of a problem. With his gigantic 11.25 inch hands (Yes, the man’s hands are nearly a foot from thumb to pinky), his reach is long enough to get under the ball handler’s crossover…
Kawhi’s instincts seem to improve every time I watch him, like a sponge absorbing every drop of defensive strategy-juice that Coach Pop pours on him. His well-timed help side and proper rotation is essential to the Spurs’ suffocating defense, which currently ranks 3rd in the NBA, per NBA.com.”
Read and view it here: http://www.poundingtherock.com/2015/2/16/8045835/kawhi-leonard-defense-elite
– Four Hawks stormed the All-Star team as they should, together (from Matt Moore, cbssports):
” Mike Budenholzer stressed in an interview this week that Atlanta’s entire structure really “isn’t that complicated,” which seems counterintuitive when you watch them play. They move the ball with breakneck speed, their rotations and spacing seem so orchestrated and well designed. How can this really be so simple?
“It’s so simple,” Millsap said. “People might not get it. They don’t expect it to be that simple and be productive with it. It’s just fundamental basketball, going out and having fun.”
“Honestly, it’s just playing pick-up basketball,” All-Star point guard Jeff Teague said. “Unselfish basketball. You’ve got to have intelligent players who know how to pass and are willing to pass up a good shot for a better shot.”
The Hawks are masters at that concept, registering the third most secondary assists or “hockey assists” in the league, behind only the Warriors and Spurs. But that doesn’t come about through mastery of an advanced playbook, instead Millsap says it’s about what they focus on.
“It’s about our work ethic. We practice the basics. We practice on the simple stuff, so that when the game comes around, it’s second nature.”
“Our whole offense is free flowing,” Teague said. “We don’t call plays too much, it’s all reads and reactions from one another.”
For the Hawks, that speaks to their commitment to and trust in one another. That’s why the four stars were so glad they were chosen together.
“That’s the biggest thing,” Teague said. “We’re the ultimate team. We play for one another, put one another ahead of ourselves everyday. That’s why we’re winning.””
– Celtics could learn from Atlanta’s team dynamic (from Mark Murphy, Boston Herald):
“The thing that stands out is just the quick decision making,” Stevens said. “I’m hoping that’s a function of age.”
It’s certainly a function of good scouting and drafting.
“It starts with our players. It’s the way they’re built — high-character guys, high basketball IQs,” Budenholzer said. “They enjoy making decisions and being put in position to make reads and share with each other.
“We do practice it, we do watch film and drill it. But it always starts with our players. They’re made up and built in a way that makes us fortunate. They make quick decisions, quick reads. They do a lot of things that hopefully make us hard to guard.
“We just try to build and get better. More and more people are making more decisions,” he added. “We’re very fortunate with our bigs. They’re very good in their ability to make good decisions passing and handling the ball. We have multiple guys and people. Thabo (Sefolosha) and Kent (Bazemore) are new and growing. Trust me, their decisions are not always quick and not always good, but we are pushing them in that direction.”
“It’s the modern day basketball game,” Millsap said. “But it’s definitely a work in progress. Two completely different teams. Atlanta has a system that has allowed us freedom to play our games. I’m a testament to that, Kyle (Korver) is a testament to it. Free motion, free play.”
In the middle of that motion stands Budenholzer, drilling his players on their choices and making sure the ball doesn’t stick.
Though he has a similar sobering approach to his former boss, Gregg Popovich, Budenholzer isn’t as hands-on as some might think.
Asked about micro-managing, Teague shook his head.
“Not at all,” the point guard said. “He’s definitely a free-flowing coach. It’s become second nature to us, and it’s easier to play for a coach like that.”
– Pelican Offense Warming Up (from David Fisher, thebirdwrites.com):
” After a long, cold start to the season the Pelicans finally found the pilot light as the calender flipped to 2015.”
– The 76ers’ plan to win (from Pablo S Torres, ESPN The Magazine):
” Or: How one analytics-mad franchise learned to stop worrying and love the bomb”
– Play Type Data: What Does it Tell us About the Charlotte Hornets? (from Doug Branson, queencityhoops.com):
” The NBA’s official stats page now includes: interactive video box scores, player tracking graphs, player tracking stats and play type stats.
So what is this play type data and what insights can it give us into the 2014-15 Charlotte Hornets? Play type data basically expands on the box score play-by-play by recording what type of “play” or “action” produced the end result? Was it a pick and roll? Isolation? Post-up? With this information you can see not only the frequency of play type but also how effective it has been for a team AND an individual player. Cool stuff, right?
I could write 5000 words on all of the information gleaned from this data and still not crack the surface so I’ve limited myself to three big takeaways. Here we go.”
Danny Ainge Q & A on making trades (from Brian Robb, Bleacher Report):
– NBA Trade Deadline Primer (from Zach Lowe, grantland.com):
” Don’t get your hopes up: This NBA trade deadline doesn’t promise major action, since so many teams on both sides of the buyer-seller divide got their business out of the way early.1 But surprise deals always pop up, and teams can chitchat with more certainty about the salary-cap environment after the players’ union smacked down the league’s smoothing proposal for future national TV money over All-Star Weekend.
Some corners of the league office are wary about the cap consequences of the league’s national TV take leaping from about $930 million in 2015-16 to $2.1 billion the following season. The cap level is tied to league revenue, and a mega-jump like that would send the cap skyrocketing from about $68 million next season to something like $90 million in 2016-17, according to various league and team projections.
As I’ve been writing since the summer, an unprecedented cap increase raises thorny complications — including the possibility that super-talented teams might luck into a random one-year blip of cap flexibility. Big-market sad sacks like the Knicks and Lakers could offer two or even three huge salary slots to the loaded class of 2016.
The league’s smoothing proposal meant that none of this was written in stone; teams weren’t sure what the cap would look like after this season and had to plan for several contingencies. The plotting got easier over the last few months, as Michele Roberts, the union’s new executive director,made it clear she was suspicious of any smoothing proposal from league headquarters. That suspicion morphed on Friday into an official rejection. The league and union can still negotiate, but time is running thin and a compromise seems unlikely.
In other words: Get ready for the cap bonanza of 2016. Teams know that it’s coming, and they can act with a hair more confidence over these final hours. Let’s spin around the biggest deadline-related questions as the madness unfolds.”
(BI Note: As a rule, we ignore trade deadline stories. However, that rule is trumped by a more universal rule: don’t ignore anything that Zach Lowe writes)
– Phoenix Suns Offense in Desperate Need of Low-Post Scoring (from Scooper10030, brightsideofthesun.com):
– Jazz Developing, Identifying Franchise Cornerstones (from EJ Ayala, Basketball Insiders.com):
– More fizzle than sizzle (and way too many 3-pointers) at All-Star Game (from Ken Berger, CBS Sports):
” Call me crazy, but when 10 of the best basketball players in the world are on the floor in the sport’s signature event, I’d like to see them actually play basketball.”
– As N.B.A.’s D-League Celebrates the Future, Older Players Savor Their Invitations (from Scott Cacciola, NYTimes.com):
” The N.B.A. Development League staged its annual All-Star Game at Barclays Center on Sunday afternoon, pitting the Western Conference Prospects against the Eastern Conference Futures.
If the team names were not indication enough that the event was geared around the twin concepts of youth and potential, two supplemental activities — a 3-point shootout before the game and a dunk contest at halftime — were billed by the league as the Dream Factory.
For young players from teams like the Santa Cruz Warriors and the Canton Charge — the unsung, the unknown, the undrafted — the events presented a rare opportunity to share the bright lights of All-Star weekend with their N.B.A. brethren, and perhaps even impress a few of the big-league scouts and front-office types who were sitting courtside.
– Understanding Bradley Beal’s Latest Stress Reaction (from Jeff Stotts, instreetclothes.com):
Read it here: http://instreetclothes.com/blog/
Addiitional Player Notes:
– Hawks show they can win in different ways (from Ray Glier, USAToday):
‘” When Golden State tried to fit a lineup on the floor to solve the Hawks offense of threes, Atlanta set screens, rolled to the basket, popped out, and greeted all the switches the Warriors made on defense with a big smile. Because suddenly there was Paul Millsap, 6-foot-8 and a bulky 246 pounds, looking down on a guard and barreling to the basket. There was 6-10 Al Horford running at the rim with a slower big man trying to keep up.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr had to go to a smaller lineup when his 7-footer Andrew Bogut came face-to-face with 6-foot-1 guard Dennis Schroder late in the third quarter. Instinctively, the Hawks shifted the floor away from Schroder to give him room to bamboozle Bogut and the little guy faked a drive, stopped, and popped in a floating 11-footer. When Bogut left the game and the lane was free, the path was made easier for Millsap to abuse and Horford to rim run.
It is a basketball savvy and maturity to behold, and a pretty good reason why coach Mike Budenholzer should be, so far, the NBA Coach of the Year. When the Hawks get a mismatch, they recognize it instantly, and lock in on it. They do not take panicked looks at the shot clock and they sure don’t pass up the chance to exploit the mismatch. The Hawks’ egos, never, ever, get in the way (‘hey, it’s my turn to shoot’).”
– Hawks, Warriors Stage Classic In New Age of NBA (from KL Chounard, Hawks.com):
” The emergence of the three-point shot helped reshape NBA offenses to the style now played by Golden State and Atlanta, but Kyle Korver noted that the biggest incentive for fixing ball-stopping offenses may have actually involved fixing the defenses.
“The trend a couple of years ago was Coach Thibs’ defense: loading up the one side of the floor, stopping the iso,” Korver said, referring to Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau and his tendency to put extra defenders on the same side of the court as the ball.
“A lot of teams have caught onto that. A lot of teams do that now.”
As a result, teams have figured out that the proper counterattack, the best means for getting high-percentage shots, is through ball movement.
This contest had ball movement in spades. After the two teams scored a combined 240 points on each other’s top-5 ranked defenses, Korver compared the Hawks and Warriors.
“We’re different teams, and we have different personnel but I think a lot of the philosophy is probably similar. Both teams play with the pass, both teams play with space, both teams have a lot of shooting, both teams play great defense. I think that gets lost.”
– Hawks vs. Warriors (from Mike Prada, SBNation):
” Switching doesn’t work against the Hawks either.
As the Hawks kept racking up victories, a school of thought developed on how to stop them. Rather then try to fight through every screen in a fruitless attempt to keep up with Korver off the ball or contain Teague in the pick and roll, some argued it made more sense to switch assignments and bait the Hawks into going at mismatches. At least this strategy prevents the Hawks from kicking their legendary flow into high gear.
With their surplus of 6’7 wings, the Warriors seemed to offer the best test case for this theory. And as usual, the Warriors constantly took advantage of their interchangeability, trading assignments on the weakside and even letting Curry guard Paul Millsap in the post at times.
It … didn’t work.”
– Hawks’ depth and former AAU teammates prove to be deciding factors vs. Warriors (from Jacob Eisenberg, sheridanhoops.com):
(BI Note: Game One of the Best-of-Nine NBA Finals series was outstanding. Next up: Game Two in Oakland on March 18. We will be there.)
– An NBA Friday night to remember (from Michael Lee, Washington Post):
” The last Friday before the NBA all-star break gave us a few things to consider for the remainder of the season: Time is running out before the rest of the league has to start being very afraid of Anthony Davis. The Russell Westbrook Appreciation Society should have a slew of new members after this week. Continue dismissing the passing-every-test Atlanta Hawks at your own peril. Cleveland has figured out a lot in recent weeks but winning in Indiana and getting that Kevin Love to work all the time aren’t among them. And finally, Minnesota isn’t finishing with the league’s worst record if Ricky Rubio’s around.”
– For Patrick Ewing, deep-rooted dedication drives him towards head coaching goal (from Michael Lee, Washington Post):
” Thirty years after graduating from Georgetown and going first overall to the New York Knicks with aspirations of winning titles at the rate of Bill Russell, Ewing is associate head coach of the Charlotte Hornets and harbors grander aspirations. Ewing is still hoping some owner or general manager will finally decide to take a chance on an all-time great who has been paying his dues on the sideline with a sharp suit and a clipboard for more than a decade.
Ewing’s pursuit of an NBA head coaching job has yielded only two interviews in 13 years, but he remains committed to chasing it — just like his long and ultimately fruitless quest for a championship ring. “I’d like the opportunity to succeed or fail like everybody else. I can’t sit around and boo-hoo, ‘They won’t give me an opportunity,’ ” Ewing said. “I just keep working and keep grinding, and whenever my name is called or somebody decides to give me that call, I just want to make sure I’m ready.””
– Jared Sullinger’s safe playmaking (from Jay King, Masslive.com):
” Sullinger’s safe playmaking has become a precious pillar for the Boston Celtics offense. His low turnover totals are even more impressive because the Celtics use him so often to handle the ball. He initiates dribble hand-offs, finds backdoor cutters and executes an occasional spin move to the hoop. He cuts to the middle, stops to receive a pass and whips the ball to the opposite corner. He works in the post, draws double-teams, and finds open teammates.
Sullinger has found open teammates a lot lately. Over the last three games, he has established a career high in assists twice, racking up 17 assists compared to just two turnovers. His inside-outside game has helped small lineups prosper. The brilliant playmaking stretch has only highlighted what might currently count as Sullinger’s greatest offensive strength: the ability to facilitate offense while keeping possession for his team.
Before we continue, know these assists are not all simple. Sullinger’s creativity, vision and feel allow him to try passes a lot of big men wouldn’t consider.”
Read and view it here: http://www.masslive.com/celtics/index.ssf/2015/02/jared_sullinger_play-making_bo.html
– All-Star starting nod just the beginning for Raptors’ Lowry (from Ian Thomsen, NBA.com):
” Guard took path he wanted to become both All-Star, team leader”
– A VISUAL GUIDE TO JIMMY BUTLER’S ASCENT (from Martin Kessler, triangleoffense.com):
Read and view it here: http://triangleoffense.com/features/the-gifted-a-visual-guide-to-jimmy-butlers-ascent/
– Zach Randolph Is Having Himself a Season (from Mike Honkasalo, Vantage Sports):
– James Harden’s clutch defense seals win for the Rockets (from Matt Moore CBS Sports):
” Giannis Antetokounmpo had a huge night Friday. Twenty-seven points, 15 rebounds, four assists, and a block in a loss to the Rockets. But with a chance off a long rebound to make a big play in transition, a Houston Rocket stepped up and made a defensive play to essentially seal the game for the Rockets.
Yes, it was James Harden.”
– Five NBA D-League Assistants Who Could Find Success As Head Coaches (from Keith Schlosser, ridiculousupside.com):
– D-League: Can Jack Cooley Or Jerrelle Benimon Contribute I n the NBA? (from Joshua Riddell, BBall Breakdown):
Stat of the Night: Last night’s game was the second of a back-to back for the Cavs . Prior to last night, Kevin Love was shooting 37.3% in 2nd game of back-to-backs (12 games), 41.7% on one day of rest (27 games), and 55.6% on two days of rest (7 games). Last night’s Love went 2-for-8.
Additional Player Updates:
– Tim Frazier: http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/02/07/point-guard-tim-frazier-has-come-long-way/hbSY7HOHRJxIu7SbHsWLKO/story.html and http://www.csnphilly.com/basketball-philadelphia-76ers/sixers-tim-frazier-goes-td-garden-stands-nba-debut-boston-celtics
– 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:
- No actual All-Stars will be on this list. This isn’t because the actual All-Stars are overrated — in most cases, they are also Film Room All-Stars. This is about honoring those whose talents fly under the radar. (We’re assuming Kyle Korver gets picked to replace Dwyane Wade. Otherwise, he’d be this team’s captain. Also: no Mike Conley because he’d be an All-Star in the East).
- A lot of candidates will be left out. Almost every good team has at least one indispensable role player/situational star/glue guy. We can only spotlight 13. Everyone we considered will be noted.
- These players are usually more valuable to their teams than any other one: Each team needs different kinds of supplementary players depending on their stars or style of play. Place any one of these players on a different team, and they’d lose some of their value. We don’t believe that should be held against them, which is why they are being celebrated.
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/