– Making sense of the Rockets (from Paul Flannery, sbnation):
Read it here: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/4/22/8466675/rockets-vs-mavericks-strange-josh-smith-dwight-howard
– Josh Smith’s assists propelled Rockets in Game 2, and it was no fluke (from Seth Partnow, Washington Post):
” In the second half of Game 2 of the Houston Rockets-Dallas Mavericks series Tuesday night, Josh Smith simply took over for Houston. Over 20 minutes of action after the break, he had 13 points, six rebounds and nine assists, most of them spectacular.
” While Smith has mostly gotten press over the last few seasons for his dire three-point shooting, that weakness has often obscured the fact that he remains a wonderfully talented player with basically every skill (aside from a reliable jump shot) one could ask for. His passing has long been particularly overlooked.
Smith wasn’t just collecting assists Tuesday night by throwing the ball to teammates making mid-range jumpers, either.”
Read and view it here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2015/04/22/josh-smiths-assists-propelled-rockets-in-game-2-and-it-was-no-fluke/
More of Josh’s passing can be seen here: http://www.sportsgrid.com/nba/josh-smith-was-a-point-god-for-the-rockets-last-night-watch-all-6-lobs-to-dwight-howard/
– Rondo rides pine as end nears for Dallas (from Tim McMahon, ESPN):
Read it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas-mavericks/post/_/id/4705192/rajon-rondo-rides-pine-as-end-nears-for-dallas
– Is Dirk Nowitzki a Victim or Part of Dallas Mavericks’ Playoff Problem? (from Vitas Lasaitis, Bleacher report):
Read and view it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2437988-is-dirk-nowitzki-a-victim-or-part-of-dallas-mavericks-playoff-problem
– Draymond Green Q & A (from Marcus Thompson II, meercurynews.com):
Read it here: http://blogs.mercurynews.com/thompson/2015/04/21/draymond-green-outshines-anthony-davis-lifting-warriors-2-0-series-lead/
– Bench Squad Helps Keep Warriors Afloat in Game 2 (from Carlos Murillo, bluemanhoop.com):
Read it here: http://bluemanhoop.com/2015/04/22/bench-squad-helps-keep-warriors-afloat-game-2/
– Curry benefits from Jackson-to-Kerr transition (from Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury news):
Read it here; http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2015/04/22/4254166_tim-kawakami-curry-benefits-from.html
– Assistant Coach Alvin Gentry reflects on Warriors’ diabolical run (from Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated):
Read it here: http://www.si.com/nba/2015/04/22/alvin-gentry-warriors-assistant-stephen-curry-steve-nash
– Cavaliers’ Defense a Concern Before NBA Playoffs Get Tougher (from Greg Swartz, Bleacher Report):
” Despite taking a 2-0 lead over the Boston Celtics in their opening-round series, the Cleveland Cavaliers have appeared less than dominant.
While the offense has looked unstoppable at times given the Cavs’ personnel and unselfishness, the defense may be their Achilles’ heel. Boston has remained close in both losses, thanks to their ability to move the ball, dribble-penetrate and get to the free-throw line.
The Celtics put up 100 points against the Cavaliers on Sunday, April 19 before slipping to 91 in Game 2 on Tuesday. Only once in two games could Cleveland’s lead truly be considered comfortable, as Boston’s sixth man and leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas, has proven difficult to contain.
(W)hat happens later in the playoffs where the competition only gets better? Offensively, Cleveland is championship-worthy. When it comes down to digging in on D, however, should the Cavaliers be worried?”
Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2437615-cleveland-cavaliers-defense-a-concern-before-nba-playoffs-get-tougher
– Celtics Building Exciting Future After Surprise 2014-15 (from Grant Rindner, Bleacher Report):
” The most exciting thing about the Celtics going forward is easily their nucleus of talent. While lacking a clear superstar, the pieces have jelled remarkably and make up a deep, well-rounded unit.
Boston’s top players like Marcus Smart, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder and Tyler Zeller are all 25 years old or younger. Evan Turner and Isaiah Thomas qualify as elder statesmen at age 26, and Brandon Bass is a geezer at 29. Per RealGM, Boston’s average player age of 25 is notably lower than the league average of 26.8.
The C’s have had huge success acquiring marginal rotation players like Crowder and Zeller, then turning them into key pieces, and they should continue to grow and blossom in those roles. Pretty much all of the young players have yet to reach their ceilings, and many of them still have very clear areas they could improve in. ”
Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2438904-no-matter-what-boston-celtics-building-exciting-future-after-surprise-2014-15
– BRAD STEVENS: WHAT’S NEXT ALL THAT MATTERS FOR CELTICS (from Ben Rohrbach, weei.com):
“ I’m encouraged by our defense today,” Stevens said after his C’s held the Cavs to 24.1 percent shooting from 3. “I thought our offense wasn’t quite as good. They played good defense on their end. I also think we were in a three-possession game and we shot 38 percent, so it’s not bad. And you hold them to 99, you feel pretty good about your chances if you even make a few of those, knock a few of those in.”
The Celtics simply lack the firepower to accomplish what they must in order to make this a series. Winning four of five games against James and Kyrie Irving is an impossible task, and yet the Tao of Stevens maintains if the C’s win the next one, they will give themselves a chance, because they should be even better in Game 4.
“We have another game to play; we have another game to prepare for,” said Stevens. “We have to prepare to the best of our ability. We’ve been of a collective mindset of the only day that matters is today, and you move on to what’s next. I know that gets really old to hear, but I think it’s the only way to live — and certainly the only way to live in this business. And it allows you to keep your focus on the task at hand.”
In theory, that’s as practical as it comes. In practice, it’s not so easy to keep your players focused when you lose at home to the Knicks, fall to 7-14 and trade Rajon Rondo in mid-December. Even harder when you lose 11-of-14 during a January stretch in which Rondo embarrasses you in Boston and you deal Jeff Green before facing a six-game road trip out West, where you hadn’t won during your tenure.
Somewhere along the line, though, the Even Stevens approach rubbed off on the players who remained, whether by brainwashing or blind faith in the philosophy. Individually, everyone from Evan Turner to Jonas Jerebko improved under Stevens, and collectively the wins started coming in waves — 3-of-4 out West, 4-of-5 before the All-Star break, 7-of-8 to start March and 9-of-10 to finish the regular season.”
Read it here: http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/basketball/celtics/ben-rohrbach/2015/04/22/tao-stevens-what%E2%80%99s-next-all-matters-celtics
– Wizards are baffling the Raptors by playing lineups they barely used in the regular season (from Scott Davis, businessinsider.com):
” The Wizards have started using small-ball lineups, spreading the floor with four shooters surrounding one big man. It’s a staple of almost all modern NBA offenses, but something the Wizards were reluctant to use throughout the season when they finished 19th in offensive efficiency.
Read it here: http://www.businessinsider.com/washington-wizards-paul-pierce-at-the-4-2015-4
– John Wall, Bradley Beal lead Washington to 2-0 series lead (from Mike Prada, SBNation):
Read it here: http://www.sbnation.com/2015/4/21/8465077/raptors-wizards-2015-final-score-nba-playoff-results/in/8228452
– Highlights from John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter’s big Game 2 performances (from Jake Whitacre, bulletsforever.com):
Read and view it here: http://www.bulletsforever.com/2015/4/22/8467093/john-wall-bradley-beal-otto-porter-washington-wizards-game-2-highlights
– Otto Porter flashed his entire skill-set in game 2 vs. Raptors (from Umair Khan, bulletsforever.com):
” For as long as Otto Porter continues to develop, there will always be two prevailing thoughts surrounding him. There’s his supporters, the one’s that look past his physical limitations and into the subtleties of his game — his ability to position himself well or make the right rotation — which leads them to believe he can become a key cog as part of a much larger team structure.
And then there’s the rebuttal. The fact that he’s just 198 pounds and that he’s incapable of holding his ground against stronger wing players. He’s fundamentally sound, sure, but he’s also slow-footed and prone to getting beat off the dribble. Smart teams can negate a lot of what he does defensively by posting him up, or they can simply involve him in an endless amount of high pick and rolls and force him to fight over every bone-crushing screen.
To be clear, neither side is wrong, but game two in Toronto went a long way in erasing some of these doubts.”
Read and view it here: http://www.bulletsforever.com/2015/4/22/8467069/otto-porter-skill-set-washington-wizards-vs-toronto-raptors-game-2
– Injuries taking heavy toll on Raptors’ Lowry (from Brian Windhorst, ESPN):
Read it here: http://espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2015/story/_/id/12738709/2015-nba-playoffs-injuries-taking-big-toll-kyle-lowry-toronto-raptors
– Can DeAndre Jordan do ‘it’ again in Game 2? (from trisity Miller, fullyclips.com):
” For the fourth time, adding to three previous losses that occurred in the regular season, the San Antonio Spurs shot 36 percent from the field. All of it wasn’t due to Jordan’s defense in the paint — the team missed numerous open shots, a trend unlikely to continue if presented similar shots — but when the Spurs players did decide the paint is where they wanted to add points, Jordan was there to greet them.
Given the inconsistencies that Jordan has dealt with over the years as a defender, this is a stride we’ve wanted to see from the player who many believe could and should be the Defensive Player of the Year. But with Game 1 behind him, can the big man offer an encore as his Clippers look to go up 2-0 over the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in Game 2?”
Read and view it here: http://fullyclips.com/2015/04/22/film-room-can-deandre-jordan-do-it-again-in-game-2/
– Chris Paul Sustains The Volatile Clippers (from jesse Blanchard, Bball Breakdown):
” If the Clippers are a hurricane, and Griffin and Jordan are the powerful wind gusts wreaking havoc, bludgeoning structures into submission and sending basketballs five rows into the stands, then Chris Paul is the eye of the storm.
Paul had 32 points, seven rebounds, and six assists with almost every possession firmly in his control. He’s sometimes overlooked as the basketball world gushes over the newest generation of point guards; there are more athletically dominant players (Russell Westbrook), superior shooters/scorers (Stephen Curry) and perhaps a better handle (Kyrie Irving). But no one has better balance than Paul; no one is a bigger threat to do more things from all positions on the court.
“His balance is just incredible to me, all the different body positions he’s in and the way he handles the ball,” Popovich once said of Paul. “Whatever he does, spinning, moving, cutting, faking, he’s on balance to pull up and shoot or deliver a pass.”
It’s amazing to watch Paul work, shifting gears seamlessly. At times there almost a small hop to his step as he probes the defense off the dribble; both his feet hitting the floor at the same time, ready to give a burst in any direction, making his pull-up jumper off the pick-and-roll perhaps the deadliest in the game.
It was Paul who got the Clippers their first lead with a three-pointer and Paul who carries his team between the momentum shifts. It’s Paul the Spurs will have to find an answer for.”
Read it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2015/04/21/the-serenity-in-the-storm-chris-paul-sustains-the-volatile-clippers/
– Nets need to control the perimeter in Game 2 against Hawks (from Josh Planos, Washington Post):
” Atlanta’s offense is less a system of ebbs and flows as it is the professionalized version of hot potato. Like his mentor Gregg Popovich, Hawks Coach Mike Budenholzer — who was named the 2014-15 coach of the year on Tuesday — expounds on the merit of spacing, movement and rapid-fire passing until opponents collapse, dazed and confused, wondering where the ball has gone. No one on the team is allowed the hold the ball for more than two seconds, and trying to slow Atlanta’s offensive rhythm is analogous to a measly TIE Fighter attempting to keep up with the Millennium Falcon.”
Read it here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2015/04/22/nets-need-to-control-the-perimeter-in-game-2-against-hawks/
– ROSE, BULLS ROUNDING INTO FORM (from Sam Smith, bulls.com):
” So, how do you like me now?
Well, that’s not exactly how Derrick Rose phrased it after Bulls practice Tuesday following the Bulls going ahead 2-0 in the first round playoff series with the Milwaukee Bucks.
“It’s all about the team,” Rose told reporters of his favored philosophy. “I could care less about myself and how I’m performing. As long as we get the win, as long as everybody is playing well and we get the victory, that’s the only thing we care about. (We) started off kind of sluggish in the first half (ahead 39-38), but you’ve got to find ways to win in the playoffs. That’s the great thing about it.
“I could have gone 0-for-35, 40,” added Rose. “As long as we get the win I could care less about the way I shot. We won. A lot of people picked up the slack with Jimmy (Butler) and Pau (Gasol) and everybody else making hustles plays.””
Read it here: http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/samsmith/playoffs/rose-bulls-rounding-form
– Jalen Rose/ PJ Carlesimo Q & A (from Mark Woods, mvp247.com):
” Jalen Rose and PJ Carlesimo give their take on the NBA Playoffs so far”
Read it here: http://www.mvp247.com/2015/04/qa-rose-carlesimo/
– Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey’s bold moves proved right (from Doug Robinson, deseretnews.com):
Read it here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865626941/Lindseys-bold-moves-proved-right-2-and-he-didnt-even-say-I-told-you-so.html
Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:
– Otto Porter: http://www.csnwashington.com/basketball-washington-wizards/talk/porters-push-means-wizards-future-playing-big-minutes-now
– Chandler Parsons: http://www.mavsoutsider.com/2015/04/22/chandler-parsons-damaged-goods/
– Rajon Rondo: http://deadspin.com/rajon-rondo-is-gone-1699404316
– Brandan Wright: http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/2015/4/22/8458519/2014-15-phoenix-suns-report-cards-brandan-wright-does-brandan-wright
– Dario Saric: http://www.libertyballers.com/2015/4/22/8464563/sixers-overseas-dario-saric-brett-brown-andalou-efes
– Eric Moreland: http://cowbellkingdom.com/eric-moreland-nears-return-to-normalcy/
– Tim Frazier: http://dleague.nba.com/news/tim-frazier-nba-development-league-mvp-rookie-of-the-year-highlights-vines-maine-red-claws-portland-trail-blazers/
– Anthony Bennett: http://www.nba.com/timberwolves/roster-review-anthony-bennett
– Jerami Grant: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sixers/20150422_Sixers__Grant_played_beyond_expectations.html