Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis 1/6/16

–  The Subtle Details of the Spurs’ Stifling Defense  (from Brett Koremenos,  RealGM):

Read and view it here:  http://basketball.realgm.com/analysis/240352/The-Subtle-Details-Of-The-Spurs-Stifling-Defense

–  Draymond Green’s Uniqueness Makes the Warriors Who They Are  (from Jesus Gomez,  BBall breakdown):

Read and view it here:  http://bballbreakdown.com/2016/01/draymond-greens-uniqueness-makes-warriors/

–  Bulls’ Offense Clicking On All Cylinders  (from K.C. Johnson,  Chicago Tribune):

Read it here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/bulls/ct-butler-rose-bulls-bucks-report-spt-0106-20160105-story.html

–  The Heat’s ATOs (from Couper Moorhead,  heat.com):

Read and view it here:  http://www.nba.com/heat/newsrecap/time-after-time

–  The Spurs’ Beautiful Game, Though Modified, Is Still Turning Heads  (from  Jeff McDonald,  News-Express):

Read it here:  http://www.expressnews.com/sports/spurs/article/Spurs-beautiful-game-though-modified-still-6738464.php?t=9f2a3033ee927fc3fb&cmpid=twitter-premium

–  Hornets Are On A Stable Path  (form Ken Berger, CBS Sports):

Read it here:  http://www.cbssports.com/nba/writer/ken-berger/25439060/amid-the-struggles-hornets-are-on-a-stable-path-under-steve-clifford

 Jazz Thinking Deep Thoughts With Big Men Out  (from Tony Jones,  Salt Lake Tribune):

Read it here:  http://www.sltrib.com/sports/3382574-155/utah-jazz-thinking-deep-thoughts-with?fullpage=1

–  Recapping Tuesday’s Games  (from SBNation):

Read it here:  http://www.sbnation.com/nba-scores

–  Explain One Odd Play:  Draymond Green Pass to Steph Curry  Layup  (from Ericapricot,  goldenstateofmind):

Read and view it here:  http://www.goldenstateofmind.com/2016/1/6/10722224/warriors-vs-lakers-2016-highlight-video-draymond-green-pass-to-stephen-curry-layup

–  Assists, Point Guards and Ball Movement  (from Brian McCormick,  learntocoachbasketball.com):

Read it here:  http://learntocoachbasketball.com/assists-point-guards-and-ball-movement

–  Colangelo Upbeat About Roster, Brett Brown, and Sixers’ Plan  (from Brian Seltzer, sixers.com):

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/sixers/news/beat-colangelo-upbeat-about-roster-brown-sixers-plan

–  New Media Procedure Seeks to Improve Referee Accountability  (from Andy Larsen,  ksl.com):

Read it here:  http://www.ksl.com/?sid=38023928&nid=294

 D-League Showcase Primer  (from Brian Kotloff,  nba.com):

Read it here:  http://dleague.nba.com/news/2016-showcase-primer/

 D-League Showcase Day One Preview  (from Brian Kotloff,  nba.com):

Read and view it here:  http://dleague.nba.com/news/showcase-day-1-preview/

Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:

–  Jimmy Butler  (from Nick Friedell,  ESPN):  http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/bulls/post/_/id/22759/derrick-rose-jimmy-butler-is-ballin-in-midst-of-career-best-stretch

Justise Winslow  (from Tim Reynolds,  Associated Press):  http://bigstory.ap.org/article/e1a2e70746e046be877395e264157466/miamis-winslow-keeps-impressing-rookie-season

–  CJ McCollum  (from Ben Dowsett,  Basketball Insiders):   http://www.basketballinsiders.com/c-j-mccollum-on-role-new-challenges-and-expanding-his-game/

–  Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh  (from  Barry Jackson,  Miami Herald):  http://miamiherald.typepad.com/sports-buzz/2016/01/introspective-wade-bosh-discuss-their-rejuvenation-dolphins-canes-panthers-notes.html

 Dwyane Wade  (from Jason Lieser,  Palm Beach Post):  http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/sports/basketball/rousing-revival-dwyane-wade-is-miami-heats-benjami/npx9z/

–  Steph Curry  (from  Kurt Helin,  NBC Sports):  http://nba.nbcsports.com/2016/01/06/stephen-curry-on-leg-being-kicked-again-in-same-spot-its-just-a-magnet/

–  Isaiah Thomas  (from Jay King,  masslive.com):  http://www.masslive.com/celtics/index.ssf/2016/01/boston_celtics_isaiah_thomas_o.html

–  Sean Kilpatrick  (from Chris Priczak,  Ridiculous Upside):  http://www.ridiculousupside.com/2016/1/5/10718196/sean-kilpatrick-dishes-on-the-10-day-contract-playing-at-home-and-more

–  Anthony Davis  (from John Reid, NOLA.com):  http://www.nola.com/pelicans/index.ssf/2016/01/anthony_davis_i_dont_want_a_co.html

–  Richaun Holmes  (from Tom Moore,  theintell.com):   http://www.theintell.com/sports/sixers/sixers-rookie-holmes-giving-sixers-a-lift/article_99991b50-af16-11e5-a508-3373828f8dfd.html

–  Chris Kaman  (from Jason Quick,  oregonlive.com):   http://www.csnnw.com/blazers/chris-kaman-adventure-trail-blazers-veteran-hopes-his-next-exploit-portland

–  Solomon Hill  (from Candace Buckner,  indystar.com):  http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nba/pacers/2016/01/05/solomon-hill-playing-more-thinking-too-much/78231262/

–  Jason Terry  (from Jonathan Feigen,  Houston Chronicle):  Jason Terry gives Rockets what they need

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Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

In Curry-Harden showdown, Andrew Bogut powers Warriors’ Game 2 win  (from Phil Taylor, Sports Illustrated):

Read it here:  http://www.si.com/nba/2015/05/22/andrew-bogut-stephen-curry-warriors-rockets-game-2-western-conference-finals-2015-playoffs

 

 

How the Improvement of Harrison Barnes Mirrors Golden State’s Ascent  (from Kirk Goldsberry, grantland.com):

Read it here:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/2015-nba-playoffs-golden-state-warriors-harrison-barnes-improvement/

 

 

–  Jerry West helped revive Harrison Barnes  (from Sam Amick,  USA Today):

Read it here:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/playoffs/2015/05/21/harrison-barnes-jerry-west-warriors-steve-kerr/27721953/

 

 

–  The pain of James Harden  (from Calvin Watkins,  ESPN):

Read it here:  http://www.espn.co.uk/blog/houston-rockets/post/_/id/878/the-pain-of-james-harden

 

 

Stats from GSW-HOU Game Two (from NBA.com):

” Examining James Harden’s success using ball screens, Stephen Curry’s 3-point shooting, Trevor Ariza’s defense on Klay Thompson and more.”

Read it here:  http://stats.nba.com/featured/sportvu_warriors_rockets_gm2_2015_05_21.html

 

 

 

–  Steph Curry is getting too many open looks against Rockets  (from Neil Greenberg, Washington Post):

Read it here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2015/05/22/steph-curry-is-getting-too-many-open-looks-against-rockets/

 

 

 

–   HOW TO SLOW DOWN A SUPERSTAR  (from Michael Pina,  Sports On Earth):

The Western Conference finals are a basketball blessing. The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors have the regular season’s two most valuable players, and we get to watch them go at in a high-stakes turf war.

The first thing each team’s coaching staff probably wondered heading into the series was: “How are we going to stop James Harden/Stephen Curry?” Like a small child asking where their goldfish went after it was last seen floating belly up in a bowl, there are no happy answers to this question.

LeBron James aside — because he’s not human — Harden and Curry are the two most complete offensive weapons in basketball right now. Forget about how unstoppable they are as shooters, scorers and passers; both players almost always make the right play and consistently elevate the ceiling of everyone around them.

As hopeless as it seems, the Warriors and Rockets must slow these stars down by executing a well thought-out game plan. Here’s a look at how each defense faired in Game 1, and whether we might see changes heading deeper into the series.

Read and view it here:  http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/125759770/rockets-warriors-game-2-stephen-curry-james-harden-defense

 

 

–  Steph Curry’s Next Stage (from Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated):

Read it here:  http://www.si.com/nba/2015/05/21/stephen-curry-mvp-golden-state-warriors-sports-illustrated-nba-playoffs

 

 

 

–  Hawks have tough job ahead if Game 1 was series’ road map  (from Sekou Smith,  nba.com):

Read it here:  http://www.sportal.com.au/nba/hawks-have-tough-job-ahead-if-game-1-was-series-road-map/w0x017qf2qmj1dk8ymgzzze6d

 

 

 

–  Why Kyle Korver has gone ice cold in the playoffs  (from Jesus Gomez, SBNation):

Read and view it here:  http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/5/21/8637065/kyle-korver-shooting-breakdown-cold-nba-atlanta-hawks

 

 

 

–  LeBron: I played too much iso ball  (from Dave McMenamin,  ESPN):

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/blog/cleveland-cavaliers/post/_/id/931/lebron-i-played-too-much-isolation-ball

 

 

 

–  Cavaliers turn up defensive intensity in the playoffs  (from  Matthew Florjancic,  WKYC.com):

Read it here:   http://www.wkyc.com/story/sports/nba/cavaliers/2015/05/22/cavaliers-turn-up-defensive-intensity-in-the-playoffs/27762995/

 

 

 

Unorthodox yet effective, J.R. Smith the latest difference maker for Cavs  (from Jeff Zilgitt,  Usa Today):

Read it here:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/playoffs/2015/05/21/jr-smith-lebron-james-david-blatt-cavaliers/27722815/

 

 

 

The Hawks Must Get Back To The Basics  (from Aaron Mah, hoopshabit.com):

Read and view it here:  http://hoopshabit.com/2015/05/22/atlanta-hawks-must-get-back-basics/

 

 

 

– Ten Little Things from Conference Finals Game 1s  (from Mika Honkasalo, Vantage Sports):

Read and view it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/story/VVy8hSYAACIAzd4W/ten-little-things-from-conference-finals-game-1s

 

 

 

–  ASK SAM | SAM SMITH OPENS HIS MAILBAG (from Sam Smith, bulls.com):

” Sam Smith responds to the latest round of emails from his readers”

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/samsmith/mailbag/ask-sam-sam-smith-opens-his-mailbag-5.22.2015

 

 

 

 76ers: The State Of “The Plan” At The Two-year Mark  (from Max Rappaport, sixers.com):

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/sixers/news/150522-the-plan

 

 

 

Are the Toronto Raptors making a change for change’s sake? Thoughts on decision to fire assistant coaches (from Eric Koreen, nationalpost.com):

Read it here:  http://news.nationalpost.com/sports/nba/are-the-toronto-raptors-making-a-change-for-changes-sake-thoughts-on-decision-to-fire-assistant-coaches

 

 

 

– Misleading Assist Rates this Season  (from Aaron Fischman, Vantage Sports):

” Assist rate is one of many flawed traditional NBA statistics. Its main weaknesses incude failing to adjust for pace and not counting passes to missed open shots or passes that lead to shooting fouls. Hockey assists are also ignored. Conversely, Assist+ per 100 Chances and True Facilitation have the benefit of accounting for pace and are not dependent on a player’s teammates’ ability to make shots. Two particular point guards’ passing values in the 2014-2015 stand out as being inflated by assist rate, whereas two others’ values seem to be underrated.”

Read it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/story/VVUzLiYAAKow2Gvl/misleading-assist-rates-this-season

 

 

Additional Player Notes, Updates, profiles:

 

 

Andre Iguodala:  http://www.vantagesports.com/story/VVqpdCQAACYArQ-t/gettin-iggy-wit-it1.18-to-per-100-touches-in-playoffs

 

Chandler Parsons/Al-Farouq Aminu:  http://www.mavs.com/mavs-youth-movement-plans-start-with-healthy-chandler-parsons-re-signing-al-farouq-aminu/

 

Chris Kaman:  http://www.blazersedge.com/2015/5/21/8633263/chris-kaman-portland-trail-blazers-stats-contract

 

Meyers Leonard:  http://www.blazersedge.com/2015/5/22/8641991/meyers-leonard-season-review-portland-trail-blazers

 

Avery Bradley:  http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics_nba/boston_celtics/2015/05/avery_bradley_grows_as_leader

 

Austin Rivers:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2470540-how-austin-rivers-saved-his-nba-career-with-the-los-angeles-clippers

 

Kyle Lowryhttp://raptorsrapture.com/2015/05/22/raptors-report-cards-kyle-lowry/

 

Cody Zeller:  http://queencityhoops.com/blog/14-15-season-report-card-cody-zeller/

 

Bryce Cotton:  http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150521/SPORTS/150529745/14014

 

Dion Waiters:  http://newsok.com/oklahoma-city-thunder-step-back-jumper-is-dion-waiters-baby/article/5421340  and   http://newsok.com/oklahoma-city-thunder-grading-dion-waiters/article/5421336

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

–  Clippers rout Rockets in Game 3 as Austin Rivers breaks out  (from Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle):

Read it here:  http://blog.chron.com/ultimaterockets/2015/05/live-rockets-vs-clippers-game-3/#32870101=0

 

 

 

–  Doc enjoys Austin Rivers’ points flurry as father and coach  (from Arash Markazi, ESPN):

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles-clippers/post/_/id/7886/doc-enjoys-austin-rivers-points-flurry-as-father-and-coach

 

 

 

–  Clippers Must Continue Riding Supporting Cast Throughout 2015 Postseason  (from Adam Fromal, Bleacher report):

Read it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2458979-clippers-must-continue-riding-supporting-cast-throughout-2015-postseason

 

 

 

–  Rockets’ shoddy defense has Clippers in command of series  (from Kurt Helin,  NBC Sports):

”  In a pivotal Game 3 Friday night, 54.2 percent of the Clippers shots were open ones. Uncontested. Clean looks.

Due to a combination of lineups and effort, too often the Rockets couldn’t or wouldn’t get a defender in the way of the shooter. (For comparison, less than 40 percent of the Rockets’ shots were uncontested.)

It’s been a problem all series — and it’s going to end this series quickly if the Rockets don’t fix it.”

Read it here:  http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/05/09/rockets-shoddy-defense-has-clippers-in-command-of-series/

 

 

 

 DRAMATIC BUZZER BEATER GIVES BULLS 2-1 SERIES LEAD  (from Sam Smith,  Bulls.com):

Read it here:   http://www.nba.com/bulls/dramatic-buzzer-beater-gives-bulls-2-1-series-lead

 

 

 

–  Tony Allen When You Need Him: Playoff Edition (from Grace Baker,  grizzlybearblues.com):

Read and view it here:  http://www.grizzlybearblues.com/2015/5/9/8548311/tony-allen-defense-2015-nba-playoffs-memphis-grizzlies-warriors

More Tony Allen:   http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-grindfathers-house-welcome-to-tony-allens-playoffs/

And More:   http://espn.go.com/blog/nba/post/_/id/2899/inside-the-mind-of-the-grizzlies-tony-allen

 

 

 

–  Heat Check: Taking the Temperature of the NBA Playoffs  (from Zach Lowe, Grantland.com):

Read and view it here:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/heat-check-taking-the-temperature-of-the-nba-playoffs/

 

 

 

– A Direct Look at Indirect Pass Rate  (from Henry Steckel, Vantage Sports):

” Vantage’s glossary defines Indirect Pass Rate is as the percentage of Assist+ as a result of crucial passes leading to assists or missed open shots. To fully grasp Indirect Pass Rate, we need to break it down into its components. An Assist+ encompasses assists, passes to missed open shots, passes to shooting fouls, and crucial passes leading to assists or missed open shots. While evaluating a player’s facilitation, it is important to consider assist-worthy passes that the shooter botched.”

From a team standpoint, Indirect Pass Rate and isolation ball don’t mix. The Spurs, Grizzlies, Pacers, Jazz, Bulls, Hawks, and Warriors are in the top 10, while the Kings, Mavericks, Heat, Thunder, and Pelicans are in the bottom 10. The first group has solid post passers and selfless shooting guards, while each team in the second group has a notable offensive monopolizer.”

Read it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/story/VUwBsiYAACYAqlpk/a-direct-look-at-indirect-pass-rate

 

 

 

–  Paul George at stretch forward means change for the Indiana Pacers  (from C.Cooper, indycornrows.com):

” Can the Pacers utilize Paul George as a spread option?

It is something Larry Bird wants to make happen next season.

“David is our starter, but when we go smaller we’d like to see Paul maybe play some ‘4’ and you know everybody says, ‘You’ll have a problem on the defensive end,’ well, I don’t think so,” Bird said in his postseason press conference. “He can guard about anybody, and then on the other end, it’s a major plus for us.”

Read it here:  http://www.indycornrows.com/2015/4/18/8448713/paul-george-stretch-four

 

 

 

–  Glossary: Biannual Exception  (from Chuck Myron, Hoopsrumors.com):

” The most common method over-the-cap teams use to sign free agents from other teams is the mid-level exception, but it’s not the only tool those clubs can use to squeeze an extra player onto the payroll. The biannual exception is a way to sign a player who commands more than the minimum salary and less than the mid-level.”

Read it here:  http://www.hoopsrumors.com/2015/05/biannual-exception-3.html

 

 

–  Glossary: Non-Bird Rights  (from Chuck Myron,  Hoopsrumors.com):

Read it here:  http://www.hoopsrumors.com/2015/05/hoops-rumors-glossary-rights.html

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Player Notes, Updates, profiles:

 

Nikola Mirotic:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/bulls/ct-nikola-mirotic-side-bulls-cavaliers-spt-0509-20150508-story.html

 

Jimmy Butler:  http://www.espn.co.uk/blog/chicago/bulls/post/_/id/22103/jimmy-butlers-continued-emergence-frustrates-lebron-cavs

 

James Jones:  http://www.wkyc.com/story/sports/nba/cavaliers/2015/05/08/james-jones-is-always-on-the-ready-for-the-cavaliers/70994596/

 

Meyers Leonard:  http://ripcityproject.com/2015/05/08/meyers-leonard-2014-15-season-review/

 

–  Carl Landry:  http://cowbellkingdom.com/2014-15-season-in-review-carl-landry/

 

Charlie Villanueva:  http://www.mavs.com/charlie-villanueva-hopes-to-return-to-mavs-after-his-1st-taste-of-playoff-basketball

 

Channing Frye:  http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/orlando-magic/magic-basketblog/os-mbb-channing-fryes-orlando-magic-evaluation-20150509-post.html

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

–  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

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

–   The Last Ride of the Spurs Dynasty: Appreciating San Antonio’s Final Hurrah   (from Zach Lowe, grantland.com):

” The Spurs should be the biggest story of the postseason as long as they’re kicking. There are other meaty issues: the Warriors’ quest to cap their historically dominant regular season; LeBron James, redeeming Cleveland and dunking Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving into the playoff baptismal pool; Derrick Rose’s desperate search for his MVP zip; the trumped-up battle over Chris Paul’s “legacy”; the Hawks, once the NBA’s most vanilla organization, soldiering through tabloid headlines and the possibility that police brutality ended Thabo Sefolosha’s season; and the Wizards’ and Raptors’ dual quest to play a passable professional basketball game.

But nothing tops what could be the last stand of the Spurs as we know them. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are 381 and 37, respectively, and both could retire — even though each is clearly capable of playing at a high level beyond this season. Six other rotation players are free agents, including Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, perhaps the best two-way starting wing combination in the league. The Spurs are down 1-0, with Game 2 on the road against the strongest first-round opponent they’ve faced in the Tim Duncan era.

The Spurs could easily win this series,2 repeat as champions, and re-sign their aging stars to one- or two-year contracts. This could all be much ado about nothing. The franchise hasn’t faced this level of top-to-bottom uncertainty since Duncan dined with the Magic in 2000, and it’s hard to quash the feeling of preemptive nostalgia as you watch Duncan drain bank shots and nail every rotation while Ginobili dances steps he literally invented. Appreciate it all, because this really could be the last springtime run for one of the greatest core groups in the history of team sports.”

Read and view  it here:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-last-ride-of-the-spurs-dynasty/

(NOTE:  This story also includes Zach’s takes on a number of the other playoff series)

 

 

 

– Let’s Look at the Clippers’ Perfect Offensive Scheme  (from Sagar Panchal, thesportspost.com):

Read and view it here:  http://network.yardbarker.com/nba/article_external/three_possessions_or_less_lets_look_at_the_clippers_perfect_offensive_scheme/18659720

 

 

 

 Draymond Green:  Brow’s shadow steps into spotlight  (from Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN):

” After the Golden State Warriors finally closed out the scrapping New Orleans Pelicans 97-87 in Game 2, Klay Thompson got the national TV interview. Draymond Green, whose defense was astounding on Monday night, talked for the local feed. It happened that way because that’s how we’ve always done things. If you scored the most points and your team won, you’re getting the biggest spotlight. It’s the formula because scoring a basket is obvious and preventing one is less obvious.

Though Thompson certainly deserves acclaim for a great shooting game, this particular space will mostly be reserved for crediting Green, fulcrum of a Golden State defense that held New Orleans to 37.8 percent shooting. Green’s overall defense on Monday night was brilliant, but most especially against Anthony Davis. Their battles echo those of the shorter Tony Allen throwing everything atKevin Durant — the undersized grinder going up against young Goliath.

In theory, this should have been too large a task for Green, who’s the size of a wing player. “It’s tough, man,” he said after the game. “Most guys I give up length to who I guard, most them aren’t as quick as me though.”

Read  it here:  http://espn.go.com/blog/golden-state-warriors/post/_/id/497/brows-shadow-steps-into-spotlight

 

 

 

–  Draymond Green, Warriors’ bench fuel Game 2 win against pesky Pelicans (from Phil Taylor,  Sports Illustrated):

”  The Warrior reserves were missing in action in Game 1, but they re-emerged on Monday night at the best possible time for Golden State. The Warriors trailed 28-17 after the first quarter and were badly in need of a boost. Leandro Barbosa came off the bench to score eight points on an assortment of drives and jumpers, Marreese Speightsdrilled a couple of mid-range shots and Andre Iguodala made a corner three after some crisp ball movement.

Boost provided.

“Nobody will write it, nobody will talk about it, but the bench won us the game,” Green said. “When they left the game we were still down seven, but they changed the complete pace and tempo of the game. We were getting punched and getting punched and getting punched, and then the second unit came out and threw a punch.”’

Read it here:  http://www.si.com/nba/2015/04/21/warriors-pelicans-draymond-green-game-2-western-conference-round-1

 

 

–  This is why you pay Draymond Green his money (from Tom Ziller, SBNation):

” In the context of the Warriors, Draymond Green is a virtuoso. There is absolutely no reason for Golden State to abandon the relationship.”

Read it here:  http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/4/21/8461049/draymond-green-warriors-contract-context-nba-playoffs-2015

 

 

 

–  The Other Guy: Klay Thompson on His Sensational Season  (from Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland.com):

Read and view it here:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-other-guy-klay-thompson-on-his-sensational-season/

 

 

 

–  Nets look to get Brook Lopez going  (from Mike Mazzeo,  ESPN):

Read it here:   http://www.espn.co.uk/blog/new-york/brooklyn-nets/post/_/id/22509/nets-look-to-get-brook-lopez-going

 

 

 

–  How the Atlanta Hawks (and Lionel Hollins) Limited Brook Lopez in Game 1  (from Paul Mitchell,  brooklynsfinestblog.com):

Read and view it here:  http://brooklynsfinestblog.com/2015/04/21/how-the-atlanta-hawks-and-lionel-hollins-limited-brook-lopez-in-game-1/

 

 

 

–  Film Study: The Nets ability to stop the Hawks 3-point assault  (from  Reed Wallach,  netsdaily.com):

Read and view it here:  http://www.netsdaily.com/2015/4/21/8461191/film-study-nets-hawks-game-one-kyle-korver-defense-win-three-pointer

 

 

 

–  How Can the Celtics Slow Down Kyrie Irving?  (from Jordan Greer,  celticshub.com):

Read and view it here:  http://www.celticshub.com/2015/04/21/can-celtics-slow-kyrie-irving/

 

 

 

–  Kyrie Was Hot but Celtics’  TO% and Cavs’  OReb Pursuit Rate Are More Telling  (from Kevin O’Connor,  Vantage Sports):

” “The turnovers kill you. The offensive rebounds kill you,” (Celtics’ Coach Brad) Stevens said. “The superhuman shots do not.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VTMbnCcAACgA0u3P/celtics-vs.-cavaliers-04-19-15-game-1

 

 

 

–  Video Review: How the Rockets ran the ball down the Mavericks’ throat  (from Matt Moore,  CBS Sports):

Read and view it here:  http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/25157265/video-review-how-the-rockets-ran-the-ball-down-the-mavericks-throat

 

 

 

–  Digging deeper into James Harden’s Game 1  (from Jake Garcia, thedreamshake.com):

Read and view it here:   http://www.thedreamshake.com/2015/4/21/8460445/rockets-film-breakdown-james-harden-mavericks-nba-playoffs-2015

 

Rockets-Mavs:  WHAT TO WATCH FOR: GAME 2 (from Bobby Karalla, mavs.com):

Read and view it here:  http://www.mavs.com/what-to-watch-for-game-2/

 

 

–  How the Mavericks can fix the problem of Dirk Nowitzki’s defense  (from Josh Bowe,  mavsmoneyball.com):

Read and view it here:  http://www.mavsmoneyball.com/2015/4/21/8454969/dirk-nowitzki-defense-mavericks-rockets-game-2

 

 

 

–  Dwight Howard plans to stop using ‘weight-room muscles’ against Mavericks in Game 2  (from Eddie Sefko,  dallasnews.com):

Read it here:  http://mavsblog.dallasnews.com/2015/04/dwight-howard-plans-to-stop-taking-the-mavericks-bait.html/

 

 

 

Butler’s Efficient Scoring Helped by Bulls’ Assist Rate as Bucks Fail to Keep Pace  (from Bob macKinnon, Vantage Sports):

Read and view it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VTQEfCcAACgA13nL/bucks–bulls-4-20-15-game-2-the-butler-did-it-on-his-way-to-a-playoff-career-high-31-points-by-nailing-1.35-points-per-shot.

 

 

 

– Bucks offense stagnates with lack of passing in Game 2 loss  (from Mark Strotman,  csnchiacgo.com):

Read it here:  http://www.csnchicago.com/bulls/bucks-offense-stagnates-lack-passing-game-2-loss

 

 

 

George Karl on the playoffs (from Bill Herenda, csnbayarea.com):

Read it here:   http://www.csnbayarea.com/warriors/george-karl-says-warriors-will-win-it-all

 

 

 

–  Player development a Scott Brooks strength  (from Berry Tramel,  newsok.com):

” (A) criticism I’ve heard about Brooks is measureable. And quite absurd. The idea that Brooks doesn’t develop players.

What can anyone possibly be talking about? Player development has been a Thunder mantra since the franchise hit town, and it’s not just talk. The Thunder develops players wonderfully, and coaching has to be a major part of that. Let’s go down the list:”

Read it here:  http://newsok.com/player-development-a-scott-brooks-strength/article/5412355

 

 

 

–   With Enes Kanter, the Thunder plugged one hole but opened another  (from Berry Tramel, newsok.com):

” Kanter could score. but his defense was atrocious”

Read it here: http://new sok.com/with-enes-kanter-the-thunder-plugged-one-hole-but-opened-another/article/5411297

 

 

 

–  A year of familiarity figures to get Pistons closer to top-10 D standing SVG craves  (from Keith Langlois, pistons.com):

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/pistons/features/year-familiarity-figures-get-pistons-closer-top-10-d-standing-svg-craves

 

 

Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:

 

 

Paul Millsap:  http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2015/04/20/4251192_hawks-millsap-trying-to-cope-with.html

 

James Johnson:  http://www.edmontonsun.com/2015/04/20/raps-james-johnson-waiting-for-the-call

 

James Harden:  http://www.sportal.com.au/nba/team-leader-harden-adjusts-as-mavericks-focus-on-him/1exda9khn67871boivarcuvse2

 

Jimmy Butler:  http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/4/21/8460479/jimmy-butler-bulls-vs-bucks-nba-playoffs-2015

 

Mike Conley:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2437048-mike-conley-providing-spark-that-could-propel-the-memphis-grizzlies

 

Terrence Ross:  http://www.torontosun.com/2015/04/21/raptors-see-investment-in-terrence-ross-paying-off

 

Robin Lopez:  http://www.slamonline.com/the-magazine/features/robin-lopez-blazers-interview/#itBGYYoSgmGrjExB.97

 

Clint Capela:  http://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/rockets/article/Capela-s-whirlwind-year-ends-with-jump-to-reserve-6212707.php?cmpid=twitter-premium&t=f78ba23ba4f992f472

 

Jordan Adams:  http://www.3sob.com/uncategorized/the-young-gun-jordan-adams/21753/

 

Elfrid Payton;  http://orlandomagicdaily.com/2015/04/21/what-went-orlando-magic-right-elfrid-payton/

 

Isaiah Canaan:  http://www.csnphilly.com/basketball-philadelphia-76ers/sixers-player-evaluation-isaiah-canaan

 

Nik Stauskas:  http://cowbellkingdom.com/nik-stauskas-survives-his-rookie-campaign/

 

Tyler Johnson:  http://www.foxsports.com/florida/story/miami-heat-tyler-johnson-player-profile-042115

 

Furkan Aldemir:  http://www.csnphilly.com/basketball-philadelphia-76ers/sixers-player-evaluation-furkan-aldemir

 

Ish Smith:  http://www.nba.com/sixers/news/150420-smith