– Surprising Celtics finally playing for something (from Chris Forsberg, ESPN):
” Nobody could have seen this coming, right?
“I saw that we were improving every single game and I knew we would have a chance if we set our mind to it,” said eternal optimist Avery Bradley, the longest tenured member of the Celtics at the ripe age of 24. “We never thought we didn’t have a chance to make the playoffs, now we’re right there.”
Two months ago, these perpetually changing Celtics, having traded away both Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, were 13 games under .500 and embarking on a six-game road trip out West that was supposed to ensure their spot in the high lottery. Boston pulled off a pair of one-point victories in Portland and Denver and everything changed.
Boston is 17-10 since that point. It was still 13 games under .500 after an overtime loss to the Lakers a month ago, but has really turned things around since that point, posting a 10-3 mark over the past month.
“Obviously, we’re judged on wins and losses, but I don’t really know about the total number [of wins] or how many games out of how many games,” Stevens said. “I just think I knew we were on the right track. Even when we were losing earlier in the year, I felt like we had made a lot of progress, tactically and technically, on both sides of the ball. It was just a matter of getting us over the hump. And we found a group that’s really connected and playing well and we’re fortunate that they’ve continued to play well with guys out.
“I mean, four straight [wins] without Isaiah [Thomas] now, and three straight before without Avery. It’s not easy to play without basically your two leading scorers, not even including [injured Jared] Sullinger in that. So it’s been good, and the next man stepped up.”
Read it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/celtics/post/_/id/4718421/surprising-cs-finally-playing-for-something
– Rondo-run Mavs offense suddenly smoking (from Tim McMahon, ESPN):
” So maybe the Rajon Rondo deal wasn’t a death sentence for a Dallas Mavericks offense that was humming at a historically elite level when the trade was made.
There have been a bunch of bumps in the road for Rondo and the Mavs’ offense over the past few months, but something seems to have clicked all of a sudden, just as Dallas’ season seemed to be circling the drain.
With Rondo running the show, the Mavs’ offense has morphed back into a thing of beauty during this desperately needed two-game winning streak over West playoff contenders. The pace is fast, the ball is flying around and the shots are falling.”
Read it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4704863/rondo-run-mavs-offense-is-suddenly-smoking
More on Rondo/Mavs (from Dwain Price, star-telegram.com) here: http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/nba/dallas-mavericks/full-court-press-blog/article15006305.html
– Nuggets Stars Unhappy resting vs. Grizzlies (from Christopher dempsey, Denver Post):
” It could be that two days off between Monday night’s 92-81 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and Thursday night’s game at the Houston Rockets will do wonders for Nuggets bodies that are said to be weary and need rest.
Or maybe not.
The roster Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt has to work with that night will tell the tale.
The Nuggets have rested players for two straight games. On Monday night, those players just happened to be three of the team’s four leading scorers and the leading rebounder since the coaching change in a season that team brass — and many fans — hope ends with a high lottery pick.
Not everyone is pleased, though.”
Read it here: http://www.denverpost.com/nuggets/ci_27724799/denver-nuggets-get-cooled-off-loss-memphis-grizzlies
More on this (from Jason Patt, SBNation): http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/3/17/8231759/denver-nuggets-tanking-melvin-hunt
– Serge Ibaka’s seeing a knee specialist, and the Thunder might be in trouble (from Dan Devine, Yahoo Sports):
Read it here: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/serge-ibaka-s-seeing-a-knee-specialist–and-the-thunder-might-be-in-trouble-194802012.html
– Ibaka’s latest injury could dissolve Oklahoma City’s balance (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):
Read it here: http://www.si.com/nba/2015/03/17/serge-ibaka-injury-thunder-russell-westbrook-kevin-durant
– We’ll Never Know How Good 2014-15 OKC Thunder Could Have Been (from Alec Nathan, Bleacher Report):
” All year long, we’ve been deprived of seeing the Thunder at full strength, and Ibaka‘s knee procedure will prevent that from being the case in the weeks ahead.”
Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2398988-well-never-know-how-good-2014-15-okc-thunder-could-have-been
– Thunder-Pelicans race could go to the wire (from Matt Moore, CBSSports):
” OKC simply cannot catch a break. With Kevin Durant sidelined for anywhere from a few days to another full week as he recovers from his foot procedure, and after injuries have kept Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams out for various parts of this season, now comes word that Thunder forward Serge Ibaka will miss time with a knee procedure to alleviate soreness. ESPN reports that Ibaka will see a specialist and then likely have minor surgery to help with the knee.
Of course, on the flip side, the good news for OKC is that somehow the Pelicans have had worse luck. It’s becoming more and more apparent that they’re not getting Jrue Holiday back this season, and Ryan Anderson is still weeks away. Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis have had to battle through injuries, and their bench is depleted. Their healthiest key player right now is probably Eric Gordon. Think about that .
And their schedule is actually tougher than the Thunder’s. They have five games left vs. teams under. 500, total. They couldn’t topple the Nuggets at home Sunday despite Anthony Davis filling out the stat sheet like a Scantron.
This has become a war of attrition, and OKC has proven more capable of surviving the adversity. But this race for the 8th seed sure seems like it’s going to go down to the wire
Read it here: http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/25110072/serge-ibakas-injury-means-thunder-pelicans-race-could-go-to-the-wire
– Why bad offensive plays can ruin defense in the NBA (from Seth Partnow, Washington Post):
Read and view it here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2015/03/17/why-bad-offensive-plays-can-ruin-defense-in-the-nba/
– Kevin Garnett in Minnesota (from Michael Pina, Rolling Stone):
” Nearly a month after he returned to the Timberwolves, the Big Ticket is still delivering – just ask his teammates and coaches
Read it here: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/kevin-garnett-in-minnesota-more-linchpin-than-anchor-20150316
– Josh Smith: Enigmatic Combo Forward (from Jesse Blanchard, BBall Breakdown):
Read and view it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2015/03/17/in-appreciation-of-josh-smith-and-the-enigmatic-combo-forward/
– Dante Exum, Rodney Hood and Accelerated Developmental Timetables (from Ben Dowsett, saltcityhoops.com):
” Exum and Hood, selected 18 spots apart in the 2014 draft, represent an interesting place in Utah’s rebuilding trajectory: if recent signs are to be believed, Dante and Rodney may be the final young core pieces added in the Jazz’s “rebuild” phase. This is obviously encouraging, but is also something of a self-fulfilling prophecy; in several small ways, both have allowed for what many would call an acceleration of Utah’s competitive timetable.
No one’s getting ahead of themselves, of course. Both guys still serve, for the moment, as complementary pieces, and the truest causes of the team’s recent success have clearly been Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert and Quin Snyder. But their play, and more importantly the team’s play with them, has only helped further the potential willingness of management to cash in assets and shoot for a contender as early as next season.”
Read and view it here: http://saltcityhoops.com/dante-exum-rodney-hood-and-accelerated-developmental-timetables/
– On Quin Snyder’s Tinkering (from Ben Dowsett, saltcityhoops.com):
” He’s been vocal in the past about sticking to Utah’s bigger identity, and hasn’t gone away from that in any sense, but the ability to be versatile and adapt to circumstance is a must-have in an evolving NBA and Quin knows it.”
Read it here: http://saltcityhoops.com/on-quin-snyders-tinkering-plus-player-grades-for-hornets-jazz-31615/
– Jazz: What is taking place here is mind boggling (from David Locke, jazz.com):
” This team is just continuing to do things that we could never imagine.”
Read it here: http://www.nba.com/jazz/news/emptying-noggin-what-taking-place-here-mind-boggling
– Most Watchable Players in the NBA (from Zach Lowe, Grantland.com):
Read and view it here: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-2015-marc-gasol-all-stars-your-guide-to-the-most-watchable-players-in-the-nba/
– Breaking Down Z-Bo’s Rebounding (from Jordan M. Foley, Vantage Sports):
” Zach Randolph has a very unique brand of rebounding that deserves special recognition. His technical proficiency and timing on the offense end allow him to compensate for his lack of athleticism when cleaning up his teammates messes on the glass. Defensively, ZBo is less likely to rely on boxing out his opponents as he is pursuing the ball as he anticipates its bounce off the rim. Combine this rebounding effort with a silky smooth jumper and immense dexterity around the rim and you have a bonafide All-Star.”
Read and view it here: http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VQYfxh4AACMAosaF/breaking-down-the-zbound
– Otto Porter’s Solid Screening (from JC Sites, Vantage Sports):
” This season, Porter has been a important component in creating offensive chances for the Wizards. He has also been incredibly disruptive to defenses around the league.
At 83.55 percent, Porter ranks 1st in Solid Screen% this season for those players with more than 350 set screens. Solid Screen% is the percentage of set screens where the player makes contact with or reroutes the defender.”
Read and view it here: http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VQcNuCkAACkA5dSQ/solidifying-the-otto-man-empire-porters-solid-screening
– Common denominators in Cavaliers’ recent losses (from Chris fedor, Cleveland.com):
Read it here: http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2015/03/a_common_denominator_in_the_cl_1.html
– Adjustment period for George Karl, DeMarcus Cousins continues (from Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee):
” It’s the relationship everyone was curious about.
How would George Karl’s fast-paced style mesh with a center, DeMarcus Cousins, who excels at punishing opponents in the halfcourt set?
Could Karl instill his plan of attack while not alienating his All-Star?
Cousins has put up big numbers lately, but he and Karl would agree it’s still a work in progress.”
And for those with access to ESPN insider:
– The evolution of big-man play (from Bradford Doolittle):
” Next generation of big men can make shots and post up”
Read it here: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/12499835
Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:
– Henry Walker: http://www.ridiculousupside.com/2015/3/17/8229309/how-the-miami-heat-have-introduced-nba-fans-to-a-henry-walker-not
– Brandan Wright: http://valleyofthesuns.com/2015/03/17/phoenix-suns-brandan-wright-getting-acclimated/
– Bradley Beal: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wizards-insider/wp/2015/03/17/an-aggressive-bradley-beal-surfaces-to-propel-wizards/
– Elfrid Payton: http://www.orlandopinstripedpost.com/2015/3/17/8224717/elfrid-payton-nba-stats-orlando-magic-rajon-rondo-comparison
– T.J. Warren: http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2015/03/12/rookie-tj-warrens-energy-scoring-boosts-phoenix-suns/70241334/
– Gerald Wallace/Phil Pressey: http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/03/15/gerald-wallace-celtics-will-ponder-his-future/VmiD8gWC6Bvx7rgNMyAopK/story.html
– Quincy Pondexter/Norris Cole: http://www.thebirdwrites.com/2015/3/17/8192803/demps-new-orleans-pelicans-hits-on-the-additions-of-quincy-pondexter-and-norris-cole
– Thomas Robinson: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sixers/20150317_Sixers__Robinson_grabbing_rebounds_and_attention.html
– Zach LaVine: http://thelotterymafia.com/article/learning-to-live-with-lavine.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=learning-to-live-with-lavine
– Eric Gordon: http://theadvocate.com/sports/pelicans/11831564-148/eric-gordons-shooting-assists-help
– Jeff Green: http://www.grizzlybearblues.com/2015/3/17/8227561/jeff-green-forward-memphis-grizzlies-nba-playoffs
– Reggie Jackson: http://www.mlive.com/pistons/index.ssf/2015/03/pistons_patter_reggie_jacksons_1.html
– Tyler Zeller: http://nesn.com/2015/03/tyler-zeller-embracing-opportunity-surprise-success-amid-celtics-hot-streak/
– Victor Oladipo: https://medium.com/the-cauldron/victor-oladipo-is-an-nba-star-in-the-making-a19fbc04bed2
– James Johnson: http://probballreport.com/raptors-james-johnson-explains-how-hes-shooting-60-percent/
– Hollis Thompson: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/a-numbers-game-thompson-sees-basketball-with-mathematical-eye/
– Khris Middleton: http://www.nba.com/bucks/features/mb-money-adding-up