Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis 3/17/16

 Nuggets Defense Crumbling Inside The Paint (from Christopher Dempsey,  Denver Post):

Read it here:

–   Pistons Defense: Coach Van Gundy Has No Answers  (from Vince Ellis,  Detroit Free Press):

Read it here:

–  The T’wolves Best Offensive Lineup  (from Michael Rand,

Read it here:  Timberwolves offense has taken off with Zach LaVine at shooting guard

–  Sixers’ First Round Draft Odds Are Much Better This Year  (from Bret Stuter,  The Sixer Sense):

Read it here:

Draymond Green’s Defense Keys Warriors’ Win  (from Rusty Simmons,

Read it here:

–  The Spurs’ Ball Movement  (from Eli Horowitz/J.R. Wilco,  Pounding The Rock):

Read and view it here:

–  His Players Back/Respect Suns’ Coach Earl Watson  (from Craig Grialou,

Read it here:

–  Pacers’ Bench Is Becoming Effective  (from Mark Monteith,

Read it here:

–  Recapping  Wednesday’s Games  (from SBNation):

Pistons’ Assistant Coach Charles Klask  Q & A  (from Aaron McMann,

Read it here:

–  Sioux Falls Head Coach Dan Craig  (from Brian Rzeppa,  Ridiculous Upside):

Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:

 Jabari Parker  (from Jared Dubin,  Bleacher Report):

C.J. McCollum  (from AJ Neuharth-Keusch,  USA Today):    and from Eric Griffith, Blazers’ Edge:

–  Jonas Valanciunas/Bismack Biyombo  (from Joshua Priemski, Raptors Republic ):

–  Hassan Whiteside  (from Dave Hyde,

–  Jermaine O’Neal  (from Chris Ballard,  Sports Illustrated):

–  Jared Cunningham  (from Matt Velazquez,

–  Norman Powell (from Donnovan Bennett,

–  Alec Burks  (from Allthatamar,

–  Luis Montero/Cliff Alexander  (from Mike Richman,  Oregon Live):

–  Deshaun Thomas  (from Brian Rzeppa,  Ridiculous Upside):

–  Sim Bhullar  (from Brian Rzeppa,  Ridiculous Upside):

Kris Dunn (from Ron Morris,

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

–  An Absurd Defensive Adjustment Won The Warriors The Game (from Kevin Draper,

Read it here:

More on this (from Tim Kawakami,




Kerr’s message to Steph  before Game 4: Stop trying to do it yourself  (from Adrian Wojnarowski,  Yahoo Sports):

“I never worry about his confidence,” Kerr told Yahoo Sports late Monday. “I don’t worry about anything with him. I just feel like there are times that he wants so badly to win, he tries to do too much.

“He’s still learning. That sounds crazy, because he’s the MVP of the league. But he’s still learning how to develop that rhythm, how to be patient and just move the ball, makes the easy pass – instead of trying to do it himself. That way, he’s much more likely to get hot in the game.””

Read it here:–stop-trying-to-do-it-yourself-082519339.html





The Chess Match Between The Memphis Grizzlies And Stephen Curry  (from Jordan Schultz, Huffington Post):

” When you can’t score in the NBA Playoffs, problems arise. And, when you can’t score in the half-court, those problems pile up in a hurry. Four games into its second-round series with Golden State — the most lethal offense in the league — Memphis has shown two very different sides. In Game 1, a 101-86 loss, it wasn’t able to generate enough quality looks to keep pace. In Game 2, with point guard Mike Conley in the lineup, crisp ball movement and dribble penetration led to a key road win over a team that went 39-2 at home this year. We saw more of the same in a Game 3 win.

To be sure, Memphis has a defensive-oriented, physical mindset that wears down the opposition. During the regular season, the Grizzlies ranked second in points allowed and seventh in opponent field goal percentage. Against MVP Stephen Curry and company however, we’ve seen the good and the bad.

With the series tied 2-2, let’s take a look at how Memphis has defended Curry, whose Jekyll-and-Hyde play has been one of the crucial storylines.”

Read and view it here:



–  Jeff Teague, Dennis Schroder lift aggressive Hawks to Game 4 win  (from Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated):

Read it here:




–  Hawks get back to being Hawks in Game 4 win  (from Kevin Arnovitz,  ESPN):

Read it here:




–  NBA Playoffs Playbook: Breaking down the Wizards’ late game execution  (from Jack  Maloney,

” Once again playing without John Wall, who remains out with the fractures in his hand, the Washington Wizards still managed to find themselves right in the game as it came down to the final moments.

A big reason for this was some great execution down the stretch, especially on after timeout plays. Randy Wittman gets a lot of flak, but he drew up some beautiful plays to get a couple of really quick buckets which the Wizards desperately needed. Let’s take a closer look at how it went down.”

Read and view it here:




–  Hawks’ Success Is About So Much More Than Their Offense  (from Jared Johnson, Bleacher Report):

” Atlanta proved throughout the year that playing good defense can lead to wins even when the shooting bounces don’t go their way. It’s for this reason that the Hawks needs to focus its attention on locking down Wizards’ offense, especially since Washington is without superstar point guard John Wall.

Let’s look at what Atlanta did in the regular season defensively, then prescribe some concrete steps for the Hawks to take to get back to where they were a few months ago on that end of the floor.”

Read it here:




– The Wizards Offense Without John Wall  (from Ian Levy,  Vantage Sports):

Read it here:




Cleveland Cavaliers Defense Dominating in the Playoffs  (from Luke Sicari,

Read it here:

More on this (from William Bohl,




–   THE ROCKETS’ D HAS FALLEN APART  (from Michael Pina,

” So far, through nine games, the Rockets are allowing 109.1 points per 100 possessions. The only teams to post a worse defensive rating are the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Pelicans. All three were swept.

This is obviously troubling, and above all else (including Harden’s curious disappearing act) stands as the No. 1 reason Houston will eventually be eliminated by the Los Angeles Clippers. The Rockets entered this series with more depth, star power (Chris Paul missed the first two games), rest and home-court advantage, but the Clippers are absolutely steamrolling them, holding a 3-1 series lead heading into Game 5 on Tuesday.

How bad is it? Rockets head coach Kevin McHale deployed Hack-a-Shaq on DeAndre Jordan in the first freaking quarter in Game 4. Jordan shot 34 free throws because McHale knew his team couldn’t stop Los Angeles’ offense. It was sad before the Clippers set a new franchise record by scoring 43 points in the third quarter.

Houston misses Patrick Beverley, whose swarming antagonism would be a perfect antidote for Austin Rivers (I can’t believe I just wrote that) and help haunt an ailing Paul. Beverley’s presence also lets everything else fall in line, meaning Ariza, instead of Jason Terry, could guard J.J. Redick.

Terry did a pretty good job on Redick in the two games, but that was when L.A.’s offense was basically Blake Griffin being a bull in a China shop. They weren’t running their normal top-ranked system. But Redick’s looked like his normal self since Paul returned; ever since, it’s been painfully obvious that Terry is in way over his head.”

Read and view it here:




Is James Harden  a Flopper?  (from Kelly Scaletta,  Vantage Sports):

Read and view it here:




The Wizards’ Future  (from Zach Lowe,

Read and view it here:




And for those with access to ESPN Insider:


–  Thibodeau needs to figure out how to use Mirotic  (from Bradford Doolittle):

Read it here:




Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:


Austin Rivers:


Kyrie Irving:   and


Matthew Dellavedova:


Bradley Beal:


John Wall:


Patty Mills:


Quincy Pondexter:


Serge Ibaka:


Rodney Hood:


Aaron Gordon:


Colton Iverson:


Sim Bhullar:


Lance Stephenson:

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

Brad Stevens’ timeout (and ATO play) still drawing raves  (from Mark Murphy, Boston Herald):

” Gerald Wallace, one of Stevens’ favorite inbounders, has assisted on a number of game-winning plays over the last two seasons. The 32-year-old veteran doesn’t believe there are many coaches with this kind of late-game flair or imagination.

“If guys make their cuts hard, it’s like they’re open every time when he makes these calls,” said Wallace. “It kind of amazes me. A lot of coaches have maybe three or four plays and change the personnel in them. But he has so many different plays he can draw up at so many different times, it’s unheard of.”

Evan Turner admits that there have been times when he doubted the odds of Stevens’ more exotic schemes.

“I’ve never really seen that before,” said the Celtics swingman. “I’ve been around a lot of coaches and they all draw up great plays, but his work all the time. This is the most I’ve ever been a part of where we use them a lot. We’ve won a lot of games with some crazy plays. He draws it up and you look at it and think it’s not going to work, and it works.”

Read it here:




–  Familiar problems fuel latest Kings losing streak  (from Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee):

” “You shouldn’t be playing 20 minutes a game and not get a rebound,” Karl said. “The Coke machine can get a rebound some nights. Sometimes we have guys play 20, 25 minutes and don’t get a rebound. I don’t understand that.”

Derrick Williams played 26 minutes off the Kings’ bench and had no rebounds.

“It’s a habit,” Karl said of the trend of a lack of rebounding. “I think we over-rely on Cuz being a great rebounder. We know he’s a great rebounder, and we think we don’t have to be there sometimes, and that’s probably the case once in a while.

“But generally, fundamentally, you make the mistake not to be there, and we make the fundamental mistake of not being there when we should be there.”

Cousins said it takes a group effort to correct that.

“It’s a gang rebounding thing, especially when we go small,” he said. “All five have to rebound. We can’t just depend on the big to rebound.”

–  Brook Lopez’s Rise  (from Fred katz, Bleacher report):
” At the start of the year, when Lopez was hobbled, looking slow and either preparing to come off the bench or actually doing it, he seemed like a different player. Maybe it was the way coach Lionel Hollins used him or his placement within the offense or a slow recovery from foot problems. Likely, it was a mix of all of that.Either way, Lopez is playing far better basketball now than he was back in November and December.He is averaging 22.5 points and 9.3 rebounds a night over this 13-game stretch, one that has seen Brooklyn climb from 11th in the conference all the way to seventh. Actually, Brooklyn has been the third-best team in the East since the All-Star Game. At 14-10, it’s only one game worse than the Hawks since the break.

“I think the ball has been moving really freely the past number of games,” Lopez explained. “You can see everyone’s really comfortable on the court, and we’ve been jelling and playing well together.”

But it’s not just about ball movement. It can also be about what’s enabling such play.

Lopez has killed defenses over that time with a bevy of floaters, touch shots and hooks. He’s grabbing more offensive rebounds than he ever has before, though his success on the offensive glass has tailed off a bit since mid-March.

He’s improved his pick-and-roll chemistry with Deron Williams, whose play has also (maybe not so coincidentally) picked up of late. When you have a 7-footer setting killer screens and finishing with as dynamic of a low-post arsenal as any other Eastern Conference center (save for maybe Al Jefferson), your job as a point guard is going to become far easier. ”

Read it here:




Inside the Spurs’ Last 20 Games  (from Paul garcia,

” With their 107-92 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Easter Sunday, the San Antonio Spurs won their seventh game in a row, but more importantly, they won their 17th game in their last 20.

Another way to put it, the Spurs are 17-3 in their last 20 games, with two of those losses coming in overtime and in all 20 games, the Spurs have held a double-digit lead.

With five games remaining in the regular season before the NBA Playoffs begin, here are some details on the Spurs’ last 20 games, where they are starting to round into form and gear up to try to defend their NBA title.”

Read and view it here:



Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:


Sim Bhullar:


Draymond Green:


DeMar DeRozan/Tyler Hansbrough:


Otto Porter:


Jared Sullinger:


Andrew Wiggins:


Thanasis Antetokuonmpo:


CJ McCollum:


Paul George:


J.R. Smith:


Rodney Hood:


Kawhi Leonard:


Dwyane Wade:

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

–  Griz Morning After: Ball doesn’t stick  (from Ronald Tillery,

“It’s great when you move the ball like that. It gives everybody a chance to get a feel. It’s a lot less predictable. It gets contagious. It’s the way we should always play,” Griz center Marc Gasol said. “We make shots, miss shots, if we play like that it’s a lot tougher (for defenses) to load up. We moved the ball from one side to the other. You make the defense work. You have a better chance for them to make mistakes. When we just keep it on one side and everybody moves to the weak side, you have no chance to rebound. You have no chance to do anything but I thought we did a better job.”

Read it here:




– Noel slowly making adjustment to perimeter in defensive game  (from John Finger,

” Brown forecasts a future in which Noel will spend more time guarding players on the perimeter as opposed to “lurking” around the rim. Plus, with Joel Embiid penciled in as the team’s center of the future, Noel is going to have to learn about guarding those stretch-fours sooner or later.

“When you play it out and you have Joel down there, you’re going to have a different type of rim protector and you’re not going to see Nerlens categorically five as much as defensive four,” Brown said. “You’re going to see him play some five, but his blocked shots are going to take a hit as I move him more to a perimeter four defensive player.”

Can Noel still be a playmaker under the basket with rebounds and blocked shots? Sure, says Brown, but under different circumstances. Just don’t expect Noel to race back to the rim on the defensive end.

“You’re not going to see him in that environment as much,” Noel said. “As a weak-side defender coming to make plays, you’ll see it. But to see him stand by the rim and lurk and make plays, you won’t see him as much in that position as you used to only guarding fives.”

Read and view it here:




 If the Celtics Are Trying to Rebuild, Then Why the Postseason Push?  (from Zach Lowe,

Read it here:





–  Patrick Beverley’s done for the season, which will test the Rockets’ defense and depth (from Dan Devine, Yahoo Sports):

Read it here:–which-will-test-the-rockets–defense-and-depth-192142679.html




–  After a rocky start, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving now see the game together, their own way  (from Joe Vardon,

Read it here:




Classifying  LeBron’s Turnovers  (from Kirk Lammers,

Read and view it here:




–  The Vision of Manu Ginobili  (from Kyle Carpenter,

” Manu Ginobili has always won the game of the basketball with his eyes.

Even in his youthful days when a behind-the-back dribble bled into a Euro step  and ultimately an athletic finish at the rim, it was setup by a preternatural ability to see the road less traveled to get there. He is a master of angles, a master of bounces, a master of feints and pump fakes and contortions with a direct path to the end goal…Manu has always been economical where other “creative” players embellished.

That is because, like his countryman and fellow sports icon Lionel Messi, Ginobili sees the play well before the rest of us, and if it can’t be accomplished solo, is simply waiting on everyone else to catch up. He has no time for extraneous motions. Each step to an end.”

Read and view it here:

–  Assembling San Antonio Spurs’ Ideal Playoff Rotation  (from David Kenyon Bleacher Report):

”  San Antonio boasts one of few rosters that can realistically employ two complete lineups, so Pop has plenty of options to guide the squad throughout the playoffs.

Though particular situations may call for adjustments, the Spurs have an ideal rotation for postseason success—but it’s not the same one from the title-winning crew.”

Read and view it here:




 Zach Randolph reigns through pivots and patience (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):

Read it here:




Steven Adams is growing into a versatile defender  (from Darnell Mayberry,

” Overshadowed in the Thunder’s gritty come-from-behind win Sunday was the versatility Adams showed against the Suns. As fans have become enamored with newcomer Enes Kanter’s scoring skills, Adams stepped up and showed he remains special in his own right.

Following the departure of Kendrick Perkins, and with Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison likely out for the season, Adams is now the Thunder’s best remaining post defender. While he doesn’t have the offensive polish of Kanter, Adams is a far superior pick and roll defender and, as Sunday showed, a potentially viable option to defend bigger perimeter-oriented players in emergency situations. Adams also did a solid job on Dirk Nowitzki two weeks ago at Dallas…”

Read it here:





–  Alexey Shved Proved to Be Surprising Blueprint for New York Knicks’ Point Guard   (from John Dorn, Bleacher Report):

”  Despite the brief frenzy he brought about within the New York Knicks’ social community, Alexey Shved is no savior. He’s far from great, and some nights isn’t even good.

But over his 16 games with the Knicks, before suffering a rib injury that could be season-ending, he was an example of something Phil Jackson has been waiting for all year: an example of the triangle offense making somebody better than they were before.

The third-year pro averaged 14.8 points with New York on 40.3 percent shooting (his career mark is 36.9 percent). He was dependable from three-point range, connecting on 37 percent of treys, and, for the most part, looked fluid within the system. He’s not a natural playmaker, but as a result of his skill set and the player movement within Derek Fisher’s offense, Shved was creating more than expected.

His contract expires at season’s end, so Jackson will likely need to judge off the 16-game sample when considering if Shved will stick around after this offseason’s roster reconstruction. But whether Phil thinks Shved has the adequate talent or not, the 26-year-old provides a solid template for what New York is looking for in the backcourt. ”

Read and view it here:




–  Synergy Tells All Regarding the Wizards Offense, Or Lack Thereof  (from Troy Halliburton,

” By going beyond the play-by-play section of the box score, Synergy uses 11 different play type statistics to deconstruct all action on the court. On every play, Synergy analyzes transition, isolation, pick & roll: ball handler, pick & roll: roll man, post-up, spot-up, hand-off, cut, off-screen, putbacks, and more, to give an analysis of the final result. By cataloging all of the action that takes place in each play of every game, Synergy provides a comprehensive look at how players and teams execute on offense and defense.”

Read and view it here:




–  Pacers still need George, but they’ve survived without him  (from David Aldridge,

“Indiana has learned much about itself while Paul George recovers.

Read it here:

(Note: The above link to Aldridge’s column also includes a Manu Ginobili  Q&A)




–  The Fatigue and Frustrations of Marc Gasol  (from Jonah Jordan,

Read it here:




The Association’s Top Five Benches (from Will Laws, Sports Illustrated):

Read it here;




LaMarcus  Aldridge: “We still have time”  (from Angus Crawford,

” As the Blazers battled to emerge from the malaise of a mid-March slump, seemingly deflated by the loss of perimeter virtuoso Wesley Matthews (to an Achilles injury), one voice resonated louder than all others.

“I think we still have time,” said LaMarcus Aldridge, insisting that Portland’s window for championship contention remains slightly ajar.

Having provided arguably the most scintillating moment of the postseason last May, the Blazers’ dramatic resurgence resembled a far more melancholy reality when their title tilt drew to an abrupt close.

Methodically deconstructed by the Spurs, the second round collapse served as ammunition for those who wished to pigeonhole the team as an offensive juggernaut weighed down by its fundamental fragilities on the other side of the ball.

“We learned a lot from that playoff series. We saw how well they executed, we saw how they never stopped playing and how dialled in they were, you know, they were very particular about the things they did and how hard they played,” Aldridge admitted.

San Antonio strongarmed Portland by an average of 18.3 points per 100 possessions, completing a gentleman’s sweep that sent the Blazers’ brass back to the drawing board.

“They were just locked in, and I think we saw that we weren’t on that level [last year]. But I think every player understands what it takes to win, and we saw how they beat us up close and personal, so I think we get it.

“This team is probably a little bit better than last year as far as experience goes. From the guys we had being in those moments last year, then adding Arron [Afflalo] and [Chris] Kaman and Steve Blake, I think they give us more experience and I think they make us better, too,” said Aldridge.

But for all that grew in the Pacific Northwest in the early months of this season, with the new, veteran pieces pollinating with Portland’s existing core, so much of how this team progressed could be attributed to the steady hand of their weapon on the wing.

With Wesley Matthews’ ascension—thriving as the leader of the guards—everything began to look a little rosier.

As you start to peel back the layers on the first two-thirds of 2014-15, to better grasp the growth of Portland’s defence, it becomes eminently clearer what was lost the moment that Matthews clutched at his heel on March 5.”

Read it here:



–  The Decline of the Power Forward (from Kirk Goldsberry,

” The rise of the 3-point shot is the most tangible element of NBA basketball’s rapid evolution. But to increase the number of 3s, you also have to take something away. Today, we also find ourselves in the midst of an unprecedented 2-point recession, and you can see its fingerprints on everything from where guys stand on the court to free-agency valuations to player development.

Whether by design or accident, when the NBA Competition Committee implemented the 3-point line in the 1979-80 season, it began a process that eventually ushered us into a brave new hoops world where conventional power forwards are less useful than ever. As more teams take advantage of the 3-point line, a second low-post presence is now recognized as inefficient and anathema to spacing….it’s hard to find lamentations for how the league’s boundless appetite for 3s is forever cheapening traditional forms of basketball practice and luring more and more bigs away from the blocks”

Read it here:

–  Defense is the Pelicans problem, Is Tony Bennett  the answer?  (from David Fisher,

” Want a guy with head coaching experience? Championships in the toughest conference? A knack for defensive excellence? Boxes all checked.”

Read  and view it here:

– Korver and Curry Are Front Runners for the 50-40-90 Club (from Eric Stang, Vantage Sports):

” Since the NBA introduced the three-point line in the 1979–1980 season, the 50–40–90 shooting percentage threshold has only been crossed by six players: Steve Nash, Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Durant. Nash and Bird are the only players who have achieved 50–40–90 club status in multiple seasons. Bird was the first player to join this club and did so consecutively in the ’86-’87 and ’87-’88 seasons. Nash achieved membership four times in five seasons: ’05-’06, ’07-’08, ’08-’09, and ’09-’10. He narrowly missed a fifth consecutive membership season by shooting 89.9 percent from the free-throw line for the ’06–’07 season.

With the current NBA season coming to a close, there are two players with a very strong chance to join this elite scoring club along with three more who have a chance if they get hot. This article will take an in-depth look at each player’s specific scoring and movement metrics provided by Vantage Sports to provide some insight into his chances of joining the 50-40-90 Club.”

Read and view it here:


(BI Note:  Meyers Leonard’ shooting is also worth noting.  Although his limited playing time means that he won’t have the requisite # of shots to qualify being listed among league leaders, his #s are nonetheless impressive:  .506, .433, .926)



–  After the Crash: Bobby Phills Remembered (from Jonathan Abrams,

Read it here:



Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:


Udonis Haslem:


Gerald Wallace:


– Nerlens Noel:


DeMarcus Cousins:


Otto Porter:


Andre Drummond:


– Sim Bhullar

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

Pat Riley:   NBA’s Ultimate Lifer Fights on in Post-LeBron Era  (from Ethan Skolnick, Bleacher Report):

”  These may seem to some like silly questions to ask someone like this, someone sitting in a spacious office that speaks to the spoils of victory, from the spectacular view of Biscayne Bay to a half-century’s worth of hard-earned artifacts adorning the bookcases.

Yet, in light of the Miami Heat’s recent losses to the roster and on the court, the inquiries seemed apropos.

Any shot that Pat Riley, team president and patriarch, has lost a little faith?

That the past nine months have shaken him?

“No,” Riley said, during an hour-long interview with Bleacher Report, while nearing a 70th birthday he’d rather nobody notice, even with the book Younger Next Year prominently displayed behind him. “Just disappointed. Disappointed for Erik [Spoelstra] and for Micky [Arison] and for our fans. Really disappointed.””

Read it here:



–  How Goran Dragic Is Fitting in with the Miami Heat  (from Dylan Murphy, Bleacher Report):

Read and view it here:




Brad  Stevens scribbling Celtics to victories (from Chris Forsberg, ESPN):

” The Boston Celtics were down two with less than a minute to play Wednesday when coach Brad Stevens calmly jotted down a play on his trusty whiteboard. The play was designed to get the ball into Kelly Olynyk’s hands but, before breaking the huddle, Stevens told Evan Turner to look for Marcus Smart curling to the hoop for a potential early-action lob.

In the game’s most pivotal moment, Turner confidently threw an alley-oop lob to a 6-foot-4 rookie who had a single field goal up to that point. Smart caught the ball with the Memphis Grizzlies’ Courtney Lee scrambling to catch up, drew contact and then muscled home the bucket off the glass as TD Garden exploded.

Just another late-game gem from Stevens.

There has been no greater transformation for this Celtics team this season than its sudden ability to convert in clutch situations. Much of that can be traced to Stevens tasking his charges with simple but effective play-calling that doesn’t overwhelm his players and strives to put them in position to succeed.”

Read it here:




–  Master of the Mid-range shot: Chris Paul’s Deadly Elbow Jumper  (from Kirk Goldsberry,

Read and view it here:




Darren Collison Q & A  (from Blake Ellington,

Read it here:




–  The good and bad news about the Cavaliers’ improved defense  (from Matt Moore,

”  While everyone was busy last summer standing agape at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ conceptual offensive firepower, at the idea of those side pick and rolls with LeBron James and Kevin Love (that we still never see, by the way) with Kyrie Irving spacing the other side and Mike Miller up top, there were concerns hidden away about the defense.

The Cavaliers entered the year without a true rim protector, needing LeBron’s individual athletic and skill superiority combined with Anderson Varejao’s savvy and some veteran high basketball IQ to compensate for what was an alarming lack of perimeter and interior defenders. And for those first three months, both before and after Anderson Varejao’s season ending injury, the Cavaliers were a mess defensively.

They were lost, they were sluggish. James looked a step slow behind the men he was supposed to be chasing, Love looked completely overwhelmed and was constantly victimized, Tristan Thompson’s tremendous rebounding and effort could not compensate for constant schematic lapses.

So the Cavs took the most direct route from A to B. They went the easy (and sensible) route. They got better players. The acquisition of Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Timofey Mozgov changed everything for the Cavaliers. It gave them superior defenders in isolation situations on the wing and in post up situations down low. And it provided the kind of help defense to substantially help their pick and roll defense.

In short: the Cavs got better players, and got a lot better at defense. Before the All-Star Break, the cavs gave up 105.1 points per 100 possessions. Since the All-Star Break, that number is down to 98.0 . That’s a jump from 22nd in the league to seventh. It’s a testament to David Blatt for implementing new pieces and for the players (particularly LeBron) for stepping up to get things under control.

The Cavs are a better defensive team.

But there are still lapses, and not “well, every team has weak points” lapses. They have “they better figure this out in the next six weeks or they are going to be in trouble,” lapses.”

Read and view it here:




” One reason the Spurs are so good defensively is their ability to limit their opponent’s catch-and-shoot jumpers. They allow just 21.2 per game, the fewest in the league.

Effective field goal percentage drops significantly when you can make your opponent put the ball on the floor, mostly because your pushing him inside the 3-point line. But catch-and-shoot jumpers are also better shots (for the offense) from a pure make-or-miss perspective.

The Spurs limit their opponent’s catch-and-shoot opportunities in a few different ways…

  1. They pressure the ball, making it tougher to make a direct pass to an open shooter.
  2. Their bigs hang back on pick-and-rolls, so that their teammates don’t have to help much on the roll man and can stay at home on the shooters.
  3. They close out aggressively, but at an angle to keep the ball away from the middle of the floor, where more passing lanes are available.
  4. If there is any help on pick-and-rolls, it doesn’t come out of the strong-side corner.”

Read and view it here:




–  The Case for Each Most Improved Player Candidate (from Alex Kennedy, Basketball Insiders):

Read it here:




–  The Nuggets look like a completely different team since firing Brian Shaw  (from jesus Gomez,

Read it here:





– NBA stars jump through hoops to perfect shot with specialist Bob Thate  (from Chris Erskine, LA Times):

Read it here:




–  A chat with the Nuggets Strength and Conditioning Coach (from Mike Olson,

Read it here:




–  The problem with the Tellem’s draft and D-League overhaul proposal  (from Matt Mooe,

Read it here:



Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:


Nerlens Noel:


Andrew Bogut:


Chris Paul:


Ben McLemore:


Rodney Hood:


Kelly Olynyk:


Isaiah Thomas/Jae Crowder/Jonas Jerebko/Gigi Datome:


Kelly Olynyk/Jae Crowder:


Danny Green:


Terrence Jones:


John Wall:


Alexis Ajinca:


Sim Bhullar:


Jeff Green:


Iman Shumpert:


Dwight Powell:


Derrick Williams:


Isaiah Canaan:


Seth Curry:


James Harden/Enes Kanter: