Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

Cavaliers: Separating Fact from Fiction (from Chris Fedor, cleveland.com):

”  The Cleveland Cavaliers enter the postseason with high expectations after a midseason turnaround.

They finished with 53 wins and it will take 16 more to capture the elusive championship. LeBron James and the rest of his teammates are locked in, having already started preparation for the Boston Celtics, their first postseason opponent. Game One is Sunday at 3 p.m. inside Quicken Loans Arena, a building that has been craving postseason basketball for four years.

Many things have been said about the Cavs as they embark on the journey. Some of them are true while others are off the mark.

I compiled many of the things I have read in the comments section, on social media and nationally, and attempt to do my best to separate fact from fiction.”

Read it here:  http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2015/04/separating_fact_from_fiction_w_1.html

 

 

 

–  Cavaliers veterans send message of ‘focus, preparation and composure’ as playoffs begin  (from Chris Fedor, cleveland.com):

” A menacing Big Three, an eight-man rotation that can stand tall against any foe, a healthy roster and a 34-9 record in the last half of the season, the Cavs have plenty on their side in a title chase. But experience is not an ally, with four key players — Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson — having never played on the postseason stage.

After a 34-9 sprint to finish that propelled the Cavs up the standings, an arduous journey awaits and the experienced voices will serve as a guide for the playoff rookies.

“Focus,” (James) Jones said when asked what he has learned over the years. “The game hasn’t changed. It’s still basketball and the teams we’re playing aren’t new teams to the league. They’re teams we’ve played before and we’ve seen them. We know the players and know the tendencies.

“You have to focus on yourself physically and mentally, getting prepared and focusing on your game plan, understanding your opponent inside and out and controlling your emotions. When you talk about the postseason you talk about focusing. For those guys, they’ve done it. They will just have to do it for a long period of time if we want to reach the heights we want to reach.”

“The game slows down a little more, teams are more honed into your plays because you’re playing the same team night in and night out anywhere from four to seven games,” (Brendan)Haywood said. “They know your sets just as good as you do. That’s when it really comes down to execution.”

Read it here:  http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2015/04/cleveland_cavaliers_veterans_s.html

 

 

 

Brad Stevens has been Celtics’ guiding light (from A. Sherrod Blakely,  csnne.com):

” These Celtics are talked about in terms of being successful without having a superstar.

But they do have one.

His name is Brad Stevens.”

Read it here:  http://www.csnne.com/boston-celtics/brad-stevens-has-been-boston-celtics-guiding-light

 

 

 

–  Cavs know Celtics’ bench will be a ‘handful’  (from Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald):

” It’s a fair assumption that the Cavaliers will be focused to the greatest degree on executing their own game when they meet the Celtics in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series this afternoon.

If the Cavs do what the Cavs can do, the Bostonians may not have much of a say in the matter.

But Cleveland cannot help but be concerned a bit by Isaiah Thomas and the 19 points a game he has provided off the Celtics bench in just 26 minutes per outing.

The Cavaliers will undoubtedly focus their defense on Thomas, but, according to important reserve Shawn Marion, they will throw something else at the 5-foot-9 point guard: their own offense.

“I think it’s a collective effort,” Marion said yesterday. “We know Isaiah Thomas comes off the bench and it’s predominantly him shooting every time. He’s averaging 20 points off the bench.

“You know, he’s a handful, so we’ve got to make sure we lock in on him and make him play both ends of the floor. If he wants to shoot 20 times, he’s going to have to guard 20 times, you know what I’m saying?”

Read it here:   http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics_nba/boston_celtics/2015/04/bulpett_cavs_know_celtics_bench_will_be_a_handful

 

 

 

– LeBron James Is a Lethal Pick-and-Roll Scorer: can the Celtics Could Contain Him by Utilizing Switch-Heavy Lineups?  (from Kevin O’Connor, Vantage Sports):

Read and view it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VTKUdicAACYA0En7/lebron-james-is-a-lethal-pick-and-roll-scorer-but-the-boston-celtics-could-contain-him-by-utilizing-switch-heavy-lineups

 

 

 

–  Cavalier Film Room: Switch-happy on the screen (from Kirk Lammers,  yardbarker.com):

” (T)he Cavaliers have actually handled pick and roll situations quite well.

Defensively, they allowed just 0.76 points per possession on ball handlers in pick-and-roll situations, which ranks T-8th best. Teams use their possessions on this style of play 14.7% of the time, around league average. Some individual clips include Kyrie Irving (0.73 ppp), Iman Shumpert (0.79), and Matthew Dellavedova (0.79).

The Cavaliers have improved their defense drastically from January going forward. This strategy likely won’t hurt them against Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, and Avery Bradley with the Celtics, and it would probably work against either Derrick Rose or Michael Carter-Williams in the second round. However, switching their big onto the pick and roll ball handler isn’t going to work against Steph Curry, James Harden, or Chris Paul, should the wine and gold be fortunate enough to make it far enough to see one of those players again this season.”

Read and view it here:  http://network.yardbarker.com/all_sports/article_external/cavalier_film_room_switch_happy_on_the_screen/18647516

 

 

 

– No Team Finds Open Shots Like the Hawks: Can the Nets Contain Them?  (from Andy Silvis, Vantage Sports):

Read and view it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VTFvMCcAAIQPyozv/no-team-finds-open-shots-like-the-hawks-can-the-nets-contain-them

 

 

 

–  Warriors and Pelicans Game One: Film Review  (from James Grayson, bourbonstreetshots.com):

Read and view it here:  http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/19/warriors-and-pelicans-game-one-film-review/

 

 

 

–  Draymond Green Presents Unique Challenge for Anthony Davis to Solve (from Ric Bucher, leacher report):

Read it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2435356-draymond-green-presents-unique-challenge-for-anthony-davis-to-solve

 

 

 

–  Warriors can win by many means (from Ethan Sherwood Strauss,  ESPN):

” Draymond Green had some thoughts on unsung aspects of his squad. “We know we’re more than what some people say we are, just a 3-point shooting team,” he said after the game, referring to a stout defense that held New Orleans to a mere 13 first-quarter points. “There’s this stigma, this expectation, this belief that we can’t win if we’re not making 3s. Yet we’re the No. 1 defensive team in the league.”

Read it here:  http://www.espn.co.uk/blog/golden-state-warriors/post/_/id/488/green-warriors-can-win-by-many-means

 

 

 

–  Curry is more than a 3-point shooter  (from Marcus Thompson,  Bay Area News Group):

”  Curry scored 16 of his team-high 34 points on layups as the Warriors held on for a 106-99 Game 1 win. Curry indeed hoisted a bunch of 3s, making just 4 of 13. But though his shot wasn’t on, his dominance still was.

But Curry is more than just a 3-point shooter. So it makes sense the team he leads is more than just a 3-point shooting team.

“Yeah, that’s just a stigma,” forward Draymond Green said. “There is this expectation and belief that we can’t win if we’re not making threes, yet we’re the number one defensive team in the league.

“We were 11 for 29 from 3, 21 for 34 from the line,” Green continued. “That’s kind of not normal. But we found a way to win the game. So we know that we’re more than what some people may say we are, just a three‑point shooting team. Yet we don’t worry about it. We just go out there and play our game. And we know we can do other things.””

Read it here:   http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/sports/20150418/thompson-curry-is-more-than-a-3-point-shooter

 

 

 

–  Warriors 106, Pelicans 99  (from Adam Lauridsen, mercurynews.com):

” (T)he Pelicans’ resurgence didn’t occur in a vacuum.  The run started during a particularly sloppy stretch of Warriors’ play and with Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut on the bench.  After watching 12 points fall off the lead in just under three minutes, Steve Kerr re-inserted Green early in the fourth — joining Bogut — and the Warriors quickly went on a 7-0 run.  When Bogut checked out again, the Warriors bled seven more points.  It’s still not clear to me that Davis has any long-term answer for Green — who led the Warriors with a +23 rating — and was spectacular in the first three quarters denying Davis the ball, stripping it when he got it and keeping him off the offensive glass for easy put-back opportunities.  Green received Oracle’s only standing ovation of the night, and he deserved it.  But as good as Green was, he needed — and will need — help from Bogut.  Davis’ ability to extend the defense opened up easy cutting lanes for the rest of the Pelicans.  When Bogut can hang back by the basket — guarding Omer Asik, for example — it leaves a rim-protector behind Davis to frustrate the Pelicans’ penetration and ball movement.  Davis had trouble scoring on Bogut from close range, and Bogut’s presence warded off would-be penetrators that Davis could hit with passes.  It’s no coincidence that the Pelicans’ offense finally seemed to start clicking and open up when the team abandoned Asik in the middle and played its own version of small-ball, with Davis at center.  The resulting sets pulled Bogut out to the perimeter to guard Davis or another Pelican, and left the rim relatively open.”

Read it here:  http://blogs.mercurynews.com/warriors/2015/04/19/game-1-evolutionary-pressure-warriors-106-pelicans-99/

 

 

 

–  Pelicans breakdown on defense against Warriors  (from David Fisher,  thebirdwrites.com):

Read and view it here:  http://www.thebirdwrites.com/2015/4/19/8451709/new-orleans-pelicans-golden-state-warriors-game-one-analysis-breakdown

 

 

 

–  Three things we learned from the Raptors game  (from Doug Smith,  thestar.com):

Read it here:  http://www.thestar.com/sports/doug_smiths_sports_blog/2015/04/three-things-we-learned-from-the-raptors-game.html

 

 

 

–  Raptors facing identity crisis after loss to Washington Wizards to open first-round playoff series  (from Eric Koreen,  nationalpost.com):

Read it here:  http://news.nationalpost.com/sports/nba/toronto-raptors-facing-identity-crisis-after-loss-to-washington-wizards-to-open-first-round-playoff-series

 

Raptors Need To Be Better At What They Do Best Than Wizards Are At What They Do Well  (from Eric Koreen,  nationalpost.com):

Read it here:  http://news.nationalpost.com/sports/nba/toronto-raptors-need-to-be-better-at-what-they-do-best-than-washington-wizards-are-at-what-they-do-well

 

 

 

–  Breaking it Down: Lowry’s gambling; Paul Pierce at the Four  (from William Lou,  raptorsrepublic.com)

” Lowry lost his gambles on Saturday and it cost the Raptors a chance at the win.”

” By now, everyone and their mother knows the Raptors couldn’t handle Paul Pierce at the four.  Everyone will focus on the scoring, but Pierce’s shooting helps in so many areas.”

Read and view it here:   http://www.raptorsrepublic.com/2015/04/19/breaking-it-down-lowrys-gambling-pierce-has-it-at-the-four/

 

 

 

– Wizards’ adjustment with Paul Pierce long overdue ( from J Michael,  csnwashington.com):

” It’s a fair question to ask why this didn’t happen sooner. Even in the preseason the Wizards talked about using Pierce at power forward but it rarely happened this season. They were having trouble with Nene having to chase smaller players out to the three-point line. Pierce’s versatility, plus he has experience playing the four spot last season with the Brooklyn Nets when they upset Toronto in the first round, made him a logical choice.

It also created more playing time for Otto Porter off the bench. The small forward logged 34 minutes because of the shift and was a pest defensively which contributed to the Raptors shooting just 35 of 92 from the field for 38%.

Still bigger than the Raptors with these changes, the Wizards had a 61-48 edge in rebounds. Nineteen of them were offensive as Gooden had four and Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal three each. The move with Pierce, however, was the move that started it all.

“With me at the four, I think it really opened it up for Brad and John (Wall). I think when I spread the floor, or become a three-point drive threat, then we able to get in the lane a little bit more, find the roll man with the five guy and if they help I’m there for the open three,” Pierce said. “It’s a little bit different from us having two bigs when they kind of pack the lane in and wait for us to drive. It brings a different element when I’m able to play out on the perimeter at the four because a lot of teams are used to us picking and rolling. I’m going to pick and pop and spread the court for us to have more driving lanes. It opened things up there in the second quarter.”

Read it here:  http://www.csnwashington.com/basketball-washington-wizards/talk/morning-tip-wizards-adjustment-paul-pierce-long-overdue

 

 

 

–  John Wall and Bradley Beal were not decisive against Raptors traps in Game 1  (from Umair Khan,  bulletsforever.com):

” Washington’s backcourt was held to 11-41 shooting as they failed to make quick decisions with the ball against the Raptors trapping defense.’

Read and view it here:  http://www.bulletsforever.com/2015/4/19/8452165/john-wall-and-bradley-beal-Washington-Wizards-Toronto-raptors-trap-breakdown

 

 

 

 

–  Rockets 118, Mavericks 108: A team effort  (from Paul McGuire, red94.net):

” We may forget it from time to time, but there are other players on the Rockets besides James Harden.

Harden dropped 24 points tonight, but by his ludicrous standards did not score all that well. He took 17 free throws and shot just 4-11 from the field. Dallas was aggressive with the double team and absolutely determined to make the rest of the Rockets beat them tonight.

And that is what the rest of the Rockets did. Terrence Jones came close to a triple double, Jason Terry and Trevor Ariza blazed from three, and Corey Brewer was the hero of the fourth quarter. And while it is far too easy to massively extrapolate from just one game, there is one thing that is patently clear: the Mavericks may have an answer for James Harden. But they are as helpless as a newborn kitten in trying to stop Dwight Howard.”

Read it here:  http://www.red94.net/houston-rockets-118-dallas-mavericks-108-a-team-effort/15905/

 

 

–  Dwight Howard’s presence, Houston’s balance expose Dallas shortcomings  (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):

Read it here:   http://www.si.com/nba/2015/04/19/james-harden-dwight-howard-rockets-beat-mavericks-game-1-western-conference-first-round

 

 

–  BULLS BLAST OFF IN GAME 1  (from Sam Smith, Bulls.com):

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/samsmith/playoffs/bulls-blast-game-1

 

 

SPORTVU POSTGAME REPORT: BULLS-BUCKS, GAME 1 (from NBA.com):

Read it here:  http://stats.nba.com/featured/sportvu_bulls_bucks_gm1_2015_04_18.html

 

 

 

BBalll Breakdown on Kawhi Leonard  (from Coach Nick,  Bball Breakdown):

Watch it here:  http://blog.mysanantonio.com/spursnation/2015/04/18/basketball-breakdown-on-kawhi-leonard/

 

 

 

– Do the Kings have what it takes to improve? (from James Ham, cowbellkingdom.com):

” There are four major components to the basketball side of an NBA franchise – ownership, management, coaches and players.  For the last decade, the Kings have found it nearly impossible to find common ground between all four of these factions.

It takes all four aspects to find success in the NBA.  That and a little luck.

Since the golden age of Kings basketball (1998-2006), the Kings have struggled to master any of these four areas of the game.  The Maloof family fell on hard times financially and stopped putting the necessary money into the business.  Geoff Petrie hit a cold streak, Chris Webber and Vlade Divac got old and the coaching carousel spun out of control.

But we are in a new era of Kings hoops.  Everything is fresh and after this next season, there will even be a new home for the team in the heart of Sacramento.  How do the Kings fare in the four categories necessary for success?

Read it here:  http://cowbellkingdom.com/sunday-musings-do-the-kings-have-what-it-takes-to-improve/

 

 

 

–  Utah Jazz Locker Clean-Out Highlights Pt. II: The Players  (from Clint Peterson,  purpleandblues.com):

Read it here:  http://purpleandblues.com/2015/04/18/utah-jazz-locker-clean-out-highlights-pt-ii-the-players/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:

 

 

Evan Turner:  http://espn.go.com/boston/nba/story/_/id/12710070/evan-turner-transformed-game-become-impact-player-boston-celtics

 

Isaiah Thomas:  http://espn.go.com/boston/nba/story/_/id/12676881/jackie-macmullan-isaiah-thomas-made-basketball-boston-fun-again-celtics-fans

 

Zach Randolph:  http://www.commercialappeal.com/sports/grizzlies/griz-have-allaround-zbo-that-blazers-envisioned_77638390

 

Corey Brewer:  http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/04/18/qa-corey-brewer-on-trade-from-timberwolves-his-51-point-game-hardens-mvp-case-rockets-vs-mavericks/

 

Andrew Bogut:   http://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/Healthy-Bogut-provides-critical-presence-for-6209142.php

 

Bojan Bogdanovic:  http://web.yesnetwork.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20150419&content_id=118839006&oid=36318

 

Jonas Jerebko/Jae Crowder/Isaiah Thomas/Gigi Datome:  http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics_nba/boston_celtics/2015/04/celtics_deadline_acquisitions_have_helped_fuel_run_to

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

 13 standouts you won’t see in the NBA All-Star Game (from Mike Prada,  SBNation):

”  NBA teams need balance to win in 2015. Rules changes and tactical advancements have made team play more essential on both ends of the floor. Great offenses need elite shooters, great passers, crafty screen-setters and spot-up players that are willing to actually move instead of always standing in a corner. Great defenses need guards willing to ride ball-handlers’ hips, big men to play angles to seal off the basket and all players to make third and fourth rotations to dangerous areas.

The game’s evolution has opened up new ways to qualify (and quantify) a player’s value. No longer are the elite scorers the only valuable commodity. Increasingly, it’s the decoys and the obstacles that contribute just as much to a team’s success.

That’s the genesis behind the second annual Film Room All-Star team. These are 13 players that add tremendous value to their teams without being actual All-Stars. They are the glue guys, the situational superstars … whatever other cliché you want to use, except we’re going to actually give those clichés real meaning.

A couple notes:

  1. No actual All-Stars will be on this list. This isn’t because the actual All-Stars are overrated — in most cases, they are also Film Room All-Stars. This is about honoring those whose talents fly under the radar. (We’re assuming Kyle Korver gets picked to replace Dwyane Wade. Otherwise, he’d be this team’s captain. Also: no Mike Conley because he’d be an All-Star in the East).
  2. A lot of candidates will be left out. Almost every good team has at least one indispensable role player/situational star/glue guy. We can only spotlight 13. Everyone we considered will be noted.
  3. These players are usually more valuable to their teams than any other one: Each team needs different kinds of supplementary players depending on their stars or style of play. Place any one of these players on a different team, and they’d lose some of their value. We don’t believe that should be held against them, which is why they are being celebrated.

On to the list:”

Read and view it here:  http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/2/3/7921831/nba-film-room-all-stars-2015

 

–  Dion Waiters Trade Creating More Confusion for Struggling OKC Thunder (from Dave Leonardis, Bleacher Report):

” The Oklahoma City Thunder have to wonder whether the acquisition of Dion Waiters was worth all of the confusion it has caused in the first few weeks.

In exchange for Waiters’ scoring punch, the team’s rotations have lacked consistency. Role players such as Reggie Jackson and Andre Roberson have seen their minutes fluctuate and their production suffer. Most importantly, the team doesn’t appear to be much better than it was prior to Waiters’ arrival. 

Since Waiters made his Thunder debut on Jan. 7 against the Sacramento Kings, OKC has gone 7-6. Waiters has contributed 11.8 points per game, but his shooting has left much to be desired. He’s converting just 38.4 percent from the field, including 28.9 percent from three. That’s about as effective as wearing ice skates in the sand. ”

Read it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2352073-dion-waiters-trade-creating-more-confusion-for-struggling-okc-thunder

 

–  David West Will Make No Excuses as His Game Ages and Evolves (from Jon Washburn,  8points,9seconds.com):

” “There’s a certain way you need to conduct and carry yourself and be, and you don’t compromise on that,” said West after the win. “You don’t compromise your integrity and you don’t compromise who you are. Things you’ve built in terms of the legacy you want to believe. You walk around excuse free, and rather than trying to find excuses, you try to find solutions and be accountable.”

Read it here:  http://8points9seconds.com/2015/02/04/david-west-indiana-pacers-old-passing/

(BI Note:  This story runs two pages; be sure to click on “Next” at the top or bottom of page one.)

 

–  Grizzlies’ recalibrated offense could take them far this postseason (from Josh Planos, Washington Post)

Read it here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2015/02/04/grizzlies-recalibrated-offense-could-take-them-far-this-postseason/

 

–  The Tutelage of Chris Paul (from Danielle Greenberg, clipsnation.com):

” Chris Paul helps the Los Angeles Clippers win every time he sets foot on a court. However, he has also made his mark on the team over the years by taking younger and still-developing teammates under his wing. With the arrival of Austin Rivers, Paul has yet another opportunity to mentor a young player and help his career.”

Read it here:  http://www.clipsnation.com/2015/2/4/7974667/the-tutelage-of-chris-paul

 

– Wizards go through unusually ‘dirty’ practice before back-to-back  (from  J. Michael, Washington Post):

Read it here:  http://www.csnwashington.com/basketball-washington-wizards/talk/wizards-go-through-unusually-dirty-practice-back-back

 

–  Kawhi Leonard And The Spurs’ Identity (from Jesse Blanchard, BBall Breakdown):

” Not even a minute into his first game back from a month-long absence, a backpedaling Kawhi Leonard noticed Portland Trail Blazers guard Wes Matthews’ balance start to falter as he brought the ball up near the top of the key. Falling to the floor, Matthews flipped the ball towards teammate Nicolas Batum.

In the blink of an eye, Leonard extended a long arm into the passing lane, his reach beating everyone else to the ball to ignite a fast break and an ailing San Antonio Spurs team to a 110-96 victory; scoring 20 points while getting his gigantic hands on four rebounds and three steals while dishing out five assists.

“A team feeds off of each other and (Kawhi) has been an obvious important part of how we do things,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “Everything fits better together, everybody communicates better, everyone understands what to do in various situations much better.”

Missing Leonard for much of December, the Spurs slogged through only the third losing month of Tim Duncan’s career. Since his returning, they’ve gone 6-2. Popovich’s proclamation that Leonard would become the face of the franchise has come to pass. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP is one of the league’s biggest difference-makers, the Spurs best player, and currently their leading scorer. And yet, should it continue over the second half of the season, that last part might be a problem.”

Read and view it here:  http://bballbreakdown.com/2015/02/03/kawhi-leonard-and-the-spurs-identity/

 

–  How Warriors built NBA’s top defense  (from Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN):

” It wasn’t long ago that defensive ineptitude was a depraved aspect of the Golden State Warriors‘ appeal. Sure, they wouldn’t win during the decade and a half Chris Cohan was the owner, but they’d entertain customers as the Showtime version of the Washington Generals, a harmless farce of a team that revved the pace, scored cheap baskets in transition and propped up the opponent’s attack like a pro wrestler complicit in his own humiliation. Running fast meant more points, with the empty stats glossing the poor product like shiny wax on a rotten apple. This was who the Warriors were; even their occasional playoff teams weren’t strong defensively.

Now things are different. The Warriors are one of the best teams in the league, and generally the explanation has been shooting and the Splash Brothers. Less discussed is the scrambling, suffocating amalgam of long limbs flying at ball handlers with the speed of hurricane winds that comprises the best defense, by far, in the NBA — better than Thibodeau’s Bulls, Popovich’s Spurs and the improved Bucks, Blazers and Hawks.

The Warriors have been first in defensive rating from the day their season started — a 98-day streak that’s still going. The offense fits the vibe, makes the highlights and gets the publicity, but it’s the defense that has people thinking about titles.

How they got it here is no accident.”

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/12273986/how-golden-state-warriors-built-nba-best-defense

 

And for those with access to ESPN Insider:

 

–   Warriors chasing history — fast (from Tom Haberstroh):

” GS could become first team to rank No. 1 in both pace factor and D rating”

Read it here:  http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/12277297/golden-state-warriors-top-historic-play-nba

 

And from the WNBA:

 

–  Diana Taurasi’s decision to sit out should spark WNBA salary changes  (from Kate Fagan, ESPN):

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/wnba/story/_/id/12272036/diana-taurasi-decision-sit-spark-wnba-salary-changes

 

Additional Player Updates:

 

Marcus Smart/Jae Crowderhttp://www.csnne.com/boston-celtics/celtics-nuggets-preview-crowder-versatile-bench

 

Ricky Rubio:  http://www.nba.com/timberwolves/news/what-are-they-saying-january-28-february-4

 

Cody Zeller:  http://www.atthehive.com/2015/2/4/7972527/whats-gotten-into-cody-zeller

 

Rasual Butler:  http://www.nba.com/2015/news/features/steve_aschburner/02/03/more-rasual-butler-could-help-fix-the-reeling-wizards/

 

Jonas Valanciunas:  http://www.thestar.com/sports/raptors/2015/02/03/sitting-jonas-valanciunas-late-in-games-nothing-personal-says-raptors-coach.html  and   http://www.tsn.ca/talent/casey-explains-decision-to-limit-valanciunas-in-crunch-time-1.198945  and    http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/02/04/toronto-raptors-need-to-nudge-jonas-valanciunas-along-if-they-want-success-in-the-post-season/

 

Jared Sullinger:  http://www.csnne.com/boston-celtics/sullinger-back-home-around-basket   and   http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/02/04/jared-sullinger-needs-back-basics/P2ylKJ7eLXJpVg49iFJ1LI/story.html

 

Jerami Grant:  http://www.csnphilly.com/basketball-philadelphia-76ers/sixers-rookie-jerami-grant-blossoming-even-three-point-shooter

 

James Harden:  http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=12196251

 

Chandler Parsons:  http://www.mavsoutsider.com/2015/02/04/chandler-parsons-worth-to-mavericks/

 

Corey Brewer:  http://www.thedreamshake.com/2015/2/4/7952919/lets-all-give-thanks-for-corey-brewer

 

Jusuf Nurkic:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/modern-goon-jusuf-nurkic-denver-nuggets/

 

Gerald Green:  http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2015/02/03/phoenix-suns-gerald-green-defense-nba/22823379/

Today’s Top NBA Preseason Stories

– Kerr gets the job and coast he wanted (from Scott Howard-Cooper, nba.com):

Read the interview here: http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2014/10/10/kerr-gets-the-job-and-coast-he-wanted/

(BI note: great interview by Scott of Coach Kerr.  Other interviewers can learn a lot about the craft from it.)

– What Will Make 2014-15 a Successful Season for Harrison Barnes? (from Jim Cavan, Bleacher Report):

” Few NBA players have gone from star in the making to potential roster filler faster than the Golden State WarriorsHarrison Barnes.

Following a promising rookie campaign, the former North Carolina standout flat-lined in his sophomore year—the product, in no small part, of Andre Iguodala’s stranglehold on the team’s starting small-forward position.

With just two years remaining on his contract (the second being a team option), Barnes, at just 22 years old, is already at a career crossroads: Rebound and regain his phenomenal promise, or risk sliding forever to the NBA fringes.

So what does Barnes have to do to make this a successful season?”

Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2227752-what-will-make-2014-15-a-successful-season-for-harrison-barnes

– Tony Parker interviewed by Yahoo! France:

“Tony Parker sat down with Yahoo! France to talk about the Spurs’ chance of repeating, France’s World Cup performance, next year’s Eurobasket tournament and if he thinks he’s reached his peak yet. ”

Read it here: http://www.poundingtherock.com/2014/10/10/6960701/i-feel-like-im-living-a-dream-tony-parker-interviewed-by-yahoo-france

– Thomas Robinson’s defense still a work in progress (from David MacKay, ripcityproject.com):

” Considering the Trail Blazers other options at backup power forward, Thomas Robinson will be a huge part of their bench defense this year. Joel Freeland is big, but not fast; Victor Claver is fast but not big; and Meyers Leonard is big and fast, but not skilled. Robinson is the perfect combination of size (6’9”|240 lbs), speed, and ability to defend NBA fours, but he needs to play a little smarter this year in order to live up to his potential. At 23 years old, his eventual strengths are in a malleable state.

Right now, we are seeing some good things from him, but control has been an issue. As a “hustle” player, his energy is one of his most valuable traits. However; it does not always translate into quality play.”

Read and view it here: http://ripcityproject.com/2014/10/10/thomas-robinson-defense-still-work-progress/

– What to Expect from Will Barton in 2014-15 (from Dane Carbaugh, blazersedge.com):

” As the Blazers try to build on their playoff success from last season they face a critical question: Is the hype surrounding Will Barton more than just wishful thinking?”

Read and view it here: www.blazersedge.com/2014/10/10/6954243/will-barton-portland-trail-blazers-expectations

Shane Larkin’s freakish speed may change the Knicks’ offense (from Marc Berman, NYPost):

” New point guard Shane Larkin is so lightning-fast he will try to pull the Knicks out of the triangle offense at times.

That’s the plan, according to Larkin, whom coach Derek Fisher is leaning toward as backup point guard over Pablo Prigioni despite his inexperience.

Fisher wants speed on the second unit and the second-year Larkin, whose rookie campaign in Dallas was a whitewash because of a broken ankle, is regarded as one of the NBA’s fastest players.”

Read it here: http://nypost.com/2014/10/10/shane-larkins-freakish-speed-may-change-the-knicks-offense/

– Wolves Bench Shows Signs of Hope (from John Meyer, canishoopus.com):

” The Wolves bench was a complete mess last year, but the second unit helped propel the team to victory over the Sixers on Friday night. In other words, they showed signs of hope.”

Read it here: http://www.canishoopus.com/2014/10/11/6961125/wolves-bench-shows-signs-of-hope

– Top 5 Rookie Sleepers (from Joel Brigham, Basketball Insiders):

” There’s no doubt that this year’s rookie class is going to be an exciting one. With loads of young players possessing loads of star quality talent, it’s inevitable that the Rookie of the Year race will be a million times more interesting than last year’s was. Players like Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins all but guarantee that.

However, like every year, there are rookies who fall outside of the lottery that could also show great value early in their careers. Even second-round picks and undrafted players can turn into stars, but predicting which of those players will make such a leap is the challenging part.

Knowing that, here’s a look at some non-lottery rookies that could end up being major contributors by year’s end, including a few that look like All-Stars in training:”

Read it here: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-pm-top-5-rookie-sleepers/

– Kyle Lowry schools Marcus Smart: Rookie guard has lots to learn (from Mark Murphy, Boston Herald):

“Technically he still has a ways to go,” Stevens said. “He made a lot of mistakes defensively Wednesday night (against the Knicks), but because he’s so physical, aggressive and athletic, he got back into the play and it didn’t hurt us. If he can get more technically sound, he can be as good as anyone defensively on the perimeter. He’s every bit of 220-plus pounds. He’s got all of the tools.”

Smart understands a little better today. Great athleticism and strength ultimately won’t cover up mistakes in a league where everyone has those gifts.

“Lowry is very fundamental. He makes you pay when you make a mistake,” Smart said. “You just have to play him solid and don’t gamble. I gambled in this game a little too much and he made us pay. That’s what a great guard does.””

Read it here: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics_nba/boston_celtics/2014/10/kyle_lowry_schools_marcus_smart

– Dario Saric’s Best Case Scenario (from Jonathan Tjarks, RealGM):

” It’s easy to see where the excitement comes with Saric. He is a mismatch nightmare – he can put the ball on the floor and take bigger players off the dribble as well as play with his back to the basket and punish smaller players on the block. He can clear the defensive glass and start the fast break himself and he knows how to accept the double team and find the open man in the half-court. Not many guys have his combination of size, skill and athleticism.”

Read it here: http://basketball.realgm.com/blog/234793

– Brown wants to make Sixers stronger in transition game (from Bob Cooney, philly.com):

” The identity of this team, Brown says, “has to be defense.” To that end, he is looking for his squad to correct what was its worst area a season ago – the transition game.

Many factors contributed to the Sixers’ getting blitzed in transition on most nights – bad shots early in the shot clock; long shots from players who have no business shooting long jumpers; horrible turnovers – but the one the coach wants to concentrate on this season isn’t too complicated.

“We are going overboard on their first three steps,” Brown said. That means he wants his squad not to allow the man with the ball or anyone else to get out to a full sprint after those three steps. He wants his group to be into any player before those first three steps.”
Read it here: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sixers

/20141012_Brown_wants_to_make_Sixers_stronger_in_transition_game.html
– Lou Williams finding his niche with Raptors (from Josh Lewenberg, tsn.com):
Read it here: http://www.tsn.ca/talent/lewenberg-williams-finding-his-niche-with-raptors-1.104412
– Eric Bledsoe tries to perfect midrange shot (from Paul Coro, Azcentral.com):
” Few guards have the ability to get to the rim as well as Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe does.

But for the past year, Suns coach Jeff Hornacek has been trying to find middle ground with Bledsoe too.

Because Bledsoe often has defenders retreating hard or going under screens in fear of his drives,

Bledsoe has the chance to take open midrange shots often.”

Read it here: http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2014/10/11/eric-bledsoe-tries-perfect-midrange-shot-suns/17085273/

– Jeremy Lin Has Become Not Only Kobe Bryant’s Teammate, but His Pupil (from Kevin Ding, Bleacher Report):

Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2227248-jeremy-lin-getting-has-become-not-only-kobe-bryants-teammate-but-his-pupil

– What do Andre Roberson, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones have to show in the preseason? (from Kevin Yeung, welcometoloudcity.com):

Andre Roberson, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones have been biding their time for a rotation spot, and they’ve each flitted into semi-consistent playing time for brief stretches now and again. But they’ve never lasted, and it’s largely been because of their own shortcomings. There’s an open competition for the starting shooting guard spot, and any of those three could win out (Morrow and Jackson are also in the mix). But there’s a long list of things they have to improve on, and what they show in training camp and preseason could go a long way towards their role this season.”

Read it here: http://www.welcometoloudcity.com/2014/10/10/6938857/preseason-andre-roberson-jeremy-lamb-perry-jones

– Zach Lowe’s  Frank Vogel podcast (from Grantland.com):

Read excerpts and view the podcast here: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-lowe-post-podcast-zach-lowe-and-frank-vogel/

– That May Not Be the Last of Jamel McLean (from Yannis Koutroupis, Basketball Insiders):

” McLean and Alba Berlin shocked the defending champion San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, defeating them 94-93 on a banked in floater from McLean from just inside the three point line as time expired.

He’ll be going up against German League competition for the rest of the season, but at the rate he’s been improving, we could see McLean going head-to-head with NBA players again soon, only as a member of the league himself. McLean spent some time with the Sacramento Kings last offseason and should receive his more serious look yet from NBA teams this upcoming summer.

“[Making the NBA] would be my dream,” McLean said. “I just take everything in stride each summer. I come home and figure out what they’re looking for and hopefully a team is looking for, you know the NBA is full of scorers and what not but maybe a glue guy or a stick guy who’s been around and knows the game a little bit, so there’s a window it’s a small window but you know I’m still aiming for it and just coming over here and playing and staying in top shape and developing my game each year and hopefully a team will take a chance on me.”

Read it here: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/that-may-not-be-the-last-of-jamel-mclean/

– Doc Rivers dispels Clippers’ pain with his healing powers (from Bill Dwyre, LATimes):

” It remains fascinating that the person with the medical nickname did the most healing for the Los Angeles Clippers last season.

When Donald “Step on My Tongue” Sterling spewed his stupidity, Glenn “Doc” Rivers was there with ointment and bandages. He protected, guided and navigated this oft-abused and suddenly under siege franchise through the rapids and waterfalls of public relations disaster.

In this case, Rivers’ nickname could have just as easily been derived from having a doctorate in common sense.”

Read it here: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics_nba/nba_coverage/2014/10/dwyre_doc_rivers_dispels_clippers_pain_with_his_healing

– Clippers giving Spencer Hawes positive early reviews (from Robert Morales, Long Beach Press-Telegram):

” Small forward Matt Barnes said during the recent Clippers media day that Spencer Hawes is probably one of the biggest free-agent acquisitions of the summer that few are talking about.

Coach Doc Rivers talked about Hawes on Friday morning at the team’s practice facility, when he was asked about his initial impressions of the 7-foot-1 University of Washington product.

“Very good, yeah,” Rivers said of Hawes, who signed a four-year, $23 million free-agent contract. “He does a couple of things better than I knew, like posts; he’s a heck of a post player. I never knew that. He was standing behind the 3 so much, I didn’t know he could do that. So that’s been a good find by us.

“I’ve always said the players know before the coaches. And I think D.J. (DeAndre Jordan) and Chris (Paul) one day, they were like, ‘Coach, you know we can post Spencer up more.’ I said, ‘Yeah, thanks, guys, I see that now.’”

Read it here: http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20141010/los-angeles-clippers-giving-spencer-hawes-positive-early-reviews

– On Blake Griffin’s Shooting Mechanics and Potential Range (from Ben Dowsett, BBall Breakdown):

” Blake Griffin came into the league in the 2009 draft with a ton of hype. He was one of the great physical specimens seen in recent years, a high-flying athlete with a combination of bulk and handles that made his physical ceiling seem almost limitless. None of the fanfare, though, was due to his prowess as a jump-shooter – on the contrary, coming off consecutive sub-60 percent free-throw shooting years at Oklahoma, Griffin’s stroke was likely the largest concern for his potential success in the league.

Fast forward just four seasons (plus a missed first campaign due to injury), and the talk of the town in Clipperland is Blake’s range expansion, purported to stretch all the way out beyond the three-point line this year. How have we made it to this point so quickly?”

Read and view it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2014/10/09/on-blake-griffins-shooting-mechanics-and-potential-range/

– Clippers’ Blake Griffin says he’s working on corner three-pointers. Here’s why he shouldn’t. (from Seth Partnow, Washington Post):

” While the corner three-pointer is certainly an easier shot (NBA players shot 39 percent from the corners, compared with 35.3 percent from above the break), it’s also in the corner. In other words, it’s out of the way, and far from the action.

A main reason Griffin is such a dynamic player is his combination of mobility, explosiveness and passing ability. This allows him to make plays both for himself and teammates with the ball, and to be a part of multiple pick-and-roll plays every possession.

The ability to get to multiple threatening spots on the floor is inconsistent, then, with spending a lot of time spotting up in the corner for a three-pointer. Griffin could certainly do it and, given a summer’s work, hit those shots at a decent clip, but what of all the other good stuff he does?”

Read and view it here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2014/10/03/clippers-blake-griffin-says-hes-working-on-corner-three-pointers-heres-why-he-shouldnt/

– David Blatt is coming to America (from Jordan Brenner, ESPN, the magazine):

” The first coach to jump straight from Europe to the NBA”

Read it here: https://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11671498/david-blatt-cleveland-cavaliers-coming-america

– The Commissioner: No one — no one ever — wrote an NBA gamer like Bob Ryan (from Bryant Curtis, Grantland.com):

When Bob Ryan would begin writing a Celtics game story — a “gamer,” as it’s known in the trade — he’d look for a lede. An insight, a gag, a short scene. Something he could extract from his brain before deadline that would give the reader a proverbial starting point.

So let’s get to it.

A fellow Boston Globe writer named John Powers once noticed that Ryan didn’t include many quotes in his game stories. Quotes were the chief information-dispensing device of other NBA writers.

Bob, Powers asked, why aren’t Globe readers hearing from the athletes?

Ryan replied, “I’ll tell ’em what they ought to know!”

Ryan was the king of the categorical statement, noted Grantland’s Charles P. Pierce, who wrote for three Boston papers. In game stories, categorical statements are minor embellishments that help readers see the uniqueness of the thing before them — e.g., “No coach ever had a greater asset than John Havlicek.”

So let’s get to it.”

Read it here: http://grantland.com/features/the-commissioner-bob-ryan-nba-career-boston-celtics-boston-globe-larry-bird-new-book-scribe/

– Mad Ants Coach Conner Henry Discusses Open Tryouts And New Affiliation System (from Keith Schlosser, ridiculousupside.com):

” RidiculousUpside.com spoke with recent D-League Coach of the Year award winner Conner Henry about the open tryout process, the new affiliation system, and the Mad Ants’ championship run last season.”

Read it here: http://www.ridiculousupside.com/2014/10/10/6956007/mad-ants-coach-conner-henry-discusses-open-tryous-new-affiliates-championship-run