– A rejuvenated Marc Gasol? (from commercialappeal.com):
” Last month proved to be a real struggle for Gasol.
He shot just 46 percent and posted nearly three points less than his regular-season scoring average. Gasol looked tentative and regularly settled for long jump shots that started to fall short of the rim, or sail to left or right of the basket.
Against the Thunder, Gasol looked like the player who earned the first All-Star start in franchise history. He even made it a point to be forceful around the basket, scoring easily against the Thunder’s front line.
There clearly was more bounce in Gasol’s step. A perfectionist who clearly got frustrated many nights, Gasol seemed rejuvenated.”
Read it here: http://www.commercialappeal.com/sports/grizzlies/griz-morning-after-a-rejuvenated-marc-gasol
– LeBron ventures into the post with playoffs coming (from Bob Finnan, news-herald.com):
” The handful of NBA scouts in attendance … obviously took note of LeBron James’ new wrinkle in the Cavaliers’ offense in the 114-88 blowout of Miami on April 2.
Instead of operating strictly on the perimeter, James set up shop on the low block.
The 6-foot-8, 250-pounder still found his open teammates, as evidenced by his seven assists. He still scored 23 points and added eight rebounds, three blocks and a steal.
He’s just getting ready for what’s on the horizon. Once the postseason begins, James is expected to venture into the low post with more regularity.
“(It’s a) shift of the mindset, that’s all,” James said. “I understand what we’re about to face. I want to get a good feel for it.”
Read it here: http://www.news-herald.com/sports/20150403/lebron-ventures-into-the-post-with-playoffs-coming-for-cleveland-cavaliers
– Celtics 2-3 zone proves effective (from Tom Westerholm, masslive.com):
” In college, you can just kind of stand in there and not worry about anything,” Zeller said. “In the NBA, if they spread it out, they can distort the zone, and really make it difficult to tag and stay there.”
At the high-school and college levels, the 2-3 zone is a staple. It’s built to minimize the damage penetrating guards can cause at the rim, allowing defenders to guard areas rather than individuals. The center can camp out in the painted area as long as he wants, taking up space and contesting shots, which can prove devastating against teams without elite 3-point shooters.
Since defenders can’t be in the paint for more than three seconds in the NBA, playing a 2-3 zone is difficult. At times this season, however, Boston has shown it can be done with a lot of rotating and a very alert center.”
Read and view it here: http://www.masslive.com/celtics/index.ssf/2015/04/brad_stevens_boston_celtics_2-.html
– Can Westbrook find more in reserve? (from Royce Young, ESPN):
” Westbrook’s minutes haven’t necessarily ballooned. He’s averaged 34.2 a game this season, the second lowest number of his career, not counting his rookie year (the only one lower was last season, when he was on a minute restriction for most of it). However, since Durant’s last game on Feb. 21, Westbrook is averaging 37.0 a game. Over his last four: 40.0 a game.
“I know what you’re getting at, and I don’t know what your angle is, but he missed some shots, and he’s missed some shots the last couple games,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He plays hard. He’s going to get tired after every game. That’s what he does. That’s what an NBA player should do.
“That has nothing to do with his minutes,” Brooks continued. “His minutes have been good all year long and we’ve monitored them. He missed some shots. Every time you have a bad shooting game, or a couple bad shooting games, it’s not because you’re tired. It’s just things don’t fall. He competes, he leaves everything on the floor and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Westbrook has always been the kind of player who empties his tank nightly, playing with the kind of ferocity that few other players can tap into. That type of relentless energy has always been managed, mostly because Westbrook could channel it in other areas as Durant shouldered the offensive load for long stretches. Now, without Durant, Westbrook’s solo act, while stunningly remarkable, means the 34 minutes he’s playing aren’t the same 34 minutes he used to play.”
Read it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/okc-thunder/post/_/id/449/can-westbrook-find-more-in-reserve
Bulls 88, Pistons 82 (from David Mayo, mlive.com):
“Even in the first half, I thought our defense on first shots was good,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “But we didn’t rebound the ball. We gave up 13 offensive rebounds in the first half. That’s why we were in a hole.”
“I felt like we came out, we got some stops early, but those stops turned into offensive rebounds and buckets,” Pistons forward Anthony Tolliver said. “It’s always disheartening when you work hard, get the stop, and they end up getting the rebound and scoring anyway. They did a great job of attacking the glass. We definitely have to do a better job of getting all five back into the fight, securing the ball and going.”
Read it here: http://www.mlive.com/pistons/index.ssf/2015/04/andre_drummond_joins_the_bob_l.html
– Harmony, sacrifice keeps Spurs’ 50-win season streak humming (from Fran Blinebury, NBA.com):
Read it here: http://www.nba.com/2015/news/features/fran_blinebury/04/03/san-antonio-spurs-record-16-consecutive-50-win-seasons-in-nba/index.html
– Jazz defense winning games, but offensive finishing touches keeping opponents in it (from AllThatAmar, slcdunk.com):
Read it here: http://www.slcdunk.com/2015/4/4/8344095/jazz-gordon-hayward-rudy-gobert-derrick-favors-dante-exum-trey-burke-free-throws-threes
– Bulls Getting Their Reinforcements at Just the Right Time (from James Davis, Bleacher Report):
” The Chicago Bulls have once again had to endure an injury-riddled season, including a recent hit that simultaneously sat Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson. The latter two players have since returned, and Derrick Rose will likely be back in time for the playoffs. Chicago will be at optimum health at the most crucial juncture of the season.
This bodes well on many levels. For starters, it gives head coach TomThibodeau his intended 2014-15 starting lineup of Rose, Butler, MikeDunleavy, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. That grouping has played together in only 19 games this year, but the team was 15-4 in those contests.
On top of that, the Bulls’ depth will be exceptionally formidable. Since January, many tertiary players have shown the ability to be productive. Tony Snell has been playing consistently well, and Nikola Mirotic went on a tear in March. Rotations tend to tighten in the playoffs, butThibodeau will have a litany of personnel packages to work with.
The championship window will be opening a little wider for this franchise once the postseason commences. A look at what Rose, Butler and Gibson add to the current incarnation of the Bulls will show that this club is a stronger Eastern Conference contender than its regular-season performance has suggested.”
Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2418768-chicago-bulls-getting-their-reinforcements-at-just-the-right-time
– The Rebuilding of Iron Man (from Jason Quick, oregonlive.com):
” A TORN ACHILLES TESTS HIS METTLE, BUT TRAIL BLAZERS GUARD WESLEY MATTHEWS PLEDGES TO RETURN ‘SO MUCH BETTER'”
Read it here: http://www.oregonlive.com/ironman/
– 5 Ways the Golden State Warriors Have Lost This Season (from Jamie Oppenheim, sportsnaut.com):
” The Golden State Warriors are a massive, fundamental problem for any team that hopes to beat them in the NBA playoffs. They’re first in the league in defensive efficiency, second in offensive efficiency. And at 62-13, they’re in the process of putting together the most impressive regular season since the 2000 Los Angeles Lakers.
So how do you beat them?
It won’t be easy. This chart describes the circumstances surrounding their 13 losses, and it won’t instill a lot of confidence in teams hoping to beat them four times in seven games. More times than not, factors beyond its control have led to Golden State’s losses. Still, the Warriors are not undefeated.
Here are the five ways the Warriors have lost this season:”
Read it here: http://sportsnaut.com/2015/04/5-ways-the-golden-state-warriors-have-lost-this-season/
Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:
– Jared Sullinger: http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/12611882/boston-celtics-f-jared-sullinger-foot-cleared-action-previously-being-ruled-season
– Nikola Pekovic: http://www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/298647271.html
– DeMarre Carroll: http://soaringdownsouth.com/2015/04/04/demarre-carroll-motor-atlanta-hawks/
– Isaiah Thomas: http://www.csnne.com/blog/celtics-talk/thomas-looks-old-self-again-vs-bucks
– Omer Asik: http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/04/04/the-reason-you-pay-asik/
– Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: http://www.mlive.com/pistons/index.ssf/2015/04/kentavious_caldwell-pope_on_ro.html
– Jordan Clarkson: http://www.insidesocal.com/lakers/2015/04/03/lakers-byron-scott-said-team-will-build-with-jordan-clarkson-instead-of-around/http://www.insidesocal.com/lakers/2015/04/03/lakers-byron-scott-said-team-will-build-with-jordan-clarkson-instead-of-around/
– Avery Bradley: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2419391-avery-bradley-blossoming-into-player-boston-celtics-need-him-to-beww
– Andrew Nicholson: http://orlandomagicdaily.com/2015/04/03/andrew-nicholson-resurrected/
– Reggie Bullock: http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2015/04/03/reggie-bullock-getting-court-time-phoenix-suns/70872364/
– Deron Williams: http://espn.go.com/blog/brooklyn-nets/post/_/id/22414/meet-the-d-will-you-always-remembered
– Trey Burke: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-saturday-burke-jazz-confident-about-future/
– Damjan Rudez: http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/rudez-shooting-perfection