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Thursday, April 03, 2014

OT: NBA Monthly Thread - April 2014

I estimate only 10-12 Primates care about the NBA, but with our own thread, we won’t detract from what this site is really about, which I forgot.

Have posts been building up inside you?

The District Attorney Posted: April 03, 2014 at 05:26 PM | 2387 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: basketball, nba, off-topic

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   1001. sardonic Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:02 AM (#4699411)
Man, watching this game just re-affirms my strong desire at the end of the season for the Warriors to win out and somehow end up with the 5th seed and Houston... the thought of James Harden trying to check Steph Curry, Klay Thompson or any of the Warriors forwards is comical, and that matchup would play right into MJax's iso tendancies.
   1002. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:07 AM (#4699412)
is absolutely incapable of being any better than he is despite his best efforts

It's definitely not this. Too many of his deficiencies are obviously effort related. There's no way someone as athletic as he is couldn't be at least somewhat better just from trying if he wanted to.

I mean there are plays every game with Houston where the Rockets wouldn't be any worse off if it was McHale out there instead of Harden and McHale can barely walk. But you don't have to walk that good to sort of stand around while 9 other guys play basketball.
   1003. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:18 AM (#4699413)
Howard dominating in some ways...but also missing 4 big FTs.

Big call there on Asik.
   1004. It's a shame about Athletic Supporter Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:18 AM (#4699414)
It warms my cold heart to see Howard miss all these free throws.
   1005. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:20 AM (#4699415)
Damn, that was a tough shot by Batum.
   1006. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:25 AM (#4699416)
Holy ####. What just happened?
   1007. It's a shame about Athletic Supporter Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:26 AM (#4699417)
Gah.
   1008. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:27 AM (#4699418)
These. #######. Playoffs.
   1009. Howling John Shade Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:27 AM (#4699419)
Holy ####.
   1010. It's a shame about Athletic Supporter Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:27 AM (#4699420)
OH MY GOD DAMIAN LILLARD
   1011. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:27 AM (#4699421)
Lillard!
   1012. sardonic Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:27 AM (#4699422)
Holy ####!!
   1013. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:27 AM (#4699423)
OH MY GOD LILLIARD!!!
   1014. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:27 AM (#4699424)
The legend of Damian Lillard grows.
   1015. sardonic Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:28 AM (#4699425)
I was hoping for a Game 7 just for the symmetry, but that was awesome.
   1016. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:30 AM (#4699426)
That was a great play and/or great execution and/or terrible defense right there. That was as clean a look as I can remember someone getting in that kind of situation.
   1017. King Mekong Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:30 AM (#4699427)
wow, what a game.
   1018. tshipman Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:30 AM (#4699428)
Damian Lillard is half-man, half-reptile.

Best first round of all time. Amazing schadenfreude moment watching Howard lose there.
   1019. It's a shame about Athletic Supporter Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:30 AM (#4699429)
I want to see that play from the overhead. How did he get so open?

EDIT: Looks like Parsons was just slow to react.
   1020. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:30 AM (#4699430)
These. #######. Playoffs


No great teams...and a lot of good ones.
   1021. JoeHova Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:30 AM (#4699431)
There has to be a better way to defend such a standard inbound play. Portland got a great look.
   1022. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:32 AM (#4699432)
well didnt expect that, was rooting for another game 7 but not a bad way to end in 6
   1023. theboyqueen Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:33 AM (#4699433)
No great teams...and a lot of good ones.


Can't cosign this. There are great teams losing series in the west. This is just unbelievable basketball.

What would a Phoenix-Miami first round matchup looked like?
   1024. theboyqueen Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:33 AM (#4699434)
And losing Lillard in that situation is a pretty big screwup.
   1025. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:40 AM (#4699435)
There are great teams losing series in the west.


Great teams generally aren't going to be involved in first-round series that are this exciting. I said in preseason that I thought one team in the West would make a Rasheed04 or Pau08 type trade to get some separation, but no one did, and here we are. All of these teams have obvious flaws--which, to be clear, is not taking away from the show that is being put on for the fans.

Houston needs to move Asik or get more out of him, and I expect that they will look to replace McHale. Maybe Howard can reunite with Stan Van Gundy or Mike D'Antoni.
   1026. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:41 AM (#4699436)
Anyone have an explanation as to why (a) Houston wouldn't switch on picks with .9 left and (b) Terrence Jones basically gave a clear passing lane for any attempted passes to 3 point range?
   1027. theboyqueen Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:46 AM (#4699437)
If there is one coach in the playoffs who looks perpetually confused it's Kevin McHale. I'm not sure what he does exactly.
   1028. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:47 AM (#4699438)
1026,

Good points. Maybe McHale got too excited and didn't set things up better, or maybe McHale set the D up perfectly but the players failed to execute...or maybe some of both. Not a real smart answer, I know.
   1029. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:53 AM (#4699439)
Wonder if Howard is looking at the West and thinking he should have joined the Hawks...heh.
   1030. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:59 AM (#4699440)
Great teams generally aren't going to be involved in first-round series that are this exciting.

Great teams usually don't face teams of this quality in the first round. I get what you are saying, robin, and I'm not sure you are wrong, but its not a completely satisfactory explanation to me. This is such an unusual year in the distribution of team quality, I don't know quite know what to make of it.

My main objection is that when you say no great teams and a lot of good ones, to me that implies that the top end is worse than normal and I'm not sure I buy that. I'm not at all sure that SAS and OKC are any worse than normal 1/2 seeds.If you mean not historically great, then I think I agree, but I also think we usually don't have many if any historically great teams and we still don't get 1st rounds like this one. To me this year looks more like a concentration of the second-tier contender types all in one conference, which takes nothing away from the top tier teams but has tightened the level of competition in both conferences. Basically, I think you have 8 of the 9 (maybe 8 of 10, indiana is sort of an enigma) best teams in the league playing in 1 conference and then the rest in the other which has created an unusual number of reasonably close match-ups.
   1031. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 02:30 AM (#4699441)
If you mean not historically great, then I think I agree


That is in fact pretty much what I mean. Oklahoma City is very good, but they use Perkins, Butler, and Fisher, and can be defended. San Antonio is very good, but Duncan is 37, Ginobili is 35, Parker is 32, and while they overpower bad and average teams with execution and balance, they have had issues with some of the good teams all year, and they not that athletic. The Clippers are very good, but they are not elite on D and are a little thin up front. Houston was the 4th seed, and their stars both have obvious faults.

The West this year is very strong 5-8, but the West has been deep for awhile. The West was pretty much as tight during the season in 2009 and 2010 as it is now. Then Memphis won an 8-1 series with the Spurs in 2011; last year, all the first-round series in the West went 6 but one...which was the Ghost Lakers getting crushed by the Spurs.

So, one thing is that all the teams have been pretty healthy, save for Bogut's being out for GS. Injuries usually contribute to playoff outcomes and separation at some point; we may see that tomorrow with Randolph suspended, Conley gimpy, and Memphis playing a G7 on the road. I will not be surprised if OKC drops a routine G7 home-team ass-kicking on the Grizz.

The games have been more exciting this year, but I don't think that is because we suddenly have a lot of awesome teams stacked up. I think it is a combination of different things, and I think that you can actually perhaps make an argument that the CBA is creating more parity.
   1032. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 02:58 AM (#4699444)
[1031] I agree with most of that. I mostly objected to the no great teams lot of good ones post because I feel like the overall 1-30 distribution of quality isn't that unusual. If you are defining great tightly enough to exclude teams from this year, I feel like you are excluding teams from quite a few years. What I think might be unusual is that the distribution is a bit more stratified between conferences such that there is less differentiation between the top teams and the bottom playoff teams in a conference. That's been true before in the West recently, though not quite as much this year, but it wasn't coupled with a mediocre Eastern Conference to the degree it is this year. We have had a good Western Conference and a bad Eastern Conference several times in the last few years, but I think its fair to say this is the best West top to bottom we've seen lately and the worst East. Match that with the injury issue you mentioned and some matchup-specific things and you get a really tight 1st round.
   1033. Booey Posted: May 03, 2014 at 02:59 AM (#4699445)
Just watched the highlights of Blazers/Rockets. Yowza. Lillard is proving his awesomeness goes beyond just picking the right state to attend college in (even if it was frickin' Ogden).

Still feels odd to me that two of my teams biggest rivals when I was growing up have had such little playoff success since. This was Portland's first playoff series win since 2000 (against the Jazz). And Houston has won only 1 series since losing to the Jazz in 1997 - 2009, against Portland. I guess these two teams meeting guarantees one of them HAS to win.

These Blazers are fun. I'm hoping they can make some more noise.
   1034. RollingWave Posted: May 03, 2014 at 05:46 AM (#4699453)
This is basically the same thing as the 1997 series , just with a black John Stockton.

Welp, I think McHale made some mistakes, like having Harden in for the last play was weird. almost anyone else on the team (Garcia, or hell even Lin) would have been better out there. But overall it's hard to say he did a poor job, you can't do much about your best player sucking badly for so many games, and even then, this was a 6 game series were 3 games went into OT and another ended on a buzzer beater, and the other 2 game ended in less than 5 point difference, JEBUS CHRIST, it's almost certainly the single most closely fought series in a looooong time.

   1035. Publius Publicola Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:37 AM (#4699478)
Anyone have an explanation as to why (a) Houston wouldn't switch on picks with .9 left and (b) Terrence Jones basically gave a clear passing lane for any attempted passes to 3 point range?


It's very simple. Harden was the man who should've switched when Parsons got picked off. And if there is one thing Harden is lazy about, it's help defense. Heck, he doesn't even try very hard to guard his own man.

You can maybe blame McHale for having him the game at all for a key defensive set but I can't really see very much fault there. Harden does have a pretty good ability to steal the ball.
   1036. Spivey Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:28 AM (#4699513)
A little bummed I didn't stay up for the end of the game. Really happy for Lillard and Aldridge, they both seem very likable - and I am happy for Portland, a great city. The West is insane - you can have a good core of your team right now and not make it out of the first round year after year. Howard was really good this series, he gets little to no blame from me. Portland won the close games they needed to, and that's usually the difference between advancing and not in the playoffs.
   1037. The District Attorney Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:32 AM (#4699515)
It's definitely not this. Too many of [Harden's] deficiencies are obviously effort related. There's no way someone as athletic as he is couldn't be at least somewhat better just from trying if he wanted to.
I don't think Harden is particularly athletic by NBA swingman standards, really.

But, I do think that we can conclude that he can play better defense from the fact that he has played better defense. And the already-shaky excuse he had last season -- that he had to carry the entire offense -- is now even shakier with Howard there.

I think the Rockets need a coach who, rather than just rolling with Harden not wanting to play D and Howard wanting to show the world he can post up, can get them to change their priorities.
   1038. Publius Publicola Posted: May 03, 2014 at 10:18 AM (#4699529)
Howard wanting to show the world he can post up


??? Howard posting up kept the Rockets in the game. He played great down the stretch.
   1039. bob gee Posted: May 03, 2014 at 10:48 AM (#4699538)
slight upside for the rox loss - there's no way the rox can bring mchale back next year, right? (he's non-guaranteed for next year).

   1040. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 11:42 AM (#4699569)
Maxwn,

Looking at it through the LakerLens (partly due to fandom, and partly due to the fact they went b2b in the West recently) I think the 2009 Lakers were probably a little better than the top teams this year, and I think the top teams this year are a bit better than the 2010 Lakers were.

And, I don't think that any of these West teams is better than a fully-engaged, Wade-can-play-32-minutes Miami team.

I agree about matchups, and there is also an element of luck--for the fans. If Vince Carter's shot doesn't drop, then the SA-Dallas series arguably ends in 5. OKC gets the tip in in Game 5, and that series is probably over. GSW taking G1 by 4 points changed the way that series has played out, and you could argue that the Sterling thing did, too. Houston and Portland were dead even going in, and instead of trading 10-point wins, played two games like that four barn burners, ending the series on a very exciting note. IOW, the close games and the extra stuff have played out in a way to maximize excitement for the fans, (until Conley and Randolph, probably) and I am enjoying it as much as anyone. But I don't think that means these teams are all awesome. It means that they are all tightly bunched.

But they are all *good*. Looking at the field, GS and Houston were in last year, and are back in--but with Iguodala and Howard. Portland is the team that replaced the Lakers. So, you have three 45-48ish win teams giving way to three 52-55ish win teams. The Clippers are a little better, and they have Rivers instead of Del Negro. OKC, MEM, and SA are still OKC, MEM, and SA. Dallas is a strong #8, but the West is used to that.
   1041. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 11:54 AM (#4699574)
Howard's overall post-up efficiency is still not that good overall, and his PnR efficiency numbers have always been great. But it seems that he strongly prefers to post up. It was an issue here with Howard and MDA, and with Lin and Harden being on Howard's team now, many people, including Lowe several times, have talked about this as an issue for Houston.

As to McHale, I have always thought that he is a pretty good coach. I see him do some stuff that I don't like, but that is true of most coaches. If Lillard misses, then McHale is on the verge of coaching Houston to a nice comeback in this series.

But Houston is at that tipping point, like the 1999 Lakers were, where getting a really good coach with certain qualities could make a difference for them. So they need to look at replacing McHale IMO.
   1042. tshipman Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4699582)
You can't blame Howard for wanting to post up in that series--no one on Houston could guard him in the post. I mean, they weren't really calling offensive fouls, but Howard was able to establish position pretty much anywhere he wanted to.

I think if you're Houston, the biggest things you need are: someone who can get through to Harden on how awful his defense is, value for Asik (preferably a 3p shooting wing or PG), and a scheme on defense that doesn't depend so much on traps (when teams have time to prepare in the playoffs, those traps fall apart).

Of course, I'm probably wrong about all of those.
   1043. King Mekong Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:11 PM (#4699583)
There's a pretty good breakdown on the defense of the last rox-pdx play here -> http://www.red94.net/huqs-pen-houston-rockets-went-predictably-clueless-fashion/14369/#more-14369.

I look at the west as being right now analogous to the East in the 80s (BOS, PHI, CHI, DET), you've got 4 teams that have some combination of top 25 or so players, SAS, OKC, LAC, HOU that don't win out every year because they have to go through the buzzsaw of the other teams. Where as MIA has a cakewalk each year (a la LAL in the 80's). Now I don't think any team over the last few west years is as good as that 80's Boston or PHI teams, but both OKC and SAS have been pretty close, and LAC might retrospectively look that way if they win it all this year or next (or HOU in the future). Anyway, great playoffs.
   1044. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:20 PM (#4699588)
Howard played well in this series, but again, the issue is that the PnR has probably not been used as a weapon as much as it should, given that Howard has always been very bad news for opponents as a roll man.

I agree with most of the rest. One thing about Harden: for an elite NBA 2, he has kind of a soft body. Part of that is just the way that he is built, but combining that with his issues on D, I think the guy may just be, well, physically lazy, by the exacting standards of pro athletes.
   1045. JoeHova Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:44 PM (#4699596)
I look at the west as being right now analogous to the East in the 80s (BOS, PHI, CHI, DET), you've got 4 teams that have some combination of top 25 or so players, SAS, OKC, LAC, HOU that don't win out every year because they have to go through the buzzsaw of the other teams.


As a Bucks fan, I feel obligated to point out that they were consistently very good in the 1980's and won 50-60 games for 7 straight years after they moved to the Eastern Conference in 1980-81. They just lost to Philly or Boston every year (they lost to Philly 4 times, and the 2 times they were able to get past them, Boston beat them (which also happened the one year they didn't play Philly)). Surely some of these very good teams in the West will end up not winning a title, which means they will probably eventually be forgotten too and 25 years from now, fans of those teams will have to point out that their team was also pretty good at the time, they just couldn't get over the last hurdle.
   1046. King Mekong Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:27 PM (#4699609)
Yeah, I almost added the Bucks in there because of that, but kept them off because they never crossed the hurdle while the other 4 did. I could have easily mentioned them and maybe the MEM on the present west side. It really depends on what stretch of seasons you are talking about for both of them, because the East was real strong almost the entire decade, (and so has the west now).
   1047. Howling John Shade Posted: May 03, 2014 at 03:51 PM (#4699662)
Interesting article from USA Today on Jackson and Rivers and the different ways they handle religion with their teams.

Really thoughtful stuff from Rivers. I would love to hear Bogut's actual thoughts on the subject, but I understand why he declined the interview.
   1048. kpelton Posted: May 03, 2014 at 06:09 PM (#4699735)
Presumably the reason for not switching on the final play was fear of having a smaller defender on Aldridge, who was the first option on the play. The way the Blazers lined up, that wasn't really a possibility and the Rockets would have been better off essentially zoning up the three guards on the weak side. But hindsight is always 20/20.

Hindsight being 20/20 also applies to great teams in the midst of a playoff run, I think. Nobody thought the 2009 Lakers were a great team when they were going to Game 7 against Houston in the second round. OK, even then it was fairly clearly an effort issue, but the picture always looks messy in the moment and a lot clearer after the fact. Whichever West team runs this gauntlet will retroactively seem to have been the obvious pick the whole time. Well, maybe not Portland, but any of the top three teams.
   1049. JJ1986 Posted: May 03, 2014 at 06:37 PM (#4699752)
Atlanta really can't afford these unforced turnovers.
   1050. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 07:25 PM (#4699776)
Hindsight being 20/20 also applies to great teams in the midst of a playoff run, I think.Nobody thought the 2009 Lakers were a great team when they were going to Game 7 against Houston in the second round.

--

Sure, but I and many other guys here and elsewhere, looked at the West in October and said,"Yikes. What a scrum." I specifically said then that I really couldn't take a serious guess at the winner and only sort of/kind of picked the Clippers. And, again, no one made a big "Cool!" or "Oh, ####!" (depending on your rooting interest) trade to fill in the last big piece.

As to the 2009 Lakers, they went 65-17 (no, they wouldn't do that if you put them in a time machine and had them play this year) and I think the perception then was, like you said, that they were sort of dogging it and that they were never in serious trouble. They lost to Houston by 8, 12 and 15 but they won by 13, 14, 40 and 19. This year, there have been very few one-sided games. But, Indiana is up 14, so I think the more familiar playoff form chart may assert itself tonight with three double-digit wins for the higher-seeded home teams.

   1051. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 07:50 PM (#4699790)
Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale will return to the team next season, sources confirmed to ESPN.com.

The news was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.


Herman Munster will be back
   1052. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 07:52 PM (#4699792)
   1053. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:10 PM (#4699795)
Grizz are apparently going small tonight with Z-Bo out. Miller is starting at 4 and Tony Allen is in for Prince at 3. Maybe Miller will have one of those nights where he makes a million 3s.
   1054. tshipman Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:33 PM (#4699801)
Grizz are apparently going small tonight with Z-Bo out. Miller is starting at 4 and Tony Allen is in for Prince at 3. Maybe Miller will have one of those nights where he makes a million 3s.


Z-Bo being out could be a blessing in disguise for the Grizz. They weren't getting a ton from him, and if OKC still plays Perkins, it helps them in a way.
   1055. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:37 PM (#4699803)
Not only that, I think its possible that it might force Gasol to be aggressive. Sometimes he has a tendency to maybe fall into distributor mode, which he is excellent at doing. But he has the full range of skills as a post scorer too, so Attack Gasol might actually be exactly what they need.

So far its worked out that way. Gasol has 11 early and is clearly pulling the trigger quicker than he sometimes does.

If he keeps attacking, I'm not totally sure OKC has anybody that can really stop him.
   1056. rr Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:38 PM (#4699805)
1053--

Home teams win Game 7 around 70% of the time IIRC...but in one game, yaneverknow and it is 24-18 MEM right now.
   1057. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:46 PM (#4699810)
This was the highest scoring quarter for Memphis in the series about 2 mins ago.

Edit: Apparently its now their highest scoring quarter of the year.
   1058. tshipman Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:59 PM (#4699815)
It is game 7 and you are down by 10 points. Why is Derek Fisher in the game?
   1059. Tripon Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:07 PM (#4699816)
1058. tshipman Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:59 PM (#4699815)
It is game 7 and you are down by 10 points. Why is Derek Fisher in the game?


Sounds like a 2009-2011 Lakers Playoff game.
   1060. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:07 PM (#4699817)
Grizz cool off a little and Thunder cut the lead to 4. I think it might time to start going to Gasol again, guys.
   1061. JJ1986 Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:07 PM (#4699818)
Tony Allen taking too many of the shots.
   1062. tshipman Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:14 PM (#4699819)
Sounds like a 2009-2011 Lakers Playoff game.


Scary flashbacks. I just visualized a point guard getting to the rim with ease on a pick and roll.

***

Grizz cool off a little and Thunder cut the lead to 4. I think it might time to start going to Gasol again, guys.


This small lineup of Ibaka/Durant/Butler/Westbrook/Jackson is basically unguardable. If the Thunder wanted to, they could be the best small team in the league. But of course ...
   1063. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:19 PM (#4699821)
This small lineup of Ibaka/Durant/Butler/Westbrook/Jackson is basically unguardable. If the Thunder wanted to, they could be the best small team in the league. But of course ...

That's partly why I want to go to Gasol. Give Brooks every excuse you can to keep Perk out there.
   1064. Publius Publicola Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:19 PM (#4699822)
Marv Albert has clearly lost something. He keeps getting the players names wrong. He mistook Conley for Lee and then just mistook Allen for Conley. It's kind of distracting.
   1065. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:29 PM (#4699824)
Well they are right there in it. Who knows if they can keep it up, but a decent half considering.
   1066. GregD Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:32 PM (#4699826)
   1067. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 09:57 PM (#4699829)
Well, it was fun while it lasted.
   1068. Maxwn Posted: May 03, 2014 at 10:26 PM (#4699837)
There are things the Grizz could be doing better, but you can't beat OKC when Durant and Westbrook are playing like this.
   1069. Booey Posted: May 04, 2014 at 01:30 AM (#4699877)
As to the 2009 Lakers, they went 65-17


Yeah, but Cleveland went 66-16, so I see Peltons point. I don't remember many people saying that the Cavs were overachievers and the Lakers were clearly better at the start of the playoffs. That's largely hindsight based on the results.
   1070. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: May 04, 2014 at 01:32 AM (#4699879)
with 54 seconds left and Im following on the internet my guess is the inbounds play is for curry to shoot a 3
   1071. rr Posted: May 04, 2014 at 01:53 AM (#4699883)
I don't remember many people saying that the Cavs were overachievers and the Lakers were clearly better at the start of the playoffs.


Cleveland was actually favored by many to win the title going into the playoffs that year. But you pretty much missed my point, which was that people saw the West as being very congested going into this season, and I don't think there were any clear-cut favorites, and that is how the postseason has been playing out. If you want to argue that is because all these teams are teh awesome, go for it. The games have been awesome, but that doesn't mean the teams are all great. Also, I never said that the 2009 Lakers were seen as a great team going into postseason; all I said is that I think they were a little better than the teams this year.

Going in to the season, ISTM that most people thought that OKC/LAC/SA/HOU were pretty much in a knot, with HOU a little below the other three and maybe GS could challenge, and that there were other pretty good teams. And, that is exactly where we are. GS and HOU have just lost extremely competitive 1st-round series, and the odds are good that SA will join OKC and LAC in the semifinals.

So...I think we are in for more 6 and 7-game struggles and more tight games; I don't see one of these teams suddenly taking charge and winning games by 20 or 25 points and/or closing series in 4 or 5. The team with the best shot to do that might be San Antonio, but they have not even beaten Dallas in Game 7 yet, and they have actually been outscored by Dallas (by a very small margin) in the series that they are in now.
   1072. rr Posted: May 04, 2014 at 03:16 AM (#4699886)
LAC/OKC should be quite a show.
   1073. NJ in DC (Now with Wife!) Posted: May 04, 2014 at 05:17 AM (#4699888)
LAC/OKC should be quite a show.

I slept through all of LAC/GSW. As an East Coaster, this schedule has been brutal for me. Hoping Paul is fully healed and ready to go come Monday.
   1074. rr Posted: May 04, 2014 at 01:35 PM (#4699976)
I don't either like or dislike either team, and have no rooting interest, but I have actually been hoping they would meet in postseason. Ibaka guarding Griffin will be among the things I will be looking forward to checking out.
   1075. Spivey Posted: May 04, 2014 at 02:39 PM (#4699992)
I hope that there are less (no?) games at 9:30pm Central this round, given we're getting a couple of west coast teams. These are ending after midnight central, and 1am Eastern. I have work in the morning, I simply can't stay up for those games regularly.
   1076. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 04, 2014 at 02:43 PM (#4699994)
I can barely even be called a casual basketball fan, so can someone explain to me why it is that I'm wrong in thinking that while Russell Westbrook is a good player, he's a bad fit for OKC because he hogs the ball too much and they need to feed it to Durant more in crunch time? It seems like OKC wins or loses most games based on whether Westbrook has it going, and that seems absurd when they have the most gifted scorer since Kobe.
   1077. bibigon Posted: May 04, 2014 at 03:03 PM (#4700001)
I can barely even be called a casual basketball fan, so can someone explain to me why it is that I'm wrong in thinking that while Russell Westbrook is a good player, he's a bad fit for OKC because he hogs the ball too much and they need to feed it to Durant more in crunch time? It seems like OKC wins or loses most games based on whether Westbrook has it going, and that seems absurd when they have the most gifted scorer since Kobe.
It's tough to say any top ~20 player is a bad fit on an NBA team. Almost any team would be better off with more of those guys, and the Thunder are no exception.
   1078. Spivey Posted: May 04, 2014 at 03:08 PM (#4700004)
My explanation is that OKC has two players that can create their own shot or shots for others (maybe 3 if you count Reggie Jackson, which is a bit of a stretch). I think the people that rag on Westbrook don't appreciate that Kevin Durant can not take 50 shots in a game. And Westbrook's game is being aggressive, and you have take the bad with the good. And really, if those plays/shots aren't going to Westbrook, they're going somewhere else. I'd say Westbrook is a good fit because they are one of the 2 best teams in the West. And without him, we saw in last year's playoffs, they're the quality of a fringe Western Conference playoff team.
   1079. Spivey Posted: May 04, 2014 at 03:51 PM (#4700023)
OHHHH!!
   1080. Publius Publicola Posted: May 04, 2014 at 04:09 PM (#4700026)
Zeth, I think you're correct. While Westbrook is a talented player, there's a lot he doesn't do well as a point guard. His two biggest sins are 1) not recognizing he needs to keep Durant continually involved and 2) his poor shot clock management. He'll often jack up an 18 footer with 17 seconds left on the clock if he discovers something akin to an open look. He has yet to learn that part of game strategy means making the other team play defense.
   1081. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 04, 2014 at 04:13 PM (#4700028)
So basically Westbrook is Allen Iverson Lite, is what I'm understanding here.
   1082. Publius Publicola Posted: May 04, 2014 at 04:24 PM (#4700032)
I wouldn't go quite that far. For one, he plays excellent defense while Iverson was too small and puny to stop anybody.

And it's not like he takes bad shots. The shots he takes are usually OK. But he isn't all that good of a shooter and he shoots too many shots without consideration of the macro-game. He'd be an excellent 2-guard, where his game management shortcomings wouldn't be so exposed.

I think he would make a nice centerpiece in trade that would bring a true point guard and perhaps another big man, or a 2 guard who can score. Or the Thunder could find a point somewhere and make him the 2. That would work too.
   1083. tshipman Posted: May 04, 2014 at 04:40 PM (#4700038)
I hope that there are less (no?) games at 9:30pm Central this round, given we're getting a couple of west coast teams. These are ending after midnight central, and 1am Eastern. I have work in the morning, I simply can't stay up for those games regularly.


9:30 central is 7:30 west coast. People have to have time to get to the game after work. A 6:30 start west coast is too early. (People on the East complaining about start times are one of my pet peeves, so I'm trying to be temperate in my comments.)

So basically Westbrook is Allen Iverson Lite, is what I'm understanding here.


Westbrook is a very good fit for OKC. For the regular season, he helps them have one of the best fast-break games around. Kevin Durant led the league in FGA (with 20.8 per game), so it's pretty tough to say he's not getting enough shots.

Having a second high usage player is really helpful for OKC because they don't have any other players who can absorb shots efficiently. Ibaka took 12 shots per game this year, and that was a career high for him. Aside from Durant, Jackson, Westbrook and Ibaka, the rest of their team are spot-up guys.

Or the Thunder could find a point somewhere and make him the 2. That would work too.


The Thunder work amazingly as a small team, when you pair Jackson/Westbrook together in the backcourt. They don't need another guard, they just need to stop playing Sefalosha so much.

Edit: I checked on 82 games. I find it difficult to believe, but Westbrook/Jackson/Durant/Ibaka only played 173 minutes together.
   1084. Spivey Posted: May 04, 2014 at 04:40 PM (#4700039)
The Thunder went to the Finals 2 years ago, and were the favorites in the West last year before Westbrook got hurt. They're co-favorites this year. There are 3 or 4 teams that are in the discussion for the best team. SAS, OKC, MIA, and LAC. I think OKC would not be wise to make a trade. Who is even on that level, that's young and great, that could potentially be traded and salaries are even? Lillard? Wall? Both guys are very good, but Westbrook is better. And if they were to get a big that is meaningful, they'd probably have to give back Perkins. Who nobody wants.

And I don't think Washington or Portland, coming off of playoff series wins, are looking to completely revamp their core.
   1085. Spivey Posted: May 04, 2014 at 04:42 PM (#4700040)
9:30 central is 7:30 west coast. People have to have time to get to the game after work. A 6:30 start west coast is too early. (People on the East complaining about start times are one of my pet peeves, so I'm trying to be temperate in my comments.)


A 6:30 start time is fine, IMO.
   1086. Spivey Posted: May 04, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4700042)
The Spurs getting Duncan while Robinson was hurt was just about the luckiest thing that ever happened to the city I grew up in.
   1087. rr Posted: May 04, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4700048)
Game 7s following the traditional playoff mode more--home teams and favored higher seeds winning, in some case by solid margins.

I did not see Brooklyn/Toronto, but I would guess that it will being out a few conspiracy types since it was such a tight game and Brooklyn won. Brooklyn/Miami will get some media and casual fan eyes back on the East.
   1088. starving to death with a full STEAGLES Posted: May 04, 2014 at 05:17 PM (#4700055)
The Thunder went to the Finals 2 years ago, and were the favorites in the West last year before Westbrook got hurt. They're co-favorites this year. There are 3 or 4 teams that are in the discussion for the best team. SAS, OKC, MIA, and LAC. I think OKC would not be wise to make a trade. Who is even on that level, that's young and great, that could potentially be traded and salaries are even? Lillard? Wall? Both guys are very good, but Westbrook is better. And if they were to get a big that is meaningful, they'd probably have to give back Perkins. Who nobody wants.
kyrie irving could be available. rajon rondo. greg monroe. ersan ilyasova. evan turner. spencer hawes. thad young. carlos boozer.

a 4 way deal that sends perkins and picks to philly, westbrook to cleveland, cap space to chicago and boozer and irving to OKC seems like it would work out for everyone. cleveland gets a star who's already under contract. chicago gets rid of boozer and clears cap space to go after 'melo, OKC gets a young star in irving and an overpaid (but undervalued) player in boozer who can both help durant win immediately. and because they get rid of perkins and irving is still on his rookie contract, they can absorb boozer's salary for a year without going deep into the luxury tax.

irving/sefolosha/durant/boozer/ibaka is a pretty decent unit.
   1089. Howling John Shade Posted: May 04, 2014 at 05:26 PM (#4700061)
A 6:30 start time is fine, IMO.
6:30 is pretty rough in LA on a weekday.
   1090. JJ1986 Posted: May 04, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4700071)
OKC gets a young star in irving and an overpaid (but undervalued) player in boozer who can both help durant win immediately


This is a horrible trade for OKC. Irving is worse than Westbrook overall even if you think he's better/more suited on offense. Playing Boozer also makes them a worse team because he would take more minutes away from the small lineup. The Thunder should start Jackson and Lamb (or another wing player) next year.
   1091. If on a winter's night a baserunner Posted: May 04, 2014 at 06:36 PM (#4700078)
Breen just called this ? "perhaps the most unpredictable first round in NBA history". My first reaction is that he has to be right, but I'd love to see that uncertainty quantified w/r/t SoS adjusted comparisons of relative team strengths, closeness of and number of games (both in terms of the number of elimination games and in terms of, statistically, how the numbers crunch for best-of-5 vs best-of-7 (as an aside, this has to have been the first year in which both 1-8 match ups went the distance, right? Apologies if this was addressed upthread)).
   1092. King Mekong Posted: May 04, 2014 at 07:09 PM (#4700088)
My 1st rd predictions were pretty close (from post 308)

IND over ATL in 6
MIA over CHA in 4
BKN over TOR in 6
WAS over CHI in 6

SAS over DAL in 4
OKC over MEM in 7
LAC over GSW in 6
POR over HOU in 6

obviously missed big on SAS vs DAL.
   1093. tshipman Posted: May 04, 2014 at 07:16 PM (#4700089)
A 6:30 start time is fine, IMO.


A 7:30 start time is fine, IMO. Luckily, the league tends to agree with me, and not you.

This is a horrible trade for OKC. Irving is worse than Westbrook overall even if you think he's better/more suited on offense. Playing Boozer also makes them a worse team because he would take more minutes away from the small lineup. The Thunder should start Jackson and Lamb (or another wing player) next year.


My thoughts exactly. All this talk about how Westbrook stops the ball is missing the point that frequently Westbrook is taking those shots late after other stuff closes up, or early when he's open. Just playing another halfway decent passer/scoring threat would help. Sefolosha shot .316 on 3pers this year despite taking more than half his attempts from the corner!!! 97% of his 3pers were assisted and 62% of his 2pers. All he can do on offense is stand in one spot and catch the ball.

Jackson gives a much more rounded approach, and allows for a second ball handler. He's not the world's best shooter, but he at least provides some spacing and a threat to drive if you close out too hard on him.
   1094. Publius Publicola Posted: May 04, 2014 at 07:35 PM (#4700093)
All this talk about how Westbrook stops the ball is missing the point that frequently Westbrook is taking those shots late after other stuff closes up


This isn't true. What Westbrook does continually is bring the ball up the middle in transition, which is what he should do, then drift off to the left w/out waiting for his trailers, which he shouldn't do, then jack up an 18 footer before a play has a chance to materialize, which is a big no-no. This has been a longterm problem for Westbrook And he doesn't hit a particularly high percentage of them either. His FG shooting numbers are not very good, whether you look at straight FG% or eFG or 3FG. Out of the 13 Thunder players who logged at least 100 minutes, he was second last on the team in eFG, beating only Perkins. He was at least 50 percentage points behind Ibaka, Collison, Durant, Thabeet and Butler (yes, Butler).

And by shooting hte ball quickly without making the opposition play defense, it's like giving them a 30 second timeout to gather their legs for offense.

He should be the third option, behind (way behind) Durant and Ibaka, at least until he learns to shoot better.
   1095. Spivey Posted: May 04, 2014 at 07:47 PM (#4700098)
Westbrook is one of the very, very best PGs in getting to the line, where he hits over 80%. Purposely discussing his efficiency without bringing up free throws or TS% is something that someone would only do if they don't know #### about basketball or otherwise are trying to intentionally mislead people.

Also, Ibaka is pretty meh as far as creating for himself. Westbrook is a big reason why Ibaka's TS% is so good. It's not an accident his efficiency was total dogshit last playoffs when Westbrook was hurt.
   1096. Publius Publicola Posted: May 04, 2014 at 08:08 PM (#4700106)
Purposely discussing his efficiency without bringing up free throws or TS% is something that someone would only do if they don't know #### about basketball or otherwise are trying to intentionally mislead people.


Even adding in his FT%, he's only 5th on the team in TS%, behind Durant, Collison, Ibaka and Butler.
Westbrook is a big reason why Ibaka's TS% is so good.


??? How?


   1097. tshipman Posted: May 04, 2014 at 08:15 PM (#4700109)
Westbrook is a big reason why Ibaka's TS% is so good.


??? How?


79% of Ibaka's 2p shots are assisted. Compare to 30% for Westbrook, 45% for Durant and 18% for Reggie Jackson. Edit: or Lamb at 57%

Ibaka is hanging out in the midrange and hitting catch-and-shoot opportunities. If you want Ibaka to take 10 more shots per game, his TS% will plummet because he won't be able to catch and shoot, and he can't really put the ball on the bounce.
   1098. stanmvp48 Posted: May 04, 2014 at 08:29 PM (#4700113)
So how many times was Lowry fouled on the last play?
   1099. Publius Publicola Posted: May 04, 2014 at 08:49 PM (#4700116)
Ibaka is hanging out in the midrange and hitting catch-and-shoot opportunities. If you want Ibaka to take 10 more shots per game, his TS% will plummet because he won't be able to catch and shoot, and he can't really put the ball on the bounce.


What does all this have to do with Westbrook?

I would think you would be in favor then of the Thunder replacing Westbrook with somebody who distributes better, to take better advantage of Ibaka's catch and shoot abilities.
   1100. Publius Publicola Posted: May 04, 2014 at 08:53 PM (#4700120)
So how many times was Lowry fouled on the last play?


None.

You will notice there was very little complaining by the TOR players and coaching staff after the game ended.
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