Andray Blatche has never been questioned because of his frame or his basketball skills. His talent level hasn’t been doubted, because he’s capable of being an elite power forward. That is, if he could put that frame and those skills to good use. Blatche’s biggest limitation has always been the goings-on between his ears, as the discrepancy between intent and implementation too often results in turnovers, defensive lapses, and poor shot selection.
Now, with Blatche finding what’s perhaps the first real success of his career, it’s only natural that he play the role of his own worst enemy. From the Associated Press:
Washington forward Andray Blatche was benched after the first 7 1/2
minutes of the Wizards’ 95-86 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday
night. Coach Flip Saunders said Blatche didn’t want to listen when the coach wanted to talk to him about playing better defense. Saunders said Blatche then didn’t want to play the rest of the game.
Saunders said he’s never seen anything like it in his 15 years of coaching in the NBA. He said Blatche let the team down and the forward probably won’t play Wednesday night at Indiana.
Blatche may be physically ready to take his game to the next level, but at 23 he still has a bit of maturing to do. I wouldn’t say his career is doomed to suffer a series of repeat performances, but this kind of head-scratching behavior has more or less become par for the course when it comes to Andray. Whether or not he’ll ever figure it out is anybody’s guess, but each incident like this stacks the chips higher and higher against him.
Oh, and if Blatche self-destructing during the most productive stretch of his career isn’t enough for you, take a look at this flyer (courtesy of Mike Prada of Bullets Forever) promoting Andray as the Most Improved Player…on the same night that he ignored his coach and walked out on his teammates.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.