The Phoenix Suns’ start to the season was certainly memorable, if not all that successful. Steve Nash had roughly one bajillion turnovers in his efforts to keep the Suns’ offense up to snuff, but Phoenix completely fell apart in the fourth while the Blazers attacked from all angles. Hedo Turkoglu was even worse defensively than you’d expect, as his nonchalance enabled Nic Batum to play the hero for Portland. Then, there was the rebounding.
Oh, the rebounding.
These Phoenix Suns have the potential to be one of the most truly awful rebounding teams we’ve seen in some time. We’re but one game in and it’s hard to imagine things getting much worse for Phoenix on the glass…so they have that going for them. Nowhere to go but up, I suppose, or at least vaguely up in some slightly elevated slope. The Blazers had 18 offensive rebounds, good for an otherworldly .438 offensive rebounding rate (meaning the Blazers grabbed 43.8% of available rebounds while on offense). That mark would easily have led the entire NBA last season, and Phoenix’s correspondingly low defensive rebounding rate would have been far and away the worst in the league.
It’s unfair to predict the Suns’ rebounding performance on this game alone (Portland, after all, was an elite team last season on the offensive glass), but with Hedo Turkoglu, Channing Frye, Hakim Warrick, and Robin Lopez — all relatively poor rebounders — playing the majority of the “big” minutes, Suns fans should get used to these kinds of nights. The Suns’ defensive deficiencies also fueled their rebounding woes, as attempts to hide Steve Nash on defense ended up with some unfortunate cross-matching. It’s no coincidence that Batum, who had Nash defending him as a product of Alvin Gentry’s scramble to find an effective defensive orientation, grabbed five offensive boards.
The Suns’ weaknesses seem to flow into each other; their defensive problems beget rebounding problems, and their rebounding problems beget more defensive problems, forever and ever, amen. All of this means that while Phoenix may not be quite this bad on the glass every night, they still be regularly awful throughout the season.
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.