James_chalk

Game of the Weekend: The Heat are starting to figure it out.

5 Comments

The takeaway from the Miami Heat’s throttling of the Nets is not that the Heat cruised to a 101-78 win. Some version of that is going to happen a lot this season.

The takeaway is that the Heat are getting better. They are figuring out what works, they are correcting their mistakes. The fact they are winning by 23 and still figuring things out is what should scare people.

The Heat’s issues so far have been on offense, and that is where you are seeing the vast improvement.

First and foremost, against the Heat the really tried to push the pace. They ran on every miss, and there were a lot of those from the Nets.

That running was fueled by a Nets strategy to really crash the offensive glass — and it worked, the Nets recovered 35 percent of their missed shots with offensive rebounds (that number was up over 40 percent before garbage time). They got a lot of second chance points which kept the game as close as it was. But with all those bodies going forward to the glass, when the Heat did get the rebound there was nobody back to stop them. Add to that the fact that LeBron dribbling the ball is still faster than most of the Nets roster just running and you had some easy and spectacular transition points for the Heat.

In the half court, the Heat clearly mad a point to go at the rim. They did not against Orlando a couple nights before, but they were drilling the midrange jumpers so they won easily. Miami attacked the rim, with very interesting sets like Wade coming off a double high screen (LeBron and Big Z) then just driving hard as Wade does. LeBron went to the rim hard, too. By the second half there were kickouts to a wide-open Carlos Arroyo for midrange jumpers and threes.

The Nets tried a zone for a while, which worked for about three straight possessions, but the Heat just kept attacking, got inside the zone and went on a run. They went on a lot of runs.

The Heat also tried some new looks like posting up Dwyane Wade.

It all worked. The Heat had an offensive efficiency of 117.4 for the night (points per 100 possessions), which is very good.

The Heat defense on the perimeter is still good, and still forced a lot of turnovers. The Nets tried to counter by going to Brook Lopez inside early and often — he had 11 of the team’s first 14 points and he finished with 20 points on 8-17 shooting) but it was not enough. Lopez absolutely pushed around Chris Bosh for a while.

It’s not all bad for the Nets, Derrick Favors put up his first double-double (13 and 13) and the guy already looks like a beast on the boards. He is not efficient but he is learning, and you really can see the potential the Nets fall in love with.

Report: Las Vegas also in contention for 2017 NBA All-Star game

Leave a comment

Where will the NBA hold the 2017 All-Star game?

Charlotte? No.

New Orleans? Probably.

New York/Brooklyn or Chicago? Maybe.

One more maybe: Las Vegas.

Scott Kusher of The Advocate:

The NBA held All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas in 2007. By all accounts, it was wild.

I’d be surprised if the league returned the event to Las Vegas, but at this point, I’d really be surprised by any option besides New Orleans.

Report: 76ers, Sam Hinkie’s ‘handpicked analytics crew’ splitting up

Ben Mikesell/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP
Leave a comment

The 76ers hired Bryan Colangelo, and Sam Hinkie bounced.

Now, much of Hinkie’s front-office is also heading out the door.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

that regime — including deposed GM Sam Hinkie’s handpicked analytics crew — will be mostly gone by the end of August, league sources say.

If Colangelo hires his own analytics staff and integrates numbers into his decision-making, this is no big deal.

If Colangelo leaves those positions vacant, Philadelphia will be working from behind.

I’m betting on the former. He isn’t Hinkie, but Colangelo has discussed the importance of analytics. Let Colangelo hire his own staff, and everything might even flow more smoothly.

Mike Krzyzewski: Team USA having too much fun, needs to tone it down

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  DeMar DeRozan #9 of the United States Men's National Team looks on during a break in the action against the China Men's National Team during the second half of a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
3 Comments

Mike Krzyzewski hates fun (even more than he admits).

So, the coach wasn’t thrilled after Team USA’s exhibition win over China, which included DeMar DeRozan nearly 360-degree dunking on someone.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

I want to see Team USA make highlight plays. Dunk from the free-throw line. Shoot from halfcourt. Throw behind-the-back passes. Show up weaker competition.

So, it’s hard for me to get behind Coach K’s criticism.

But I also want to see the Americans win gold medals in the Olympics, and I’ll blame Krzyzewski if they’re not adequately focused.

Fair? Not one bit.

Doesn’t change what I want, though.

Report: Kevin Durant told Russell Westbrook he’d re-sign with the Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 28:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Russell Westbrook #0 look on prior to game six of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 28, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
18 Comments

Kevin Durant said he had to distance himself from Russell Westbrook entering free agency. Yet, Durant listened to the Warriors recruiting him all season and had clearly been interested in Golden State for months.

The writing was on the wall.

Except, a few days before taking meetings in the Hamptons (which led to signing with the Warriors), Durant dined with Westbrook.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Three weeks ago, Kevin Durant’s sitting there at dinner, telling him “Hey, I’m coming back, man. Don’t worry about it.” And now, Russell Westbrook has been kind of thrown into this in having to decide his future a summer earlier than expected.

Kevin Durant, more so than even that, was telling people, “Hey, yeah, I mean I’m coming back.” Like I said in there, a week before Kevin Durant sat down in the Hamptons, he was in Oklahoma City ready to make an offer on a multi-million-dollar house. So, the guy was pretty serious about coming back, and then things turned rather quickly for him to leave. And there’s no doubt that the organization felt a little bit burned by this.

Maybe Durant said that. Maybe he meant it in the moment. Maybe he was just trying to appease someone he didn’t want to let down. Maybe he was unclear. Maybe Westbrook read too much into a more clear statement.

There’s a lot of room for imperfect recollection/interpretation. We’re dealing with human beings.

Likewise on the house. Who says Durant was “ready” to make an offer? That’s an awfully difficult assessment to make outside his head. Just as the Celtics had a list of players Durant wanted them to add, it seems he was preparing for all contingencies. It’s hard to nail down whether he was house hunting because he was certain he wanted to stay in Oklahoma City or whether he just wanted a new place if he stayed in Oklahoma City.

So much of what we know about Durant’s process for picking the Warriors suggests a rational decision. He considered them for months, met with multiple teams, conferred with his inner circle then made a choice.

If Durant told Westbrook or anyone else he’d re-sign with the Thunder, that obviously changes the equation. But I’m left wondering:

How many people in Oklahoma City heard what they wanted to hear rather than what Durant actually said?

How many people are incentivized to paint Durant as impulsive, because the alternative — Durant thoughtfully deciding the Thunder weren’t his best option — indicates deeper flaws in the franchise?