In the last decade of basketball, there have been few forces more power than the San Antonio Spurs’ defense. That vaunted defense has regressed in recent years, but from 2000-2007 (and, for that matter, from 1997-2000), San Antonio never allowed more than 99.7 points per 100 possessions, a mark that routinely put the Spurs’ defense atop the league. Funny how that happens when the efforts of Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich are combined. Pick and rolls were smothered, driving opponents were pushed into the help, and the glass was thoroughly cleaned.
It’s a recipe that, though lacking in the specific stylings of Duncan and Pop, may seem oddly familiar to fans of the New Orleans Hornets.
In his analysis of New Orleans’ defensive success in their hot start thus far, Ryan Schwan of Hornets 24-7 expertly identified a few defensive elements that run parallel between the 6-0 Hornets and the infamous Spurs. Stylistically, New Orleans is following the San Antonio model, by opting for a limiting, reactive defense rather than a completely smothering one. The Hornets aren’t jumping every passing lanes and swarming opponents with double teams; they’re playing smart, conservative defense and forcing opponents into specific types of contested shots. The Hornets have forced their opponents into low-percentage looks, limited second chance opportunities, and kept their fouls down for good measure. All with Monty Williams and Emeka Okafor standing in for two surefire Hall-of-Famers, and an inspired team effort by the Hornets filling in the gaps.
At this stage, Chris Paul is an easy pick for MVP, but it’s New Orleans’ Spursian defensive success that has pushed them to the top of the league. It probably makes Popovich blush. Y’know, if Pop blushes.
There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.
If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.
The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).
Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.
First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.
Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).
The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.
Here is the promo vid
I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.
When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.
That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.
While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.
Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.
Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).
This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.
That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.
It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).
Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.
The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).
It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?