Seven seconds or less was the perfect Steve Nash offense. It was Joe Montana in a West Coast formation.
Nash is quick up the court, the best decision maker in the game, can shoot almost as well as he can pass. The offense was designed for him. It’s as close as turning a player loose to do what he wants as can happen in the NBA.
Chauncey Billups is not Steve Nash. Not better or worse, but different. More deliberate. He’s not nearly as quick as Nash. He is not suited for the classic Mike D’Antoni offense.
Nor is Carmelo Anthony, really. ‘Melo likes to work out of isolation sets, which clashes with a system designed on the idea of constant ball movement.
Howard Beck at the New York Times lays all that out and notes D’Antoni is the one that has to adjust his playbook to the talent he has been given.
“Probably,” D’Antoni said Thursday. “Really, there’s all kinds of different ways you can play it, and we’re going to try to maximize just what the players do….”
“We’re always going to be a little bit of an iso, one-on-one kind of a team, which, to be honest with you, is pretty good,” D’Antoni said, a declaration that would have made jaws drop in Phoenix.
He followed with some important qualifiers: that the Knicks cannot “totally fall into” a one-on-one game, that the ball still needs to move, that the floor should be spaced and that the scoring should be shared.
D’Antoni is bending his principles, but he is not about to shatter them.
“I think we’ll meet some place halfway in between,” he said Thursday, “because we don’t want to lose what Melo and those guys do the best. A lot of it is going one-on-one. They’re the best in the league at it.”
Beck breaks out the numbers — the Knicks are averaging 5 more possessions a game that are isolations or post ups now than they did before the trade. But they are actually averaging nearly one more possession a game than pre-trade. So maybe everyone is finding a compromise.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.
The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.
Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.
Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.
“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”
After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.
There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.
Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.
However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.
It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.
I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.
There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.
But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.
Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.
This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:
Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.
Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.
“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.
Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).
By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).
But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.