Dallas has counted on its zone defense as more than just a change of pace. In a series where Tyson Chandler might have to chase Chris Bosh out on the perimeter, the zone could be a way to keep Chandler in the paint protecting the rim.
But in Game 1, the Heat just shredded it.
Mario Chalmers drove into the heart of it and drew fouls. Chris Bosh was shredding it with interior passing. Mike Miller and Chalmers knocked down threes over the top of it. And the zone is a notoriously poor defense for rebounding anyway, and that turned out to be a big problem for the Mavericks in Game 1.
CBSSport’s Matt Moore asked the Heat’s Chalmers about the zone.
“They’re going to play a lot of zone, that’s who they are. When we’re hitting shots like that, we’re hard team to stop. And tonight we were able to do that.”
According to ESPN Stats, the Heat scored 20 points on 18 zone possessions by the Mavericks. That works out to 1.11 points per possession, which is higher than the 1.06 they had on other possessions. (Think of it this way, Miami averaged 1.093 points per possession during the regular season and no team was higher than 1.095, but Miami was better than that against the zone.)
It’s one weapon Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle may have to leave in the bag from now on.
There are two ways to really attack a zone — pound it in the middle or shoot over the top of it. Miami did both.
Remember Udonis Haslem’s late game and-one that was one of the dagger plays of the game? Came against the zone. Miller’s second half three? Against the zone.
It changed things this way — Dallas had to go away from it. Which means they had to play man-to-man on Dwyane Wade and LeBron James late. Advantage Heat.
Dallas’ bigger issues are on the other end of the floor — they have got to knock down shots against the Heat defense to stand a chance — but not having one of their go-to defensive sets will hurt the Mavericks as well.
Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.
Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.
This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.
The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.
Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.
McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.
McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.
If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?
Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.
It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.
The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.
The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.
But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.
Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.
Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.