Monta Ellis’ name has popped up in trade rumors over the last few weeks, and some have been wondering if the Warriors have been shopping Ellis, who has been putting up huge numbers over the last two seasons while leading the Warriors to little success.
However, in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe, Warriors general manager Larry Riley maintained that the team is not trying to shop Ellis:
“We are not shopping Monta Ellis. It is business as usual here. I think you have to look at what just happened in the Finals — it seemed like Dallas played pretty small guards throughout that series with Miami and did a pretty good job of it. Our problem is not the small backcourt. Our problem is defense.”
That’s an interesting statement, because the Warriors’ “small backcourt,” specifically Ellis, is one of the major reasons why defense has been such a problem for the Warriors, perhaps even the main reason. Ellis is a very talented scorer, but by all accounts he does not play defense, and the numbers show that the Warriors got much, much worse defensively when he was on the floor last season.
New coaches Mark Jackson and Mike Malone might be able to get Ellis to buy in to some kind of defensive system that can make use of his speed and willingness to gamble for steals, but right now it seems hard to believe that Ellis can be effective when he’s not surrounded by players that can cover for him on defense, which Steph Curry, Dorell Wright, and David Le cannot do. I encourage you to read the rest of the interview, which includes Riley’s thoughts on the team’s defense, new coach Mark Jackson, and the once-promising Andris Biedrins.
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.