Each weekend we bring you 25 random observations from the NBA week that was.
1. Gregg Popovich’s talk about defense isn’t just his usual grousing. The Spurs were brilliant the first handful of games defensively but their regression has seemed very emblematic of last year’s team. They are slipping further and further away from what won them a championship. And the regression seems to be a tendency for this roster and not a philosophical divide.
2. While you were reading this, Ivan Johnson burned your village down and dunked on you.
3. I said after the loss to L.A. that for Memphis to win consistently with Zach Randolph out, Rudy Gay would have to average 25 points or more. In the next game, he scored 26 points. The Grizzlies won. I am clearly a genius. But in reality, it’s just that the Grizzlies need a versatile scorer who can force the defense to react and create opportunities for other players.
4. Andre Miller should not be starting and definitely not in Denver.
5. I a choosing not to be frustrated by the lost potential of Dwight Howard’s free throw shooting and instead focus on the fact that he is not going through the motions despite his trade demand, and instead murdering teams inside and on the glass.
6. Some things just say it all about the truncated season’s impact on shooting percentages.
7. There isn’t a player in the league who simultaneously has a poorer level of self-awareness off the floor than LeBron James, and there isn’t a player who has a higher level of self-awareness on the floor than James. Any writer who’s profiled him will tell you how much he pays attention to basketball 24-7. He always has it on at his house. He’s always studying it. That same self-awareness has something to do with his fourth-quarter foibles, no matter how you choose to interpret them. Too far in his own head.
8. MOAR JEREBKO.
9. Modern NBA defense is built around preventing perimeter penetration with help defense. Derrick Rose is faster than help defense. You know the old idea that you can outrun the cop car but you can’t outrun the radio? Rose can outrun a sattelite array.
10. It’s probably time to start wondering if Ian Mahinmi shouldn’t start for Mavericks, even if the learning experience would be painful for a while.
11. Beating bad teams get you very little credit in this league. But considering that Philadelphia is absolutely obliterating them, maybe if you add it all up it amounts to credit.
12. When James Harden winds up starting for the Thunder, Al Harrington should move into the top 6th Man of the Year spot.
13. It’s true that the Lakers can’t lean on Kobe Bryant this much when the playoffs start. But isn’t it nice for the Lakers to know they can?
14. It might be time to go ahead and abandon the Bucks ship. I know it’s early, but it’s so difficult to see a scoring dynamic developing there that will allow them to win consistently.
15. This is your weekly reminder that Antawn Jamison, well-intentioned, total professional that he is, still shouldn’t be playing.
16. We will miss your efficiency and crafty play, Al Horford.
17. Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams already have such great chemistry. Williams needs more minutes.
18. Both Denver and the Clippers employed a tactic against the Heat this week that the Mavericks used in the Finals. It’s just a slight full-court press, just enough to stop the ball momentarily, which allows the other defenders toset the transition defense and force the Heat up against the clock. And it still works.
19. If you’ve seen the real Kevin Garnett, please call Boston. They’re worried.
20. Anyone who sees the Raptors’ record and really thinks they’re “bad” isn’t really watching their games. Same goes for the Bobcats. Losing to bad teams on good nights and good teams on bad nights doesn’t put you in New Jersey or Washington’s class.
21. Kyrie Iving is doing more to help his team compete every night than any rookie in the league. He likely will not get enough attention, but it should be noted how good Irving has been this year. He’s really come alive this week. He’s playing smarter with every game.
22. Anthony Morrow has rediscovered his offensive game, and that’s a really good thing for all involved.
23. I’d be so much more forgiving of DeMarcus Cousins’ inconsistency and immaturity if he gave anything resembling a passionate approach on defense. Samuel Dalembert ate his lunch this week, among others.
24. Utah’s frontcourt is one of the most fun to watch in the league. Versatile, relentless, and confident. It’s starting to mesh in Utah after a horrific start to the year.
25. And in conclusion, Iman Shumpert. OK, maybe not as much Iman Shumpert as the Memphis game. But still.