Doug Collins on Wednesday told a great story that illustrates perfectly just what Andrew Bynum can mean to Philadelphia.
Collins was in London calling basketball games for NBC when the Dwight Howard trade that brought Bynum to the Sixers went down. Collins and NBC Olympics hoops studio analyst Doc Rivers — old friends from around the NBA coaching circuit — were out having dinner. I’ll let John Finger of CSNPhilly.com pick it up with a Collins quote from there.
“It was kind of funny. We were talking one night and he was talking about low-post centers and he said the only guy he really worries about is Andrew Bynum and I was about ready to choke,” Collins said with a wry smile. “I was thinking, ‘Hey, Doc we’re going to get him tomorrow.’”
Boston is going small after their playoff success, you will see a lot of Kevin Garnett at the five. In Miami, there will be a lot of Chris Bosh at the five and LeBron James at the four. And after the Olympics we could see a little LeBron at the five again. The top teams in the East are going small.
The Sixers are countering that by going the other direction — they will roll out Bynum at the five and Spencer Hawes as an oversized four. Then they are going to surround those guys with shooters — Jason Richardson, Jrue Holiday, Nick Young, Dorell Wright. They are going to space the floor and give their new big man in the middle a chance to bang on people.
It’s a great strategy, although it may be a year or two before we know if it works. In part because Bynum is going to have to get used to the double teams that come at him — he is slow to recognize the help and pass out of doubles, and he tends to spin baseline when doubled reducing his options. He is going to have to mature not only to deal with that but also to deal with it nightly. Kobe isn’t there to bail him out.
The Sixers are not going to win the Atlantic Division this year, they are not going to win a title. But they have a plan that could make them very competitive.
And they have a player now in Bynum who worries Doc Rivers and the rest of the East.
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.