This is exactly why the Miami Heat’s acquisition of Ray Allen is going to be such a problem for opposing defenses.
The Nuggets did almost everything right against the Heat on Saturday, yet still lost to the defending champs by a final of 119-116. That’s because with the game on the line, and Denver leading by a single point, the team had to choose between collapsing on LeBron James on the drive, or defending Allen in the corner.
They couldn’t do both, and the Nuggets chose poorly. Corey Brewer decided to give help on the drive, leaving Allen just enough space for LeBron to get him the ball so he could drain the game-winning shot.
Kenneth Faried is as athletic as they come, and in hindsight (without knowing what the instructions from the bench were) I think I would have had Faried play James straight up on the drive. Best case is you get James to force a tough shot over an able shot-blocker, and worse case is James gets fouled and has to make a couple of free throws to give his team the one-point lead.
The least desirable situation is to leave Allen alone in the corner, and then to foul him once the ball is out to give him the four-point play opportunity. It’s a dilemma teams will face all season long, and one that more often than not will see the game decided in the Heat’s favor.
Allen finished with 23 points, but 12 of those came in the final period. Chris Bosh dropped in 40 for the Heat, while the Nuggets saw a more balanced attack that netted them a 72-40 points in the paint advantage. Denver owned the glass as well, finishing the night with 47 rebounds to just 32 for Miami.
All of that is to say the Nuggets did everything they could have to get a road win over Miami. Unfortunately, their defensive decision-making on the Heat’s final offensive possession ended up costing them.
Damian Lillard added to Team USA Olympic roster pool
If you’re looking for a point guard who can flat-out score the rock, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many better than Damian Lillard. The Trail Blazers’ guard is averaging 24.2 points and 7.3 assists per game, with an above-average true shooting percentage of 54.6 percent, and a very high usage rate of 30.9.
He’s the kind of guy who might have a place on the Team USA Roster.
Which is why USA Basketball has added him to the pool to be considered for the Rio Olympics summer. The reason for the change is both Lillard’s level of play this season, and the fact he called USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo to ask for a spot, as reported by Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.
“But in reality, playing at home as a 23-year-old professional is going to be less blessing and more curse. (There’s perception, again, for you.) It’s as simple as this: you’re just not going to be ready for Denver to be Your City. You’re going to think you’re ready — and they are too — but, trust me, you won’t be. You’re still going to be so young. You’re still going to be hanging out with your boys, doing your old thing. There are going to be those … hometown distractions. And those distractions will add up.”
“And you have to understand, Chaunce: It’s not just that you made it. It’s that your whole neighborhoodis going to feel like they made it. All of Park Hill is going to feel like they made it. And don’t get me wrong — that’s special. But at the wrong age, it can also be tough. It can be a lot to handle. And you’re going to be at that wrong age. You’re not going to be mature enough yet, or developed enough yet, to take on that mix of environments, those responsibilities, that role.
“You’re not going to be ready to lead.”
There are plenty of guys around the NBA who understand those distractions and how those can get in the way of off-season workouts, of time spent shoring up a weakness or developing a new shot, and how during the season they can be another thing that wears the body down.
Some guys can handle it. Some can’t.
Go read the entire letter from Billups. He talks about getting traded from the Celtics his rookie season, about playing for Mike D’Antoni, about how very rarely do veterans want to mentor younger players because they are fighting for the same piece of the pie. Billups is honest.
And it’s great that Detroit is rewarding him as they should.
Did Marcus Thornton steal free throws from Rockets teammate Clint Capela?