Beno Udrih latest to pile on Scott Skiles coaching style

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Not many players would have been happy being shipped from a playoff bound Milwaukee Bucks to an Orlando Magic team that got routed by the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night.

But such was the atmosphere with the Bucks under former coach Scott Skiles that Beno Udrih is happy with the trade.

And he wasn’t just saying it because he was supposed to, check out the quote from the Orlando Sentinel.

“It was just a bad situation there. I’m a professional and I’m a man, so I like to be told straight-up what they expect from me. So, in Milwaukee, that never happened. They were saying, ‘Yeah, yeah, we know. We’ve got to play you a little bit more.’ But it never happened. So when I did get into the game I didn’t know what they actually wanted to do, so I was just trying to find it myself, and I never did.”

“I wanted a change. I wanted a new start, so I’m really happy to be here. I know Jacque and J.B. [James Borrego], the assistant coach. It’s just a really exciting moment for me and my wife.”

In the NBA, it’s being an Xs and Os coach isn’t enough, everyone can do that. And if you’re Phil Jackson and it’s not your forte, you hire an assistant who is a master (hello Tex Winter). For NBA coaches it’s about ego management and getting guys to buy into and fully believe in their roles.

Skiles has never been good at it. Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie found this story and laid out the trends.

This is a problem you heard about in Skiles’ earlier turns in Phoenix and Chicago, and it’s not insignificant when paired with his clashes (or, to put it in nicer terms, “chilly relationships”) with his players. And who are these players? Tyrus Thomas. Eddy Curry. Beno Udrih. Jason Kidd and Brandon Jennings at times, among other lesser lights….

It’s the high potential players that Skiles has failed with. Witness Brandon Jennings’ stagnation since his rookie year. Look at the way Thomas, who worked his tail off during his rookie and second season only to be jerked in and out of the rotation and contests, seemed to give up on the game by his third year. Look at Tyson Chandler, who needed to get out of Chicago to stop looking over his shoulder and finally flourish.

It’s going to be interesting to see what direction the Bucks go this summer. Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and J.J. Redick can all test the free agent market (the Bucks can match any offer to Jennings). The Bucks management needs to decide what kind of team they want to build and then find a coach to execute the plan. Right now they are a collection of players, they need more of an identity.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.