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Wednesday And-1 links: Plenty of playoff injury, playing time notes

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points. Consider this the playoff injury update edition (with a few other things thrown in as a bonus).

• The Nets Joe Johnson missed practice Wednesday with a case of plantar fasciitis in his left foot and is a game-time decision for Thursday night.

• Kevin Garnett tweaked his hip on Tuesday night, but is still expected to go in Game 3. Of course, anything that slows KG down is more bad news for a Celtics team that already has had plenty.

• By the way, Doc Rivers didn’t like those foul calls on Garnett in Game 2. Shocking.

• Jodie Meeks is expected to play for the Lakers in Game 2, and Jordan Hill also is available for them.

• After a pretty miserable Game 2, look for Denver’s  Kosta Koufos to come out of the starting lineup. Kenneth Faried would get those minutes, although he didn’t look that strong, either.

• While he said his foot injury “sucked,” Joakim Noah is expected to play in Game 3 about the same number of minutes as he did Game 2.

• Mike Woodson says that if Amare Stoudemire returns (and I wouldn’t bet on that) it will not impact the playing time of Kenyon Martin. And it shouldn’t, Martin has been a huge pickup for them.

• Rip Hamilton seems to be out of the Bulls plans and out of the rotation.

• Whichever coach losses in the Grizzlies vs. Clippers series — Los Angeles’ Vinny Del Negro or Memphis’ Lionel Hollins — could be looking for a job this summer.

• If you want to see what NBA players have been wearing lately, here is a good look. Can’t believe that sweater LeBron James wore the other night isn’t on this list.

• Pau Gasol commented on little brother Marc winning the Defensive Player of the Year:

“It’s a great award to receive, great recognition, great accomplishment for him and I’m just very proud of what he’s been able to do and what he’s become as a player and a person,” Pau said. “I’m a proud big brother.

“He gets it done on both ends of the floor. He’s a great anchor for their team. On the defensive end, he gets a lot of deflections, a lot of steals, gets blocks. He makes critical defensive plays and helps them be the defensive team that they are.”

• People in the Sacramento Kings marketing and business arms have been told by the league to prepare for next season in Sacramento. What does that mean? That the league is being practical because this is a close call. Read into it what you want, I could spin this argument either way on a bigger picture meaning. The NBA’s sale and relocation committees will meet soon and what they recommend could swing this vote by the owners.

• The guys in charge of the new Sacramento Kings arena — to be built if they get to keep the team — released drawings of what the arena will look like.

• JaVale McGee’s reactions in a Benihana are the best.

• Russell Westbrook is the focus of the NBA’s newest ad for the playoffs.

Three Hawks lose uncontested rebound out of bounds (video)

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How did Mike Scott, Mike Dunleavy and Malcolm Delaney fail to secure this rebound?

No wonder the Hawks lost to a Clippers team playing without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

James Harden makes impressive chase-down block. Really. (video)

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If we’re going to post all of James Harden‘s defensive lowlights, it’s only fair to acknowledge this impressive block.

Please overlook the fact that Jason Terry is 39 years old.

Steven Adams posterizes Rudy Gobert AND Derrick Favors with one thunderous dunk (video)

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Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors form an impressive defensive tandem that usually walls off the paint.

If there were any walls here, Steven Adams jumped right over them.

Video Breakdown: How Kyle Lowry dismantles NBA defenses from 3-point range

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Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry is arguably the team’s best player thanks in large part to his increase in 3-point shooting ability this season. He’s just above 43 percent from deep this year, much better than his career average of 36 percent. Lowry has increased his 3-point percentage six points over last season, and he’s a big part of why the Raptors are so good on offense, and why they’re a contender in the Eastern Conference.

So how does he do it?

Watch the full video breakdown on Lowry’s 3-point shooting above, or read the text version of the article below.

Early Offense

I looked at a lot of tape of Lowry over the last 3 years and he hasn’t changed much on his shot mechanics. There’s no big change in his sweep or sway toward the basket when he shoots, and he still brings the ball up from his left side.

Part of his leap is be how quickly he’s getting his shots off and how many of his early offense field goal attempts come in the form of 3-pointers.

Lowry has bumped up how many 3-pointers he’s taken in the early offense, recorded here as between 24 and 15 seconds on the shot clock. Year-over-year he’s taken nearly eight percent more of his field goals as three pointers in this range.

This takes form on the court in a couple of ways, both in transition on the fast break and on quick 1 or 2 dribble pull ups off the pick-and-roll.

Transition

With the ball in secondary transition here, Lowry gets a quick screen from DeMarre Carroll to open him up for a 3-point bucket against the Hornets. And that’s still with 18 seconds left on the shot clock!

Pull-up and off-the-bounce jumpers

The other way Lowry scores quickly is off the dribble, with quick pick and rolls. Toronto is great at screen assists — picks leading to an immediate field goal — and have three players in the Top 50 and two in the Top 10 in setting them.

Here, the Celtics defender cuts off Lowry’s attack to the middle of the floor. The screener sets up to Lowry’s right, but then quickly flips it to his left. One dribble, and it’s an easy 3-pointer.

Here against Portland, the Raptors run a two screen setup with one wing and one post. The Blazers make the switch and try to blitz Lowry, but he stays resilient and sinks the bucket with what little space they allow him anyway.

Working with DeMar DeRozan

The other thing that’s been talked about a lot is the gravity of DeMar DeRozan, who himself is having a career year for the Raptors. While Lowry is making a ton of unassisted 3-pointers this year, the Raptors point guard does benefit from DeMar.

Part of that is how good they are in transition together.

Here you can see DeMar bringing the ball up the court with Lowry in front of him. He sets the screen, then fades to the arc. Three Utah Jazz are trying to stop DeRozan, and Lowry is left all alone.

When he’s not the primary ball handler on the break, Lowry will immediately get out to the wing. DeRozan has a way of finding him to get up quick Js.

Of course, in good old set plays the Raptors see this gravity effect as well.

Here Toronto is running another double screen with a guard and a post, but Lowry is one of the screeners. At this point, all three Heat players are guarding against DeRozan’s midrange jumper, leaving just enough daylight for Lowry.

Toronto is also third in the NBA in “hockey” or secondary assists, which means two or more passes leading to a made field goal.

On this baseline out of bounds play, again it’s DeRozan’s gravity that frees up Lowry. As the ball is inbounded, DeRozan sucks three warriors defenders with him, including Lowry’s. Meanwhile, Kyle is running down the baseline to get a bucket off a pass on the opposite side of the floor. All the raps have to do is rotate the ball.

So that’s a little bit on why Kyle Lowry has been so good. It’s been about shot selection, decisiveness, and some practice in addition to the effectiveness of his teammates.