Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan open to working together again

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Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan went 262-174 and won four playoff series in five-plus seasons together. Since their much-publicized split, Williams has gone 71-77 and won zero playoff series, and Sloan hasn’t coached in the NBA.

Williams obviously wants to return to winning more often than not, and Sloan sounds like he wants to return to the sideline. With Williams’ Nets in the market for a coach, could a reunion be in order?

Mike Mazzeo‏ of ESPN:

Deron Williams said he’d love to play for Sloan again, and believes he would bring the toughness out of them #Nets

Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest:

Nets General Manager Billy King has yet to reach out to the Hall-of-Fame coach. And if he did so, Sloan isn’t against the idea of coaching his former All-Star point guard.

“I’m open, I would listen,” Sloan told CSNNW.com via phone. “I haven’t done the research on their roster, but I would definitely listen if they called.”

Let’s pause to remember how bad their relationship was just two years ago, when Sloan abruptly resigned as Jazz coach. Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

The increasingly contentious relationship between Sloan and Williams boiled over when they clashed at halftime of a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. The showdown between Sloan and Williams became so heated on Wednesday, at least two Jazz players feared that the coach and star could come to blows – even though the confrontation ended before reaching that point.

As both have probably learned, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Their history aside, Sloan would actually be an excellent choice to coach Williams and the Nets. Sloan probably isn’t looking for a lengthy rebuilding project, and the Nets have the talent to win playoff series right now. He could get help get them over the hump.

But both Sloan and Williams must know they’d face an enormity of media attention if the Nets hire Sloan, and the probing would continue at even the slightest hint of disharmony throughout the season. Maybe, though, dealing with annoyances like that are worth it in the end.

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.