Brooklyn Nets v Charlotte Bobcats

Stan Van Gundy: “I don’t think this is on Jason Kidd”

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With the Nets off to a 5-13 start in the East, there is a lot of finger pointing going on. Losing does that.

That includes fingers at first-year coach Jason Kidd, who recently demoted lead assistant Lawrence Frank to be basically the highest paid video coordinator in the NBA. The Nets offense has been isolation heavy, and their defense is the worst in the NBA right now (using points allowed per possession). The Nets have battled injuries but good teams still find ways to win through that, the Nets have not come close.

However, former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy said this isn’t on Kidd — he was put in an impossible situation. Van Gundy was on the Armani and Eyton show on NBC Sports Radio (featuring former New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer and Eytan Shander who you know from the PBT Podcasts) and said this:

“I don’t think this is on Jason Kidd. Some people have really taken a lot of what I said about him as being critical of him but it’s not. I think if you look at Mark Jackson or Doc Rivers when he started, guys who have not been assistant coaches before they got their NBA head jobs, what they had was situatons where at least in their first year the expectatipons weren’t that high. So you had the freedom to make some mistakes, sorta out of the scruitiny, at least the national scrutiny, of everybody.

“Jason Kidd entered a job with very high expectations, for a guy who never coached I think that’s really, really difficult. He may grow into a very, very fine coach — but no one is a great coach when they first start. I’m sure Doc Rivers would tell you in all honesty that he is a far better coach now than he was when he first started. Not to say he wasn’t good when he started but you get a lot better over time. Jason Kidd was expected to be great.”

He’s right that management put together this roster and let Kidd talk them into coaching it (Kidd lobbied heavily for this job). They took the risk.

We really don’t know how good a coach Kidd will be, even this season — how will the Nets look when Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko are all healthy and part of the rotation? The Nets were without Williams through training camp, which was a setback in building chemistry because D-Will has to control the offense (and play like an All-Star) for this team to win. In his absense, their offense had everyone getting touches and it quickly devolved into isolation sets that were easier to defend.

The other problem in Brooklyn is with the age and contracts of Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and others the championship window is one, maybe two years. Kidd doesn’t have the luxury of time to learn on the job, let alone learn on a team plagued with injuries.

But is that Kidd’s fault?

Heat players past, present throw support behind David Fizdale heading to Memphis

David Fizdale
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The Memphis Grizzlies have found their man — Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale has been offered the head coaching job in Memphis. He’s a smart coach who earned the trust of elite players and was a key part of the staff that helped Miami to a couple of rings.

It’s a good hire. Don’t just take my word for it, check out what a couple Heat players from that era had to say.

Mario Chalmers had a first-hand view — he was traded from Miami to Memphis in the middle of last season. The point guard who went the other way in that deal, Beno Udrih, also helped push the deal along.

Fizdale is going to be a popular hire with the players. That said, if the Grizzlies can’t keep Mike Conley in free agency the team is going to have struggles this season, regardless of who coaches them.

Watch Kevin Love drop 25 points on Toronto

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Before Game 5, Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue told Kevin Love just to stay aggressive. Channing Frye told him the same thing.

Love took that advice to heart. From the opening tip of Game 5, Love was attacking — backing down the overmatched Luis Scola and knocking down threes. Love had 12 points in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 25, helping spark an easy, 38-point Cavaliers win in Game 5.

Now, can Love do this on the road in Game 6?

Cavaliers’ defense foundation for blowout win

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers gestures in the second half against the Toronto Raptors in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Cleveland blitzed Toronto from the opening tip.

Literally.

Cleveland cranked up their defensive pressure by getting back to aggressively blitzing Raptors’ guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan every time they came off a pick. Or they would chase DeRozan over the top of the pick and trail him, never letting him get comfortable to pull up from the midrange. Whatever the defensive scheme, the Cavaliers were physical with Lowry and DeRozan — the pair was 4-of-14 shooting in the first half.

From the start, the Cavaliers defense dictated the flow of the game and set the tone for a 38-point blowout win.

It is that defense they will need to close out this series on the road Friday night.

“We understood that coming back from Game 3 and Game 4 we just didn’t play our defense the right way,” LeBron James said after the game. “We didn’t play how we should have played, and they took advantage of every moment. We had to get back to our staple; we had to get back to what we wanted to do defensively in order for us to play a complete game. That’s the most satisfying thing, the way we defended, holding these guys to 39 percent shooting.”

Defense triggered the offensive runs by the Cavaliers in the first half — Cleveland had eight steals and scored 20 points off turnovers before halftime. Playing with a renewed energy, the Cavs did a fantastic job fighting over screens and disrupting plays, and they closed out on shooters at the arc. It was their best defensive game of the series. It was the polar opposite of how they played in Toronto.

“I think our intensity picked up, our aggressiveness picked up, we were very physical to start the game and it just kind of led to us getting out in transition, us getting steals and getting easy baskets,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.

“They were locked in, from the start to the finish,” according to Raptors coach Dwane Casey.”The force that they play with is different here and we didn’t meet it.”

Back home and with their backs against the wall, you can expect a very different, very desperate Raptors team. Lowry and DeRozan will shoot better.

But if the Cavaliers pack their defense and take it north of the border this time, they should close out the series.

LeBron James was dunking all over the Raptors (VIDEO)

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With their defense creating turnovers to get breaks — and the Raptors’ defense just breaking down — the Cavaliers put on a dunking exhibition against Toronto Wednesday.

LeBron James led the way, with 23 points and plenty of dunks. Here is another.

To change things up, here is an and-1.