Dan Feldman

Erika Goldring/Getty Images for GQ

Warriors sure notice the nightlife difference in playing Jazz rather than Clippers

2 Comments

The Warriors awaited their second-round opponent until yesterday, when the Jazz beat the Clippers. That means Golden State will spend Saturday night in Utah, where Game 3 starts at 6:30 p.m. locally and the rest of the night is free. Safe to say, there’s a difference between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, where the Warriors would’ve been if the Clippers won.

Draymond Green, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s the playoff,” he said. “Nobody worried about nightlife during the playoffs.”

He might want to check with his teammates on that.

Matt Barnes, via Haynes:

“No comparison. There’s no such thing, man,” Warriors’ forward Matt Barnes told ESPN. “There’s no nightlife in Utah. Obviously as players, you want to be able to have a little bit of a nightlife, but the main focus is winning games. Me personally, I want to get out there because I want to beat the Clippers. That’s my former team and my kids are out there. But as far as nightlife, there’s no comparison to nightlife in Utah and L.A.”

Kevin Durant, via Haynes:

“I’m sure it’s probably clubs, but I’ve never been to one in Utah,” Kevin Durant told ESPN. “It’s a few restaurants close to the hotel, but you’re not scattered out. L.A. is just bigger. That’s the only difference. But preparation wise, my approach is the same as in any other city.”

Andre Iguodala:

“The problem with Utah is that you’re just sitting there and your mind is like dead, because in L.A., you still got energy for the game,” Andre Iguodala said. “Because you’re in L.A., you’re like, ‘Man, this is just the vibe in L.A.’ but in Utah, it can kind of lull you to sleep. And then you’ve slept too long or I’m bored out of my mind and now you got to try to pump yourself up for the game. You know you’re in the playoffs and you’re supposed to be pumped anyway, but the vibe is just like, ‘Man, let’s just get out of here.'”

I would love to know the exact question the players were asked. It might change how we view these answers. But Haynes is a responsible reporter, and he framed his article:

It’s safe to say that the Golden State Warriors were pulling for the LA Clippers to advance past the Utah Jazz in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Their rooting interest, however, had nothing to do with which team would present the stiffest challenge on the basketball court. Rather, it had everything to do with where they will spend their leisure hours when the second-round series shifts to Games 3 and 4.

The Warriors present an image of effortlessly cruising to wins, but they work very hard to prepare. They know when to buckle down and focus.

It’s interesting that two newcomers, Durant and Barnes, are the leading voices in this article. Iguodala also discussed the advantages of playing in low-key Salt Lake City. Durant and Barnes might have been attracted to Golden State to have it all – the partying and the winning – but a heightened commitment is necessary in the playoffs. I wonder whether their teammates will talk to them about that.

The Warriors can still run all over Utah, but there’s now a little more pressure to back it up after this talking.

Does adjusting for playoff rotations show Cavaliers’ burden?

Jason Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A team’s won-loss record, seed and point difference tell us something about its quality.

But by this point, the second round of the playoffs, many of the players involved in assembling that won-loss record, seed and point difference have changed.

Teams have made in-season trades and signed players after buyouts. Injuries have happened. Rotations have been shortened.

As we did before the playoffs:

I’ve found how many points per 100 possessions teams score and allow when five players projected to be in the postseason rotation are on the floor together.

This is hardly a perfect measure. Teams rarely announce their playoff rotations, so we’re left with my predictions of which players will receive regular playing time. The minutes distribution among players in the adjusted rating can vary from what it’ll be during the playoffs. This doesn’t take into account opponent quality. Some teams have larger samples than others.

But I find it useful, another data point among the many necessary to evaluate the upcoming playoffs. It shows how the players we project to see on the court for the next few months have played together, without someone else affecting the chemistry.

Here’s each team’s offensive, defensive and net ratings adjust from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) that include five players projected to be in the playoff rotation (using nbawowy! to calculate):

Eastern Conference

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 114.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 109.2 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.2 to +5.8

3. Toronto Raptors

  • Offensive rating: 113.1 to 116.8 to 113.8
  • Defensive rating:  108.9 to 106.6 to 108.1
  • Net rating: +4.2 to +10.2 to +5.7

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 116.5 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.7 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.8 to +5.1

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Offensive rating: 114.4 to 118.0 to 117.9
  • Defensive rating:  111.1 to 112.1 to 113.6
  • Net rating: +3.3 to +5.9 to +4.3

Western Conference

1. Golden State Warriors

  • Offensive rating: 116.6 to 121.7 to 122.9
  • Defensive rating:  104.9 to 102.9 to 102.8
  • Net rating: +11.7 to +18.8 to +20.1

3. Houston Rockets

  • Offensive rating: 115.5 to 118.5 to 118.1
  • Defensive rating: 109.7 to 109.5 to 109.2
  • Net rating: +5.8 to +9.0 to +8.9

2. San Antonio Spurs

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.4 to 116.3
  • Defensive rating: 104.2 to 106.9 to 108.1
  • Net rating: +7.5 to +8.5 to +8.2

5. Utah Jazz

  • Offensive rating: 110.7 to 112.5 to 112.9
  • Defensive rating:  106.4 to 107.2 to 104.7
  • Net rating: +4.3 to +5.3 to +8.2

Observations:

  • The Warriors continue to soar above everyone else.
  • The Cavaliers, after a close sweep of the Pacers and better look at their playoff rotation, have the lowest adjusted net rating of the eight remaining teams. They can probably flip a switch, but this shows that’s necessary.
  • Every remaining Western Conference team has a higher adjusted net rating than every remaining Eastern Conference team.
  • I projected the Celtics’ and Wizards’ rotations before their Game 1 yesterday. Boston used a couple more players – Amir Johnson and Jaylen Brown – than I expected. Include them, and the Celtics’ adjusted net rating drops to +5.2.
  • Neither Raul Neto nor Shelvin Mack were included in the Jazz’s projected second-round rotation. Include one of the backup point guards, and Utah’s adjusted net rating drops between half a point and two points per 100 possessions.

Watch Doc Rivers repeatedly call Gordon Hayward ‘Haywood’ (video)

3 Comments

Gordon Hayward was an All-Star. He helped the Jazz beat the Clippers in their first-round series. He could become the first designated veteran player.

But Clippers coach Doc Rivers kept calling the Utah forward “Haywood” throughout the series.

Hayward, via Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News:

“No, it does not bug me,” he said. “People have been saying that my whole life, spelling my name wrong, saying my name wrong. Doesn’t bother me…it is what it is.”

Add this to the list of things that separates Hayward from Meyers Leonard.

Dwight Howard is ‘pissed’ – at Hawks, losing or both?

5 Comments

The Hawks reconfigured their whole philosophy for Dwight Howard.

But their season ended in the first round against the Wizards.

After sounding unhappy during the series, Howard expanded on his displeasure in his exit interview with the media.

How difficult was it to play just 26 minutes per game, including only four minutes per fourth quarter, against Washington?

It’s very difficult. I want to play. I want to be out on the floor. I want to make a difference, make an impact and can’t do that on the bench

Were there conversations with Hawks president/coach Mike Budenholzer?

Nah. But we’ve got to get ready for next year.

Did you think limited playing time was due to matchups?

No, I didn’t. It doesn’t matter about a matchup. I want to play. It doesn’t matter who’s out there. I want to do the best for my team and this city. It’s why I came here. So, it is upsetting. I want to get out there and play. You work hard and you watch it being from taken from you – not the coach taking it, but Washington taking the opportunity from us, moving to the next round.

Do you expect your role to change next year?

I’m just going to work on my game, get in the gym. I continue to do the stuff I do everyday, and I want to see it utilized.

Is it safe to this wasn’t the role laid out when you signed last summer?

I’ll let you say that. I just want to get ready for next year. That’s all I’m thinking about.

You appear to be biting your tongue.

Just want to get ready for next season. Have a good summer, get my body right, get ready for next year.

How do you channel your frustration going forward?

It’s my 13th season, so I’m pissed. I don’t get younger. I’m not going to be 25, 26. So, yeah, I’m pissed.

I’m upset, because we’re not playing no more. I want to play. I don’t want to watch someone else hold up the trophy.

Did you have any difficulty blending into the pick-and-roll offense?

If you watch the games, I did a million pick-and-rolls. So it can’t be me blending in with the pick-and-roll. I did that, so you can’t use that.

What reason –?

I have no idea. All I said was, I did pick-and-roll. I did everything I was asked to.

What reason did Budenholzer give when you talked to him?

I haven’t spoken with Bud, so there’s nothing.

Does losing feel worse this year than previous years?

It feels bad every year. You’ve got to watch somebody hold up a trophy, it hurts. And you know you work hard, so it pisses you off. I’m sure if you wrote the best stories in the world and nobody read your stories, and they told you to stop writing and you saw somebody else’s story who wasn’t as good as yours getting put out there, I’m pretty sure you’ll be pissed, too. So, yeah, that’s how it is in basketball. You work hard. Sometimes you don’t win, but it piss you off, because you want to win. If you don’t want to win, you shouldn’t be playing

Howard didn’t say anything directly disparaging about the Hawks, but he left the door wide open for people to believe he’s upset with the organization. As Howard said, he’s in his 13th season. If he didn’t want to give the impression he’s unhappy with the team, I think he’d know how to do that.

The Hawks are at a crossroads. Are they building around Howard and Paul Millsap? Are they rebuilding around Dennis Schroder, Taurean Prince and Tim Hardaway Jr.? Something in between?

Howard is clearly pushing for a certain direction, and that’s fair. I don’t blame him for not embracing a patient approach. He’s a 31-year-old big man. A long-term plan won’t apply to him.

But the Hawks have to do what’s best for them. It’ll depend on Millsap, who’ll likely opt out, and what the team wants – a higher floor or a higher ceiling? Millsap and Howard raise the floor but limit the ceiling. Millsap’s free agency could determine how Atlanta proceeds around Howard – or maybe even without him at all.

Report: Pelicans still evaluating whether to keep Dell Demps, Alvin Gentry

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
Leave a comment

Dell Demps is the Pelicans’ general manager, and Alvin Gentry coaches New Orleans.

How long will that last?

Scott Kushner for The Advocate:

Gentry, Demps and various league sources have all said it’s a “day-to-day” situation, indicating there’s no pressure from the calendar to choose when the team will make a firm decision about whether to keep the Pelicans’ structure in place or move in a new direction for 2017-18.

New Orleans was reportedly likely to fire Gentry if he didn’t finish the season strong. Will an 8-3 stretch in March save him? Following that with a five-game losing streak until winning the season finale won’t help, even if Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins sat some of the skid.

Similarly, rumors have swirled around Demps for a while. It’s tougher to get a read on what Pelicans owner Tom Benson and senior vice president Mickey Loomis will do about him.

This is a pivotal time for the franchise. Cousins becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Lose him, and – with a first-round pick owed to the Kings – it gets even harder to build around Davis. Davis has professed nothing but love publicly for New Orleans, but a 2020 player option looms.

The Pelicans should ask themselves which general manager and coach would give them the best chance of retaining Cousins. Gentry and Demps being incumbents shouldn’t factor. The clearest path to keeping Cousins starts with winning, so trying to appease him aligns with serving the team’s overall health.