Baseline to Baseline, where Kenyon Martin was not the difference

1 Comment

What happened Saturday while you were mourning the Arrested Development movie

Spurs 104 Nuggets 85: Kenyon Martin’s back! Kenyon Martin’s back! Oh… that didn’t go quite how we planned.

The biggest way the Spurs have improved lately is that they’re catching teams off guard, finally. Those little cuts that seem to come out of nowhere, the screens and off-sets and things they do which create confusion are finally looking in sync. Denver on the other hand looked gassed and upset with the officials. Melo got tossed, and Billups and J.R. Smith both got T’d up. Richard Jefferson chewed up the Nuggets. He only had 15 and 7, but in reality, he was a huge factor for the Spurs.

I don’t want to alarm anyone, but outside of J.R. Smith, the Nuggets bench is about as bad as any team in the league outside of Memphis. They have some shot blockers, but that’s pretty much it.

Hawks 105 Wizards 95: You’ve got to hold JoeJamal to under 40. That’s just a rule. If you don’t limit Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford to under 40 points, you’re going to have a hell of a time getting a win. The rest of the Hawks are simply too talented and consistent not to fill in the rest, and they’re going to play solid defense too often.

A big warning sign is that point guards have a ton of success against the Hawks. Mike Bibby no longer matches up, Jeff Teague isn’t ready, and guarding a good point takes too much away from Johnson and Crawford. Mo Evans is shaky there. Something to keep an eye on.

Pacers 115 Nets 102: Little bit of column A. Little bit of column B. Little bit of terrific defense from the Pacers, who were locked in, talking to one another, shutting off the movement from the Nets and dogging them into bad possession after bad possession. Those airballs resulting in shot clock violations will kill you. And they did. I don’t know if the Nets were zoned out, but they were in the game, they were in the game… and then they were not. Good win from a Pacers team that is poorly constructed, but does have some true pros on it.

I’m pretty sure absolutely every person on earth is surprised when Dahntay Jones hits a bucket. Marv Alberts is a person on earth.

Nets have secured lottery spot number one. Since like, November, but officially, now.

Bobcats 99 Pistons 95: You can call off the APB for Ben Gordon’s jumper. It’s fallen the last two games and may actually be back. The issue?  Everyone else’s took off.

I wouldn’t call it a good game for the ‘Cats, but it’s pretty typical. Lots of missed shots, lots of inconsistent play, and then someone random steps up and hits shots and everyone across America freaks out when the line goes across the bottom of the screen at your local sports bar, saying “THAT GUY had X points?!”

Larry Huges was THAT GUY. 18 points for Hughes, to go with 4 boards, 5 assists, 5 turnovers, but two steals.

Larry Brown will never cease to amaze me.

Sixers 120 Grizzlies 101: I haven’t looked it up, yet, but I’m pretty sure the Grizzlies may actually have a negative winning percentage on back to backs. I don’t mean it’s considered bad, I mean the number may actually be negative. They have zero bench, so they’ll compete for about two more quarters, and then they just run out of steam.

But they’re a bad defense anyway. And the Sixers? They earned this. Worked for it, hit huge shots, looked good. This is the best I’ve seen the Sixers all year. They looked plugged in, ready to play, and came out and executed. A big factor? Marreese Speights, who, if they will just accept his learning curve, can come out and be a decider for them. 22 and 5 in 20 minutes for the youngster. Dang.

The real issue was three point shooting. The Sixers were en fuego, and Memphis was too gassed to run ’em off. And they dropped all night long. Good win for the Sixers.

Celtics 105 Bucks 90: You know? Tony Allen really isn’t all that bad.

I don’t get it either, but he’s been good this year, His line isn’t huge (7 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks), but he was a big part of a second quarter surge for the Celtics once they got their legs under them.

The Bucks have matchup advantages against Boston… when Andrew Bogut is playing. We’re going to be saying that no matter who Milwaukee ends up against. Luke Ridnour is going to have to play better if the Bucks are going to get anything done in the playoffs, even if it’s just a first round push. He’s struggling as of late, and it’s bad timing.

Paul Pierce is still Truth-ful.

Mavs 128 Kings 106: High-post. Cut, drive. Dish. Rotate. Rotate. Three.

And that’s your ball game.

The Mavericks lit ’em up, and the Kings don’t have enough weapons in the gunfight even with Evans and Landry combining for 58 points. Mavs shot 62% from the arc. That’s reDirkulous.

Oh, and speaking of, Dirk is good.

Clippers 107 Curry 104: Clippers realized that if you pound ’em inside, the Warriors will break. That’s what happened, with Kaman dropping 27.

Stephen Curry had another great line (29, 9, 4) and another night of really pretty terrible defense.

Warriors-Rockets features one of biggest game-to-game swings in NBA playoff history

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Leave a comment

In Game 2, the Rockets handed the Warriors their biggest playoff loss with Kevin Durant.

In Game 3, the Warriors earned their biggest playoff win and gave the Rockets their biggest playoff loss in each franchise’s history.

Quite the turnaround.

The 63-point swing from Houston’s 127-105 Game 2 win to Golden State’s 126-85 Game 3 win is one of the largest reversals in NBA playoff history.

It’s been a decade since the last larger game-to-game swing. The last series to have one as large as these Western Conference finals was the 2016 NBA Finals, when the Cavaliers began their comeback against the Warriors after getting blown out in Games 1 and 2.

Here are the biggest game-to-game swings ever in the NBA playoffs:

image

image

That’s a lot of momentum moving against the Rockets. Can they recover?

Warriors post longest playoff home winning streak in NBA history

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
1 Comment

You remember the Warriors’ last home playoff loss.

Golden State hasn’t lost a playoff game in Oakland since signing Kevin Durant. The Warriors went 9-0 at home last year and are 7-0 at home this year. Their Game 3 win over the Rockets last night gave Golden State a record-breaking postseason home winning streak.

The Bulls (1990-91) previously held the record. The leaderboard:

image

Are the Warriors atypically good at home? The more accurate answer is they’re just atypically good.

They’re 10-4 on the road the last two postseasons, an incredible mark in its own right. Like most teams, they’re better at home.

That presents a tough challenge for Houston with Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday in Oakland.

Backed into must-win Game 4, here are three things Rockets must do to even series

Getty Im ages
Leave a comment

Three years ago, the Houston Rockets came back from 3-1 down in a playoff series to defeat a Los Angeles Clippers (and give that franchise a punch to the gut from which it has not recovered). It was one of the great Rockets’ moments of the last decade.

Houston is not going to be able to do that against these Golden State Warriors. Go down 3-1 after Game 4 Tuesday at Oracle and the series is all but over.

Which means after the Rockets’ blowout loss in Game 3 Sunday night, Houston finds itself in the same must-win spot it did after Game 1. And unlike Game 2, the Rockets will not get helped out by an arrogant Warriors team not playing at its peak — the Rockets are going to need a near perfect game to beat a full-force Warriors team on Tuesday.

Here are the three key areas the Rockets must improve to win Game 4:

1) Just shoot better — finish shots at the rim and hit some threes. It’s rather obvious and simplistic, but it’s the reality: Houston just has to shoot better in Game 4.

The Rockets took a full one-third of their shots at the rim in the restricted area in Game 3, but they struggled with those making just 13-of-27 (48.1 percent). The Rockets took 42 percent of their shot attempts from three but hit just 11-of-34, and they were 7-of-25 on above the break threes. That’s not good enough, the Rockets are going to need at least 15 made threes in a game to win.

“Those are double whammies,” Rockets’ coach Mike D’Antoni said of the missed shots at the rim. “It’s like we missed layups first half especially and they go down and score. So in transition, you’ve got to keep them out of transition, you’ve got to make layups. We didn’t do that. When they did miss, we didn’t box out all the time, and then we turned it over 20 times. It’s a formula for losing, and for us to correct that, we can’t turn it over. Got to make layups for shots, and get back.”

To be fair, the Warriors contested shooters well all game, especially guys driving the basket, but still, the Rockets need to knock down more of their shots contested or not. It’s the most basic premise of basketball.

2) Houston has to play faster. D’Antoni said it above, the Rockets and their missed shots let the Warriors get out in transition and control the pace. It’s also a simple fact that the team that controls the pace — the team that gets transition opportunities and gets into its offense earlier in the shot clock — will win the games.

Golden State had 26 transition opportunities to 12 for the Rockets, according to the Synergy Sports stats breakdown.

Or, look at it this way (via Cleaning the Glass), in Game 3, Houston started just10.4 percent of their possessions in transition (and scored a dreadful 0.89 points per possession on those plays). For comparison, in their Game 2 win, the Rockets started 18.7 percent of their possessions in transition. On Sunday night in Game 3 Warriors started 19.8 percent of their plays in transition, nearly one in five trips down the court, and they scored 1.44 points per possession on those plays.

The Rockets need to make more shots and then, even when they miss, get back in transition and not let the Warriors get rolling early in the clock. Houston also needs to defend better and force more Warriors misses, which will allow them to run. It’s all tied together, the Warriors were making shots so the Rockets were taking the ball out of the basket and coming up against set defenses; the Rockets were missing shots that let the Warriors come up fast and forcing the Rockets to scramble on defense (Golden State tears apart teams in those situations). It’s a holistic thing, but the evidence it’s working is which team controls the pace, and the Rockets need to do that in Game 4.

3) Houston needs more out of Chris Paul. It’s easy to point to the Stephen Curry eruption in the third quarter as the time the Warriors ended the game, and there is truth to that. Golden State started the third on a 10-0 run (where Curry had five of those points) and the fire was lit, then Curry started hitting 30-foot threes and quickly the game was out of reach. Those Warriors runs are crushers.

However, to me the turning point in the game was when James Harden went to the bench for his usual rest with 2:46 left in the first quarter — the Warriors outscored the Rockets by nine before the quarter was up (part of an 11-0 run to end the quarter). By the time Harden returned with 9:16 left in the second quarter, the Rockets were down 10, a hole they never could get out of (they were down 11 at the half).

CP3 has to be better in that stretch. The Warriors threw bigger, switchable guards at him on defense — Shaun Livingston, Nick Young, and then Andre Iguodala — and Paul couldn’t get separation and make plays against them. Without Harden, the Rockets offense stalled out, and doing that led to the Warriors getting to push the pace and get their transition buckets. Paul looked slowed at points, reaching on defense and not as explosive as we’ve seen.

This isn’t the Utah Jazz. Harden was off in Game 5 against Utah, but Paul picked up the slack (his 41-point, 10 assist game) and Houston got the win. Against Golden State, both Paul and Harden must have good games for Houston to have a chance. The Warriors are too good, too deep, there is no margin for error anymore.

The Rockets have an elite game in them — we saw the blueprint of what they have to do in Game 2. Houston can do that again. The only question is can they do it in the face of Golden State’s pressure, because the sharks on the Warriors smell blood in the water and will be coming hard in Game 4.

Shaun Livingston crossed James Harden so hard it made Greg Anthony mispronounce “meme” (VIDEO)

shaun livingson
Getty
1 Comment

The Golden State Warriors embarrassed the Houston Rockets on Sunday night. Stephen Curry scored 35 points, didn’t miss a shot in the third quarter, and helped the Warriors win Game 3 and take a 2-1 series lead by a margin of 41 points.

Not too shabby.

But it wasn’t just Curry who turned the Rockets into shrinking violets. Shaun Livingston, who added 11 points off the bench while shooting 4-of-4, took his turn putting Houston to task.

During one play, Livingston crossed up James Harden on his way to a wide-open dunk. Livingston’s crafty dribble moves also shook commentator Greg Anthony’s brain up a little bit, so much so that Anthony forgot how to say the word “meme”.

Via Twitter:

Even during a 41-point decimation the NBA is still the funniest league on the planet.