There’s no pressure on D.J. Augustin…except for running his team’s offense

Leave a comment

Pardon me for being redundant, but the Charlotte Bobcats are going to have a very uncomfortable season if D.J. Augustin remains their starting point guard. It’s not that the Bobcats’ roster has any superior alternatives, but this team is hurting badly for a true replacement for Raymond Felton, and Augustin isn’t the man.

Only for now, he has to be. Shaun Livingston is injured, Sherron Collins is Sherron Collins, and handing over control of the offense to Stephen Jackson on a full-time basis is a recipe for failure. Augustin is Charlotte’s great hope at point guard, and at best, he’s a sweet shooter, a decent playmaker, and a defensive sieve. More realistically, he’s still a bad defender while shooting well from outside (where Augustin has shot 42% for his career) and displaying questionable decision-making. Raymond Felton wasn’t some idyllic point guard, but his defense and steady play helped turn the Bobcats into a legitimate playoff team, and Augustin’s promotion rocks the boat. Charlotte still seems due for a repeat playoff appearance, but with such uncertainty at the point, nothing seems safe.

The Bobcats, for their part, are predictably singing Augustin’s praises, and Augustin, for his, is playing confident. From Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse:

With his safety net gone, Augustin has become the quiet key to the upstart Charlotte Bobcats, prepared to show now he belongs in the NBA, and they belong back in the playoffs. “Nacho Libre (Augustin), he’s the head to this monster,” [Stephen] Jackson said. “And as he goes, we’ll go this season. We need him to succeed. We need him to run things the proper way. And I think will. He’s going to surprise all those people who already counted him out.”

…The Bobcats reached the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season, winning 44 games, but the prospects of improving, or even repeating, clearly rests with Augustin. “There’s no pressure, it’s just basketball,” Augustin said. “I can’t tell you about the future, but I hope to make us better. I’ve got to be ready.”

First and foremost: it cannot be ignored that D.J. Augustin’s nickname is apparently “Nacho Libre.” Alrighty then.

Augustin doesn’t see running the Bobcats as a high-pressure situation (or if he does, is smart enough not to express that concern publicly), and this is a good thing. No one wants to see Augustin caught like a deer in the headlights of Larry Brown’s 18-wheeler, and he needs to believe he can do the job even if those of us on the outside suppose that he can’t. There’s nothing wrong with what Augustin said, with the exception that it’s wrong. There is pressure. The Bobcats aren’t a team shooting for the title, they’re aiming for the back end of the playoffs and the sweet, sweet revenue they provide. There is pressure to perform. There is pressure to appease LB. There is pressure to keep Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, and all of Augustin’s Bobcats teammates happy while still running the show efficiently.

Pretending otherwise is foolish, and yet that’s exactly what we demand Augustin do as a part of the media game.

Rockets were draining threes in the first half against Warriors in Game 6

Getty Images
5 Comments

The Rockets were feeling it the first half in Game 6.

Playing with an energy the Warriors lacked at least in the first quarter), Houston defended well, pushed the ball in transition, and then they just drained three after three after three.

Eric Gordon started 4-of-4 from three and the team was 11-of-22 in the first half, which made up for the 11 turnovers and had them up 17 at one point and ahead by 10 after the first half.

Warriors’ Andre Iguodala out for Game 6

Getty Images
2 Comments

Steve Kerr has been searching for a couple of games now for his fifth guy.

With Andre Iguodala out there is no Death/Hamptons 5 lineup and Kerr is looking for a fifth guy to partner with his four All-Stars. Kevon Looney is starting, Jordan Bell is showing potential but also makes some rookie plays, Nick Young has been bad enough that Kerr trusted Quin Cook more at the end of the last game (and Cook missed his looks).

Kerr is going to have to keep searching for a guy in Game 6 because Iguodala is out again.

The Warriors are not the team heading into Game 6 with the most significant injury woes, the Rockets are without Chris Paul. That and the fact the Warriors’ backs are against the wall is the reason they are heavy favorites in Game 6.

However, the Warriors have not been the same without Iguodala. He is a playmaker who can control the ball and settle things down, makes the right decision, get the player and ball movement the Warriors have strayed too much from back, plus is one of their best defenders on James Harden. Nobody else on the roster can do that.

And if Game 6 gets tight late, the Warriors are going to miss those skills. As they have in the last two games.

Marcus Smart on Game 7: ‘It’s not going to be pretty’

Getty Images
1 Comment

Game 7s are not pretty basketball. Everyone is tight, shots clank off the front of the rim, and players tend to think rather than just react, sucking the flow out of the game. It’s a game for grinders.

Marcus Smart is good with that, and he told Chris Forsberg of ESPN the team is preparing for this style.

“It’s not going to be pretty. You got to be able to get down and get dirty. You can’t go out and try to look pretty. You have to be ready for a dogfight. We got to be ready to come up with our nose bloodied. We got to be ready to come out with our mouth bloodied. We have to come out ready to fight.”

If Boston is going to win this game, they will do so with the physical, smart, and unrelenting defense that carried them all season. That’s their grit. Without Kevin Love (out with a concussion) the Celtics have one less scorer to worry about, but things do not necessarily get dramatically easier — LeBron James is going to get his buckets, but can the Celtics keep George Hill, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and the rest of the role players from helping out with big nights of their own.

Which one of these teams is better positioned to win a grinding, sloppy game? Who is willing to dive on the floor and give that little extra effort? A case can be made either way, but Sunday night will decide it.

Report: Warriors’ Patrick McCaw cleared, will be available for Game 6

Getty Images
Leave a comment

We haven’t seen Golden State’s Patrick McCaw on an NBA court since March 31, when he was undercut by Sacramento’s Vince Carter and took an ugly, nasty spill.

McCaw is finally cleared by the team doctors and will be active on Saturday night for Game 6 against Houston, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Golden State Warriors are planning to activate swingman Patrick McCaw for Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

McCaw, on paper, would help the Warriors — he’s a 6’5″ switchable defender who can provide some offense in transition. That’s especially true if Andre Iguodala is out for Game 6 (his status is a game-time decision). McCaw played about 17 minutes a night for the Warriors during the regular season.

However, the idea of taking a second-year player who has not been on a court in six weeks and throwing him into Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals — a win-or-go-fishing game for Golden State — is risky, at best. Don’t expect him to get on the court unless this is a blowout.