Turkoglu’s disaster of a playoffs traced back to Phoenix

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Back in 2009, Hedo Turkoglu was in his element, aggressively running the pick-and-roll. Dwight Howard was still the center of the Magic’s offensive solar system, Turkoglu was setting the table and knocking down threes. He pushed the Magic to the finals.

This season, he is pushing them out in the first round. Orlando has to win in Atlanta Thursday night or go home early and Turkoglu is a key reason their backs are against the wall.

This series Turkoglu is 32.2 percent overall and 16.7 percent from three. He is scoring 7.8 points per game (half of what he did in 2009) and basically is shooting less, making far less and dishing out fewer assists than he did two seasons ago.

What happened?

Over at Magicbasketball.net, Nate Drexler looked into everything and found the answer was in Phoenix.

Turk was an impact player for the Magic before the sign-and-trade to Toronto. He ran the point, was responsible for seeing the floor, and much of the Dwight-centered offense ended up running through Turkoglu at the top of the key….

(When Turkoglu was traded to Phoenix) Alvin Gentry already had his floor general in Steve Nash, so Turk’s role shifted. At arrival, Gentry wanted to use Turk as a secondary floor general, to relieve some the pressure that Nash dealt with. That never happened, though, and very quickly Turk’s role became something entirely different.

Turk gets over 34 percent of his offense out of the pick and roll in Orlando. While in Phoenix, only about 11 percent of his game was through this design. Instead, he got over 32 percent of his points while spotting up, and over 17 percent in the isolation….

Since returning, adjectives like “indecisive,” “passive,” and “useless” have been thrown around to describe Turk. Maybe that should not be surprising given the nature of his role in Phoenix. So perhaps these habits that developed at some unknown time matured in Phoenix, and now Orlando has the corpse to deal with.

The Magic staved off elimination at home in Game 5, but Thursday night in Atlanta is the big test. And if the old Turkoglu doesn’t show up it may be an impossible one to pass.

Scottie Pippen on LeBron James, Michael Jordan: “It’s not a fair comparison”

AP
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The battle has, stupidly, raged on between supporters of Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Both sides seem to believe their preference is irrefutably the choice for the best player in NBA history.

And because they did not play in the same era, the question will never be answered. No doubt in 50 years they will write columns about Jordan vs. LeBron, just like their fathers, and their father’s fathers before them.

James has certainly seemed to take a bit of a leap in the eyes of the NBA community this season, likely because of his wonderful performance at age 33. He’s also single-handedly won two playoff series this year. It’s been incredible.

But LeBron rising above Jordan has also brought out some more reasonable takes. Former Chicago Bulls legend and Jordan running mate Scottie Pippen spoke up recently about the debate, giving a measured analysis that I think is pretty strong.

In short, Pippen basically said you can’t compare the two because of the eras, the style, and the fact they just don’t play the same position (if LeBron even has a position, that is).

Via Twitter:

That sounds right to me.

Cavaliers’ Kendrick Perkins not into “all that new stuff” like Chewbacca

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Chewbacca was at Game 3 in Cleveland Saturday. Sitting courtside.

Why? Because growing up on Kashyyyk he played a little hoop and admires LeBron James‘ skill? Because Drake gave him the tickets? Maybe. I mean, it’s not like that was just a clever little publicity stunt for a movie.

After the Cavaliers’ win, Kevin Love decided to make a little joke of it with noted humorist Kendrick Perkins, and it went over as well as expected (with Dave McMenamin of ESPN catching it).

That’s vintage Perkins.

Celtics’ Terry Rozier on Game 3: “We needed to get our butts whooped”

Associated Press
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Cleveland dominated Game 3 Saturday night. They played harder, to start. The Cavaliers’ defensive pressure on the ball was better, they were sharper rotating out to shooters and covering passing lanes. Cleveland’s role players stepped up and helped LeBron James.

Boston, meanwhile, wilted in the face of that pressure Saturday, something it has done a few times on the road these playoffs. The Celtics got away from the things that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Guard Terry Rozier put it more bluntly, via A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:

“I feel like we needed this (loss) to get us back … to get us ready for Monday,” Rozier said.

Rozier later added, “We needed to get our butts whipped. Come back to reality and take care of business on Monday.”

Cleveland is a championship team — from LeBron James on down through the core guys, they all have rings. They have been down before, and heading home it was expected they would play with force. Cleveland’s back was against the wall and they responded.

From the Celtics’ perspective, they also got a little too fat and happy and were not ready for what the Cavaliers came with in Game 3.

Now the pressure is on Boston to push back, to get back to their level of execution and do it under pressure. Make the Cavaliers prove the improved defensive effort was not a one-off game. The Celtics must move the ball and play with some pace, then see if the Cavaliers can keep it together in the face of crisp play.

When this series heads back to Boston Wednesday, it will either see the Celtics in control up 3-1, or the series will be a best of three (with the Cavs still having to figure out if they can win on the road). At home, the Cavaliers are going to play with force again and have some depth. We’ll see if Game 3 was enough of a wakeup call for Boston.

PBT Extra: Can Rockets take Game 2 energy, execution on the road?

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Houston found its blueprint to beating Golden State in Game 2: Strong defensive pressure on the ball, quick switches and communication on defense, getting out in transition when possible, and starting sets earlier in the shot clock and attacking downhill with James Harden and Chris Paul.

Now can they do that on the road? Against a more focused and sharper Warriors’ team?

That will be the question in the next two games of the Western Conference Finals, and it’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.