Chris Paul and the players’ moral paradox

10 Comments

We can do this one of two ways. The quick and dirty way, or the abstract and more complex way. As usual, I’ll give you the quick and dirty version first.

In an interview with Business Week, Chris Paul revealed the stunning information that the players know how much the lockout affects the fans and wish it didn’t hurt them. He also goes over the usual stuff about how the players just can’t give up as much as the owners want, and that they have a responsibility to further generations of players to protect their earning potential. He’s hopeful they won’t lose games, but he also says some day his son might grow up to need a contract and be proud that his dad fought for him.

You know. That old chestnut.

That’s the quick and dirty version.

Here’s where it gets a bit more complex, once you start to think about it. From Business Week, in Paul’s own words:

All I knew was that there was no basketball, which is why, this time around, it was so hard to walk away from the negotiating table without a deal. I know—we know—how much it affects the fans. And we know that if it weren’t for the fans, there would be no us.

We hate to see something like a lockout take place, but we can’t just take a huge step back. There are so many players that came before us—Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing—who got the game to where it is today. And what about the kids in high school who aspire to be in the NBA? We don’t believe in making sure it’s O.K. for ourselves now, but more difficult for them later.

via Chris Paul on Risking a Lost NBA Season – BusinessWeek.

Basic stuff, right? You’ve pretty much decided how you’ve felt about this. If you’re not associated with a team (in which case your response is much like Bob Hoskins in “Hook,” “What about Smee?!”), or the player’s association (a hearty “Right on!”) then you’re probably left wondering what the big deal is. The players are just protecting their millions and the ability of future players to earn millions while working class people struggle every day. It’s not going to earn your sympathy, nor should it.

But when we take it out of the pragmatic, and into the abstract or philosophical, we have a bit more of a sticky wicket.

Take out the context. Remove the players from what they do for a living, how much they make, the lifestyle they get to enjoy. Don’t even try to make them into something innocuous like plumbers, construction workers, database engineers, or the like. Just remove all of the details from their particular situation and focus on the actual construct of the dilemma they face.

The player’s primary responsibility is to what created them. In this case, that’s the fans. They exist, have meaning, are able to fulfill their dreams only because of this entity which gave them life. (The owners believe they in fact created the players, but this is a fallacy, without the owners, there would simply be another structure which would bring the players to ply their trade in front of the masses.) It’s a symbiotic relationship. The players entertain the fans, who then spend their money to further the players, who then play more, and so on and so on. While it’s true that corporate sponsorships, concessions, and merchandising deals all are third party entities who contribute to the players’ livelihood, those are all driven by the same beings, the creators (fans).

But then you have the descendants, the future players. These players are the same as the current players in every way. They have the same needs, likely the same backgrounds, the same experiences, the same desires. So let’s say the players were to say “You know what, it doesn’t matter. Not losing a year of income is what’s best for me. That’s what I need to do for me.” Can you really justify abandoning future people who you don’t know and who have no say in this debate in order to further your own desires?

Well, that depends on if the harm given to the fans is more important than the harm done to the future players. Or is it greater? Is depriving the people who allow you to do what you do (which is what you both want and need) for up to an entire year worse than harming the people who will come after you who have no say in this process and are depending on you to protect them?

That’s the paradox. They can’t protect the future without harming the present, and they can’t protect the present without harming the future. They can’t do right by the people who give them life (as basketball players) without doing harm to the people who are themselves in the future. They can’t do right by the people who they’re obligated to protect without harming the people they’re obligated to protect.

In reality, very little of this appears to the players. They’re worried about themselves and their pride. They’re worried about ensuring they can sail off into the sunset with as much money as possible. The fans are not at the top of their list of priorities, neither are the NBA players of the future. But if we remove the context of the players’ collective identity, their problem becomes easier to relate to, even if their lifestyle isn’t.

Warriors post longest playoff home winning streak in NBA history

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Leave a 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.

Report: Kings, Hawks could pass on Luka Doncic if Suns don’t take him No. 1

AP
5 Comments

Luka Doncic or Deandre Ayton?

That’s the question many NBA fans are asking themselves, but according to one report it’s not the only thing several teams in the Top 3 of the 2018 NBA Draft are thinking about.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony says that while the Phoenix Suns may still be considering taking Doncic with their No. 1 overall pick, the Sacramento Kings (2) and Atlanta Hawks (3) are not.

The Kings and Hawks are reportedly leaning toward taking an American frontcourt player, which would point us toward guys like Ayton, Marvin Bagley, Jaren Jackson, and Mo Bamba.

Via ESPN:

The growing consensus among NBA decision-makers in attendance at Stark Arena in Belgrade is that the teams drafting behind the Phoenix Suns at No. 1, the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks are likely to pass on European prodigy in favor of American frontcourt players. The question remains whether a team will trade up into the top three to snag Doncic, or if he will fall to the No. 4 (Memphis) or even the No. 5 pick (Dallas) after being heavily scouted in the Euroleague playoffs against Panathinaikos and mostly struggling.

The information we’re missing is whether the Kings and Hawks are turned off by Doncic specifically. Is it because they haven’t scouted him as much as the other guys? Is it because of perceived team need? Do they think Doncic has peaked already? Are they worried about less information being available from a Euro prospect? All are possible.

With all the hype around Doncic, it would be shocking to see him fall out of the Top 3. It’s happened before, but both Ayton and Doncic are the guys atop this draft that people are licking their chops to get.

Could we see a team trade up to get Doncic from the Hawks or Kings if Phoenix goes elsewhere? Is this just false information funneled to the media as a means of depressing the market for Doncic or for ferreting out a big trade offer?

The conference finals aren’t even over yet and here we are talking about the incessant drama of the NBA offseason. I love this league.