Before back and Achilles injuries sidelined him, Spencer Hawes was the key to the Sixers offense last season. It wasn’t about the points, it was his passing that got the ball moving side-to-side against the defense and created good looks for others. Without him the offense stagnated some, he was not the same player upon his return and the Sixers finished with the 20th best offense in the league in points per possession.
This season, coach Doug Collins again sees Hawes as a key to the Philadelphia offense again, just in a different role.
Collins wants Hawes to be the Pau Gasol to newly acquired Andrew Bynum. That’s what he told the Sixers official Web site (via SLAM).
“I want (Hawes) to play the Pau Gasol role with Bynum,” Collins said. “Both (Hawes and Gasol) like to play out on the perimeter because they can shoot the ball and are very good passers.”
I like Hawes but lets be clear, on a good day he is a poor man’s Gasol. He is not as skilled.
Still, the idea makes sense. Hawes can shoot the midrange and he is an adept passer. If Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday can take steps forward, they can play off that, too.
It’s a good plan, I’m just not as convinced as many that Philly made that big a leap by getting Bynum. At least in the short term. I need to be convinced that Bynum can handle the load as the focus of a team — can he pass out of the coming double teams better than he has before? Can he bring defensive focus every night and not just sometimes? Can Hawes really step into a Gasol role? Can Evan Turner make the next step forward? Same with Jrue Holiday?
There is potential in Philly and that brings hope to a clearly excited fan base. It’s going to be a fun season in the City of Brotherly Love. And if Spencer Hawes really can be a poor man’s Pau Gasol this season, they will take a nice step forward toward that potential.
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).
That sounds right to me.
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.
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.
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.