Fact: My prediction that the Heat would sweep Games 3 through 5 in San Antonio was incorrect.
UNBELIEVABLY incorrect. Like, the-Spurs-won-Game 3-by-36-points incorrect. As my wise Uncle Eric* explained to me in that comments section, the Spurs’ team approach would carry the day over the one-on-one brilliance–or what is usually “brilliance” anyway–of the Heat’s star players. Ball movement and cutting beat standing and watching.
It didn’t hurt that Danny Green and Gary Neal had career games from beyond the arc (collectively they were 13-19 from downtown–unsustainable, in other words) but that doesn’t explain all of this unbelievable ass-whoopin’. There was the non-Big 3 starters Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem combining for 0 points. There was Chris Bosh — once considered a medium-list superstar — scoring 2 points in the 2nd Half. There was Dwyane Wade continuing to struggle to find easy shots. But most of all…
Question: Why does LeBron struggle to play his normal style in so many high-leverage games?
I don’t do a lot of predictions here because, well, I know that nobody really cares about them.
But here goes:
Miami is going to win every one of the three upcoming games in San Antonio and at least two of those wins won’t be close.
Will it be Otto Porter Jr. or Anthony Bennett lighting up our nation’s capital next season?
This is a special guest post by my friend and fellow DC resident Jon Wallace. Jon is a Duke grad and a Wizards fan, but we try not to hold that against him. Below, he discusses the Wizards’ situation in the upcoming NBA Draft.* – Patrick J
A View of the NBA Draft from DC
by Jon Wallace
A Wizards fan finds him or herself in an interesting position this offseason. The team finished another year without reaching 30 wins, yet there is more than just guarded optimism for the future. After John Wall’s return from injury, the ‘Zards played good to excellent basketball to close out the year.
With the full(ish) complement of players, Washington played well enough to have the fan base thinking playoffs next year and potential deep runs in the postseason in following years. In an admittedly small sample size, the Wizards were 17-7 with Wall, Beal, and Nene on the floor at the same time. They were 24-24 with just Wall and Beal. Projected out over a full season, these data points have Wiz fans excited about April and May basketball in 2014.
All this optimism – a distinctly weird emotion for Wizards’ fans to experience – was augmented when Washington jumped five spots in the NBA lottery to obtain the third overall pick.
Our cup runneth over.
But which prospect would most help the Wizards as they look to end an era of lottery teams and move into an era of playoff basketball?
Alexey loves the land of 10,000 (frozen) lakes. It’s like Moscow.
Alexey Shved: Minneapolis is Moscow and Moscow is Minneapolis and I like Moscow so therefore I like Minneapolis
Andy G: Amid all of the
pre-draft Playoffs craze, we haven’t devoted nearly enough (any?) attention to our favorite Timberwolf, Alexey Shved.
For some background, in case anyone forgot, here is the best visual representation of how Shved met “The Rookie Wall”:
It was tough to watch, both as a fan of Shved the player, and the Timberwolves team. His off-season will be as important to the team as anything it does in the draft or free agency. The team needs help at shooting guard in a bad way, and Alexey has had/might continue to have the opportunity to make the job his. He just needs to get [a lot] stronger and more consistent with his jump shot.
He gave an interview in Russia recently, which was partially interpreted in a Canis Hoopus thread by commenter RussianBeesnyestEenterest.com (I love that moniker, btw.) Shved had this to say about his rookie season, and hitting the rookie wall:
“I was not able to sustain that level of play for the season – mainly because it was very tiring. Other players also warned me that could happen to me. Avoiding these slumps was not possible though. Playing 82 games in five and a half months – that’s quite a prize (ironic). It is, for example, possible to have 5 games in just 7 days! And if the coaching staff gives you 25 to 30 minutes of playing time it is very hard to give them good basketball until the end of such a stretch. At the end of the day I had very pleasing games and very unpleasing ones. It gave me experience. And for next season, I will know what to expect right from the start. Of course I will work to ensure that I will play much more consistently.”
Importantly, he goes on to say that he’s returning to Minnesota on June 25 to work individually with the team on his off-season program.
Today marks the 20th Anniversary of Petrovic’s death, seems appropriate to re-post this one that looked back on his Portland days with Rick Adelman. RIP.
This coming June marks the twentieth anniversary of one of the biggest tragedies in NBA history. On June 7, 1993 a Volkswagon was speeding along Germany’s Autobahn when it encountered a truck that had crashed through the guard rails and was blocking traffic. Unable to stop or avoid a crash, the car hit the truck, causing serious injuries to the driver and backseat passenger. The front-seat passenger got the worst of it, flying through the front window. Drazen Petrovic, the six-time European Player of the Year, recently named All-NBA Third Team performer, and undoubtedly greatest basketball player in Croatian history, was dead at age 28.
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Andy G: We attended Wolves-Wizards last January. The Wiz were barely beginning to hit their stride (which made the ass-kicking that much more painful — we didn’t totally see it coming, despite Mickael Gelabale being a starter) and in particular their young backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal looked mighty impressive. The synergy that Ernie Grunfeld envisioned when he drafted Beal (and reportedly turned down a James Harden trade (!)) was coming to fruition before our eyes, even with Randy Wittman at the wheel.
John Wall created shot opportunities. Bradley Beal took advantage of them. In the course of their first season together — largely limited by injuries — the duo thrived. On average they were +3.6 per game, best of commonly-used Wizards player pairings. I think many will predict big improvement from Washington next season, including a playoff berth, in large part because they’ve put together such a talented and balanced backcourt.
I bring this up because the Wolves also have a magnificent playmaker at point guard, a dearth of capable 2’s, and a pair of first rounders in the upcoming draft. Also like Washington, Minnesota has veteran frontcourt talent. Basically, everybody’s waiting for that shooting guard to arrive. Whether it be with the lottery pick (9) or the one received from the Grizzlies (26) it seems likely that a wing player will don a Timberwolves cap on June 27.
We’ve already talked Victor Oladipo and Shabazz Muhammad. ‘Dipo is not Beal. Whether better all-around or worse, there’s a clear difference in style; in tool sets. And Shabazz, well… it’s probably best we lay off that one for a bit. He’s controversial, putting it mildly.
If they end up going lottery wing, that likely leaves Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from Georgia (if they stay at Number 9) or Ben McLemore from Kansas (if they trade up). Both can shoot it.
Which is the way to go, all things considered?
Roy Hibbert was fined 75 large for one of two reasons:
1. He said something offensive and should be punished in order to deter NBA players from this type of behavior;
2. He said something offensive and the NBA felt the need to issue a statement (via Roy Hibbert’s checking account) to its corporate partners that it does not share the offensive views expressed by Roy Hibbert.
I suppose there’s a third rationale; one that’s so offensively paternalistic that I’d rather just hope it isn’t the case. That would be:
3. He said something offensive and the NBA felt the need to punish him so that he would think about why what he said was wrong, and change his views accordingly.
Personally, I think it’s a combination of reasons 1 and 2.
1. Grant Hill
He retired last night during the TNT pregame show. Hill is one of the most successful, post-Wooden college players. He won two national titles and was runner up for a third. He was an All-American and ACC Player of the Year. In the NBA, Hill was — for a not-insignificant period of time — on the short list of the game’s greatest players. The absolute PICTURE of “NBA Ready,” a 22-year old Grant Hill was Co-Rookie of the Year with fellow superstar, future hall of famer, and still-playing Jason Kidd. For six seasons, before injuries I don’t need to detail here, he averaged between 19.9 and 25.8 points, 6.4 and 9.8 rebounds, and 5.0 and 7.3 assists, per game.
Healthy Grant Hill is one of the best small forwards I’ve ever seen. The only one clearly better has a Game 7 tomorrow night.