Tag:2011 NBA Playoffs
Posted on: April 22, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 12:58 pm
 

The sad state of Gilbert Arenas

Posted by Royce Young



Oh, Gilbert Arenas. You were supposed to be The Difference. You were supposed to be that go-to scorer the Magic could rely upon to spare Dwight Howard in crucial moments. You were supposed to be a lot of things when general manager Otis Smith traded for you in December.

One thing you most definitely were not supposed to be? A third string point guard.

And that's where Arenas currently sits on the Magic depth chart via the Orlando Sentinel.

Van Gundy used SF Hedo Turkoglu as the team’s backup point guard during the second half on Tuesday.

“I don’t know what we’re doing,” Van Gundy said. “I haven’t decided exactly what we’re doing. I know Jameer’s going to play a lot of minutes. I know we’re going to use J.J. [Redick off the bench], I know we’re going to use Q[uentin Richardson] and I know we’re going to use Ryan [Anderson].

“As far as what we do at the backup point, I’m not totally sure.”

I like Van Gundy's move there. Play stupid. I have no idea what I am doing with this situation. But I will show you in how I distribute minutes, so in fact, I do know. Total, Arenas has played 18 minutes in this series and is 3-8 from the floor. He played only six minutes in Game 2. Like I said, I think that sort of tells you what the Magic are doing with him.

Good news though: Arenas is just owed $62 million over the next three years. Well, I guess that's actually very bad news. But it was obvious when Otis Smith pulled this deal that he was desperate to pull out all the stops. Getting Jason Richardson and Turkoglu has worked relatively well, but Arenas has been pretty much a disaster.

I think he still has a lot of skill, but he just has no clue how he's supposed to play. He just doesn't seem to comprehend a role where he doesn't have the green light to launch from 30 feet. Arenas is a terrific scorer and someone that could absolutely put the Magic over the top. That is, if he could rediscover his game and play like the Gilbert from 2005.

That doesn't appear to be happening and Van Gundy sees it more than anyone. Arenas isn't scoring, he isn't creating and he isn't defending. So Van Gundy has to pull the plug on it. Arenas will still see minutes, but not too many teams are comfortable paying a third stringer $20 million a year. It was said at the time of the deal that the move for Arenas was high risk, high reward. So far, not a lot of reward.
Posted on: April 22, 2011 3:56 am
 

Sixers-Heat Game 3 Reactions

Reactions from around the web to Sixers-Heat Game 3.

Posted by Matt Moore
The Heat’s big three demand so much attention and warrant extra bodies to keep them bottled up in the half court. It’s a distraction that spreads the opposing defense thin once the ball goes up, inviting other Heat players to slide into the paint from the weakside. Standing at 7-foot-3, Zydrunas Ilgauskas grabbed eight offensive rebounds simply by positioning himself in the pockets under the basket and playing volleyball near the rim.

“Z probably jumps two inches off the ground,” Heat center Chris Bosh said after the game. “But he has such long arms and his tip game is great. We just wanted to give ourselves second chances.”
via Heat at Sixers, Game 3: Five things we saw - Heat Index Blog - ESPN.

We're seeing this same effective across several series. The Bulls are slaughtering the Pacers on the offensive glass because Indiana has to send three defenders at Rose on any given possession. The result is that there are often several players out of possession trying to force a Rose miss. If he makes it, they're doomed. If he misses, there's two Bulls in position for a putback or a reset for Rose to drive again, and once again, they're doomed. The Sixers faced this problem in triplicate, resulting in the Heat's sub-par bigs cleaning up. Stopping these elite players when they're driving is tough enough. But having to do it and grab the carom is nearly impossible, and that's what we're seeing. Even the Celtics are struggling with it agianst the Knicks. Granted, the Celtics have been a bad offensive rebounding team all season, but Amar'e and Melo are creating even more issues. 
Like I previously mentioned, Brand's mid-range game was on point tonight. It was so refreshing to see him get those attempts off that were missing from his repertoire in Game 2. Although he worked wonders on offense, he was giving Chris Bosh way too much room on the defensive end. Bosh missed his first few attempts, but came back strong and took advantage of all the leeway Brand so graciously gift wrapped for him. He did a much better job on the glass than he did in the previous two games, putting 11 of them on the stat sheet. Impressive number, but his defensive rebounding percentage wasn't exactly encourageable (4.3% if I did the calculations right - I probably didn't).
via Heat Turn it On in the Fourth, Sixers a Game Away from Elimination - Liberty Ballers.

 Brand's defensive lapses were certainly disappointing, but against Bosh, it really is a mismatch. Bosh has to be guarded not only by a player big enough to disrupt him, but long enough to contest his shots. Brand's got decent bulk, but has lost weight to reduce wear and tear on his body. He's simply not long enough to stick Bosh in the mid-post. Bosh's best performance in a three-game set has come at the right time, and he deserves a world of credit for putting the Heat in the next round, once they wrap up this series. 
Throughout, the Heat absorbed, absorbed, absorbed. And when they saw it was time, they conquered the moment, and ultimately, the Sixers, 100-94, to take a commanding, 3-0 lead with a chance to close it out on Sunday at 1 p.m.

So exhausted were the Sixers that a 75-73 lead after three quarters quickly evaporated as they missed eight of their first 10 shots to help Miami forge a 90-80 lead.
via Valiant Sixers fall to Heat in Game 3 | Philadelphia Daily News | 04/21/2011.

Whereas the Bulls are sprinting past the Pacers to the finish, the Heat are simply grinding teams down to their nubs. Both have their advantages in a playoff setting. The Sixers threw the kitchen sink at the Heat in the first and third games, but each time, the Heat have simply maintained, and outlasted. It's a stirring show of consistency which has been sorely lacking from Miami all year. 

The Sixers' strength was their depth, but needing a win so badly, the Sixers shortened their rotation and put their best players on the floor for the majority of the game. And in the end, the Heat simply had more fuel. Kick on the afterburners, and fly on by. The Sixers really did just need one more star player to give them the extra ammo. Without it, they're in an 0-3 hole. 
Dwyane Wade made a significant adjustment by getting the ball on the move. That changed everything about the 76ers’ defense, and also changed Wade’s scoring average in the series. He also pushed through a jammed shoulder. This was his moment.
via Heat 100, 76ers 94 – Miami Heat – Sun-Sentinel.

If you want something really to be scared of? The biggest thing that's shown up in this series has been the return of Dwyane Wade's speed. That looked to be gone in the regular season. It looks back. That's frightening. Three times in the second half, the Sixers sent two defenders to try and slow Wade's dribble. Wade found James. What are you going to do? 

Which is pretty much what Philadelphia's been asking since the series started. 
Posted on: April 22, 2011 3:28 am
 

Pacers-Bulls Game 3 Reactions

Reactions from around the web to Game 3 of Pacers-Bulls. 
Posted by Matt Moore




George, for one, believes he can continue to keep Rose in check.

"He got a good estimation of what I can do defensively," said George, who has hit 4-of-18 shots in the series. "It seems like it's in the back of his mind sometimes when he wants to drive. He's not as decisive as he was in Game I, I believe. Hopefully my length will continue to bother him."

Still, Rose had the last word with his game-winning layup, doing what the Pacers have failed to do throughout the series: close out a game.
via Pacers' George thinks he's bothering Rose - Chicago Bulls Blog - ESPN Chicago.

Other than the obnoxious style of this post (yes, let's bring up the shooting percentage of the defensive stopper rookie when talking about defense), the quote's got some umph to it. Rose did struggle tonight. He hit the game winner, because he's awesome and that's what he does, but he also had an absolutely terrible game. 23 points on 18 shots, 5 turnovers. It was the way those turnovers came that were most perplexing. And George is right, here, Rose was less aggressive than he has been in this series. But that's partially due to the fact that the Pacers sent two and sometimes three players at Rose in half-court traps. They, naturally, abandoned that strategy on the final possesion, likely fearing getting Korver'd again. And if I were George, I wouldn't want to speak confidently after Rose destroyed his team in consecutive games, then had a bad game and still wound up sending them into an 0-3 hole. Just doesn't seem smart. 
Noting Chicago's history of traveling in large numbers, Pacers coach Frank Vogel asked the fans to support the team, joking that metal detectors would keep Bulls fans out of the building.
via Rose's late drive lifts Bulls to 3-0 lead on Pacers - NBA - CBSSports.com.

That's... uh... Coach? Is that what you meant? Because that does not come out right at all. Turns out, her's what Vogel actually said.  
"We need to fill the building with blue and gold," said Vogel, who joked that the Pacers have a plan to keep Bulls fans away.

"We're going to have metal detectors out there to scan the metal people are bringing in the building, but people who are wearing red ... they're not going to get through the metal detectors, either."
via Pacers return home down 0-2 vs Bulls - USATODAY.com.

So that doesn't sound so bad. That sounds a whole lot different from how it's tabbed in the beginning. Because one is a joke about not letting people wearing red in, and the other is about people wearing red not being allowed in because those people are armed. Which would look really bad, especially for the coach of Indiana. That said, how disheartening is it to have a playoff game in your own building and the arena is split between your fans and the visiting team. That will go away if the Pacers can build on their success. But in terms of tryin to get that advantage that comes with a home playoff game, the energy's got to be sucked out a little bit when Rose is fouled and the crowd cheers.
And I thought this was the first time in a while that Joakim Noah looked like his old self again. The rebounding has been there all-along, but tonight Joakim was a real threat in the half-court set, willing to drive and launch the tornado. And while the Bulls won't get another true ballhandler to help Rose, an active Noah can fill that role admirably for a big man.
via Slightly different story, but same ending: Defense, physical play, and another close Bulls victory - Blog a Bull.
It's baffling that Hibbert isn't more aggressive. Hibbert's actually done really well against Noah when he's elected to give the effort in going at him. But instead he takes a step back. And if you take a step back against Joakim Noah, he'll own you, your house, your block, your zipcode and county. Noah's relentless and he's starting to get his legs back under him from injury moment by moment. The stronger he gets, the tougher the Bulls are low. He even hit a mid-range jumper. If he gets back to full strength, the Bulls are a whole other animal because he can cover for Boozer's weaknesses. Speaking of Hibbert...
The starting frontline wasn’t as effective, combining for 6-24 shooting for 16 points and 12 rebounds. Roy Hibbert continued to have trouble settling into any kind of rhythm, and Tyler Hansbrough once again had trouble getting his midrange jumper to start falling again. Hansbrough did make some solid plays down the stretch, grabbing 4 of his 5 rebounds on the offensive glass.
via Chicago Bulls 88, Indiana Pacers 84: Pacers Play Tough Yet Again, But It's Still Not Enough to Avoid 3-0 Hole - Indy Cornrows.


Hibbert's problem is largely asserting himself into position, and maintaining it. Instead, he'll start a game strong, then totally vanish into the background for the rest of the game. Hibbert can neutralize the Bulls' biggest advantage in this series, or rather, could have, but simply chose to fade. Take the last Pacers possession for example. Hibbert drifted to 16 feet for a spot-up J, instead of attacking the glass for a tip-in. That's the difference in this series. It's not fair to put it all on one player, but in reality, Hibbert could have been the difference maker, and instead was just part of the scenery. 
Ultimately, once again, in the midst of what is, and always was, probably an un-winnable series in terms of talent, Game 3 showed shades of what Pacers fans should be excited about in the years to come. The Bulls as a cohesive team are so far beyond where the Pacers are right now that talking about the clutch stuff, the times when good teams loaded with talent truly separate themselves from those middling squads with some guts, isn’t all that relevant here.

Derrick did what no one on the Pacer is able to do. Granger isn’t capable of that stuff. And everyone else on this roster is so incapable of it that mentioning them by name isn’t even necessary.
via Pacers Drop Game 3 But Validate Playoff Berth.

They key for the Pacers is that they have a bunch of guys they hope will become that player, but no clear option A. And usually option A.'s are pretty apparent. Darren Collison seems like he might be able to, but it would take a pretty big jump. Danny Granger is no longer the young, developing raw player he once was. Hibbert we've covered. Tyler Hansbrough? No. So even though the Pacers have a great core, they miss that star player. Ask the Rockets how that works out long-term. 
Here was a scene from the postgame locker room that captured the essence of a team still fighting through an ungainly adolescence. Roy Hibbert, who just hasn't taken advantage of a good matchup with Joakim Noah in this series, stood in the corner and groused about how he wasn't getting the ball often enough in the low post.

Next to him, veteran Dahntay Jones sat in his chair and, overhearing Hibbert, shook his head.

"He's young,'' he said. "He'll learn. They'll all learn. It's a progression. But we've grown a lot these last few weeks.''

The lesson is, you can't complain about a lack of low-post touches when you shoot a mushy 3-for-12 and take zero free throws. Hibbert is the most likable personality on this team and has shown flashes, but he's got to be tougher if this team is going to break through in the years to come.
via Close might have to be good enough | The Indianapolis Star | indystar.com.

Dahntay Jones showed the kind of aggression Hibbert has needed this entire series, and didn't see time until tonight. He was the biggest reason the Pacers took the lead in the second half. You have to wonder why it took Vogel so long to go to a defensive wing with experience when he's been so willing to feed George to the wolves. Meanwhile, Hibbert wanting the ball is great. But he has to be more aggressive when he gets it. That 25 percent from the field is largely due to his hesitation in the post, waitin for help to come and Noah or Thomas to adjust. It can't be that hard for him to score. Dude's 7-2 for crying out loud. 
Rose can play better. But he can’t close better.

On a 4-for-18 night when his jumpshot wasn’t falling, when even his drives were rolling off the rim, he got to the free-throw line. And he made 13 of 15 foul shots.

‘‘Derrick’s going to work the game,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. ‘‘He’s not going to get discouraged. He missed some good looks, but you can count on him late. He went into an attack mode. He kept driving. He got to the line. He’s a tough competitor. He’s going to do whatever we need him to do.’’
via Another strong finish by Derrick Rose leaves Pacers frustrated - Chicago Sun-Times.

 Rose is eventually going to get worn down taking these hits and going to the rim over and over again. It's happened to every great player. He'll adjust and still be a great player, a transcendent one. But until then, even when Rose has a terrible game, you can count on his ability to get to the line. And if they don't foul him?

Series, blouses. 



Posted on: April 22, 2011 12:29 am
Edited on: April 22, 2011 12:49 am
 

NBA Playoffs Sixers-Heat: Too much Triad

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are good at basketball. Heat lead 3-0. The end. 
Posted by Matt Moore




It was a noble effort. It really was. The Philadelphia 76ers came out, again, on fire, and outscored the Heat by eight in the opening frame. They flirted with the lead all night after surrendering it in the second. But down the stretch, there simply wasn't enough. Too much Wade. Too much LeBron. Too much Heat. 

The Sixers got 20 points and 8 assists from Jrue Holiday. They got 21 points and 11 boards from Elton Brand. Spencer Hawes had 12 points. Jrue Holiday, Elton Brand, and Andre Iguodala each played 40 minutes, as coach Doug Collins shortened the rotation to try and put everything on the floor to get that one win. But the Sixers just couldn't stop Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. 

It sounds trite to point to the Triad as the reason for the Heat's win, but it holds here, as it did in Game 2. Like we said in the reset, Dwyane Wade was due for a breakout. He broke out. 32 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks. James also dominated, with 24 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal. Bosh added 19. That's 75 percent of the Heat's offense from the Triad. The Heat's defense, however, wasn't on point Thursday night, giving up a 113 defensive efficiency. But they slowed the game down again, converted on the rare transition opportunities, and attacked, attacked, attacked. The Heat had 48 points in the paint, compared to just 34 from the Sixers. The Heat didn't go for the homerun three much. They just attacked the rim relentlessly. 22 free throw attempts for Wade and James. The Sixers just couldn't keep up. 

The Heat have showed a lot in this series. It was a favorable matchup, but they also havn't shown the lack of focus they displayed in the regular season. Closing out the Sixers is remarkably different from trying to close out the Celtics -- their presumed second-round opponent -- but they have to start somewhere. And they're starting by looking like they're about to sweep Philadelphia back into the sea. Rest and recovery is important for a team as shallow as they are. They certainly look like they'll have an opportunity if the can finish the job in Game 4. 

Oh, and LeBron did this. 




Doug Collins put everything out to try and get the win. The Sixers were just outmatched. Some matchup problems have created issues for the Bulls and Celtics. The Sixers have posed no such threat. 

Oh, and all three teams have yet to lose a game in the playoffs. 

For Philly, it's got to be confusing. They only turned the ball over six times, and turned Miami over twice as much. They shot a decent 44 percent from the field. They shot 43 percent from three. They got contributions from unlikely sources, Jrue Holiday had a breakout, and they had a lead, again. It just wasn't enough. There was just no way to stop the Triad. 



"I'm 60 years old. I'm a moral person, but I don't like moral victories." 
Posted on: April 21, 2011 10:07 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 12:12 am
 

Bulls take 3-0 lead, but not on Rose's shoulders

Posted by Royce Young



It's a lesson every team learns at some point in the postseason. Your star simply cannot do it all. Someone else has to step up. It's just about the oldest playoff adage.

For the Bulls, Luol Deng was a no-brainer. But Kyle Korver? Kyle Korver is now the Bulls big shot taker and maker?

Korver knocked down two more massive 3s late in Chicago's 88-84 Game 3 win over the Pacers. During the three games, Korver is 7-8 from deep. In big moments, the Bulls space out, let Derrick Rose isolate and look for a kickout to Korver. Who would've thought that would be Chicago's best crunch-time option?

But without Korver (12) and Deng's (21) secondary scoring, the Bulls are long gone in this one. I'm not going to sugarcoat it -- Derrick Rose stunk. He went just 4-18 from the floor and 2-6 from 3. Once again, he attacked the rim mercilessly which got him to the line 15 times. Thirteen of those trips were makes, and he finished with 23 points, but Rose was far from excellent.

Rose's game will be overlooked because a) the Bulls won and b) he made the game-winning shot with 15 seconds left. But he just wasn't very good in this game. There's no way around it. Not only was he missing shots, but he turned the ball over five times and only had two assists. Fawn over his layup to win it if you will, but, please realize, Derrick Rose is not the reason Chicago won this game.

Really, it was kind of a solid explanation as to why some were anti-MVP with Rose. It wasn't at all about Rose's game as much as it was about Chicago's stifling defense. The Pacers, who are a solid scoring outfit, notched only 84 points on 37.9 percent shooting, including 1-10 from 3. This is a Pacer team that loves to fire the 3, and the fact they only made one says something about Chicago's perimeter defense.

Here's a small secret though: Rose has not shot the ball very well at all so far this postseason. He's shooting just 37.8 percent from the field and 4-20 from 3. Take away his free throw dominance and he goes from apparently dominating the series to being incredibly average. On top of that, his assist-to-turnover is 14 to 14. Not very good.

That sounds like a dig at Rose, but it's not intended to be. Without him, the Bulls aren't up 3-0. Not even close. But let's not get overly worked up about Rose's first-round performance here. He hit a big, late-game shot in Game 3, and scored 75 points in the first two games. He's been pretty good.

But the Bulls are winning because the Pacers have no idea how to execute in the fourth quarter, they can't rebound, Korver has been huge, and, tonight, Luol Deng stepped up. Keep in mind that this is a 37-win Pacer team against the best record in the NBA. Yes, the Bulls lead 3-0, but it's just by a combined 15 points. By no means is this panic talk from me, because I definitely don't believe in that stuff, especially when you're winning, but I don't think the Bulls or Rose would tell you they're happy about how these first three games have gone. I think they all expected more.

At the same time, it could be a good sign. To get major, key crunch-time performances from players not named Derrick is huge for Chicago. Especially when you picture a series versus Orlando or Miami. Korver is notorious for coming back to Earth after a great stretch of games, but just having that threat on the floor is big for Chicago. And, if Deng shows up like this consistently, between Rose and the defense, the Bulls will be fine.

Which is all that matters really. The Bulls have never claimed it to be pretty. They just give you results.
Posted on: April 21, 2011 4:19 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 4:51 pm
 

Blazers G Brandon Roy apologizes for comments

Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy apologized for emotional comments about his playing time following Game 2. Posted by Ben Golliver. brandon-roy

Following Portland's Game 2 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy expressed some frustration with his playing time, telling reporters that he nearly cried during the game because he only played eight minutes. Roy questioned why he was being subbed in after fellow reserves Rudy Fernandez and Patty Mills and said his pride was hurt by the treatment. 

On Wednesday, Blazers coach Nate McMillan did his best to stomp out the drama. "As I said to Brandon, there is nobody in this state, including Brandon, that [wants] Brandon on the floor as much as I do," McMillan told reporters at the team's Practice Facility. "[Tuesday] night was a rotation that I felt we wanted to get back to our first unit and I went to that rotation. Bottom line is making decisions on substitutions is going to be me making those decisions as far as what's best for the team."

At Thursday morning's shootaround, Roy apologized for his remarks, which drew a large outcry among Portland's fanbase. "Frustrations, emotions, I'm sitting there, whenever your team loses, I get upset," Roy said during an interview videotaped by OregonLive.com . "It was something that shouldn't have been said but I can't go back on it now. The biggest thing is, if I offended anybody by those comments, I apologize. It was just out of wanting to be out there and being down 0-2 leaving Dallas. It was hard." 

Roy said that he had met with McMillan but that the two hadn't spoken specifically about his comments. "Me and coach spoke. We'll be fine. It's the NBA, sometimes you have outbursts, you have to overcome those things and come together." 

The issue also apparently hadn't been discussed among the Blazers as a whole. "We haven't talked about it," Roy explained. "The guys, we came in and watched film yesterday, I think everybody's focus is how can we beat Dallas. This is a minor distraction. We've got to get ready to beat Dallas and not make any excuses."

The former All-Star guard backed off his statements concerning the rotation, saying that those decisions are McMillan's to make. "I think he should go with what he feels is going to be right," Roy said. "If he's comfortable with a lineup being out there, I'm ok with having to be on the bench. I was just emotional last time and maybe I shouldn't have said nothing. But if that happens tonight then I won't be complaining about it."

For his part, McMillan said the comments and ensuing reaction won't affect his rotation decisions or his handling of Roy. "He's going to play his role which is coming off the bench and we will see," McMillan said. "There wasn't any minutes promised or anything like that. All of our guys want to play minutes. Like I said, I'm trying to put this team in position, and I've talked to the team about that, to win games."

Roy's focus for Game 3 is on making the most out of his playing time regardless of how many minutes he is given. "I've got to try to produce a little bit faster," Roy said. "I've always been somewhat of a slow starter in my career, I usually start off slow and pick it up. I've got to change that tonight, start off a little faster, be a little more aggressive and then if I don't play that much, I've got to be OK with it and then I'll always continue to support my teammates if I am on the sideline."

Roy is averaging one point, one rebound and 1.5 assists in 17 minutes per game in the playoff series. Dallas leads Portland, 2-0.
Posted on: April 21, 2011 4:13 pm
 

Noah: Hansbrough is not a dirty player

Joakim Noah understands why Tyler Hansbrough is fouling Derrick Rose hard, says he's not a dirty player. It's not cool, but, you know, it's cool.
Posted by Matt Moore




Joakim Noah has a habit of not getting along with tough power forwards. Kevin Garnett, for example, Noah pegged as "mean." But Tyler Hansbrough, who took som flak from Chicago players and fans after delivering a hard foul to Derrick Rose in Game 2, doesn't think that "the 'Brough" qualifies as a dirty player. Although he is willing to add doubt as to Psycho T's (worst nickname ever) hygeine. From ESPN Chicago: 
When asked before Thursday morning's shootaround if Hansbrough is a dirty player, Noah said: "Like dirty as in he doesn't take showers?"

It's obvious Noah doesn't believe Hansbrough is a cheap shot artist.

"I don't think so," he said. "I just think it's the way the game's played right now. It's just the way it goes. Nothing easy to the basket. And when you have a little point guard going in there every time the way Derrick's going in, you don't want to be on a highlight reel, so you've got to give a hard foul. It's just the way of the game. Sometimes, yeah, it's frustrating because you never want Derrick getting hit like that, but it is the name of the game right now."
via Noah: Hansbrough not a dirty player - Chicago Bulls Blog - ESPN Chicago.

Hansbrough looks pretty shiny, but that could be grease from not showering, I suppose. It's nice that Noah's reasonable about the fouls being given to Rose. If you're going to go the basket every single time with relentless intensity and brilliant finishing ability, the NBA is going to foul you hard. That's how this whole playoffs thing works. And were Rose on the other side, it would be Joakim Noah delivering those kinds of fouls, and not feeling bad about it. 

Because it sure as heck wouldn't be Boozer giving them. He might try, but it would only result in an and-one highlight reel. And yelling. Lots of yelling. 

That said, it's not like the Pacers have really hacked at Rose all that much. To do so would mean they would have to catch up to him first. And in general, even when he's running right at them, they seem unable to get a lock on him as he spins around and scores again and again. We'll have to see if Noah continues to have this attitude when it's Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, or ... Joel Anthony (?) sending Rose to the floor as the playoffs advance. 
Posted on: April 21, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 4:21 pm
 

Are the Nuggets fading and is Smith ready to go?

Posted by Royce Young



Maybe hearing the "94 percent of teams down 0-2 end up losing" stat last night shook the Nuggets a bit. Who knows. But they definitely have taken a pretty big blow to their confidence. A team that had bonded together and rode some serious us-against-everyone swagger post-Melo seems to be losing some steam.

Last night's whipping dealt to them by the Thunder certainly doesn't help, but postgame, there was a clear change in the way the team spoke and acted, starting at the top with George Karl. In his postgame comments, Karl was very quiet and let out a statement I found interesting.

"For me, it's Saturday night. We've got to worry about Saturday night. Win that game. Thinking about other stuff is goofy. Two days is good enough time to regroup and re-energize and get our confidence back in to a better place."

It's really just that last phrase that stuck out. Karl seemed to admit the team's confidence has been rattled. It's a little hard to blame them tough. In the past 20 days, his team has dropped four games to the Thunder by an average margin of 10.7 points. Plus one of them coming in their building.

Add to that J.R. Smith today via Ben Hochman of the Denver Post :

The Nuggets had a team meeting on Thursday and Smith said the team didn't have "a pulse" as they regrouped at Pepsi Center.

"Just frustration, just really didn't have any life in there," Smith said. "No one was really into it."

Smith though was either so downtrodden about the psyche of the team or the fact he didn't play in the second half last night (or both) that he made a bold statement that he wouldn't be coming back to the Nuggets next year.

"There's a strong possibility as of right now," Smith told the Denver Post. "It's not going the way I planned it to go. It's a tough situation. I want to be here, I love the fans and everything about the city. It's just maybe not my fit."

Now I realize you can't necessarily take things J.R. Smith says to heart, because he's J.R. Smith but his comments today really kind of followed up the feeling I got last night. Momentum and confidence are about two of the most important things there are when it comes to postseason basketball. A belief in yourself, your team, your gameplan and your ability to win in any circumstance is vital. It's the lifeblood to winning in the playoffs.

And a lot of that seemed to change when Kendrick Perkins was gifted two points in Game 1. Karl admitted he should've called a timeout because his team was rattled by the no call. Since that moment, the Nuggets haven't looked like themselves. There's probably being more made about this than is actually real, but the Nuggets have some of their players beat up and two of their best scorers dropped duds in Game 2 (Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari were a combined 3-14 for 11 points).

Perkins talked last night about taking it to an opponent when it's down. He was referring to the 26-point lead, but I think it applies just as much to OKC's 2-0 one.

"That's the time you're supposed to just start smelling blood and keep going. I think when you're up by that many points that's the time you're supposed to step on their throats and not give them a chance and go up 'bout 40 or 50. I ain't been there before and I know what team's are capable of doing. It just takes one 10-0 run or one 15-0 run and they're right back in the game."

Give the Nuggets a game and you're going to find a team that's re-discovered its confidence. You're going to find a team ready to fight again and one that has a pulse. The Nuggets that rattled off all those wins post-Melo was one that had swagger, confidence and belief in each other oozing out of their ears.

The Thunder has the enemy down right now. As Perk said, time to stomp on their face, or something. Give Denver a game and you're about to give them a series too.
 
 
 
 
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