Tag:2011 First Round
Posted on: April 21, 2011 4:19 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 4:51 pm
Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy apologized for emotional comments about his playing time following Game 2. Posted by Ben Golliver.
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
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?"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
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.
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.
Tags: 2011 First Round, 2011 NBA Playoff Previews, 2011 NBA Playoffs, 2011 Nuggets-Thunder, 2011 Playoffs, 2011 Thunder-Nuggets, 2011 WC First Round, 2011 WC First-Round, Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets, George Karl, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Durant, Nene, Oklahoma City Thunder, Raymond Felton, Russell Westbrook, Scott Brooks, Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler
Posted on: April 21, 2011 3:28 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 4:31 pm
The Trail Blazers hope to avoid going down 3-0 to the Dallas Mavericks as the series shifts to Portland. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Dirk Nowitzki did it again in Game 2, scoring the last 11 Mavericks points as Dallas blew the Portland Trail Blazers out of the water down the stretch for the second time in as many games. Portland's defense was a step slow or a step out of place all night, and Dallas carved it up late, scoring 28 points in the final period. Dallas's depth advantage was crucial, as Portland played a six-man rotation (plus 19 combined minutes for Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez) while Dallas got minutes and contributions from nine guys. As a result, the veteran Mavericks have looked more cohesive and more energetic on both ends, and have simply dominated the late-game scenarios.
Portland is reeling: trailing 0-2 in the series, trying to tamp down drama caused by an emotional and frustrated Roy and, more than anything, still searching for a way to stop Nowitzki with the game on the line. The Blazers walked off the court following Game 2 with an air of frustration and exhaustion. Will they show up re-energized for Game 3? If not, the prospect of an embarrassing and unexpected sweep lingers. That would represent a step backwards for this club, and could lead to some serious roster re-tooling over the next 12 months. In other words, everyone currently on the team that wants to remain on this team should have a bit of extra motivation.
Portland's hopes for turning things around and avoiding what would be an insurmountable 0-3 deficit start with their return to the Rose Garden. The Blazers were 30-11 at home this year, including two wins over the Mavericks. They swept their last seven home games against Western Conference playoff teams (Nuggets, Mavericks, Spurs, Thunder, Mavericks, Lakers, Grizzlies). Many of the wins featured strong late-game play, particularly on the defensive end, something the Blazers haven't yet shown in this series.
The buzzword is energy, though, the kind Portland brought early in Game 2 but which disappeared in the second half. Forward Gerald Wallace, guard Wesley Matthews and reserve forward Nicolas Batum all have shown the ability to up their game by feeding off the home crowd. They'll need to, as none of those guys has convincingly won their match-ups yet in this series.
As mentioned, the Blazers went 7-0 in their final seven home games against Western Conference playoff teams. In those games, Portland won by an average margin of five points, yet shot the same field goal percentage (46%) as their opponents, shot worse from the three-point line (35.8% to 38.5%) and averaged just two more trips to the free throw line. Was this a matter of Portland's vaunted offensive rebounding carrying the day? Nope. The Blazers were out-rebounded, on average, 41-38 and gave up more offensive rebounds than they corralled.
So if the Blazers were shooting worse, rebounding less and getting to the free throw line just two extra times per game, how did they manage to win all seven games by such a wide margin? Turnovers.
Portland's slow-down pace and focus on ball control gave Portland a +2.6 turnover differential on the season (Portland averaged 12.4 turnovers while its opponents averaged 15.0). During the closing 7-0 stretch, that already strong differential doubled to +5.2 (Portland averaged 9.4 turnovers while its opponents averaged 14.6).
Blazers coach Nate McMillan likes to call possessions "bullets". Dallas tied its season-low by committing just six turnovers in Game 2. The best way for Portland to keep pace with Dallas's offensive-efficiency machine is to have a significantly larger magazine in Game 3 -- just as they did to close the season against the West's best teams.
One player who is both capable of creating turnovers and cashing in on them is Fernandez, who has done nothing of note yet in this series, averaging 3.5 points and making just one three-pointer over the first two games. Fernandez, frankly, has been a disappointment in his third season. Other than selling a few t-shirts with his inane three-goggles routine, it's been all bad. His outside shooting has fallen off a cliff (a career-low 32.1% from deep) and he's failed to show any meaningful progression in other aspects of his offensive game.
Still, while he's not blowing anyone away this season, Fernandez does play significantly better at home, where he averages 10.0 points, shoots 39.3% from the field and 35.1% from deep. On the road, those numbers slide to 7.2 points, 34.6% from the field and 28.9% from three-point range. He also plays five more minutes a game at home, a sign that his energy level and impact is greater, as Blazers coach Nate McMillan is a bit of a juggler when it comes to managing his second unit.
Dallas's bench outscored Portland's 39-11 in Game 2, and most of the talk surrounding those numbers has centered on Roy, who brought it upon himself by expressing dismay at his lack of playing time in Game 2. But Roy represents only one-half of Portland's bench problem. Fernandez, obviously, is the other. To win Game 3, the Blazers will need Fernandez to help put a dent in that bench scoring differential, or they are left to pray for a monster night from Roy. The dream scenario is for both to happen on the same night.
The Sticking Point:
Portland faces such an uphill battle because Dallas's scoring balance has stretched Portland past its breaking point. With Jason Kidd and Peja Stojakovic providing more than enough from the outside to complement Dirk Nowitzki, the Blazers defense has looked a bit like someone playing wack-a-mole for the first time. The sleeping giant remains guard Jason Terry, who has taken on more of a play-making role while averaging 10 points per game in the series, six below his season average. If Portland begins to throw more double teams at Nowitzki -- which would make sense, given his dominance -- Terry is the likely No. 2 man to step up late for Dallas. And he's more than capable of winning a tight game with his jumper.
Posted on: April 21, 2011 2:21 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 2:22 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The Narrative: So close. I mean so, so close for the Pacers. They would probably trade T.J. Ford and a bag of money to be bringing back a tied series to Indianpolis, but they weren't far off from holding a 2-0 lead. Instead, things are exactly where we expected. Down 2-0 to the superior Bulls, it's pretty obvious that the Pacers have to win this game. It would be a pretty substantial victory for Indiana to take one playoff win with them to the offseason, but this feels like a sweep if it doesn't happen tonight.
The Hook: Will Darren Collison play? He's a game-time decision as it stands now, but if Indiana wants any legitimate shot, they need a healthy Collison. He adds so much and not just in terms of solid point guard play. Collison is a scorer, a creator, a defender and a leader for the Pacers.
He's not the type of player that will take over a game by any means, but it's more a function of process of elimination for the Pacers. Subtract Collison and that means it's all A.J. Price, all the time. Indiana's just not winning if that happens.
The Adjustment: Here's something: rebound the darn ball. The Bulls have completely crushed Indiana on the glass in the first two games. The Bulls haven't been that great offensively, but because of 41 offensive rebounds, the Bulls have had plenty of extra opportunities to let Derrick Rose kill the Pacers. I don't see an adjustment coming for Indiana in this department mainly because the Pacers just don't have the horses inside to compete on the boards with Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah.
The Bulls are much better than the Pacers already but any time a team is getting 20 offensive boards in a game, it's near impossible to win. And yet there the Pacers were in both games. If they can keep the rebounding margin to 10 and limit the Bulls on the offensive glass, maybe there's a chance.
The X-Factor: The Pacers are going to be searching for one tonight. That's the best way underdogs win is because someone unexpected elevates their game and has a big night. In Game 1, the Pacers almost pulled off the win because of Tyler Hansbrough. But he was a non-factor in Game 2.
Who is the prime candidate to possibly make a difference tonight? How about Roy Hibbert, who has been a bit inconsistent so far in this series? The Pacers want to beat you by outshooting you on the perimeter, but what makes them pretty solid is when Hibbert has things working inside. He's good enough to score on Noah one-on-one, but he hasn't been able to get going and the Pacers sort of stopped looking for him in both games. Indiana has failed to execute late and the best medicine for that are easy baskets and Hibbert can give you those.
I'll throw out Paul George as a potential impact player too just because he's done well defending Rose in stretches. And with the way the Bulls are operating, if you can stop Rose, you can win.
The Sticking Point: It's really hard to get past the fact that it just feels like Indiana missed its opportunity. The Bulls aren't going to continue to coast for long. They are plain and simple much better than the Pacers. And they have Derrick Rose, which is quite the trump card in itself.
Lose tonight and it's time to start thinking about the draft. You're not digging yourself out of a 2-0 hole most likely anyway, but you're definitely not coming out of a 3-0 one against Rose and Tom Thibodeau. If the Pacers have any thought to try and get back to Chicago for one more game, they have to take this one. Just doesn't feel very likely though.
Posted on: April 21, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 2:01 pm
Can the Sixers make this a series or is Miami just too much for Philadelphia? First two games don't paint a rosy picture for the Sixers.
Posted by Matt Moore
The Narrative: It doesn't take a genius to tell you this is a must-win for Philadelphia. A loss and you can fold up the tents, carnies, the circus is leaving town. That's pretty obvious. There are things less likely than the Sixers charging back from an 0-3 deficit to even make the Heat sweat (see what I did there?). They just happen to include a colossal burrito devouring all life on earth and people on the internet learning to live in peace and harmony. It ain't happening. Philly had some things going right in Game 1, but Game 2 came along and sucked all hope in to a vaccumous black hole of defensive rotations and LeBron James dunking all the time. But, they'll be in front of the home crowd, as underwhelming as they may be, and this is their best chance to surprise some people and put the series into a little bit of doubt. We've seen nothing from Philadelphia to suggest that, should they lose this game, their spirit won't be crushed and the brooms won't be brought to the table.
The Hook : Chris Bosh went off in Game 1. LeBron James dominated in Game 2. Is it Dwyane Wade's turn? Jodie Meeks has done a surprisingly good job in this series chasing Wade, from baseline to baseline, through screens, and contesting as much as possible. Wade's still having a good series because he's a very good player, but Meeks has done pretty well. In a game where you have to think the Sixers will start doubling Bosh and James, more, Wade may have a monster game. There's going to have to be help from the corners to James on the drive and Bosh in the post, and while it would be great to think the Sixers would bring help from a non-Big-3 defender, they haven't shown a willingness to be so brash as to leave one of the supporting players wide open much. They did some of that early in Game 1, when, if you'll notice, they were winning, but got away from it when the Heat started to overload one side with the Triad. If Bosh and James are willing passers, Wade's going to have a good chance at getting free, and that's when the havoc starts.
The Adjustment: Before we got started, a key to this series was Philadelphia's ability to force the Miami offense out of the pick and roll and into more ISO sets. If they can slow the Heat down and put them in ISO, Miami may try and do too much individually and they choke themselves out on bad fadeaways and blown layups. Instead, in Game 2, the Heat had a 3-1 ratio of Pick and Roll to ISO sets. The Sixers must shut down the pick and roll and force the Heat into ISO or spot-up situations. There are some teams you can't do this against, they'll just keep hammering you with the P'n'R. The Heat, though, will succumb to the effort and go solo if you make it too difficult for them to run. Spencer Hawes, Marreese Speights, and Elton Brand have to show effectively on the ball handler to back him off or at least wheel him back enough for help to rotate over, and then they must recover against Bosh in the pick and pop for the mid-range. If it sounds like a lot for Philly to do? Well, that's why they're the underdog and the seventh seed.
The X-Factor: Evan Turner? The No.2 overall pick who didn't even play down the stretch for Philly in favor of the always-terrible Andres Nocioni had some big plays in Game 2. Yes it was a blowout, but looking at what the Sixers accomplished with Turner in to stretch the floor, you have to wonder if Turner doesn't deserve more run. Putting in a point-forward lineup with Turner, Iguodala, and Young to work the inside and outside might be creative enough to counter the Triad for a spell. So far, Doug Collins hasn't used such a lineup much, but when he has, it's been effective. There's no reason not to try it in Game 3 or 4, after all, it's time to throw the kitchen-sink at them.
The Sticking Point: Miami is better. They are just way better in every matchup, because of the brute strength of the Triad covering up the weaknesses of the others. Usually I'm an advocate that a few key adjustments can turn the series. But Philly threw a lot of their arsenal at the Heat in Game 1, and in Game 2, were totally steamrolled by a Heat team that expected them. It's really hard to see how Philly's going to get out of this hole.
Posted on: April 21, 2011 12:56 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Darren Collison is a game-time decision for the Pacers after participating in the morning shootaround according to the Chicago Tribune.
Collison sprained his ankle stepped on the foot of a cameraman in the first half of Game 2. He came out of the locker room and tried to warm up for the second half but was forced to shut it down for the night.
His presence is very much needed for the Pacers as they head to Indianpolis down 0-2. The Pacers don't have a lot of solid depth behind him and as one of their primary scorers as well as primary creator, Collison is vital in getting the Pacer offense in gear.
The Pacer are climbing an uphill battle regardless of if Collison plays or not, but without him, things are much more difficult. Indiana has come close in both the games in Chicago, but if the Pacers are to actually make a series of this, they'll need a healthy Collison.
Posted on: April 21, 2011 3:32 am
Edited on: April 21, 2011 4:09 am
The Los Angeles Lakers evened their first round series with the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Championship teams can beat you at their game, and they can beat you at your game, too.
The Los Angeles Lakers looked like a genuine contender for the first time in a few weeks on Wednesday, downing the New Orleans Hornets in fairly ugly fashion, 87-79, to even their first-round series, 1-1. Only the Portland Trail Blazers played at a slower pace than New Orleans this season, and the out-gunned Hornets are happy to muck around in a low-scoring, sloppy setting when facing the longer, more athletic and more talented Lakers. With Kobe Bryant having an off night -- 11 points on 3-10 shooting -- and Pau Gasol continuing to do his Invisible Man routine -- eight points and five rebounds -- Wednesday was the rare night. If was a night in which Andrew Bynum became L.A.'s headliner.
The biggest man on the court was the obvious difference-maker, showing up huge in the box score and the game plan. And Bynum's contributions were especially valuable on a night when both teams combined to commit 29 turnovers, and were whistled for 42 fouls that led to 54 free throws.
For a center, owning the paint comes down to finishing at the rim and clearing the defensive glass in traffic. That was Bynum's Modus operandi in Game 2, after proving in Game 1 that no one on the Hornets' undersized roster can really handle his strength and bulk in the post.
On Wednesday, the Lakers smartly exploited that fact, turning to Bynum regularly in the halfcourt set. Bynum scored 17 points on 8-11 shooting and had Emeka Okafor in early foul trouble again. Bynum was also the reason that many New Orleans possessions went one shot and done, as he gathered in 10 defensive rebounds and helped hold the New Orleans' bigs (Okafor, Carl Landry, Aaron Gray, Jason Smith, D.J. Mbenga, Jason Smith) to just five combined offensive boards in 93 minutes.
Bynum showed comfort away from the basket on both ends, too. On offense, he stepped out to hit a few jumpers of varied length. If developed, that's a dimension to his game that could make him lethal. On defense, meanwhile, he ran regularly at Hornets point guard Chris Paul, especially late, contesting shots and walling off the court. Taking up space, but doing it with a bit of grace. His ability to step out when needed, and then return to the boards, impacted a number of scrums and, by the fourth quarter, it was clear that the Hornets bigs were worn down and simply not competing as hard as he was. Bynum's defensive numbers -- two blocks and one steal -- don't do his impact justice.
Pro Basketball Talk quoted Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Bynum's night.
“We know that [Bynum] is the one that plays well against this team because of his size,” Phil Jackson said after the game. “He really carries things pretty well, so we’re confident in him having a good game … we think he can play at an even higher level than this.”Jackson's right. Bynum is still scratching the surface of his potential, mostly because he's so far down the normal offensive pecking order. Bynum scored 20+ points just once this season. Could he average 20 points per game next year if he was on a team that needed him to be the go-to scoring option, and he stayed healthy enough to play big minutes? I don't see why not.
That team isn't yet the Lakers, but it could be in a few years. Bynum's evident maturity -- there's a lot less pouting these days -- makes imagining his future a tantalizing project. How much higher a level can Bynum reach? Who knows. But he looked like the NBA's best center not named Dwight Howard on Wednesday. If he continues to play at this level, pencil the Lakers into the Western Conference Finals.