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NBA 2016-2017 Season Thread - Page 1292

post #19366 of 27665
but his "off-court issues" didn't at all warrant a drop to the 5th pick of the draft. dude is dominant, closest thing to shaq since shaq, and everyone agreed he had the talent to go #2 at the lowest.

the fact that he's achieved being such an incredible player in sacramento (a continued bastion of mismanagement, poor chemistry, ownership volatility, lack of team identity) only underscores how dumb it was that the teams above the 5th pick didn't take in. as in: if he's done so well in sactown, he could easily have done this anywhere.
post #19367 of 27665
You have a short memory, man. As early as last year the Grantland columnists were writing about there being "universal agreement" around the sportswriter world that he was a negative to his team. The knocks were that he had a bad attitude to his team and was defiant of authority (already suspended by the Kings multiple times in his career), hothead who gets distracted by going after referees and individual opponents, and lazy on defense and in executing an offensive scheme. Obviously he's put it together since then, but the above player doesn't even sound like he's worthy of that 5th pick
post #19368 of 27665
Is David Blatt about to be fired?
post #19369 of 27665
Originally Posted by diadem View Post

Is David Blatt about to be fired?

Ha, it does sound shaky! No center, and 2 of the big-three do not play defense, does not bode well for any coach, though.
post #19370 of 27665
Originally Posted by SirGrotius View Post

....and 2 of the big-three do not play defense..

Watching LeBron in the games I've seen him, it's more like 2 and a half of the big-three do not play defense.
post #19371 of 27665
Thread Starter 
Russys gon' Russ!
For better or worse, it's Westbrook late

DALLAS -- Late in the third quarter, Serge Ibaka splashed a 3-p[ointer from the left corner and let out what best can be described as a combination of a strut and a shimmy -- a shtrummy? -- making sure to leave his right hand held high. Ibaka was feeling it, and himself.

Three possessions later, Ibaka did it again, this time from the other corner, his 46th 3-pointer on the season, one more than he has made from deep his previous five seasons combined. It put Ibaka at 24 points after three quarters, on a smoldering 10-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3.

The Oklahoma City Thunder led the Dallas Mavericks 88-81.

Ibaka sat at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and his next shot didn't come until 5:45 was left in the game, giving him a season-high 26 on 11-of-14. That shot? It came in transition, a lob from Russell Westbrook that Ibaka laid in on the break, putting the Thunder up by four. It was his last shot attempt of the game.

The Thunder lost to the Mavericks 112-107.

What happened in between? Russell Westbrook happened, for better and for worse.

It was the quintessential Westbrook performance, the total Russ experience. Brilliant, breathtaking playmaking. Dumb, head-scratching decisions. Fearless scoring. Forced shots. Overwhelming, jaw-dropping athleticism. Narrow-minded, crunch-time tunnel vision. Competitive spirit, and self-combustion.

His final line tells the roller-coaster story best: 18 points, but on 6 of-23 shooting. Nine rebounds, nine assists and five steals, but with five turnovers and five fouls.

"He didn't shoot the ball well," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He made some tough decisions, but he competed. He put us in a position to have a chance to win this game."

Brooks uses those two words a lot in describing Westbrook's crunchtime choices -- "tough decisions" -- which I think is code for, "He did some things I didn't like."

But there's no question Brooks is right about the last part; Westbrook gave the Thunder a chance. Without Kevin Durant for a sixth straight game, the mercurial All-Star point guard was as electric as erratic, scoring back-to-back buckets to give the Thunder the lead with four minutes left. But as the world turns with him, the next possession ended with a turnover and Westbrook briefly losing his head to foul Dirk Nowitzki some 90 feet from the basket with the Mavs in the bonus. Nowitzki hit both, giving the Mavs a two-point lead, which they increased to four after a Thunder turnover.

Reggie Jackson hit a 3 out of a broken play to get the Thunder back within one. They got a stop, but Westbrook hurried up the floor searching for a sliver of space to fire a flailing 15-footer that caught nothing but the cool American Airlines Center air. He then lost Rajon Rondo on a backcut layup, missed a driving layup, fouled Dirk again, then turned the ball over the next four possessions.

As Brooks said, the Thunder don't even have the opportunity to screw up crunch time without Westbrook's inspired play. But here's the issue, and why his critics are provided such consistent, albeit annoying, ammunition: You don't win close games in the first three quarters. You make or break it in the fourth.

A constant theme for the Thunder has been their late-game offense, which is notoriously unimaginative. One action -- two at most -- with the fallback being a ball-handler creating a shot for himself or someone else. Some of the simplicity is intentional, because a lack of imagination also gives their best players license to operate in their preferred environment: improvisational, instinctual, one-on-one freelancing basketball. When Westbrook and Durant are tag-teaming the final few minutes, the possessions might not always be pretty, but if the ball remains in one of their hands -- most often Durant's -- there's a good chance that supreme ability will trump simplistic execution.

Without Durant, though, Westbrook sees it as his place to go solo. That's not a product of inherent selfishness, it's simple mathematics. The Thunder rely on two guys in crunch time. Two minus one equals one (plus four other guys standing around). There's a unspoken lack of trust, with the ball finding a way to stick in select hands. It's not unique to only the Thunder that the offense changes in close games late. It's a natural thing in basketball. When things get tight, you want to end possessions with your best players making the plays. Except the Thunder seem to scrap a lot of the playbook, leaving a player like Ibaka, who on this given night was cooking, a constant decoy as Westbrook assumes command.

"Yeah, we've got the same plays," Westbrook said of the fourth-quarter offense. "We can't switch plays. The first, the second and the third, the plays don't change. Can't change the plays."

It's true the Thunder are running their stuff in the fourth, but it's pretty obvious there's a different mentality to the way they're executing.

Ibaka averages 10.1 shot attempts the first three quarters this season, and gets only 2.6 in the fourth. His usage percentage dips from more than 20, to 16.9. Westbrook on the other hand? His usage percentage goes from 38.5 to an eye-popping 41.3 in the fourth quarter, and he takes more shots per 100 possessions than any other quarter. It's a simple question: Why can't the Thunder get Ibaka shots late in games?

"I don't know," Westbrook said flatly. "We've just got to see what sets and see what's going on and see what's our advantages."

Ibaka remains diplomatic about it, resisting any urge to call for more crunch-time shots. He knows his role on the team, and is willing to ride along on the Russell roller-coaster just like everyone else.

"My first job always is defense with this team," he said. "Some games I'm going to shoot 15 [times], so I don't really worry about my shots. All I can do is keep working and be ready for the opportunities when they come."

You can't place Westbrook in the confines of an overly structured offense. It would be like buying a Lamborghini and driving only in school zones. To get the great you have to deal with the bad. Westbrook has won the Thunder a lot more games than he has lost. His great is so great that it overwhelms the three or four minutes of bad.

It's just the bad moments tend to come at the worst moments, the parts of the game when winning and losing often reside on a knife edge. It's about choices, and Westbrook is willing to admit he made a number of wrong ones Sunday against the Mavs. And in the interim, without Durant to mediate, Westbrook has more to make than he's used to.
post #19372 of 27665
post #19373 of 27665
Originally Posted by diadem View Post

Is David Blatt about to be fired?

I really really hope they stick with him until his contract is up. Remember all the doubting of spoelstra? There's been a few head scratching decisions like high hedges with fairly immobile bigs when they could do a more conservative scheme but in general when the players are actually running the sets at least on offense it's so fun to watch. I love that weave play cavs and Warriors use

I feel like cavs are mavs of the east
post #19374 of 27665
post #19375 of 27665
Boogie Cousins absolutely put Mason Plumlee on a poster last night...and then he let Plumlee flush one home on the next possession...
post #19376 of 27665
Thread Starter 
Report: LeBron James won't hesitate to leave Cavs if 'hand is forced'

With the Cleveland Cavaliers off to an 18-12 start that isn't exactly blowing people away with championship dreams this season, David Blatt has been under a lot of scrutiny in his rookie season as an NBA coach. His team isn't defending, as expected, and there doesn't seem to be a lot of chemistry on the court with the three big stars there. Combine the early struggles with LeBron James' looming free agency in the next year or two as he finagles the incoming television money and new collective bargaining agreement, and there's a bit of pressure to get things right in Cleveland.

According to Chris B. Haynes of, the pressure to keep James happy is real because he won't hesitate to depart from Cleveland again if "his hand is forced." LeBron reportedly doesn't want to waste his prime years on a sputtering team in Cleveland that isn't really building toward a championship.
There is immense pressure to keep The King happy.

James, who turns 30 today, has no intention of compromising his prime years playing for a sputtering organization. He can opt out of his contract at the end of the season and become a free agent.

Given the massive scrutiny he would endure if he departed Cleveland a second time, if his hand is forced, I'm told he won't hesitate to make the appropriate business decision if it means bolting.

It's hard to believe LeBron would actually leave the Cavs a second time. He received so much scrutiny the first time he did it (primarily with the way he did it), and going through that again after the fanfare of how he returned to Cleveland despite having been to four straight NBA Finals with the Miami Heat seems unlikely. But we've seen LeBron endure this type of bad public opinion before and know he's mentally prepared to do it if he needed to.

This notion that he'd leave the Cavs if his "hand is forced" is coming in an article about how the Cavs need to play for David Blatt and prove they're a team. It's all true too. Unless LeBron asks Dan Gilbert to drop the hammer on Blatt's coaching stint with the Cavs, they're not going to replace their coach this season. And this season was always about gelling and finding a way to build toward the next championship run of LeBron's career. You can't win championships in November and December.

The fact that this is out there now puts even more pressure on the organization, even if it's not coming from LeBron. It's not that this team isn't dominating games but the way they're not dominating games. The offense is good but disjointed. The defense is bad -- really, really bad. Again, that's to be expected with this group that was tossed together in a couple of months and asked to have title aspirations right away. We've seen new teams struggled early on time after time when put together.

Even if we don't totally believe LeBron would leave the Cavs a second time, the looming free agency does act as a shot clock on the next season or two, even if it's not as serious as the game clock. They've got to figure it out one way or another because you don't want to have this experiment fail in a lack of titles once again.
post #19377 of 27665
Thread Starter 
Cherry picking fail

post #19378 of 27665
For such a savvy ball player and "businessman" Lebron didn't see this coming? Well, actually he did because he talked about not expecting to be immediately what changed?

We had a big discussion before, and I still maintain that while it was probably a stretch for him to be favored to win a title again in Miami, Cleveland wasn't necessarily any better, because of the gaps mentioned in RFX's quote, and the fact that the Cavs are a dysfunctional organization at best
post #19379 of 27665
post #19380 of 27665
That's been pointed out so many times. It's incredible how the knicks still take 10 seconds to get in the triangle position and the pg passes to the wing considering that's how pretty much every set starts
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