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NBA Season 2020 - RIP Mamba

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10 hours ago, Rhom said:

Kept trying to force the ball to Korver for some reason.

Pretty sure Korver missed literally every clutch shot he took when he played for the Cavs.  It was painful.

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1 hour ago, Tywin et al. said:

I'm not sure where I'd rank the Rockets among the good teams, but I'd rank them really high on you have no idea how they're coming out. They have an overwhelming offense, that despite having a public plan, switches up all the time and can be both fun to watch and the worst thing ever to watch. And their defense is still.....yikes. They have the highest variance of any team that can actually win.

Absolutely. They look so bad sometimes and completely dominant when they get going.

A lot depends on how much contact the refs allow them, when they call it tight, it's much harder for their defense to generate the turnovers they need and to keep the rebounding disadavantage within reasonable limits.

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3 hours ago, David Selig said:

Bucks helped off Westbrook way too much. There were times they were triple-teaming Westbrook on his drives and leaving corner 3s completely open.

Groans.......that has to stop!

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44 minutes ago, David Selig said:

Absolutely. They look so bad sometimes and completely dominant when they get going.

A lot depends on how much contact the refs allow them, when they call it tight, it's much harder for their defense to generate the turnovers they need and to keep the rebounding disadavantage within reasonable limits.

Yep, and that's what also can also make them look so bad at times while still actually crushing the other team. It's so frustrating that Harden at times can have such a beautiful game and at others just be awful to watch, and that's on both ends. He's not actually a bad defender, he just doesn't play it, but his usage rate is so high, and he's not exactly an elite physical athlete, so you can at least understand why he slacks off a lot. 

The Rockets are a B version of the Warriors, and while they have a truly great player, they don't have one, let alone two, generational type players. You can't copy something that can't exactly be replicated. Frankly that's why the Bucks were wise to build a super long team that's really different with the hopes of changing the mold.

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Harden's been pretty good defensively in most games this season IMO, that switch everything scheme the Rockets ran now is suits him, he's probably the best post defender among all guards in the league.

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Well, I was really looking forward to Rockets-Bucks and it was worth it! Really fun game to watch and my team won! Always a bonus.

6 hours ago, David Selig said:

I think Bud outsmarted himself in this game, the Bucks stuck to their gameplan too rigidly which is really not well suited for the small ball Rockets. As usual they tried to prevent layups at all costs but the Rockets are completely fine with it, they will just kick the ball out and chuck 3s all night and never get discouraged even if they miss 10 in a row. The Bucks helped off Westbrook way too much. There were times they were triple-teaming Westbrook on his drives and leaving corner 3s completely open.

Still, it was a close game which could have easily been won by the Bucks, the Rockets had an unusually low number of turnovers too.

I agree with you on this. Lopez punking some shorter defenders in the post is all well and good, but if he's sagging into the paint and allowing his man an open 3 pointer anytime he wants it's probably not a net positive. I know walling off the paint is kind of their thing, but when your opponent is playing five out you have to adapt a little. Westbrook was making good decisions tonight, but a lot of that was that the Bucks made the decisions easy for him by selling out to stop him at the rim so much.

Rockets went 21/61 from three, which is right around their season average - I think that's pretty sustainable if even a little low (the quality of the looks they were getting was off the charts). So I feel like what they did on that end was sustainable. Rockets have been decent at keeping the turnovers down since going ultra-small, but it did feel like the Bucks missed having Bledsoe around to be a bit of a ball hawk. Matthews did a good job of bothering Harden, but it seemed like Harden was putting most of his effort into the defensive side of the floor and that seemed to be playing off. I believe he's now joint first with Ben Simmons for steals this season? Some of the poke checks he gets are ridiculous and he's also really good at playing free safety to pick off outlet passes. Add in the superb post defense and there's an argument to be made that he was gamechanging defensively in this game. Music to my ears!

The area I worry about for the Rockets is foul trouble. Every game in the bubble so far, at least one of their key rotation players comes close to fouling out. At some point it's going to actually happen and they're not the sort of team where the next man up can pick up the slack when it does. As @David Selig says, a lot of it comes down to how the refs are calling the game. The smaller players normally get the advantage of the calls, but if that happens not to be the case I think they're going to be in trouble.

It's always a bit anxiety-inducing to watch the Rockets on the defensive glass. There was one late rebound where it bounced around before Lopez grabbed it after one bounce at the three point line that was particularly hair-raising. Somehow they just about manage to force enough turnovers to make up for it, but I do wonder if some of that is that players are still getting back up to NBA game speed and their handles are still a bit loose. I'd expect turnovers to go down a bit as the bubble continues, and that might reduce their effectiveness a bit.

I haven't been able to watch the Bucks play as much as I'd like this season, so it was interesting to see them in action (although obviously Houston's game is predicated on getting teams out of their normal game plan). Giannis and Lopez both had good games, but I was surprised they didn't feed Middleton a bit more. He absolutely bamboozled Covington a few times with his footwork in the post, and that jumper is money. When teams contain the fast break/delayed transition that makes Giannis so effective, feels like they should be featuring him in the halfcourt more. In key moments at the end of the game, Giannis was too predictable and the Rockets were able to shut him down (side note: their defense at the end of games looks amazing! :D). But I was afraid whenever Middleton had the ball, because he's unpredictable and can hit shots from anywhere.

ST

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2 hours ago, Tywin et al. said:

Yep, and that's what also can also make them look so bad at times while still actually crushing the other team. It's so frustrating that Harden at times can have such a beautiful game and at others just be awful to watch, and that's on both ends. He's not actually a bad defender, he just doesn't play it, but his usage rate is so high, and he's not exactly an elite physical athlete, so you can at least understand why he slacks off a lot. 

The Rockets are a B version of the Warriors, and while they have a truly great player, they don't have one, let alone two, generational type players. You can't copy something that can't exactly be replicated. Frankly that's why the Bucks were wise to build a super long team that's really different with the hopes of changing the mold.

I'm going to argue this a bit. Harden is a generational type player. The man is durable as hell and capable of putting up video game numbers even while being double teamed all game. Put him on pretty much any roster in the league and they get to 50 wins. Other teams have to bust out special game plans just for him. Just as Curry re-invented the game with his off-the-dribble shooting, Harden has re-invented it again with his stepbacks. It's his misfortune to have been in his prime while an unprecedented super-team was dominating the league, but I don't think that should obscure the fact that the level he has been playing at for the past 4 seasons is off the charts.

Yes the Rockets are not as good as the Warriors. I think it's unlikely that many teams ever will be. But I don't think it makes sense to hold any of the current teams to their standard. The combination of the cap spike and a superstar on a below market contract allowed them to build a super team, and that confluence of factors is unlikely to reoccur any time soon. You don't need to be as good as the Warriors were to win the title this year. Whether this version of the Rockets is good enough...I guess we'll see. A few balls have to bounce their way, but that's sports.

ST

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48 minutes ago, Sir Thursday said:

I'm going to argue this a bit. Harden is a generational type player. The man is durable as hell and capable of putting up video game numbers even while being double teamed all game. Put him on pretty much any roster in the league and they get to 50 wins. Other teams have to bust out special game plans just for him. Just as Curry re-invented the game with his off-the-dribble shooting, Harden has re-invented it again with his stepbacks. It's his misfortune to have been in his prime while an unprecedented super-team was dominating the league, but I don't think that should obscure the fact that the level he has been playing at for the past 4 seasons is off the charts.

Yes the Rockets are not as good as the Warriors. I think it's unlikely that many teams ever will be. But I don't think it makes sense to hold any of the current teams to their standard. The combination of the cap spike and a superstar on a below market contract allowed them to build a super team, and that confluence of factors is unlikely to reoccur any time soon. You don't need to be as good as the Warriors were to win the title this year. Whether this version of the Rockets is good enough...I guess we'll see. A few balls have to bounce their way, but that's sports.

ST

Not every great player is a generational talent. Harden puts up absurd individual, but it's not uncommon to see that and him being  -20 and his team down by as much. 

Saying someone isn't an all-time great, at least yet, doesn't mean that player sucks. He just has many more mountains to climb.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Tywin et al. said:

Not every great player is a generational talent. Harden puts up absurd individual, but it's not uncommon to see that and him being  -20 and his team down by as much. 

Saying someone isn't an all-time great, at least yet, doesn't mean that player sucks. He just has many more mountains to climb.

I get that it's nitpicking between levels of greatness, don't worry! I just think that in the long run the way he plays the game is going to prove incredibly influential. We're starting to see the sidestep and stepback three catch on around the league as players look at what he does and see the effectiveness.

And what other player forces opposing teams to go to such lengths to slow them down? He and Curry are the only players I can remember seeing who consistently draw double teams at half court. Remember the 'stand behind him' defense? Players who need that sort of attention tend to be the best. Like the Jordan Rules, or the various ways people tried to slow down Shaq.

Put aside the stats and the accolades (although he certainly has some good ones!), and it's the influence of his game and respect he gets from opposing coaches that make his case. It might be the sort of case that's better made in 10 years time when the league is full of players like Doncic that have grown up playing like him and emulating his game. Guess we'll see!

ST

Edited by Sir Thursday
Some rogue characters needed removing.

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Ja vs Zion right now on ESPN.  Game is sloppy.  I don’t know where the opportunity is for either of these teams beyond this year.  Golden State will be back in the playoffs next year and you can’t rely on Portland remaining down.  Leaves Ja, Zion, and KAT on teams on the outside in the west.

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5/4 in five minutes makes you only dream what Zion can be.

20 minutes ago, Sir Thursday said:

I get that it's nitpicking between levels of greatness, don't worry! I just think that in the long run the way he plays the game is going to prove incredibly influential. We're starting to see the sidestep and stepback three catch on around the league as players look at what he does and see the effectiveness.

And what other player forces opposing teams to go to such lengths to slow them down? He and Curry are the only players I can remember seeing who consistently draw double teams at half court. Remember the 'stand behind him' defense? Players who need that sort of attention tend to be the best. Like the Jordan Rules, or the various ways people tried to slow down Shaq.

Put aside the stats and the accolades (although he certainly has some good ones!), and it's the influence of his game and respect he gets from opposing coaches that make his case. It might be the sort of case that's better made in 10 years time when the league is full of players like Doncic that have grown up playing like him and emulating his game. Guess we'll see!

ST

Harden has certainly introduced some things that you feel like you've never seen, and the league will copy them. After Dirk won his title, everyone wanted to shoot that one legged shot with the other knee kicked up so you could create a little more space within the rules of the game. 

Several players demand double teams at half court. It can just be a bad idea sometimes. LeBron, for example, it doesn't matter what you do. And if you double him too fast he can pass the ball in a way that collapses your defense so it's not worth the risk. If Curry and Harden are your examples, it's because one is smaller and the other is slow. There are a number of ball handling wings that require a double team at half court but it could just be suicide to do so. 

I'm not saying his influence is not significant. It is. But as said all the time, it's not fun a lot of the time (it's also insane to watch him just hit like 10 impossible shots in a row). I typically don't like the "he needs a ring" argument, but Harden does. Otherwise he'll be lost in the shuffle of a long spanning golden era of basketball in which we keep getting game changing champions that are redefining everything. 

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, Rhom said:

Ja vs Zion right now on ESPN.  Game is sloppy.  I don’t know where the opportunity is for either of these teams beyond this year.  Golden State will be back in the playoffs next year and you can’t rely on Portland remaining down.  Leaves Ja, Zion, and KAT on teams on the outside in the west.

I want to believe after all the trades and madness to Wolves got better, and finally figured out what they are, but it's fool's gold until something materializes. 

Zion by far has the most upside of the three, but Ja's passing after he slashes is awesome, and it's so easy for him. That will only get better with time. If he can add some weight and get stronger will working on some other parts of his game, look out, he's Westbrook 2.0.

11/5/2 in under 10 minutes while completely breaking the other team's defense. Jeez. 

Edited by Tywin et al.

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13 minutes ago, Tywin et al. said:

I want to believe after all the trades and madness to Wolves got better, and finally figured out what they are, but it's fool's gold until something materializes. 

Zion by far has the most upside of the three, but Ja's passing after he slashes is awesome, and it's so easy for him. That will only get better with time. If he can add some weight and get stronger will working on some other parts of his game, look out, he's Westbrook 2.0.

I agree that the Pelicans look like they are the best built to advance out of the three. But what teams from the west will drop out to let them advance?  Clippers could fall apart quick if George/Kawhi were to leave I suppose.  Chris Paul won’t be in the league much longer, but Thunder look poised to maintain.  Houston as long as they have Harden will be in.  Nuggets and Jazz are both good and young.

And like I said, GS will be returning to take a playoff spot next year and I have to believe that Dame will have Portland angling to get back in... but that will also require knocking out Jazz/Nuggets/Thunder as well.

I just don’t see the playoff order truly shuffling greatly anytime soon.

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, Rhom said:

I agree that the Pelicans look like they are the best built to advance out of the three. But what teams from the west will drop out to let them advance?  Clippers could fall apart quick if George/Kawhi were to leave I suppose.  Chris Paul won’t be in the league much longer, but Thunder look poised to maintain.  Houston as long as they have Harden will be in.  Nuggets and Jazz are both good and young.

And like I said, GS will be returning to take a playoff spot next year and I have to believe that Dame will have Portland angling to get back in... but that will also require knocking out Jazz/Nuggets/Thunder as well.

I just don’t see the playoff order truly shuffling greatly anytime soon.

This just highlights the disparity between the conferences and the need to end them. Sure the top of the East is better (ETA better now compared to the past, not better than the West), but we're still at a point where multiple West teams who miss the playoffs could maybe easily beat some East teams. 

ETA: Burke: "I do like being right, just ask my ex-husband."

Hysterical. She's the best.

Edited by Tywin et al.

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Posted (edited)

Wow AD is special. At that size, to make the key defensive play, get the rebound, run the fast break and then hit the dime pass to seal it was masterful. Then on the next defensive play he switched both inside and outside and shut all his responsibilities down. 

And he just put like three moves on a guy to score. If James and he stay healthy with just some reasonable amount of help....

ETA: And literally as I post that AD goes flying into what would have been the floor seating, but because they weren't there he landed fine, with a look on his face that he was kind of thinking the same thoughts as me. Lucky break.

ETA2: The Lakers have to be beta testing something. And as I write that too, wondering why are they leaving AD in the corner, oh, because they're trying to shift the defense specifically to get him an open 3. And he buried it. Special talent man, and smart play design.

ETA3: Same shot, similar set up, nailed it. You cannot defend that if AD is having a good night.

ETA4: A monster dunk followed up by a step back 3 most guards could just dream of hitting. 

 

 

Edited by Tywin et al.

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yeah AD is a fucking monster. The shit he does is rater incredible. 

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1 hour ago, Relic said:

yeah AD is a fucking monster. The shit he does is rater incredible. 

KAT might be a bit more polished technically on offense, but he doesn't move like AD. And it's night and day between the two on defense. 

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Ugh.  Sorry Ja.

Portland... come on down.

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I only saw a limited sample, but he looked damn good. 

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