Around The World: April 11, 2014
“Last night on TNT’s “Inside The NBA,” the crew of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neil discussed with teams from each conference could pull a first-round playoff upset. Shaq stayed true to form and picked a team that probably won’t make the playoffs, but both Kenny and Chuck picked the Trail Blazers as their upset specials. And Chuck, as he often does, has some strong opinions about how Damian Lillard would perform in a series against the Rockets, who the Blazers would play in the four/five matchup if the playoff started today.”
Trail Blazers: Aldridge Continues Late-Season Climb Up NBA.Com MVP Rankings
“Last week, LaMarcus Aldridge returned to the NBA.com “Race To The MVP” rankings, showing up at No. 8, after a prolonged hiatus due to injury. Portland winning four-straight and clinching a playoff spot immediately following Aldridge’s return from a lower back contusion was all the proof needed to show that the three-time All-Star power forward is indeed a most valuable player to the Trail Blazers.”
Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers Vs. Jazz Preview
“The Trail Blazers (51-28) have proved nearly unbeatable over the last two weeks, winning six of seven while allowing 95.9 points per game. After getting by New Orleans 100-94 on Sunday, Portland escaped with a 100-99 victory over Sacramento on Wednesday thanks to Dorell Wright's 3-pointer with eight seconds left.”
"The visiting Nuggets beat Golden State in dramatic fashion, coming back from a 20-point deficit to pull off a 100-99 win as Kenneth Faried made a jumper in the lane with 0.5 seconds left."
“Man, I didn’t even know that, to tell you the truth,” Favors responded. “Portland is a good team but tonight we’re going to try get our first win against them this season. I didn’t even know that. Damn.”
Rip City Project: Timofey Mozgov, Denver Nuggets Bless The Trail Blazers
“By defeating the Golden State Warriors 100-99, the Denver Nuggets have helped the Portland Trail Blazers toward a 5th seed finish. It is not a guarantee because the Western Conference is tighter than a sleeved jersey’s armpits, but Portland (51-28) is now 2.5 games ahead of Golden State (48-30). The Warriors could still jump ahead by winning out or winning 3 of 4 depending upon whether or not they can seal the season series with the Trail Blazers on Sunday, but this would require the Trail Blazers to lose a game or two as well. A lot would have to go wrong for Golden State to surpass Portland.”
“System factors in as well. The Blazers are doing less strict play calling this year than at any time in memory. The players have responsibility for the offense. They start with a simple screen or post then play options off of it, reading the defense and making moves accordingly. That works well as long as everybody plays their accustomed role. When you put the mid-range-posting and play-finishing Aldridge into the pick-setting or weak-side rebounding center role, the offense gets muddled. Those aren't his strengths, nor can the new power forward replace him. Aldridge ends up out of the offense, taking face-up jumpers from the weak side, or back in his usual role but now much smaller players are responsible for offensive rebounding.”
“Not to pile on Heath, who is likely embarrassed about the attention, but the line is crossed when a team employee goes on record stating that there is at best a bias or at worst some sort of rigged element that gives one team a chance to succeed, and denies another team a chance at what is rightfully theirs (in Dallas’ case, a two-point lead in a 122-120 game with the ball in Stephen Curry’s hands – no sure win). To suggest that the referees, en masse and in a split second, all decided to pass on a call that they knew was a goaltend in order to deny Dallas (one of the league’s biggest markets) a win and possible playoff chance? That’s pushing it, and fine and/or suspension worthy.”
Ball Don't Lie: This Could Be The Last We See Of The Great Rick Adelman
"The Timberwolves and Adelman have until the end of April to determine if either side wants to continue with the partnership, a duel coach/team contract option that has the hallmarks of former general manager David Kahn all over it – because every coach of any age, no matter the context or even sport, wants to walk away from the gig just a fortnight after a long, grueling season. The firing of Kahn in 2013 would seem to have brightened things from Adelman’s prospective, but the ascension of the winningest coach in Wolves history – new’ish Minnesota president Flip Saunders – has left some wondering whether Saunders will want to work as a band-aid coach in 2014-15 in order to make one last effort to keep potential 2015 free agent Kevin Love in the fold."
ESPN: Roy Hibbert For DPOY
“There are four centers who merit All-Defensive and Defensive Player of the Year consideration, but my choice remains the same it has been all season: Hibbert. While Hibbert is good but not great by defensive RPM (+3.6), I think that understates his contributions to one of the best defenses in modern NBA history. Indiana's scheme is built around Hibbert's ability to protect the rim. No player who has faced more than 100 shots at the rim has allowed a lower shooting percentage than Hibbert (41.5 percent, per NBA.com/Stats). And that doesn't count the shots that Hibbert's presence deters from being taken in the first place, as the Pacers are one of the four teams that allow attempts at the rim on fewer than 30 percent of opposing shots. Hibbert's use of verticality has been imitated this season but not yet duplicated, and it's a major reason -- on top of everything else -- that Indiana ranks in the league's top 10 in keeping opponents off the foul line.”
“The loss means the Warriors likely won't get to play an ailing Houston Rockets team in Round 1. To emerge from the first round, they'll probably have to go through one of the West's big-three teams (Clippers, Thunder, Spurs) as a substantial underdog. Losing to bad teams put them in this position, but at least they'll have incentive to conjure necessary energy against the West's elite. ’
“Less than one full season into the careers of the 2013 draftees, it's looking like this could go down as one of the most lackluster draft classes of the past decade. Of the one-and-done crop, only McLemore has distinguished himself as an immediate rotation player. The most promising of the bit contributors is Adams, who should help the Thunder in the playoffs. Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick, has been a massive disappointment. Perhaps Noel, the shot-blocking big man drafted sixth overall by New Orleans and traded to Philadelphia, will stake a hold in the Sixers' rotation next season. Still, if other players don't make similar leaps, this group won't be regarded favorably."
SLAM (Via LA Daily News): Nick Young ‘Very Confident’ The Lakers Will Re-Sign Him
“Obviously I always wanted to be a Laker,” said Young, a former Cleveland High and USC product. “This would be a dream come true to still be here. But it’s crazy. You never know what happens. Last year they had a whole different team. Obviously they’ll make some changes.”
“With the Warriors on the verge of clinching a Playoff berth for the second straight season, the team that they eliminated from last year’s first round had something to say about it. Kenneth Faried (18 points, 17 rebounds) bullied his way into the paint and hit a twisting push shot with half a second left on the clock as the Nuggets downed the Dubs. Faried’s game-winner nearly overshadowed a monster game from Timofey Mozgov, who had a career night. The Russian big man went bonkers, scoring 23 points and grabbing a career-high 29 rebounds, just missing a franchise record. Randy Foye played a big role for the Nugs with Ty Lawson sitting out, going for 20 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. The Villanova product hit a 3-pointer late to give the Nuggets a 95-93 lead, followed by Faried scoring Denver’s final 5 points.”
“Dragic was one of the biggest All-Star snubs this year, but those who drafted him at his average draft position in the mid-60s surely didn’t leave him off their list. Shooting guard eligibility turned his 5.9 assists per game into fantasy gold, and he also managed to average 20.5 points while taking just over 14 shots per game. Thanks to Dragic, the Suns have been a surprise team this year, and thanks to guys taken before him, like George Hill and Jose Calderon, he’s also been a surprise fantasy player too."