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Rick Senger
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Posted: 15 November 2018 at 5:20pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I can't decide if this is the media blowing things out of proportion but some lip-readers claim during the Green / Durant exchange Durant can be seen saying roughly "this *&$%^ is why I'm outta here."  He has a player option this summer and Green is an UFA the following year. If this isn't overblown I can't imagine GS not moving Green to keep Durant but as long as they're winning championships it's hard to imagine that would be necessary. 
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Wilson Mui
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Posted: 16 November 2018 at 12:00pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

That would fit with Draymond's response to Durant that
the team doesn't need him.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 18 November 2018 at 1:11pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Enough time has gone by that Boston's stagnant offense is looking like a real thing.   Despite just beating Toronto, the Celts have been wildly inconsistent and uninspired.  If not for their #1 defense, they'd probably be 4-12.  Hayward is the biggest problem; he's taking minutes that Brown, Tatum etal got last year and has hurt their rhythm while playing at best subpar himself.  Kyrie's also back after an extended injury and has been less aggressive and drawn fewer fouls than at any time in his career.  Horford has moved away from aggressive post play to more passive catch and shoots. Celtics are dead last in the league in points in the paint and settle for too many long 2's and 3's, on which they're not connecting.  Too much ISO ball and not enough developing plays.  The hope is that Hayward will come out of his funk which would help but something is pretty off so far.
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Wilson Mui
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Posted: 25 November 2018 at 10:51pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I never would have guessed the Clippers would be leading
in the West right now.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 26 November 2018 at 12:31pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Yeah, who would have thought Houston (last year's best record by far) would be currently out of the playoffs and tied with Sacramento and Dallas?  It feels like a transitional year with teams like Denver, Milwaukee, the Clippers and Memphis all making nice early moves.   The Lakers (35-47) and Celtics (55-27) are both #7 seeds but LA has the better record and has played better.  GS looks all too human though Curry's eventual return will cure many ills and if Boogie emerges at all healthy in a couple months all the drama will be forgotten.  

I'm amazed Melo can't find a home even at the vet's minimum (is his pride preventing a deal?)  Derrick Rose has made a remarkable comeback but he's the exception.  A number of once-great or promising players have been exiled so long they seem unlikely to recover: Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Jahlil Okafor (only 22!), Isaiah Thomas.


Edited by Rick Senger on 26 November 2018 at 2:13pm
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 27 November 2018 at 10:04pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Great comeback by the Raptors tonight against the Grizzlies.
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Wilson Mui
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Posted: 28 November 2018 at 1:53am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

For the Clippers, losing their three star players was the best thing that
happened to them.

My impression of Grizzlies is that usually they start off strong and then
fade later in the season when Conley or Gasol gets injured.

Looking forward to the Raptors/Warriors game on Thursday. This will
be a real test of how much the Raptors have improved.
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 28 November 2018 at 6:10am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

What's happened to the defense in the NBA?
Since Sunday only 4 teams were held under 100 points. That's 36 out of 40 teams over 100!
It feels like the eighties again (not necessarily a bad thing), are the offenses that good? Is it the ref's? The 3 pointer?
Even with the zone allowed it seems like defense has become an after thought. I've noticed a lot of "no help" D especially when taking it to the hole.
I'm sure the league is liking it though.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 28 November 2018 at 3:38pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Doug, the league has openly admitted to making recent rules changes to foster offense under the belief that more points = more excitement.  Basically, a lot of moves like hand checking (disallowed some years back), clutching and a certain degree of jersey grabs (never allowed but largely ignored) are being more vigorously enforced.  The result is that it's harder for defenders to defend.  Another small offense-encouraging change is shortening the shot clock to 14 secs after an offensive rebound, which theoretically results in more shots being taken.  Link

The downpour of threes has probably added some points too, but I'd attribute much of the recent increase more to the way refs are calling the games than anything else. 
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 28 November 2018 at 5:36pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Yeah, I remember some of those rule changes. Hand checking became forearm checking though. The game just doesn't seem to have a lot of flow at times, just hearing whistles!

Yet when I look up FT's attempted per game over the years it's fairly steady, and last year was it's lowest (21.7) since....ever!

Interesting though to see the obvious skyrocketing game avg. in 3-point attempts. Take 1990-91, which seemed like only yesterday, at 7.1 compared to last years 29.0 !


Edited by Doug Centers on 28 November 2018 at 5:37pm
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 29 November 2018 at 1:09am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

The worst 3P% team is Phoenix at .334.  That translates to a .501 2P%, which ain't so bad for being dead last.  More than half of the teams shoot above .350 and the top 7 teams are all above .370 (GS is at a blistering .391, which  translates to nearly 59% on two pointers.)  Three pointers are definitely affecting offense, but as you say the three point attempts have been increasing in volume for a long time and I don't think they've gone up appreciably this year over last year (so far).  I do think that as the value of spreading the floor continues to be prized and making a high percentage of threes remains such a marketable skill that players are going to continue to work at it and improve and the influence of threes will only increase over time.
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 29 November 2018 at 6:26am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I agree, Rick!

...and so far this year 3pt attempts are at 31.3, we'll see how it ends up.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 29 November 2018 at 10:07pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Durant goes for 51 but is -5 in +/- (how do you do that?) and GS loses to the Raptors in a great OT thriller.  After starting last year 26-6 (and going 10-1 to start this year) they've lost to the Clips, Bucks, Rockets, Spurs, Thunder, Mavs, Trailblazers and now the Raptors and are just 5-7 this month.  The good news is that Curry will apparently return on their roadtrip.   The better news is they're still going to win the title, though it might not seem like it right now. 
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 29 November 2018 at 10:49pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Yeah, Raptors deserved the win, but it would likely have been a different story with Curry in the mix. I thought Durant benefitted from a few questionable decisions and the game ended up being closer than it should have been, given the comfortable lead the Raptors held for the vast majority of the match. Pretty exciting though -- felt a little like a playoff game at times.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 30 November 2018 at 3:05pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

I still don't like that Ujiri fired Casey right after he won Coach of the Year but if Kawhi stays beyond this season, Ujiri deserves a lot of credit for sticking his neck way out and finding a way to make Toronto better.  It's still uncertain but a lot more plausible than it looked only a month ago. 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 01 December 2018 at 3:43pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Doug, I thought about the offensive burst a little more for fun.  Regarding the 31.3 3PT attempts per game, which is an all-time high, interestingly teams are only scoring an average of 0.5 more threes this year despite taking 2.3 more attempts, meaning they're only hitting on 21.7% of those added attempts vs. last year, which would translate to an awful 32.5% on twos.  Not an efficient use of the extra threes, all other things being equal.

Yet scoring is up about 4.3 points per game to the highest level since 1984 and you have to go back to 1970 to find the next time teams scored more than 110.6 per game.  That +4.3 increase is the largest such leap since 1999-2000, which shouldn't even really count since it came off the strike-shortened season which was itself full of unlikely steep offensive declines surely related to many players trying to get into playing shape during much of that strange, abbreviated season.  If you discount that season you have to go back to 1965-1966 to find a comparable burst of offense (not sure what happened that year.)

So what accounts for the burst?  FG% is actually down both on twos and threes and FT% is slighly down this year.  The last time there were more shots blocked in any season was 1991.  That tallies with rebounds being the highest since 1978-79 (more shots are being missed.)  Steals are up.  So again, where are the additional points coming from? 

Answer:
1) They're taking two more FTs a game.  (+1.5 PPG)
2) They're attempting almost 3 more shots a game.  (The last time more shots were attempted per game was 1979-80).  (+~2.6 PPG) 
3) More assists are being dished than at any time since 1993-94.  (Not sure how to quantify that, but it suggests players are being set up for better shots overall, though it hasn't translated to better shooting yet.)

Basically, a couple more foul shots and a couple more shots in general.  Players aren't shooting better, but they're generating more attempts both via ref's calls and by shooting more often.  

Those differences might not seem like much, but we're talking on average in every single game played by every single team (so on both sides of each game), and it's pretty much been a couple generations since we've seen anything like it and longer since it's happened this fast.


Edited by Rick Senger on 01 December 2018 at 3:49pm
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 02 December 2018 at 7:52am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Yes Rick, I think your answers have solid merit.
And I think again we see the 3 pointer as being a possible root cause or at least a large contributor.
More attempts per game- Long rebounds off missed 3's leading to more fas tbreaks and transitional non half court play. Using less of the shot clock and adding more possessions.
More foul shots- What I'm seeing here is maybe 2 fold regarding the 3's. The aforementioned fast breaks will lead to more open court fouls. And the proclivity of the 3 has led defenses out to guard the perimeter  and no longer sag back. This has garnered more drives to the basket, and as we know in this day and age will lead to a whistle (once the ref sees if the ball goes in first) or a blocked shot.
More assists- The 3's contribution? I'd say a high percentage are taken after a pass and without a dribble.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 02 December 2018 at 1:22pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Yes, long rebound three misses definitely contribute to transition opportunities for the other team... the double edged sword of the gamble threes really are.  Houston has taken the most threes of any team in history several years running now.  Their loss last year in the playoffs to GS has been written off to Chris Paul's injury but I would submit their ice cold three shooting (a record 27 straight misses at home in game 7 in particular) was the decider.  It gave GS a lot of easier chances while depriving the Rockets of a good 20 points they could have normally expected to net in a worst case scenario.  If they'd only made 5 of those 27 misses (17.5%, or less than half their average) they still would have won.  Houston has become so reliant on the three that when the inevitable drought comes once in a while, they have no answer and it only compounds on the other side of the ball. 

So does that relate to why Houston is so bad this year so far after being so good last year?  Everyone is pointing to the loss of Ariza and Mbah a Moute and the disappointing failure to integrate Melo.  Certainly these things hurt (though Mbah a Moute's role has been exaggerated a bit; he only averaged 3 rebs, 0.4 blks and just 20+ mpg.)  But I say there's a far simpler overarching reason.

Houston shot .362 from three last year and took more than anyone.  This year so far they're only hitting .345 on threes and it was worse earlier before they started winning more lately.   They attempt 42.5 per game and they hit 14.6. Last year they took 42.3 and hit 15.3, so they had a net gain of +2.1 points (0.7 x 3) on fewer shots last year, and presumably a net reduction in higher percentage fast break chances given to their opponents.  Their 2P% is also slightly down, but it's only -.006  and they take the fewest twos in the league so that influence is further minimized (though not helpful). 

That's all theory, but what are the actual numbers?  In fact, Houston is averaging 2.4 fewer points per game (like you'd expect with worse shooting) and they are giving up 6.1 more ppg (109.8 vs. 103.7 last year).  The larger D decline might seem more significant and suggest losing a stopper like Ariza was huge, but was it?  The league as a whole is averaging 4.3 more ppg so that means the D is really only giving up 1.8 more ppg than expected (6.1 - 4.3).  And their offense, which should be 4.3 ppg better than last year like every other team, is 2.4 worse, which is a net difference of -6.7 (4.3 + 2.4).  That's gargantuan.  And missing those extra threes each game (providing extra fast break chances for the opponent) probably just about explains away the defensive slippage. 

So, while Houston's defense is underperforming (the headline being written to explain their decline), in fact it's their offense which is the bigger issue in their decline this year.  And the majority of that offensive breakdown is that they simply aren't hitting their 3s like they did last year (so far.)


Edited by Rick Senger on 02 December 2018 at 1:24pm
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 02 December 2018 at 1:47pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Quotes from Adam Silver from early November regarding rules changes influencing huge offense increase.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 05 December 2018 at 3:23pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Kevin Durant thinks the Lakers will have trouble attracting a first tier star because of LeBron.   Reminds me of the latter Kobe years when top players purportedly wouldn't come because they thought Kobe would hog the ball and be so demanding.   What's funny is KD is one of the few back then who said he'd love to play with Kobe.
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 05 December 2018 at 3:57pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Thanks for posting that video Rick.
Would be interesting to see which Gm's and coaches are on the rules committee.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 08 December 2018 at 9:40am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Doug, I was curious about that too.  Looking aroundm the best I could find is that as of three years ago the committee was Doc Rivers, Rick Carlisle, Mitch Kupchak (fired by Lakers but now GM of Charlotte), OKC GM Sam Presti, Raptors GM Masai Ujiri, Miami CEO Nick Arison and GSWA CEO Joe Lacob.  It used to just be the GMs from all 30 teams but in 2012 they changed the rules to include coaches and supposedly a rep from the Players Association (though I don't see one from 2015). 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 08 December 2018 at 4:13pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

The 2nd place Bucks pick up legit backup PG George Hill for some protected picks and Dellavedova while the stumbling Cavs and Bullets dump salary.  Good move for Milwaukee, who gets help for Brogdon as well as flexibility next year (they can buy out Hill's $18 mill salary for $1 mill getting them extra cap room if he doesn't work). 
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 10 December 2018 at 6:46pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

I went to see Bucks vs Raptors on Sunday night. I may be bad luck as, incredibly, Kyle Lowrey scored 0 points. Very close game. There was an amazing moment in the fourth quarter when Serge Ibaka scored a three and then waved the crowd to their feet at a point when it seemed like the momentum was with the Raptors and they might take it. 

The Bucks have plenty of excellent players though.Not least Giannis Antetokounmpo, of course, who was a giant in so many areas. Dominated in rebounds, but excelled just about in every department. Lopez, Middleton, and Bledsoe were all potent threats with three-pointers. Much more accurate than the Raptors on the night from that range.


Edited by Peter Martin on 10 December 2018 at 6:47pm
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 13 December 2018 at 11:09am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Last night's big win by the Raptors at GS felt more significant than the last because Kawhi didn't play but Curry / Durant /  Thompson / Green did.  Teams will still have to go thru GS in at least May but I'm starting to think Boogie's recovery is a lot more important than it appeared last summer. 

Boston looks better (Kyrie getting more aggressive and Tatum's shooting improving) but it could be fool's gold as they've beaten no playoff teams during their 7-game streak.  Hayward is slowly coming around but he's still not nearly the player he was for Utah and Brown and Horford have both been subpar and are hurting to boot.
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