First Cup: Tuesday

May, 21, 2013
5/21/13
5:32
AM ET
By Nick Borges
ESPN.com
Archive
  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: Prepare for the correction: The Spurs left the AT&T Center after Game 1 uniform in their belief that they were unlikely to make 14 3-pointers again this series. “I’m a math guy,” Matt Bonner said. “It’s highly improbable we’re going to shoot that clip again.” The trick for the Spurs in Game 2 will be to generate offense once the Grizzlies have located their perimeter shooters. As per usual, that effort will begin with Tony Parker, who must continue to attack off the pick-and-roll, put pressure on the Memphis defense in the paint and make good decisions from there. Protect ball and boards: With a lack of perimeter shooters, the Grizzlies can often struggle to score in a half-court offense. They generate much of their offense off turnovers and offensive putbacks. The Spurs did a decent job of limiting giveaways in Game 1 (11) and keeping the Grizzlies to a manageable 10 second-chance points. Without either of the above, it will be difficult for Memphis to score with the Spurs, even if its defense reverts back to norm. Adjust to adjustments: It’s no secret Memphis will want to get Zach Randolph going in Game 2. One way coach Lionel Hollins could accomplish this is to give more minutes to Quincy Pondexter and Jerryd Bayless, his best floor-spreading bench shooters, instead of the more offensively limited wings Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince. That move would likely change the way the Spurs are defending Randolph, making it more difficult for guards to help, but it would also make Memphis a less potent defensive unit.
  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: Carving out space for Randolph could be every bit as difficult unless Memphis, which made the fewest number of 3s in the NBA this season, can prevent the Spurs from neglecting shooters in order to collapse on the interior. Gasol described a clear set of tactics from the Spurs: Play tight on him to negate his high-post passing skills, front Randolph and ignore the corners in order to “pound the paint.” It’s nothing the Grizzlies haven’t seen before, he said, but it proved to be highly effective as the Grizzlies made only five 3s and Randolph was limited to one meaningless basket. “We just need to keep moving the ball, keep being patient, get it some other way,” Gasol said. “But we cannot hold the all. Once we hold the ball, we’re allowing them to load up.” Conley said the team’s perimeter corps has to take more responsibility, not only by making the Spurs pay but by getting Randolph — who said he was so distraught over his play in Game 1 that he barely slept — involved.
  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: According to several sources close to the situation, LeBron James does not, in fact, put his pants on one leg at a time. That being the case, it’s astonishing that Frank Vogel has “dismissed” the mighty Miami Heat as the “next team” in the Pacers’ way -- not “just another team,” as James misquoted him -- but the next team. Shame on Vogel for not genuflecting when he mentioned the Heat, or for volunteering to kiss James’ ring -- ring singular, not rings -- when the two teams meet up in the Eastern Conference finals beginning Wednesday in Miami. The gall of Vogel, who last year suggested strongly (and expensively) that the Heat were the biggest floppers in the NBA. Doesn’t he know he’s talking about LeBron and the Big Three and a team that has gone 45-3 in its last 48 games? (If you’re not picking up on the facetiousness here, go back to school and enroll in a reading comprehension class). … Of course, this is a non-story that has become a story, which means it’s a nice easy column. Because we love conflict, even when it’s artificial conflict. Because it’s a lot easier than calculating D.J. Augustin’s PER rating in the second round against the Knicks. Because we’re like that kid on the playground who used to try and stage fights, a la Don King. Did you hear what Johnny said about your girlfriend? Silly. But wonderful. Wonderful because there’s still some bad blood after last year’s compelling six-game series between the Pacers and the Heat.
  • Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald: Much will be different about this year’s matchup between the Heat and Pacers, and it all starts with Chris Bosh being healthy and at the top of his game. But how the Heat’s reserves affect the series might be the most significant key to the game. The Heat’s bench scored 55 points last week in Game2 of its Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series against the Bulls. In last year’s conference semis against the Pacers, it took the Heat’s reserves nearly three full games to reach that total. The major differences between the Heat’s bench now and the rag-tag group that slugged it out the with Pacers in 2012: Ray Allen, who was with Boston this time last year and gearing up for a match-up with the Heat, is averaging 12.2 points per game in the playoffs. … Chris Andersen, who was on his couch in Denver this time last year, has provided much-needed muscle and energy to the Heat’s second unit. … Norris Cole was a minor footnote against the Pacers last year, averaging 2.0 points and less than 13 minutes per game.
  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Our next chance to judge the James Harden trade — as if it hasn't been scrutinized enough — has come. The NBA Draft Lottery is Tuesday night. It will reveal this year's draft order and determine whether the Thunder will receive Toronto's first-round pick. It's a selection Oklahoma City received as part of a package that included Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and two other picks. Whatever happens, the team's fan base, as well as close followers of the trade's fallout, likely will be split. If the Thunder lands the pick, it'll be the 12th overall selection and perhaps viewed by most as a disappointment. If the pick remains with Toronto and rolls over into next year, the Thunder seemingly will get criticized for failing to receive an asset in exchange for Harden that could help sooner rather than later. A perfect storm put the Thunder in this position of possibly picking at the back end of the lottery. No way could this have been what the front office had in mind when the powers that be insisted on Houston including Toronto's first-rounder before pulling the trigger on the deal. But here they are, stuck with a worst-case scenario after everything that could go wrong for the placement of this potential pick did go wrong.
  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: Since the regular season ended just more than a month ago, New Orleans Pelicans backup guard Brian Roberts hasn’t paid much attention to the upcoming NBA draft lottery set for Tuesday night. But whether the Pelicans pick up the option on Roberts' contract to retain him could largely depend on where they are slotted for the upcoming June 27 NBA draft. The Pelicans have only an 8.8 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick going into the lottery. But they have a 26.15 percent chance of staying at the fifth spot, where several mock drafts have them selecting Michigan point guard Trey Burke. Most have Burke, 6-feet, 190, being taken no higher than fifth and not lower than seventh. If the Pelicans draft Burke and they already have starter Greivis Vasquez, they could opt not to keep Roberts, especially with Austin Rivers having the ability to play both guard positions. But some of the mock drafts also have Pelicans addressing their need to improve their small forward spot by drafting Georgetown's Otto Porter or UNLV's Anthony Bennett if they can land one of the top three draft spots. ``Right now I’m just trying to see how things play out,’’ Roberts said.
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: Will the Bobcats select a long-term keeper? History suggests the odds aren’t great. Since their inception in 2004, the Bobcats have made top-five selections four times. An Observer study last spring demonstrated top-five picks are precious: Thirty-six of the top 100 players in the league, as identified by that study, were top-five picks, including 15 of the top 20 players. … The Bobcats’ draft pick retention history is pretty threadbare. Of the 10 players chosen in the lottery (the first 14 picks) six are gone (two no longer in the NBA). Gerald Henderson will be a restricted free agent and three others – Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker – are still playing in Charlotte under their rookie contracts. These next two drafts could provide the Bobcats’ a do-over. Along with the 2013 pick, the Bobcats might have three first-rounders in 2014 and all could be lottery picks. The Bobcats figure to miss the playoffs next season and are owed picks from the Portland Trail Blazers and Detroit Pistons that could come due in ’14.
  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: As all of the NBA’s non-playoff teams gather in New York tonight for the draft lottery, the Cavaliers have to like the odds they carry into Times Square. The Cavs enter with the third-best chance (15.6 percent) at winning the lottery. The league is celebrating its 20th anniversary of the revamped weighted system, and the team with the third-best odds has won five of the first 19 years. No other lottery position has been more successful. The overwhelming question now is how excited it’s worth getting for a lottery victory when the draft is expected to be so dismal. The projected top pick, Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, is offensively challenged and isn’t expected to play until close to Christmas while recovering from a knee injury. And that’s the best prospect. It only goes down from there. Nevertheless, the Cavs will follow the same protocol as the previous two years. Minority team owner Jeff Cohen will represent the Cavs in the sequestered room where the numbers are actually drawn and Nick Gilbert, son of owner Dan Gilbert, will again represent the Cavs on the podium during the television broadcast when the draft positions are revealed.
  • Peter Botte of the New York Daily News: Iman Shumpert revealed that he will play for the Knicks in the Las Vegas summer league for the first time after missing it last summer while rehabbing a torn ACL and the year before because of the lockout. “They want to see me be more decisive offensively, which I already knew, but that would be big for me to work on this summer…and come in for training camp ready to do that,” Shumpert said.
  • Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel: Given the NBA's willingness to relocate franchises far more freely than the other big leagues, the decision last week to keep the Kings in Sacramento in lieu of a crazy-money offer from Seattle was surprising. What wasn't surprising was the local reaction. The Bucks-to-Seattle drum was put out there and then beaten by politicians and community leaders who needed the news to throw another log on an arena-debate fire that isn't exactly raging at the moment. Two things: None of this was coming from Seattle. And if it is suddenly convenient to have the nation's 12th largest TV market looming as a bogeyman to jump-start serious arena discussions here, well, that is how the game is played. Of course, there is another way to look at this unexpected turn of events as it applies to the Bucks. Not long after the NBA prevented the small-market Kings from moving, NBA commissioner Stern, for the first time in a decade, began warming to the idea of expansion. In a Sunday story, the Seattle Times portrayed expansion as the city's best chance to reclaim the team that was stolen five years ago in the Oklahoma City rustle. … If Seattle is an imaginary threat to the Bucks, that doesn't mean the pressure is not there to make the organization worthy of a new arena. Since advancing to the Eastern Conference finals 13 years ago, the Bucks have made the playoffs five times, are 7-20 and have not gotten out of the first round. The effort to pull the Bucks from their self-dug pit should be from within, not from without.
  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: Bryan Colangelo’s tenure as the top basketball savant at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is at an end. His relationship with the sports conglomerate is not. In a move that should be officially announced as early as Tuesday morning, Colangelo will cede control of basketball operations as the president and general manager within the company and move to some unspecified corporate role, according to multiple NBA sources. Colangelo’s future has been cloudy since the arrival of new MLSE chief executive officer Tim Leiweke; the Raptors held an option on a final contract year for Colangelo and Leiweke seemed lukewarm from the start about picking it up. But the veteran NBA executive, seven years on the job in Toronto after more than a decade with the Phoenix Suns and a two-time NBA executive of the year, has always been a loyal and valued part of the organization, a fact not lost on ownership. Sources suggest minority owner Larry Tanenbaum may have been involved in the process of finding a suitable and significant position for Colangelo, a process that was still being finalized Monday afternoon, according to sources.
  • Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: What you are about to read is pure speculation. I feel compelled to declare that up front, unlike so many NBA coaching rumors you read on the internet that quote "well-placed sources," which often is the Ouija board sitting next to the author or, even worse, an agent. So here goes: It wouldn't surprise me if Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, who has been looking for apotential replacement for coach Larry Drew, is waiting to interview Brian Shaw. Shaw is an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers, who just upset the New York Knicks in the second round of the playoffs and now will face (and lose to) Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. … No, I'm not declaring Shaw as the favorite for the Hawks' job. But it would make sense if he's a candidate, especially if Ferry can't land Stan Van Gundy (who figures to have better options) and believes he and Shaw will be on the same page in terms of how to build a team. (This is why I believe San Antonio assistant Mike Budenholzer is a strong possibility.) And if you're wondering, yes, Ferry and Shaw did cross paths once: in Italy. Both played in the Italian League for Il Messaggero Roma in 1989-90. In fact, I've even located NBC News raw video links of the two walking together in Italy.
  • John N. Mitchell of The Philadelphia Inquirer: Although he no longer plies his trade here, former 76ers coach Larry Brown still keeps his eyes and ears focused on all things basketball in Philadelphia. Brown, who coached the Sixers from 1997-2003, expressed some skepticism about the direction of his old team. Now the coach at Southern Methodist, he also bemoaned the loss of his chance to coach in the Big East Conference. Brown was one of eight inductees Monday night into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. The 72-year-old Brown is an old-school coach who is not sold on the heightened focus on advanced statistics in the NBA. "I'm not that kind of guy," Brown said when asked his opinion on the hiring of new Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie. "You're asking the wrong guy. This is not baseball. Guys hit better during the day than they do at night. You have lefties and righties. But this is not baseball. In this league, it's about teaching players and making them better." However, Brown said he does not rule out the role of analytics in building a better basketball team. "All the information, I'm sure, helps," Brown said. "But at the end of the day, this is a basketball town. They love kids that play hard, play together, play smart. And the best way to tell that about a kid is to look him in the eye in the most crucial moments of a game. That tells you so much. But you have to give this a chance.”
  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: For the better part of three years, they had one of the most thankless jobs in the industry, trying to sell season tickets when their franchise was forever on the move? Good luck. Good night. And break out the suitcase. So imagine how the remaining members of the Kings' depleted ticket sales department felt Wednesday when NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the team was staying in Sacramento and negotiations were under way to transfer controlling interest to a deep-pocketed investment group headed by software entrepreneur Vivek Ranadive? There was relief, and disbelief. There were high-fives, and tears. There were jobs, and more jobs.

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