TrueHoop: C.J. Watson
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C.J. Watson's big game against Minnesota included a memorable flop against J.J. Barea.
It's rare for a flopper to confess. But that's just what C.J. Watson did Wednesday night following the Nets win over Minnesota.
With the game in the balance in the fourth quarter, Watson showed renowned flopper J.J. Barea how it's done. It was indeed a maneuver we've seen from Barea, who is a master at using his lack of size to get under a dribbling player then hit the deck on any contact.
In this instance, Watson bodied up to Barea, practically jumping into him, and when the 5-10 point guard used his off arm to get space, Watson flew backward (Video).
Barea was so incensed by the call that he earned a delay of game when he almost literally took his ball and went home.
In a postgame interview, Watson discussed his flop (via The Brooklyn Game): "He's a flopping guy, so I just tried to give him a dose of his own medicine."
Watson added: "It worked tonight. I hope I don't get fined though."
The fact that the Bulls were without reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose for most of the series likely matters little to Philadelphia fans celebrating their first postseason series win since beating the New Orleans Hornets in the 1st Round of the 2003 Eastern Conference playoffs.
The 76ers advanced to the Conference Semis despite shooting under 40 percent in three of their four wins against the Bulls, including a field goal percentage of 39.7 (29-73) Thursday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Philadelphia is the first team to win three games in a series despite shooting under 40 percent from the field since the Indiana Pacers did it against the New York Knicks in the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals and just the fifth such team in the Shot-Clock era.
The 76ers also struggled on the boards, and were outrebounded by 23 Thursday night (56-33). According to Basketball Reference, a team was outrebounded by 23 or more in a postseason game 24 times from 1986-2011 and only once did that team win, when the Washington Bullets beat the 76ers 95-94 in Game 1 of the 1st Round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Prior to Thursday, no team in postseason history has won a game when shooting under 40 percent and being outrebounded by 23 or more, according to Elias.
Philadelphia got a big break when C.J. Watson, who made 80.8 percent of his free throws in the regular season, dished to Omer Asik on the Bulls second-to-last possession. Asik missed both of his foul shots after he was fouled by Spencer Hawes, befitting a player who ranked last in free throw shooting (45.6 percent) among the 175 players to attempt at least 100 free throws in the regular season.
When Andre Iguodala got his turn from the line moments later, he converted both of his attempts despite entering Thursday having made a team-low 45.0 percent of his free throw attempts in crunch time (score within 5 points in the final 5 minutes).
Philadelphia’s streak of eight straight seasons without a playoff series win, tied with 1969-76 for the longest such streak in franchise history, comes to an end, as does their string of five straight losses in playoff series.
In the Conference Semis, the 76ers will attempt to become just the second 8-seed to win a pair of playoff series. The 1999 Knicks advanced the NBA Finals before falling to the Spurs in five games.
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Bulls went 18-9 during the regular season without Derrick Rose.
Last season's MVP, Derrick Rose, will miss the rest of the 2012 NBA Playoffs with a torn ACL in his left knee.
The Chicago Bulls lead their best-of-7 series against the Philadelphia 76ers, 1-0, and statistically they should be OK without their point guard, at least for this series.
In three games against the 76ers during the regular season, the Bulls were 11 points better per 100 possessions with Rose off the court, including one game that Rose did not play.
The Bulls played 27 games without Rose this season, and won 18 of them; however, their overall numbers were down across the board in his absence, although they did play more minutes without Rose this season (see chart).
With Rose on the court during the regular season, the Bulls shot 3 percentage points better from the field and scored 8 more points per 48 minutes.
But the Bulls, at least statistically, are a better defensive team without Rose. They allowed about 5 points fewer per 48 minutes with Rose off the court, and opponents shot a lower field goal and 3-point percentage and committed more turnovers with Rose off the court.
Expect C.J. Watson to move into the starting lineup and more minutes off the bench for John Lucas III. In the 26 regular-season games without Rose, Watson and Lucas' combined minutes went from 25.5 per game to more than 48, and they combined to average 21.9 points per game. On March 24 with Rose out, Watson matched his season-high with 23 points in an overtime win against the Toronto Raptors.
However, the Bulls were 11.6 points better per 100 possessions with Watson off the court this season. Defensively, the Bulls allowed 99.8 points per 100 possessions with Watson on the court and 92.6 when he was on the bench.
After Rose's injury, Accuscore projects the Bulls chances of winning the championship fall from 15.8 to 9.8 percent.
That said, the Bulls played very well this year without Rose. And at 9.8 percent, the Bulls still are a strong fourth in terms of having the best remaining odds at winning the title.
The Miami Heat are the main beneficiaries of Rose's season-ending injury, going from a 25.5 percent chance of winning the championship up to 30 percent. The Spurs are second at 20.8 percent and the Thunder are third at 19.4.
The Bulls, who currently lead the Eastern Conference by two games over the Miami Heat, should be able to stay afloat. Below are three reasons that Bulls fans shouldn’t be worried.
Kyle Korver continues to be one of the best shooters in the NBA, primarily in spot-up situations. His 1.30 points per play leads the team and ranks fifth in the NBA among players with at least 40 spot-up plays this season. Korver is fourth in the NBA in three-point field goals off the bench with 28.
Backup point guard C.J. Watson has developed into a reliable floor general behind Rose. He leads the Bulls’ primary bench players in scoring, averaging 7.7 points in games he’s come off the bench. Watson has also been one of the Bulls’ best spot-up shooters; he’s second behind Korver on the team with 1.22 points per play in spot-up situations.
Inside, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson continue to be the Bulls’ defensive enforcers. Their 26 blocks each are tied for second in the NBA among players in games they did not start.
The Bulls’ defense remain one of the best in the NBA. This season, they're allowing just 87.0 points per game, the fewest in the league.
Chicago is fourth in the NBA in opponents’ points per play (0.81) and sixth in opponents' score percentage (39.6) in the half court.
The Bulls have also limited their opponents' production close to the basket, allowing an NBA-low 49.6 points per game within 10 feet of the rim.
Above all, Rose remains the key to the Bulls holding their season together. His scoring average is down from 25.0 points last season to 21.9 points this season, but he’s become more efficient in the offense, attempting fewer shots and averaging a career-high 7.9 assists.
Being the ball handler in the pick and roll has become Rose’s specialty. He’s scoring 1.02 points per play in that type of offense, ranking fourth in the NBA among players with at least 50 plays. Rose has also increased his shooting percentage (49.0) and percentage of plays he’s scored (48.1) as the pick and roll ball handler to almost 50 percent.
- Wizards owner Ted Leonsis: "Last night there was a pick-up game played at Verizon Center on our practice court. There were many NBA players in attendance and a few NBA All-Stars played as well. I stumbled into watching purely by accident. Gilbert Arenas played last night. It was a very good evening of basketball. Gil -- our All-Star --matched up against another NBA All-Star. It was quite a show and quite a display of talent. I won’t comment yet on Gilbert or who was in the gym last night but suffice to say Gilbert looked trim, fit and explosive. His shot was sweet and he did one left handed dunk that was something to see. It had everyone talking. I was impressed and am happy." (Update via an email from Unprofessional Foul: Was it Chris Paul?)
- Andrew A. McNeill of 48 Minutes of Hell uses some sharp diagrams to illustrate San Antonio's prompt, low-risk, stay-at-home defensive principles.
- On the heels of the presentation of the prestigious Fields Medal to French mathematician Cedric Villani, Tom Ziller of AOL FanHouse asks, "Does defense really come down to atomic physics?"
- Steve Perrin of Clips Nation on Eric Gordon's inclusion on Team USA's final roster: "He came in less well known than many of the other players, a fact that Coach K acknowledged last week. But his work ethic in practice and his solid play on the court has given Team USA no choice but to keep him. He may be less flashy than the other guards on the team, but coaches tend to covet solid unspectacular play, especially from their role players. EJ plays unrelenting man to man defense, he doesn't need the ball on offense, he moves the ball well, and in the end Coach K and his staff appreciated the little things he was doing. It hasn't hurt that he has lived up to his reputation as a knockdown shooter."
- It hasn't been all confetti and champagne for the Lakers since 2000. Jeff Skibiski of Forum Blue & Gold walks you through the Lakers' 10 most forgettable moments of the decade.
- Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns says Phoenix could actually field a five-man small forward unit if it wants to: "Such a small forward lineup could put Hedo Turkoglu at the point, Josh Childress at the two, Grant Hill at his natural three, Jared Dudley at the four and Earl Clark at the five."
- Dudley asks a pretty interesting question via Twitter: "Imagine if the NBA had Int rules.. U think the All Star teams would be different?"
- Jeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company on why the grass is greener for Carmelo Anthony in Denver.
- Milwaukee did some intriguing things to its roster this offseason -- some of them curious, some of them clever. However we size up John Hammond's maneuvering, one thing is clear: The Bucks should finish at the rim at a measurably higher percentage this upcoming season.
- Mark Cuban says it's time to stay liquid: " If you don’t fully understand the risks of an investment you are contemplating, it’s ok to do nothing. In times of massive uncertainty like we are facing today, doing nothing is a valid and IMHO preferable investment strategy. Just put your money in the bank."
- Rob Mahoney of Pro Basketball Talk on Andre Iguodala's role on Team USA: "Iggy is easily Team USA's top perimeter defender, but offensively, he moves the ball, is a decent spot-up option (just don't ask him to shoot off the dribble...yeesh), and is a good positional rebounder."
- Some video of Wizards draft pick Kevin Seraphin.
- When Gary Grant ruled the world ... for one night.
- How to apply your childhood piano lessons to your NBA viewing habits.
- If the Wizards win 50 games this upcoming season, credit the new red stairs in the Verizon Center.
- Via J.E. Skeets, Living and Dying by the Jazz unearths some sharp threads from Jerry Sloan's playing days with the Bulls.
- FreeDarko revisits how Kwame Brown came to be a No 1 draft pick and the hazards of the pre-draft workout.
- In retrospect, exactly how bad for Cleveland was the Luke Jackson pick at No. 10 in the 2004 draft?
- Press row will be a cozier place next season in Miami.
- Somewhere in Italy is a bedroom treasure trove of NBA goodies.
- The Warriors have made crafty use of the D-League in recent seasons. Rasheed Malek of Warriors World tells D-League Digest's Matt Hubert: "Players such as Kelenna Azubuike, C.J. Watson and Reggie Williams are some of the players who’ve secured multi-year deals from NBA teams after initially being called up by the Warriors from the D-League. Add in other players such as Anthony Tolliver and Chris Hunter who’ve experienced significant playing time with the Warriors and it’s clear that the Warriors are the model franchise when it comes to utilizing the D-League."
The Lakers need Lamar Odom as much as Lamar Odom needs the Lakers. Jarrett Jack heads to Toronto, while Eddy Curry remains unmovable. And the big powers in the East make some tweaks to their benches.
Kurt Helin of Forum Blue & Gold: "Don't delude yourself into thinking the Lakers are better off without [Lamar] Odom -- the best proof is that last season he led the Lakers in +/-, the Lakers outscored opponents by 16.4 points per 48 minutes when he was on the floor. Second was Kobe [Bryant] at 12.1. The simple truth is that good things happened for the Lakers when he was on the floor. He came up big in the playoffs. His versatility cannot easily be replaced. There are some intriguing pieces on the Heat roster ([Mario] Chalmers, for one) but any move the Lakers make here is not going to make a title more likely. Can the Lakers win a title without Odom? Yes, but the margin of error is now non-existent. [Andrew] Bynum has to be healthy and playing at his peak. Artest has to fit in swimmingly. Bench guys like Sasha [Vujacic] and Jordan [Farmar] cannot struggle for long stretches. Everything has to go right. And that's a lot to ask."
Mike Kurylo of Knickerblogger: "When the Knicks acquired Eddy Curry, he was supposed to be the future of the franchise. Although there were signs that he would never reach that level of play (namely every stat but fg% and pts/36), his size and flashes of scoring lead many to believe in his potential. In 2009 Eddy Curry had his most disappointing season, playing a grand total of 12 minutes and scoring only 5 points. Immediately after the season ended, Curry vowed to get in shape, and immediately began twittering about his work out regimen. In the weeks since, his private trainer 'leaked' that Curry lost 30 pounds, and Eddy appeared before the Knicks brass at the summer league. It appears that Curry is doing what he does best. He appeals to the optimist in Knick fans, while producing almost nothing."
Jared Wade of Eight Points, Nine Seconds: "In the end, however, Jarrett [Jack] isn't worth $5 million a year - at least not to a Pacer team that still has [Jamaal] Tinsley's devastating deal on the books, will be paying Mike Dunleavy to rehab his knee for at least another six months, and is significantly overpaying for the production of both Troy Murphy and TJ Ford. I really liked the fearlessness and aggressive penetration Jack showed so consistently last season, but Bird was right to let him walk for that price. It would have been great to keep Jarrett around at something like three years/$12 million, but he played his way into a better offer from Toronto and no Pacer fan should fault him for that."
(Photos by Noah Graham, Jeff Zelevansky, Harry How/NBAE via Getty Images)
Various NBA pundits, the guy at the next bar stool, and their newest backup guard have all suggested that the way the Warriors play basketball does not involve real plays, discipline, or organization.
Well, here is footage of an actual Warrior practice -- the discipline! the precision! -- that should go a long way to exploding that myth.
C.J. Watson has been a breath of fresh air for the Golden State Warriors since his D-League call-up.
He is also a breath of fresh air in the NBA blogosphere, where he has quickly moved into second, behind Gilbert Arenas, in terms of most honest NBA blog -- or blog that gives you a sense what it's actually like to play in the NBA.
Watson's blog is on DraftExpress, and in his very first post about life in the NBA, he gets right into describing the oddities of his new coach.
I have to say, the NBA life is something I can get used to. The charter flights, the chef before and after practice, the per diem every road trip, the traveling seeing different cities and meeting different people, and oh yeah, the basketball-- the best part of all.
In my first NBA debut against the red hot Portland Trailblazers, I was excited. I finally made it to this big stage, and when the coach called me to go in, I was shocked and overzealous at the same time. I didn't know any plays, but in Coach Nelson's system you don't have to. They don't run any plays. They just get the ball and go. My first shot I missed-- I wasn't used to coming off the bench, so I didn't have my legs under me, but hey, no excuses.
One thing that shocked me was during a timeout Coach Nelson doesn't say nothing. He just sits there and rubs his head and will occasionally draw up a play every now and then. When you have been in the league as long as he has, and accomplished the things he has at a high level, you shouldn't have to. I asked one of the players "why he doesn't talk during timeouts?" They said he just doesn't. They were like "if that shocks you about this team, then you are in for a bunch more surprises and weird things."
UPDATE: Watson just signed a second 10-day contract with the Warriors.