TrueHoop: Jason Terry

How the Clippers could walk away

June, 18, 2013
6/18/13
5:16
PM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
Archive


How could the Los Angeles Clippers possibly walk away from a negotiation that would’ve yielded them Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers for a relatively unproven young center, a couple of first-round draft picks and the relatively small burden of taking on one or two mid-level contracts?

That’s the question gnawing at some Clipper fans and many Clipper skeptics on Tuesday, but however ineffectual the organization appears on the surface for folding up their tent, the Clippers made a sound decision.

Two key points:

What’s the hurry?
The Celtics’ situation is in flux and they’ve signaled to the world that they’re ready to pursue the wise course of rebuilding. If they buy out Paul Pierce’s contract on or before June 30, where does that leave Garnett and Rivers? Neither is wild about the idea of being part of the reconstruction process without their comrade, and both would prefer they join forces with a team driving for a title, a team like the Los Angeles Clippers.

In other words, if the Clippers want to acquire Kevin Garnett for DeAndre Jordan, they can do so after July 1. The only complication there is the report that Garnett isn’t interested in playing for any coach other than Rivers, a primary reason this whole drama started.

That’s why if I’m the Clippers, I hold off on hiring a coach until after the Pierce situation is resolved. Apart from the Clippers, the only remaining coaching vacancies are Memphis, Philadelphia and Denver. There’s virtually no overlap between the Clippers’ short list and that of 76ers president of basketball operations and general manager Sam Hinkie. Memphis will likely hire current assistant Dave Joerger. At worst, the Clippers lose one of their top three choices (most likely Lionel Hollins or Brian Shaw) to Denver while they wait. In exchange, they maintain the possibility that Rivers could join them after July 1. Boston will have no more impetus to pay Rivers $7 million to coach a bubble team than they do now. Ditto for Garnett’s $18 million guaranteed, assuming KG would return to a Pierce-less Celtics team.

There’s some worry that the Clippers’ inability to strike a deal with Boston might prompt Chris Paul to look elsewhere, but the concern has been overblown. If the Celtics are truly moving into rebuilding mode, time is on the Clippers’ side. If the Celtics decide to fire up the wagon for another run, then so be it.

Was the deal worth it?
Few veterans in the league bring Garnett’s gravitas, pedigree and presence and it’s easy to be charmed by the prospect of Garnett’s taking Blake Griffin under his wing and teaching him the dark arts of defending the pick-and-roll and becoming a championship power forward.

But Garnett is 37 and isn’t good for more than 26-28 minutes per game going forward. As transformative as he is as a minister of culture, Garnett’s past performance isn’t a reliable indicator of what kind of production he’d give the Clippers next season -- and the season after if the team decided to pick up his $12 million option for 2014-15.

So far as the leadership, Garnett is regarded as one of the league’s best teammates and mentors, but the Clippers went down that path last offseason when they brought back Chauncey Billups, signed Grant Hill and loaded up on good-guy vets to add to the collection they already had. Veteran leadership wasn’t the problem when the Clippers lost four straight to Memphis in the first round.

If anything, the Clippers need to get younger and establish a sustainable core around Paul and Griffin. Truth be told, Jordan probably isn’t the best frontcourt counterpart to Griffin since both are most dangerous in the basket area. And although Garnett would offer the midrange stretch that would best complement Griffin and is still a very steady defender, is 2,000 minutes of Garnett the best the Clippers can do for Jordan, whose athleticism and talent have many admirers around the league?

We don’t know the answer to this question, but a team like the Clippers that desperately needs a couple of wings who can defend and shoot from distance has an obligation to listen to offers -- and they’re out there for Jordan, both in the form of talent and picks.

Rivers is one of the five best coaches in the game and clearly has the respect of NBA players. But there’s a reason teams don’t trade assets for coaches. Doc Rivers can’t guard Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Ty Lawson, Mike Conley, James Harden and Stephen Curry. A few front office execs who were asked about the idea of handing over a pair of first-round picks for the privilege of paying a coach $7 million per season found the proposition absurd. While there was almost unanimous respect for Rivers’ acumen, the transaction was seen more as a salary dump than anything else.

The notion that a pair of first-round draft picks is a paltry sum to pay for Garnett and Rivers is short-sighted. With the new collective bargaining agreement in place, first-round picks have never been more valuable. They are the mother’s milk of the NBA trade market. With the exception of a few superstar max contacts, rookie-scale contracts represent the best values in the game. All across the league, there are young executives who know how to turn post-lottery picks into Chandler Parsons, Serge Ibaka and Eric Bledsoe, among others.

Teams value these picks and will offer the Clippers quality, on-court talent for them. A first-round pick is the kind of asset that could get a team to swallow the final year of Caron Butler’s contract, and could accompany Eric Bledsoe to get a top-line starter in exchange.

The Celtics also wanted the Clippers to take on additional payroll in the form of Jason Terry and/or Courtney Lee (this in addition to the $1.5 million that would’ve been added to the Clippers' salary number in a Jordan-for-Garnett swap). With only Griffin, Jordan, Butler, Jamal Crawford and Bledsoe locked in for next season, and Paul due a maximum salary, the Clippers need to preserve all their available exceptions. But adding Terry and/or Lee would’ve brought the Clippers precariously close to a place where they’d lose one or more of those slots, which are going to be vital in filling out their depleted roster.

It’s entirely possible the Clippers blew it big time by turning down an opportunity to sign a Hall of Famer in the twilight of his career and one of the most respected coaches in the game. Acquiring Garnett and Rivers would’ve made Paul ecstatic and endeared the team to the local media that have been pounding them in recent weeks.

But in forfeiting one option, the Clippers open themselves up to many others, including several that might actually address the team’s needs beyond 2014. In the meantime, Garnett and Rivers are still in Boston awaiting word on the direction of their team. If and when the Celtics decide to break up their current core, Garnett and/or Rivers will be looking for life rafts -- and the Clippers still have one.

Celts may have best chance to overcome 3-2

May, 3, 2013
5/03/13
4:37
PM ET
By John McTigue and Caroline Stedman
ESPN.com
Among the four Game 6s on ESPN tonight, the @ESPNStatsInfo twitter followers picked Boston to have the best shot to come back from a 3-2 deficit. Here are numbers that show why that just might happen.

What went right for the Celtics in Games 4 and 5
The Boston Celtics have relied heavily on jump shots against the New York Knicks. During the first three games of the series, that didn’t strategy backfired. But in Games 4 and 5 the Celtics finally found their touch, especially on catch-and-shoot jumpers.

The Celtics were a combined 14 of 55 (7 of 40 from 3-point range) in the first three games of the series. Since then, they are a combined 21 of 39 (16 of 32 on 3-pointers).

The three Celtics with the biggest improvements on those plays were three of their top scorers.

Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Jeff Green were a combined 6 of 31 (6 of 30 on 3-pointers) on catch-and-shoots the first three games but have gone 15 of 27 (14 of 26 on 3-pointers) the last two games.

What went wrong for the Knicks in Games 4 and 5
Defensively, the Celtics may need to just let the Knicks keep running their increasingly isolated offense. The Knicks had already used isolation on a league-high 16% of their offensive plays in the regular season, but in the playoffs that rate has jumped even higher to 27%.

No Knicks player has led the charge in isolation more than Carmelo Anthony. Anthony has gone isolation on 45% of his plays this postseason after doing so 26% of the time in the regular season.

In the past, Anthony has received a lot of criticism for being an inefficient player. He puts up high point totals, but normally takes a lot of shots to get there.

This playoff series has been no different.

Over the course of the regular season, Anthony averaged 22.2 field goal attempts per game. In the last two games, he’s averaged 29.5.

Highlighting the regular-season scoring champion’s “put-the-team-on-my-back” mentality, Anthony has spent 50 percent of his time in isolation in the past two games -- nearly doubling his regular-season average of 26.3 percent.

Despite this time investment, Anthony has not produced. He's averaging 0.7 points per play in isolation in the past two games, far below his regular season average of 0.9.

Celtics finally get back to winning

April, 28, 2013
4/28/13
5:57
PM ET
By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPN.com
Archive

The Knicks had major shooting woes in Game 4.

The Boston Celtics survived a comeback effort by the New York Knicks to prevail in overtime and extend this first-round series to a fifth game.

Let's take a look at some of the keys to the outcome of this contest, one that snapped the Celtics' five-game playoff losing streak.

Key to the game: Celtics catch-and-shoot it well
The Celtics were finally able to put some points on the board in this series, and their performance in a number of areas contrasted their efforts from earlier in the series.

The chart on the right shows the difference between how the Celtics fared on catch-and-shoot shots in the first three games of the series, compared to how they shot in Game 4.

Paul Pierce, who was 0-for-12 on catch-and-shoots in the first three games of this series, was 4-for-7 in Game 4, with most of those makes coming early when the Celtics got off to their big lead.

Unsung star: Jason Terry
Jason Terry scored nine of his 18 points in overtime, making all three of his shots in the extra period.

Terry was 6-for-6 from 2-point range in this game, including 4-for-4 in the paint. He was 1-for-4 in the paint in the first three games of this series.

Carmelo may have gone a bit too far
Carmelo Anthony tied Bernard King’s Knicks record for most field goal attempts in a playoff game with 35.

Anthony became the first player to attempt at least 35 shots and make less than 10 of them in a playoff game since Michael Jordan did so for the Chicago Bulls against the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals.

Elias tells us that they are the only players to do that in the shot-clock era.

The 35 attempts tied the most shots he’s taken in any game (regular season or postseason) in his career.

Anthony might have felt the need to shoot more with the absence of J.R. Smith. The Knicks bench managed only seven points in Game 4, the fewest it has scored in any game this season.

Anthony did extend a streak of scoring 30 or more points in games in which his team had a chance to clinch in a postseason series. He’s done so in each of the first four games of his career. Elias noted that Jordan had the longest run of 30-point games in potential clinchers to start his career, doing so in eight straight games.

We also remind you …
The last time a Boston pro sports team trailed 3-games-to-none to a New York team and won Game 4 in an amount of time that went beyond regulation (ie: extra innings or overtime) was in the 2004 ALCS when the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees.

The Red Sox went on to win that series in seven games.

Even just getting to a Game 7 would be a notable accomplishment. Only three NBA Best-of-7 series have featured one team winning three straight games when trailing 3-0 in the series.

None have won the series.

The book on Rick Carlisle

January, 18, 2013
1/18/13
11:11
AM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
Archive
Rick Carlisle
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty ImagesRick Carlisle: The pragmatist

Name: Rick Carlisle

Birthdate: October 27, 1959

Is he an emotional leader or a tactician?
A tactician. Carlisle inspires his team and staff with his deep knowledge of the game, not an emotional appeal. They know he’s passionate about winning and losing, but that’s conveyed through his intelligence and command, not huddle histrionics or heartfelt one-on-ones with players or coaches. Those who’ve worked with him, as well as colleagues around the league, marvel at Carlisle’s ability to manage the last five minutes of a basketball game.

Is he intense or a go along-get along type?
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the NBA who would characterize Carlisle as lighthearted. He’s very intense, but he also knows how to corral that sharpness and doesn’t coach angry.

Does he rely on systems, or does he coach ad hoc to his personnel?
Give Carlisle the pieces, and he’ll find something that works. In Detroit and Indiana, Carlisle’s teams were defined by their defense and were all about controlling the possession on offense. He succeeded with both Stackhouse-Atkins and Billups-Hamilton backcourts in Detroit, all four guards decidedly different in styles and strengths. In Indiana, Jermaine O’Neal got the ball on the left block, and Reggie Miller curled off single-singles, stacks and staggered screens. In Dallas, Carlisle went away from play-calling in favor of something that relied on more general principles -- and the instincts of Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki to put those principles into action. To the extent that there’s a commonality over the course of Carlisle's career, it’s “Find the right shot at the right time for the right guy.”

Does he share decision-making with star players, or is he the Decider?
Carlisle is the Decider, but he’s exceptionally good at giving his key players the sense that they own a piece of the enterprise. He takes in a lot of information -- from assistants, star players, owners, numbers guys and trainers -- and that knowledge will often guide his decisions. For instance, things weren’t so rosy in fall 2008 when the Mavericks came out of the gate 2-7. Kidd didn’t want every set being commandeered from the sideline and was pining for more freedom. Carlisle went into the lab with his staff, came up with the "push" offense, which gave Kidd the flexibility he needed, but still generated the right shot at the right time for the right guy. That often amounted to an early jump shot for Nowitzki in a prime spot.

Does he prefer the explosive scorer or the lockdown defender?
Carlisle has always appreciated who’s helping his team on the defensive end of the floor and feels confident he can find good shots for just about anyone -- even a defensive specialist like DeShawn Stevenson. In Indiana, Carlisle found plenty of minutes for Fred Jones, and in Dallas there has almost always been a Corey Brewer, James Singleton or Quinton Ross within close reach if needed for defensive duty. All that said, neither Corliss Williamson nor Jason Terry ever had to worry about losing minutes under Carlisle, who can recognize a well-tuned microwave when he sees one.

Does he prefer a set rotation, or is he more likely to use his personnel situationally?
Carlisle has no problem mixing things up when he identifies an opportunity. When his Pacers team needed to unclog the half court against the Pistons in a grueling conference final in 2004, Carlisle had Austin Croshere make his first start in two seasons to help the spacing. When his Mavericks team needed someone to attack the Heat’s defense off the dribble in the 2011 Finals, Carlisle inserted J.J. Barea into the starting lineup for the final three games of the series en route to an NBA championship. Throughout his tenure in Dallas, if a player has cracked the code in a regular-season game -- say Brandon Bass in a pick-and-roll with Barea -- Carlisle will gladly leave him out there to exploit an opponent’s defensive vulnerability.

Will he trust young players in big spots, or is he more inclined to use his veterans?
Again, Carlisle isn’t prone to personal bias. He wants the guy out there who can help him the most. The situation will dictate the personnel, regardless of a factor like age. In Indiana, the core apart from 38-year-old Reggie Miller was very young, and nobody used more possessions for him during his last season in Detroit than 24-year-old Rip Hamilton. Yet Dallas has largely been a veteran’s shop under Carlisle.

Are there any unique strategies that he particularly likes?
Carlisle might never fashion a trend in the NBA, but he’ll take a current one and perfect it.

The push offense isn’t so much an offensive system as it is solution to a problem. The 2008-09 Mavericks roster featured few players who could break a defense down with penetration and nobody who could be classified as a low-post threat. What Dallas had in spades were one- and two-dribble jump shooters and guys with astronomical basketball I.Q.s and other discernible skills like picking, diving and cutting. So Carlisle, with the aid of then-assistant coach Terry Stotts, devised a strategy to empower the team to find early high-percentage looks against an imbalanced defense.

As a general tactic, this wasn’t new -- several teams had abandoned structure for freedom, Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix squads the best example. But unlike D’Antoni, Carlisle didn’t have a prober like Steve Nash, nor was his group in Dallas as speedy or stretchy. The Mavs couldn’t run and shoot with abandon, but Kidd could orchestrate an aggressive offense that knew how to sniff out those clean, early looks. That often meant getting wings and big men behind plays into random pick-and-rolls, or pinning Nowitzki’s man early, or hitting Terry on the secondary break for a trailing jumper, or finding Josh Howard (later Shawn Marion) underneath a defense that’s collapsed after an early drag screen.

Given his conventional playbook at his previous stops, this shift to a more free-flowing offense seemed like a departure for Carlisle. But in time, we learned that Carlisle didn’t coach a deliberate, half-court game in Detroit and Indiana because he had a predisposition for it. He drew it up that way because his rosters necessitated more structure. When the circumstances in Dallas revealed themselves and he realized Kidd wasn’t Jamaal Tinsley or Anthony Johnson, Carlisle deftly adjusted to the talent around him and created something special.

Defensively, the Mavericks adopted an inventive zone defense strategy devised by Dwane Casey. They were the rare team that was able to effectively zone up after misses, and would actually employ both zone and man-to-man schemes within a single possession.

What were his characteristics as a player?
A plodding but an intensely hard-working shooting guard who was always prepared and stayed in impeccable shape. Curiously, he tallied only 3.5 rebounds per 36 minutes for a total rebounding rate of 5.4 percent -- one of the lowest in history for a guard his size. By all accounts, this wasn’t for a lack of effort, but a lack of hops.

Which coaches did he play for?
Carlisle played for Pine Tree State lifer Skip Chappelle at the University of Maine before transferring to the University of Virginia, where Terry Holland was the head coach. During his three years with the Boston Celtics, Carlisle came off the bench for K.C. Jones. Rick Pitino had Carlisle for a single season in New York. Carlisle finished his career as a player with New Jersey for Bill Fitch, who eventually offered him his first job on an NBA staff.

What is his coaching pedigree?
After being waived by the Nets, Carlisle got his start breaking down film under Fitch. In 1994, Carlisle joined P.J. Carlesimo's staff in Portland, where he worked alongside the legendary Dick Harter, the man responsible for the Bad Boy Pistons’ “Jordan Rules” defensive strategy. Harter had a tremendous influence on Carlisle, who ultimately adopted many of Harter’s principles in Detroit and Indiana -- strong base defense without much switching, few double-teams, help and rotations only when necessary and, above all, physicality. In 1997, Carlisle joined the coaching staff of former teammate Larry Bird in Indiana. Again Carlisle found himself on staff with defensive guru Harter. When Bird left the sideline in 2000, Carlisle was passed over for Isiah Thomas, but was tapped by the Pistons for his first head coaching gig. After two seasons in Detroit, Carlisle moved on to Indiana for four seasons before landing in Dallas in 2008 after a one-year sabbatical.

If basketball didn't exist, what might he be doing?
Working as a clinical psychologist.

Tuesday Bullets

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
11:38
AM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
Archive
  • Tim Frank of the NBA: "Tonight's NBA games will be played. We are still assessing the situation with regards to the rest of the week."
  • Andray Blatche got an assist from some first responders.
  • What's going to replace James Harden's beard as the icon of Thunder fanhood? The Lost Ogle offers up 11 nominations.
  • Matt Yglesias, Slate's business and economics blogger, on the Harden deal: "[M]y real critique is that the Thunder don't seem to be considering the optionality involved in resigning Harden. Having the guy under contract for a multiyear deal doesn't just carry with it the right to employ Harden's basketball services; it carries the right to trade the right to employ him at any time. So if it did come to pass that the Thunder were a championship-caliber team and nonetheless running some kind of intolerable operating loss, they could always trade him then (or, better, they could trade Westbrook). The existence of the luxury tax can lead to a kind of overthinking and irrational sequencing about these things. When considering whether or not to sign a player for $X million, the question to focus on is whether he produces more than $X million worth of basketball services. If he does, then he's a valuable trade asset at any time. And the luxury tax should be understood as being assessed on the entire team payroll rather than having the entire hit arbitrarily assigned to whomever happens to be the last player you signed."
  • Once everyone in the starting lineup is healthy and and the meet-and-greet is over, the Lakers are going to be a bear to defend. Brett Koremenos of Grantland breaks down five devastating sets from five title contenders, including the Lakers' "slot pick-and-roll into high-low" scheme.
  • Something we often forget about rookies playing their first regular season game in the NBA: Many of them are taking the floor against their idols. That has to be a bit of a jolt, as Portland's Damian Lillard tells it toward the end of his most recent installment of "License of Lillard."
  • Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus unveils his final SCHOENE predictions for the season. Denver and Atlanta look strong. Oklahoma City and Indiana fall a few rungs. And who projects to have the No. 2 offense in the NBA? Your Minnesota Timberwolves.
  • The best in Nikola Pekovic propoganda this side of Podgorica.
  • Says here that Eddy Curry will probably start opposite Dwight Howard in the Mavericks' opener in Los Angeles, as Chris Kaman nurses a right calf injury.
  • One NBA scout has some unkind words for the Golden State Warriors. From his perch, Richard Jefferson causes headaches, David Lee was known to some Knicks teammates as FEMA because he was never there when you needed him and Mark Jackson doesn't have a feel from the game.
  • There aren't any industry studies, but I'd guess there are very few 15 year olds in North America whose Moms chaperoned them to the tattoo parlor -- Wizards rookie Bradley Beal is a notable exception. From Michael Lee in the Washington Post: "Besta Beal joined her son at the tattoo parlor when he got his first ink at age 15, and he needed her permission, because otherwise, 'she would’ve killed me,' Bradley said with a laugh. Beal provided all of the artwork on his arms ... "
  • Media outlets across the nation are publishing endorsements for the presidential election. The ClipperBlog editorial board weighs in and endorses ... Eric Bledsoe for Clippers starting shooting guard: "Across the league, NBA head coaches are facing tough choices as they go to fill out their lineup cards for opening night. Candidates have campaigned for spots since the start of training camp, hoping to show they have what it takes to get the job done. Some races were over before they began -- the incumbent's hold on the seat just too strong. But there are those, like the fight for the Clippers' second starting backcourt spot, that keep coaches up at night. Now it's time to make the call ... After thorough review of the candidates, we believe that the player best equipped to fulfill the necessary responsibilities of starting alongside Chris Paul is 22-year old Eric Bledsoe."
  • Can Rajon Rondo make the leap to first-team all-NBA?
  • Don't you just hate it when you realize that a player you can't stand is, in fact, a big-time contributor? Aaron McGuire of Gothic Ginobili on Jason Terry: "At some point, people who dislike Jason Terry -- myself included -- need to step back and simply start appreciating his production. And let's get this straight now -- I am no fan of Terry's. I think he's bombastic, self-obsessed, and preening. He needs to realize, at some point, that he is not an airplane ... But you know what? He probably was underrated in #NBARank, and in a general sense, Terry is of inconceivably low repute to a vast majority of the NBA's fans. And it makes no sense to me. Last season, Terry was the 5th best shooting guard in the NBA. Really. There were the obvious betters -- Kobe, Wade, Harden, Manu -- and you could make a reasonable case that Joe Johnson was better. Beyond those five? Nobody."
  • Our friends at Ball in Europe, without an NBA franchise on the Continent, are considering which NBA team to adopt as their own. You can cast your vote here.
  • Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones celebrates the release of Stephen Jackson's "Lonely at the Top," featuring Kevin Durant.
  • Did you hear about the time Matt Bonner dragged Jackson to a Coldplay concert?
  • Marreese Speights would like to remind you that there are 13 other teams in the Western Conference besides Oklahoma City and the Lakers.
  • Serge Ibaka tells us how Brooklyn is like Brazzaville.

Can Mayo be as clutch as Terry?

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
10:13
AM ET
By Jose De Leon
ESPN.com
Archive
This is the fourth installment of a series called “Missed or Not Missed?”. The concept is simple -- we take a look at a few Western Conference teams and determine if the players they’ve lost will be missed or if the player they brought in will make them forget that loss.

In this piece, we look at the Dallas Mavericks
.

The Mavericks couldn’t haul in the big fish this summer and resorted to plan B. The aging Jason Terry wasn’t asked to come back and O.J. Mayo was brought in to fill the void.

Can Dallas get Mayo to produce offensively like he did in his 1st 2 seasons with Memphis and fill the void Terry left?

Clutch performer

Along with Dirk Nowitzki, Terry was called on to come up big in tight games.

He proved he could be counted on over the last two seasons, posting a higher PER than Nowitzki in crunch time.

In just six more games than Mayo, Terry outscored him 225-109 and had the advantage in terms of field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage, as noted in the chart on the right

Even replacement

Both Terry and Mayo are streaky scorers with almost unlimited range. The big difference is Terry is 35 years old and has already peaked. Mayo turns 25 in November and has yet to scratch the surface.

When looking at per-36 minute-performance over the last three seasons, , Mayo has averaged just a point and a half fewer than Terry and nearly equaled or bettered his shooting percentages.

Pacers' starting five is punishing the Heat

May, 18, 2012
5/18/12
1:32
PM ET
By Ryan Feldman
ESPN.com
Archive

Michael Hickey/US PresswireThe Pacers starting five has given LeBron James and the Heat fits in the first three games.
The longer the Indiana Pacers can keep their starting five on the court, the better chance they have to eliminate the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Indiana’s starting five of Paul George, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and David West has been the most successful five-man lineup in this year’s postseason. It has a better plus-minus, has scored more points and has a better rebounding margin than any other five-man lineup in the playoffs.

In eight postseason games, Indiana's starting five has outscored its opponents by 79 points and outrebounded them by 68.

During the regular season, George, Granger, Hibbert, Hill and West started just eight games together, and the Pacers were 7-1 in those games. They played just 229 minutes together and outscored their opponents by 72 points.

In the playoffs, they’ve already played together for 176 minutes, and the formula continues to be successful.

This postseason, Indiana’s starting five:

• Has more than double the second-chance points (70) of any other five-man lineup. (Second are the Lakers and Magic with 30.)

• Leads all lineups in points in the paint (152) and points off turnovers (58).

• Has outscored its opponents by 56 points in the paint (152-96), has 30 more second-chance points (74-44) and 18 more fast-break points (42-24).

When George, Granger, Hibbert, Hill and West were on the court in Game 3, they outscored the Heat 68-40.

The starting five shot 52 percent from the field (including 6-of-10 on 3-pointers) and outrebounded the Heat 32-15. That lineup held the Heat to 33 percent shooting from the field and 1-of-10 on 3-point attempts. They also outscored the Heat 13-0 on second-chance points.

Every other Pacers lineup was outscored by nine.

Since the 2008 playoffs, only four lineups have finished with a plus-minus that’s been as good as Indiana’s +79. Three of those teams reached the NBA Finals and two won the NBA championship, including the Mavericks’ lineup last year of Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry.

Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.

Flop of the Night: Jason Terry

May, 4, 2012
5/04/12
11:35
AM ET
By Beckley Mason and Zach Harper
ESPN.com
Jason Terry
Danny Bollinger/NBAE/Getty Images
Not even a well-timed flop could get Jason Terry and the Dallas Mavericks going last night.

HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below.

The Mavericks, the oldest team in the league, pulled all the old man maneuvers out of their bag of tricks to keep up with the young and talented Oklahoma City Thunder Thunder on Thursday.

With the season slipping away, Jason Terry had to try something. So as he dribbled the ball across the court, James Harden on his hip, Terry laid down a flop that contains all the classic elements you would expect from such a seasoned veteran.

Note the subtle headwhip, the way he flings out his left arm as though Harden just stuck him with a cattle prod, how he suddenly loses control of his left foot, dragging it behind him as he tumbles to the hardwood.

Was there a trip wire on the court? Did James Harden's beard exerts mystical gravitational forces that caused Terry to lose his balance?

In technique, this actually looks a lot like an egregious soccer flop, or "dive." But there are no yellow cards for simulating a foul in the NBA.

On the contrary, even though watching Harden reveals he couldn't have possibly fouled Terry, the veteran got the call -- even if the Thunder got the game.

When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
  • Alert HoopIdea to super flops with the Twitter hashtag #FlopOfTheNight (follow us on Twitter here).
  • Use the #FlopOfTheNight hashtag in Daily Dime Live.
  • E-mail us at hoopidea@gmail.com

Monday Bullets

July, 25, 2011
7/25/11
11:24
AM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
Archive
  • J.A. Adande joined Baron Davis on the campus of UCLA, where the Cavs point guard will try to maintain a GPA, not a PER. At Hardwood Paroxysm, Holly MacKenzie shares a story about how, several seasons back, Davis blew her off in a locker room in Seattle, only to track her down later on in the tunnel to make amends: "[Davis] taught me a lesson: players can be cranky, and sometimes you’ll approach them after a bad loss or performance when they’re angry or bitter or caught up in something. But often times, how someone treats you on that single occasion isn’t a fair representation of who that person is."
  • Davis coached LeBron James in a Drew League game on Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles. Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports: "[Drew League director Dino] Smiley said many fans tweeted and sent text messages about James’ arrival. 'Every edge' of the court in the tiny gym, Smiley said, was packed. Smiley said the gym doors were eventually closed shut during James’ game by law enforcement officers, who told fans if they left they couldn’t return"
  • Thunderground Radio evaluates how Sam Presti fared in 2010-11. Was the Perkins-Green trade necessary? Can Reggie Jackson make an impact in the backcourt?
  • Blake Griffin is a monster and, barring injury, projects to be a indomitable franchise player. For the Clippers, that's the easy part. The more elastic variable for the team is Eric Gordon. If the Clippers aren't able to land a marquee superstar, could they still be a force in the West with Gordon as their featured perimeter threat with Griffin down low, provided DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe continue to grow? Nick Flynt of ClipperBlog takes a look.
  • What happened to the Trail Blazers after they broke up their Finals core in 1993? A retrospective from Blazers Edge.
  • I'm a sucker for any basketball post that prominently features Bob Walk, who pitched for the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates. A pitcher named Walk would the equivalent of a hoopster named Travel. But the thrust of the Negative Dunkalectics' post by Chris George is not the dubiously-named Walk, but the playing career of Warriors head coach Mark Jackson: "Mark Jackson was a comparatively small and non-athletic man, largely informed by a street game, who managed to use a few moves over and over again to put up much better numbers than he 'should' have. The combination of the back down, the baby hook, the no-look passes, the teardrop, and the push shot made him one of the most frustrating point guards of his era, even if he never had the ability to be a true star."
  • Jason Terry delivered the first pitch at Sunday's Texas Rangers game to Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler. Dirk Nowitzki via Twitter: "Was jet's first pitch at rangers game better than mine? Didn't anyone see it? Let me know."
  • Who is Manuel Velez Pangilinan? He's the very wealthy, very influential guy behind the pair of exhibition games at Araneta Coliseum in Manila between a slew of NBA stars and standouts from the Philippine Basketball Association. The two games were standing room only and tickets on the secondary market ran as much as four times face value.
  • The WNBA named its 15 best players ever. Ball in Europe follows with its 15 best Euroleague women players in history.
  • Hakeem Olajuwon, Marco Belinelli and Hedo Turkoglu: Each initially excited Raps fans when he signed on the dotted line, only to fall way short of expectations. For good measure, five Raptors draft picks that raised eyebrows.
  • Six years prior to putting on a Raptors jersey, Olajuwon logged 39 points and 17 rebounds in the Game 6 clincher of the 1995 Western Conference finals against the Spurs. NBA Off-Season presents another in their Lockout Classics series.
  • If Kobe Bryant is Derek Jeter, then Derek Fisher is Jorge Posada. Does that make Robert Horry Scott Brosius?
  • Look out, Monday. Wes Matthews is in mission mode.
  • Kings big man Jason Thompson: "Congrats to the NFL on ending their Lockout....NOW its OUR TURN!!!!"

Nowitzki, Mavs are too clutch for Heat

June, 13, 2011
6/13/11
3:55
PM ET
By ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
Archive
The Dallas Mavericks won their first NBA championship behind 27 points from Jason Terry and 21 points and 11 rebounds from Dirk Nowitzki. The latter took home the Finals MVP award after averaging 26 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in the series.

Nowitzki is the 11th player in NBA history with at least 10 NBA All-Star appearances, an MVP award and a Finals MVP award. Seven of the other 10 are members of the Basketball Hall of Fame and the other three -- Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant -- are near-locks to be enshrined once they are eligible.

Although Nowitzki was outscored by a teammate off the bench in the clinching game, he still scored 10 in the fourth quarter and played well the whole series when it mattered most.

Only O’Neal and Michael Jordan averaged more points in the fourth quarter in the NBA Finals in the past 20 seasons.

Terry struggled in the first three games of the series and went scoreless when guarded by LeBron James in the fourth quarter. Then he questioned whether James could guard him for the entire series and went about proving himself right. He increased his scoring by nearly 50 percent and nearly tripled his fourth-quarter scoring output in the final three games of the series.

Terry’s 368 points were the most by a bench player in a single postseason in the past 25 years, and his 18 points per game was the highest in the NBA Finals for a player who didn’t start a game since Freddie Brown averaged 19.1 for the Sonics in 1978.

While Nowitzki shined, Miami struggled late in games.

The Mavs outscored the Heat 75-49 in the last five minutes of the six games, nearly doubled their rebounding total (29-15) and forced 14 turnovers while committing just six of their own.

In fact, Nowitzki scored as many fourth-quarter points by himself as James and Dwyane Wade combined in the series. In crunch time -- defined as the last five minutes of the game with the score within five points -- he outscored the entire Miami roster.

James went 0-for-7 from the field and went scoreless during crunch time in this series and didn’t even attempt a free throw.

That continued a pattern of decreasing aggressiveness -- he averaged 8.4 free throws per game during the regular season and 9.1 in his first three postseason series. In the NBA Finals, he averaged just 3.3 free throws per game and never had more than four in a single game.

In 86 previous postseason games, James had never come close to attempting so few free throws in any six-game span. In his playoff career, his teams are 4-9 when he attempts four or fewer free throws and 52-27 when he takes five or more.

Prior to the 2011 NBA Finals, under the current 2-3-2 format (which began in 1985) in the NBA Finals, when a series was tied 1-1, the winner of Game 3 won the series 100 percent of the time (11-0). The Miami Heat became the first team in NBA history to win Game 3 under those circumstances and lose the NBA Finals.

Dirk shines again in 4th, brings home title

June, 13, 2011
6/13/11
12:31
AM ET
By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPN.com
Archive
For the first time in NBA history, the Larry O’Brien Trophy is headed to Dallas.

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat 105-95, becoming the fourth franchise in the past 20 postseasons to claim their first NBA title (2006 Heat, 1999 San Antonio Spurs and 1994 Houston Rockets).

They became the fifth team to win the NBA title as a No. 3 seed or lower since the current NBA playoff format began in 1984.

Jason Terry led the Mavericks with a game-high 27 points off the bench, scoring 19 in the first half.

Terry tied for the most points off the bench by a player in a series-clinching NBA Finals win since the NBA-ABA merger, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Manu Ginobili had 27 points when the Spurs beat the Cleveland Cavaliers (and LeBron James) in 2007.

Dirk Nowitzki
Nowitzki
Despite shooting 9-of-27 from the field in the series clincher, Dirk Nowitzki finished with 21 points including 10 in the fourth quarter.

Such efforts down the stretch, in addition to his overall performance for the series, earned Nowitzki the NBA Finals MVP. Nowitzki is just the fourth player born outside the U.S. to win the Finals MVP.

Nowitzki entered this postseason having scored 22,792 points in the regular season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the fourth-most by a player at the time of his first NBA title, trailing only Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, and West.

LeBron James led Miami with 21 points and Dwyane Wade added 17 points, but the two combined for 11 of the Heat's 17 turnovers.

For the series, James and Wade combined for 62 fourth-quarter points. Nowitzki, by himself, scored a total of 62 points in the fourth quarter of the series.

While James had a better showing in the fourth quarter in Game 6 than in previous games, his overall scoring was still well below his standards.

He finished with a 17.8 scoring average for the series, 8.9 points worse than what he averaged during the regular season (26.7).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 8.9 points per game differential is the largest dropoff from the regular season to the NBA Finals in NBA history (among players who averaged at least 25 PPG during the regular season).

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle improves to 11-3 all-time in potential series-clinching games, the best record in such games in NBA history (min. 10 games).

Carlisle joins Pat Riley (1982 Lakers) as the only coaches in the last 30 seasons to win an NBA title in their Finals coaching debut with a team that had a worse regular season record than its opponent.

And at 38 years old Jason Kidd became the second-oldest player to start in and win the NBA Finals. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was older. He won in 1987 and 1988 with the Lakers at ages 39 and 40.

Kidd and Nowitzki become the fifth and sixth players in NBA history to win their first NBA title after already making 10 or more All-Star teams.

The others? Jerry West, Kevin Garnett, Oscar Robertson and Elvin Hayes.

Mavs continue postseason of comebacks

June, 10, 2011
6/10/11
1:30
AM ET
By ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
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Following a 16-5 run that gave them a four-point lead with under five minutes remaining it appeared that the Miami Heat would be heading back to South Beach with a commanding 3-2 series edge.

However, as they have shown time and again this postseason the Dallas Mavericks refused to quit and they finished Game 5 on a 17-4 run to push the Heat to the brink of elimination.

It was all about execution down the stretch as the Heat turned the ball over three times on their final 10 possessions while going 1-for-6 from the field. The Mavericks were 4-for-6 down the stretch and made each of their last three 3-point field goal attempts as part of the game-ending run. In each of their three wins this series the Mavericks have overcome a late fourth quarter deficit.

After enduring an offensive struggle in the first four games of the series -- the teams combined to average 88.4 points per game on 42.1 field goal shooting entering Game 5 -- both squads shot over 50 percent from the field and eclipsed the 100-point mark in the NBA Finals for the first time this series.

The difference though was behind the arc as the Mavericks made 13 3-point field goals, tied for the second-most all-time in an NBA Finals game, doing so on just 19 attempts.

The 68.4 percent shooting from 3-point range was the third-highest in an NBA Finals game over the last 20 postseasons in which a team attempted at least 15 3-point field goals.

The Mavericks also won despite being outrebounded by 10. They are the first team since the 1998 Chicago Bulls to win an NBA Finals game despite allowing an opponent to shoot at least 50 percent from the field and have a -10 rebounding margin.

Dirk Nowitzki was stellar again leading the Mavericks with 29 points and Dallas' supporting cast came up huge, especially its guards.

Jason Terry (21 points), JJ Barea (17) and Jason Kidd (13) each set series highs in points. According to Elias the trio of guards became the first set of teammates to each have 10 points, five assists and three 3-pointers in an NBA Finals game.

Terry in particular was huge in the fourth quarter as all eight of his points in the final frame came in the last 3:23 of the game. After getting called out following Game 3 for struggling in the fourth quarter, in part due to being defended by Lebron James, Terry has outscored James 16-2 in the fourth quarter of Games 4-5. Overall he scored eight points when guarded by James in Game 5, including making two key 3-pointers down the stretch.

Speaking of James, he rebounded off his playoff-low eight-point performance in Game 4 to notch his first career triple-double in an NBA Finals game, becoming the fifth player in the last 25 seasons to record a triple-double in the NBA Finals and lose.

A main reason the Heat lost Game 5 was they were at their worst when the 'Big Three' were on the court together. When James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were on the floor at the same time, Miami was outscored by 14 points.

Fourth quarter again looms large for Mavs

June, 8, 2011
6/08/11
1:28
AM ET
By ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
Archive
Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, to lead the Mavericks to yet another comeback win in the playoffs. Dallas trailed by 4 points entering the final quarter, but closed the game on a 21-9 run to even the NBA Finals at two games apiece.

This was the sixth time this postseason that the Mavericks won a game in which they trailed entering the final quarter. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that it’s the most comeback wins of that kind by a team in a single postseason since the 1989 Pistons, who also had six en route to the NBA title.

The Heat made just three field goals in the final 9:58 of the game, and missed their last nine field goal attempts from beyond 15-or-more feet in the final 10 minutes. That is the most misses by Miami without a make from this range in the last 10 minutes of the fourth quarter/overtime this season.

Nowitzki went just 2-for-6 from the field in the fourth quarter, but made all six of his free throws to lead the Mavericks down the stretch. Dirk did miss an earlier free throw attempt in the third quarter, ending his streak of consecutive free throws made this series at 26. According to Elias, that was the longest streak in a single Finals series since Clyde Drexler made 28 straight in 1992.

One of the big story lines heading into Game 4 was the comments made by Jason Terry and how LeBron James would guard him in the fourth quarter. Terry backed up his talk and nearly outscored the Heat's Big Three by himself down the stretch. Terry had 8 points in the final quarter and didn't turn the ball over while Wade, James and Bosh combined for 9 points and five turnovers.

James finished with 8 points, the first time in his 90 career playoff games that he was held to single-digit points. His teams are now 0-7 when he scores 15 points or fewer in a postseason game. James attempted just one shot in the fourth quarter and failed to score despite playing all 12 minutes. This is just the second time he’s failed to score in the final period of any playoff game.

Dirk’s dominating performance and LeBron’s disappearing act in the fourth quarter this game continues a trend from the entire series. Nowitzki has now outscored James 44-9 in the final period, making as many field goals as James has attempted while making six times as many free throws.

Has this been the most exciting Finals ever? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is just the third NBA Finals to have three straight games decided by three points or fewer. The only others were in 1947 and 1948 -- the first two Finals series ever played.

The series is now tied at two and Game 5 in Dallas Thursday night looms large. In NBA Finals history, the Game 5 winner of a tied series goes on to win the series 73 percent of the time (19-7).

LeBron James is stepping up in fourth

June, 7, 2011
6/07/11
12:52
PM ET
By Micah Adams
ESPN.com
Archive
Because of his lack of scoring, much has been made about how ineffective LeBron James has been in the fourth quarter of the NBA Finals. However, as James pointed out, his contributions have been made with his defense and playmaking.

In the fourth quarter of the finals, James has scored 9 points compared to Dwyane Wade’s 23. That discrepancy has led to the argument that Wade has been far more effective late in games. However, James also has five fourth-quarter assists that have led to 12 points. Looking at Points Created, James has accounted for just 8 fewer points than Wade on the offensive end. (Wade has three fourth-quarter assists that have led to 6 points.)

But what about the defense? Synergy Sports video tracking looks at the number of times Player X guarded Player Y and can determine how many points were scored in a given matchup.

As Dirk Nowitzki said on Monday: "They keep sticking him on Jet (Jason Terry) in the fourth quarters and he's been doing a good job ... "

The numbers agree.

In the fourth quarter, James has been Terry’s primary defender on seven plays, holding him to zero points on 0-of-5 shooting. James also has been effective on others (Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd), allowing a total of 5 points on 10 plays.

The first graphic (above) is a postseason breakdown of plays, points and points per play averaged by notable Mavericks leading into the Finals.

The second graphic breaks down of the number of plays in which James spent as the primary on-ball defender. Taking each player’s average points per play and multiplying it by the number of plays in which they were guarded by James, we get an expected number of points equal to 8.61.

Since James has allowed just 5 points, his fourth-quarter defense has saved Miami 3.61 points. Wade has saved 2.59 points. In other words, James has been a point more valuable on the defensive end of the floor.

By taking into account James’ value as a facilitator and defender, James’ worth in terms of Net Points is 24.61, compared to 31.59 for Wade. Although the concept of defensive points saved is admittedly rough, it helps quantify a player’s contributions on the defensive end of the floor.

Heat get defensive late to take series lead

June, 6, 2011
6/06/11
1:38
AM ET
By ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
Archive
In a game that featured four lead changes and nine ties, the Miami Heat went ahead for good on a Chris Bosh jumper with less than 40 seconds to play to hang on to an 88-86 Game 3 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Bosh finished with 18 points as the Dallas native finally won a game in Big D after eight previous losses there. It was just the Heat's second win in their last 13 trips to Dallas including the regular season.

Dirk Nowitzki led all scorers with 34 points, including the final 12 for Dallas. He tied the game at 86 with a jumper with 1:40 left, but the Heat would not allow the Mavericks to score again forcing a turnover and two missed shots on Dallas' final three possessions. One of those misses was the potential game-tying field goal by Nowitzki as time expired.

In the final period, Nowitzki did not get much help from his teammates. Jason Terry was 0-for-4 from the field in the fourth and Shawn Marion did not attempt a field goal despite playing all but four seconds in the quarter.

Nowitzki has made all 24 of his free throws in this year's NBA Finals, including 9-for-9 from the line in Game 3. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the longest streak of consecutive free throws made to begin an NBA Finals since Reggie Miller made his first 25 shots from the line during the 2000 Finals.

Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 29 points and 11 rebounds, making eight of his 12 field goals within five feet. Wade leads all players this postseason with most field goals made from that range.

The Mavericks bench scored just 25 points, the third time this series it has been held to fewer than 30 points. Dallas is now 10-12 this season when its bench scores 29 or fewer points compared to 60-18 when scoring 30 or more.

The Heat are now 27-15 this season when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combine to score between 60 and 74 points. They scored 64 on Sunday.

Miami is two wins away from its second title in the last six seasons and history is on the Heat's side. Since the NBA Finals went to the 2-3-2 format beginning in 1985, (when the series has been tied, 1-1) the winner of Game 3 has gone on to win the championship all 11 times.

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