TrueHoop: Maurice Evans
- I like Phoenix over Portland in a tough, 7-game series, but Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns aptly points to a huge concern for Phoenix: "I’m not sure if the Suns have a plan to keep Camby off the boards, but they sure need one. When the Suns win the rebounding battle, they often win the game, and believe it or not they out-rebound their opponents. Controlling Camby is one of Phoenix’s biggest keys to the series in my mind."
- Daryl Morey to Jason Friedman on elite free agency movement this summer: "I actually think they’ll all go sign-and-trade. Even the teams with room often will sign-and-trade into the room and get something back from the team. A free agent is picking where he wants to go more or less, so he eventually tells the team, 'I want to go there,' and the team doesn’t want to lose him for nothing, so they try to work out some sort of arrangement."
- For those who believe Shawn Marion lacks that killer instinct. (Hat Tip: Two Man Game)
- Orlando-Charlotte might be the series with the lowest Q Rating, but it's a chance to watch a chess match between two of the more cerebral coaches in basketball. Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball talks with Queen City Hoops' Brett Hainline about what the Bobcats need to do to compete with the Magic. Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie makes a pointed argument that the Magic can't afford to have Rashard Lewis go M.I.A. if they want to be playing in June.
- Few teams have a less certain future than the Chicago Bulls, writes Matt McHale of By the Horns: "Rose and Noah are the foundation of the team. Beyond that, anything is possible. The Bulls are going to be rebuilt over the summer. In the end, this season has been about developing Derrick, Joakim, and even Taj. To that extent, the season was a success."
- At Basketball Prospectus, Kevin Pelton and Bradford Doolittle offer all kinds of great stuff headed into the first weekend of the postseason. In the Lakers-Thunder preview, Pelton touches on my biggest concern for Oklahoma City: "When Durant has the basketball and the starting lineup is on the floor, only Jeff Green (33.3 percent) is any kind of threat from beyond the arc, which will allow the Lakers to offer help to Artest." As vulnerable as the Lakers seem right now, their proficiency for overloading defensively in the half court is still very, very strong. A team like the Thunder which doesn't shoot well from the perimeter and has few ball-movers can have a lot of trouble against that kind of strong-side pressure.
- The 1st Annual Tarence Kinsey Award goes to ...
- Liberty Ballers itemize what's gone wrong in Philadelphia.
- Darius Soriano of Forum Blue & Gold jots down a playoff wish list that includes more insults from Ty Lawson and traffic paralysis in central Los Angeles sometime in mid-June. As someone who uses Figueroa Street as a primary north-south thoroughfare, I'll concur on the first and punt on the second.
- Bethlehem Shoals and Tom Ziller apply Bill James' log5 method to prognosticate the first-round playoff series. Bulls fans, look away.
- You'll need at least $200 for a seat in the lower bowl at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City next Thursday night for the Thunder's first home playoff game.
- How a New England transplant and die-hard Red Sox fan came to love the Thunder and started to warm to the NBA.
- Zaza Pachulia isn't impressed with Mo Evans' spring fashion.
Forget about Kobe -- the Nuggets have their hands full with the Lakers' seven-footers. Orlando needed to learn how to win -- it took them all of 72 hours. And Rick Sund deserves an "Atta Boy," in Atlanta.
Jeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company: "You can talk about Kobe Bryant all you want, the Nuggets biggest concern should be how they can handle [Andrew] Bynum and [Pau] Gasol. With the starters on the floor Kenyon Martin is going to have to guard one of them and he has a serious length disadvantage against both. Most likely Kenyon will be guarding Gasol and for all his defensive desire and talents he is in a big hole ... Pau can shoot his 15-18 foot set shot over Kenyon at will and when he goes into the post his jump hook will be impossible for Kenyon to stop. Nene is relatively better equipped to cover Bynum than Kenyon is for guarding Gasol, but Bynum still has a significant length and weight advantage over Nene. On the other hand, Nene has done a decent job against Gasol in the past so will Denver choose to stick Kenyon on Bynum and double the heck out of him should he get the ball in the post thus creating one major mismatch instead of two less than desirable matchups?"
Zach Lowe of Celtics Hub: "This Celtics team could not play championship-caliber defense consistently. Their defensive numbers slipped a bit against Chicago, a mediocre offensive team, and it was likely, if not inevitable, that Orlando was going to score on Boston at least once or twice in this series. And the Celtics could not rely on their offense and their three-point shooting to carry them, as they did against the Bulls. Orlando's defense was the best in the NBA this season by some metrics. The tendency will be to look for what the Celtics did wrong -- to ask why Doc Rivers waited so long to try a small lineup, to wonder why Ray Allen shot so poorly until Game 7, to ask why the Celtics defenders had so much trouble guarding Mickael Pietrus tonight, why Eddie House couldn't get free, and on and on and on. The reality is that Orlando is a very good basketball team that presents major match-up problems for Boston sans [Kevin] Garnett."
Bret LaGree of Hoopinion: "Considering both the ownership situation and his brief tenure I'm going to give Rick Sund the benefit of the doubt for the time being. I don't believe that's simply a matter of being fair. By signing Flip Murray and Maurice Evans for a combined $4 million he earned the benefit of the doubt. The veteran pair combined to ably back up three positions while helping to accelerate the team's transformation, one which started following last season's trade for Mike Bibby, from an offense incapable of making three-point shots into a more diverse and dangerous team to guard."
THE FINAL WORD
Cavs the Blog: John Krolik revisits the Cavs-Magic regular season matchups.
Orlando Magic Daily: Much respect for Mr. Paul Pierce.
Daily Thunder: Thabo Sefolosha -- the next Shane Battier?
(Photos by Noah Graham, Brian Babineau, Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)