Punish Pop? David Stern Out Of Line
If David Stern is trying to create enthusiasm for the start of the Adam Silver Era, he's off to a good start.
Stern's bizarre decision to announce the San Antonio Spurs would face as-yet-unnamed "substantial sanctions" -- calling it "unacceptable" without ever specifying why -- for sitting out four starters against Miami on Thursday night, bore all the classic tenets of bad management: reactive, inconsistent, overbearing and moving us no closer to a solution to the underlying issue.
Let's walk through it. Understandably, ticket-holders in Miami were upset they wouldn't get to see San Antonio's three All-Stars (although Southwest ticket holders in Orlando apparently were thrilled). Also understandably, so was TNT -- one of the league's national television rights holders who thought it would have a marquee game to televise.
While we ended up with a surprisingly good game -- a 105-100 Miami win decided in the final half-minute -- it's likely that some viewers turned off their sets when they saw the assorted de Colos and Josephs on the floor for San Antonio. Or that's the argument, anyway, although it breaks down when one considers the Spurs have pretty much been a form of TV-viewer repellent for several years now. (Seriously, I've probably written a hundred columns on the Spurs over the past decade, and this might be the first one that more than eight non-relatives outside the state of Texas will read.)
Pau Gasol Against The System
Last Friday in Memphis, two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol found himself banished to the bench for the entire fourth quarter. Gasol was struggling to find good looks at the basket (and wasn't successful at hitting those he found), and at the moment down the stretch when he would've normally trotted over to the scorer's table to check in for reserve Antawn Jamison, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni never called Gasol's number.
After the game, Gasol expressed his frustration, not so much with D'Antoni's decision to stick with Jamison, who was playing well on the offensive end. Gasol was disheartened by the lack of touches he was getting in the post, where he's most comfortable operating
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Popovich Made The Right Call
Just before tipoff of last night's game in Miami, I received a text message from a veteran player asking me whether I agreed with what "Pop" was doing. At that time, I was in a meeting and had no clue what he was referring to.
The player responded by saying San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was sitting his four highest scorers and trotting out bench reserves to start the game.
My text back was simple: "If Pop is doing that, the rest of the league should be taking notes."
Second-guessing Popovich on anything basketball-related is like making business suggestions to Bill Gates on what he should do to build his company. It is fair for us to assume that "Pop" made the right decision to sit his key players against the Heat. Let's explore why it was the right decision.
Here's How You Play The Post
There are always one or two projections spit out by SCHOENE before the season that raise more than a few eyebrows. One of the big ones this year was the forecast of the retooled Atlanta Hawks to rise just above the quagmire below the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference to land a No. 2 seed.
After a so-so start, the Hawks are threatening to make SCHOENE look pretty smart. Atlanta has won six straight, albeit against a soft group of opponents, to move a half-game behind the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets for second in the East.
Besides the easy schedule, what's changed? For one thing, Hawks coach Larry Drew has proved to be very flexible when it comes to his rotation. He has more or less platooned between big and small lineups depending on the matchup, using Zaza Pachulia at center when the opponent has a top pivot.
Overall, though, Atlanta's lineups are trending small. Last week, just nine teams played smaller than the Hawks, which featured an average true position score of 2.88. For the season, Atlanta is at 2.94, which is right in the middle of the pack.