Monday, March 7, 2011

Sixers best Warriors in OT

The Warriors, or Monta Ellis, did well to get the Warriors into overtime where they fell to the 76ers. After the All-Star break, the game plan against the Warriors has been to play aggressive defense. Opposing defenses have made a concerted effort to close out on shooters, specifically on the three point line. The Warriors are a perimeter shooting team and do the most damage when they get hot from beyond the arc. Also, off-ball defenders are jumping pass lanes and gambling for steals, which resulted in turnovers and fast break opportunities for the opponent.

If teams close out strong, I'd like to see more pump fakes and drives to the rim. The Warriors don't get to the free throw line enough. Sometimes its inequitable officiating, other times it's their reputation of a team that doesn't attack the rim. The Warriors scorers must continue to put pressure on the officails to make a call by driving to the rim and not falling in love with perimeter offense. When off-ball defenders want to crowd, the wings should space out wide and cut back door. It worked several times for Monta Ellis on Rondo in the Boston game.

The 76ers have a lot of weapons and credit Doug Collins for getting all of his players to buy into sharing the ball. They lack a premiere player, but there are at least six, maybe seven players on this team that can go for 20 points on any given night. Andre Iguadala's production is down, but his efficiency is up and he allows his team mates to take more shots. Igualdala also showed he is a serviceable closer when they need a bucket at the end of the game. Evan Turner has a dynamic game. Judging from what I saw Mar. 6, he will be a Brandon Roy-esque triple double threat once he gets more minutes.

Ekpe Udoh continues to develop and should continue to start at center for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Udoh got into early foul trouble in the first quarter and had to sit. His absence opened the door for Philadelphia to attack the rim and take momentum.

I didn't care much for Keith Smart's decision to start Biedrins in overtime. Thadeus Young owned that match-up and set the tone for the 76ers in the extra period by scoring the first basket.

David Lee has been playing great basketball of late. He scored 14 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and didn't shoot a free throw. Lee was fouled on multiple shots, but the officiating was tilted toward the home team. Keith smart even picked up a technical foul. I don't think that's happened all season. That in itself is an indicator that the officials had a bad game.

Around the NBA

Before watching the Warriors, I DVR'd the Lakers versus Spurs on ABC. The Lakers absolutely pounded the Spurs from the opening tip. Unlike much of this season, the Lakers were highly motivated as the Spurs stole the last meeting on an Antonio McDyess tip-in put back with a fraction of a second left. This game showed the Lakers are still the alpha dog of the West and the NBA. When they are interested, there's no better team in the league.

The Miami Heat bumbled another game in the final seconds in a loss to the Bulls in Miami Mar. 6. The Heat failed to get a key defensive rebound that led to Joakim Noah hitting the go ahead free throw. With the last possession, the Heat elected to let LeBron dribble up top and make a play. Chicago packed the lane and forced James into an errant shot. LeBron is no Kobe and certainly nowhere near as clutch as M.J.

Miami's struggles this season, especially executing in close games, leads NBA fans to re-examine the concept of "Big 3". Boston's model of a big three is the right way to do it, as Garnett, Pierce, and Allen all have unique roles. Garnett is the foundation of defense and the heart of the team, Allen is the sharp shooter who can stretch the defense but also put it on the floor, and Pierce is the guy who can create his own shot and get to the free throw line when needed. Pierce is also the closer. The Spurs have fielded a big three for years with Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili.

I'm still not ready to sell the Heat, they can still make a deep playoff run and even get to the finals, but they still look very unsettled in their roles.

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