Points in the Paint

» February 27, 2009 5:22 PM | By Brandon Hoffman
  • Rip Hamilton is moving back into Detroit’s starting lineup. This move needed to be made for a number of reasons, but was brought to the forefront after Allen Iverson aggravated a back sprain in Tuesday’s game versus New Orleans. With Iverson in the locker room, Detroit played inspired basketball for the first time in weeks. I suppose the means shouldn’t matter, but I wonder if Head Coach Michael Curry would have moved Iverson to the bench if he had remained healthy? I have my doubts.
  • Celtics Assistant Coach Kevin Eastman:  “The best defenders in the NBA are not just the guys who get the steals and lead the league in blocked shots. In fact they are usually the hardest working, most focused players that have a knack for ‘sniffing plays out.’ They have the ability to see a play begin and know what is likely to come next. It may be a play that our staff has never even gone over in a scouting report, but they still seem to have that sixth sense to know what is about to happen.”
  • Ian Thomsen of CNNSI.com:  “I was on the phone last month with Pacers president Larry Bird, who was telling me what everyone already knows: To win a championship, you need an elite player. ‘Here’s the thing about guys like you,’ I said. ‘You spend all of your time trying to get that special player. It’s all you think about it. And then after you get him, your life has never been so miserable.’ I named all of the stars in the NBA. Kobe Bryant turned Mitch Kupchak’s hair a brighter shade of white while insisting that the Lakers trade him a couple of summers ago. Everyone who works for the Cavaliers is scared to death that LeBron James may walk out on their marriage next year, and the same goes for Dwyane Wade in Miami and Chris Bosh in Toronto. Kevin Garnett, the ultimate team player, is high maintenance in his demands that everything be done just so per his meticulous routine, and so on and so forth goes the list. The only star who comes across as low maintenance is Tim Duncan, though I’m sure even he has his moments.”
  • Kevin Arnovitz of ClipperBlog and TrueHoop fame penned a fantastic piece that examines how the Houston Rockets shut down LeBron James last night. I can’t add much to Arnovitz’s analysis. It’s spot on. And Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey has certainly proven himself to be one of basketball’s top talent evaluators so when he says LeBron James is the best player in the game — I listen. But there’s no magical formula to stopping LeBron James. Keep him out of the paint. That’s it. Give him the jumper and play sound helpside defense. The San Antonio Spurs accomplished that task when they held James to 36% shooting in the 2007 NBA Finals. The Celtics duplicated that feat last season. And as Bill Livingston of The Plain Dealer pointed out earlier this month, the Celtics, Magic, and Lakers have had similar success against James this season. James averaged “24.4 points and shot 38.9 percent from the floor, 23.1 percent from the three-point line, and 61.5 percent from the free-throw line” in five meetings against Boston, Orlando, and LA earlier this season. The Cavs are 1-4 against the league’s elite teams this year. What’s my point? When are we going to stop oohing and ahhing when an elite defensive team “shuts down” LeBron and start accepting it as the norm?

8 Responses to “Points in the Paint”

  1. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Note: I edited the last sentence of this blog. It’s always good to place question marks at the end of questions.

  2. Basketballogy Says:

    I very much enjoyed the Kevin Arnovitz article; thanks, Hoff. I never thought of Adelman as a defensive coach, but someone is getting these players prepared for games like these.

  3. Zach Harper Says:

    Basketballogy, I can speak to who is preparing this Adelman team for defense. It’s Elston Turner, his defensive-minded assistant coach. Elston is a great defensive mind that helped mold Doug Christie into an all-world defender when he was in Sacramento.

  4. Dustin Staggers Says:

    “When are we going to stop oohing and ahhing when an elite defensive team “shuts down” LeBron and start accepting it as the norm?”

    Right now as Lebron destroys the Spurs. Ouch.

  5. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Basketballogy: Glad you enjoyed it. Current Boston Celtics Assistant Coach Tom Thibodeau spent a few seasons in Houston and the Rockets have a lot of holdovers from when Thibodeau was there.

    Zach: Thanks for the assist.

    Dustin: Lol. LeBron is a great player. I didn’t mean to imply that it was easy to stop him. It’s not. But it certainly isn’t complicated. You don’t need to pour over spreadsheets for hours on end to know that LeBron struggles to connect from outside.

    If you take a look at his shot chart:


    …you’ll notice that LeBron doesn’t have too many hot spots outside of the paint.

    Granted, there are few NBA teams that are capable of preventing James from getting to the basket. But the ones who can have been very successful against him over the past two years.

  6. dusty Says:

    all i know for sure is that KOBE!! can get off whenever he wants. especially in the finals. lakers in 5.

    until legone james develops that getoffwheneveryouwantness, then KOBE!! will continue to be the greatest player on the planet.

    that being said congrats to KOBE!! on back to back MVP’s.

    i saw an ilgauskus tip rebound that i believe was credited to lebron last night

    take that stat away…

  7. Tsunami Says:

    As far as the Houston game – it was a horrible game. The Cavs played terrible. LeBron never attacked, he settled for the deep jumper they gave him. And he couldn’t hit.

    In the LeBron Era the Cavs have been absolutely owned by the Rockets. And the Battier/Artest combo did a number on the Cavs. Artest’s physicality and Battier’s footspeed – you could tell LeBron was frustrated.

    However, had LeBron shot 75% in that game, the Cavs still lose the game – no one else on the team was doing anything until Mo Williams hit a few shot in the fourth (when the Cavs were down 20+). LeBron will be fine. Every player has a bad game now and then. And of course he’s going to struggle against the league’s best defenses in the NBA. They have excellent defensive schemes and know how to pick apart the Cavs weaknesses. But in the playoffs, when the game slows down, and the Cavs get to play D in the half court, they become the league’s best defense (year after year) – and LeBron is shooting better this year from deep than previous years.

  8. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    dusty: Lol. Good call.

    Tsunami: We’re not talking about a slight drop in production. Bron’s shooting percentage plummets when he faces an elite defense. His scoring average drops by almost 25% too.

    You said, “LeBron is shooting better this year from deep than previous years.”

    Are you basing that off of 82games or his “hot spots” chart at NBA.com?

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