Points in the Paint

» July 16, 2009 4:50 PM | By Brandon Hoffman
  • Gordon Monson at The Salt Lake Tribune puts Carlos Boozer on blast:  “Five summers ago, when Carlos Boozer screwed over the Cavs by lying to a blind man, privately agreeing to re-sign with then-owner Gordon Gund’s team if it agreed to let him out of his initial lower-paying deal and then double-crossing it for bigger money, fans here celebrated the Jazz’s timely opportunism. They cheered Jazz management’s taking advantage of Boozer’s lack of integrity … er, business savvy. Either way, it didn’t matter. At last, a coveted free agent was coming the Jazz’s way, albeit by dubious means. The thinking went: It’s OK, because he’s our guy now. Truth is, Boozer was not your guy. He was never your guy. He was his guy. He was Carlos Boozer Inc.’s guy. The real problem with Boozer, the reason he’ll only be a champion if some other forces on his team pull him along for the ride, is that he sees basketball in corporate terms. He’s his own moneymaker, he’s his own investment. He talks about winning championships, but he’s really about protecting his investment, and cashing in.”
  • From The Cleveland Plain Dealer:  “For the past few weeks, O’Neal’s jersey has been the second most popular jersey selling on NBAStore.com, behind Kobe Bryant’s, with James’ in third. Comparably, O’Neal’s No. 32 Suns jersey was the 14th most popular choice at the end of the 2008-09 season, based on sales at the NBA store and Web site, while James jerseys were ranked second behind Bryant.”
  • Mike Miller on how many three-pointers he can knock down consecutively, via Dan Steinberg:  “We go around the horn, I’ll go 78, 80 threes in a row,” he said. “You have to be shooting pretty well to do that. [Then] you walk away. You don’t want to see the ball no more. Sometimes you’ve got that horseshoe in your pocket.” Miller also talks about his experience owning a pet monkey, which has been reported ad nauseum, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
  • Jordan Farmar on his run at the WSOP:  “I ended up getting lucky early, getting some chips and then getting kind of good as I went along,” Farmar recalled. “I had two bracelet winners at my table so I was watching the people who are really good at poker play. I just started to pick up on their tendencies: when they call, when they raise, how they play. I just started getting better. Sitting there for 10 hours a day with the best in the world, you get better fast.”
  • Paul Coro  of The Arizona Republic:  “The Suns have one more addition to go this summer, but they already laid out an outline for the franchise’s transition. Panned for being the NBA’s active senior living community with the now-departed Shaquille O’Neal, the Suns still will start two players in their mid-30s – but everyone else is in their 20s. Steve Nash, 35, and Grant Hill, 36, are the mentors for a bridge that gets the younger club from one era to the next, where a 2010 free agency upgrade awaits. The Suns have a 26-and-under team but for Nash, Hill and Jason Richardson, 28. ‘You’ve got to move forward to the next era,’ Kerr said. ‘That is one of the reasons we’ve added the players we’ve had and added the youth.’”
  • Rotoworld via NBCSports.com:  “A day after a warrant was issued stemming from his $822,500 in gambling debts, Antoine Walker was arrested in Harrah’s Casino in South Lake Tahoe, Nev., on Wednesday night. Walker was led out of the building in handcuffs, and is in Douglas County Jail with bail set at $87,000. Walker is accused of three felony counts of writing bad checks. County prosecutors say he failed to make good on 10 checks totaling $1 million written to Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and the Red Rock Resort.” This is incredibly sad. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Walker earned $99,287,540 over his 12-year NBA career. “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” The next saddest is wasted fortune. Here’s hoping Walker gets some help.
  • Kelly Dwyer:  “It’s hard not to be condescending or matter of fact, but I can’t help but implore to readers that the Orlando Magic have absolutely owned this offseason. I understand why you may not be as smitten. Vince Carter has a rep. He’s not well-liked in Toronto, that’s one thing, and he’s hardly everyone’s favorite outside of Ontario. That’s entirely fair. Starting in the 2000-01 season and really taking hold the year after, Carter shot jumper after jumper when drive after drive were called for. He acted the opposite of fellow 1998 draftee Paul Pierce, who is about the opposite of Carter in terms of athleticism and length. And when VC did take a hit, look out, and hit the concession stand, because he’d stay on the court, milking every bump, delaying games and annoying fans. So I can understand why it isn’t fun to get behind Orlando trading for the man. Most of us think Hedo Turkoglu is overpaid, but we dig Hedo. He eats pizza, he throws bad lobs, he looks like Tas Melas after a bad fight and even worse shaving job. We loved Courtney Lee, the plucky rookie who took on all comers even while wearing a Bill Laimbeer-styled mask. We dug the 2008-09 Orlando Magic. And that team, more or less, is gone.”

9 Responses to “Points in the Paint”

  1. Tsunami Says:

    The magic are certainly stacked, but i think people are sort of dismissing the Cavs after the ECF exit.

    If Howard shoots his normal FT% against the Cavs then Cleveland wins that series.

    There are a million other strange things that happened in that series – it’s definitely not worth discussing all of them.

    But consider this.

    Are the Magic better? Yes.

    Are the Cavs better? Yes.

    Are the Magic a better MATCH UP against the Cavs? No.

    Are the Cavs a better MATCH UP against the Magic? Yes.

    Vince Carter will not pose a match up problem with the Cavs backcourt defenders: Parker/West

    Dwight Howard is still a beast, but he will have to put up his beastly numbers against 1 defender (shaq), not two or three.

    Lastly, the Cavs finally have a legitimate low post scoring option in Shaq.

    They improved a 66 win team at two positions, SG and C. And both improvements were also match up improvements against Orlando.

    Today Hollinger said the Magic are def the team to beat. I’m not sure I agree – even though I still haven’t completely come out from under my Cavs rock. On PAPER (I mean, it’s Cleveland…so expect the worst to happen) the Cavs appear stronger to me.

  2. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Tsunami:

    I don’t think Howard’s FT shooting was the deciding factor.

    He only attempted two free throws in Orlando’s Game 1 win. His 14-for-19 mark doesn’t really account for Orlando’s 10-point victory in Game 3 either. You can make an argument that Howard’s 7-for-9 shooting determined the outcome of Game 4, but I’m not buying it.

    I’ve been meaning to address this in a post analyzing the Shaq trade, but like Jeff Van Gundy, I believe Cleveland’s inability to defend Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu hurt them more than Howard’s scoring.

    The Cavs didn’t double Howard often enough, and their double-teams were poorly orchestrated.

    The Lakers doubled Howard from every angle imaginable, and their perimeter rotations were textbook. L.A. proved that you don’t need a dominant low-post defender to stop Dwight Howard. A sound defensive strategy will suffice.

    Shaquille O’Neal will not stop Dwight Howard with single coverage. He may slow him down some, but O’Neal won’t be a difference-maker on the defensive end. Shaq has been a defensive liability for years. I don’t know why the Cavaliers are expecting him to become a factor defensively at this stage of his career.

    I’m leaning toward the Celtics in the East. I think Rasheed Wallace will have a banner year for Boston. He and KG will cause all sorts of matchup problems for the Cavs and Magic.

  3. Tsunami Says:

    The 10 point victory in game 3 was very close until the last minute. It definitely played a part.

    When the Cavs didn’t double Howard, he dominated. When they did, he kicked out and yes, they were unable to guard Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu. Rafer Alston banking in 3s didn’t help. Nor did Michael Pietrus’ ridiculous display of unconsious shooting.

    I don’t believe for a second that Shaq is a good defensive player. But just like Kendrick Perkins, he’s big, and he wont allow Howard to get low post position. Unlike Gasol, who can score from any position, Howard becomes superman when he can muscle his way into dunk territory. He’s quite ordinary outside that zone.

    It wasn’t so much Howard’s scoring as it was Howard’s efficiency. The Cavs had no choice but to double him, especially after the game 2 FT fiasco. Their strategy that game was to foul him anytime he got low post position. Except, he hit his FT. So in game 4 they decided to double again, and AGAIN, Lewis, Pietrus, Turk went off.

    The Cavs were easily the best team in the NBA going into the Conference Finals. They won 66 games and had HCA in a year when teams were really gunning for that. They lost because of match up issues – and I think they’ve addressed them nicely already.

    THey’ve NEVER had a low post scorer – now they do. They’ve never had a big body to guard Howard/Bynum/Perkins/Yao

    This year they were very undersized in the backcourt. Their defensive strategy is based on “textbook” rotations and help defense, which they orchestrated to perfect against most of the teams in the league. Against the Magic’s shooters – it was completely innocuous. They drafted a pure defender in Danny Green, and signed Anthony Parker, a tall, big, crafty defender. ANd even if they hadn’t – the Cavs have had plenty of success against Vince Carter in the past. Not so much against Hedo Turkoglu.

    I’m just saying: 66 win team, upgraded 2 positions, addressed 2 match up issues….

    Everyone is raving about the moves the Lakers and Magic made. While I totally agree, the Lakers got better with ARtest and the Magic got better with Bass and Carter – the Cavs didn’t LOSE anything. THe Magic lost Alston (who KILLED the Cavs), Lee, and Turk. The Lakers lost Ariza (which may or may not come back to haunt them). The Cavs lost Ben Wallace (a complete non factor in teh playoffs) and Sasha Pavlovic (a complete non factor all season).

    The Cavs were the only team that added a 2009 all-star to their team….

  4. Tsunami Says:

    Whatever – I hope everyone overlooks them.

    IT’s going to be hard though. If you thought LeBron was on a mission last year…

    the last 2 years we’ve heard his numbers being called “historic”

    His efficiency this year could be through the roof with Shaq FINISHING his entry passes and lobs.

  5. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    Look at it this way:

    Howard shot .594 from the free throw line during the regular season. He shot .701 (47-67) from the stripe during the conference finals. If he shoots 40-for-67 (59.7%) against the Cavaliers, he basically matches his regular season mark. That’s 7 free throws. His free-throw shooting wasn’t the deciding factor my friend.

    - It wasn’t the initial pass out from Howard that hurt the Cavaliers, it was the second or third ball reversal that resulted in so many open looks from beyond the arc. There were a TON of defensive breakdowns.

    - You said, “I don’t believe for a second that Shaq is a good defensive player. But just like Kendrick Perkins, he’s big, and he wont allow Howard to get low post position. Unlike Gasol, who can score from any position, Howard becomes superman when he can muscle his way into dunk territory. He’s quite ordinary outside that zone.”

    That’s true. But I think Howard is going to improve by leaps and bounds this summer. Orlando will feed Howard on the move, and they’ll involve Shaq in as many pick-and-rolls as possible.

    - You know I never bought into the widespread belief that Cleveland was the team to beat. They were certainly contenders, but their inability to beat the league’s elite teams (consistently) always spoke volumes to me. Orlando and LA manhandled Cleveland throughout the season. I think Boston, with a healthy KG, could have given the Cavs a run for their money as well.

    - I agree that Shaq is an upgrade over Ben Wallace, but I thought Wallace was very underrated. He was an excellent team defender, and he was very good at defending the pick-and-roll.

    - One more thing, and it’s something I’ll elaborate on more when I write my column on the Shaq trade, but I don’t understand why the Cavaliers “needed” to get a low-post scorer. They have LEBRON JAMES! I keep reading about how James is planning on putting up so many jumpers this summer. Get him on the block! He SHOULD be a dominant low-post scorer, and acquiring Shaq will only delay what I believe is the most important aspect of LeBron’s development.

    - I think the Cavs improved, but I truly believe that Boston will be the team to beat in the East. Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins will only continue to improve, Sheed will be motivated (and he still has a lot left in the tank — unlike Shaq), and Pierce and Allen have one more run in them.

  6. Tsunami Says:

    Yes but the point is, the second and third pass were leading to open men because the Cavs were scrambling to rotate back into position after DOUBLING Howard.

    Look, you can make the case all day the Cavs had trouble against long wing players – but they beat up on plenty of teams that had long wing players. They completely shut down Joe Johnson, and Tayshaun Prince, and they’ve had their way with the NON LA/Orlando/Houston teams in the regular season. I watched those games against LA – they lost the one game because Lamar Odom made 37 layups, not because long wing defenders were stroking 3s. Howard was THE REASON the Cavs lost to the Magic. It was inside-outside-swing passing that killed the Cavs, but it always started with Howard. When the chose not to double him, like game 1 – Howard went 14-20 from the field. He’s not going to go 14-20 against Shaq. He’s just not.

    As far as Boston is concerned – I don’t think they can beat the Cavs. The Cavs have always defended Ray Allen well and there is no one on the Celtics that can guard LeBron. Not to mention they can’t double and triple team him like they did in ‘07. I don’t think they are better this year than ‘07 and the Cavs are world’s better. KG’s injury/age will hamper him, and I’m not sure you can make the argument that Sheed still has it in the tank and Shaq doesn’t.

    Here’s the other thing about Shaq. He is effective when he gets the ball in position to score near the low post. He shot a career high last year in FG% largely because opposing teams stopped doubling him. Guess what, in the LeBron era, opposing teams have NEVER doubled any Cav other than LeBron. And LeBron is probably the best entry-passer in the league with his combination of height and court vision – coupled with the fact that he’s ambidexterous. 80% of Anderson Varejao’s baskets came off assists – the vast majority of those were from LeBron. Shaq is going to get the ball in good position to score, and unlike Z, Varejao, Big Ben, and Joe Smith…Shaq FINISHES plays.

    I just think all things being equal, every team being healthy, the Cavs are the best team in the East. Orlando second, Boston 3rd.

  7. Tsunami Says:

    Check this out: Inside scoring stats.

    JJ Hickson:

    %att eFG% ast’d %blk’d pts
    60% .655 71% 16% 2.5
    Joe Smith:
    46% .698 65% 13% 3.5
    Ben Wallace:
    75% .534 63% 8% 2.2
    Zydrunas Ilgauskas:
    35% .560 49% 9% 4.3
    Anderson Varejao
    59% .671 79% 8% 4.9
    Shaq:
    72% .699 63% 4% 11.3

    Shaq had the highest eFG%, despite being assisted to the LEAST, and had by far the lowest % of shots blocked. To say nothing that he had the most attempts from inside.

    All those numbers indicate to me, that Shaq is going to be a major upgrade down low for the Cavs, to say nothing of the reason they went out and got him in the FIRST PLACE – to keep Howard from getting low post position.

  8. Tsunami Says:

    sorry he wasn’t assisted to less than Z from inside…

  9. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    You said, “It was inside-outside-swing passing that killed the Cavs, but it always started with Howard.”

    That’s just not true. Most of Orlando’s offensive possessions (I’d say 70-30) were initiated by high screen/rolls, which just so happen to be Shaq’s Achilles heel.

    You said, “He is effective when he gets the ball in position to score near the low post. He shot a career high last year in FG% largely because opposing teams stopped doubling him. Guess what, in the LeBron era, opposing teams have NEVER doubled any Cav other than LeBron.”

    …And that’s not going to change next season either. I don’t think you’ve watched Shaq over the last two or three seasons. He doesn’t command double-teams anymore. And it has nothing to do with his shooting percentage. He’s still a go-to-guy in the post. It’s all about minutes. Opposing teams can let Shaq get his 17 and 8 over the course of 30 minutes, because that means his teammates are forced to stand around and watch as he goes to work down low.

    You know who else is a great entry-passer? Steve Nash. This has nothing to do with position or passing. Shaq got plenty of touches in Phoenix, and he’ll get plenty of touches in Cleveland, but he isn’t going to create space for LeBron. “He’s just not.”

    I get why Cavs fans are so excited about Shaq. But the fact is, for all the positives he’ll likely bring, he brings a boatload of negatives, too.

    This is one of those debates that’s going nowhere. We’ll see what happens next season.

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