Spurs, Pacers, Doc Rivers, S Livingston, Bulls, Improved Stars, D-League, A Bradley.Officiating, GSW, AD, China

– Spurs win 18th straight (from Jeff McDonald, San Antonio Express-News):

“They are playing as well as anybody in the world right now,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “You have to be perfect to beat the Spurs.”

Not one to revel in winning streaks, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is almost uncomfortable with how easily things are coming to his team.

During their streak, the Spurs are winning by an average of 16.5 points.

“I don’t think we’re going to be undefeated going into the playoffs, so it’s not really about that,” said Popovich, whose club has not lost since Feb. 21 at Phoenix. “You may win a game or lose a game, but if you’re at the top of your game execution-wise, you feel pretty good going into the playoffs.”

There’s little to feel good about in Indiana these days, with the Pacers dropping five of their past six games to fall percentage points behind Miami in the race for the Eastern Conference’s best record.”

Read it here: http://www.expressnews.com/sports/spurs/article/Spurs-win-record-18th-straight-5365566.php?t=ece8c3fe32927fc3fb#/0

– Contrasting fates: Spurs streak, Pacers sink (from Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com):

” Over the past two-plus seasons as the Indiana Pacers enjoyed their unexpected rise, they were a team that was known for its unfailingly sunny disposition and a steady, even if at times irrational, confidence.

After being scarred by a series of negative incidents over the previous decade, it was that genuine togetherness and collective interest that won back many of the fans who had turned their backs on the basketball-crazed state’s flagship team.

That existing foundation makes the Pacers’ crumbling season such a challenge to understand and impossible to have predicted. Teams across the league yearn for such chemistry and stability — it is those ingredients that traditionally allow teams to fight through challenging times.

Instead, the Pacers have been internally fracturing. Monday they lost 103-77 to the San Antonio Spurs, a team that is now winners of 18 in a row but also knows a thing or two about battling through adversity, having done it quite a bit this season. It was an important game for both teams, but the Pacers, who had been 33-4 on their floor this season, fell down fast and never recovered.”

Read it here: http://espn.go.com/nba/dailydime/_/page/dime-140331/spurs-18th-straight-win-sinks-indy

– Will Pacers’ problems derail their once-promising drive for a title? (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):

” With just seven games left in their regular season, the once-mighty Pacers have fallen into self-conscious calamity. The letdown was inevitable. Few teams in modern NBA history have dominated as thoroughly as Indiana did early this season, which in itself marked the Pacers as a candidate for regression to the mean. Unfortunately for Indiana, that doesn’t even begin to cover the extent of its decline. Two months of mediocrity and a recent string of losses have sent these Pacers into a spiral of frustration and insecurity, with one woe only fueling the other.

All of which leaves a contender very clearly unsettled. The defense has lapsed more consistently of late, removing whatever room for error the offense once had. Steady offensive flow has given way to a certain lethargy, as those not immediately involved in a given play tend to disengage. Perhaps worst of all: The edge that sharpened Indiana’s play now reads as contempt, stoked by every swing or entry pass not made.

“I just don’t know if we’re handling success and being out front the right way,” power forward David West told NBA.com. “When we don’t share the ball, we have 10, 15 possessions where we don’t make a single pass, and you’ve got four guys, or nine guys on the floor watching one guy, watching two guys, it’s on us. … We’ve had that same sort of conversation over the last month and a half or so. We just haven’t been able to apply that on the basketball court, particularly on the road.””

Read it here: http://nba.si.com/2014/04/01/indiana-pacers-problems-paul-george-david-west-roy-hibbert/

– Shaun Livingston, the visionary (from Devin Kharpertian, theBrooklyngame.com)

” Livingston predicates his game on anticipation, reading an offense or defense and weighing the possible outcomes. In a pick-and-roll league, that means breaking down the whole floor. “It’s really about seeing where the help is going to be,” Livingston explained. “There’s one-on-one basketball, but teams try to eliminate that by playing team defense. So when playing team defense, you’re trying to help another guy. So if everybody’s pulling each other and helping on the string, then you’ve got to find out where the right play is. Who’s going to be open? Sometimes it might be you on the shot, sometimes it might just be the hockey assist. Sometimes it might be the home run play. But it’s about making the right play. That’s contagious.”

Read and view it here: http://thebrooklyngame.com/anatomy-perspective-shaun-livingston-visionary/

– Bulls know rebounding can’t be an uncertainty (from Joe Cowley, Suntimes.com):

” There are certain aspects of a game that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau will concede to the opposition. Rebounding is not one of them.

It didn’t matter that the Bulls, outrebounded in six of their last 10 games entering Monday, still found a way to win four of those games. To Thibodeau, that’s flirting with danger.

And with just eight regular-season games left after Monday’s win over the Boston Celtics at the United Center, that’s also a messy house going into the playoffs.

‘‘It’s been inconsistent,’’ Thibodeau said before the game, in which the Bulls finished with a 48-45 rebounding edge. ‘‘We’ve been a very good rebounding team all season. You have to look at it in totality, and I think right now, actually, there were several plays [from Sunday’s win at Boston] in which we had good block-outs and we took off where one guy was thinking the other guy was taking it.

Read it here: http://www.suntimes.com/sports/basketball/bulls/26560271-579/bulls-know-rebounding-cant-be-an-uncertainty.html

10 NBA Stars Who Made “The Leap” This Season (from Drew Corrigan, Dimemag.com):

” Can anyone believe the NBA season is almost at an end? The playoffs are almost upon us, which means some teams will be reaching for NBA championships while other teams will be at home reaching for the remote. Every season that passes by there are players that have taken their game to the next level. These players have made the “leap” essentially, star players finally asserting themselves as dominant, All-Star caliber talents.

Some of these are obvious and some of these players have made the jump without anyone noticing. Obviously Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin are the first two that come to mind, but let’s not forget about Isaiah Thomas, Kyle Lowry, Ty Lawson and a couple others. Without further adieu, let’s get into the ten NBA players who made the jump this season.”

Read it here: http://dimemag.com/2014/03/10-nba-stars-made-leap-season/

– Clippers’ Blake Griffin sits out at Minnesota (from Broderick Turner, LATimes.com):

 “This part of the season is important, obviously, as far as [playoff] positioning and everything else,” Griffin said. “The last two years in the playoffs, I’ve been banged up. I haven’t been 100%. I don’t want it to be that way this year. So I’m trying to be smart about it and I’m trying to be proactive and not do anything to make it a prolonged, healing process.”

– Q&A: Avery Bradley (from James Herbert, SBNation):
Avery Bradley’s never had a season like this. He’s used to championship aspirations, playoff preparation and a veteran locker room. With Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers elsewhere, the Boston Celtics‘ season will end in April for the first time in Bradley’s four-year career.

He’s also headed into restricted free agency, and his future isn’t certain, though the team would like him back. The combo guard has averaged 14.4 points in 30.7 minutes this year and he’s made 37 percent of his three-pointers to go along with his typically excellent defense.

Bradley spoke to SB Nation about his year under new head coach Brad Stevens, what he learned from the vets and more”

– NBA Unveils Confidential Memos, Sheds New Light on Officiating (from Howard Beck, Bleacher Report):
“A trove of confidential, internal memos on NBA officiating became public Monday afternoon, revealing new insight into the league’s enforcement of rules this season. No privacy laws were breached in the process.The memos were released by the NBA itself, as part of Commissioner Adam Silver’s push for greater transparency. Fans will be able to review the documents at NBA.com/official.The goal is to give the public a better grasp of how certain rules are applied, and in some cases, how the league is adjusting as the season progresses, according to Rod Thorn, the NBA’s president of basketball operations.”

Read and view it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2012578-nba-unveils-confidential-memos-to-shed-new-light-on-officiating

– Is Golden State Warriors Head Coach Mark Jackson’s Fate Already Sealed? 9from Matt Steinmetz, Bleacher Report:

“At this point, the questions are many.

Will Mark Jackson return to coach the Warriors in 2014-15? Do owner Joe Lacob and the team’s front office want Jackson back next season? And even if they do want Jackson back, who says he even wants to be in Golden State anymore?

Perhaps the most intriguing question of all, though: How have Jackson and Lacob managed to make themselves and Jackson’s future the center of attention rather than the team that is enjoying one of the most successful two-year runs in the history of the franchise?”

Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2012356-is-golden-state-warriors-head-coach-mark-jacksons-fate-already-sealed

– Mark Jackson Fights for his Future with the Warriors (from Sam Amick, USAToday):

– Building the Brow: It’s only a matter of time until Anthony Davis ascends to the NBA throne (from Zach Lowe, Grantland.com):
It’s telling that the comparisons have mostly stopped. When Anthony Davis came into the league, with ridiculous arms and guard skills honed before a late growth spurt, everyone rushed to find his NBA analogue.Kevin Garnett was a popular choice. Comparisons with Tim Duncan dominated the lead-up to Davis’s regular-season debut against San Antonio, even though Duncan as a rookie was older and stouter and he had a back-to-the-basket game that was historically great almost from the moment he entered the league.Davis has murdered this parlor game. People around the league don’t know what to make of him anymore. They are just terrified, especially after having watched Davis average 30 points, 13.5 rebounds, and three blocks per game on 55 percent shooting over a 10-game stretch in March — a period during which he turned 21 freaking years old…His game has so many elements on both ends of the floor, it’s going to take years for the Pelicans to figure out the optimal uses and roster construction for him. It’s hard to decide what someone is best at when the answer might be “everything.”

Read it here: http://grantland.com/features/building-the-brow/

– The Great Translator (from Hua Hsu, Grantland.com):
” Meet the man who brings American talent to China’s rising professional basketball league”

– What Do NBA D-League Players Value Most — Team Play or Individual Production? (from David Vertsberger, Riidiculousupside.com):

” Minor league sports is one of the few places where taking a job with the mindset of it being a platform for future opportunities, and not a destination, is perfectly okay.

The D-League is no different, with hundreds of athletes playing basketball for close to nothing, traveling around the country with the luxuries of a high school class on a field trip in order to one day, hopefully, reach the NBA.

This end goal in mind, casual NBA fans could assume that D-League players have only one person’s interests in mind – their own. Beckley Mason of ESPN’s TrueHoop blog thinks of this as a significant problem impeding the league’s path to becoming the primary source of player development for those not quite at the NBA level.

Setting aside the statement that selfish play is ruining the D-League’s chances at being a successful minor league, Mason’s tweets point to what could be a legitimate struggle in D-League players. Performing within the team concept, doing what it takes to win for the team paying said athlete and appeasing the coaching staff versus showing off personal skill, stealing the spotlight in hopes of an NBA scout taking notice. But does this internal conflict exist?”

Read it here: http://www.ridiculousupside.com/2014/3/31/5565992/what-do-nba-d-league-players-value-most-team-play-or-individual-production

– Doc’s L.A. Story: Trading a winter of discontent for West Coast revival (from Paul Flannery, SBNation.com):

“He’s a person, a human being, a father and an ex-player, all those things before he’s a coach,” said Ryan Hollins who has played for Rivers in Boston and here in Los Angeles. “He’s a very good coach on top of that. He takes the little everyday things and approach it to a bigger picture that he sees. He might say, ‘I need you to set a better screen. I need you to get at this angle because in a game at a certain point I’m going to need you to set a screen and that’s the difference between us winning and losing a game.’ It seems like such a small concept, but it’s a huge, huge thing.

“It’s respectful how he asks,” Hollins continued. “You’re not taking it wrong. There’s a difference man to man when somebody comes at you respectfully versus another way, you know? Either too demanding or too nice. There’s a respect factor about him that comes off. You want to do it.”

Read it here: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/4/1/5567546/doc-rivers-los-angeles-clippers


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