Basketball Wiretap

OKC's Own Death Lineup Has Net Rating Of +68.5 In West Finals

May 25, 2016 1:19 PM

Billy Donovan only gave 46 minutes during the regular season to a five-man unit of Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant, Andre Roberson, Dion Waiters and Russell Westbrook.

But in the Western Conference Finals, it has become the Oklahoma City Thunder's version of a death lineup against the Golden State Warriors.

The lineup has a 139.8 offensive rating against a 71.3 defensive rating to give it a net rating of +68.5 points per 100 possessions. 

Roberson and Waiters have given the Thunder enough offense to make the Warriors' defend them while also being long enough to defend anyone on the other side of the floor.

Tom Ley/Deadspin

Tags: Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Carmelo Anthony Pleased Jeff Hornacek Will Have Freedom To Run His Own System

May 20, 2016 3:35 PM

Carmelo Anthony showed up at the New York Knicks' training facility on Thursday for a workout as the team was on the verge of hiring Jeff Hornacek as head coach.

As recently as three weeks ago, Anthony expressed frustration with Phil Jackson’s coaching search and reiterated the need for the Knicks president to interview additional candidates. 

Anthony was at the training facility last week and after the Knicks had met with Frank Vogel.

Anthony is not enamored with playing in the triangle offense and according to a source close to Anthony he was pleased to learn that Hornacek will have the freedom to run his own offensive system. 

Frank Isola/New York Daily News

Tags: Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Cavs' Big 3 On 'Same Wavelength' As Partnership Evolves

May 18, 2016 12:54 PM

The Cleveland Cavaliers remain unbeaten in the playoffs as a greater level of chemistry has formed between LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

“It’s them being on the same wavelength, a new trust level where LeBron understands what Kyrie and Kevin are trying to do,” James Jones told The Vertical. “Chemistry evolves. [James] wants Kyrie to, ‘Go.’ When you look at the great tandems in this league, the great Big Threes, they continue to get better over time.

“Our core guys – LeBron, Kyrie, Kevin, and so on – have just started to find a greater level of chemistry.”

“Go Kyrie, go,” teammates heard James telling Irving in Game 1.

Irving had 27 points and five assists in Game 1.

Shams Charania/The Vertical

Tags: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Nate McMillan Ranks 92nd Out Of 95 NBA Coaches Since 2001 In Pace

May 17, 2016 11:51 AM

The Indiana Pacers have wanted to play at a faster pace over the past year and made a coaching change this offseason replacing Frank Vogel with Nate McMillan.

McMillan's teams as head coach have played at a slow pace, ranking 24th, 27th, 15th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 29th, 30th, 30th, and 30th.

Since 2001, there have been 95 coaches to coach an NBA team for at least one full season. McMillan ranks 92nd in terms of pace. The only teams that have played slower have been Kevin O’Neill’s Raptors, Michael Curry’s Pistons, and Mike Fratello’s Grizzlies.

Jared Wade/Fansided

Tags: Indiana Pacers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Blazers Hope Damian Lillard, Culture Of Franchise Attract Free Agents

May 9, 2016 9:21 PM

The Portland Trail Blazers believe the culture they have built with Damian Lillard at the center of it will attract free agents.

"Players start with, 'I want to go to a playoff team,'" Neil Olshey says. "And while everyone knew that Damian was a foundational player, it was very hard to prove it last offseason. And I think the fact that now, making the second round of the playoffs is critical."

Lillard hopes free agents sign with the Blazers for what they see and not from what they hear during a recruitment.

"As far as recruitment, I never see myself getting overly involved with it," Lillard says. "In free agency, people will ultimately make their own decisions. But I have thought about the fact that what our culture is here, what people see here, that will attract people."

Lillard's extracurricular training retreat last summer in San Diego is also well documented.

"I'm not saying I won't say anything to people, but I'm not going to go completely out of my way," Lillard said. "I'll talk to a guy and be like: 'This is what we do here. This is how you can help.' I would express about what I think they could do, how they could help, what we could be with them, things like that -- why I think it would be good for them, why I think it would be good for our team. I could see myself doing that."

"He doesn't put himself above the team or above other players," CJ McCollum said. "He's not taking Uber to games instead of arriving with the team. He just works hard. He treats the rookies like he treats vets. He never demoralizes people and doesn't talk down to them. It's rare you see a player of his caliber so humble, so laid back. He's caring."

Kevin Arnovitz/ESPN

Tags: Portland Trail Blazers, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Kevin Love's Surge Influenced By Challenge From Tyronn Lue

May 9, 2016 10:42 AM

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been on a tear since a meeting in late March following a loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

Tyronn Lue challenged the Cavaliers, in particular Kevin Love, with sharp language.

"[I] just said, 'Kevin, Kyrie [Irving] and Bron (LeBron James), each night you guys got to know what to expect out of each other,'" Lue recalled. "'Until you all do that, we aren't going to be able to win.'

"And I said, 'Kevin, you got to be more aggressive. Tell LeBron, I'm a bad m-----f----- too, so throw me the ball.' Be aggressive. Run the floor. If you're open, we got to throw you the ball. You got to demand the basketball and I said, 'Score the ball and be aggressive.'"

Cleveland has a 14-4 record since then, including a perfect 8-0 in the playoffs. Love has been particularly changed and he has a double-double in every postseason game so far. The Cavs are scoring 120.8 points per 100 possession in the playoffs.

Love might never have gotten to a point to get the Cavs there if not for Lue's words in New York.

"I mean, Ty has played with, and had to go against, a lot of bad m----f------. So to get that, especially from your head coach, it's a lot of confidence," Love said. He was alluding to Lue's playing days when he teamed up with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki and of course Michael Jordan. "And I have been one in this league. [Lue] just wanted me to go out there and show it."

Love's teammates can see the difference in him.

"It's evident," said James Jones, one of Love's closest friends on the team and who sits next to him on the team plane. "We always say what occurs and happens behind the scenes, and off the floor, behind closed doors, and away from the court always finds a way to seep back onto the court. So, as you see his mood, his attitude stabilize, I think he has a comfort level and an understanding of our concepts.

"... And so, like anything, once you get settled and you get your bearings, you can just let it go and you almost become automatic. And that's what his game has become. His game has become automatic where he's back to being Kevin Love that effortlessly goes out there and gets not just a double-double, he gives you a little bit of everything that you can imagine."

Dave McMenamin/ESPN

Tags: Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Steve Kerr: Warriors Would 'Be Dead' Without Shaun Livingston

May 6, 2016 11:54 AM

Shaun Livingston has been an invaluable part of the Golden State Warriors' rotation since his signing in 2014, but the absence of Stephen Curry has particularly highlighted how much he's depended upon.

“We’d be dead without him,” Steve Kerr said.

Livingston is a completely different type of player than Curry with his length and lack of shooting ability.

“Honestly, if you lose the MVP, you better have somebody capable to come in,” Kerr said. “Shaun is obviously more than just capable. He’s a great player in his own right.”

Ron Kroichick/San Francisco Chronicle

Tags: Shaun Livingston, Golden State Warriors, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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