Basketball Wiretap

LeBron Believes Finals Return With Cavs Is Unfinished Business

May 27, 2015 12:41 AM

LeBron James will return to the NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers, taking on either the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets.

James discussed his return to the Cavaliers and the Finals.

"I'm a guy who believes in unfinished business," James said.

This will mark James' fifth consecutive Finals appearance.

Dave McMenamin/ESPN

Tags: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Some Executives Now Looking For 'Playmaking 4' Instead Of 'Stretch 4'

May 26, 2015 12:30 PM

A few executives have dumped the term “stretch 4” altogether and replaced it with “playmaking 4.”

Traditional stretch-4's like Ryan Anderson, Ersan Ilyasova and Channing Frye are multidimensional, but can only thrive in specific offensive systems. 

A "playmaking 4" can shoot the ball, but also drive into the lane and make some sort of play when an opponent successfully contests a jumpshot opportunity.

“In a playoff series, you can figure out shooting,” George Karl says. “You just cover Kyle Korver. All that cute stuff they ran for him all year long — they only get that once in a while now. The shooters who have playmaking ability — those are the guys that are really kicking ass.”

Draymond Green and Boris Diaw are two examples of the "playmaking 4."

“I’ve always felt that in the playoffs, the more ways you can score, the better chance you have,” Jeff Van Gundy says.

Zach Lowe/Grantland

Tags: NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Post-Up Possessions Down Dramatically In NBA

May 26, 2015 11:27 AM

The post-up game has become increasingly phased out of modern basketball

Only eight teams this season finished even 10 percent of their possessions with a post-up, according to Synergy Sports. A decade ago, 22 teams hit that mark, and every team ended at least 7.5 percent of its trips with some kind of post-up. One-third of teams finished with a lower post-up share than that this season.

“We are losing a part of our sport,” Jason Kidd says.

“The game is getting out of balance,” says George Karl. “But until we figure out a way to make the post-up more efficient, we’re not going back. You just can’t win throwing the ball into the post 60 times per game.”

Steve Kerr believes it is something players need to work on before they arrive in the NBA.

“You need to work on your post game against Vanderbilt, not against the Spurs,” Kerr says. “If you come into this league, try to post up, and some 10-year vet swats your shot into the fifth row — that’s hard to deal with.”

AAU and the one-and-done system have been blamed, but young players also simply want to play the same way as the NBA players they watch on television.

“Go to any AAU game, and no one wants to play in the post,” says Kiki Vandeweghe, the league’s senior vice-president for basketball operations. “Everyone wants to dribble and shoot jumpers. But at the same time, NBA coaches have looked at the numbers and found that 3-pointers are efficient, the pick-and-roll is efficient, that it’s more efficient to shoot early in the shot clock.”

Zach Lowe/Grantland

Tags: NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Warriors Have 4th Best Elo Rating In NBA History

May 22, 2015 5:41 PM

The Golden State Warriors have the fourth best composite Elo rating in NBA history.

Elo points depend only on the final score of each game and where it was played.

Elo ratings above 1800, which imply a team would be able to sustain at least a 67-15 record over the long term, are extremely rare. Only three teams have achieved them: the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (whose 1853 Elo rating from June 9, 1996, is the all-time record), the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls and the 1985-86 Boston Celtics. This year’s Golden State Warriors have a chance at an 1800-plus rating, depending on how the rest of the playoffs go.

Nate Silver, Reuben Fischer-Baum/FiveThirtyEight

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

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LeBron Admits Playing Too Much ISO-Ball In Game 1

May 21, 2015 3:10 PM

LeBron James had a good floor game and scored 31 points, but he continued his postseason inefficiency as a scorer in Game 1.

The Cleveland Cavaliers' 18-point fourth quarter lead was cut down to four by the Atlanta Hawks.

“We can’t worry about how many points we’re up or how many points we’re down; we have to continue to play our game. It starts with me. I take all the responsibility for it,” James said. “In the fourth quarter, I played way too much isolation basketball, one-on-one basketball [with] a lot of the defenses set, and I was letting the clock run down way too much. I just had to take the shot or I was giving it to my guys late in the shot clock, and they couldn’t do nothing with it besides shoot it or turn the ball over.”

He used even stronger language during his interview on the court with Fox Sports Ohio’s Allie Clifton immediately after the game, saying, "I allowed them back into the game with my offensive nonsense."


James' 18 isolation possessions in Game 1 were the most by any player during the 2015 playoffs, according to SportVu. While he had some success with it, shooting 8-for-17 on those possessions, it clearly took the rest of the Cavs out of any sort of flow. 

Thirty-five percent of Cleveland’s possessions in Game 1 came out of isolation play, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

James vowed a more team-centric approach to the offense he'll initiate should that occur.

“I’ll be more conscious about that in Game 2 if that opportunity presents itself, where at least I can get the ball moving to start [the possession] and then maybe at the back side or like the third option, I can get it back at the end,” James said. “At least we get the defense moving instead of them just watching me pound the ball for 24 seconds. That’s not good basketball.”

Dave McMenamin/ESPN

Tags: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ, NBA Playoffs

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Kerr: Recent Championship Formula Has Been Three-Pointers, Great Defense

May 19, 2015 2:24 PM

Steve Kerr was asked to offer his opinion on the fact that the four most frequent three-point shooting teams during the playoffs reached the conference finals.

Kerr realized the question was alluding to Phil Jackson's comment on Twitter discrediting the effectiveness of shooting a lot of three-pointers.

“You trying to bait me into something here?” Kerr said with a smile. “It’s not really surprising, though. You look at last year, the Spurs win the whole thing. I think they were No. 1 in the league in three-point shooting.

“The year before that, Miami wins, they were I think top five in three-point shooting. Dallas a few years ago, Jason Terry and Kidd and Dirk are all firing threes.

“To me, you have to have a combination of three-point shooting and great defense. And that’s been the formula the last few years; all those teams defended really well, made threes and you’ve got to be healthy and you’ve got to be clicking and paying well.

“But the three is a huge part of the game.”

Tim Kawakami/San Jose Mercury News

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

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Report: Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler Had Tension With Roles On Offense

May 18, 2015 1:18 PM

Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler have had a growing tension over the past few weeks as the two figure out who will be the Chicago Bulls' primary scorer.

Butler was waved off by Rose on a few occasions in the first half of Game 6 before Rose allowed Butler to dominate the offense in the second half.

Butler will be a restricted free agent this offseason and figures to sign a max contract.

Dan Bernstein/CBS Chicago

Tags: Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Stephen Curry On 62-Footer: We Practice Those Every Day

May 16, 2015 4:32 PM

Stephen Curry made a 62-foot shot at the end of the third quarter that gave the Golden State Warriors all of the momentum heading into the fourth quarter to eliminate the Memphis Grizzlies.

"It does not surprise me at all because I've seen him in practice, starting at the other baseline and he slings away, and he's made a few this year," said Draymond Green.

Curry said: "We practice those shots every day. And that's not a lie. While we're warming up the ball is flying everywhere."

Curry made 25 from three-point territory in the series, while the Grizzlies made 24. 

Shaun Powell/

Tags: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Team-By-Team Points Per 100 Possessions (Games 1-6)

May 16, 2015 4:21 PM

All four Conference Semifinals have played six games with the Warriors, Cavaliers and Hawks eliminating the Grizzlies, Bulls and Wizards, while the Clippers and Rockets will meet in Game 7.

Points Per 100 Possessions (Game 1/Game 2/Game 3/Game 4/Game 5/Game 6)

Cavaliers: 109.0 / 122.4 / 109.1 / 95.9 / 119.4 / 118.7

Bulls117.3 / 105.1 / 112.5 / 93.7 / 113.8 / 92.2

Hawks: 106.1 / 113.4 / 108.7 / 111.7 / 84.7 / 100.8

Wizards112.6 / 96.3 / 110.8 / 106.4 / 83.6 / 97.5

Warriors112.6 / 94.7 / 96.9 / 107.1 / 113.2 / 118.3 

Grizzlies: 95.9 / 102.1 / 107.8 / 89.0 / 90.1 / 104.0

Rockets: 93.9 / 110.8 / 110.7 / 91.4 / 128.4 / 115.2

Clippers108.8 / 105.0 / 126.1 / 123.2 / 106.6  / 103.6

Series Points Per 100 Possessions (Offense/Defense)

Cavaliers: 110.5 / 104.2

Bulls: 104.2 / 110.5

Hawks: 103.3 / 100.3

Wizards: 100.3 / 103.3

Warriors: 106.6 / 97.8

Grizzlies: 97.8 / 106.6

Rockets: 105.8 / 111.5

Clippers: 111.5 / 105.8

RealGM Staff Report

Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ, NBA Playoffs

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Danny Ainge Wants Celtics To 'Stay In The Game' On Potential Big Move

May 14, 2015 1:17 PM

The Boston Celtics were stuck between the playoffs and the lottery for most of the 14-15 season and became a better team after trading away Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green.

"When we made the trades, we felt like we needed to move a different direction," said Danny Ainge. "We did anticipate we'd take a little bit of a step backwards. We got better as the season went on."

The Celtics will enter the 2015 offseason still wanting to make substantial changes to the roster.

"What we've tried to do is put ourselves in the game to have those options, have some opportunities to make big moves. So I guess if there's big moves we like, we do them," said Ainge. "If there are big moves we're not in love with, we hold out and wait."

Ainge also talked about how the Celtics had the assets to make trades for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007, but were unable to do so in 2012 when James Harden became available.

"We want to stay in the game until we can do something significant," said Ainge.

Marc D'Amico/

Tags: Boston Celtics, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA B-Ball IQ

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Team-By-Team Points Per 100 Possessions (Games 1-5)
All four Conference Semifinals have played five games with the Warriors, Cavaliers, Clippers and Hawks holding three games to two series leads over the Grizzlies, Bulls, Rockets and Wizards respectively.

RealGM Staff Report

NBA GMs Not In Favor Of Change Hack-A-Shaq Rule
Seventy-six percent of the intentional fouls this season have been against five players: DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Joey Dorsey and Andre Drummond.

Ken Berger/CBS Sports

Timofey Mozgov Leads In Rim Protection During Playoffs
Timofey Mozgov is holding opponents to shooting just 34 percent at the rim.

Seth Partnow/Nylon Calculus

Team-By-Team Points Per 100 Possessions (Games 1-4)
All four Conference Semifinals have played four games with the Cavaliers/Bulls, Hawks/Wizards and Warriors/Grizzlies tied at 2-2, and the Clippers holding a 3-1 series lead over the Rockets.

RealGM Staff Report

Ranadive: NBA Has Bigger 'Crony' Culture Than Silicon Valley
Vivek Ranadive initially hired Pete D'Alessandro as general manager, but Vlade Divac is now in charge.

Ailene Voisin/Sacramento Bee

Warriors Focusing On Turnovers, Impatience, Poor Ball Movement
Steve Kerr said it's futile to try to consistently beat defenders off the dribble and score in the lane, because the Grizzlies have too much size inside.

Jeff Faraudo/Mercury News

Team-By-Team Points Per 100 Possessions (Games 1, 2)
All four Conference Semifinals series are tied at 1-1 after the first two games.

RealGM Staff Report

Ujiri Considering Letting Raptors Take Step Back
Masai Ujiri has yet to make a decision on Dwane Casey's tenure as head coach of the Raptors and the direction of the franchise.

John Chick/The Score

Cavaliers To Insert Tristan Thompson In Starting Lineup For Game 2
Tristan Thompson will make his first postseason start at the power forward position.

Chris Haynes/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Rivers: Dwight Howard Hasn't Played This Athletic Since Magic Days
Doc Rivers praised the play of Dwight Howard in Game 1 of the Clippers-Rockets series.

Jenny Dial Creech/Houston Chronicle

LeBron: Kyrie, Myself Need To Change Mindset With Love Out
David Blatt said the entire Cavaliers team must step up.

Chris Haynes/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Donovan Wants Westbrook To 'Be Able To Be Who He Is'
Billy Donovan wants to establish a personal relationship with Russell Westbrook before they begin to discuss the basketball aspects of their partnership.

Anthony Slater/Oklahoman

Hollins: Deron Williams No Longer Franchise Player
Deron Williams is owed $21 million next season and $22.3 million in 2016-17, assuming he does not opt out of the final year of his contract.

Mike Mazzeo/ESPN

Ford: NBA Teams Sometimes Scared Off By Highly Intelligent Players
Willie Cauley-Stein is judged largely by his intangibles on defense.

Chad Ford/ESPN

Jimmy Butler: I've Been Worried About Offense Too Much
Jimmy Butler is averaging 44.2 minutes per game in the series against the Bucks.

Nick Friedell/ESPN

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