Boston got major late-first-round value out of Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo. (Barry Chin/Boston Globe/Getty)
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.
C: SB Nation. A good, detailed, engrossing read from my dude Paul Flannery on Boston Celtics assistant general manager Ryan McDonough, his path from the tape room to Boston's front office, and how the organization under general manager Danny Ainge leaves no stone unturned — heavy video work, globetrotting international scouting, advanced statistical analysis, individualized and specialized player development work — in the hunt for even the slightest competitive advantage. This is what the game behind the game looks like.
PF: Eye on Basketball. Great work by friend of the program Zach Harper breaking down how LeBron James' amazing vision and preternatural passing makes the Miami Heat offense a crushing "pick your poison" proposition for opposing defenses.
SF: The Brooklyn Game. Things are looking pretty good for the Brooklyn Nets right now — they've won seven of their last 10, they're in line for home-court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs and they're still only 2 1/2 games behind the New York Knicks for the Atlantic Division lead. But as Devin Kharpertian sees it, there are five key shortcomings P.J. Carlesimo's squad needs to address to have a chance at making a deep playoff run.
SG: Green Street. Don't look now, but during the Celtics' five-game losing streak — and, really, going back eight games — Avery Bradley's looked less like the guy who's had some questioning whether he's a better fit for this Boston team than injured star Rajon Rondo and more like a struggling youngster with a long way to go before he becomes an offensive force. Ben Rohrbach lays out Bradley's recent woes.
PG: Grantland. Hey, Gary Payton, which current NBA players can talk trash like you used to? "Nobody. It’s no more trash-talking. There’s nobody. No one. No, no, no one."
6th: Houston Chronicle. With the go-go Houston Rockets near securing a Western Conference playoff berth and relying on so many players who have taken on significantly larger roles — and many more minutes — this year than in the past, is it time for coach Kevin McHale to start hitting the brakes and resting some of his key guys down the stretch?
7th: Esquire. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the lessons that prime-time television teaches us about being a man. If your cultural criticism comes from anyone who has scored fewer than 38,387 career points, then I don't want to hear it.
8th: NBA on YouTube. Nearly three years ago, I wrote about Ray Williams, a former 10-year NBA veteran who had fallen on hard times, losing every cent he ever earned in the NBA and winding up homeless in Florida. A couple of weeks back, Kelly wrote about how James Dolan — owner of the New York Knicks, for whom Williams played for five seasons — had taken over paying for Williams' medical treatment at New York's Memorial Sloan-Ketting Cancer Center. Williams died last week at age 58; for those of us too young to remember him much (or at all), this clip of his play on the court showcases the Minnesota product's skills.
9th: BBall Breakdown. Coach Nick and Arun detail the Los Angeles Clippers' vulnerability in pick-and-roll coverage, which could pose a huge problem for noted scheme-changer Vinny Del Negro's team come playoff time.
10th: HoopChalk. In a pick-and-roll-heavy league, ball-handlers (largely point guards) often wind up forcing defensive switches that result in isolation opportunities against big men who were previously guarding the screener. They frequently attack these big-small cross-matches; we almost invariably consider them mismatches. But are they really? Dylan Murphy doesn't think so, and he's got some video and pictures to support the theory that big men actually can (and often do) defend guards in one-on-one situation.
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