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.
PF: Deseret News. Now, that's not to say that Irving can't be defended or contained — as a matter of fact, the Utah Jazz (not exactly the world's most stalwart opposition, ranking 22nd among 30 NBA teams in points allowed per possession, according to NBA.com's stat tool) had some success at doing just that during a recent win. The great David Locke takes a closer look at how the Jazz were able to slow down Kyrie's Cavs in the pick-and-roll game.
SF: HoopChalk. Speaking of pick-and-roll defense: A couple of weeks back, I highlighted Couper Moorhead's awesome breakdown of how Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau short-circuited the Miami Heat's corner-3-loving offense during a recent win. Today, we highlight Dylan Murphy's awesome breakdown of how Thibs beat the Heat on offense, finding a counter to their aggressive pick-and-roll double-teaming D. I guess what I'm trying to say is, the Bulls are definitely going to beat the Heat in the playoffs.
SG: Bullets Forever. Finally, at long last, the Washington Wizards have something to be excited about — the healthy return of John Wall giving them an honest look at what a backcourt-of-the-future pairing Wall with rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal might become. As Jordan Kahn shows us in this video analysis, it's already making Beal into a much more dangerous weapon in the half-court, which is good news for a Wizards defense that struggled mightily to score in the early going this season.
PG: Hoopdata. For years, we've had our suspicions about which arenas' official scorers help boost their point guards' assist totals; now, thanks to Blake Murphy's dive through Bryan Grosnick's data, we know it for certain, and we can identify the home-cookin'est offenders. Look upon their works, ye statheads, and despair.
6th: Sports Illustrated. After an impressive win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, Lee Jenkins columnizes on the Oklahoma City Thunder's logic-defying run to the NBA's best record after trading away the league's fifth-leading scorer and arguably their best playmaker. Lee Jenkins remains a treasure.
8th: The Two Man Game. Not only did the Dallas Mavericks bring in 37-year-old journeyman point guard Mike James on a 10-day contract, but they also just re-upped him on a second 10-day, and coach Rick Carlisle is playing him in crunch time over younger, more potential-laden summer trade acquisition Darren Collison. This strikes many Mavericks fans, including Brian Rubaie, as crazy, shortsighted and detrimental to Collison's continued development, even if the team is playing well in the short term.
9th: The Brooklyn Game. The Nets continue to roll under P.J. Carlesimo, with Monday's season-series-splitting win over the New York Knicks pushing the team to 11-2 under his stewardship and 9-1 in 2013. We've taken a look before at what (if anything) has changed besides the results under P.J., but Devin Kharpertian's five-pronged analysis offers more insight than anything we've seen yet.
10th: Sportando.net. David Pick updates us on Portland Trail Blazers' Euro-stash forward Kostas Papanikolaou, a second-round draft pick of the Knicks whose rights went to the Pacific Northwest in the Raymond Felton sign-and-trade. According to Pick, the bloom's come off Papanikolaou's rose a bit in a down season, perhaps decreasing the likelihood of him joining the Blazers anytime soon. Drag.
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- Kyrie Irving