Since Kevin Garnett moved to center, the Nets' defense has cranked things up. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/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: The Brooklyn Game. With the Brooklyn Nets off to jolly old England after winning five of their last six to break into the Eastern Conference's playoff picture, Devin Kharpertian takes aim at the primary catalyst for the team's winning ways — a significant improvement on the defensive end since Brook Lopez's season-ending foot injury prompted head coach Jason Kidd to move Kevin Garnett from power forward to center.
PF: Memphis Commercial Appeal. Chris Herrington's Pick-and-Pop column has been freed from behind the CA's paywall, if only momentarily, and you would do well to dig into his analysis of a somewhat surprising three-man grouping that's been paying major dividends for Dave Joerger's Memphis Grizzlies of late. (Also paying dividends: Increased play-calling creativity by Joeger resulting in deft sets like this curl action for James Johnson, as diagrammed and detailed by Andrew Ford at Grizzly Bear Blues.)
SF: Chicago Tribune. K.C. Johnson on how Joakim Noah's decision to break his silence — and what the All-Star center actually said — clarify the split between the Chicago Bulls' front office and locker room on the Luol Deng trade, and other matters: "Deng's departure is a classic example of the age-old dynamic when long-term thinking from management conflicts with win-now mentality from players and coaches."
SG: Sactown Royalty. After watching the Sacramento Kings lay a mammoth 44-point beating on the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tom Ziller tries to figure out exactly how Mike Malone's team got to firing on all cylinders, and which parts (if any) of Sunday's effort might be repeatable and sustainable.
PG: 8 Points, 9 Seconds. Tim Sartori shows us how Indiana Pacers point guard George Hill has become an increasingly dangerous floor-spacing spot-up shooter — and a more valuable weapon off the ball for an offense run largely through Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West — by using "the hop" to speed up his release on catch-and-shoot opportunities.
6th: D.C. Sports Bog. The esteemed Dan Steinberg recaps the five most important things to know about Saturday's game between the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards, which featured a rain delay despite being held inside. I'd note a sixth thing: The Wizards lost.
7th: 1500ESPN.com. Zach Harper digs in on the late-game woes of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and revisiting the tape does reveal some things Rick Adelman's club could be doing better, it also shows (somewhat surprisingly) that there's a lot that they're doing right, but to no avail: "At what point do you nitpick about how the team is performing in these situations if they're simply missing a ton of quality shots?"
9th: SLC Dunk. With the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets set to square off on Monday night, SB Nation's venerable Jazz blog revisits "a history of hatred" between the two teams, which is probably a strong word, but makes for an entertaining bit of reading.
10th: The New York Times. A great read from Sam Borden on Darryl Middleton, one of the most decorated and successful Americans in the history of European professional basketball, on how to carve out a career overseas when the stateside pro game just doesn't have room for you.
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