Better defense will mean more Sign-Holding Pierre. (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)
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: Bourbon Street Shots and The Classical. The New Orleans Pelicans have looked like an improved team through five games, with second-year stud Anthony Davis approaching stardom and oft-injured shooting guard Eric Gordon regaining his 3-point shooting stroke, but Monty Williams' club still has a ways to go before it fields an elite defense — Ryan Schwan takes a look at several areas where the team has improved dramatically, and a few others where they have to get better if they want to put good teams away. Meanwhile, for his part, Brian Lauvray argues that despite the initial negative reactions to Pierre the Pelican, "we might do well to give this strange bird a second chance all the same."
PF: Raptors Republic. Zarar Siddiqi revisits the Toronto Raptors' frustrating Wednesday loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, a defeat that saw Toronto fall into a 16-point hole early in the second period, storm all the way back and come up short after Dwane Casey elected not to have his players foul with the Raps down two and a 1.9-second differential between shot and game clock late in the fourth quarter: "[...] what you get is a game that you’re 'supposed to win.' At least, you are if you intend to be a playoff team, which is the narrative."
SF: 8 Points, 9 Seconds. Jared Wade helps us understand just how good the 5-0 Indiana Pacers have been on defense thus far this year: "Essentially, the Pacers have made every player they’ve faced as successful as Abe-Lincoln-neck-tatoo-era DeShawn Stevenson."
[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Don't wait, sign up today!]
SG: Hazlitt Magazine. Holly MacKenzie talks with the great Jack McCallum about leadership in the NBA, how Steve Nash's brand varies from those of Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, and how Nash's rise from unheralded Canadian prep player to two-time NBA MVP ranks among the league's unlikeliest stories.
PG: A Young Sabonis. While watching Dwight Howard eat up Meyers Leonard on Tuesday night in a game where Joel Freeland was unavailable, Dane Carbaugh found himself thinking that Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey's summertime work needs to extend into the fall: "If Portland doesn’t want their new bench to go to waste, they may have to look to make one more upgrade."
6th: TrueHoop. Ethan Sherwood Strauss on the most impressive thing about the Golden State Warriors' 4-1 start — a defense, led by Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala, that's given up the league's second-fewest points per 100 possessions over the season's first five games.
7th: Spurs Nation. I mentioned this briefly earlier, but it's worth revisiting: With an opponent needing a 3-pointer to tie late in the fourth quarter, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich took Tim Duncan, his best rebounder, off the floor and went with a smaller, quicker lineup (Marco Belinelli, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Danny Green) better able to move around the floor, switch screens and contest deep shots. That didn't work once before, but it did on Wednesday, and it has on a number of other occasions in the past, as Dan McCarney teases out.
8th: SB Nation. Paul Flannery on the grim realities of rebuilding, as seen through the prism of Wednesday night's dismal Boston Celtics-Utah Jazz contest: "This is the downside of building for the future. Everyone involved understands the bigger picture. Everyone understands they have a job to do. But it doesn't make it any easier when you have to live through it."
9th: TIME NewsFeed. "[...] two surgeons at University Hospitals Leuven [in Belgium] have located a new ligament in the human knee, and their findings may mean a revolution in how we treat ACL injuries." This discovery might not bear any fruit for quite a while, and might not actually wind up impacting the way basketball players are able to recover from ACL tears any time soon, but still ... yo, there's a WHOLE 'NOTHER LIGAMENT IN THERE, APPARENTLY! WHAT UP, SCIENCE?
10th: The Brooklyn Game. "Andrei Kirilookalikes." People, things and characters that look like Andrei Kirilenko. Great job, Internet.
- - - - - - -
- Sports & Recreation