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: PistonPowered. Dan Feldman surveys Joe Dumars' now-complete tenure leading the Detroit Pistons, and tries to figure out where things went, and kept on going, wrong: "Nearly a decade-and-a-half of change came to this, but throughout the destructive transitions emerged three constants that led to Dumars’ downfall: failed pursuits of superstars, repeated unwillingness to challenge players and a lack of long-term planning."
PF: Hardwood Paroxysm. Robby Kalland on how the Miami Heat try to find the balance between resting injured/creaky players and maintaining roster-wide rhythm on the court. They've clearly veered toward rest in the case of Dwyane Wade's balky knees, but that has come at the cost of increased minutes for LeBron James and Chris Bosh; that will not be the case on Monday, though, as James and Bosh will sit against the Washington Wizards on Monday night. Reminder from this morning's playoff picture update: If the Heat lose, the Indiana Pacers clinch the East's No. 1 seed and home-court advantage throughout the end of the Eastern Conference finals.
(Also, a quick aside: Congratulations to the Hardwood Paroxysm crew on the site's big new move. HP's been a unique, high-quality site for a long time, and it's proven to be a farm system that generates an awful lot of big-site talent. Best of luck to all involved in the next step for the site and the newly launched HPBasketball Blog Network.)
SF: Red94. Forrest Walker (I swear, it took me like three tries to make sure I didn't write Forrest Whitaker) considers the "rest vs. rust" quandary from the perspective of the Houston Rockets, who have just welcome back Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley from injuries and who might be well served to give the big guns a breather, but who also find themselves in danger of ceding home-court advantage in a 4-vs.-5 matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers if they fall by the wayside.
SG: Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Canis Hoopus. Running through the laundry list of questions facing the once-again-lottery-bound Minnesota Timberwolves this offseason, including the question of whether the improved second-half play of rookies Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad is sustainable, which figures to be an important part of offseason planning, particularly as it relates to the potential "jettisoning of any Montenegrin folk heroes."
PG: National Post. I really enjoyed Eric Koreen's crack at getting his arms around just what Kyle Lowry's meant to the Toronto Raptors this season, and why Lowry's "outsized boldness and [...] idiosyncratic tactics" are just what the doctor ordered for a young Raptors team that seems to feed off its pugnacious point guard.
6th: numberFire.The statistical argument that four playoff teams are having the best seasons in their franchises' histories. Can you guess which ones are which, and does your eyeball watchin' agree with the number crunchin'?
7th: Wall Street Journal. Chris Herring puts it bluntly: "With his injury lingering and his free agency approaching, Sunday might have been the last time [Carmelo] Anthony wore a [New York] Knicks uniform. If that's the case, the Knicks will have no one to blame but themselves."
8th: The Pattern of Basketball. Jonathan Tjarks sees two long-in-the-tooth veterans continuing to play boatloads of minutes for Scott Brooks and the Oklahoma City Thunder, and just can't quite wrap his head around why: "I'm not sure a team can win a championship giving Caron Butler and Derek Fisher 35 minutes a night."
9th: Miami Herald. A great read from Dan Le Batard on what Pat Riley has built in Miami, the infrastructure beneath the glitz and glamour of the Big Three era, and how his ability to "counter with proof" that his way works keeps him ahead of his contemporaries when it comes to dynastic sales pitches.
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- Joe Dumars
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