We Can’t Talk About NBA Defense. That’s a Problem.

There was an offhand remark in a recent Zach Lowe column on ESPN that pointed out Klay Thompson‘s positive attributes as a wing defender, and Thompson enjoys a reputation as one of the premier stoppers in the league whenever he’s got a man in front of him. Anyone who watches Warriors games can see it. But on the other hand, Thompson’s advanced defensive metrics range from “mediocre” to “utterly putrid, like among the worst in the league” when you look him up on Basketball Reference, his 112 Defensive Rating, minus-2.2 Defensive Box Plus-Minus, and that stat’s subsequent drag on his …

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Breakfast Special: 26-of-55 From Three. OK, That’s the NBA Now.

The Houston Rockets had been moving away from the three-point shot a little too much in recent games, as teams defending the perimeter took away their ball movement and their ability to find the good looks from out there that are the team’s bread and butter. Well, you know how you remedy that? You catch the Washington Freaking Wizards on a SEGABABA after they lost to the Hawks the previous night and pound them like cheap steak, exposing their awful defense and hitting an NBA-record 26 three-pointers (on 55 attempts!) in a 136-118 beatdown. My gods, it was a thing …

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Breakfast Special: Garbage Day

When the closest game in the NBA on any given night is 22 points, you know you weren’t exactly treated to the best competition the game has to offer. But what did you expect when two games involved a playoff team against a tank crew and the third involved one of the most feast-or-famine teams in the league? Boston beat the Knicks 128-100 in a snoozefest opener, Utah beat Houston 118-91 in the nightcap, and over on League Pass Portland pantsed the Suns 108-86 in a game that was over in the first quarter—Portland led 34-9 after one and cruised …

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Breakfast Special: When We Bring to the World Disorder

The Dallas Mavericks would make the playoffs if the season ended today. And while you may be asking yourself how a team so wretched last year could be so good this year, consider one simple stat. Per point differential, the Mavs, who went 24-58 last season, played more like a 33-win team. Then they added Luka Doncic, who’s positioned himself as a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. They are now on pace to go 45-37 by record and 47-35 by point differential. So Doncic adding 12 wins in theory and 23 in practice as a combination of statistical regression …

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Breakfast Special: Jamal Murray’s A Mile High

You know the analytics people have gotten maaaaaybe a bit afield of the plot when there are Celtics fans on Twitter trying to point out that Kyrie Irving‘s 31 points was worth more than Jamal Murray‘ 48 because Murray took 30 shots while Irving took only 17. Meanwhile, Irving remains a little punk, one of my least favorite NBA players: Kyrie threw the ball into the crowd after Jamal Murray's attempt to make 50-points as the game ended pic.twitter.com/Vbx3oNxmaf — Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 6, 2018 Murray went for the shot to try to get to 50 …

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Breakfast Special: Golden State Has a Three-Point Problem

The Warriors have a legitimate issue out beyond the three-point arc. Namely, nobody on the team besides Stephen Curry is hitting them with any regularity anymore. Steph is 46-of-89 (51.7 percent!) beyond the arc, draining threes with beautiful and reckless abandon, playing like he wants to hit 500 of them just to future-proof the single-season record (he’s on pace to hit 539, but that would be if he played all 82 games, which we all know he won’t.) The rest of the team? 34-of-121 (28.1 percent.) But on the other hand, the Warriors continue to chug along close to the …

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Are the 2018-19 Utah Jazz Good?

The Jazz were my second-worst whiff in the 2017-18 previews. I never saw Donovan Mitchell coming, expected the team’s lack of offense to be unable to compensate for their great defense, and said that any missed time by Rudy Gobert would mean a sub-30-win season. Well, Mitchell was a genuine star as a rookie, the team was 16th in offense and 2nd in defense, and Gobert missed time (and the team was 19-28 when he came back) but went 29-6 in their last 35 games, a 68-14 82-game pace. No, they’re not going 68-14 this year. But it speaks to …

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Breakfast Special: Rondo Alla Draymond Verdi

On Star Wars Day, balance was restored to the Force in the NBA Western Conference semifinals. In New Orleans, “the losing team in a five-game series wins Game 3” was in full effect as the Pelicans beat the Golden State Warriors 119-100. And in Utah, the Houston Rockets just up and decided to remind the Jazz that winning one game on the road does not automatically mean you then go on to win the series in six. Don’t believe me? Ask us Pacers fans. We begin in the Big Easy, where Rajon Rondo and Draymond Green got a little chippy …

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Breakfast Special: Praise the Basketball Gods, Utah

A heresy is brewing in Mormon country, as apostates embrace the deities of the hardwood. No, not Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and LeBron James. Not even John Stockton and Karl Malone. I’m talking the Basketball Gods, those divine purveyors of plot device for many a beleaguered sportswriter in need of a miracle to come up with some way to explain just what on this mortal plane happened in Houston Wednesday night. Because holy hell, the Utah Jazz just shot 60 percent from the free throw line, lost the turnover battle 16-7, watched Donovan Mitchell shoot like he was blindfolded (6-of-21, …

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Breakfast Special: Victor Oladipo’s Excellent Triple-Double Adventure

What on earth happened in Indianapolis? I mean, I’ve been over Game 6. The video footage. The play-by-play. The game flow. Everything. And the Pacers just flat-out destroyed the Cleveland Cavaliers 121-87, shredding them like sensitive documents in a politician’s office in the second half, including a 35-20 third quarter that effectively iced the game. Victor Oladipo had a triple-double, scoring 28 points, pulling 13 rebounds, and dishing 10 assists. The Pacers overall put up a Total Team Effort—in the playoffs!—in which all five starters plus Domantas Sabonis and Lance Stephenson got into double figures. And the Cavaliers…well, LeBron James …

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