SH Blog: What’s wrong with the Pacers and Heat? Shaq investigated on assault; Mark Jackson in trouble in Golden State

Leave a comment

Paul georgeAs the NBA regular season finally hits the home stretch before what promises to be a highly entertaining two months of playoff basketball, a few of the leagues elite teams find themselves riding the struggle bus.

The two-time defending champion Miami Heat needed a strong finish against Portland on Monday just to avoid a sub .500 March. Bad losses to Boston, New Orleans and Denver were all contributors to this stretch of underwhelming play. 

Pages: 1 2

Tweet of the Night: NBA players get ready for March Madness

Leave a comment

ncaaJust minutes after the last conference championship game wrapped up Sunday evening, the annual NCAA Tournament selection show was underway to announce the field of 68 for this years tournament.

This years tourney appears to be wide-open, but the Florida Gators come in as the team to beat as the No. 1 overall seed. Other No. 1 seeds are Wichita State, Arizona and Virginia. They will all have their work cut out for them.

The tournament fun is not just limited to college players though, as several NBA stars have already began to get involved.

Bernucca: Among the Elite, Thunder the Team to Beat

Leave a comment

Kawhi Leonard A look at the overall NBA standings shows four teams at the top – Indiana, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Miami – separated by one game in the loss column. In fact, they were dead even until three of them lost Sunday. 

Just a notch below them are three more teams – Houston, the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland – separated by two games in the loss column. They also would have been dead even had the Blazers held on Sunday against the Rockets.

Let’s call these teams the Magnificent Seven, because your NBA champion is somewhere among them. Dismiss any of them at your own peril; these are the only teams who, at the season’s three-quarter pole, have won at least two-third of their games.

Pages: 1 2

SH Blog: The tale of Antetokounmpo, Noah wants Melo to join Bulls

Leave a comment

Milwaukee BucksGiannis Antetokounmpo has truly come a long way to be where he is right now: a wide-eyed, just-turned 19-year-old kid who is learning the ropes of being an NBA player in his first season.

He came from a poor background – so poor that he actually shared a pair of sneakers with his brother whenever he had to play basketball. He is a fun character and has shown flashes of brilliance so far, so when you read about the road taken to be the person he is today, it makes him that much more likable. Amos Barshad of Grantland has a very, very detailed story on how he picked up on the game of basketball and what made him nearly give it up:

It starts in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Greece was transformed by a wave of immigrants — including Giannis’s parents, who left their native Nigeria and had four sons in their adopted country. Velliniatis had played pro ball in Germany before he began pinging around Europe as a “have clipboard, will travel” type of coach. He saw Greece’s changing demographics as a way to help others (and perhaps boost his own career). He began scouring Athens’s new immigrant communities, seeking transformative basketball talent. And for a decade, he failed.“My personal life was going to nothing, my basketball career was not successful, and I said to myself, ‘I will not have big goals in life anymore,’” he tells me over the phone from Greece. He hadn’t played in the NBA; he hadn’t become a big-time coach. Then, a week after he had decided to give up: “I see Giannis.”It wasn’t one of his regular scouting trips; he was just walking through the neighborhood of Sepolia to visit a friend. This is not happening to me! This is not possible!, he said he thought when he spotted the 13-year-old Giannis. “You are chasing for 10 years immigrant kids to play basketball for a mediocre level, and suddenly you have in front of you Julius Erving! Magic Johnson! Michael Jordan!” Never mind that Giannis wasn’t actually playing basketball when Velliniatis first saw him. He was just running around with his brothers. But Velliniatis knew.

“It was mostly like a blackmail,” Velliniatis says, explaining how he convinced Giannis to hoop. “I told him, if I find work for your parents” — their work papers had long expired — “will you play basketball for me?” Then he took Giannis and his brothers to Filathlitikos, a smaller club where he hoped they would get more personal attention. He talked the club into providing a 500-euro monthly stipend — without Giannis ever touching a ball.

For the first few years, it was tenuous. “Many times the kid stopped,” Velliniatis says. “He was going and working, selling little things in marketplaces. I had to go back to the family and drag Giannis back to basketball.” The family had no money; at times, Giannis could go two or three days without eating. The fear of hunger was always a concern, Velliniatis says. “You could see it in the hardness of the kid.” Meanwhile, as Antetokounmpo recalls, “I get taller and taller and taller.”

It’s a long article (fine Grantland articles usually are), but it’s an intriguing story worth reading.

JOAKIM NOAH TELLS MELO TO JOIN CHICAGO:

JoakimNoahSH1Can you imagine Carmelo Anthony playing alongside the kind of gritty defense the Chicago Bulls have? Joakim Noah can, and according to Chris Broussard of ESPN, the two All Stars had a meaningful conversation about teaming up next season in Chicago during All-Star weekend last month:

All-Star Convo btwn @carmeloanthony & @JoakimNoah began as discussion on what it’s like to play for Tom Thibodeau. With rumors about Bulls going 4 Melo as well as Thibs coaching NYK, Melo wanted to know about Thibs. From there, convo turned to Noah telling Melo he should join Bulls if he wants to win ring & secure winning legacy. Melo responded to Noah that he admires how hard Bulls play & how hungry they are. Also told him his son’s favorite player is D-Rose. I’m told D-Rose would love for Melo to join Bulls as well. If Bulls ask Rose to help recruit, he will. Sources add tho that it’ll be hard for Melo to turn down the $ and leave NYK.

Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Anthony, Taj Gibson and Noah. That sounds scary for the rest of the league and ideal for Anthony if all he wants to do is win. The upcoming summer should be a very intriguing one.

CLIP OF THE DAY: 

Paul George is widely recognized as a great two-way player around the league, but sometimes, even the simplest move can throw off a great defender. Case in point:

OTHER NEWS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE:

Pages: 1 2

Tweet of the Night: Klay Thompson credits bench for coming up big after hitting game-winning shot

Leave a comment

KlayThompsonSH1When the Golden State Warriors are working on all cylinders, there is no team they can’t beat in the league.

Need proof? They are the only team to beat both the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers on the road this season. The problem is that the Warriors have not been clicking on all cylinders for much of the season.

While boasting the third best defensive rating in the league, their 13th best offensive rating has often been bad enough to cost them plenty of games. Things have been smoothing over – particularly for the bench unit – on offense since the acquisition of Steve Blake just before the trade deadline, but their over-dependency on Stephen Curry’s wizardry and Klay Thompson’s 3-point shooting has given them mixed results thus far.

Golden State hoped to be one of the top four teams in the West, but has been sitting sixth or lower for much of the season. Because they are in a dog fight with three other teams just to make sure they get into the playoffs, every game moving forward will matter in the standings. After inexplicably blowing a sizable lead and losing to the Toronto Raptors in their previous game, the Warriors had to dig deep to find a way to beat the Pacers on the road on Tuesday.