Fast Break Thoughts – Playoffs Edition

Darius Soriano —  April 19, 2010

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Some random thoughts while you wait the day and a half until Game 2 tips off…

*The other day, I mentioned that I love the playoffs.  The intesity, the focus, the stakes…everything just makes me want to sit back and watch as much basketball as possible.  But, the other reason I love the playoffs is because of the quality of writing that can be found everywhere you look.  If you’re not already, go to the sites and blogs of the other teams.  Read up on the Mavs and the Magic (for example).  Go check out the analysis that some really smart people are putting out there on the teams that they follow on a daily basis.  You’re likely to learn some things – I know I do.

*Another reason that I love the playoffs is the new faces that make their mark.  Not sure how many of you caught the Bucks/Hawks game on Saturday, but how about that Brandon Jennings?  Talk about a young player that does not retreat from the big moments on the grand stage.  For a large chunk of that game, he looked like the only Buck that was truly ready for the playoffs.  Plus he’s left handed (always a positive in my book).

*Even the obvious needs to be stated again:  welcome back Andrew Bynum.  I think we were all impressed with his return to action yesterday and the ways that he impacted the game.  He truly was a real force.  And I couldn’t agree with Roland Lazenby more – after being out for as long as he was you almost forget how big young ‘Drew is.

*Speaking of our big men, Phillip mentioned it this morning, but the Lakers need to do a better job of beating the Thunder’s fronting defense.  There are two ways that I think the Lakers can accomplish this.  First is to have the big man that’s being fronted make the effort to walk his defender up the lane more.  This will enable him to 1). create more space between himself and the weakside help defender and 2). recieve a nice bounce pass entry if the ball goes into the corner in our standard Triangle set on the strong side.  Second is for the Lakers to play more high low by reversing the ball to either the top side guard or the flashing big man from the weakside.  Once the ball is swung back to the middle of the court, the fronting big is now more easily exposed by lob passes over the top. 

*So far this playoffs, the home teams have been putting their stamp on their respective series.  In the 8 games played over the weekend 7 of the home teams won.  The one home team that lost?  Phoenix, in their match up with Portland.  I know people will be quick to point out the SSOL offense doesn’t work in the playoffs and use this loss as another way to knock down that style of play.  But really, I saw this game as another example of why interior defense and rebounding is so important.  The Suns are missing Robin Lopez (not a world beater by any means, but he’s their best defensive big) while the Blazers have an active and effective Marcus Camby patrolling their paint.  Camby (14 defensive rebounds, 3 blocks) was able to control the lane defensively and help slow down Amare while Blazers Andre Miller and Jerryd Bayless were able to attack the paint against Phoenix.  And while a lot of people wanted to call him a homer, Henry over at TrueHoop kinda called it.

*I agree with the suspension handed down to KG.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t recall doing it, you can’t elbow a guy in the face and not miss time.  Sorry, KG.  Well, actually, not really.  And not because of the jersey he wears or his team affiliation.  But because I used to be a fan.  Besides Kobe, Duncan, and Shaq, KG was probably my favorite player of this era.  Not so much now.  I’d say more, but Kelly Dwyer just said it better.

*Have you seen that strange Carmelo Anthony commercial?  What’s your take on it?  I have no clue if it was supposed to be funny or just weird, but it kind of accomplished both for me.

Darius Soriano

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45 responses to Fast Break Thoughts – Playoffs Edition

  1. This one’s for Warren

  2. Anyone know how Mbenga’s eye is doing?

    Yeah, the Melo commercial was not only weird, but disrespectful to the Utah fans. I mean, it would be like putting a Paul Pierce fans ad in LA during a Celtics-Lakers series. I know Melo has nothing to do with it, so I’m not hating on him and placing the bulk of the blame on the idiots at Nike.

    You would think that after the debacle of using Woods’ dead dad they would have learned, but clearly they don’t care about who they insult as long as they sell shoes.

  3. Just an FYI here… the video behind the link “welcome back Andrew Bynum,” gets an error saying it’s been removed from YouTube by the user.

  4. I think we’ll learn a lot about Durant in this series, especially his mental fortitude. The reason? Ron Artest. While he’s not the defender he once was (he’s lost a fair amount of lateral agility), his particular style of defense is one that only the most mentally strong players are going to be able to deal with.

    Think about it. For the next 4-7 games you are going to play against someone who is flat out stronger, tougher, and crazier than you are. One who *likes* being as absolutely close to you as he can get, who thrives on creating as much bodily contact as possible, and whose hands are like vise grips once they get even a fingernail on the ball. Sure, you are taller, faster, and more athletic than he is, but your athletic advantage over him isn’t as great as his strength advantage is over you.

    I’m sure it’s bad enough being guarded by Artest on the occasional game during the long drudgery that is the NBA season. But I have to imagine that the prospect of doing so up to 7 times over a two-week span has got to be especially daunting. For some people – Kobe, for instance – that challenge is inspiring. But Kobe’s a rare cat. He likes to mix it up a bit. Is Durant that same type of cat?

    From Game 1, it’s hard to say. Whenever he was able to shake free of RonRon (or whoever else was guarding him), his stroke was sweet and true. But as the game dragged on, whenever Ron was on him it seemed to me like he was rushing, like he wanted to get that shot off before Ron got too close.

  5. #3. Mimsy,
    I tried to fix that problem. Hopefully, it stays resolved. Thanks for the heads up.

  6. Well, assuming you meant to link to Andrew’s monster dunk over Krstic, it’s working now. :)

  7. Maybe it looked worse from the TV angle we saw (over and over), but I’m surprised that Bynum seems to have gotten away with his elbow.

    It’s great to see him stand up for himself, but it still seems like a pretty stupid risk given how thin we are at center. And even if there’s no penalty for it now, if he gets involved in anything else (this season, maybe ever) that play is going to be figured prominently in the call for a big suspension. (I kind of wish he’d get a fine now, rather than this uneasy feeling that there’s now someone in the league office getting embarrassed and thinking about a future make-up call.)

  8. That picture reminds me of Rodman and Jordan.

    I hope we get our own three-peat with this crew, it would be kinda sorta awesome for everyone involved.

  9. i just reviewed Game 1, and focused on Durant.

    1. When he’s not option #1, KD is usually relegated to the corner 3 area and helps space the floor.

    2. More often than not, as option #1, KD is usually set up on the southern half of the court.

    3. The Thunder like to use their centers to set screens up top, at the wing, about 20 ft from the basket. This is so Durant can catch the ball from the triple threat position.

    3. With the ball, or off the ball, KD will use his centers to free him up for drives or jumpers. The Lakers seemed to have a definite gameplan, here. Drew and Artest would switch, for instance, on a Krstic screen. An impatient Durant usually just took deep, contested jumpers. When Durant had Artest on his hip and a driving lane, just the sight of Pau coming out was enough to discourage Durant from driving to the hole.

    Had Durant been more patient on the perimeter, and more intent on penetration, I think he could have scored more efficiently.

    4. When KD caught the ball at the elbow, the Laker bigs came out and harassed him. Durant did hit a cutting Collison with a nice pass once in these instances, but the rest of the time our bigs did a good job of protecting the paint and using their length to make KD think twice about assisting his teammates.

    5. KD uses his PFs mainly for screens near the basket. I’m not sure, but I think these are called pindown screens. He likes to curl around them, and sometimes there’s a secondary screen by a center up top, so he can catch the ball above the 3pt line, at the wing.

    Darius, I have a recap of pretty much all of Durant’s possessions/touches. If you’re interested, just email me.

  10. 7 @Alex

    I don’t think Bynum threw an elbow, he kind of threw his chest into jeff and maybe shoved him. but the league precedent is suspension for elbow above the head which seems unwarranted here.

  11. Love Artest’s and Kobe’s defense against their defenders. It’s the playoffs and they’re playing more physical with their guys.

    One thing that is really impressive with Artest is how he makes the effort to fight OVER the screen and chase Durant.

    I wish Shannon would learn the lesson from Fisher and Artest and fight over the screen. Shannon is so quick and athletic but he still needs to do little things like this to be the quick difference maker.

  12. My personal take on Bynum’s elbow as compared to Garnett’s is, Garnett was aiming for the head. Bynum was not. The Bynum elbow happened on the court, immediately after a physical and heated play. Garnett threw his in front of the bench, after the whistle had been blown, and while standing over an injured player (that I’m amazed no one stepped on!). Different circumstances, different crimes and punishments.

  13. James 40/8/8 on 16/23 from the field.

  14. As I watched the Bulls, I coudln’t help but remember how many people were on the Drew/Noah trade bandwagon. I never liked the guy’s attitude, and despite his effort on the court, would not want him on my team, though many will disagree. That being said…anyone still want to trade away one of the best center’s in the league for the next decade? Even if it means getting Kirk?

    I for one…not a chance. Dare I say he’s been more drama then our boy Ron this year. Funny how we got a quick glimpse of life w/o Drew. Undeniable force on our train to repeat.

  15. The Lakers need to take note on how the undersized bulls pushed the Cavs in the paint. Shaq tired out. Big Z was a non-factor offensively and neither was Sideshow Bob. If it wasn’t for an insane performance by Lebron, the Bulls would have taken this game. And this is with a Bulls team that does not have players of the caliber of Ron-Ron, Lebron and Kobe to throw at Lebron.

  16. I absolutely cannot stand lbj and the cavs. I’d cheer for the celtics before i root for the cavs. that entire team thinks they’re so great – can’t wait for them to get bounced!!!!

  17. #14. Taylor,
    I know you acknowledged that people would disagree, so this is no surprise, but I’d take Noah on my team any day of the week. That’s a guy that just knows how to play basketball – and he does it all out for every minute that he’s on the court. I know people will think I’m crazy, but I’ve forever thought that this kid is like a John Salley/Dennis Rodman hybrid. And while he may never be as great a player as Rodman was, I think he’s the type of player that you want if you’re building a championship roster.

  18. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Noah’s game, and I even like his attitude.

    I just cannot imagine trading any of our Top 5 for him.

    Bynum is too much of a beast. If the Lakers focused offense on him, gave him 25 touches a night, he would be a consistent 30 point scorer. He has the touch, and the post moves to get that done.

    I think in 2 or 3 seasons we will see that.

    (By the way, if over the summer the Bulls can actually lure a big talent or two to Chicago they are going to be top 3 or 4 in the East. Imagine Wade or Bosh in Chicago with Rose, Noah, and Gibson.)

  19. oh my god i love that melo fans in utah commerical!!!

  20. I can’t disregard his heart, and the kid has some ability, but I have trouble rooting for him. It’s almost like the Anderson Varejao factor that there is just something I don’t like about his style. I always think of those two in pairs, they remind me of each other. It could have come from watching him in college and not liking the way he played there. Granted he beat my Wildcats, and that could have something to do with it.

    I recognize he could be a great building block, I just don’t think he can be a starter on a championship squad. I might respect him more if he came off the bench, maybe its an air of entitlement he seems to carry when he talks. I think he needs to put in more quality seasons before he makes headlines for his mouth.

    I see maybe a slightly better shooting Detroit Ben Wallace?

    Edit: Maybe its the “looks” factor. I like thinking of it as a beautiful game. That’s not Noah-style basketball. I like “pretty” basketball, does that make sense?

  21. The melo fans in Utah commercial was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. I thought it was a joke at first. I mean that was absolutely ridiculous. I can’t believe a group of people seriously paid the network to broadcast that. I mean what happened to just going to the game with his jersey on? But I don’t think any Durante fans in la would do something like that.

    But as far as game two, I think we are going to get the thunders best shot. They have a bit a confidence now that they hung with the lakers. I hope the lakers can knock the wind out of the thunder early tomorrow. I still believe all those wide open shots that artest took and the *good* shots Kobe took and missed will eventually start to fall. Until then keep up the energy on defense and feed the the big men. I also look for Lamar to be more assertive earlier in the game.

  22. Seeing the Suns and Nugs lose at home makes me hope the Lakers watched it also. They have to shoot much better tomorrow. Not going to win scoring 87. Also expect OKC to come out running.

    I also expect Ron to be fighting through 2 or 3 screens for Durant.

    Another words Lakers need to step it up on offense.

    I have a hunch when Kobe sees James, Anthony and Dirk throwing up huge numbers he is getting ticked. I would be surprised if he dosen’t go for 35 tomorrow. He is probably at the gym now shooting freethrows.

    Lakers by 2 tomorrow

  23. Right now Noah plays harder than Bynum.

    However, Bynum has a greater potential, he just hasn’t reached it yet b/c he hasn’t matched the effort and basketball IQ yet.

    Noah’s effort makes up for lesser post moves, jump shot, and offensive polish.

    Noah over Bynum right now, Bynum for the future…as long as he stays healthy can be the franchise.

  24. did anyone watch that incredible jazz/nuggets game? i still suspect den will win the series, but if utah should pull this out, we’ve got a golden ticket to the WCF.

    also, the postgame noah rant about vacationing in cleveland is a comic masterpiece.

  25. 24. That Utah-Denver game was awesome. I’ve always thought that Fesenko hasn’t been given enough playing time. His presence on the court really helped the Jazz, especially Boozer. D-Will had another monster game. I’d love to see that series go seven.

  26. I am really impressed with the Jazz, they are coming out strong in this series, especially with the injuries that have befelt them. We own the Jazz, so I would love for them to take out Denver, hey the next two are at home for them, and you know the advantage that gives them. As Mimsy says, that place is loud!

  27. I love what Noah is doing over in Chicago. During the time that FB&G was having trade speculation posts around early February, I was the one to threw out a trade that involved Noah/ Bynum. Of course when Bynum is healthy and focused he is invaluable to this team. Although, for all that other time he is injured or in “black hole” mode, I would take Noah’s skills and hustle any day.

    It’s a gamble: On one hand you have Noah, who will be a guaranteed SKILLED hustle guy who holds his own against most bigs in the league. on the other hand you have bynum, who has the potential of being one of the most dominant centers in the league but as of now injury is the only thing holding him back from being that. (Injury sure has done a great job of that BTW)

    This post season will say a lot about this gamble. If Bynum get’s injured again and it costs us a title shot, he’s not worth the potential and I’d go after Noah. If he contributes ten fold to what he did last post season then I’d let things ride with Bynum. It all depends*

    Last thought: I love guys that do stuff like what Noah did with Cleveland. Who cares if they’re not the poster boy the NBA wants? Step up and say some stuff that will spark a flame in this doomed match-up. Guys like that give guys like me something to talk about when everything else is status quo. I guess that’s why I find Kanye West so immusing. (yes, he’s stupid but just so entertaining I gotta root for his crazy outbursts!)

  28. I loved watching the fourth quarter of that game.

    Other teams might not like the Jazz, but they damn sure respect them. That is a game and a half right there.

    As to the Bynum vs Noah debate, it certainly LOOKS like Noah is giving more effort, but I doubt it is actually true.

    I would think the effort level is pretty even.

    Bynum has gotten better each year DESPITE two years in a row of nasty, career altering, knee injuries.

    Coming back in any kind of shape from one of those, let alone two, is a testament to the amount of work Bynum does.

    Demeanor is not the same thing as effort or talent. I love watching the guys that bust their tails working, and wear their hearts on their sleeves, but that doesn’t mean the players that are more reserved are not doing the work as well.

    Lazy people (Rasheed Wallace not-withstanding) do not stay in the NBA.

  29. 23,
    Right now Bynum is a much better player than Noah and he is a true Center… something that is rare in the NBA today. On the Bulls Bynum would be putting up at least 20 and 10.

  30. If you were to put Bynum on a team like the Bulls where they relied on him to win. He would be forced to bring the effort for every game. This is my personal opinion but I think he coasts because he feels the Lakers dont need him to win b/c they do so whether he tries or not.

    Being put on a team where you’re the main guy, it just makes you want to put in that much extra effort. There’s more personal pride and satisfaction with every win.

  31. swedishmeatballs April 20, 2010 at 2:13 am

    PJ is without question a secret FB&G fan..

    The latest practice report on lakers.com has Bynum speaking of a “learning practice” where the team was educated on how their shots sometimes leads to run-outs and also how to deal with being fronted in the post.

  32. The Thunder are actually a very long team…from 1-3.
    1: 6’3
    2: 6’7
    3: 6’9.
    Just that their 4 is also 6’9. But their 5 is also 7’0. So technically speaking, their team is only shorter at the 4, and especially when Odom is in the game, this difference is virtually non-existent.
    Just thought I’d throw it out there…on the other hand, altho the lakers have huge 4s and 5s, (6’10, 7’0, 7’0), their 1-3s are pretty short:
    1: Fisher 6’1, Farmar 6’2
    2: Kobe 6’6, Shannon 6’4
    3: Artest 6’7, Walton 6’8

    Also, question about the Magic showtime: considering that Magic was 6’9, he cant be that fast. How does he chase around 6’1 pgs that are as fast as say, westbrook?

  33. Hey guys. I thought you might (or might not, who knows?) appreciate a Thunder fan’s input on the Bynum “elbow”. Um, I guess really, I don’t have one? I mean, he didn’t hit Green particularly hard, and maybe it should have been called a foul, but mostly I think it’s been a little overblown. Green clearly didn’t care. I thought it was kind of a cheap shot, but not really something to get worked up about.

    I’m suprised the league hasn’t said anything, just because they seem to love handing down punishment for this kind of thing, but if it never happens, I wouldn’t be too upset. Bynum is awesome, and I’d love watching him play if we wasn’t dunking all over my team. Excited about the game tonight!

  34. Seid From Ethiopia April 20, 2010 at 6:58 am

    Noah is a beast. I would take him on my team anytime. and he can start on a championship team. I know he is not skilled on the offensive end. but defensively, he is the man and has a lot of heart. the effort, the intensity, i mean common, how do you not be a fan of this guy. Seriously, when was the last time that you heared someone say, i’m goin to cleveland on a vacation. LOL

  35. On the Noah/Bynum fiasco:

    Tell you this: I’m taking Noah over Bynum and his injury-prone record any day.

    We all tell how Kobe, Lebron, Melo, and other superstars always make their prints in the game. Noah is that kind of guy. (I know, I know, He shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence with those people.)

    Noah is the definition of ENERGIZER. He gives an all-out performance at every game (just like Varejao). Sometimes (and I believe most of the time), hardwork beats talent. Noah is to hardwork as Bynum is to talent.
    The relentless effort to outwork, out play, outhustle every opponent is astounding. You might not like his attitude, but there is not a Bulls game where you would see him sleep-walking (except maybe in his early years). There are many things in the game that doesn’t translate into the box score, and Noah does many of those. He is virtually a part of the game every time he plays. That’s the kind of player he is. Plus, his arrogance is a plus for me. His words translate into actions.

    Dude’s got to learn how to play defense more though.
    But an oft-injured Bynum loses over a hardworking Noah.

  36. Make no mistake though, I love Bynum. He’s a rare True Center, but since we are talking about hustle, energy, and effort, I’m taking Noah over him.

  37. RE Bynum/Noah: I think the light has come on for Drew. Before the achilles injury, he was as active as he’s ever been on defense and the glass while still playing his typical style on offense. If he’s that player moving forward (and he was in Game 1), he’s going to be a conrnerstone player. As for Noah, like I said earlier, I love him as a player. Any team would do well to employ him. As David Thorpe has said time and time again, he’s a winner. Sometimes that can’t be quantified with statistics or *stlye*, it just manifests itself on the court with results. Also, many say that Noah isn’t skilled, but I think that is based on a narrow definition of “skill”. Noah is a great passer, has great hands, can rebound and then push the ball out to initiate fast breaks, and has a high enough IQ that he can be a facilitator on offense from the high or low post (due to his aforementioned passing accumen). He’s not the best shooter, but he’s gotten much better from 15 feet with his *cyclone* jumper and he shows a capable jump hook. And he finishes with authority around the basket. Is he as skilled as Gasol or as polished as Bynum with his post moves? No, but he’s effective in his own way.

    But enough about that, I don’t see why we need to talk about trades or exchanges at this point. Especially in regards to ‘Drew. We all saw the impact he had on Sunday, did we not?

  38. I agree Darius, I just have to get my two cents on the Noah/Bynum debate. :)

    But we prepare for Game 2! And let’s cheer for our big drew!

  39. hey, guys:

    just wondering: when’s the last time you heard anyone talking about taking a vacation in oklahoma city?

    okay, it’s not funny when I say it. dang.

    I look forward to another great game. This is a perfect first round I think– an athletic, likable team that doesn’t have the size to be a real threat (imo). that said, once these guys get a couple of bigs, i wouldn’t be surprised (or unhappy) if we’re looking at a dynasty in the making. try as I might, I can’t really find anyone on this thunder team to dislike… even their coach has got a bitchin’ 70’s college-coach kind of style about him, the starsky and hutch of the nba…

    let’s hope kobe and fish got the memo about long shots, esp early in the clock.

  40. if bynum lets his defense lead his offense, he’ll be fine and so will the lakers for the first round. if he just runs the floor as much as possible, he can get at least 6-8 points a game on fast break points. if there’s no fast break, the second option is a deep post up and easy shot. another 4-6 points. throw in a couple more points when they swing the ball to the weak side to dump into bynum when he’s fronted (as many have pointed out). when he plays defense like he did on sunday, guys will reward him for it, especially the point guards that got torched by westbrook. and it will probably push guys other than artest to match his effort on the defensive end.

  41. Noah is slowly becoming one of my best non-laker players for the same reason a lot of people hate him. He is scared to stand up to anyone. He lets his feelings known regardless of how it comes off. His rant about cleveland is just priceless. He wants to win and will do anything you ask of him on the court. His fingerprint was all over that game yesterday. If only he was a little bigger or little more skilled. But with what he has he is doing a good job.

  42. Bitter Sonics ex-Fan April 20, 2010 at 11:19 am

    OkC is not a likable team. They are Satan’s minions. The Lakers are on a holy crusade for Good, Truth, and Beauty.

  43. 41, wait til we play denver. or boston. or cleveland.

  44. Don’t get me wrong, I love Noah.

    For his priceless Draft Day photo with Stern alone I will love watching that guy for the rest of his career.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/0706/draft.fashion/content.8.html

  45. 3ThreeIII, that is a priceless photo, thanks for sharing, and because of that I will also love him for the rest of his basketball career.