Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Random Thoughts from the Week

-The Bulls continue to run screen-and-roll with Ben Gordon at the top of the key at the end of games. For the last year of so, teams realize that the play off that is to double Gordon and trap him, so he cannot attack the basket. Often times, due to a lack of height, Gordon ends up getting trapped near the half court line and the Bulls do not get a shot up. The especially frutstrating part about this is that they use a non-perimeter player to set the screen, so he is not a threat when the opposition doubles the ball.

-Like Kobe Bryant does for the Lakers and Chris Paul does for the Hornets, during the Rockets twenty-two game winning streak, the entire offense ran through Tracy McGrady. Outside of an increase in points per game, by looking at the statistics, you can not see the impact McGrady truly made during the eleven games the Rockets won during Yao Ming's absence. However, by running their offense through McGrady, he was able to involve guys like Luis Scola, Carl Landry, Chuck Hayes, Bobby Jackson, and even Mike Harris to infuse the winning streak. Allowing Alston to play more off the ball and utilize his improved three point shooting is ideal for the Rockets. During the twenty-two game winning streak, Alston shot nearly fourty percent from behind the three point line, including three games where he hit four or more threes.

-In last night's game, Boston chose to put all their efforts into minimizing McGrady's impact. Paul Pierce, Tony Allen, and James Posey all took shots at defending McGrady, but it was really a team effort that forced the ball out of his hands. McGrady shot four for eleven from the field and only scored eight points. Although he still ended up having eight assists, McGrady's plus/minus ended at -27, and he basically sat out the entire fourth quarter after the Rockets were outscored 32 to 16 in the third.

-I'm guessing after last night's embarrassing loss to the Detroit Pistons, 136-120, the Nuggets are now really regretting not making a trade for Ron Artest. The Nuggets stand today one-and-a-half games out of the playoffs and average 109 points per game given up - third worst in the NBA. At this point, I do not think the Nuggets will make the playoffs. Their only capable defensive player appears to be Marcus Camby, but he cannot do it alone. Even if they do sneak into the playoffs, I would expect a very short stay.

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