CRUSH THE CAVS
Game Time Start: 7:00 PM ET
Where: The Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Officials: Z. Zarba, E. Lewis, B. Taylor
Media Notes: Indiana Notes, Cleveland Notes
Television: FOX Sports Indiana / FOX Sports Ohio
Radio: WFNI 1070 AM / WTAM 1100 FM
NBA Feeds:*NBA Audio League Pass (available free to NBA All-Access members)
*NBA League Pass Broadband (subscription req'd)
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Season Records: (W-L) 10-11 Home: 5-3
5-17 Away: 2-11
Upcoming Games: Dec 14 Dec 15 Dec 18 Dec 19 vs at at vs 7:00pm 7:00pm 8:00pm 7:00pm
Projected Starting Lineup: HIBBERT WEST GEORGE STEPHENSON HILL Projected Starting Lineup: VAREJAO THOMPSON GEE MILES IRVING
Danny Granger - left knee tendinosis (out)
Daniel Gibson - hyperextended right elbow (questionable)
Dion Waiters - left ankle sprain (day-to-day)
Perpetually Disappointing to Trader Joe Minimally Relevant Video:
Eight Points, Nine Seconds Review: Jared Wade: Breaking Down a Broke-Down Offense - Poor Spacing
This week, the Pacers have edged out a win in Chicago and out-classed Portland at home
to bring their record on the season above .500 for the first time since November 3. Given
how depressing this team looked over its first 10 games of the year, that is actually a big
step forward. But for a franchise that entered the season expecting to have home-court
advantage in the first round of the playoffs, this season has still been a disappointment.
Throughout the year, especially early, the Pacers have spaced the floor poorly. Paul
George and, surprisingly, Lance Stephenson have both shot the ball well from beyond the
arc so this seemingly shouldn’t be a huge issue. You have George Hill initiating an offense
that is, for better or worse, based upon getting the ball inside to the bigs, and you just
make sure the two wings stay far enough away from the basket to both leave room for
the tall guys to work and be a threat to make a shot worth three points.
There is nothing too complex about that. And to his credit, it seems to be something that
is intended to be a part of Frank Vogel’s offense.
One of the problems, then, is just a lackadaisical approach to proper spacing that is all
too common. The perimeter players are the worst offenders. The more film you watch,
the more often you see them just slowly drifting without purpose through the no man’s
land that is the mid-range — or worse, with their heels on the three-point line.
If you’re going to run your offense through two giant men and ask them to score with their
back to the hoop, you must provide them the room to do so. Roy Hibbert — with his giant
frame, lumbering approach and general lack of quickness — needs more space than most
to do his thing. This isn’t a criticism as much as it is just a recognition that he isn’t Zach
Randolph, a guy who can score over a double team of Josh Smith clones in a phone booth.
Roy has sweeping, long moves that were all the rage in the 1990s. Today, they are not
only less practiced, they are more difficult. Teams now routinely have three front-court
players whose wingspans each near 7 feet. That means there are hands everywhere and
rotating helpside defenders at every turn. So if you’re going to dump him the ball and
ask him to get buckets, you have to — quite literally — put him in a position to succeed.
And that means you have to force the defense to make a choice: play him with a smaller
man or double. What you absolutely cannot do is have players not involved in the primary
offensive action standing in a place where his man can both bother Roy’s move and keep
guarding him. In short, you can’t allow one guy to defend to players.
That means spacing the floor with precision.
This isn’t just some buzz word that agents use to get their “stretch four” Ryan Anderson
money. It is completely necessary in a post-Tom Thibodeau world. Standing 21 feet from
the hoop when you’re supposed to be 24 feet from the hoop makes a huge difference. By
doing so, you both permit your defender to still be in the way and put yourself in a place
where the defense wants you to shoot from.
So, to me, one of the biggest ways Frank Vogel could improve the efficiency of this
offense is to mandate that his players get to their spots. That they stand with precision.
It’s not a big ask...CONTINUE READING AT 8p9s
Hoop Chalk: Jared Dubin: Varejao’s Jumper Has Expanded His Pick-and-Roll Attack
Most people think of Anderson Varejao as merely a hustle player, one who does
the dirty work to create extra possessions for his team and not much else. Maybe
it’s because he’s missed parts of the last two seasons and that’s the lasting image
we have of him, but there are plenty of people who haven’t noticed the leaps and
bounds of improvement Varejao has made. The thing is, Varejao is a hustle player,
but he’s also become so much more. He’s quietly improved nearly every aspect of
his offensive game to compliment his already fantastic defense, and I’d argue that
it starts with his willingness to take and ability to make jumpers.
This is Varejao’s shot chart for the 2012-13 season. He’s 13-for-25 from the
highlighted area, good for 52% from the field. Those 25 shots average out to 1.56
shots per game in the 16 games Varejao has played so far. In his career prior to
this year, Varejao had attempted just 165 shots from those three areas of the court
in 444 career games – about 0.37 per game – and had made only 62 of those shots,
good for 37.6% from the field.
Maybe it’s because he didn’t play that much due to injury, but teams haven’t seemed
to notice that Varejao had been improving from that range the past few seasons.
Over the three years prior to this one, from 2009-2012, Varejao went 21-47 from
those locations on the floor, 44.7%.
But it’s partially the lingering perception of Varejao as an unskilled hustle player that
allows things like this to happen.
Varejao has about 10 feet of space between himself and the closest defender as he
lines up this jumper off the pick-and-roll. He knocks it down, but when the Cavs go
back to the same play a little less than three minutes later, he’s left wide open yet
And two more times throughout the third quarter alone, Phoenix leaves Varejao wide
open for one of those mid-range shots around the free throw line that he’s become
adept at hitting these past few years. There’s never even a defender within three or
four feet of him. They’re free jumpers.
When the Suns finally got sick of watching Varejao knock down wide open jumpers
with no one contesting...CONTINUE READING AT HOOP CHALK
The Classical: Robert Attenweiler: Why We Watch - Dion Waiters, Network Television
All rookies are, in some way, like episodes of The A-Team. The better ones are
like better episodes.
For most my life I thought I would be able to escape the trappings of a life built
around superstition. My father is the most logical man I know; my older brother
falls in the same quadrant. But my mother could not be more attuned to signs and
coincidences, to fate and faith. I am the last link in the chain, so I figured it’d only
be a matter of time before I confirmed my own suspicion that a servitude to mystic
semiotics is an inheritable trait. I always was a momma’s boy.
Last weekend, I spent several hours in front of a laptop introducing my nephew to
the first season of “The A-Team.” It was fitting in its to-everything-turn-turn-turn
way, as when the show debuted in 1983, when I was every bit as much an eight-
year-old as Max is now. And there are many ways that “The A-Team,” despite
being a one-hour “drama” originally aired in prime time, is custom made for the
eight-year old’s imagination. There is virtually no way in which it is anything but
that: the team builds stuff, dress up in costumes and lay excruciatingly bare the
outer reaches of their limits as actors every week, as Hannibal wince-inducingly
plays an Asian laundry owner or Face tacks on a couldn’t-possibly-ever-be-
mistaken-for-Texas accent in his con as an oil baron. Also, as viewers will know,
“The A-Team” features Howlin' Mad Murdock and Mr. T. “The A-Team” is fantastic.
This is not news.
But watching “The A-Team” isn’t so simple these days. The show seems so patently
ridiculous now, although there is a chance that it always—or always intended to—
seemed that way. To enjoy an episode of “The A-Team” now is a struggle, primarily
because virtually every thing about it, from the costumes to the central conceit—
bad-asses in a custom van, driving around icing local bad guys—is absolutely
contrary to everything you and I and everyone else regard as quality television. I
mention all of this only because the sensation of watching an episode of "The A-
Team" happens to be what it feels like watching Dion Waiters play professional
So much of what Waiters does on the court is counter to what I have come to
believe is truest and best and most valuable in the game of basketball. Some of
this is simply and inevitably the product of Waiters' youth, and his presence in a
grown-man's game. So of course at this point in his career, Waiters is practically
Sisyphean in his efficiency; think about how crisp your execution was at age 20. In
the three games before his recent ankle sprain—though exacerbated, one might
argue, by an even greater share of the offensive burden than he had before Kyrie
Irving’s finger injury and a relative invisibility to the officials’ whistles when he
drives to the basket—Waiters had managed to shoot 24, 38 and 35 percent, which
is all horrifyingly right around the 36% he’s shooting from the floor this year. He
is (how to put this politely?) subject to consistent failure on defense. The reason
I’ve taken to calling my new favorite Cavalier “Bulletproof,” not because he seems
indestructible, but because it invariably looks as if he has been hit in mid-air by a
sniper’s bullet every time he takes a jump shot. He is young and unfinished and
plays like it. So, yes, there are problems. There are a lot of problems.
But Waiters is also a rookie playing a ton of minutes—10 more per night than he
did during his sole season at Syracuse, where, it’s further worth noting, he would
have already played nearly a full season’s worth of games. So it's no surprise that
Waiters is still figuring out how his game translates to the NBA on a team missing
its closer (Irving) if not its anchor (the brilliant, brilliant, so brilliant Anderson
Varejao) and playing in front of a fan base that, while bereft of ultimate successes,
has also been spoiled by two rookies in the past decade that made the transition to
the pros look as simple as putting on differently colored clothing. Waiters will also
have games like he did against the Clippers or (my favorite) recently against the
Atlanta Hawks in which he is something else and entirely more exhilarating: a
young player who is very, very good at basketball, and getting better in real time,
and experiencing that getting-better himself, and growing for that experience.
Figuring out how to enjoy watching Waiters, though—and how to watch most
rookies and young, developing players—is thus like coming to terms with finding
pleasure in watching “The A-Team.” It's like a lot of things about growing up,
actually: learning to accept and embrace things that are doofy and dumb, while
also drawing lines demarcating what is too-doofy and too-dumb. But because he is
so fun to watch—and, also, because he could be great—Dion Waiters makes
imperfect basketball perfectly...CONTINUE READING AT THE CLASSICAL