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Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 at 9:00 am  |  37 responses

The Post Up: Welcome Back

The Heat take care of business and the Mavs shock LA.

by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad

While Sandy knocked me and the rest of the Tri-State area out of commission this week, basketball never stops and the ’12-’13 NBA season is officially underway. Admittedly, my head has been spinning with Sandy and making sure all my friends and fam throughout NY/NJ/CT are good so unfortunately, this intro isn’t as long or as thorough as I would have hoped. (For awesome in-depth previews of the NBA season, check out our friend Lang Whitaker’s work here and here.)

Long story short, I’ll be taking over The Post Up and traveling along with you during the wild ride that is the NBA regular season. Big thank you to the rest of the SLAM Fam for showing faith in the kid and allowing me to give my insight into what promises to be a tremendously entertaining season.

(H/T to THESICKISHERE. Great work.)

Let’s go!

***

Cavaliers 94 (1-0), Wizards 84 (0-1)

First off, did anyone else find it a bit disappointing that the very first game of the NBA season was between these two teams? Don’t get me wrong, Kyrie is extra nice and a budding superstar but would it have killed the NBA to start this game a little later and give the Heat and Celtics, the matchup everyone wanted to see, anyway—first dibs? If John Wall played it would have been cool to see how he matched up with Irving. But alas, no Wall vs. Irving matchup meant no real captivation for the casual fan. Actually, now that I think of it, outside of diehard fans of either team or those with action on the outcome, who was watching or paying attention to this game?

Aight, enough of that, on to the recap:

After Irving was done addressing the crowd and thanking them for their continued support (how dope is it that a 20 year-old kid is clearly the leader of a NBA team?) the young man wasted no time reminding fans why he will likely be considered one of the top-20 players in the NBA by season’s end. The second-year guard overmatched the Wall-less Wizards backcourt and helped the Cavs jump out to an 11-point halftime lead that they eventually stretched to 16 in the second half. Irving pretty much did whatever he wanted against the likes of A.J. Price, Bradley Beal and Jannero Pargo as he finished with 29 points (11-20 shooting), 6 boards and 3 dimes.

Along with Wall, the Wiz were also missing Nene and Kevin Seraphin—three guys they were relying on to contribute heavily this season—so you have to credit D.C. for hanging tough and clawing their way back into the game after falling behind by 16. A season ago, they surely would have just given up. While no one on the Wiz scored more than Jordan Crawford’s 11, D.C. played tough defense (they forced 21 turnovers) and got themselves back in the game. With Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson catching their breath on the bench, the Wizards scored 14 unanswered points to start the fourth quarter and took a 76-74 lead. At that moment, Byron Scott rushed those three players back into the game to stop the bleeding.

The Cavs responded by going on a 20-8 run to end the game, triggered by a Waiters four-point play that put all momentum back in the home team’s favor. The Cavs rode that momentum to a 10-point opening night victory.

Quick Hitters:

– Anderson Varaejo was an absolute beast last night accounting for 23 boards (11 offensive), 9 dimes and 9 points.

– The starting backcourt of A.J. Price and Bradley Beal had a woeful performance as they combined to go 4-21 (0-17 from inside the arc) from the field for 15 points.

– In the rookie matchup between Beal and Waiters, the Syracuse alum was far and away more impressive. Waiters, who you may recall had a lot of issues with his weight and conditioning during the summer, finished with 17 points on 6-14 shooting while d’ing up his rookie counterpart nicely.

Heat 120 (1-0), Celtics 107 (0-1)

Anybody else wish they had a camera on KG during the Heat’s ring ceremony? I would have paid to watch him through that.

In the highly anticipated Eastern Conference Finals rematch, Miami looked like they hadn’t skipped a beat since last year’s Championship run. The Heat looked comfortable with each other throughout the game and just like last year, when the game turned into a track meet, they were unstoppable. LeBron was flying around the court, running the break, getting in passing lanes, going coast-to-coast for dunks and catching alley-oops with no discretion. Dwyane Wade looked healthy and was getting to the rack, finishing with a game-high 29 points. With Joel Anthony on the bench with an injury and Udonis Haslem giving nothing, Chris Bosh held down the paint and finished with a 19-point, 10-board double-double.

In the third quarter, the Heat were unconscious. They outscored their opponent 31-22 and ended the quarter on a 12-3 run that pushed their lead to 93-76—a lead built mostly without LeBron who missed much of the second half with leg cramps.

During the fourth quarter the C’s almost spoiled the festive mood in the arena by storming back and put the pressure on the Heat to close it out in front of their home crowd. After LeBron left the game again with eight minutes to go in the fourth, Boston went on a 14-3 run that cut the lead to four points. Surprisingly, the Heat had no answer for Leandro Barbosa who scored all 16 of his points in the second half and nearly brought the Celtics back by himself. The Celtics put a scare into the Heat but didn’t have enough gas in the tank to overcome the 17-point deficit. Chris Bosh took advantage of the Celtics undersized front line and scored the final seven points to carry his team to a comfortable 13-point win while LeBron looked on from the training room.

Of course, the big story here was Boston’s friend-turned-foe Ray Allen. As you’ll hear over a thousand times today, KG snubbed his former teammate when he came over to wish him well. Allen finished with 19 points on 5-7 shooting off the bench and made the C’s look foolish for letting him walk in the off-season. Garnett ended up with 9 points 12 boards and 5 TOs. Karma.

Quick Hitters:

– Rajon Rondo was busy doing Rajon Rondo things as he finished with 20 points, 13 assists and 7 boards. It was his 25th straight regular season game with 10+ dimes. Of course, Rondo couldn’t escape the evening without a little controversy as he clotheslined Wade towards the end of the game. Wade called it a “Punk move” during postgame and it will only add more bad blood to this heated rivalry.

– Wade eclipsed the 15,000 point mark—the 123rd player in League history to do so.

– Salute to Jeff Green who played his first meaningful game since May 11, 2011.

– LeBron finished with 26 points and 10 boards (9 in the first half) and could have pushed for 50 if he didn’t cramp up.

– I can’t believe Rashard Lewis is going to be a contributor on a contending team.

– Mario Chalmers finished with 11 dimes and made a few excellent plays to set his teammates up. I’m really high on him this season and think he’s going to have a breakout year.

Mavs 99, Lakers 91

The new look Lakers got off to a rough start in last night’s night cap and, of course, the Twitterverse is already calling for Mike Brown’s head. Everybody take a deep breath; it’s game one.

Credit coach Rick Carlisle for taking advantage of a Lakers team that is clearly out of sync and using different lineups and looks to keep them off guard. Six different Maverick players scored in double-digits and they comfortably beat down a Lakers team who didn’t look ready at all yet—dating back to last season and including this year’s preseason, LA has lost 11 straight games.

After a close first half, the Mavs began to pull away and pushed their lead to 16 and the Lakers never got back in the game. Shawn Marion and Vince Carter each finished with 11, Darren Collison had a nice opening night with 17 points, 4 assists and 3 steals and Jae Crowder had an 8-point evening for the Mavs.

Both Dwight Howard and Steve Nash had tough Purple and Gold debuts. Howard, who missed a dunk on his first shot attempt, finished the game with 19 points and 10 boards before fouling out with about two minutes left. He also shot 3-14 from the stripe—something he will have to fix or teams will just continue to hack him whenever he catches the ball in the post—and committed a flagrant foul against Elton Brand. Nash for some unbeknownst reason, played off the ball for an unusual amount of time and finished with a stat line of 7 points and 4 assists over 34 minutes of play.

The best part of last night’s contest was undoubtedly the play of Eddy Curry. The Lakers may have hit a new all-time low when Mike Brown admitted that Curry came in and dominated the Lakers inside during the third quarter. How many of you honestly thought you would ever hear those words come out of somebody’s mouth!? Props to Curry, though. He’s had a tough road and could have easily given up and sat on his money at any given point but finally looks as if he can contribute in some capacity. Here’s hoping for the best.

Quick Hitters:

– The Lakers were awful from both the free throw line and beyond the arc. They shot 12-31 from the charity stripe and 3-13 from three. If Mike Brown had any hair on his head, he would have been pulling it out.

–It was rumored that Howard left the locker room after seeing cameras already positioned around his locker when he entered. He wanted the spotlight, now he’ll have to face the music when he doesn’t play well. This ain’t Orlando.

– Pau Gasol had a nice game with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists.

– The Mavs only had two players finish in the “negative” in the +/- category. By comparison, the Lakers only had one player finish in the “positive”.

– This whole Princeton Offense thing won’t even be an issue this time next month.

***

Stat Line of the Night: I have a soft spot for big rebound numbers so I gotta give it up for Anderson Varejao, who finished with 9 points, 23 boards and 9 dimes.

Play of the Night: A great block by Bosh leads to a LeBron fast break dunk on the other end. Just like old times.

Dunk of the Night: Cavs Rook Dion Waiters with the steal and dunk.

Song of the Night: Jay-Z “Friend or Foe”..shoutout to Jesus Shuttlesworth.

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  • Hursty

    Jae Crowder looks legit. I saw him tearing up my Rockets in pre-season, but just assumed that it was well, because it was pre-season. Definite player to watch. Darren Collison has worked on his jumper, the form is much, much smoother from deep release.

    Kyrie Irving is still moderately bad/terrible at defending the screen-roll as the on-ball defender. His limitations are somewhat negated by Varejao, who’s an excellent defender, but damn. Irving has to get better at moving his body around the pick and lock-and-trailing around the ball-handler. (I know, he’s only 20, but it’s worth noting now.)

  • robb

    Mik Brown needs to go like right now. He doesn’t know how to use his players at all. WTF was he doing yesterday? Man what a dumb @ss coach…

  • Dagger

    Awesome video, great post-up, but the Celtics didn’t let Allen walk. Their offer was bigger than Miami’s – even the contract was for only two years – and it included a no-trade clause. Allen left in spite of Boston’s offer, and it looks like he’ll make the Heat almost unguardable this year.

  • Max

    Rondo and Pierce looked solid, Boston’s D will have to improve.

    Miami looked great both on offense (more fluidity) and on D.

    The Lakers will have to speed it up more with Nash, Pau, Dwight and Kobe. Kobe played well within the offense, took good shots. Pau will be a fantasy basketball beast if they keep running this offense. Dwight looked rusty.

    Dallas played a good game collectively, they’ll be intresting if they get fully healthy.

    Dion Waiters looks legit.

  • Drig

    God that was a horrible show that I stayed up to watch……..The first half O was a thing of beauty though. Lakers got a bit too lob happy and were totally out of sync on the defensive end of the floor. Game 2 in Portland better not be a blowout or the grumblings are gonna get louder…..

  • Max

    I stayed up untill 6.30 am to watch the Lakers play some ugly a$$ ball lol.

  • Caboose

    Well done, Pete. No mention of Kobe though? Dude was more efficient than any of us expected.

  • charliewinning

    Agreed. As a hardcore Kobe hater, I thought he did a good job of not forcing the issue the way he usually does. I underestimated him.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    If Steve Nash is going to play off the ball, this won’t work. At all.
    The Mavs look good. Darren Collison was impressive as well as Jae Crowder. I’m glad Brandan Wright has found a solid spot in the league. I thought he left UNC one year too early.
    LeBron picked up where he left off. Wade was a little rusty still, but solid. Clearly healthier than he was last season. Bosh played well. Role players all looked good.
    Dion Waiters looked worthy of the 4th pick. Cleveland has a nice young backcourt. Varejao had himself quite a game.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    we should have seen it coming. the Princeton offense only benefits ONE player in the Lakers starting lineup (Two if Pau plays Center)……and only 2 players did as good or better than we expected….

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    So out of the Lakers game I got – the team is terrifying. If they hit free throws.
    . Their defense was the weakest part of their game (outside of FT shooting) last night, and that will get fixed pretty quick.
    . The offense doesn’t fit their personnel. They had success last night against the Mavericks offensively, but it wasn’t in a way that they want to repeat. Dwight and Nash really really don’t fit in the offense they are trying to run. Metta World Piece touches the ball entirely too often.
    . If Kobe plays that smart all year, when they do figure it out, the only team that even CAN beat them in a series, is Miami.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Good work Pete, glad you made it through Sandy alright. Looking forward to the marathon season reading TPU.

  • Caboose

    Very true. I was going to nitpick at Kobe’s 0 assists and 1 rebound, but why bother? I’d just keep getting called a hater.

  • Ben Osborne

    The Peter Walsh Era begins in earnest, and under duress no less. Thanks for the nice opener, Pete!

  • Drig

    Me? :P

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    really it’s a function of the offense and his role in it. Honestly his assist are going to take a big sh*t this season in that offense. He doesn’t get guys flashing middle like he would in the triangle, and he doesn’t get to dominate the ball long enough to create openings for others. Really this is a completely new system for Kobe, and he is going to have to make adjustments in order to produce like he used to outside of scoring.
    .
    But, I love the positions it puts him in. The Lakers really are going to be almost unbeatable if they manage to keep Kobe on a leash.

  • Drig

    It benefits Dwight as well. The only player it doesn’t benefit is Nash. ( god damn wish it was Metta instead T_T )

    The bench managed to run it pretty well with Gasol as well.

    The problem again is balance. Just think how crazy it would be trying to guard the Lakers’ starting lineup if there was an equal chance of Nash being able to run the sets with crisp passing ( which will happen with Kobe and Pau ) and him suddenly calling it off and running a PnR when Dwight initiates the Lakers’ offensive possession with a screen?

    Of course, this is me expecting them to get into and run the set quick enough to leave the defense flat footed. That won’t happen every game but when it does, it’s gonna be breathtaking.

  • Drig

    Nah. Kobe kept the ball moving and that’s good enough imo. You got a point with the rebounds though.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    no, the princeton offense does not benefit Dwight Howard. Did you see how many times he caught the ball in the high post? — That was a function of their offense. And he should never be put in the high post, let alone catching passes there.
    .
    When the Lakers go to the PnR it is outside of their normal offensive set, and it is the best thing they can do. But they don’t do it nearly enough, mainly because it is NOT a function of the Princeton offense to run a high screen and roll. I mean, the Lakers can add wrinkles that make it a function, but from what i saw last night, they have not implemented it in that way.

  • Drig

    That is something that I noticed too and assumed that it will be rectified in team practices in the coming weeks and get Pau in there who unfortunately is still gonna be playing a lot on the perimeter for this thing to work out……….

    Eddie managed to tweak teh offense to fit the team makeup a bit into the season with NJ with Kenyon-Kidd- some C who couldn’t pass or shoot issue ( I’ve read about that ) and I’m hoping he does the same here.

    Yes. I know it’s outside their normal offensive set. I’m saying that if they get the Princeton’s principles down, it’ll be a capable alternate option to have. And it’s always good to have alternate options.

    Wait, I’m confused a bit now. Both the princeton and PnR start with Dwight screening the pg……if the Lakers can get into positions early enough once Dwight sets the screen, Nash would have the chance of running either the set or the roll with Dwight right???

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    The screen Dwight was running with Nash at the top of the key, that wasn’t being attacked like a screen and roll because that’s not what it was meant as. It was LA’s way of initiating the offense without dumping it into the high post. It’s a wrinkle they added to keep decision making up to Nash rather than Howard, like it would in a traditional princeton offense. Jordan made obvious tweaks to the normal system, but they were still running that set that doesn’t fit their team at all.
    .
    They are talented enough to be potent no matter what they play, first and foremost this is the thing we have to understand. But they will not be AS potent as they could be in a better system. Really, most offensive sets fit their personnel better than the Princeton Offense does.

  • Drig

    Honest question which can sound dumb : Can Nash/Howard make it look like one or is that a pipe dream of mine?

    I’m starting to think you’re right………But it seems workable on paper: Nash, Kobe and Pau can shoot, handle and pass the ball at an above average level. While Howard can’t, he’s still a strong presence that can help get the ball to cutters since he’s an average passer. Metta can handle it and can pass it but isn’t quick enough with his decisions and doesn’t have a great shooting stroke but it’s not something that can’t be tweaked to get him the ball minimally……….The team is old and isn’t athletic. Their transition D is bad so playing at a quick pace would be suicide. If the Lakers could knock down their FTs, I thought i could be a potent system fitting the skillset of most of our starting players……..

    Which system would in your opinion work better for all parties involved??

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    — if i was them, considering i want to do the following
    . – include Nash & Howard in as many PnR’s as possible
    . – limit Kobe’s time with the ball to areas where he is a potent scorer, or to the end of shot clocks
    . – Use Pau to make decisions from the high post. As much as a playmaker as a scorer
    . – Enable Dwight or Pau to be near the basket for Offensive rebounding opportunities.
    . – Limit the amount of decisions Metta needs to make inside the offense.
    — i would probably run a flex. the only player that wouldn’t see full benefit from that offense is Nash, but Kobe is a better player, I would rather put him in better positions. The FLEX would enable Dwight & Pau to play in the post. Dwight would have screen and roll opportunities with Nash (atleast at the start of) just about every play. There would be a pseudo triangle on the strong side of the court in most situations, which would cater to Kobe and Pau. — Nash would be able to move WITH the ball and make decisions, but not to the point where Kobe is just standing around watching. — And Kobe would catch the ball in scoring positions only. Which would be the most ideal aspect of all of this.

  • NOLA

    shut up

  • Guest

    I thought I was the only one who that Artest touches the ball to much. Glad to see someone else catch that lol.

  • robb

    1 for 8. SMH

  • Drig

    Wait a sec, if I remember correctly, the Flex won’t allow both Howard and Pau to play in the post at the same time unless it turns into a triangle. The basic motion of the Flex puts one player on the high post while pushing the other onto the perimeter unless you run it from the corners or ( if you want to run the offense through the post ) you load the strongside with one post player and leave the weakside to the other along with another wing making it a pseudo-triangle. This is the impression I got from watching only few college games. ( Utah’s was a semi-flex no? )

    Regardless of how much you tune the flex, it’s gonna end up restricting Nash while also putting Metta in many decision making situations in complex sets.

    Also, I don’t know if I’m the only one who thinks this but watching Utah’s semi- flex made the system look too rigid and at times, predictable and easy to defend with zones if teams don’t have good outside shooting. Wouldn’t this impact out bench which has only one good shooter?? And the system doesn’t necessarily guarantee Howard won’t be at the high post with the ball right? I mean, when you down-screen numerous times due to lack of any viable cutter to find, you could end up with many possessions leading to the exact same scenario of Howard being on the elbow and Metta being forced to decide whether to make that split second open pass to a cutter or wait for the downscreen during possessions vs good defensive teams which can also play a zone????

    Basically, wouldn’t this resemble almost the exact same scenario at times with Nash having to make the call about going for the PnR or the flex on the fly ( and the team being in sync with his decision to carry out the rigid set of cuts and screens? )

    But hey, it sounds good enough to give it a shot…….. I learnt something new today :D .

  • http://tddaily.com/ Abe Schwadron

    Welcome Back /Ma$e voice…. and Pete, how dare you start the Wiz bashing before we even lose a ga—oh, we lost already? Sigh…

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    ehh I guess i should be more specific about which Flex i am referring too. as there are like 10 different variations. You are correct, in many FLEX systems it would require at least one big (or both) to be interchangeable with the wing positions, but i am referring mainly to a 1-4 low flex, with a focus on feeding the post.
    .
    http://www.perfectpractice.net/basketball-plays/motion-offenses/flex-offense/

    .

    In the attached website you can view the most basic variation of the FLEX offense. – In the model I am referring to, the 4 & 5 position only comes out to the high post (rather than the perimeter as shown in the diagram), Pau would be used (more) in pass and cut sets, which would be used to get Kobe open jumpers or post up opportunities for him and Dwight. — Dwight would be used (more) in pick and roll plays, where the team loads up the weak side. — This set would place MWP in the corner, his decision making and touches would be minimalized. — And Nash would have more freedom with the ball to make the decision he feels best suits the situation, rather than trying to run a set play (running a flex enables intelligent offensive player to decide what “play” to run, on the fly based on the initiating decision that starts the set).

    .
    Does this make more sense? I realize before it was pretty convoluted.

  • Drig

    That clears up a lot of stuff.

    But doesn’t that create the risk of TOs if teams decide to trap Kobe or Nash near the baseline on the double if Pau and Dwight are restricted to the post areas? This also makes the entry pass much more difficult if the first cutter isn’t free……..

    Another potential issue is how flexible this system can be if the defenses predict the method of attack correctly…….

    But overall, this does make a more sense……..and actually does allow Kobe to post up players near the side of the paint at times as well. Wonder why no reporter brought this up during question sessions with Kobe/MikeB…………

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    well reporters know nothing about basketball execution really. they are journalists for the most part who had a big interest in sports. the majority of them aren’t what we’d call, “students of the game” or anything.
    .
    .-Nash would only be on the baseline as a cutter to keep the defense shuffling. He wouldn’t be more than a threat to catch the ball off of a down screen really.
    .-I mean they can trap Kobe if he catches the ball on the baseline, but that means they are pulling the entire defense over to a “dead” area, Pretty much, Kobe is too smart for that too be a consistent defensive tactic.
    .- in terms of the entry pass, outside of the actual pick and roll sets, if the entry to say Gasol or Howard doesn’t work on the high post cut, they just slide back to set a down screen on the wing player, and the set changes to a side post entry pass. It’s called a FLEX because it is flexible to any counter, and any play can be run out of any situation (given the right amount of discipline and offensive awareness).
    .- It is the same offense (obviously with a different variation to suit Howard) that Utah ran with Jerry Sloan. The main differences would be, Howard is an actual option, instead of using Greg Ostertag to babysit the rim, or Mehmet Okur to take on the “interchangeable” roll, and Steve Nash would be less of a cog in terms of down screens and pindowns like John Stockton and Deron Williams were respectively.

  • Drig

    The O would work crazy good with the Lakers since both their bigs are good pnr players even if the lack of entry pass forces them to switch players.

    The only hitch I think would be that Metta would at times need to spot up at the top of the 3pt line where he’s the weakest rather than slotting at the corner 3 when they run the baseline counter which ends up with Pau/Dwight in the low post, Kobe almost baseline and Metta at the top with Nash and our other big on the weakside…….

    But again. this will turn it into a pseudo triangle of sorts and render Nash a spot-up shooter on certain possessions but also lets him run his PnRs to his heart’s content………

    Learnt something new today :D . Thanks a ton. Now, off to bed ( around 1 am here ) and I’ve got Lakers – Portland and a few exams in college to take care of in about 7 hours time lol.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    yes there will still be problems. but i have never seen a perfect offense. well until i create my own ;) – but have a good night man, i always enjoy talking basketball concepts thanks for the back and forth.

  • http://twitter.com/stepfdelaghetto Stepfan Raiford

    Wizards way to compete last night, and shout out to Rashard Lewis who actually made a shot which he failed to do being a Wizard. Way to stay professional.

  • LakeShow

    You would be hating if you said that, so ya I probably would…
    Lakers out rebounded the Mavs by 6 boards. Did they need help on the boards? Naw…
    0 assists? Maybe if Dwight made his open Dunks we could make that 2 or 3. Kobe passed the ball just fine, why does he need to have assists in the box score to show that? He’s won finals games with less than 2-3 assists many times. Assists are a stat that illustrate how many times you passed the ball to someone who used the pass to score without dribbling. It plays no indication on how good of a game you had, and doesn’t illustrate how good or bad your passing was.
    This is where getting into the numbers is just silly.
    But you didn’t mention it as a nitpick, so just ignore what I said here.

  • http://twitter.com/AjpDos Allen Powell

    They didn’t bring it up because most fans don’t care.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BadBluue Czakó Balázs
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