Court Vision: Chris Bosh holds the Heat defense together
• Few players in the league are more misunderstood than Chris Bosh, who — despite his reputation to the contrary — serves as the fulcrum of one of the best defensive teams in the league. Bosh is known first and foremost as a finesse scorer, but since arriving in Miami has grown into a terrific defender in space and an incredible asset for a high-wire defensive system. David Thorpe explains for ESPN Insider ($):
Bosh is quickly becoming known as maybe the best defensive power forward on the perimeter, and Miami uses his rare quickness and agility to great advantage; it’s the best overall pick-and-roll defensive team in the league.
When Bosh’s man sets a ball screen, Bosh normally steps up aggressively and shows, trying to prevent the ball handler from turning the corner and getting to the paint. This is the more classic way of guarding ball screens, with the big showing and recovering while the other three defenders not involved help on the screener before recovering to their men. Bosh’s quickness allows for his help and recover action to be effective, and his long arms and quick hands are thrown into the passing lanes to possibly get a deflection or steal. It’s likely that Bosh gets more deflections in ball screen defense than any other forward or center in the league.
• There were seven full and lively games between the Heat and Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals, but ultimately San Antonio’s hopes were dashed in a mere 29 seconds of game action. Relive them through the writing of Lee Jenkins, who chronicled those waning moments of Game 6 from the perspective of those who played, coached, covered, and watched the most important half-minute in recent basketball history.
• Read up on the new-and-improved Alexis Ajinca, the prospect who was washed out to sea after three seasons in the NBA, only to make some important strides while playing overseas. Ajinca has reportedly come to an agreement with the Pelicans, per Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
• Grantland’s Zach Lowe dives deep into the present and the future of the three-pointer, a shot coming in greater league-wide volume than ever before.
• It’s official: Nene and Marcin Gortat are “soulmates.”
• Sixers guard Tony Wroten is the most fascinatingly erratic guard in the league, full of fascinating highs and self-destructive lows. Yet Philadelphia on the whole has been exceedingly patient with him, with full knowledge that much could be mined from the 20-year-old guard if he’s brought along slowly. From James Herbert of SB Nation:
“He’s trying to get his form right, leave his follow through and stay in his shot, all those things that matter,” [Sixers coach Brett] Brown said. “That’s the partnership, that’s the arrangement.”
The coach isn’t too concerned with makes and misses, not this season. The idea is to get Wroten reps, fix his form, build his confidence. Brown’s happier with his progress in practice than his breakout game. If Wroten buys in, as he has, the percentages are irrelevant.
“Otherwise, there’s no deal and he’s hurting the team,” Brown said.
• The biggest difference in LaMarcus Aldridge’s performance between this season and last? Portland is winning games. There are subtle improvements in Aldridge’s game to be sure, but Aldridge’s rising reputation comes largely by way of doing the same things he’s always done for a much better team.
• Drew Garrison runs a few basic fact checks on Paul Gasol’s complaints regarding his role in the Lakers offense.
• Screening remains one of the great unappreciated arts in basketball, both utterly essential and doggedly unmeasured. Yet we can still qualitatively identify those skilled in that particular trade, including Toronto’s Amir Johnson — a great, physical screener who is an incredible asset to any ball handler who shares the court with him.
• There are many distinct reasons one could point to as explanation for Minnesota’s underwhelming record, but particularly odd are the dismal, team-wide shooting numbers for a team loaded with offensive talent. Britt Robson explains:
…even with Kevin Love returning to the all-star caliber of play he flexed before last year’s injury-marred season, the offense has been nearly as middling as the defense — they currently rank 12th in offensive efficiency, or points scored per possession. And the reason for that disappointing rating is pretty simple — this has been a team of lousy shooters.
Indeed, the biggest shock and most depressive stat of the season thus far is that a team coached by an influential offensive mastermind in Adelman, featuring such prolific natural scorers as Love and Martin, and orchestrated by the passing and court vision of Rubio, doesn’t have a single player ranked in the top 60 in true shooting percentage.
• Plenty of credit for the Suns’ promising start has (and will) be given to Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, but sharp first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek deserves his due.
• Lance Stephenson and Luis Scola are a pretty strange coupling, but have made life easier for one another when the Pacer primaries (Paul George, Roy Hibbert, and David West) catch a breather.