Florida guard Carter could miss time with strep throat (Yahoo Sports)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida guard Eli Carter can’t seem to stay on the floor.

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Williams: time to get tougher on No. 24 Tar Heels (Yahoo Sports)

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams urges his team on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina coach Roy Williams says it’s time to get tougher on his team.


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Raptors’ Lou Williams Is Allegedly Dating Two Women At Same Time

Lou Williams & Alleged Girl Friends

Toronto Raptors guard Lou William is trending on Twitter not because of his 18 points off the bench during last night victory over the Magics. Williams makes headlines for his polyamory lifestyle dating two different women at the same time.
We all know athletes have a terrible track record with committing to one female especially when women are lining up for an opportunity to be with a ball player. Shockingly in this case, both ladies know of one another and the arrangement. Pictures were taking of the three out in public spending time together as do normal couples would.

Lou Williams & Alleged Girl Friends

New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith went to Twitter giving Williams his props, real recognize real!

LouWill if this is tru you are the man!
— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) December 16, 2014

 
H/T Complex Magazine
 
The post Raptors’ Lou Williams Is Allegedly Dating Two Women At Same Time appeared first on Basketball Bic…

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Michigan Basketball: Is It Time to Panic After Blowout Loss vs. Arizona?

There are a couple of ways to view Michigan’s “I give” during Saturday’s 80-53 loss to Arizona: 1. It’s the prelude of much worse things to come for coach John Beilein’s Wolverines—who have now lost three in a row for the first time since January 2011—or 2. Things can’t get any worse, so it’s probably best to just relax and see what unfolds.

Neither side of the fence is wrong. Some like the half-full perspective while some prefer the half-empty point of view.

Truth be told, the Wolverines are sliding into dangerous territory, but they’re not yet falling apart—“yet” being the keyword.

Losing on the road to the No. 3-ranked team in the land is one thing, but getting their doors blown off after dropping home stands to the New Jersey of Institute of Technology and Eastern Michigan was flat-out embarrassing for a program that’s been to the Elite Eight and Final Four in consecutive seasons.

Michigan peaked Dec. 2 against Syracuse. One could argue that it reached its height just days prior during a 60-55 loss to then No. 12-ranked Villanova. Either way, the team showed fight in both of those games.

Sadly, it hasn’t been remotely close since.

 

Finding a Comfort Zone

For the past eight years, Beilein has cultivated jump-shooting teams that rebound enough to win. This season, offensive rebounding—a weakness for the Wolverines—needs to be stressed.  

Michigan won’t stop shooting. Conversely, shots aren’t falling.

Michigan—which is No. 278 of 351 in offensive rebounding—needs a remedy, and that’s second-chance scoring.

And that starts with Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal, who continue to baffle spectators. One moment they’re hot, the next they’re not. Donnal needs more work, but Doyle appears at least close to breaking some ground.

The 6’9”, 245-pound power forward scored eight points against the Wildcats, the most since dropping 12 on Dec. 2 versus the Orange. Granted, a little scoring mixed with three boards isn’t anything to write home about, it’s a way for Doyle to get back on track. He combined for just six points and four rebounds during the prior two losses.

Saturday was something.

Doyle’s dual-threat skill set makes him all the more important to the big picture. He’s not a contortionist, but he can twist and turn for rebounds. He averages just three per game but is built to grab at least six or seven per night. That goes back to his lack of edge. Once that comes forth, he’ll be the inside-outside threat Beilein needs.

Everyone is looking for answers—fans, coaches, players and the rest. This is December basketball being played by a young team. Beilein did it a favor by assembling a tough schedule. The bouts with Villanova, Syracuse, Oregon and Arizona will serve as learning tools.

They’re Not Excuses…

During this past Thursday’s availability, Spike Albrecht revealed that he had been suffering from a lower-body injury for the past year. Of course, that’s not great news for the Wolverines—who need Albrecht—but it does shed some light on the scenario.

Albrecht hasn’t really been himself this year. If he says that he’s injured, he’s injured. But for better or worse, he’s playing. With Albrecht, energy is never a question. He was hustling for loose balls while trailing Arizona by 30—he’s always going.

During the past five games, Albrecht’s turned the ball over four times—all against Eastern Michigan. During that same span, he’s scored 41 points and dished 22 assists. Again, not rock-the-world numbers here, but they’re not bad stats from a guy who’s clearly not fully healthy.

And that’s a problem when that guy was supposed to be a top contributor.

Kam Chatman, Kam Chatman, Kam Chatman—oh how the freshman bug has bitten thee. For some reason, the 6’7”, 200-pound wing/forward has mightily struggled through the first 10 games of his career. He’s really not as bad as his recent shooting suggests, just 10 makes in 35 attempts from the floor.

He’s not as bad as his recent defensive mistakes suggest, either. 

Chatman entered the mix set to take on big minutes. But he’s learned the hard way. Albrecht wasn’t exactly a hardened vet entering the season, either. Sure, he’s had his moments such as scoring 17 versus Syracuse in the 2013 Final Four but this season is his first as a true leading man.

 

Wait for Caris and Zak

In 2013, Michigan started 6-4—and then it ran to the Elite Eight with a “down” team. This year’s ensemble doesn’t have a Nik Stauskas or Glenn Robinson III; it has to develop those types of leaders. Beilein kept on Stauskas and Robinson III until they turned a corner; the Wolverines found their stride, landed in the Big Ten tournament final and had a good run through March.

Beilein has to jumpstart Caris Levert and Zak Irvin.

LeVert let loose for a career-high 32 points versus NJIT and scored more than 20 thrice this season. He topped the 20-point mark seven times in 2013, so it’s easy to forecast somewhere in the range of at least 10 games of 20 or more this year for the 6’7”, 200-pound junior.

Irvin has scoring prowess too. He put up 14 versus Arizona and scored 18 versus Syracuse. The 6’6”, 215-pound sophomore just hasn’t found the touch in 2014, that’s the only way to explain his 42 percent shooting average. If he continues to stumble, the Wolverines will be in trouble. He’s made just five of the past 21 attempts.

Long story short it’s easy to forecast doom and gloom as the Wolverines continue to learn the hard way. However, dismissing a team with LeVert and Irvin would be a mistake, regardless of circumstances.

 

Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and references were obtained firsthand by the writer

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Is It Time to Retire the Triangle Offense in the Modern-Day NBA?

It’s easy to argue that the triangle offense is an outdated system that doesn’t work in today’s NBA, but don’t give up on the system just yet.

The critics say that the it features the same, predetermined cuts and little individual variation. It de-emphasizes the point guard—he’s buried in the corner after initiating the offense with a quick pass up the floor—in a league dominated by outstanding 1s. 

It isn’t friendly to analytics, either. It probes the defense with multiple post-up opportunities, a low efficiency shot-creation area, according to most metrics. It doesn’t lead to very many three-point attempts, as the weak-side action generates mid-range jumpers and elbow play. Its tempo, in a league whose pace is on the rise, is slow.

It hasn’t truly worked outside the purview of Phil Jackson and some of the NBA’s greatest players—Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. It failed under Jackson disciples Jim Cleamons in Dallas and Kurt Rambis in Minnesota.

With the New York Knicks reviving but struggling within a once-fabled offense, there’s only more fuel being thrown onto the fire. 

Statistical struggles aside, (the Knicks are 21st in the NBA in offensive rating, according to NBA.com), New York’s biggest failure is the eye test. 

The real backlash against the triangle really has nothing to do with the particulars of its Xs and Os; it’s that the offense is read-and-react, and the Knicks are still disjointed within the offensive framework.

It’s the same reason why the Lakers‘ star-studded lineup of Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol couldn’t jell immediately under Mike Brown and the Princeton offense: Read-and-react systems require time and comfort because player movement is dictated by ball movement. 

Most NBA offenses consist of a binder’s worth of sets loosely related under various series. Maybe the ball is initially entered one way, but the team has 15 calls off that entry. A team might have plays labeled “Elbow 1,” “Elbow 2,” “Elbow 3″ and “Elbow 4,” all of which are closely related but ultimately separate wrinkles that help to keep the defense off balance.

The important distinction is that Play X requires cuts “a,” “b,” “c” and “d.” The offense, quite simply, is station-to-station. And when it breaks down and the team is unable to generate a scoring opportunity, it pulls out and plays pick-and-roll or isolation basketball. 

The players, in short, are programmed. They run the plays like clockwork. The on-the-fly thinking is kept to a minimum so the players can simply react and play. 

The triangle demands a cerebral approach. While the first few cuts are governed by early ball movement, the rest of the play unfolds both naturally and in infinite combinations. No two basketball plays are the same, and in the triangle each player is expected to “read” the situation and “react” properly. 

The problems occur when the player with the ball expects a certain cut and it doesn’t come. The movement is supposed to be instantaneous. When it’s not, things get bogged down quickly. 

Here’s an example of a broken triangle set in which Samuel Dalembert and Carmelo Anthony get their wires crossed.

It starts as it should, with Iman Shumpert cutting to the strong-side corner and Dalembert on the strong-side mid-post. But as the ball quickly rotates to the opposite side of the floor, Anthony doesn’t pop to the elbow for the pinch post action. (A more in-depth description of these triangle actions can be found here).

Dalembert is expecting a two-man game off the pinch post, in which Calderon cuts off Melo on the elbow. Because Melo is lifted on the wing, however, Calderon adjusts: he cuts to the corner to form a new triangle. 

It’s at this point that Dalembert should slide into the elbow/mid-post area, keeping things running smoothly. But he’s unable to think quickly and reacts late. Melo has to wait for him to cut, wasting precious time.

By the time Dalembert gets the ball, he’s in no position to do anything useful. And with time running down on the shot clock anyway, he has to give it back to Melo so he can create. All continuity is lost, and the result is a difficult isolation shot.

This is the inherent struggle within read-and-react systems: When it breaks down, it really breaks down.

But when it works, the ball pings around and the cuts are sharp. It can lead to some truly beautiful basketball.

What’s secretly beneficial about the triangle, however, is that it isn’t all about offense. Most NBA offenses have a classic setup of the point guard out top, two wing players on the right and left sides, a big on the elbow (high post) and a big down low (low post).

Smaller teams will go “four around one,” but the structure is functionally the same. Even if the point guard is angled off the slot (the edge of the lane extended out beyond the three-point line), there’s a player at the top of the key, the opposite wing and buried in the same corner as the ball-handler.

The triangle, however, relies on a two-guard front. This means that at almost all times there are two players lifted out high at all times, protecting against possible transition opportunities going the other way. 

In traditional offenses, there is only one player in a favorable defensive position. 

Despite the Knicks’ struggling defense, this benefit is already reflected in the numbers. The New York defense is the fifth best in transition by field-goal percentage, according to Synergy Sports, and only 11.9 percent of opponent FGAs occur in transition—also good for fifth in the league. 

Unfortunately the offense isn’t quite there yet.

Eventually the Knicks will reach a point where all players are able to adapt instinctually. Time, however, is not a commodity that most onlookers are willing to afford today’s NBA teams. Head coaches come and go with regularity, and the pressure to win in the present is enormous.

Luckily the Knicks have a team president who adores the triangle and has the subsequent patience to let it develop at its own pace. 

Even the players have recognized that it is going to be a slow process (via ESPN New York):

“It’s going to take a few months,” Smith said after the Knicks’ 20-point loss to Boston in their preseason debut. “Over the course of the year, understanding where everybody is going to be, [understanding that] ‘some like it here, [some] like it like that.’ It’s going to take awhile.”

That’s why it’s not fair to jump on the triangle quite yet. If after a few seasons and a few personnel upgrades the Knicks continue to struggle, maybe the triangle’s viability really will have disappeared.

But for now, nothing about its progress in New York has proven that it can’t work.

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Bogut could miss time with right knee tendinitis (Yahoo Sports)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Dwight Howard might not be the only franchise center who sits out when the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors meet Wednesday night.

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Ben Gordon’s time . . . or else

There was no denying the noise surrounding the Magic’s surprising signing of Ben Gordon. Even the Magic’s pro-team broadcast acknowledged there was a lot of head scratching over the signing and the risk that came with it.
Here was a player who had a bad reputation around the league after a turbulent season in Charlotte that saw him relegated to deep on the bench and then eventually cut with little fanfare. Gordon may not have signed anywhere else in the NBA and so the two-year, $9 million deal Gordon received shocked everyone.
In fairness to the signing, it was a low-risk one. Gordon has only this year guaranteed and it helped the Magic reach the salary floor. The second year of his deal is completely non-guaranteed. The Magic hoped he could add a veteran presence in the locker room and maybe recapture some of the spark he had off the bench from his Chicago days.
“He’s still hungry,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said during the Raptors’ stop in Orlando in November. “It shows he is a gr…

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Ranking the Boston Celtics’ Top 5 Centers of All Time

The Boston Celtics are the most storied franchise in NBA history. With 17 total championships and 27 players immortalized in the Hall of Fame, fans of the team have been treated to both great team and individual performances over the organization’s first 69 years of existence.

Behind those great teams and among those legendary players are a handful of centers who have been instrumental in their team’s success while wearing the green and white. But we want to know who was the best of them all.

The obvious answer is Bill Russell and deservedly so. But it wouldn’t be any fun if we just stopped there. Instead, we’ll take a look at the top five and figure out who the other four are who fall in line behind Russell to round out this prestigious group.

The rankings will be simple. Titles will be taken into account, but they won’t make or break a player’s case for a top spot. Win shares, however, will hold the majority of the weight when determining who places where.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the top five centers in Boston Celtics history.

 

All stats come courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

Begin Slideshow

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Is Durant back in time?

Kevin Durant has been out all season after foot surgery but comes back just in time for the Thunder.

      
 

 

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Why It’s Time for Oklahoma City Thunder to Give Up on Jeremy Lamb’s Future

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been waiting for Jeremy Lamb to finally live up to the hype. Rather than continue to tread water with their inconsistent shooting guard, it’s time for the team to move on.  

Lamb is a former No. 12 overall pick and was one of the key pieces in the 2012 trade that sent James Harden to the Houston Rockets. By now, he should have solidified his position in the backcourt with All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook or at least show signs of improvement. 

However, a month into his third season, the 22-year-old has been a disappointment. He failed to win the starting shooting guard position in the preseason. When injuries forced him into the lineup, there have been bright spots like his 24-point outing against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 14. Unfortunately, those moments have been few and far between. 

This year, Lamb is averaging 12 points per game and shooting 40.7 percent from the field (including 39.6 percent from three). Those would be decent numbers for a fourth or fifth option, but with the roster short-handed due to injuries, he should have used this opportunity to show signs of development. 

Just look at what not having Westbrook or Kevin Durant around has done for Reggie Jackson’s numbers (19.5 points, 7.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 41.5 percent from the field). Granted, Jackson is a better player, but he’s also an example of someone who saw a chance to emerge and took it.

Furthermore, here’s how Lamb stacks up against some of the guards taken after him. 

A potential split would work for both parties. It would allow the team to streamline its guard rotation while also providing the UConn product a chance to develop with a team that believes in what he brings without him having to look over his shoulder. 

 

No Confidence, No Consistency 

You don’t need to be a psychology major to figure out Lamb has confidence issues.

When Lamb is feeling good, you get stat lines like this one in a 97-82 win against the Utah Jazz on Nov. 26: 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting (3-of-3 from downtown), four rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes. 

“Jeremy came in and gave us a good game,” head coach Scott Brooks said, per Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. “Obviously he scored a bunch of points, but he competed on the defensive end. … He earned his minutes tonight.”

When his mind is clouded with doubt, you get the guy who failed to make a field goal in the team’s 91-86 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 23. Lamb clanked all six of his shots, including one from behind the arc, and played just 12 minutes. 

The problem for the Thunder is that the latter version of Lamb seems to show up more often than the former. Throughout his career, he’s had some bright moments, but he doesn’t sustain those stretches long enough to build momentum. 

In the end, that lack of confidence causes a vicious cycle. If he’s out of sync, he’s not productive. If he’s not productive, the team will have less faith in him. If the team lacks faith, it will become harder for him to find his groove. 

 

Three’s a Crowd

One of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of Lamb’s development is the lack of a defined role. He’s not the Thunder’s starting shooting guard. That job belongs to the team’s perimeter pit bull, Andre Roberson. 

Is he the next-best guard off the bench? No. That’s Reggie Jackson, whose breakout performance this season mandates increased playing time both alongside and in place of Russell Westbrook. 

Is he the team’s best shooter in the backcourt? Lamb statistically holds the lead right now, but it’s a safe bet that Anthony Morrow will eventually earn that distinction. Morrow’s a career 42.7 percent three-point shooter, while Lamb holds a 35.7 career mark from long range. 

Lamb isn’t a starter. He isn’t the sixth man, and he isn’t a specialist. So, what is he? The answer could be trade bait. Jon Hamm of The Oklahoman pitched the idea of moving the third-year guard:

The Thunder could choose to do Lamb a favor, much like they did with D.J. White and Byron Mullens, and send him to another team where he can attempt to prove his worth. Such a move could resolve rotation conflict and net the Thunder a future asset.

With Roberson entrenched as the team’s shooting guard of the future and a proven sniper in Morrow as the backup, Lamb is the odd man out in Oklahoma City. Even if he goes on a spirited run in the near future, he’s not going to unseat Roberson in the starting rotation.

Traditionally, Scott Brooks has always chosen a fine defender over a good scorer. It’s why Thabo Sefolosha was in the starting lineup for so many years. It’s also why Roberson got the nod to replace Sefolosha before the season. 

A change of scenery to a team that will make his development a priority is the only way Lamb will reach his true potential. He’ll never grow with his minutes fluctuating on a game-by-game basis in Oklahoma City, where the focus is on winning a championship.

It should have never reached this point with Jeremy Lamb and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

By now, he should be a vital cog on a championship contender. Instead, he’s a potential bust stuck in limbo on a team that doesn’t have the patience to develop him. 

The blame for Lamb’s failures falls on both the player and the team. Oklahoma City never fully committed to the crown jewel of the biggest trade in the franchise’s history, and Lamb never gave it a reason to do so. 

Instead, the club continued to add depth by bringing in guys like Morrow and Roberson. That should tell you something about where it sees Lamb in its big picture. The end game now is to cut its losses and admit defeat.

What was once considered a possible bright spot for the team’s future has now become a mistake of the past.  

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all stats current as of Dec. 1 and are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

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