True Hoops

True Hoops

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ray Allen's Pre-Game Routine

Have you ever heard about  Ray Allen's pre-game shooting routine?
You know, the one where he gets up 300 shots before every game.
Every game. had a piece on it earlier this year as Allen was getting close to breaking Reggie Miller's all time three-point field goals made record. Of course, Allen eventually broke the record.

After reading that article and hearing about his routine, it was something that stuck in my mind.
It was certainly something that I wanted to see for myself.

Two weeks ago I walked into Madison Square garden three hours before tip-off of game 3 of the Knicks/Celtics series.
Guess what I saw as soon as I walked in?
None other than Ray Allen getting his work in, three hours before game time.

As soon as I saw this, I put everything down and started filming:

Amazing isn't it?
More like surreal.

Let me just say, for me this was like sitting down at a lecture by Ray Allen on "how to be great."

And the contrast in this scene is sublime.

Think about the Knicks city dancers.
While enjoyable to watch, is this really basketball?
Is this really why we play the game?
Not just them, but throughout my whole day at the Garden with the media, there were many times when I felt as if it all was just a big perversion of the game - for the sake of entertainment.
How much of it is real?
The big lights. The big city.
And we got swept.

Now think about Ray Allen.
All the distractions. 
At one point he is literally standing between two dancers while shooting.
But look how focused he is.
Not caring about the entertainment. Only the game.
15 years into the league.
And he's still staying true.
He's 35.
And he's still with a game that many of us fell in love with as a kid.
Yes this is his job, but the work he puts in is beyond occupational requirements.
It's the type of work you put in when all you care about is being better. Being great.
It's the type of work that isn't even really work.
Because if you love something so much - you'll do whatever it takes to keep it.

That's why he is one of the best shooters ever in the game.
That's why he has the all time record for most three point field goals made.
And that's why watching it was poetic.

Needless to say, being there was so insightful and so educational.
Seeing his focus.
But also seeing his routine and mechanics.
I certainly was paying attention to his footwork, his catching the ball, his elevation, form, and followthrough.
Look how consistent he is.

Honestly, I was a little nervous about posting these videos.
I didn't want to reveal his trade secrets.

However, then I realized. It doesn't matter who sees this.
Opponents can view this, but they can't stop it.
And he doesn't have to worry about someone jacking his skills.
Out of everyone that views this, including aspiring ball players, how many will do the diligence and followthrough to stick with the routine? Or perhaps even embellish and add their own nuances to it?
And for those that do, they deserve to see this film.

After all, this is just Ray Allen shooting.
In the world's most famous arena.
In the mecca of basketball.
With all the music, cameras, and spectators.

This is just Ray Allen shooting.
But to those who know better.
This is more than just Ray Allen shooting.
This is the essence of the game.

Some quick numbers:
87 shots total (1/3 of his routine?)
First video: 25/40 shots 
                   11/11 foul shots

Second video: 25/47 shots 
                       15/16 foul shots
                       1/1 dunk (and look how easy it was)
                       I like how he gives first bumps to everyone that helped him out.

Total: 50/87 shots (57.5%)
          26/27 foul shots (96.3%)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Dear Miami

Let's have a talk.
I'm concerned you for guys heading into your showdown with Boston.

I know it's a big shock to you, as it is to everyone else, that your path would eventually cross that of the Celtics. And I know it's even more shocking that ultimately you'll have to go through them to get to where you want to go in about one month (Los Angeles).

Coming into the playoffs, I though you guys would smoke these old-timers.
However, now I'm not so sure.

Yes, you have the two best players in the world, and a top big man as well.
But take it from a distraught Knicks fan who just watched his team, also with two of the top ten players in the world, get demolished by Boston: talent alone will not hold up against these guys.

And let me say, this is much bigger than Big 3's.
I must warn you:
Rajon Rondo is the Celtics MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER.

Yes, I know. It may be hard for you to believe.
But please heed my admonishment.
It is imperative that you do everything in your power to stop him.
If not, he will end you.
For goodness sake, the fate of 'the decision' depends on it.

Being a concerned citizen, I decided to take action.
I followed Rondo around Madison Square Garden last week and did my best to hang low and take pictures.
I offer them to you now along with my humble advice.

Here are my findings:

Rondo depends on music to get him into rhythm during pre-game shoot around.
So that's his secret!

He's practically like a kid in a skull candy shop.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find out what he was listening to.
But he makes sure it's exactly to his liking.
He'll even stop in the middle of everything to set his playlist.

My advice: get someone to sneak into the locker room before the game and dramatically alter his ipod mix.
I would recommend a combination of death metal, country, and R & B.
This way you cover all your bases.

I also observed his shooting mechanics.
Take a look:

Here is a surprise: he's no Ray Allen.
My guess is that you should probably look to make him shoot.
And by making Rondo shoot, you won't let the actual Ray Allen shoot.

But still, as you can see above, despite not having the smoothest shooting form he can still hit open mid-range jumpers. He even hit a bunch against the Knicks in the last two games of that series.
And he is getting better all the time.
In fact, he is getting daily pointers from Jeff Green:

So, make him become a shooter, but still contest his shots.

Okay, at this point I know what you are thinking.
"Who is Dr. JRS?"
"Why should we listen to him?"

Okay fine, fair point.
But if you don't want to take my word for it, see for yourself what the defensive masterminds of the New York Knicks had written on their chalk board prior to game 3 at the Garden:

You see!
There he is at the TOP of the board!
Stop him in transition, he "has the first 6 seconds."

Rondo is the smallest guy on the floor, but yet, by being one of the fastest and cleverest, he imposes his will on the game and finds a way to dominate.

And to show you how good Rondo is, even after the Knicks executed the game plan to perfection following this scouting report, Rondo still had a triple-double in game 3, including 20 assists!

My advice: you may also want to have a plan for Rondo when not in transition.
Maybe make believe there are 24 seconds in the shot clock.
For this the Knicks decided to literally play off him 5-6 feet, daring him to shoot the ball.
Now, I know I said make Rondo shoot above, but still play some defense on him.
Even though the Knicks are usually successful in their defensive endeavors, don't follow their lead on this one.
Make him work a little bit.

As Kenny Smith has pointed out on many occasions, playing off Rondo actually makes it easier for him to get others involved because the passing lanes then become wide open.
He can then easily survey the floor and pick you apart as he sees fit.
And this is when he is most deadly.

In essence, by playing off Rondo so much teams really are letting Ray Allen shoot.
This is not a good idea.
The Knicks found this out the hard way as Ray Allen had 32 points in game 3.

As ESPN pointed out, Rondo's scoring has been essentially the same in the three wins they have against you versus your one win against them (~ 7 points per game).
BUT, in their three wins against you this year Rondo is averaging 14.3 assists. The one time you beat them he only had 5.
Close off those passing lanes!

LeBron, you should actually know how crucial Rondo is more than others.
Remember that game 6 you played against Boston last year that eneded your season and career in Cleveland?
The one where people accused you of quitting?
Of course I know better than that  - you had a triple-double, including 19 rebounds.
You held Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to 13 and 8 points, respectively.
You even got sufficient help from Mo Williams, who scored 22 points.
But lo and behold, that Rondo guy. He had 21 points and 12 assists in that decisive game.

My advice: LeBron, maybe you can guard Rondo. Kind of like how Scottie Pippen guarded opposing teams points guards while with the Bulls. You have the speed and length to stay in front of him and sufficiently pressure the ball. Let Wade guard Pierce, after all, Wade has the ability to shut down Kobe.
And have Chambers or Bibby, or Miller chase around Allen.

But also remember, these Celtics are wily old veterans.
And they have a great coach who will make adjustments on the fly.
Look at this other brilliant game plan the Knicks had prior to game 3 regarding how to defend screens on the ball:

Almost as if they saw this picture themselves, I can't remember Boston running one on the ball screen the last two games of the series.
Of course you know by now that you should go under the screens set for Rondo, while getting over the screens set for Allen and Pierce - supplemented with aggressive hedges and the possibility of doubling them.

My advice: have a plan for countering screens off the ball.
In particular, how are you going to handle Ray Allen coming off screens?
Remember that game winner he hit in game 1 against the Knicks?
He got open on a flair screen set off the ball.

The Celtics also like to put Allen under the basket and allow him the option of coming off either a Garnett or O'neal screen set on the block.
But be careful, that Rondo guy is smart - if your bigs look to hedge out, double, or help on an Allen curl to the basket, Rondo will find the Boston bigs slipping to the basket for an open lay-up.
As you might have guessed, they were able to get this against the Knicks.

And finally.
For some bonus advice.
Don't get Glen 'big baby' Davis mad.

In game 3 he had 4 points and 4 rebounds.
Then this happened:
The media totally disregarded Davis and took over his locker to interview Garnett after the game. Look and listen to them laughing at him

Poor baby.

Look how he was humiliated into asking for reporters to hand him his suit and underwear.
Then listen how he politely asks for his shoes and socks.
"Thanks guys."

The result?
In game 4, the series clincher, big baby had 14 points to go along with 5 rebounds.
Many of those points were back breaking jumpers towards the end of the shot clock when the Knicks needed stops.

My advice: don't let reporters in Miami anywhere near big baby's locker - even if it means they don't interview Garnett.

So, off you guys go.
I hope my services help you out.
Stay strong and stay true.
And most importantly, ask yourself, where do you want to be in June?
South beach or Venice beach?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dr. JRS' Medical Assessment of Kobe Bryant

One of the good things about having a Ph.D in biomedical science is that sometimes I get asked to make medical assessments on basketball players.

Never mind the fact that I specialize in basic research, not actual patient prognosis.

Still, the folks over in Laker land asked Dr. JRS to make a Medical determination as to whether or not Kobe Bryant would be able to recover in a timely fashion from his sprained ankle (sustained towards the end of game 4 of the Lakers/Hornets series).

Further, they were concerned whether this injury, which forced kobe to leave New Orleans on crutches, would take anything away from his game, limit his effectiveness, and ultimately impede another Laker championship run.

Understanding their concern and the urgency of the matter, I told them I would be as thorough as possible with my examination.

Materials and Methods:
One of the biggest things in scientific methodology, be it experimentation or analysis, is to have proper controls. Therefore, to make my assessment, I analyzed Kobe before the ankle injury, and then Kobe after the ankle injury.

Before the injury, Game 2:

Nice lift.
Great explosiveness.
Altogether very impressive.

Okay, now after the injury, Game 5:

Well, not sure if my results are correct. 

Let's take a look at an independent field.
After the injury, Game 5:

No, my initial results were right.
It seems as if the ankle injury has actually enhanced Kobe's game.

This is certainly a rarity. 
Although, it should be noted adversity due to injury/sickness was shown to augment the performance of another supreme baller on a previous occasion (i.e, Michael Jordan dropping 38 in the Finals with Flu-like symptoms). 

Dr. JRS prognosis for Kobe Bryant:  Fit to Play
                                                               Fit to dominate
                                                               Fit to do anything he wants

                                                              The Black Mamba is a bad man......

Dr. JRS wishes to thank Aaron Gray and Emeka Okafor for their gracious participation in before and after injury experiments, respectively. Without their kind contributions, this medical assessment would not have been possible.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dancing Machine

Now that the Knicks are officially out of the playoffs, us New Yorkers can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

No worries!
Just good old fashioned entertainment.

I had a chance to put my feet up last night and check out this performance by Chris Paul:

What made this play great was the fact that EVERYONE in the building, and the millions watching on t.v., knew something was about to go down once this isolation occurred.

Technically speaking, that wasn't bad defense by Bynum.
Paul has just been that nasty in this first round series against L.A.
And he has put it on any and every defender the Lakers have thrown his way.

His numbers for game four: 27 points. 15 assists, and 13 rebounds.

His number's for that move: 4 between the legs, 2 cross-overs, a step back to his left, 1 hesitation, then a step back going to his right (harder for right handed players).

The numbers for this series: 2-2

To echo Reggie Miller's sentiments: MY-GOOD-NESS

Don't worry Knicks fans, the summer of 2012 will be here before we know it!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Green Monster

You won't like us when we're angry

Boy, when you are are wrong.
And regarding game 3 of the Knicks/Celtics series I was wrong...... on all accounts.

I thought the Knicks had a great chance of getting back into the series with a win.
The Celtics won by 17, and the game was never really that close.
Boston came out of the gates and smoked them.

I thought the Knicks had the two best players in the series.
Someone forgot to tell that to Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo.

Their stats for game 3:
Allen: 32 points on 11-18 shooting (8-11 on 3's!)
Pierce: 38 points on 14-19 shooting (6-9 on 3's!)
I should note Allen and Pierce are shooting 63 and 53% for the series, respectively.

Rondo, orchestrating: 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 20 assists!

I have to wonder whether this performance by Pierce was personal.
After all, Carmelo had 42 in the pervious game. Was Pierce coming back with 38 a statement.

He held Carmelo to 15 points on 4-16 shooting.

Paul Pierce is an interesting fellow, he never seems to get credit for being one of the best players in the NBA. Yet, he always seems to come through in big games, on both sides of the floor, against other elite players.
Remember back in the summer of '08 after the Celtics won the chip, when the USA basketball redeem team was out winning the gold medal in the olympics, Pierce made the claim that he was really the best player in the world. At the time, he had an argument. Maybe he still does.
Look at what he has been able to do in match-ups against Kobe and LeBron, and now Carmelo.

The Pierce-Carmelo match-up is also interesting in the sense that they seem to be similar players. They both rely more on skill rather than athleticism.
They both also seem to be upstaged by their counterparts.
Pierce is over shadowed by Kobe, Carmelo is overshadowed by Lebron.

Still, you can't put all of the Knicks woes on Carmelo.
This is what he has faced since game 2:

Rarely has he seen single coverage. Which may be part of the reason he is shooting only 36% for the series. Yet to his credit, he is still averaging 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists. 

This whole situation is a little unfair to him, the Knicks, and unfortunately New York. 
Amar'e was no where near close to 100% healthy. I heard his back "locked up" on him at some point during the game. We should all give him credit for trying to play.
I was actually wondering if he would have sort of a Willis Reed moment for the Knicks. Amar'e even came on to the court after the rest of his teammates to an ovation from the crowd. Not sure if that was because he was getting some extra treatment in the locker room or if was intentional to rev up the Garden.
Unfortunately, it did not have the desired effect.

Not to mention that Billups hasn't really played either.
So what could you really expect expect?

Well, it would have been nice if the Knicks came out with that new found grit and toughness that was on display for the first two games in Boston. But that was no where to be found. And that was probably what was most disappointing.
With all of their injuries the Knicks were clearly overmatched by Boston.
But they also looked overwhelmed by the moment.

On the other hand, the celtics were simply remarkable.
And just like Ray Allen's shooting form, the Celtics performance looked so smooth and effortless.

For a number of reasons, I thought that after the Celtics beat the Knicks in the first round, they would get whooped by the Heat.
After last night's performance, I'm not so sure anymore.
How many times are the Celtics going to do this?
How many times are they going to go into the playoffs, looking dead, and then turn it on to make a run?
The Celtics/Heat series looks like it will be epic.
It also looks as if the winner of that series will come out of the East.
I am still going with the Heat at this point.

As for the Knicks, I still think they have made tremendous strides this season.
I was at their first home game of the season - Amar'e's first game at MSG.
I was there for Carmelo's first game.
I was also there on Friday for the Knicks first home playoffs game in 8 years.
All games had their moments of excitement, but in the end were a little underwhelming.
I will be there later today for perhaps their last game of the season.
Hopefully they can go out with a high note.

I still feel the Knicks can be an elite team in the near future, especially if they can add a solid big and an elite point guard (or vice versa). If they can play with the toughness displayed in the first two games of this season as well as some improved metal toughness, maybe they can even be a 3 or 4 seed going into next year's playoffs.

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Everybody Melo Out

Breath, stretch, shake, let it go.

Let me say up front that it is always a pleasure to see the New York media (and beyond) trash a player one night and then praise him the next.

How many people were questioning 'the trade' after Melo went 1-11 in the second half of the knicks game one loss to the Celtics on Sunday? How many of those same people were simultaneously glorifying the Nuggets and their superstar-less brand of ball (even though they also blew a double digit led and lost to the Thunder that very same night)?

All you hear now is Carmelo's game two performance (42 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists - and almost single handedly beating the Celtics) was the best thing since Walt Frazier, Bernard King, and Patrick Ewing

Got to love those die hard fans.

Hopefully this puts to rest the debate as to whether the Knicks should have made 'the trade.'
In all honesty, anyone who thinks the Knicks shouldn't have made the trade or gave up too much to get Carmelo I don't even take seriously.
As Steve Kerr said last night during Carmelo's masterpiece "this is why you make the trade."

But beyond just one player, these last two games have shown me a lot.
And as a born again Knicks fan that has been to hell and back with this organization, I am more than ecstatic with their performance.

But performance aside, the Knicks are in a better position than you think.

I said coming into this series that although you can't count out Boston, the Knicks should actually win because they have the TWO best players. My concern (as probably was everyone else's) was the Knicks ability and mental fortitude to finish games down the stretch.

Not surprisingly both elements have revealed themselves thus far.

Amar'e was clearly the best post player in game one, and Carmelo was clearly the best player in game two. And because of that, the Knicks were a minute away from coming home up 2-0.

Mental toughness and finishing out basketball games has never been the strong point of this organization. It requires an attitude, confidence, and perhaps a degree of arrogance which eventually formulates into an air of greatness.

That's where having the best player(s) makes a difference. Carmelo and Amar'e certainly have some of the essential components. And both over the course of their careers have shown the ability to play big in big games and situations.

You'll still say the Knicks didn't finish.
Dig this. The ONLY reason the Knicks aren't up 2-0 is because they haven't even been hitting on all cylinders. Carmelo had an off night in game one and Amar'e couldn't play in game two.

If those two are there, these games wouldn't have even been that close.
And even with only one of them at a time, they STILL almost won BOTH of the first two games......on the road.

But in these tough situations, you gain the benefit of really finding out what you're made of.
0-2 hole aside, sometimes you may even be better off for it.

It was nothing short of a miracle that the Knicks had a chance to win game two.
Think about the line-up the Knicks went with through the second half:
Combinations of Bill Walker, Roger Mason jr., Jared Jeffries, Tony Douglas, Shawne Williams, and Ronny Turiaf.

How were they even in it?

Well, other than the fact that Melo was/is really that good, everyone one else played extremely hard and matched the toughness of the Celtics.
Most importantly they played TO WIN.
More so, they actually believed they would win, even after they fell behind 11 points in the third.
They just didn't let up.
The fight from the supporting cast kind of reminded me of the scrappiness and heart the Knicks played with in the 90's. And that in of itself says what the Knicks are on the verge of becoming.
The problem with the Knicks of the 90's was that they just never really had the star power other than Ewing.

These knicks do have the star power.

But over the past two games it has become apparent that they also have a supporting crew that's down to grind it out and is becoming more and more battle tested by the day.
Just look at what Tony Douglas has done. At this point do you really feel less confident with him playing instead of Billups? No disrespect to Mr. Big shot, but Tony has hit a few big shots this series as well.

Because of this development, I actually feel pretty confident the Knicks can get back in it over the weekend and still even win it.

It kind of reminds me of the year that LeBron and the Cavs went to the finals.
Remember, they fell behind 0-2 to the heavily favored Pistons (who won 67 games in the regular season) after losing the first two games in Detroit, both in the final moments.
Still, going back to Cleveland, it seemed as if everyone had a feeling that the Cavs were still in it and actually could beat the Pistons because of the mettle they displayed in defeat.

Well, it turns out they won the next four games and got to the Finals.

I'm just saying..... it could happen.

So just relax, take it easy and catch a quick breather to get ready for game three.
We got them right where we want 'em.

Technical considerations
Remember how I mentioned in a previous post that good teams make adjustments during the course of a game to either take away or counter what the opposing team is doing?

Boston did just that in game two.
When asked how they would guard Carmelo going into the fourth, Doc Rivers replied:
"We'll guard him one on one until we can't anymore."

It didn't take too long to determine that they couldn't guard him one on one in the fourth.
So, they switched it up and decided to double team him every time he touched the ball.
The bottom line was, they wanted to get the ball out of his hands and force other players to make plays and beat them.
Seemed to work out in their favor.

Of course this strategy might not have worked if Amar'e and/or Billups was playing.
But still, winning teams aren't passive. They don't let the other team and their players do whatever they want (Like letting Kemba walker go one on one isolation on a mismatch to win the game - for example).
Winning teams dictate the teimpo, on both sides of the ball.


There are even counter-strategies for when your best player is getting doubled.

For example, it might have been nice to see the Knicks clear out one side of the court to run a pick and roll with Tony Douglas and Carmelo - with Carmelo setting the screen.

This at the very least would have guaranteed an open shot for Douglas, who at the time was the Knicks second best player.

As Douglas comes off Carmelo's ball screen, he will have an open shot and maybe even an open lane to the basket - as the Celtics would be so concerned with Carmelo.
Unless of course, the defender guarding the screener (in this case Carmelo) decides to come out on Douglas and hedge the screen.
If this happens, then Douglas could flip the ball back to Carmelo for an open shot.
And that's all we want. That's all we want.

At the very least the Celtics get caught up in a switch and Rondo is left to guard Carmelo, who can then get his shot off quickly over the top of Rondo before the double team comes.


Why not run Carmelo off of a curl screen from underneath the basket with the option of either fading to the short corner or curling to the basket? This is similar to what Reggie Miller would do in his day, or Richard Hamilton would do, or even what Jeremy Lamb did for Uconn during their championship run.

This would surely be better than just having him post, where once he touches it, he is immediately doubled. Why not put him on the move and make it harder for the double team to catch him?
He would surely have a better chance of getting his shot off in these situations.

The best part about this particular curl screen is if the defense helps off the man setting the screen for Carmelo, then the chances are the man setting the screen will be wide open underneath the basket.

Although I suppose you can argue, the Knicks did find Jeffries open underneath the basket at the end of game enough of the over analysis.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Players Respond to True Hoops!

The Playoff are here! The Playoffs are here!

So much excitement already, so many great games.
And there is still two months to go!

While there are many things to consider after the first four days of the playoffs, I was really taken aback by how some of the participating players I wrote about last week on True Hoops felt personally obligated to respond.

You may remember I ridiculed Shane Battier last week in round two of the create a caption game, whereby I called him out for getting thrown on by Russell Westbrook and then escaping town to grow a mustache in Memphis (sounds like the plot of a movie).

I cautioned that he probably wouldn't want the Grizzles to advance in the playoffs, because Mr. Westbrook and the Thunder would be looming large in the next round. Why have a repeat performance?
Where would Shane run to next? And what sort of facial hair would follow?

Undaunted by his previous encounter, Shane's response is "bring it on!"
Fully focused towards getting a second chance to defend Westbrook, Shane is certainly doing everything in his power to make sure such a showdown happens, as evidenced by his clutch three against the spurs the other day:

"He's facing his fear!" "He's facing his fear!"
Only three more wins to go.

On a more serious note, after knocking down that game winner, Shane's wife gave birth to their second child.

All in a good day's work.
Congratulations on that.

In round one of create a caption, I chastised Jrue Holiday for foolishly jumping on an alley oop pass thrown to Dwight Howard, which inevitably lead to his ignominious appearance on posters and youtube clips world wide.

I mentioned that to become a better player he needs to learn from his mistakes.
Apparently he hasn't done so yet:

Yep, that's Jrue alright. Just can't get enough.
I wonder, what is Doug Collins teaching this kid?

Although, perhaps I overlooked something.
What if this is just a hobby of Jrue's?

Maybe Jrue was telling me: "I like being in posters!"

In that regard, maybe things aren't as bad as I previously thought.
Keep jumping Jrue!

And finally, remember that Deja Vu: the prequel post?
The one where I highlighted a Dwayne Wade move from 4 years ago that literally sent his defender flying? And how that move essentially established the protocol for LeBron to follow in Miami?

I argued that having those two guys on the same team is going to be deleterious for opposing teams.
Well Wade, being the good sport that he is, did his best to make me look good by instilling this notion early on in the playoffs:

And I love the way Wade looks to the crowd after the move because he knows in was stink.
Unfortunately I wasn't there Dwayne to give you a thumbs up and say thank you, but I still see you.
Thanks for validating my blog homie - it is appreciated.

Also, as you know I am a doctor, maybe we can discuss that double cross-over of yours for possible medical applications. I didn't realize it was a suitable methodology for relieving migraines while 
inducing  them in your opponents......

Shot out to Shane Battier, Jrue Holiday, and of course Dwayne Wade for reading True Hoops and responding with their play. I can only hope to touch the lives of other basketball players in the future.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Deja Vu: the prequel

This is sort of a mind bending title isn't it?
Experiencing Deja Vu, a glitch in the matrix, implies that you saw something which you have seen before.
Therefore, the prequel to Deja Vu connotes the original event.
It is a reference to inception, if you will.

Do you remember my Deja Vu post from a while ago?
The one that depicted LeBron James flooring Nicholas Batum with a behind the back cross over?
I led many to believe Deja Vu was a reference to the previous post, which depicted Deron Williams flooring Sonny Weems with a cross over.

However, the inception of that LeBron James cross over goes back much further:

Now do you understand the true meaning of Deja Vu?
Now do you see the originator of Miami Heat players sending defenders diving to the floor?
Yes, D. Wade will always be able to say he won a chip in Miami before LeBron came over.
But he can also say that he caught bodies in Miami before LeBron came over.

Surely, LeBron wants to replicate what the Heat did in '06.
But it's almost as if LeBron tried to replicate this play as well.

And more about this play.
This may be the best move I have ever seen.
Let me just say, I have this youtube clip on my ipod, just so I can access it anytime I feel like.

Let me also say, I have no idea who that defender was on the Utah Jazz. Which is probably a good thing. As far as I'm concerned he may never have played another game in the NBA after this - which of course could be due to the resultant shame and/or injuries sustained from his fall.

Look how FAR the defender travels.
My goodness.
He literally dives, arms flailing and all, from the top of the key to the support under the basket.
That my friends is impressive.

Look at how the defender slides into the basket support and then just lays there motionless.
Is he playing dead or just in shock by what occurred?

Look how he slides past Mehmet Okur.
Did Okur knowingly move out of the way or was he just lucky?

And can you really blame the defender?
Imagine trying to guard Wade going full speed to his right and then stopping on a dime to throw the ball reverse between his legs.
Human bodies are not intended to withstand changes in direction at those speeds.

Why am I showing this play now? It is after all 4 years old.
I am showing it because:
A) it's hilarious
B) it's related to the LeBron James move
but most importantly
C) it's why I think the Heat are going to the NBA finals.

The Miami Heat have the two best players in the world on their team.
Two players that can execute this type of move and literally destroy their defenders.
If they're lucky, other championship contending teams have only one player that can do this sort of thing.

In an 82 game season, you can hide and maybe escape the wrath of Wade and James relatively unscathed. But in the playoffs, in a seven game series, it's not going to be safe for anyone on opposing teams.

Before the playoffs started, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra rolled out their championship trophy from '06 to inspire this year's team to great heights. Also for inspiration, LeBron spent time watching Wade's performance in that year's Finals, perhaps to try to emulate that sort of brilliance on the biggest stage.

Apparently LeBron was trying to emulate Wade highlights even before the playoffs.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Create a Caption - Round 2

Here in the second round of create a caption, the points are worth double.
You know the rules, create a caption for all participants involved in an NBA play from this season.

Let's move over to the western conference to check out a play from several months ago involving Russell Westbrook. I know this is relatively an oldie, but hey it's a goodie.

Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

There are so many layers to this dunk that makes it nasty:
The ambient sounds (Listen to the rim snap. The crowd in awe. Who is that yelling in the background?)

The incomprehension of one of the commentators ("Shane battier is 6'8", Russell Westbrook is only 6'3"").

Look at where Westbrook took off from.
Poor Shane battier never had a chance, he was up against an unstoppable force that gained a full head of steam. Shane never really got up off the ground.

Similar to Dwight Howard the other day, look at the disgust on Westbrook's face.
What do you suppose he is mouthing to himself?

Now look at Shane Battier actually smiling while running down the court behind Westbrook.
He knows he just got finished.
Big time.
It's the type of play that can get you run out of a city and have to relocate to say......Memphis

But you know what really makes this play great?
Go back to the dunk when it happens live.
Now pay attention to the Rockets team bench. Pay close attention.
You'll notice that a member of the Rockets actually stands up after Battier gets punched on and then is so overcome with emotion that he has to excuse himself.

Mind you, this is Battier's own teammate.

Which brings us to our 'create a caption' picture:

A picture is certainly worth a thousand words.
Especially when you have so many facial expressions.
Round two, double the points, so double the participants (6)
1) Russell Westbrook
2) Shane Battier
3) Rick Adelman
4) Kevin Martin
5) Thabo Sefolosha
6) Bald guy behind the bench

My caption:
1) Russell Westbrook - "I will break you!"
2) Shane Battier - "Man, Russell's armpit smells bad!"
3) Rick Adelman - "Uh, check please."
4) Kevin Martin - "Mommy look, Russell is climbing that man's chest!"
5) Thabo Sefolosha - "Don't think I'm getting the ball on this possession."
6) Bald guy behind the bench - "We should have gotten the live chicken."

Understandably so, Shane had to skip town not to long after this play.
But you can't run forever. 
If somehow Memphis gets by the Spurs, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder will most likely be waiting in the western conference semi-finals.

So, Shane has also been trying to keep a low profile by altering his facial appearance:

Don't let that smile fool you.
"Shane, come back."
"We love you Shane!"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Create a Caption

Let's play a game.
Using pictures of NBA plays from this season, create an appropriate caption to describe what all relevant participants might have been thinking.

First up, Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic.
This play occurred the other night:

First reaction: Why?
Why jump? You got to love the naivete of the youngster Jrue Holiday. His heart was in the right place. But seriously, what was he hoping to accomplish by jumping on this play? A veteran would have gotten out of the way.

And come on now Jrue, part of becoming a better basketball player is learning from your mistakes and improving upon them. Apparently you have been needlessly trying to block dunks since you were playing against Kemba walker in high school.

Look at the disgust on Dwight Howard's face afterwards. 
Jrue, it's almost as if you forced him into doing something he didn't want to.

But come on now Dwight, this dude was like half your size, and younger than you. 
This play doesn't exactly make you bad......just mean.
Why did you feel it was necessary to steal this kid's lunch money?
But I guess sometimes we all have to learn the hard way.
Nice to see things have come full circle for you Dwight and that you are doing the teaching these days.
After all, you remember what is was like to be a youngster in the league, right? (Ask Kobe)

Without further adieu, here is you 'create a caption' picture:

Three participants (excluding Brandon Bass, right behind Howard. But you can include him for a bonus)
1) Dwight Howard
2) Jrue Holiday 
3) No. 20 on the Sixers.

My caption #1
1) Dwight Howard - "Who is the master!?"
2) Jrue Holiday - "Sho 'nuff."
3) No. 20 on the Sixers - "Huh. So that's what a heat sack is."

My caption #2 
1) Dwight Howard - "I told you not to jump." (He actually did in real life)
2) Jrue Holiday  - "Oy gevalt."
3) No. 20 on the Sixers "Wolfman's got nards."

I am eager to hear your creative thoughts on the matter......

Monday, April 11, 2011

Like He Does it on the Regular

The Knicks have now won 7 games in a row and are guaranteed of having their first winning season in a decade.

This of course comes courtesy of Carmelo's most recent late game heroics:

Really good defense by Granger. 
Although, I think defenders will have to start forcing Carmelo to drive more - even if it means overplaying.
Double teaming may also be a good look.
Not really much you can do in a one on one situation with Carmelo.

Look how he:
A) pushes off his defender to get open
B) catches the ball with his left hand (great pass) and simultaneously establishes his left foot as a pivot
C) turns to face the defender
D) Dribbles once with his left to hesitate/create space
E) pulls up right over the top of the defender for the shot - look how quickly he does it.

Did you know that Carmelo now has 16 game winning shots in his career (2 with the Knicks)?
It's an art that he has mastered.

Also of note, during this 7 game stretch Carmelo is averaging 30.9 points and 9 rebounds per game (on 49% shooting).

Can't ask for much more.
Although an upset in the first round would be nice.

The Knicks will play either the Heat or Celtics.
If the playoffs started today it would be the Celtics, which I happen to think would be the better match-up for them.

I guess either way, all the Knicks have to do is keep it close down the stretch, and then let Carmelo operate.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wake Up and Smell the Rose

The past couple of posts I have pointed out some moves to use for creating your own shot.
The Step-back jumper.
The crossover.

I like to call this move the "M-V-P."

I'll leave it to Derrick Rose to demonstrate:

Not sure if I can break this one down.
Sometimes dudes are just nice.

And by the way, Rose finished with 30 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds to lead the Bulls to a 16 point victory over the Celtics......and the 1 seed in the East.

As I said a couple of weeks ago, who do you think will finish second in MVP voting?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I kind of feel obligated to write something about the end of the college basketball season, of course with UCONN winning the national championship.

There isn't much to say about the championship game itself. It was rather ugly and for the most part devoid of any suspense. Can you really blame the players for it? Sometimes that one shinning moment is so bright and so hyped up it's hard to live up to it.

But think about the journey just to get to this game, in particular for UCONN. How exhausted do you think the players were, with the sort of March run they had. Not to mention the fact that Kemba Walker said he couldn't sleep becuse he was having visions of the game and winning it.

Well, I suppose sleep will have to wait because I doubt he got any last night either. I'm sure those guys were out partying all night......

What's interesting is that this is the second basketball championship game in a row of this nature. Remember game 7 of the last year's NBA finals between the Lakers and Celtics? That wasn't exactly a gem of offensive efficiency either.

I think by now most of the people that read this blog, and most of the people I know through basketball realize that I am big on skill. Skill development and skill application. But with that said, it is fun  (and in the case of last year's NBA finals - riveting) to see what players do when their skills vanish in the most important games of their lives. How do they overcome that? What sort of improvisational survival tactics do they utilize? I will admit, sometimes the game is more compelling when it is stripped of excess layers and simply comes down to will.

So in this type of game, did you really think UCONN wouldn't win? This is all they needed to complete their remarkable journey.

let me just say a couple of things about the game and about the journey.

There was a comment made by Steve Kerr half-way through the second half.
He mentioned that Jim Calhoun made an amazing adjustment in offensive schemes.
He mentioned that in the first half UCONN primarily used on the ball screens, which was defended well by Bulter because their bigs were able to get out and hedge the screens.
UCONN only had 19 points in the first half and trailed by 3.

In the second half, they went away from that completely and switched to having their bigs set screens off the ball, on the block for either Kemba Walker or Jeremy Lamb to curl off.
The strategy was successful.

Before the game, CBS interviewed Jamie Dixon, the head coach of Pitt.
Understandably so. After all, his team's last two losses of the season came to UCONN in the Big East tournament and to Butler in the NCAA tournament. He probaby had some valuable insight into the championship game.

But I couldn't help but think back to that Big East tournament game, the one where Kemba hit that step-back jumper at the end to win it - the shot that really propelled UCONN to the national championship.
From the moment I saw that play - I was beside myself with bewilderment as to why on earth Pittsburgh would just sit there and watch Kemba take his time, get comfortable and isolate on a mismatch.

Are you kidding me? Pitt couldn't have done something to get the ball out of his hands? They couldn't have doubled, helped, or do something? Anything? They had to have known that he was going to get the ball. You mean to tell me a #1 seed in the nation couldn't have made some sort of adjustment to dictate that possession in their favor?

This is why I knew Pitt wouldn't go to the final four, because for all their talent and athleticism, that final play told me that when the game mattered most, they were unable to use the muscle that mattered most (their brain).

So go back to the adjustment Calhoun made at half time.
That is great coaching.
More importantly, that is championship coaching.
And in my humble opinion, as a basketball player, a coach, and especially as a scientist, making in-game adjustments (whether subtle or overt) based on the way the game is going and by reading the opponents strategy (critical analysis), is the most important task a coach can have.

I talk about player skill sets. Well let's be fair, making in-game adjustments is a crucial skill set for a coach. In particular, recognizing when something isn't working and then switching it up.

I mentioned above that it is compelling to see how players react when their skills vanish in an important game. Well, how does a coach react when his skilled players or strategy vanish in an important game?
To make that adjustment, in the biggest game of their lives, and to incorporate a strategy that actually utilizes Jeremy Lamb (12 points in the second half) rather than Kemba Walker......that's big time.

And it also has something to do with demeanor.
Yahoo! sports had a article poking fun about how boring Coach Calhoun's championship pre-game speech was.
I listened to it and I though it was brilliant.
Straight to the point, matter of fact, calm and most importantly, letting the kids know "we are the better team."

This is the most important game of these kids lives, you think they need to be motivated?
Save the yelling and encouragement for the team that doesn't expect to win.
UCONN knows how they got to the championship, they know what they had to do.
Play hard, execute the game plan, make adjustments when needed.
Methodical yet pragmatic.

When needed, he also made the adjustment during half time as to how he would address the team, as alluded to at the end of the yahoo! article.

Don't allow the moment to be bigger than you and your team.
Play and coach the game like any other to seize the moment.

In response to Steve Kerr's comment above, Clark Kellogg answered: "that's why he is a hall of fame coach."


I will readily admit I am not a fan of college basketball.
I lived it for four years, that was enough for me.

People make it out to be some sort of pure form of basketball.
It is not.

But, the NCAA tournament does represent the idealism of basketball.
It is a grand stage in which every team that is invited really is equal.
It represents equal opportunity.
And that I believe in.

I believe in  the fact  that a kid from the Bronx can seize the moment and put a team on his back to carry them to a national championship.

I believe in the fact that Kemba Walker had to wait his turn, playing behind Cory Fisher (Villanova) in Junior high and then Edgar Sosa (Louisville) in high school, but kept working and knew when he got his shot to be a leader, he would do it his way - the right way - and be a champion.

I believe that Kemba believed in himself so much, and believed in his teammates so much that it elevated all of them to another level. Thats the difference between being a great player and being great.

I believe that a team can finish 9-9 in the Big East and then decide, for themselves, they are going to turn it around, no matter what anyone else thinks, no matter what the odds (5 games in 5 days? 11 wins in a row?), no matter the opponent. They decided to end the season on their own terms.

They believed they could win a national championship. And they did.
At what point does the belief become a reality? And at what point did they realize that it is a reality?
Or did they really believe from day one?

Or maybe they were just kids, just playing. Check out Alex Oriakhi's pre-game 'good luck' dance (make no mistake, that is the Harlem shake - probably another influence of Kemba. And as the late Big L once said, "Harlem breds the flyest people on earth.").

I truly believe that basketball is 80-85% confidence and belief. Call it the placebo effect.
Of course there are some players that really are head and shoulders above the rest.
But for a majority of players, the separation is so thin you wouldn't me believe in if I told you.
Sometimes it gets masked because of all the hype. But as Public Enemy said, don't believe the hype.
Sometimes it's okay to be a little irreverent.

Think of the historical significance of this final four - the first one in history that didn't include a 1 or 2 seed. I hope that is a trend that continues.

But let's be real here, there were no real upsets this year.
What, you think Butler was an underdog?
Actually their name is the bulldogs.
What, you think Butler was a Cinderella?
Since when did Cinderella have uniforms sponsored by Nike?
Give me a break.

You can continue to believe that this is all magic, and it is all talent based.
I'll continue to believe that if you get a group of kids together that work hard, are confident, poised, and play with a chip on their shoulder, they can be dangerous.

Of course talent, size, and athleticism are major components.
But I believe in skill, strategy, basketball I.Q., and the concept of team.
One thing I will give to college basketball, especially the tournament, is that it does provide a better platform for these concepts to remain relevant and to be rewarded.......
And that was what was displayed by UCONN.

Although. You know, at the end of the doesn't hurt to have the best player in the country either.

After the game, one of the texts I received from a friend was: "Kemba, #3 pick in the draft."

I responded: "Who cares about the draft, this will live forever. Let's enjoy this now."

I know I did.

Congratulations young man to you and your team. You have become your dreams.
You envisioned something so hard that you made it a reality.
That is something we all can enjoy and admire.