Tag Archives: Mike Brown

Mike Brown Is High on Life, Mo Will’s Dunk

He sure does have the giggles at least. Last time I heard this much uncontrollable, start-and-stop laughter there was a gravity bong, my dorm room and talk of a trip to IHOP in the mix.

Here’s how, earlier on Twitter during the press conference, I tried to transcribe Mike Brown’s reaction to Mo Williams’ out-of-nowhere, thunder dunk over Paul Pierce  — something that was oh-so difficult in just 140 characters. (And, yeah, I realized I didn’t get the question verbatim … was a little flustered by all the cackling.)

Reporter: “Did you even know Mo could dunk?”
Mike Brown: “Nah. Hehehe. Nah … That surprised me … I did not. Hehehehe”

Not quite as good, but also pretty sweet, was Mike’s later comment on the dunk.

Mike Brown on Mo dunk: “It mighta been the red shoes he had on tonight. The red shoes might have helped him fly a lil bit.”

It’s gotta be the shoes, Money.

As for Mo, the dunk was also the hot topic when he sat in front of the press. In explaining how it happened, he said that, normally in such instances, he will wait until the defender commits to him and then look to throw a lob to LeBron to help “get him going.” But Paul never fully cut him off. Even so, being that Truth is “6’7, 6’8,” according to Mo, he was just going to go up and do a little sweeping layup deal where he fades away a little and creates some space so that the taller guy can’t block the shot.

But in this instance, said Mo, “I was a little high. I was thinking ‘I might gonna try it.” (video via TrueHoop)

Embracing the Actual Magic

The other day, someone asked me “Has any team ever improved as much during one Playoffs as this Magic squad?” I don’t know the answer to that silly question (even though it is undoubtedly “yes”), but thinking about Orlando’s run thus far did prompt me to realize that I can’t recall another squad of the 2000s that has more endeared itself to me during a postseason.

In many ways, I’ve enjoyed watching the Magic all season. But, honestly, it’s been more like that Stuff White People Like post about “The Idea of Soccer.” The gist of the concept is that people who aren’t actually soccer fans yet want to project themselves as worldly and cultured will always say they really like soccer even though they can’t name any players aside from David Beckham or tell you the current Premier League standings.

That’s how I was all season with Orlando; I liked the idea of the Magic.

I liked their potent offensive scheme of surrounding the most athletic physical specimen from Krypton with two of the most dead-eyed jumpshooters on Earth. I liked Dwight’s vacuum-cleaner work on the boards. I liked the fact that Jameer shocked me by turning into a helluva pointguard somehow. I liked Stan Van Gundy more than any other coach not named Popovich or Jerry Sloan. And I of course loved everything about Marcin Gortat.

But I just thought they were impostors — even as I was consistently impressed while watching them blow out other teams in the regular season. I think a lot of people had similar thoughts but for me personally it probably even went a little deeper.

Growing up, I patterned my game around Reggie Miller. In high school, I was one of the better three point shooters in our league and, like Rashard, about half the shots I took were treys. I had a lot of big games and made a lot of huge shots but, in hindsight, and after I got older and the other parts of my game caught up to my shooting ability, I sort of started to resent being so one-dimensional. I should have done more to control the game in other ways. So nowadays I tend to look down on players — and teams — who put all their proverbial eggs in the same jumpshooting basket.

Sure, Orlando’s offense was potent in the regular season, but what happens when Hedo and Shard both have an off-night from the perimeter? (We all know this team isn’t making the Finals on the strength of its defense.) Sure, Hedo is an able ball-handler and can run a decent pick-and-roll given his height, but are other teams really going to allow Turkoglu to burn them with clutch shots? Sure Rashard is a great shooter, but if he isn’t hitting his jumpers, is he really adding much to an offense.** (His reluctance to destroy Big Baby/Scalabrine in the post during the first few games of the Celtics series provided some nice confirmation bias to that theory.) Sure, Dwight is a monster on both ends, but is he serious with those things he calls “post moves”?

But as the Magic have advanced through the postseason, each and every one of those “fatal flaws” have been discredited…further proving my theory that I’m not very smart.

Rashard Lewis is not only sticking fourth quarter daggers, he’s going by people with pump fakes and finishing at the rim. He’s spreading the floor as a decoy. He’s hitting bank shots around the block. He’s making the right pass. He’s efficient. He’s savvy. He’s a constant factor.

Hedo is not only playing point-forward, he’s finishing in the paint. He’s finding Dwight for lobs. He’s drilling step-back jumpers. He’s getting out of the way when need be. He’s drawing double teams. He’s kicking it out to open shooters. He’s a rock.

Dwight is not only dunking on people, he’s crushing their spirit. He doesn’t need post moves to control the whole game. He just bangs in your grill. He just owns the boards. He just makes every penetrator aside of LeBron scared to enter the lane. He just turns your well-conceived pick-and-roll defense into nonsense. He’s just a cyborg. He’s just built for this.

And then there’s Rafer, whose performance last night perfectly illustrates why Orlando never has to worry about an off night from either Hedo or Rashard.

The other day, Stan Van Gundy said in a press conference that a coach really can’t control how many shots his players take. The other team’s coach decides that. If the other team wants to take the ball out of Hedo’s hands, they can do that through various defensive schemes and Hedo will have to either become a facilitator or start forcing bad shots. If the other teams wants to double Dwight and turn him into a passer (something Mike Brown may want to look into, by the way), they can do that and Dwight will have to become an offensive rebounder.

Last night, Mike Brown — like Doc Rivers before him and Tony Dileo before him — dared Rafer to be Orlando’s shot-maker in a big game. So Rafer went out and made shots. Just like he did in Game 7 against Boston. Just like he did in Game 6 against Philly.

In doing so, he made it look like that was Orlando’s game plan the whole time.

When Mike Piet (he sounds like a better player if you call him that) got hot in the fourth quarter, it looked like Orlando’s offense was built with him in mind. When Courtney Lee caught the ball on the perimeter and blew by the slower defender guarding him, it looked like just another play drawn up by Stan Van Gundy. When Marcin Gortat slipped a screen, caught a pass in space and dunked on nobody, it looked like a well-orchestrated counter-attack to Cleveland’s pick-and-roll defense. And when all these extra options came after ten effective minutes of running the ball through Hedo, Dwight or Rashard, it looked like an unstoppable offense.

But, really, that’s just how basketball is supposed to be played.

That’s how you play in the park.

If a guy gets hot, you give him the ball. You don’t do rigorous analysis to figure out that Rafer Alston has shot 33% from the wing this year versus 44% from the top of the key and plan around that. You just go out there, throw the ball around and figure out what is working right now. Then you keep doing it until it stops working.

If Rashard is missing his jumpers you just swing the ball to Pietrus in the corner. If they aren’t letting Hedo drive off the pick-and-roll, you put him in the corner and let Courtney Lee break his man off the dribble. If Kendrick Perkins is pushing Dwight Howard off his preferred position on the block, you clear him to the weak side and let Rashard go to work on Glen Davis.

Basketball is a simple sport. People love to over-complicate it, but the game usually comes down to the fact that no good offensive player can be guarded one-on-one. Thus, the defensive team  has to react to that fact with help defense. And when the defense does that, the offense now has an advantage somewhere else. If you’re a good offensive team, you exploit your primary advantage until the defense takes it away and exposes itself somewhere else. Then you attack there.

Rinse and repeat.

That’s all the Magic do. Over and over and over and over again. And they make it look so easy because all they do is take and make open shots. They find an advantage, exploit it until it ceases being an advantage and then find something else to do for a while.

Everyone who has ever played basketball loves playing pick up that way. One guy gets hot one game and hits four threes. Then another guy gets his post game going and you feed the beast until he misses. Then you catch a slow guy trying to guard a quick pointguard and you let him blow by his defender a few times. If you have good offensive players and they get into a groove where they switch up how they attack the defense, there should never be any stopping them

That has always been the most fun way to play basketball.

As I’m only now realizing for some reason, it is also the most entertaining way to watch other people play basketball in the Playoffs.

And as the Magic are proving more and more with each passing night, it might just be the most effective way to win the NBA Title, too.

** (In hindsight, it’s pretty funny to realize that Mo Williams is currently the walking embodiment of the useless corpse I feared Shard might become if he wasn’t hitting jumpers. If Mo’s not knocking down shots, not guarding anyone and not even setting up the offense better than LeBron can, what purpose does he actually serve? What would you say it is you do in this series, Mo Will?)

"They Can't Guard Us All."

“They Can’t Guard Us All.”

The Blueprint to Beat the Cs?

The fact that Rajon Rondo can’t shoot is common knowledge. He has admirably raised his 3PT% from a putrid 20.7% his rookie year to 26.3% last season to 31.8% thus far in 08-09 through 35 games, (not that he shoots many threes to begin with), but his accuracy even from mid-range remains historically inconsistent.

Essentially, let’s credit him for getting better — but let’s realize that we’re basically crediting a dog for his newfound ability to merely piss on the rug instead of shit.

And while every scout, coach and waterboy in the League knows that, I’m not sure why Ray Allen is saying things like this after the Celtics loss on Sunday night to the Knicks in MSG. (via CelticsBlog)

It also hurt that the Knicks got mileage out of putting 6-foot-11 forward Jared Jeffries on Rajon Rondo who had just three points after scoring 26 against New York on Dec. 21.

“That’s now the blueprint on how to beat us, so we just have to counter that,” Allen said. “Put a big guy on [Rondo] and just force him to shoot.”

Adds Doc:

“There’ll be nights when Rondo is not making shots”

Great PR campaign you guys have going here.

On the other hand, maybe it’s not such a big deal to publicly tell people how to beat you when it’s this easy to decipher how to do so via simple game-film analysis — something Seven Seconds or Mess provides oh so astutely in the video below. (via FanHouse)

Regardless, you can bet Phil Jackson and Mike Brown are taking notes.

Kevin Pelton Chops Down The Coaching Trees, Cannot Lie About It, Gets Wooden Teeth, Beats British, Founds America, Puts Face on Currency

Per usual, Kevin Pelton absolutely kills it on the knowledge tip with this thorough-as-hell breakdown of coaching lineages. Essentially, it’s a look at who spawned who (whom?) in the coaching ranks, complete with the actual breakdown of who (whom?) served as assistants for whom (who?) and an analysis of the coaching styles propagated by the patriarch.

Here’s the “Dean Smith Coaching Tree” section, for example, which is just a meager sampling from this utter beast of hoopology academia.

Dean Smith Coaching Tree

Trademarks: Above-average pace, underrated defenses, depth
Current Head Coaches: Larry Brown, George Karl
Other Notables: Billy Cunningham, Matt Doherty, Doug Moe, Roy Williams

Brown Branch: Maurice Cheeks, Gregg Popovich
Karl Branch: Nate McMillan
Popovich Sub-Branch: Mike Brown, P.J. Carlesimo

One way or another, nearly a quarter of the NBA’s head coaches can trace their lineage back to the legendary North Carolina coach, which is not surprising given that Smith coached more NBA talent than any of his peers during his time on the sidelines. Smith’s direct influence seems to be waning, at least at the NBA level. Few of North Carolina’s alumni from the ’80s and ’90s have turned to the sidelines, with several instead going into broadcasting (Brad Daugherty, Hubert Davis and Kenny Smith, most prominently). The notable exception is Milwaukee assistant Joe Wolf, a potential future head coach.

Where Smith’s coaching tree continues to grow is from something of a rogue offshoot–Brown, who shares few common traits with the other Carolina guys. If Brown was considered the head of his own coaching tree, which might make more sense stylistically, he becomes more influential than his mentor and has arguably the league’s strongest tree. Brown disciple Popovich has built a strong tree in his own right, one which in addition to Brown and Carlesimo includes Avery Johnson and up-and-coming Portland assistant Monty Williams.

Karl’s coaching tree is also stronger than his lone current protégé would imply; Dallas assistants Dwane Casey and Terry Stotts, both of them former head coaches, worked under Karl as assistants in Seattle.

Just a stunning display.

So stop watching silly YouTube videos posted by ignorant bloggers for once and get your real basketball learn on by heading over to Basketball Prospectus and reading the whole thing.

Cause reading is fundomentle.

Shane Battie plants a tree in his local community. In case you hadn't heard.
Shane Battier plants a tree in his local community. In case you hadn't heard.