What We’re Reading: The Playoffs are Here!

From Flickr via NSNewsflash

From Flickr via NSNewsflash

We at Bulls by the Horns realize that you’re busy and don’t have the time to go searching through website after website for some interesting, NBA related reads. So, every Saturday, we’ll gather the articles we’ve found interesting and put them together for you in one place.

THE PLAYOFFS ARE HERE!!!!!

We’ll start this week with Zach Lowe’s breakdown of each playoff series.  Lowe asked a couple important questions about each series that will likely decide the victor of each series.  Though Lowe predicted the Nets will beat the Raptors in six games, one of his more interesting observations was about the edges the Raptors might have against the Nets.  One of Lowe’s more interesting predictions was the Pacers struggling with the Hawks and actually taking six games to win their opening series against the lowly Hawks.

In his playoff preview, Tom Ziller took a look at one of the reasons (Playoff Teague) why the Hawks might make their first round series with the Pacers exciting, along with 22 other things he’s looking forward to this postseason.  There likely aren’t many people sharing the same sentiment, but Ziller mentioned looking forward to seeing and hearing what Sir Foster, the Hawks’ organist, has prepared for the playoffs as well as watching the Heat desperately trying to stop Al Jefferson.  Along with those more unusual things, Ziller is also looking forward to some of the more popular story lines including Howard and Harden in Houston, Dwyane Wade’s playoff performance, and Blake Griffin’s new and improved game in Los Angeles.

Also, in Los Angeles, J.A. Adande wrote about the major problem with the newly popular idea that the NBA should just place the 16 best teams in the playoffs regardless of conference affiliation.  Adande believes that though it would be great to reward the league’s best teams, the playoffs would lose some of their luster because of the lack of rivalries.  Instead of teams that have played each other multiple times facing off in the first round, the playoffs would feature bland matchups between teams that don’t really know or care about the opposing squad.

Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins wrote a fantastic profile of a player not at all foreign to the ill will of opponents, Patrick Beverley.  Jenkins did a fantastic job digging up everything that Beverley has gone through on his way to the NBA.  This includes quitting AAU Basketball because he felt like the tournaments were meat markets and then leading Illinois High School Basketball in scoring with 37 points per game at Marshall High School in Chicago.  After getting suspended for a year from Arkansas, Beverley decided to go overseas where he was discovered by Daryl Morey and the rest of the story has been pretty well told.  Jenkins’ research on Beverley’s younger days really makes the piece stand out.

Another person who had taken an interesting route to the NBA is Toronto Raptors’ General Manager Masai Ujiri and TSN’s Michael Farrell told Ujiri’s amazing story this past week.  With the Raptors bursting onto the playoff scene looking to get their first series win since 2001, Ujiri has deservedly received a large majority of the credit.  Ujiri originally had dreams of playing in the NBA while growing up in Nigeria, but after playing professionally overseas until the age of 30, he became a scout.  After a lot of hard work, he became the general manager of the Denver Nuggets and now holds the same position for the Raptors.  Ujiri’s story of perseverance is just incredible and was very well told by Farrell and his crew at TSN.

Ujiri and other general managers will be sure to keep an eye on Rajon Rondo this offseason as his future in Boston remains uncertain.  The Boston Globe’s Baxter Holmes was able to catch up with Rondo this past week and ask him about the past season as well as his future.  Though Rondo is typically good for some entertaining quotes, this interview was relatively tame as he attempted to avoid many of the questions that could have created headlines.  The most interesting tidbit might have been regarding Rondo’s insistence on keeping his charity work private because of his belief that publicizing charity work actually cheapens the work done by celebrities.

While some general managers work on the trade market for Rondo, others will be spending their offseason stressing about finding the league’s next superstar in the NBA Draft.  At this point, everyone has seen the scouting reports of every player and know their strengths and weaknesses, but Eric Weiss of Draft Express revealed that while physical skills are the biggest part of the evaluation, NBA teams may start looking more and more at the psychological makeup of potential players.  By analyzing data from 358 draftees from 2007 to 2013, Weiss believes he has uncovered some trends in the behavioral anatomy of some of the draft’s steals and busts.

While watching the playoffs, you’ll realize that every team defends the pick and roll differently and at times different players on the same team will defend pick and rolls differently as well.  If you’re curious what each team is trying to do, SB Nation’s Doug Eberhardt broke down each type of defense with graphics explaining each specific movement in the defensive scheme.  Eberhardt perfectly explained everything you’ll ever need to know about Ice, Hedge, Show, Long Arm, Blitz, and Push.

That’s all for this week.  Enjoy the first week of the playoffs.  And as always…Reading is FUNdamental.

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