What We’re Reading: Almost to the Finals

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.

Plenty of shocking things have happened both on and off the court in the past week, but let’s get started with the action on the floor.  After the Spurs dominated the first two games of the series, the Thunder’s Serge Ibaka miraculously returned from an injury that was expected to keep him out for the entire playoffs and Sam Amick of USA Today Sports had the details of his recovery.  The details of his recovery made many very uncomfortable as Ibaka created “God and ice” for his unusually quick recovery.  It was interesting to see people deal with a religious explanation for a recovery that seemed defy logic and things took an interesting (but probably expected) turn as people searched for a logical reason for the speedy recovery.

If the Thunder are able to advance to the Finals, much of the credit for the team’s success will likely be given to Ibaka’s miraculous return and not the masterful coaching of Scott Brooks.  This is not surprising.  Brooks has long been derided for not getting the most of out of his squad, but with his team just two victories away from a second Finals appearance, SBNation’s Paul Flannery wondered if perhaps Brooks should be getting more credit for the work he’s done in Oklahoma City.  Though Brooks may not be basketball’s best tactician, Flannery argues that Brooks should be applauded for creating an environment in which talent has been allowed to flourish and still won quite a few games.

The polar opposite coach of Brooks may be found on the other sideline in Gregg Popovich.  Popovich has long been lauded as one of the game’s best coaches and regularly deserves a significant amount of credit for the work he does with the Spurs each season.  To figure out how Popovich has developed into one of the league’s best coaches, ESPN’s Marc Stein put together a massive timeline of Popovich’s journey to San Antonio.  The piece did a great job connecting the dots to present day and showing exactly how Popovich obtained the different jobs he’s had throughout his career as well as all of the great coaches (Larry Brown, Don Nelson and Dean Smith) he was influenced by along the way.  The only disappointment is the lack of details of his rumored time as a spy for the United States government.

On the other side of the bracket, the Heat have finished up their series against the Pacers and moved onto the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year.  Though no one would have predicted it before the series, the insertion of Rashard Lewis into the Heat lineup allowed them to completely change the series once they returned home to Miami and Miles Wray of Hoop365 explained why one change was so significant.  Though much of the attention in the final few games of the series will likely focus on Lewis’ offensive contributions, Wray explained that his addition to the lineup allowed the Heat to be much more aggressive defensively.  Wray did a great job breaking down why his addition also helped out some of the Heat’s other players on offense as well.

The player most affected by Lewis’ insertion into the lineup was Chris Bosh, who was given a more favorable matchup against Pacers center Roy Hibbert with Lewis on the floor.  Bosh was able to take advantage of his matchup with Hibbert because of the significant changes he has made to his game in the last four years and Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry took a look at just how staggering those changes have been.  With the help of a couple amazing graphics, Goldsberry showed that though Bosh has been one of the league’s best midrange jump shooters since his move to Miami, this season’s move out a few more feet to the three point line has represented a significant change in the way Bosh scores and just how much Bosh has transformed his game to become a better fit for his team.

On the other side of the floor, Paul George has dealt with something completely different than Bosh as more and more has been expected from George in the last few years as he has gained more attention for his play.  With this change in mind, Scott Rafterty of Hardwood Paroxysm took a look at a fair way to judge George going forward.  With George’s sensational play in the beginning of this season and last postseason, Rafferty wrote that people started to judge him in the same way people judge superstars Kevin Durant and LeBron James. In his mind, this is not fair to George as he is simply not a superstar, at least not yet.  So, rather than judging him as such, Rafferty believes people should have more realistic expectations and look at George as a great player who may someday be a great second option, but not as a superstar that will lead his team to a championship.

While it would be great to focus on the action on the floor this time of the year, off-the-court stories continue to steal attention from the great basketball being played.  Arguably the biggest story of this postseason has been the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers and the possible legal battle that may ensue from the transaction.  Though one would have thought the story would become more clear in the last week, it has actually become even more convoluted as more people and issues get involved.  ESPN has the latest on the sale and covers the following topics: the sale of the Clippers to billionaire Steve Ballmer, a billion dollar lawsuit from Donald Sterling, Sterling being ruled mentally incapacitated, his wife Shelly selling the team, multiple letters to the commissioner, and finally the posturing of NBA players regarding a lockout after the current CBA due to the massive value of NBA franchises.  Did you get all of that?

That’s all for this week.  And as always…Reading is FUNdamental.

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