The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
Kyrie Irving, who’s missed the entire season to this point recovering from the knee injury he suffered in the playoffs last season, is set to make his debut on Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers. That’s really good news for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who sit atop the Eastern Conference at 17-7. While they’ve been fine in his absence, the Cavaliers aren’t exactly running away from the rest of the pack. They hold a 1.5-game lead over Indiana and a two-game lead over Chicago in the conference, and while LeBron James isn’t exactly winding down his career at 31 years old, the Cavaliers rightfully should be concerned about his usage. Having Irving healthy will allow them to jell as a team before the playoffs and be ready in May and June when it matters most.
The Chicago Bulls lost to the Detroit Pistons last night, 147-144 in a four-overtime thriller. Chris Terzic of Blog a Bull doesn’t necessarily focus on that specifically in this review of the action so much as he looks at Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg. Hoiberg made some crucial mistakes toward the end of the game, basically refusing to remove any starters over the course of the extra 20 minutes of game time. Tony Snell had a poor game and was basically non-existent in his 38 minutes of play, yet stayed out on the floor for practically the entirety of the overtime sessions. Hoiberg has adjusted when he’s made mistakes, but he still needs to learn better time management, both for his players and with the game clock — he missed calling a timeout when the Bulls rebounded the ball with a tie game and 2.5 seconds remaining in overtime No. 2.
It should be no secret that the Lakers’ plan — and that of the majority of teams in the NBA — is to attract free agents to come play for their team next offseason and the year after when the salary cap gets a dramatic boost. Mitch Kupchak spoke about it openly, discussing his young core built around D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, and how he hopes that their talent and age could entice a player of high caliber to Los Angeles. He obviously cannot say the name, but Kevin Durant is the name everybody is thinking. The Lakers could have around $65 million in cap space to play with this offseason.
The Washington Wizards have been very bad at defending the three-point line this season. So bad, in fact, that Kyle Weidie of Truth About It went digging to find out what the culprit is. He dug into 3PTA per 48, 3PTM per 48 and 3PT% per 48 for each individual player, as well as several different lineup combinations. The conclusion? Everyone is part of the problem, but there are a few — including head coach Randy Wittman — that are a bigger part of the problem than others.
5. Every Major Star Wars Character as an NBA Player – Brian Schroeder, Hardwood Paroxysm
For fun, and in the spirit of Star Wars: The Force Awakens being released this weekend, Brian Schroeder of Hardwood Paroxysm wrote up a little bit about each major Star Wars character, as if they were a professional basketball player instead of a freedom fighter or Jedi Master in a far-off galaxy. For example, Princess Leia would be a starting point guard — a true leader and solid shooter with no off-the-court issues. The list is entertaining enough on its own and worth a read. The only one I’m inclined to disagree with is Emperor Palpatine as the General Manager — he pretty much has to be a team owner, right?