By Dan Devine
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It’s also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren’t always listed in order of importance. That’s for you, dear reader, to figure out.
C: Hardwood Paroxysm. A fun look from Scott Rafferty at a little wrinkle the New Orleans Pelicans put into their bread-and-butter high pick-and-roll on Monday to put Portland Trail Blazers reserve big man Joel Freeland in a very uncomfortable place. (“Like the back of a Volkswagon,” he thought to himself, because he is 31 years old and watched “Mallrats” a lot when he was a kid, and you can’t control how memory works, you know?)
PF: SB Nation. Speaking of the Blazers, Drew Garrison takes a look at how their top-of-the-pops offense compares to the Dirk Nowitzki-led unit of the 2010-11 championship-winning Dallas Mavericks, who employed an assistant coach by the name of Terry Stotts, and whether Portland’s eighth-worst-in-the-NBA defense might be too permissive to win a title.
SF: Clutch Fans. David Weiner takes a look at the potential salary-cap implications the Houston Rockets have to consider when determining whether or not they’d like to exercise the 2014-15 team option on Chandler Parsons’ contract — it’s a little nitty-gritty in terms of collective bargaining agreement language, but it provides some good insight into what could prove to be a major decision and roster-construction issue for the Rockets this summer.
PG: Detroit Bad Boys. After another fourth-quarter collapse resulted in a sealed-with-a-wink loss to John Wall’s Washington Wizards, it’s time to take a look at what goes wrong for the Detroit Pistons in the final frame of winnable games, and why things fall apart: “The answers are numerous but what it boils down to is this — when your offensive game plan is based on Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings (oh, so much Brandon Jennings), you will lose.”
6th: Salt City Hoops. An interesting deep-dive by Clint Peterson on when and where in games Derrick Favors has been most effective for the Utah Jazz this season, and how coach Tyrone Corbin might consider juggling the big man’s minutes to maximize his output and effectiveness.
7th: Grantland. Zach Lowe on the interesting predicament in which the Toronto Raptors find themselves — on an impressive run after the Rudy Gay trade, not good enough to legitimately contend but maybe too good to effectively tank — and how the next month or so might determine whether Toronto actually becomes a buyer at this year’s trade deadline rather than the seller many expected.
8th: Sports Illustrated. Lee Jenkins on the feel-good story of the 2013-14 season: Finally freed Eric Bledsoe and the go-go Phoenix Suns.
9th: ESPN.com. Ramona Shelburne, ditto.
10th: Cavs: The Blog. A thematically appropriate way to end the last 10-man of 2013 — the latest installment of the “Brews and Bruises” series, in which we explore the beers most likely to prove the “magic elixir” for the members of the Cleveland Cavaliers … or, failing that, some suggested selections for Ohioans to use to “drown [their] collective sorrows in a nice, cold, tall glass of beer.” Happy New Year, everybody. If you’re drinking tonight, please do so responsibly, travel safely, and come back to spend next year with us, too. Thanks.
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