Even beyond the overall level of opposition rising significantly as we move through playoff rounds, the exploitative nature of repeated games against the same opponent can change the value of various skillsets. Players who thrive on mistakes can lose effectiveness once those mistakes go away. Predictable tendencies become more easily schemed, specific limitations attackable; witness Chris Paul seeking out opportunities against Robert Covington at the end of Game 6. Covington is a wonderful overall defender who excels in most areas of team defense, but sometimes struggles to contain ball-dominant scorers in one-on-one situations. We don’t have a great model for which types of players tend to fade in this environment, and it is likely that there is a mix of traits which are simply less valuable in the playoffs regardless of opposition, while other situations where the specifics of the pairings turn certain matchups into a bad series for this player or that.
February 1, 2023 | 11:31 am EST Update
But league sources say the Hawks have no shortage of trade interest in Bogdan Bogdanović as well — as in “half the league is calling” type stuff. The 30-year-old guard has a player option for $18 million next season, so most teams would understandably view him as a short-term rental (with the hopes of re-signing him if he opts out). To this point, the Hawks haven’t shown much interest in moving him. Capela could certainly help most teams and would yield a good return, but he continues to have the kind of chemistry with Young that likely means he’s going nowhere. If you somehow haven’t noticed, it’s quite important for this iteration of the Hawks to maximize Young’s powers.
Young isn’t going anywhere. The same goes for Murray. Collins is the most likely one on the way out, of course, and it’s worth repeating that the asking price is known to have decreased significantly from recent years (per league sources, there is a focus on landing a quality player, or players, in return but no mandate for a first-round pick). That development is clearly a reflection of the focus on salvaging this season, as opposed to recouping the vast assets lost in the Murray trade with San Antonio in the summer. As we’ve reported recently, the Jazz and Rockets are known to be among the teams in pursuit.
This past October, Abdul-Jabbar — on his Substack page where he discusses and offers opinion on a variety of topics, often nothing to do with sports — that when James passed Kobe Bryant for No. 3 on the all-time scoring list in 2020, he “knew it was just a matter of time before he passed me too.” Abdul-Jabbar wrote that every time a record is broken, all people are elevated. “When I broke Wilt Chamberlain’s scoring record in 1984 — the year LeBron was born — it bothered Wilt, who’d had a bit of a one-sided rivalry with me since I’d started doing so well in the NBA,” he added. “I don’t feel that way toward LeBron. Not only will I celebrate his accomplishment, I will sing his praises unequivocally.”
Riley coached Abdul-Jabbar in Los Angeles and later lured James to Miami for a four-year run starting in 2010. He sees in James much of what he saw in Alcindor when that bus pulled into Schenectady in 1961. “It’s all about LeBron right now, and it should be, with his unique career and unique opportunity to do this,” Riley said. “Training, travel, personal chefs, personal trainers, all that stuff has come into play since Kareem. I hope people realize Kareem’s story as well and how different it was. He went to college for four years; LeBron came out of high school. But they both dominated from Day 1. They both turned potential into greatness from Day 1.”
“I was just like whatever,” Mazzulla said. “I was at dinner with my wife and a few friends, so I had more important things going on at the time.” But Marcus Smart knows that’s not true. Mazzulla loves to play coy in front of the cameras, but he flips the switch behind closed doors. “Bulls—. Bulls—,” Smart said of Mazzulla’s attempt to play it off. “It says a lot, it’s just the humble mentality that we have. We got a lot of great guys, from coaches and players, that could sit here and boast about themselves about everything they’ve accomplished and things like that, but that’s not us. We love each other, and we let all the outside noise do the talking for us. But it definitely means something to Joe, and it means a lot to us for him to do it.”
Bobby Manning: Horford on Joe/ASG: “It doesn’t matter to him, but it’s a big deal for us .. it’s impressive how he’s been able to take the helm and lead us through this path. At the beginning of the season, it just wasn’t easy. All the unknowns .. he’s not celebrating, I’m celebrating for him.”
Monty McCutchen attributed the missed call to “a lack of fundamentals” from the referees involved. As James drove, the baseline referee, Jacyn Goble, was in motion in an effort to gain the best angle. While Goble’s intentions were good, the end result left him in a position where he was unable to clearly see the foul. “We want our referees in a still position,” says McCutchen. “We want movement to be purposeful, meaning, ‘Oh, someone stood in front of me. I need to make a definitive step to the left one step.’ But we can’t allow ourselves to get into rapid movement at the same time that the play is coming to a head.
McCutchen says he is confident the issue that led to the missed call in Boston can be corrected and that referees will work tirelessly to be in the best position to get every call right. “It really is impactful to referees to miss calls,” says McCutchen. “They’re not flippant about it. They don’t leave with a lack of remorse. But you have to move on. You have to get to the next game. That doesn’t help the teams that were aggrieved. We understand that. But we have to continue to pursue excellent work even up against our imperfections. That way you turn one call and you sort of nip it right there instead of turning it into a progression of bad calls.”