Hoosiers In The NBA: Reviewing The Script To The Charlotte-Miami Series

I hope you all enjoy the game-by-game coverage of these playoffs and for more follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBAPlayoffs.

For today’s edition of Hoosiers In The NBA, I’m going to recap the “script” to the Charlotte-Miami series and map out how the series actually mirrored a five act theatrical play. Plus I’ll also review how Cody Zeller did in comparison to my projected stats.

As for the Portland-Golden State series, it should be an interesting one regardless of whether or not Noah Vonleh plays, but for the purposes of not rehashing this same topic (how does Vonleh find a way to play in this series) over and over again, this will probably be my last playoff update unless Vonleh’s role increases.

 


Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: (6) Charlotte Hornets vs (3) Miami Heat (Miami Wins 4-3)

Game 1: Miami 123, Charlotte 91

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 9 points (3-4 FG)(3-4 FT), 7 rebounds, assist, personal foul, 20 minutes.

Game 2: Miami 115, Charlotte 103

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 8 points (3-6 FG)(2-3 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

Game 3: Charlotte 96, Miami 80

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 12 points (4-8 FG)(4-4 FT), 8 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 26 minutes.

Game 4: Charlotte 89, Miami 85

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 8 points (3-4 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

Game 5: Charlotte 90, Miami 88

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 4 points (1-4 FG)(2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, steal, turnover, 3 personal fouls, 21 minutes.

Game 6: Miami 97, Charlotte 90

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 12 points (4-5 FG)(4-6 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 18 minutes.

Game 7: Miami 106, Charlotte 73

  • Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 6 points (3-7 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 turnovers 2 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

The Charlotte Hornets and the Miami Heat generated some compelling theatre during their series as the amount of twists and turns transformed a playoff series that had more blowouts than close games into one of the most interesting first round series in recent NBA history. So why not recap the series like it was a five act play? Here is the script:

ACT 1: The Heat On Fire – Game 1 & 2

  • The first act is primarily for creating exposition, but its other function is to introduce the conflict.
  • The exposition is straightforward and present before the series begins (it’s the playoffs and Miami has home-court advantage), but the conflict arises as a result of the Hornets getting run off the court during the first two games. The Heat combined to hit 93 of their 161 field attempts (57.8%), including 18 of 34 (52.9%) from deep in the first two games. The Hornets were now in the process of getting swept and, to add insult to injury, were now just one loss away from tying the record more most consecutive playoff games lost (13 by the New York Knicks).

ACT 2: Clifford Counters – Game 3 & 4

  • This act is called the rising action as the events of this act build up tension and draw the plot towards the climax.
  • Tension definitely began to rise for the Heat as what once looked like a possible sweep saw the series tied after four games. Charlotte Head Coach Steve Clifford made a great lineup change as he moved Cody Zeller to the bench to enhance the second unit, placing Al Jefferson in the starting lineup, and also started Frank Kaminsky at power forward, moving Marvin Williams to small forward. Both Zeller and Kaminsky had their best playoff games during game three as Zeller scored 12 and Kaminsky scored 15. Then in game four, Kemba Walker took over as his 34 points helped the Hornets even the series.

ACT 3: Courtney Lee’s Offensive Rebound – Game 5

  • The climax occurs in the third act as every building up to this point reaches a boiling point.
  • The climax (at least for the Hornets) happened when Courtney Lee grabbed a huge offensive rebound off of Walker’s missed 16-footer and hit the game-winning three-pointer with 25 seconds left. You could also argue that the climax was when Dwyane Wade rebounded a blocked Goran Dragic three-pointer and was unable to draw a foul as a 50-50 call went Charlotte’s way when the referees didn’t whistle Zeller for a personal foul.

ACT 4: Wade Refuses To Die – Game 6

  • The falling action follows the climax and details what happens after the climax and starts to wrap up the narrative.
  • I had to cheat a little bit here as game six could be considered either the climax or the falling action depending on which team’s point of view you are taking.
  • It’s a climax for Miami as the franchise’s greatest player refused to let his team lose by imposing his will on the game when it mattered most. Wade scored 10 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, but more impressively he made two three-pointers in the period after not making a single one in the last four months.
  • For Charlotte this game is the falling action due to the realization after the loss that the Hornets had just blown their chance to win the playoffs series. Sure they had just won in Miami during game five, but now the Heat had all the momentum after finally solving the new Charlotte lineup.

ACT 5: Dragic, Defense Dominate – Game 7

  • The last act is called the denouement, which basically is just a conclusion or resolution to the story.
  • With the final outcome never in doubt after halftime, a lot of people considered game seven to be anti-climatic. While not the exact opposite of the climax, the denouement is more focused on wrapping up the story and getting to the final point. So Dragic’s 25 points and the Heat’s overall defensive brilliance helped make sure that the conclusion of this series was as clear as possible.

It was a valiant effort for the Hornets as they look to be a team on the rise as long as they retain their key free agents (especially Nic Batum) this summer. One of the reasons this team will continue to get better is because of Cody Zeller, as he actually surpassed my expectations by a little bit during the Miami series:

  • Cody Zeller’s Predicted Stats: 6.5ppg, 6.1rpg, 0.83spg, 1.50 bpg, 47.0% FG, 28.3mpg
  • Cody Zeller’s Actual Stats: 8.4ppg, 5.3rpg, 0.43bpg, 55.3% FG, 81.0% FT, 19.6mpg

While the numbers are a little off, for the most part I was right about the role Zeller would have in this series. He provided some excellent defense and was able to help the offense function with his ability to set perfect screens. However there were two things that surprised me:

  1. Zeller actually was involved in the scoring more than I anticipated. I figured he’d get a few passes in the paint off of pick-and-rolls, but Zeller actually attempted about a half dozen mid-range jumpers and ended up making most of them. This was usually the result of him getting the ball wide-open at the top of the key after the passer was double-teamed. He was also very confident at the foul line as he actually shot better in the playoffs (81.0%) than he did during the regular season (75.4%).
  2. The other thing that surprised me was that Zeller didn’t play anywhere near as much as I thought he would. Granted I didn’t predict that Zeller would end up giving his starting spot to Al Jefferson, but Zeller ended up ranking eighth on the team in terms of minutes played with only 120 minutes logged. In comparison, rookie Frank Kaminsky played 190 minutes and Nic Batum (who only played five of the seven games, two of which he came off the bench) played 144 minutes. I understand why they ended up playing more (Kaminsky can play both power forward and center and Batum in Charlotte’s second best player) but the minutes gap still feels a little strange.

 


Western Conference Quarterfinals: (5) Portland Trail Blazers vs (1) Golden State Warriors (Golden State leads 1-0)

Game 1: Golden State 118, Portland 106

  • Noah Vonleh’s Game Log: 0 points (0-0 FG), rebound, 1 minute.

I predicted in my series preview that either Noah Vonleh would take Chris Kaman’s spot in the nine-man rotation or Portland Head Coach Terry Stotts would shorten it to an eight-man rotation. For game one at least, he seems to have chosen the latter.

Yet that doesn’t mean it still can’t happen. The Portland Trail Blazers need to make some kind of adjustment as the Golden State Warriors (even without Stephen Curry) were the better team by a sizeable (both in skill and length) margin.

Vonleh could potentially start in the same role he had for most of the season (start both halves and determine playing time from his performance) and thus give Portland a legit power forward instead of playing two small forwards. I admit Coach Stotts could also go with Ed Davis in this situation but the starters do have experience playing with Vonleh which would bring some familiarity.

 

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Hoosiers In The NBA: Portland-Golden State Preview

I hope you all enjoy the game-by-game coverage of these playoffs and for more follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBAPlayoffs.

Western Conference 1st Round: (5) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (1) Golden State Warriors

Regular Season Series: Warriors won 3-1

Playoff Series: 0-0 (1st game is Sunday at 3:30pm)

Probable Starting Lineups:

Portland Trail Blazers:

C – Mason Plumlee: 9.1ppg (51.6% FG/64.2% FT), 7.7rpg, 2.8apg

F – Al-Farouq Aminu: 10.2ppg (41.6%/36.1% 3FG/73.7% FT), 6.1rpg, 1.7apg

F – Maurice Harkless: 6.4ppg (47.4% FG/27.9% 3FG/62.2% FT), 3.6rpg, 0.9apg

SG – C.J. McCollum: 20.8ppg (44.8% FG/41.7% 3FG/82.7% FT), 3.2rpg, 4.3apg, 1.2spg

PG – Damian Lillard: 25.1ppg (41.9% FG/37.5% 3FG/89.2% FT), 4.0rpg, 6.8apg

Key Bench Players – Noah Vonleh (3.6ppg, 3.9rpg), Ed Davis (6.5ppg, 7.4rpg, 61.1% FG), Gerald Henderson (8.7ppg), Allen Crabbe (10.3ppg, 39.4% 3FG)

Golden State Warriors:

C – Andrew Bogut: 5.4ppg (62.7% FG/48.0% FT), 7.0rpg, 2.3apg, 1.6bpg

PF – Draymond Green: 14.0ppg (49.0% FG/38.8% 3FG/69.6% FT), 9.5rpg, 7.4apg, 1.5spg, 1.4bpg

SF – Harrison Barnes: 11.7ppg (46.6% FG/38.3% 3FG/76.1% FT), 4.9rpg, 1.8apg

SG – Klay Thompson: 22.1ppg (47.0% FG/42.5% 3FG/87.3% FT), 3.8rpg, 2.1apg

PG – Shaun Livingston: 6.3ppg (53.6% FG/86.0% FT), 2.2rpg, 3.0apg

MVP – Stephen Curry: 30.1ppg (50.4% FG/45.4% 3FG/90.8% FT), 5.4rpg, 6.7apg, 2.1spg

Key Bench Players – Andre Iguodala (7.0ppg, 4.0rpg, 3.4apg), Marreese Speights (7.1ppg, 38.7% 3FG), Ian Clark (3.6ppg), Leandro Barbosa (6.4ppg)

What To Expect:

The Portland Trail Blazers were one of the few playoff teams that beat the Golden State Warriors this year, so with Stephen Curry’s status up in the air there is a chance the Trail Blazers make this a very interesting series.

So does that mean that Noah Vonleh will have zero chance of playing any meaningful minutes in this series? Surprisingly I think there is a realistic chance he does play.

As with the Los Angeles Clippers series, there is a potential scenario that may provide Vonleh with an opportunity to play. Chris Kaman was the reserve center in the last series but I don’t think he can keep up with small-ball centers such as Draymond Green and Marreese Speights. Vonleh is much more athletic and is quick enough to guard both.

But before you pencil in Vonleh for eight minutes per game, know that there’s another solution that is just as likely.  If Coach Terry Stotts still thinks Vonleh isn’t ready for such a big responsibility he may instead just shorten his rotation and stagger his post players’ minutes so that either Mason Plumlee or Ed Davis is always on the court.

Just like last series it may come down to a first impression. I could see Stotts giving Vonleh a chance during game one and if he likes what he sees he’ll continue to have Vonleh come off the bench. If he doesn’t, Vonleh will be glued to the bench for the rest of the series.

Stat Predictions: 0.8ppg, 1.3rpg, 33% FG, 3.8mpg

Hoosiers In The NBA: Playoff Previews For Zeller’s Hornets And Vonleh’s Trail Blazers

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA on its new site! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:


As promised earlier in the week, here are the previews for both Cody Zeller’s Charlotte Hornets and Noah Vonleh’s Portland Trail Blazers. I’ll give my thoughts on what you can expect from both of them during their first round matchups and also give a roster breakdown of both their team and the opposing team. And as always I’ll go out on a limb and actually predict their stats for that series just to see how close or how far off I end up being afterward. I hope you enjoy and look forward to more playoff coverage both on this blog and on Twitter for as long as a former Indiana Hoosier is still playing in the playoffs. Now let’s break down these series:

 


Eastern Conference 1st Round: (6) Charlotte Hornets vs. (3) Miami Heat

Regular Season Series: Tied 2-2

Playoff Series: 0-0 (1st game is Sunday at 5:30pm EST)

Probable Starting Lineups:

Charlotte Hornets:

C – Cody Zeller: 8.7ppg (52.9% FG/10.0% 3FG/75.4% FT), 6.2rpg, 1.0apg

PF – Marvin Williams: 11.7ppg (45.2% FG/40.2% 3FG/83.3% FT), 6.4rpg, 1.4apg

SF – Nicolas Batum: 14.9ppg (42.6% FG/34.8% 3FG/84.9% FT), 6.1rpg, 5.8apg

SG – Courtney Lee: 9.6ppg (45.4% FG/37.8% 3FG/83.9% FT), 2.6rpg, 1.7apg

PG – Kemba Walker: 20.9ppg (42.7% FG/37.1% 3FG/84.7% FT), 4.4rpg, 5.2apg

Key Bench Players – Al Jefferson (12.0ppg, 6.4rpg), Jeremy Lin (11.7ppg), Jeremy Lamb (8.8ppg), Frank Kaminsky (7.5ppg)

Miami Heat:

C – Hassan Whiteside: 14.2ppg (60.6% FG/65.0% FT), 11.8rpg, 0.4apg, 3.7bpg

F – Joe Johnson: 12.2ppg (43.9% FG/38.3% 3FG/83.1% FT), 3.6rpg, 3.9apg

F – Luol Deng: 12.3ppg (45.5% FG/34.4% 3FG/75.5% FT), 6.0rpg, 1.9apg

SG – Dwyane Wade: 19.0ppg (45.6% FG/15.9% 3FG/79.3% FT), 4.1rpg, 4.6apg

PG – Goran Dragic: 14.1ppg (47.7% FG/31.2% 3FG/72.7% FT), 3.8rpg, 5.8apg

Key Bench Players – Justice Winslow (6.4ppg, 5.2rpg), Josh Richardson (6.6ppg, 46.1% 3FG), Gerald Green (8.9ppg), Amar’e Stoudemire (5.8ppg)

What To Expect:

Cody Zeller is going to have his hands full as his primary mission this series is to prevent Hassan Whiteside from being an offensive factor.

While defending Whiteside will be a challenge, it could have been worse as Zeller would have guarded Chris Bosh if he was available.  Bosh presented a big problem for Zeller as the perennial All-Star is able to draw bigger defenders out of the paint because of his lethal mid-range game and above average three-point shooting.

Whiteside won’t move very far from the post except to set screens, which means Zeller can stay close to the basket and help guard the rim against one of the better slashing teams in the NBA. His help defense will be a necessity on Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic drives.

The key for Zeller during this series will be to stay out of foul trouble. The former Hoosier has done a better job lately of avoiding fouls but still ended the season with a career-high 2.8 fouls per game. The Hornets could still beat the Heat by simply outshooting them, but when the shots don’t fall Charlotte cannot afford to have Zeller on the bench with foul trouble.

Because so much will be asked of Zeller defensively, I expect Hornets’ Head Coach Steve Clifford to consistently switch Zeller in and out with Al Jefferson for offensive and defensive situations. That doesn’t mean Zeller won’t score during this series but expect no more than four or five shots per game.

Zeller won’t produce flashy numbers during this series but his performance will be one of the few main things that could decide who wins this series.

Stat Predictions: 6.5ppg, 6.1rpg, 0.83spg, 1.50 bpg, 47% FG, 28.3mpg


Western Conference 1st Round: (5) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (4) Los Angeles Clippers

Regular Season Series: Clippers won 3-1

Playoff Series: 0-0 (1st game is Sunday at 10:30pm)

Probable Starting Lineups:

Portland Trail Blazers:

C – Mason Plumlee: 9.1ppg (51.6% FG/64.2% FT), 7.7rpg, 2.8apg

F – Al-Farouq Aminu: 10.2ppg (41.6%/36.1% 3FG/73.7% FT), 6.1rpg, 1.7apg

F – Maurice Harkless: 6.4ppg (47.4% FG/27.9% 3FG/62.2% FT), 3.6rpg, 0.9apg

SG – C.J. McCollum: 20.8ppg (44.8% FG/41.7% 3FG/82.7% FT), 3.2rpg, 4.3apg, 1.2spg

PG – Damian Lillard: 25.1ppg (41.9% FG/37.5% 3FG/89.2% FT), 4.0rpg, 6.8apg

Key Bench Players – Noah Vonleh (3.6ppg, 3.9rpg), Ed Davis (6.5ppg, 7.4rpg, 61.1% FG), Gerald Henderson (8.7ppg), Allen Crabbe (10.3ppg, 39.4% 3FG)

Los Angeles Clippers:

C – DeAndre Jordan: 12.7ppg (70.3% FG/43.0% FT), 13.8rpg, 1.2apg, 2.3bpg

PF – Blake Griffin: 21.4ppg (49.9% FG/72.7% FT), 8.4rpg, 4.9apg

SF – Luc Richard Mbah a Moute: 3.1ppg (45.4% FG/52.6% FT), 2.3rpg, 0.4apg

SG – J.J. Redick: 16.3ppg (48.0% FG/47.5% 3FG/88.8% FT), 1.9rpg, 1.4apg

PG – Chris Paul: 19.5ppg (46.2% FG/37.1% 3FG/89.6% FT), 4.2rpg, 10.0apg, 2.1spg

Key Bench Players – Jamal Crawford (14.2ppg), Jeff Green (11.7ppg, 4.2rpg), Wesley Johnson (6.9ppg), Austin Rivers (8.9ppg), Cole Aldrich (5.5ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.1bpg)

What To Expect:

Noah Vonleh has ended up playing even less than I expected at the end of the season, and some things I’ve read are suggesting he may only see the court during these playoffs if any of the games end up being blowouts.

However, if there was ever a matchup that would require Vonleh to play more than expected it would be against the Clippers. Against the frontcourt duo of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, I expect multiple games where the Trail Blazers’ big men get in foul trouble and Head Coach Terry Stotts will need to rely on Vonleh for spot minutes.

If Vonleh does find himself in that situation, he’ll have a prime opportunity to show the coaching staff that he’s improving. If he can hit a three-pointer early, it would force either Griffin or Jordan to leave the paint to guard him, leaving driving lanes for Damian Lillard to slash and kick out.

Of course, it’s very possible this situation never happens in this series. But there’s a better chance of Vonleh playing meaningful playoff minutes than most people might think.

Stat Predictions: 1.5ppg, 2.4rpg, 0.33 bpg, 37% FG, 5.7mpg