Monday, April 30, 2007
With the Suns getting right back on track and out-pacing the Lakers, the only big story out of the West came late on Sunday night.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Let's cut right to the chase (cut to the chase? what are you, Joe Hollywood?)... These series are both completely terrible. I find it hard to believe that anyone outside of the teams' home cities are even watching. Actually, I think it's safe to assume that all the Magic and Wiz fans have completely given up. The curse of Le Bullets continues.
They'll both be sweeps. Let's leave it at that.
San Antonio @ Denver
After those lame appetizers are over with - we actually get some real basketball. Here's what I think about this series - I just can't see the Spurs losing. Dallas? yeah, I could see that considering their history. But Duncan and the boys? It's not on my radar. This has the feel of a big brother/little brother matchup. Sure, the big brother has aged a bit. He's been in college a few years throwin' down funnels and taking bong hits till 5am every weekend. But when he comes home for the summer - he can still handle the little brother one on one in the driveway. I hate giving "experience" that much credit. More often than not I think the talking heads on tv like to use that term instead of actually analyzing a given matchup (that's you, kornheiser).
Still- I'd love to see Melo and Iverson put Popovich on the ropes.
Houston @ Utah
Bottomline here - someone besides Tmac and Yao have to score. ANYONE! That game the other night was mindbogglingly (clearly not an actual word) terrible. It set "bench scoring" back about 35 years. I don't even know what that sentence means, but the rockets did it.
This series has "7 games" written all over it. That monkey on Tmac's back ain't getting any smaller.
Friday, April 27, 2007
You'll have to pardon the recaps today, I've been sleep deprived all week and I'll have to do my best to sum up my thoughts as I laid on the couch watching the games.
Detroit Pistons 93, Orlando Magic 77
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ... wow, Dwight Shrute sure has been showing up a lot bigger than Dwight Howard the past couple weeks... ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
Utah Jazz 81, Houston Rockets 67
ZZZZZZZZ... Wait, FOUR people on the Rockets scored???? How long have I been asleep? Did they do away with the shot clock again???? This next game better be the best goddamn game I've ever seen.
LA Lakers 95, Phoenix Suns 89
You got lucky NBA, real lucky. In all seriousness, Kobe turns in the best individual performance of the playoffs with 45 pts, 6reb, and 6ast. He shot 15-26 from the field, 2-3 from behind the line, and a perfect 13-13 free throws. The other big story was Kwame Brown waking up from a much longer nap than the one I took earlier and the Lakers finally showing up as a team to take care of the intangibles. The Lakers' commitment to playing hustle defense and rebounding managed to hold the Suns to 75 field goal attempts (compared to 92 in the previous blowout). This is the mysterious "dictating the pace" against the Suns that we hear so much about, even allowing them to shoot .480 from the field isn't devastating when you can limit their shots.
Henry at TrueHoop has an interesting look at a Lakers conspiracy theory that could rain on some parades however.
Police Academy: Kobe Bryant - 45pts, 6reb, 6ast. Gets the honor for not only turning in a great line, but for whatever he said that woke up the rest of the stiffs on his team.
Super Troopers: Kwame Brown - 19pts (8-14 shooting), 6reb, 2blk. Mainly for not rolling over for the rest of the playoffs after he hurt his ankle.
Car 54, Where Are You?: The five guys on the Houston Rockets who couldn't score one point. 5 men, 76 combined minutes, 0 points?? Really? Five guys personally just took the Rockets from legit contenders to possible victims of a first-round comeback.
Sam Cassell Quote of the Night: (on Kobe)"He's no Jordan, but he's definitely not Harold Miner!"
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Detroit -2.5 @ Orlando o/u 183
Houston +4 @ Utah o/u 187.5
Phoenix -4 @ Los Angeles o/u 211
I have to say I am not wild about any of tonight's games but here are my picks for all three games.
Detroit -2.5 @ Orlando o/u 183 Pick: Orlando
Houston +4 @ Utah 0/u 187.5 Pick: Utah
Phoenix -4 @ Los Angeles o/u 211 Pick: Phoenix
For a detailed explanation of these picks see below where Der wrote essentially the exact same thing I would argue about all 3 games.
"It's not like we have the best talent in the league, so we really have to pride
ourselves on playing hard all the time"
I have no words about what I am about to link you to. Nothing can explain it, nothing can describe it. All I know is that I'm lucky I recently had to begin "preparing" for a drug
test, because if I had been under the influence of anything when I had watched this there is no doubt that my head would have exploded instantly. Ready? Seriously, prepare yourself. Think Weird Al meets the NBA (maybe throw FreeDarko in there to explain the pics).
Here's the link (completely safe for work, but good luck explaining it to anyone who asks). Have your sound on, click the "experience" link. You click on the picture to move to the next song. Technically only the first four are about basketball players, but I found that to be more than enough NBA content to warrant a post.
PS - The Yao Ming one is the obvious crown jewel of their catalog.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
If you are bored waiting for the late game to start, I'd suggest the under in Denver/San Antonio parlayed with the Cavs -12. Dont hold me to it, but its probably what Ill do to kill some time, waiting for Golden State to cover.
- All star, 1st Team All-nba, MVP-caliber 7 footers flopping in game 1? check and check.
- The less successful regular season team seemed to mysteriously dictate the matchups and pace? check and check.
- Between roster moves, suspensions, and injuries the underdog team never quite jelled until the regular season's homestretch, and thus, are far more dangerous than their records make them appear? you guessed it, Frank Stallone... check and check.
Here's an earth-shattering statement: Duncan and Dirk have to play better. They were 7/17 and 4/16 from the field, respectively in game 1. Your best player has to do a lot better than that, plain and simple.
The matchups -
Look for Dallas to listen to the critics tonight. Chuck nailed it by halftime: in no way should a 67 win team be the one adjusting to the 42 win team. I have a feeling we'll see a lot more of the Diop/Dampier combo up front. And that could end up being a clinic in offensive rebounding.
Also look for the Spurs to exploit the Nene/Camby combo by using a smaller lineup. In game 1, they always had Duncan up front with someone from the Horry/Oberto/Elson contingent. Don't be surprised if Pop spreads the floor with Parker-Ginobili-Finley-and Bowen to go with Duncan. Which means they'll probably go zone on defense and force Denver to hit 3's (ya know, because they were 28th in the league this year in that department).
Hollinger had a great article today about the season ending winning streaks for the Nuggs and Warriors. In a nutshell:
If you look at the games where each team was at full strength for meaningful
games (and removing the 3-10 stretch where Melo and AI first started playing
together) you're left with a 15-4 record for Denver, and a 13-4 record for
G.State. Not only that, but some mind boggling, suns-esq offensive
Washington @ Cleveland
Let's be honest: the wizards suck. I'm watching the other 2 games, and I'll settle for Lebron highlights on sportscenter.
Between finals, work, and doing these updates everyday, I'm getting dangerously close to Winnebago Man(NSFW) territory.
Toronto Raptors 89, New Jersey Nets 83
Anthony Parker led the Dinos in points with 26, but Chris Bosh(25 and 13) took over the game in that intangible way that a superstar has to during the playoffs. Time and again when the Raptors needed a bucket to stifle a Nets run, Bosh was there to bull his way to the hoop, get the bucket and the foul, and make his free throws. Looks like he may have finally realized that no one on the Nets front line can hang with him. On the other side of the ball, Jason Kidd managed 7 assists, even with his two finishers Carter and Jefferson going a combined 12-40. Maybe Vince didn't even want to give the Toronto fans a show??? As far as predicitons for the rest of the series go, I think Henry from TrueHoop says it best: "Honestly, I have no idea. Sure is fun to watch, though."
Chicago Bulls 107, Miami Heat 89
Ben Gordon kept the Bulls on track for most of the game before Barkley's boy Leon Doing turned it on and put this game out of reach. In the post-game press conference, Pat Riley compared Deng to Cedric Ceballos(???), then wet himeself and got beat up by a fellow inmate. The Heat didn't play a particulary bad game offensively, I'm sure they would love to get 11pts each from Posey, Walker, and Kapono every night. But on defense, they gave up way to many easy looks and couldn't match up on Deng. This led to the Bulls shooting .551 from the floor and a blistering .647 from three. It'll be inteteresting to see where this series goes when they get back to Miami. Personally, I've got no faith in them.
Phoenix Suns 126, LA Lakers 98
If Anchorman had come out last weekend, I would definitely drop the "That really escalated quickly" joke right here. The Suns played their game in the way they do sometimes, almost literally scoring at will. TNT's Doug collins put it best when he noted that it really looked like the Suns were playing 6 on 5 against the Lakers. If the Lakers are going to let the Suns play their style of basketball AND let them shoot .543 they might be lucky that Phoenix only put up 126. If you didn't see this game, there is very little that can describe how easy it was for the Suns to score; if there wasn't a man wide open in the corner for three, Nash would set up a quick pick and roll with the nearest player and get an easy dish for a lay-up. That simple. A complete blow out and the Lakers look to be in big trouble.
The Best Of (South Park Edition)
Eric Cartman: Gotta give it to Leon Doing once again. 26pts, 5 reb, 6ast, 2blk, 1stl. Yea, Riley was right, thats definitely a Ceballos-like line.
Randy Marsh: Chris Bosh played 45 minutes, got 25 and 13, and controlled the game for the Raptors in big spots.
Kyle's Mom: Eddie Jones. If you're going to be a defensive liability, at least try to get some offense. Went 1-3 in 17 minutes. Look for Ira Winderman's head to explode if he gets the start in game 3.
Chuck's Quote of the Night: "Kwame Brown dropped more pases this weekend than T.O."
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
New Jersey +5 @ Toronto o/u 194
Chicago -4 @ Miami o/u 184
Los Angeles +9 @ Phoenix o/u 207
Here is the problem with the state of the NBA today. Through an entire regular season, we still have no idea if the Raptors are good or just the product of a crummy division. There really is no shred of evidence about how they will react after being punched in the nose in Game 1.
Saturday, Vince Carter was terrible and still the game really was never in doubt following a Nets run in the second quarter. Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson put on a show and demonstrated few signs that they would be slowing down tonight. And the Raptors ultimately looked like a team surprised to be playing in a game that meant something.
Well with that said the Raptors are still giving 5 points. Take a look at the Chicago/Miami series. The line has swung 8 points following the Bulls win in Game 1. The Raptors have actually gone up a half point. This tells me one thing, the Nets are a bad bet.
Thus the pick for Today is TORONTO. I know its difficult to trust canadians with your money. You don't know what kind of return you will get and all that, but trust ME its the right thing to do. Honestly if you can't trust The Don, who can you trust.
One other note about tonight's game. Raptors fans are rabid. I don't know if its because they are thrilled to be watching a sporting event and be warm at the same time, but whatever the reason they love the Raptors. Which is saying something when you consider how bad they have been over the past few years. I think they will play a big role in tonight's game, not wanting to see the Raps headed to the Meadowlands down 2.
In addition to Toronto, I'll throw out the Los Angeles/Phoenix over of 207. I know they came up 40 points short of the over on Saturday. I also know the Lakers are dedicated to playing D as it is there only hope. However, the the two teams could not miss more open shots than they did on Sunday. Its not possible. Look at the shot chart. I like the over, and while I'm not throwing my leadpipe lock on it, Id encourage taking some of yesterdays winnings and turning them over. If you are really feeling wild, I wouldn't argue with you if you told me about a 4 pt teaser of Suns/Over.
Any chance the NBA gives me a break and lets me catch The Office on Thursday? It's looking real good. I already missed the Sopranos and my chances of catching the Gauntlet tomorrow are looking slim.(/Simmons content)
Detroit Pistons 98, Orlando Magic 90
This might go down in history as the most impossible playoff series to give a shit about. The Magic played decent, the Pistons played a little better, everyone knew it would go like this, no one's surprised. I feel like in some ways this has to be a little troubling for Orlando; would you rather be the Lakers with a superstar who's proven he can get his in the playoffs, or Orlando whose role players are starting to get it done while your #1 guy disappears on you? But, at the same time, if Howard throws down one of his 23 & 24 games the Magic can still steal one. The Detroit starters look to be in playoff form as everyone got to double-digits. Like i said, it would really help me if these guys could wrap this thing up so I could catch some prime-time TV.
Houston Rockets 98, Utah Jazz 90
Strange game here in that it looked good for both the winner and the loser. I mean, Kirilenko only played 2 more minutes than game 1 but still managed to notch 5 times the personal fouls!! If AK-47 had turned his game around at all, the Jazz could have felt optimistic as Deron Williams had another solid game, and Boozer showed up big time with 41, 12, and 6. Instead even Magic Johnson caught enough of the game, in between handfuls of cream cheese off the catering table, to know the Jazz are dead in the water. McGrady and Yao both had solid games and you've gotta wonder what a second round match-up would look like with the Rockets skating past the Jazz and the Mavericks having to struggle to get past the Warriors.
The Best Of (all-loser edition)
The Nerf Big Bad Bow: Carlos Boozer - 41pts, 12reb, 6ast. Did his job while the rest of his team fell apart all around him. Oh well.
The Nerf .38 Special: Hedo Turkoglu - Shooting the lights out(18-27 for the series) and giving out some HARD fouls. If you're going to lose, at least let the other team know you're there.
Nerf Rocket Kit: AK-47(back to back) - 18min, 0pts, 5fouls. At least he got his 2 blocks. Always a good sign when your coach refuses to talk about you in the post-game. You're screwed, Commie.
Kenny Smith Quote of the Night: "The Heat need to find an answer for Leon Doing!"
Monday, April 23, 2007
The darko revenge series returns....
The tale of the tape for game 1 is pretty cut and dry. Despite shooting a mind-blowing 58.1% from the field (including a combined 13 of 19 from the Turkoglu/Darko contingent) the Magic managed to screw themselves by shooting all their free throws blindfolded. Actually, that's a lie but it sure seemed like it.
Now, it's easy to look back and say that if only the Magic had been "kinda" bad from the line instead of "completely shit the bed" bad, they would've won. But frankly, I'm just not buying it. Detroit seems content to play this series just well enough to win. And that's basically how they've approached the whole season at home. Despite having the best record in the east they were ranked 5th in home wins (only 1 more than 8th seeded Orlando). And not only that, 'Sheed and the boys were a dismal 16-26 against the spread at the Palace. Not really sure if there's a precedent for this, but this team made their mark on the road. BIG TIME.
So look for this game to be close, but never actually in question.
Utah @ Houston
Utah continues their quest to take AK47 from 1st Team NBA All-UNDERrated to the MVP of the all overpaid team. The guy's on the hook for $17.8 million in the 2010-2011 season. Somebody might want to give the guy a pep talk. Or maybe just put him in the right position. Wrong position or not, this situation still baffles me to no end. One minute he's putting up insane stat lines of 12 blocks and 7 steals. Now his box score is nothing but 1's and 0's.
Since 1996, Jerry Sloan teams are 5-17 when trailing a playoff series. Those numbers don't lie.
Gonna try and wrap up the opening weekend of the playoffs with some observations, some numbers and some superlatives. If Stephen Jackson has the best line of the night, everyone in attendance will receive a box of ammo.
Cleveland Cavaliers 97, Washington Wizards 82
Antawn Jamison leads all scorers with 28, Larry Hughes has 27, and the Cavs win by 15 points. If it wasn't 80 degrees out, I'd think it was early October. Despite suffering the indignity of being outscored by a teammate for the first time in his playoff career, Lebron James managed to dish out 7 assists. Which leads nicely to our next story...
Phoenix Suns 95, L.A. Lakers 87
Kobe Bryant: 39 pts, 1ast. PASS. THE. BALL. It should be noted that I am a HUGE Kobe Bryant supporter, and 9 times out of 10 I have no issue with the number of shots he takes. But Kobe, there's a reason you had 28 in the first half and 11 in the second: double teams. Watching the last 3 minutes of this game was absolutely painful. Bryant took shot after shot, turn-arounds, baseline fade-aways, deep threes; all with two or more people on him. Jordan Farmar nearly broke a finger clapping his hands together as he was wide open under the basket on one of the Lakers last three possessions only to watch Kobe clang another contested shot. Business as usual for Phoenix, Nash hits double-digits in assists and Leandro Barbosa reminds all the coaches in the league that you have to guard every single player on the Suns.
Denver Nuggets 95, San Antonio Spurs 89
The Nuggets get monster games from AI, Carmelo, and Nene. Iverson and Carmelo combined for 61 and Nene got a working man's double-double with 13 and 12 (8 offensive boards!). Nene was also key in a rare defensive showing from the Nugs that stifled the Spurs offensive game. Duncan, Tony Parker, and Ginobili went a combined 19 for 52. We'll see on Wednesday if Nene and Camby really have Duncan's number and the ability to disrupt the Spurs offense or if San Antonio just let their regular season sleepwalking act spill over into the playoffs.
Golden State Warriors 97, Dallas Mavericks 85
The Warriors get the HUGE upset of the weekend, stunning the Mavericks on their home floor. Our boy SteveJax leads all players (in minutes played) and Baron Davis has his best game in years (33pts, 14reb, 8ast). It was as fast-paced as promised, while not quite as high-scoring due to all around sloppy play. The teams combined for 29 turnovers and Dallas shot a putrid .353 from the floor. For those of you keeping score that's about 11 points off their regular season pace of .467. But the Warriors were the team that hustled their way to the win through all the muck (and the mire. Usually when one is in muck, it's accompanied by mire). Don't think that Dallas will continue to slump like this, but I'm excited to see my boy Baron finally tearing it up in the playoffs; though I would like to forget about the time he left me a voice-mail from my sister's phone when she was visiting a friend in New Orleans.
The Cannon: Baron Davis - 33, 14, and 8. HUGE game in a HUGE upset.
The Silencer: Big Z - 16 points on 4-7 from the field and 8 boards. He'll be important to the Cavs if he can play this effectively throughout the playoffs
The Slingshot: DeShawn Stevenson : 36 min, 9pts, 3-13 from the field. Unless this guy's got Bonzi Wells for an agent, he's gonnna sign that player option for next year.
The numbers for Monday:
Orlando +8 @ Detroit
Utah +5 @ Houston
I have a few rules when picking games and today's games are creating conflict with these rules. First, I hate going to the same well too many times. Thus, picking Houston presents a problem,(picked them correctly on Saturday, what else is new). Also, I HATE picking teams that I think have no shot at winning the game, and so picking Orlando becomes a problem.
Well, like I have told so many girlfriends (usually right before getting hit in the head with a shoe), sometimes you do things even though you know its wrong. So the picks for today are ORLANDO and HOUSTON.
Orlando has no shot at winning this series and probably wont win the game. But Detroit giving 8 is just too many. Detroit has been woefully inconsistent this year, especially against the spread. Though they probably wont win the game, Orlando, or more importantly Dwight Howard, knows they cant go down 0-2 and so Howard will put up a monster game to keep it close. Lock it in right now before word of the pick spreads and the number falls a point or two.
In the other game, I think Houston is hitting its stride and as I predicted on Saturday Utah is going to have no answer for the McGrady/Yao combo. I suggest give the 5, however I would stay up and watch the game because I think its going to be close to the number.
Confidence of Picks: #1)Orlando, #2) Houston (Although what your smelling in the air today is not Spring. Its the sweet smell of a parlay. Take your rent check, lock it in on these two and start packing your bags as you get ready to move up to the penthouse).
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Gonna try and wrap up the opening weekend of the playoffs with some observations, some numbers and some superlatives. If Stephen Jackson has the best line of the night, everyone in attendance will receive a box of ammo.
New Jersey Nets 96, Toronto Raptors 91.
This one wasn't quite this close. The Nets had the game pretty well in hand by the fourth and just had to hold off a late surge by Toronto's feisty Euros (I include Anthony Parker under the Euro blanket) to get the win. Vince Carter's over-hyped playoff debut in Toronto was dud; he scored just 16, shooting 5-19. Chris Bosh led the Raptors with 22 but was largely a non-factor, even having his rebound total DOUBLED by Jason Kidd. Kidd had a classic game, getting 10 boards to go with his 15 assists and involving the team enough that they barely noticed Carters no-show. Kidd was all hustle, getting probably half those rebounds in his normally pesky manner by slapping the ball out of the hands of the Raps big man who grabbed it. Richard Jefferson led the Nets with 28.
Chicago Bulls 96, Miami Heat 91
The Heat should have known they were in trouble when the Diesel has 17 and 5 in the first half and they were still down by three. O'Neal scored just two in the second half and tried to blame the drop off on unfair treatment by the officials. I'm not exactly buying it (and I'm not the only one), I would guess he gassed himself in the first and that attributed to sloppier play in the second. Luol Deng had a big game (32 & 8, .636 from the field) and it seems like hes going to thrive in a series against the only NBA front line to have two forwards suspended for over-eating.
Detroit Pistons 100, Orlando Magic 92
I was just thinking this thing was getting too long and that I should start skipping some games. If you can't beat the Pistons in the first game of the first round, you don't deserve to be written about.
Houston Rockets 84, Utah Jazz 75
McGrady and Yao score 23 and 28 respectively and, much like the Nuggets, the Rockets seem to be finding their stride at the right time. The worst way to counter a team like this? Have one of your starters completely forget how to play basketball. Andrei Kirilenko ended up getting benched, playing only 16 terrible minutes. Carlos Boozer didn't pick up the slack(11 points on 4-17) and a team with two superstars playing their best ball will beat a team with no superstars playing like garbage every time.
The Cannon: Luol Deng - 33pts, 8reb, .636. Staking his claim as the Bull's superstar.
The Silencer: Jason Kidd - 8pts, 10reb, 15ast. All hustle and vision, keeps it moving.
The Slingshot: AK-47 (how ironic) - 16 min, 2pts, 1 foul. Good time to shit the bed.
Chuck's Quote of the Night: "Carlos Boozer played?!?!" (made on Sunday, but relevant)
Early morning update. Sunday's Games will be up by noon. Thanks to everyone who checked us out this weekend and a special thanks to Will at Deadspin for the link Friday afternoon. Tell your friends and use the comments, we'll be here for the next two months.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
#3 San Antonio Spurs vs. #6 Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets should be one of my favorite teams. They have three of my favorite offensive players in Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, and J.R. Smith (I said "my favorite" not "good"). There's a solid interior with Nene and a healty Marcus Camby who played 70 games (if you're keeping score, equal to three of his Knicks seasons). They also have an x-factor in Steve Blake, my step-father's Vince's top MVP candidate. Vin's also a big Troy Murphy fan, so if you know any Hickory High type schools in Indiana looking for an AD drop me a line.
With Anthony and Iverson seemingly starting to click, the Nuggets went 10-1 in April scoring a scorching 108.4ppg. They have been less a basketball team and more a Ferrari Enzo of offense, speeding down the stretch of the season with George Karl playing the part of coked-up maniac Eddie Griffin at the wheel. Unfortunately, and stop me if you see this one coming, the San Antonio Spurs are the big brick wall of fundamentals waiting for them at the end of the road.
Very few teams have every parlayed the wild, run and gun, fast break, defenders streaking around swiping balls and blocking shots routine into a playoff series win against a well-disciplined machine like the Spurs. Tim Duncan is playing his best ball in years, shooting .546 from the field, even exercising his dominance of various non-player personnel (I hear this week in practice alone he's had three janitors, two cheerleaders, and seven concessions workers thrown out).
And the Spurs play offense just as polished and consistently as they do defense. Whereas a comparison between the offense and defense of the Denver Nuggets is like comparing apples and steaming piles of shit, respectively. Apart from Camby's ability to alter shots inside, the Nuggets defense is easier to break down than Kenyon Martin's (insert joint here). The Spurs still have the perimeter players and shooters to pick the Nuggets' defense apart.
Pick: The Nuggets may steal one on the back of an offensive explosion from AI or the only man to ever run away from Nate Robinson while not laughing hysterically, but that's it. Spurs in 5.
The numbers for Saturday's games
New Jersey +4.5 @ Toronto
Miami -4 @ Chicago
Orlando +8.5 @ Detroit
Utah +6 @ Houston
Since most people get paid on Friday, its a good idea to check this site, get the pick and then double your pay check without any work... this always works, I guarantee it. (Guarantees made by this site are in no way actually guarantees and in fact very often turn out to be completely wrong. )
The pick for Saturday is Houston. If you like Big Ten basketball this is the game for you. That is not a compliment for the Big Ten or this series. Many are saying this will be a hard fought series with both teams being well matched. And this is true except for the fact that Houston is better than Utah in pretty much every way. McGrady will raise his game to the next level and Utah has no answer for that. McGrady has all the pressure to get to the next round and he has look like he doesn't care what its going to take to get there. The whole scenario reminds me of Kevin Garnett and the Wolves a few years ago. Also got some inside information that Houston practiced for 2 1/2 hours today and looked flawless. Give the points, watch the game, and smile as you are well on your way to lighting cigars with $20s and having moneys fights with $100s.
We can officially add the multiple Kobe Bryant debates to the ever-increasing list of annoying sports arguments that won't ever go away. Is he better than Jordan? Can he ever be a true team player instead of pure scoring machine? It's like he's NBA version of Michael Vick. The media can't help but debate this guy and his antics, although Vick's antics did give us this gem...
In ESPN the magazine this week, it was the very first question asked in the Stu Scott mailbag, "Stu- What do you think about this 'Kobe being better than Jordan' debate?" Which begs the two following questions: a) Why the hell was I reading this? and b) Who the hell cares what Stu Scott thinks about anything except booty calls to former NFL cheerleaders.?
OK, time to actually PREVIEW this series:
Remember last year when Kobe showed up on the TNT studio show to break down the Suns, amongst other things? The guy actually did a great job. He put Magic and Reggie to shame, in my opinion. And he made Kiki Vandeweghe, Allan Houston and Jamal Mashburn look like a trio of 12 year old girls yapping about the NBA. Then again, that's not all that difficult.
But Kobe's major point was: to beat the Suns, you need to break their collective will defensively. Simply scoring on them does nothing. In fact, sometimes they'd almost RATHER you score just so they can get the ball back quicker. And the best way to achieve this, in Kobe's opinion, was to get HIS guys more involved in the offense, that is, the more a guy scores, the more likely he is to be flying around on defense wreaking havoc.
That being said, the Lakers have no chance. NONE. They're simply bringing a knife to a gun fight, they don't have the horses, I could keep going with these loser cliches but you get the idea.
The Lakers could really use an upgrade at the point guard position. I find myself watching Laker games saying, "Holy shit, Smush Parker really sucks." And I don't think I'm alone on that one. They could really use any guy who kills it out there. Any guy who plays solid, tough D, and can guard the other team's best guard. A guy who's going to hustle for every loose ball and be happy playing a Scottie Pippen-type role to Kobe's Jordan (stay with me, I do have a point). Basically someone like Caron Butler. Imagine if the Wiz would ever bite on a Kwame Brown for Caron Butler trade. Get Mitch Kupchak on the phone. He should get on that. Or maybe he never should've made that exact trade in the first place.
Above everything else, the Suns have to win this in four, five at the absolute most. They totally fucked themselves last year by sleepwalking through the first two games and letting that thing go seven. And after ANOTHER seven gamer against the Clippers, no wonder they were gassed by the time they saw Dallas. The Suns are gonna need every once of energy they have to take down the Spurs and Dallas back to back. They can't be bothered with another dogfight in round 1.
Pick: lock-it-up, Suns in 4. - Absentee post by Team Der
Friday, April 20, 2007
#1 Dallas Mavericks vs. #8 Golden State Warriors
If you're all done ghost-riding your whips now, it's time for a reality check: Golden State will not win this series. Listen Yay Area, no one loves Don Nelson more than me (no homo, Tim Hardaway) and that's exactly why I don't think the Warriors stand a chance. Don Nelson instituted the offensive system that Dallas is using to the tune of 100ppg this year. He basically took the original Golden State three-guard system and replaced one guard (probably you, Sarunas Marciulionis) with a seven-foot tall German who can shoot like a guard; a really, really good guard.
I'm speaking of course of MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki. Why is he an MVP candidate? His team had the best record in the league, put together some historic winning streaks, and basically dominated all but a few teams in the league. Dirk himself had slight drop-offs in the major statistical categories (24.6, 8.9, & 3.4) but had his best year shooting the ball(.502 & .416 from 3). The increase in shooting percentage could probably be attributed to an even further maturation in his game helping him realize how to use the fact that he's a nightmare defensive match-up to get easier shots.
I know the Golden State coaching staff fell asleep when i said "defensive match-up" (someone kick the back of Keith Smart's chair). The fact is Nelson did a great job in honing this team into a shockingly efficient offensive machine, scoring 106.5 ppg. They're a blast to watch, and the one or two games this series that they take it to the Mavs will be some of the most fun basketball of the first round. But Don Nelson is also a nice, old guy. He was happy when the Warriors clinched and has probably been giving the team hard candies and taking them for ice cream at Friendly's since Wednesday night. Meanwhile, Avery Johnson has been the thorn in his entire team's ass, shouting at them in that goddamn voice of his about playing defense. Johnson kept the Mavericks motivated all season until they had the top spot locked up, and I don't see him losing this team now.
Pick: Since Tim Hardaway can't perform the UTEP 2-Step within 500 yards of an NBA game, Mavs in 5.
In far and away the best Eastern Conference first round match-up, the Baby Bulls take on the broken down defending champion Heat.
The Heat are broken down. There is no getting around this. Shaq is Shaq, except hes a year older. Pat Riley had a hip replaced in the middle of the season. Dwayne Wayne has a stronger move to his left than Dwayne Wade right now. The rest of the team is compilation of spare parts. Do the Heat have all the experience in this series? Of course. Is experience another way for saying old age? Of course.
The Bulls however, have none of the experience, and all the athleticism. The Bulls have no superstars, save Ben Wallace, who is only a superstar because he was underrated for so long somehow that turned into him being overrated and getting 60 million to do the same thing as Tyson Chandler did last season. And while the Bulls don't have any superstars, here's what the do have; Kirk Hinrich (good), Ben Gordon(good), Luol Deng (good), Andre Nocioni (good), Chris Duhon (good), and Malik Allen (well not good but he went to Villanova, so he should get written about by someone). Plus 12 fouls to throw at Shaq in Ben Wallace and PJ Brown. The play of Luol Deng (18, 7.2, 2) will probably be the key to the series, as Miami has no one to match up with him. In fact '07 Playoffs may be the coming out party for Deng and will justify why the Bulls were unwilling to package him in any deal at the trade deadline.
The other key to the series, and maybe the Eastern Conference playoffs, will be the shoulder of Dwayne Wade. This series, however, is a bad match-up for that shoulder. The Bulls run more pick and rolls than any other team in the East. With Hinrich running the point and the bodies the Bulls have to throw at Wade, the Bulls have the ability to make Wade's shoulder a consistent aggravation at both ends of the floor.
#3 Toronto Raptors vs. #6 New Jersey Nets
As you can see in the attached picture, way back a prophetic Vince Carter told a ten year-old Lebron James that he would see him in the second round of the 2007 playoffs. But even Vince
couldn't have foreseen the grudge match he'd get in the first round. At the end of the Net's final regular season game when this match-up was solidified, Vince was asked about any bad blood
between him and the Toronto Raptors and categorically denied any on his part. However, it looks like Dave D'Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger blew up his spot (with some help from Nets 16th man Antoine Wright):
A bunch of guys said yesterday that(the match-up with the Raptors) is precisely what he wants (Antoine: "He's up for it. I don't think there's any doubt about it. He wants it")
Given Vince's supposed knack for turning it on/off, is it any surprise he's registered three triple-doubles since Gilbert Arenas went down and the likelihood of catching the Wizards increased? It would seem that if anyone is going to show up (paging Richard Jefferson), it's going to be Vince.
But even with Jefferson shooting a combined 24 for 69 (.348 !!!!!) over the last five games, the offense won't be the big issue. The loss of Nenad Kristic, their only real interior defensive presence, hit this team HARD on the defensive end. For the 2005-6 regular season they allowed a fairly stingy 92.4ppg . This year, the average is up to 98.3. This could pose a significant problem against a Toronto team that ranked 5th in the East in ppg.
The other problem the Nets face on defense is CB4, or as I refer to him, Chris FUCKING Bosh. This guy is an animal(no Imus) and gets traditional big-man numbers (22.6, 10.7, 1.3 blocks). But he is an athletic, lengthy guy who plays away from the basket as well. Just like the guy who would be guarding him, Kristic. Instead, the Nets with be forced to go with the Twenty-Four Foul Special of Jason Collins, Josh Boone, Mikki Moore, and Clifford the Big Red Dog. And even then, they're looking at a 78% free-throw shooter in Bosh. Ouch.
Pick: Cb4 gives the Nets the sweat from his balls in 7.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
One of a few rematchs of great series from the 2006 playoffs. Who can forget Gilbert Arenas banging home tape measure threes to keep the Wizards alive? Who doesn't remember Lebron James' taunts before Gilbert's crucial free throws in the waning moments of the series? Well hold on tight to those memories, because this series is gonna stink.
Everyone's read about Caron Butler's hope to be ready to go for the second round. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there isn't going to be a second round for the Wizards. Like they say, "don't hit the messenger in the jaw with your heavily tattooed, but brittle, hand." Caron shouldn't feel responsible though, because even if he had been ready for the first round it would have most likely been a long shot that they advanced without Arenas anyway. He's far too integral a piece on this team, averaging 28.4ppg, for them to realistically hope to advance against the Cavs. They're just lucky he hurt himself on Wednesday April 4 rather than Sunday Feb 18th, which will forever be remember as the day Gilbert went between his legs off a trampoline (as well as the day I didn't get out of bed in my Las Vegas hotel room). Otherwise, the Wizards probably wouldn't be here at all.
#1 Detroit Pistons vs. #8 Orlando Magic
This one could be ugly. Even putting aside the obvious differences in talent, experience, and coaching; these are two teams headed in opposite directions. Orlando jumped out to a 12-4 start in November on the back of the first of Dwight Howard's 60 double-double's for the season (23 and 24 ?!?!?). But, much like the Kansas City Royals or Milwaukee Brewers or whatever shitty baseball team jumped out to a 6-3 start this season, this magical (hilarious) season couldn't last. Howard's a beast, but without any legitimate shooting guards on the team (Jameer Nelson led all Magic guards with 13.0ppg) he was fighting off double and triple teams all season. This led to an awful 18-23 record in the second half. While they've won six of their last seven, five of these wins came against teams either actively trying to lose or not trying to win. In fact, their only loss during this stretch came at the hands of, you guessed it, the Detroit Pistons.
On the other hand, the Pistons went 29-12 in the second half and made arguably the best pick-up of the season in Chris Webber. Now if I had millions of dollars and Webber's weed habits (I guess I have at least one of these), I would have spent the rest of the season on the couch with a PS3 and a 25 pound bag of gummy bears. But Webber saw this as inspiration to revitalize his game. I would argue it had as much to do with the Piston's system as it did with any sort of revelation on Webber's part. Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince in particular are adept at cutting to the basket and making the most of Webber's passing out of the post, and Billups is always there to provide an option off the dribble to mix things up. Plus, worst-case scenario, if the Pistons are down three with a second to go, Sheed could always do this:
Pick: Unless I missed the news and they moved the Cannabis Cup to Detroit this weekend, Pistons in 4