Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Yes, this classic NBA commercial starring Rick Barry and Larry Bird lacks the slick digital effects and fast-paced, heart-stopping drama of Steve Nash's latest spot. But that doesn't make it any less awesome. In fact, it might be better. Larry Legend in Cliff Engle is really quite captivating.
(via Empty The Bench)�
Behind the boxscore, where CP3 is doing some legendary stuff
All three winners did what they were supposed to do.�
Predictions (I had each of Tuesday's losers moving on the second round), assumptions, and leanings aside; this is what we'd tell ourselves if this were any other year. If Tuesday night featured a triptych of lopsided pairings with an overbearing host taking down the underdog in an obvious fashion, as it was in any other season, we'd be stifling a yawn. Of course the home team is supposed to win out.
Seriously, let's just go with that old timey assumption for now. Pretend that it's any other year. Let's not bust out the shovel, just yet.
This wasn't even a quick game. 91 possessions, and yet the Hornets still put up 127 points. This means that, defensively, Dallas probably had the worst game of its season. In the playoffs. Good timing, gents.
Everything, EVERYTHING, failed for the Mavs defensively on Tuesday. Trapping Chris Paul well behind or within the three-point line (when has trapping a point guard in the NBA ever worked?) led to easy and open shots for Paul's teammates, Tyson Chandler was a beast on both ends once again, and Peja Stojakovic was taking and making tough shots all night.
32 points, 17 assists, five rebounds, three turnovers, and three steals for Paul. In a 91-possession game. I don't know how things will turn out, some 15 years from now, but it's quite possible we might have a "best ever" on our hands. Chortle all you want at that.
The most entertaining game of the evening by far, the Magic ran out to an early lead mainly because the Raptors could not contain Orlando on the perimeter, and a helping Rasho Nesterovic continually forgot that he was charged with guarding someone who is not human.
Toronto came back, however. When Jose Calderon picked up a third first half foul, the Raptors went to a zone defense, which flummoxed the Magic (as it has all year, for some reason) to the point where we had a nip and tuck game down the stretch.
With Dwight Howard scaring everyone, Hedo Turkoglu pulled off some late-game heroics, Chris Bosh couldn't respond (for whatever reason, I'll let you battle it out in the comment section), and the Magic squeaked out a win. Jose also picked up his second turnover in the month of April, to 71 assists.
Dwight Howard: 29 points, 20 rebounds, three blocks, just three turnovers. Ridiculous. Tell your friends what they're missing.
Most of what you'd want to hear from me is contained in this BDL Liveblog, save for my shock and horror at what is a scary-good Spurs team on the defensive end.
Holding the Suns to 99 points per 100 possessions is one thing, but 11 points in the third quarter? The Suns? Barely credible, even knowing San Antonio's history. Brilliant play from the defending champs.
The Phoenix bench is miserable. Leo Barbosa was scoreless in nearly 24 minutes, and while Boris Diaw made half of his eight shots, the four he missed came on the low block against Tony Parker, who you could throw a jump hook over. Pathetic. Meanwhile, Grant Hill is D-U-N, done.
Each of the three losers has a solid chance of tying things up and making life a best of three by the end of the weekend, but it will have to come against a trio of teams that is playing the best basketball of its respective seasons.
The Internets are alive: Raptors at Magic, Game 2
Scanning the blogs and beats following the Magic's 104-103 win over the Raptors in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals ...
Arsenalist: This one falls on Sam Mitchell. What is Mitchell's job? His job is supposed to be to use his basketball intellect to our advantage in these situations by drawing up a play that is likely to create a good shot, not a 20 footer for a power forward who's clearly winded after playing practically the entire game. Giving him the ball beyond the key and asking him to do a Kobe impersonation is unfair and setting him up to fail. When was the last time Amare Stoudamire, Dwight Howard or even the great Tim Duncan were given the ball on an isolation play 20 feet from the rim with 5 seconds left? If that’s the "play" you're going to call, there's not even a need for a timeout, just come out and freestyle like you've been doing all year, at least you'll catch the defense somewhat off-guard.
Ken Hornack, Daytona Beach: Bosh bounced back from a subpar showing in Game 1 on Sunday. While he finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds, only six of those points came after halftime. Of his missed jump shot in the closing seconds, he said, "I knew he (Howard) was going to back up. I knew I was going to have space. The time before, I drove to the basket and I didn't get a call. So I didn't want to put it in the referee's hands." ... "That's Chris' shot," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "He works on that shot every day. I have no problem (with that)."
Raptors Den: The story for the Raptors down the stretch was that Chris Bosh did not come up big, as the ball was in his hands three times in the final 45 seconds with Toronto trailing by only one.� What does he do? He turns the ball over to Keith Bogans after grabbing a rebound on the defensive end in possession one.� Possession two: Dwight Howard blocks his shot in the lane.� Possession three: (After a Carlos Delfino layup paired with a Keyon Dooling offensive foul gave the Raptors a chance to tie the series with 9.6 seconds to go) He misses yet again, this time off the mark from the top of the key.
Mike Ganter, Toronto Sun: Head coach Sam Mitchell announced that he will make a change in his starting lineup but refused to identify the change other than to tell a reporter, "You watched the game so use some common sense." One likely casualty is point guard T.J. Ford who, in the first two games of the series, now is 2-for-17 from the field and is being vastly outplayed by counterpart Jameer Nelson.
Bruce Arthur, National Post: Jason Kapono shot and competed like a $24-million player. Carlos Delfino played well, too. And both of them are better options than the 7-foot question mark. With Bargnani on the floor to start the game — and to be fair, with his teammates losing their damned minds under the pressure, again — Toronto was outscored 23-8, with a free throw pending. They can't afford that.
Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel: While it might sound simple, the difference so far is that the Magic have Howard and the Raptors do not. They have a roster that resembles the United Nations with so many foreign players, but they also don't have Hedo Turkoglu, whose star is stretching from Orlando to his native Turkey.
John Denton, Florida Today: Emotions flared late in the second quarter when Turkoglu shoved Bosh hard to the floor on a breakaway layup. Turkoglu actually got one hand on the ball, but also shoved Bosh, causing him to hit the floor hard. Turkoglu, who exchanged words with Toronto coach Sam Mitchell, was whistled for a Flagrant 1 foul on the play. A Flagrant 2 foul would have resulted in an automatic ejection.
Games to pay attention to: Detroit's attention sparks ... eventually
Philadelphia at Detroit, Game 2
If we're dealing with a typical NBA team, reeling from what should be an embarrassing Game 1 loss at the hands of a team much, much lower on the talent totem poll, then you could probably pencil in an 89-point win for the Pistons tonight.
Sadly, we're not dealing with a typical NBA team. We're dealing with the Detroit Pistons, who could lose tonight and in Game 3 and then take a 19-point deficit into the fourth quarter of Game 4 before flipping that switch and starting a championship run. Or, they could lose out.
Usually this sort of unpredictability makes for a fascinating watch - who knew that the Hornets would be this good this soon, and where is Toronto/Orlando headed? - but Detroit's pell-mell nature is born of lethargy and elitism, two disturbing qualities for a supposedly blue-collar bunch.
Philly is a machine, not unlike the Chicago Bulls of recent years. They don't let much bother them, they look to get to the front of the rim and rarely get shook by large deficits. It's a credit to a coaching staff that had the guts to go with a younger rotation even when jobs for said coaching staff were on the line.
I would bank on the blowout win for Detroit tonight, but I've long looked a fool for expecting the Pistons to act their age, and the 76ers to fall off the face of the NBA world, so this is a pretty pointless bank.
Atlanta should feel more comfortable on the playoff stage tonight, in the midst of a rather anonymous Wednesday night game on NBA TV, the defense should get a little better, and more shots should fall. The Hawks will play better. Count on it.
Boston by 112.
The Lakers still have plenty of holes, though Phil Jackson has done a masterful job of making his team look damn near invincible all season, but they can be beaten.
The team is one of the league's best defensively, but poor effort stretched out over a quarter and a half can put Los Angeles behind the eight-ball. Something I'm sure that some of the team's season-ticket holders are used to.
On top of that, the Nuggets aren't the Hawks (fascinating insight, I know). Denver is a solid team that was built with championship aspirations. They can steal a win. They will have better spacing and work better on the boards with Linas Kleiza in the lineup, and they can play 48 minutes of stupid basketball and pull out the win. That cannot be discounted - bad perimeter shots and lunges for steals can be enough.
It's a one in ten chance, but there is a chance. All in all, this should still make for the best watch of the night.
The Internets are alive: Suns at Spurs, Game 2
Scanning the blogs and beats following the Spurs' 102-96 comeback win over the Suns in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals ...
Scott Bordow, East Valley Tribune: Until the Phoenix Suns actually, you know, beat the San Antonio Spurs, can we stop all the nonsense we’ve heard the last few weeks? Like how Phoenix finally had San Antonio’s number after going 3-1 against the Spurs in the regular season. Or how Shaquille O’Neal was the antidote for Tim Duncan? And this quote, from coach Mike D’Antoni: "I think we’re the better team. Now we just have to go out and prove it." Oh, the Suns have proven something. They’re still inferior to the Spurs.
Paul Coro, Arizona Republic: The Suns were supposed to be the deeper, more balanced squad in this series. The theory is that if the Suns could do a manageable job on the Spurs' "Big Three," keeping at least one from a heavy impact, the Spurs could not score with the Suns. But with Grant Hill's injury and Leandro Barbosa's ineffectiveness against the Spurs, the Suns looked like the team struggling to find some weapons.
Mike Monroe, SA Express-News: With possession to start the second half because the Suns had won the opening tip, the Spurs got into the set immediately and worked it to perfection. Finley came off a pindown on the baseline for a wide-open 15-footer that hit nothing but net. After Kurt Thomas rebounded a Shaquille O'Neal miss, the Spurs ran a second play for Finley. This time he nailed a 20-footer from the right baseline. Suddenly, the Suns' defense had another shooter to be concerned about, and the Spurs had another option.
Buck Harvey, SA Express-News: ... with the Suns in the lead, with Nash on the floor, with the two-time MVP in control, the Suns came apart and spit up another chance. ... [But] Nash won't get blamed the way, say, Tracy McGrady does. Nash is small and Canadian and a nice guy. ... Afterward Mike D'Antoni said, "We looked like we panicked," and the "we" is the responsibility of the point guard. A veteran such as Nash, a great player such as Nash, is supposed to assume control in these tense playoff moments.
Jerry Brown, East Valley Tribune: Popovich went to his Hack-A-Shaq card late in the third quarter, when he had O’Neal fouled on three straight possessions. The third foul was almost comical, as O’Neal tried to elude the grasp of Brent Barry. O’Neal, however, made Popovich pay for the fouls, sinking five of six free throws in a 48-second stretch. "The results were not mixed at all," Popovich said. "He made the strategy look really stupid."
Bright Side of the Sun: This just in. The Spurs are officially the best rope-a-dope team in the NBA ever. They do it during the season. They've done it in the past two games with the Suns. There was Amare on fire in the first half. Almost nothing in the second half. He got rope-a-doped. You can complain all you want about the Suns folding, players disappearing, real or imaginary coaching mistakes, but a lot of comes down to that the Spurs are always a lot tougher than they look.
Mike Finger, SA Express-News: It was far-fetched enough to think these Suns — these Suns who have lost 14 of 18 playoff games to the Spurs, and who have lost those games in every way imaginable — could beat their nemesis in four games out of seven. But to win four out of five? After the punches to the gut the Spurs delivered them in consecutive games at the AT&T Center? Steve Kerr might as well try to trade for Bill Russell and see how that helps him.
The Internets are alive: Mavs at Hornets, Game 2
Scanning the blogs and beats following the Hornets' 127-103 win over the Mavericks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals ...
John DeShazier, Times-Picayune: The Hornets took whatever adjustments the Mavericks allegedly made after being undressed in Game 1, and they made Dallas look even more helpless in Game 2. Chris Paul followed a performance for the ages — the first player to debut with a 35-point, 10-assist game in the playoffs — with one that, arguably, was even better: 32 points and a franchise-playoff-record 17 assists. The Mavericks aren't in trouble. They're out of options, seemingly with no clue of what to do with New Orleans.
Showboating: I want to say that the Mavericks need to figure out how they are going to stop Chris Paul in Game 3, but I think now the Mavericks are beyond the point of being able to stop him. They went both small and big against him, even putting the 6'8" Devean George on him at one point, with little success. The Mavs were supposed to try to tire him out by making him play defense, but that clearly was not the case. Jason Kidd was able to back him down in the low post and find the cutter for layups on a few possessions, but that was about as hard as Paul had to work on defense all day.
Hornets247.com: As a team, the Hornets shot 60.8% for the game. For the game! Has that ever happened in the Playoffs before? There will probably be a lot of Mavs fans saying that the Hornets were just on fire, kinda like the Warriors last season. I'll agree with that to an extent, because guys like Mo Pete and Jannero Pargo were nailing shots that they often brick. However, methinks the Hornets great spacing and excellent ball movement also had a lot to do with the high shooting percentage. David West in particular seemed to get a bunch of wide open looks because the Mavs were sending big men out to help on CP. The Hornets also ran the ball pretty good, getting 29 points on the break compared to 13 for the Mavs. That didn't hurt the shooting percentage.
At The Hive: Untrappable. [That was] the thing everybody was talking about pre-game — Avery Johnson’s plan to trap CP a lot more in Game 2. A lot of that trapping happened in the first quarter, but Paul escaped virtually every single one via a quick spin move or fancy dribbling. I was somewhat surprised that Avery didn’t go the trap in later quarters, but with Paul passing out of it deftly, what else was he supposed to do? In the end, CP made sure that the trap hurt the Mavericks more than it hurt the Hornets.
Jeff Caplan, Star-Telegram: Mavs coach Avery Johnson, wearing his 1999 Spurs championship ring, seemed to counter each defensive adjustment he suggested after the game with how difficult Paul’s ability makes it to enforce those adjustments. "We've got to do a better job of trying to deny him the ball, but at the same, time he’s pretty quick," Johnson said. "The easiest thing to do for our guards is just deny him the ball. Just because you try to deny him the ball, he’s not going to stop and give in. He's very strong-minded and tough, and he’s quick to the ball."
Peter Finney, Times-Picayune: "Sitting there watching Chris develop into the best point guard in the league is amazing," [Byron] Scott said. "He's lifted his game to another level in the playoffs. That's what great players do. He's definitely one of the best in the league right now." Is there a way to defend him? "I'm sure there is," said Paul, smiling. "One thing I learned this season is you have to be aggressive. If I just sit back and let them trap me, then they've succeeded in what they're trying to do. So I have to pick my spots and let the other guys go for it."
Mike Fisher, Dallas Basketball: It can be argued that there is plenty of blame to go around. Does Dallas have the wrong coach, the wrong scheme, the wrong players? Is chemistry overrated, is experience overrated, is Jason Kidd (barely a whisper in the boxscore) overrated, is this team’s talent overrated by its architects, is it just somebody else’s time?
David Moore, Dallas Morning News: The Mavericks hope their experience will make a difference now that the series moves to American Airlines Center. But the way this series has begun, experience appears to be nothing more than a code word for old. Maybe the club can fly noted curmudgeon Wilford Brimley in for Game 3 to whip the crowd into a frenzy and pass out Quaker Oats for every 60-point half the Mavericks allow. They better have plenty of oats on hand.
FireAvery.com: It seems pretty obvious to me that Avery has completely lost this team. Nothing he says seems to have any effect on them. For the past three days Avery has said that they have to play better defense and then they come out with this type of performance. On TNT they showed a bit of Avery’s speech in the locker room. He ended by saying "Let's score about 10 points in the paint to start this quarter." The first basket of the quarter by the Mavs? A 16 foot jumper by Dirk.
Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News: Only 12 times in NBA history has a team come back from a 2-0 hole to win a best-of-7 series. On the bright side, the Mavericks did it against Houston in 2005 after dropping two games at American Airlines Center in the first-round series. Also, the Hornets haven't won a game in Dallas since Jan. 24, 1998. But these are different bees. They sting hard.
Texas guards Augustin, Abrams declare for draft
Texas sophomore point guard D.J. Augustin will declare for the NBA draft and forgo his final two seasons of eligibility.
The Suns lost again and are down 0-2 to the Spurs. Mark Kriegel says Steve Nash's legacy could be on the line in these playoffs.
Spurs rally past Suns
Michael Finley talks to FSN after San Antonio's 102-96 playoff win over Phoenix. Finley helped key a third-quarter rally that gave the Spurs a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Visit ESPN.com for the complete story.
ESPN.com has launched many new basketball widgets that offer scores, stats, and news
No suspension for Wiz's Haywood on LeBron foul
Washington Wizards center Brendan Haywood was so steamed over his lack of playing time in last year's playoffs series against the Cleveland Cavaliers that he left the court before the final game was over and removed the nameplate above his locker.
Report: Isiah barred from talking to Knicks players
Former Knicks coach Isiah Thomas has reportedfly been banned from having any contact with members of the team as part of his reassignment agreement with team president Donnie Walsh.
Celts' Garnett named NBA's top defensive player
Boston's Kevin Garnett won the NBA's defensive player of the year award Tuesday. He beat out Denver's Marcus Camby and Houston's Shane Battier.
Mississippi St. guard Gordon to enter NBA draft
Mississippi State point guard Jamont Gordon has decided to turn pro but won't hire an agent before the NBA draft.
Monday, April 21, 2008
EJ takes the crew on a fishing trip.
Steal of the Night: Thaddeus Young
Watch Thaddeus Young follow up his own steal with the slam on the other end as the Sixers upset the Pistons in Game 1 on Sunday.
Top 5 of Inside # 3: Detroit vs. Sixers Gm 1
The guys discuss Detroit's lack of focus and poor play over the Sixers in game 1.
Hawks-Celtics Post-Game Presser
Watch as Hawks and Celtics players and coaches address the media in their post-game press conference.
Behind the boxscore, where Detroit disappoints
Philadelphia 90, Detroit 86�
I'm not going to shovel dirt on the Pistons because a giggly Rasheed Wallace had the wrong angle and blew a short bank jumper. Detroit could win out, sweep in the next round, dispatch the Celtics and the Western champ after that and I wouldn't be surprised. Neither should you. This team is that good.
But all the signs are there. They were there while the Pistons were trashing the Bucks in the first round back in 2006. They were around even as Orlando barely gave Detroit a problem in the first round last year. The results barely matter - but the attitude and style of play does. Something within the Pistons was lacking even in those two first round wins, and whatever it was revealed itself as they lost in the conference finals both years.
Something was lacking yesterday, and you saw what happened. 0-1. To the Sixers, man. To a team that should have woken Detroit up with this game, a close loss for the Pistons that actually saw Detroit play its starters, work for the win, and ultimately fall short. Don't let them tell you differently - Detroit tried in that game, and lost.
They tried for parts of this loss, but Philadelphia tried for 48 minutes. Simple as that. Reggie Evans (who, all season long, has been in incredible shape) offered 11 points and 14 rebounds off the bench, great help defense (his major failing with the Nuggets in years past), while Willie Green continued his very un-Willie Green-like play with 17 points on 11 shots with just one turnover.
Again, Detroit could romp from here until the end of June. But the signs, the same things that popped up even as the wins piled up against Milwaukee and Orlando in 2005 and 2006, the signs are there. Bummer. This team should be trying to get to the Finals for the fourth straight season, and they might not even make the second round this year.
T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon combined to play exactly 48 minutes, dished 14 assists, and turned the ball over exactly zero times. That's remarkable. That doesn't happen a lot - maybe once or twice a year for even a good team with a great point guard and good backup - and there's a reason why I'm bringing it up. That's an accomplishment.
Also, the duo's inability to finish on jumpers, lay-ins, and chippies cost Toronto the game. Yeah, Toronto's defense was crummy early on, the team should have been quicker to recognize Dwight Howard's (25 points, 22 rebounds, five blocks, not fair) rhythm, Chris Bosh should have been smarter with his fouls, and Orlando hit some tough shots - but if Ford and Jose don't miss 16 of 20 shots, Toronto is right there.
Orlando won't shoot that well from long range again, but Rashard Lewis (who, I was told yesterday, is nigh on unstoppable in the latest version of NBA Live) will make up for Maurice Evans and Jameer Nelson's drop-off with improved play of his own. Orlando has it in them to make the Finals, and Toronto's only hope is what allowed them to down the Magic in years past: the Raptors have matchup advantages and are able to dominate the guard pairings.
Toronto isn't going to beat the Magic based off ability alone. The Raptors are going to have to run plays that the Magic, despite their best efforts, cannot stop. If that sounds annoyingly simple, then I apologize, but Toronto's pick and roll can down Orlando in four straight.
We knew it going in, the Nuggets played right up to stereotype, and lost a game they could have had.
Denver cannot win by trying to trump the Lakers offensively. Denver isn't good enough offensively. They have a batch of names that you recognize as being only worth a lick on the offensive end, but at the end of a game (in spite of 114 points), Denver isn't good enough offensively to hang with the Lakers, Suns, or Mavericks. They aren't efficient enough.
I didn't see this game with the volume on, so I don't know how much the ABC crew focused on the Kenyon Martin-guarding- Kobe Bryant sideshow, and it's a typical George Karl move. If it works, he's a genius. If it doesn't, the defender in question gets to play the martyr: "I thought Kenyon worked hard. Kobe is Kobe. Blah blah blah. Excuses, excuses. I wear funny ties."
You know what? I'd work hard guarding Kobe. You'd work hard guarding Kobe. We'd rise to the occasion, move our feet, and try to shut the guy down. It doesn't mean you let us guard Kobe.
Karl's done this before. Even with all-world defender Gary Payton on his team, he put Detlef Schrempf on Michael Jordan for the first three games of the 1996 NBA Finals, and the results were what you'd expect. Karl claimed that he didn't want Payton worn down on offense from all the effort it took to guard MJ. Fine. You know what? Let Detlef handle the shooting. Let Shawn Kemp shoot a little more. Let Hersey Hawkins bring the ball up. Sic GP on MJ.
These Nuggets don't have a GP, and J.R. Smith fouled out, but you can do a little better than Kenyon Martin.
Pau Gasol (36 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks) likes to finish, Kobe was Kobe (32 points after a slow start), and Lamar Odom had a terrific and active all-around game (17 points, 14 rebounds, six assists). The Lakers are hot stuff right now.
Boston held the Hawks to a pro-rated 94 points in a hundred possessions, and it's only going to get better from here on out. This is a Celtic team that was essentially resting for the bulk of March and April, they haven't played since Wednesday, they haven't played big minutes together in weeks, and they were still solid enough to come out and dominate defensively in spite of the extended break.
The Hawks will improve as well, and might carry a lead through the first half of Game 2, but it won't be nearly enough to make up for a Celtic team that the rest of the NBA should be scared witless about. �
Kevin Garnett, first playoff win in four years. Feels good, don't it?
NBA TV Daily: April 20
Check out all the highlights from Sunday's playoff action, including Philadelphia stunning Detroit in Game 1.
Check out Lamar Odom polishing off the give-and-go from Luke Walton on Sunday as the Lakers won their series opener vs. the Nuggets.
Nuggets-Lakers Post-Game Presser
Watch as Nuggets and Lakers players and coaches address the media in their post-game press conference.
The List: Top 10 Storylines of the Week
Check out the most significant storylines of the past week, including the New Orleans Hornets clinching a division title and Jason Kidd's 100th triple-double.
Post-Game Presser: Pierce and Garnett
Watch as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett address the press after the Hawks-Celtics game Sunday.
Hawks-Celtics Post-Game Presser
Watch as Hawks and Celtics players and coaches address the media in their post-game press conference.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
CP3 stars in first ever playoff game
Chris Paul, welcome to "The Show." In his first playoff game, Paul put up 35 points and 10 assists as the Hornets rallied past the Mavs.
Duncan, Spurs top Suns in 2OT
Paul powers Hornets' rally past Mavs in Game 1
Friday, April 18, 2008
Boston vs. Atlanta — Game 1, Sunday (8:30p EDT)
Kelly Dwyer: This shouldn’t be an issue for Boston, it’s hard to beat any pro team four times in a week, but a sweep would not be a surprise.
Boston’s reserves toppled Atlanta’s starters in a game earlier this month, Sam I Am came through with the cojones rumble after nailing an 16-footer on the left side of the court to close the win, and the Hawks just won’t have enough to take a game unless somebody gets really, really hot.
And, now that Shelden Williams is out of Atlanta, nobody’s going to do that. Pity.
What would warm my heart would be a few 28-point wins for the C’s. It’s not that I want to see Atlanta trashed beyond belief, but I would like Boston warm up after a second half of the season that they basically took off. This isn’t to say that I didn’t like them taking it easy, I was pining for fewer minutes for Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, et al back in December, and hopefully the rest did this (what could be a) legendary bunch good.
A few 100-72 wins against the Hawks would lead me to believe that we’re in store for a classic Eastern Conference final against the Pistons. Or, should Detroit falter, a classic Finals pairing against whatever team comes out of the West. The C’s need to perk up, especially if Washington shows up in the second round.
Celtics in two.
J.E. Skeets: I’m going to use a lot less words to run through these series previews because everything that needs to be said has already been said, and chances are you just read it above. So, instead, I'll force a few bad jokes, give you my prediction and we’ll call it a day. It's patio weather in Toronto this afternoon, and my pasty white skin could really use the sun. (My pasty white skin could also go for a beer.)
This series is going to be a massacre if you consider the broom a dangerous weapon in combat. Boston is too focused on the defensive end of the floor to fall asleep and let Joe Johnson or Mike Bibby steal a game late in fourth. It's not going to happen. It can't happen.
Celtics in four. Big yawn.
Detroit vs. Philadelphia — Game 1, Sunday (6:00p EDT)
KD: Philadelphia can win this series, and on the flip side of that, Detroit can win the NBA Finals in five games against any Western team. As it’s always been, the onus is on the Pistons.
Philly makes its hay by getting to the front of the rim, and daring you stop them. Dunk after lay-in after alley-oop after reverse after which the score is 89-74 all of the sudden and you don’t feel like coming back. The trick for Detroit is to care, and that’s been tricky for this bunch for about two years now.
With the Pistons, I’m scared that the team’s formidable bench could lead them to a win, without the starters having to play well. It would essentially be an extension of the regular season, and it would essentially end the team’s season, because you essentially know certain guys on this team who are nicknamed “Roscoe” much prefer waiving a towel and exhorting the youngsters to taking the opposing team’s power forward to the low block.
It’s not that the Pistons are lazy. It’s just that didn’t mind losing and making excuses while throwing the Eastern Conference title away in 2006 and 2007. You could tell in both of those years during first round wins (against Milwaukee and Orlando, respectively) that the Pistons weren’t up to the task, and I’m hoping to see better signs this time around.
Pistons in five.
JE: Everyone keeps telling me that the Sixers are a scary first-round match-up even though they’re a sub-.500 team that messed up the sheets over the final week of the regular season. Everyone also keeps telling me how great I look in skinny jeans. Everyone is lying to me.
Yes, yes, the Sixers beat the Pistons twice this season, including once in the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Sixers won the glass and the Pistons turned the ball over in each game. Well let me tell you something in a very strict voice: Rebounding takes effort, and controlling the ball takes focus. The Pistons’ starters couldn’t care less for those two white board words — effort and focus — late in the regular season. They do, and will, in mid-April.
Pistons in five.
Orlando vs. Toronto — Game 1, Sunday (12:30p EDT)
KD: To hear some pundits refer to the Cavs/Wizards pairing as the only interesting duel in the East’s first round was a bit infuriating, because this bad boy is going to be a battle.
Orlando is a damn good team, but Toronto has historically matched up well against the Magic, and taken them apart over the last few years. It doesn’t mean that the Raptors are any better, but they have the right parts and Orlando’s laughably-bad bench won’t be able to make up for the matchup issues Toronto creates.
The Magic will have their chances. If Rashard Lewis works his way into 20 shots, or if the point guard/Dwight Howard troika doesn’t turn the ball over much, then the Raptors will have a tough series on their hands. But that hasn’t been the case all season, even while the Magic won heaps of games. Lewis has been willing to float, and Chris Bosh might average 30 in this series.
Still, these guys know each other. Since the 2005-06 season, both of these teams have put forth spirited, standout efforts against each other, and it’ll make for a fun watch.
Raptors in six.
JE: A solid match-up in Toronto's favor for two key reasons:
1) Contrary to what Kenny Smith tells you, the Raps' point guard play is much better than the Magic’s duo of Jameer Nelson and Carlos Arroyo. In fact, my ninth sense tells me that T.J. Ford’s clutch scoring will single-handedly win the Raps a game in this series, while Jose Calderon’s steady leadership won’t (specifically) cost them any. (My ninth sense is called obvious.)
2) The Magic don’t have the services of an elite, scoring two-guard. (Sorry, Redick.) As hard as Anthony Parker gets at it on the defensive end, high-volume scorers usually destroy him. It’s painful to watch. And while Keith Bogans has been known to hit the open three in the corner, he’s not going to change a series. This individual match-up will hopefully give AP a little more energy on the offensive side of the ball.
With that said, there is no doubt (even in my homer mind) that Sam Micthell will be out-coached by Stan Van Gundy at some point over a long, seven game series. That mustache is wise.
Magic in seven. (Reverse-jinx!)
Cleveland at Washington — Game 1, Saturday (12:30p EDT)
KD: Cleveland just never got it right this season.
Last year, they took advantage of an easy bracket in the first two rounds, a mopey Piston team, and one stand-out game from LeBron James to make it to the Finals. The hallmarks were defense, LeBron going for 35, and a bit more defense.
This year, LeBron went for 35 quite a bit, but the defense let up. And then the team made a trade, bringing in Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, and Delonte West; ostensibly to aid that pitiful offense. Then the offense let up. And the defense hadn’t exactly returned at this point. And the team never settled on a rotation or a starting lineup, while limping toward the end of the season.
Meanwhile, the Wizards have proven themselves all year, without Gilbert Arenas, without Caron Butler … and now they have both back. The only obstacle?
A motivated LeBron. This is pro basketball, cats and kittens, and one man can down an entire team. It won’t be easy, but LeBron can do it if he attacks the defensive boards and starts a one-man break on his own. He has to do his damage before the defense can hone in on him while ignoring the rest of his ignoble teammates. It’s the only way Cleveland can survive.
I don’t know if LeBron, too beholden (for whatever reason) to his play-calling coaching staff at this point, will pull it off.�
Wizards in six.
Skeets: I couldn’t agree more with KD.
Wait, yes I could.
Wizards in five.
Too much Rod Benson: Creating my virtual self
Sports video games, like The Matrix in a way, are always a little different from real life because they follow sets of rules. When I play Madden, I know that if Junior Seau comes after Tony Romo, Romo's 82 SPEED will help him escape. Seau may track him down in real life, but he will never catch Romo in the game.
Basketball video games are similar. I'm not talking about the old school games like Double Dribble (the most fun a seven-year-old can have in 1991) or NBA Jam. I'm talking about the new hotness NBA 2K8. Baron Davis and his 99 CLOSE and 99 LAYUP ratings mean that he is guaranteed buckets inside of ten feet. Seriously, it's impossible to get him to miss anything inside no matter how well contested his attempt may be.
I bring this up because my teammate Renaldo Major just entered a code on his PS2 that unlocked many things. Among them was a D-League All-Star team. I couldn't believe that there was really a D-League team on that bad boy. It got me to thinking that it would be funny if there were a whole D-League game complete with ratings. I remember when I was in college I had a "99 INS SCR" which I think meant inside scoring, but I have never been fully sure.
Well, it got me to thinking about what my ratings would be this season. If you know video games, you know there is a pre-season rating and a roster updated rating based on season performance. Tony Romo didn't begin the year with 82 SPEED, he earned it. I decided to give myself my 2K8 ratings pre-season and post-season, so that if they decide to put me in next years D-League game, they will have all the info they need.
Note that these ratings are relative to other D-Leaguers and not to the NBA.
LOW POST DEFENSE: 78
LOW POST OFFENSE: 72
OFFENSIVE REB: 94
DEFENSIVE REB: 91�
DEFENSIVE AWARENESS: 80
OFFENSIVE AWARENESS: 72
I would say those would have been my ratings before this season if a game had come out. Now that the season is over, with the appropriate roster updates, I'd be much more game ready.
LOW POST DEFENSE: 80
LOW POST OFFENSE: 87
OFFENSIVE REB: 99
DEFENSIVE REB: 99�
DEFENSIVE AWARENESS: 82
OFFENSIVE AWARENESS: 85
I think I'd be all right in the game now. I was league leader in rebounding, shot 52%, was 8th in the league in blocks, and averaged 18 and 13 over the last 16 games of the season. Although, if you look closely, there are some areas I improved in and some areas I still need to improve in if I'm gonna make it to the show. Time to hit the weights and improve my low post defense. If I do that I should be staring at a 70 OVERALL in the NBA instead of a 92 in the D-League, if you get my drift.
Rod Benson is a Cal grad who plays for the D-League's Dakota Wizards. He also blogs two or three times a week on Ball Don't Lie. Read his archive, pay a visit to TooMuchRodBenson.com and always support the Boom Tho movement.
NBA Playoff Previews: No. 3 Spurs vs. No. 6 Suns
After 1,230 regular season games, the NBA Playoffs are finally here. (Tomorrow!) KD and I will have our own first round predictions soon, but for now we finish with our bloggin' team experts. Up last: Spurs Dynasty and Phoenix Stan from Bright Side of the Sun breakdown the San Antonio-Phoenix rematch. Enjoy.
(Note: I actually dropped the ball trying to land a Spurs blogger. So, instead, here is an excerpt from Spurs Dynasty's look at the series. Click here and scroll down for their complete PG-13 analysis.)
Spurs Dynasty: I'm not going to sugarcoat it for you youngsters, it won't be easy. Before we always had an edge on these guys because we could neutralize Shawn Marion like nobody else could. Against everyone else the guy is a superduperstar. Against us in May he was basically Drew Gooden. Ten, twelve points, and maybe a dozen or so mostly defensive rebounds. Decent numbers but nobody you concern yourself with at the end of the day.
We made Marion a non-factor because "The Matrix" as he fancies himself can only score in one of three ways: Transition, 3 pointers, and putbacks. Well guess what our defensive specialties are kiddies? Getting back on defense, limiting threes, and defensive rebounding. Stopping Marion didn't involve a single extra sentence in our game plan, it was all stuff we do well with regularity anyway.
But now Marion is gone and in his place is the Big Fatso and all his HILARIOUS quotes. To my shock, the jerkass has proven that he can still be an effective scorer when inspired and it really is pretty stupid at this point for us to guard him one-on-one. He's still too damn big and as accurate from two feet away as you'd expect a seven-footer to be.
We gotta double him. Simple as that. Gotta double him and make him give it up. The guy is a turnover machine and just the act of making him think or pass will give us a half dozen easy fast break points. "Shaq" and "thinking" go together as well as "blimp" and "hydrogen." It's like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, but the exact opposite. [...]
Phoenix Stan, Bright Side of the Sun: This series is just like when I was growing up on the mean streets of Maryvale on the west side of Phoenix. In sixth grade there were a group of boys from the next block that always picked on me. Stole my lunch money and generally pushed me around. Then over the summer I grew three inches and put on 15 pounds, took karate lessons, bought a baseball bat and my big brother came home from the Army. We showed those punks who's boss! It's time to kick the Spurs in the teeth.
Basketball analysis starts where we left off last year. Since then, the Spurs are older, slower and have much less depth and far fewer weapons offensively. They don't have the ability to score in more then two or three ways anymore and have to hold the Suns to under 90 points to have any chance at all.
Is there anyone anywhere that thinks the Spurs are better now then they were a year ago?
The Suns on other hand, are a much improved basketball team. Most notably in all areas of the game.
Shaq of course gets most of the attention and rightly so. He's owned Duncan over their careers and makes double teams unnecessary. When you don't have to double Timmy in the post there's only two other guys on the Spurs team that can beat you off the dribble. Two. And they generally don't play well together.
San Antonio, where average defensive teams go to look good happens.
Offensively the Suns now can throw the ball in the post to Shaq. Give the ball to Grant or Barbosa in transition or on the wing to create. Post up Diaw when the Spurs switch and neutralize the Spurs best perimeter defender by playing Nash off the ball when Bowen saddles up.
And let's not forget Amare — the most dominate unstoppable offensive force in the game (over the past three months). In isolation at the top of the key where he's impossible to double or on the unguardable pick and rolls. There is no answer.
The only way the Spurs can hold the Suns to under 100 points in a game is with foul trouble. And this is the deepest Suns team yet. Gordan Giricek and Boris Diaw will be huge in this series.
Bring your cups gentlemen. It's not going to be pretty. But this time big brother is here and he's fully armed for battle.
Prediction: The Spurs will win a couple based on playoff savvy (knees, flops and whines) but that's it —� Suns in 6.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Jason Kidd set a career high with 13 triple-doubles this season when he got his 100th overall on Wednesday.
Assist of the Night: Jason Kidd
Watch as Jason Kidd taps it back to Brandon Bass for one of his 10 assists.
Dunk of the Night: Tyson Chandler
Watch as Tyson Chandler slips the screen and receives the alley-oop from Chris Paul for the slam.
Steal of the Night: Monta Ellis
Watch as Monta Ellis steals the pass, gives it up, and gets it back on a lob for the finish.
Behind the boxscore, where Dallas cannot be ignored
Dallas 111, New Orleans 98
If you're a Mavs fan, or just an NBAnik looking for a championship-level team to return to championship-level play, this had to warm your heart.
First of all, if Jason Terry is hitting shots, being aggressive, and playing like he did in 2004-05, then the Mavericks are incredibly dangerous. Terry had 30 points on just 19 shots in this win.
Secondly, Jason Kidd had a throwback game, possibly the best one I've seen him play in two years. 27 points, ten rebounds, and ten assists to just one turnover. In fact, the Mavs coughed the ball up just six times, a remarkable amount under any circumstance.
The idea that these two are just capable of performances like this against one of the better defensive teams in the NBA is very promising, especially because you know Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki aren't going to combine to shoot 10-36 from the floor very often.
Dallas doesn't need the Jasons to pull this stuff off all the time, but it does help to know that these guards can still put numbers up like this maybe once or twice in a long series.
New Orleans didn't play a bad game, but even smallish free throw (Dallas hit 23, NOLA 17) and turnover (nine to six) disparities can cost you a double-digit loss to a playoff team. The Hornets better learn that quickly.�
No marigolds in the promised land for Dallas, but there is hope. There should be championship hope. This team is good enough.
I am truly relieved to find these two teams on opposite ends of the Eastern bracket, because if the Pistons and Cavaliers meet each other in the Eastern Conference finals, I'm going to have to see if MJD needs help on any of his Yahoo! blogs. I know LeBron James sat the game out, and the Pistons only played their starters 12 minutes apiece, but these two teams are bad news should they hook up again. This game was drudgery to behold.
Remember last year's ECF? You might remember LeBron's brilliant takeover of Game Five, but not the rest of the run - which was marred by physical play, horrible shooting, and the typical Piston indifference. Even the memories of this game standing strong, the pairing wouldn't be worth it.
Detroit ended its season with a full head of steam: the starters combined to shoot 5-20 from the field for 13 combined points.
Washington couldn't (and didn't really want to, candidly, and thankfully) get over the absence of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison; and though the Magic didn't play their own starters for long, 32 combined minutes for Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu (combined, 26 points on 18 shots) was enough to keep the Wiz at bay.
Wizards coach Eddie Jordan already knows what he has in youngsters Nick Young, Andray Blatche (20 and 11 in just 34 minutes), but it was nice to see actual proof that Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy can play benchwarmers like Marcin Gortat (12 and 11) and J.J. Redick (18 points in 24 minutes) without having the Earth open up to swallow Epcot Center whole, with copious bouts of raging, uncontrolled copulation revealing itself in the high street.
It's OK, SVG. It's OK.
I don't think I saw Isiah Thomas get off of his sideline seat once in this game, and I took in quite a bit of it. With a whimper, y'know?
The Pacers looked great, the defense wasn't there but Mike Dunleavy Jr. came through with a strong end to a season he should be pretty proud of: 36 points, seven rebounds, six assists, three steals, three turnovers. Dunleavy looked stronger this season, and it showed in his play - he had the strength to square his shoulders easier when taking a shot after a drive, and he could handle open-court finishes better in 2007-08.
Other than Thomas' statuesque demeanor, nothing on this Knick team stood out. They shot well at times, made the opposing announcing team laugh out loud with a few ridiculous passing or jump shot tries, and basically improved their way through a rather nasty performance.
To any thinking fan, Thomas' ascension to the Knick throne was a mistake. The people that told you that it was a mistake to mortgage your future on Stephon Marbury were right, the people that warned against the Eddy Curry trade were right, the people that warned against the Steve Francis, Jalen Rose, and Zach Randolph (geez, how did this guy not trade for Darius Miles) were right, and yet it took until recently for some fans, MSG executives, and NBA scribes to realize that everything Isiah Thomas has done has been wrong.
Even the David Lee draft? Even finding gems in the lower rungs of the draft? Yes. Isiah traded Trevor Ariza, didn't give Lee the minutes he deserved, and his laissez-faire training camp had Renaldo Balkman and Mardy Collins a step slow and out of shape all year. Picking up Randolph Morris was fine, but keeping him out of the NBDL out of spite hurt worse. Every step forward Isiah took was mitigated by three steps backwards.
Good riddance, go away, leave my league alone.
The Sixers might be the league's worst three-point shooting team, but sometimes they'll have nights like this: 10-21 (47.6 percent) from long range. Be careful, Detroit. Tread lightly, watch the front of the rim, and act your age.
No stopping the Bobcats on Wednesday, they really wanted to eke out a win and were really on point with the passing. Guys like Jared Dudley were hitting cutters, it was pretty cool to see (if not a little surprising, where was this spread offense all season?), and the Bobcats finished with 34 assists on 45 baskets.
Thaddeus Young, in the loss: 18 points, four rebounds, five assists, two steals, one turnover in 35 minutes. 19 years of age. We have a winner.
A couple of times over the last few weeks, the Celtics reserves have pulled away and held onto leads playing against the other team's starters, including a win over their first round opponent in Atlanta. I know the Pistons reserves did the same thing in Cleveland on Wednesday night, but I'm jus' sayin' ...
Three years from now, Vince Carter will make a guaranteed 17.5 million bucks. Good thing the Nets kept him around.
Sometimes bad decisions pay off, and sometimes bad shots go in. That's about all I can say for a game that sees Mark Blount - quite capable of hitting three-pointers, I submit - taking and making four of six treys. I only saw the two misses, so there's a bit of inherent bias working here.
Atlanta wanted to win this one, and actually had its starters re-enter the game midway through the fourth quarter. Admirable, but not the smartest move. It's not as if they have a chance against Boston, but you don't want to chance things in the midst of a game that most are going to forget by midday Thursday.
Jason Williams tried some behind-the-back passes in this one, it was fun to party like it's 1999, and I'd be shocked if any of the Miami NBDL cats have trouble finding NBA work next season.
I don't if it was this way for everyone, I don't know if anyone else on Earth outside of Wisconsin or Minnesota was watching a League Pass version of a Bucks/Timberwolves game, but my feed was shot. Crackles, tremolo'ed voices, messed-up visuals, and nigh on impossible to watch. So I didn't watch more than a few minutes.
Here's what I missed: Bucks rookie point man Ramon Sessions playing all 53 minutes of the overtime loss (can't remember the last time that happened, though it probably happened to Allen Iverson), and coming through with 25 points and 14 assists, with seven rebounds, three steals, and three turnovers. Ramon's stats in April read like this: 11.5 points per game, 11.3 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 3.2 turnovers and 1.5 steals in 38 minutes per game.
Here's what Chicago's starting lineup should look like next year:
Bring Aaron Gray (19 points and 22 rebounds) and Ben Gordon off the bench, banish Larry Hughes (1-6 tonight, 38 percent shooting on the season) to the end of the pine, trade Andres Nocioni for a lower-rung draft pick and potential cap relief that can be spent on re-signing the parts to what could be a special, special team.
Find a coach. Find a real coach. Show the coach a tape of this game. Understand that Noah and Thomas are this team's two best passers, and run things through those two. Drink in the potential and watch as it works when you give players consistent minutes and roles they can count on. Watch 55 wins pile up.
The Rockets can play defense. Man, o', man can these guys play defense. Every bone in my body told me that this team - even taking into consideration the defensive gifts and presence of Tracy McGrady - wouldn't have a chance at the playoffs after Yao Ming went down. And yet, here they are. And while every bone in my body tells me they won't have a chance against Utah in the first round, why start doubting this bunch now?
As far as the Clippers go, I truly wish they had rolled the dice on any number of NBDL point guards before taking a flier on Smush Parker. Parker couldn't tell you the name of our current Vice President, he's no good for any team; and, if you want to bring in an older player to learn the plays, why not throw some well-earned cash at Randy Livingston?
Livingston, the 2016 NBA Coach of the Year, would at least bother to learn the plays.
I took two things away from this meaningless game, and while it's just one man's voice (and what a voice it is!) I implore you to listen:
*Rudy Gay finished the game with just 12 points on 14 shots, with seven rebounds, six assists, and five turnovers. And yet, there were moments in this game where he showed the sort of ability that could result in an All-NBA appearance at some point. Whether it's with Marc Iavaroni or not, I tell you, I'm not concerned about that. This man needs to be a focal point.
*He sometimes shoots Denver into wins with his derring-do, he has skills, and he has All-Star potential (though he'll never sniff an appearance). I still wouldn't want J.R. Smith on my team. The sheer amount of plays he takes off on both ends more than mitigates the contributions that end up winning games.
I'm not saying coach George Karl doesn't need to find more minutes for Smith in the playoffs over Anthony Carter, that's not the issue. What needs to happen is for the Nugs to try and find a better solution besides a guy that is starting to make Ricky Davis look like Bobby Gross.
The Jazz don't match up well against San Antonio, but that doesn't do much for the shock that results from this one. Utah couldn't execute its offense (ranked second in the NBA with 115.8 points per 100 possessions), ended up with 89.9 points per 100 p's, and never had a chance against a Spurs team that took all those missed shots and turned them into run-outs and their best offensive game in weeks.
I really don't know what to take from it. Some things you can't explain away, beyond the obvious (the Spurs make life hellish for screen/roll devotees, Carlos Boozer is a bit undersized in the face of Timmy the D, Mehmet Okur is a bit frustrated by an Argentinean that deigns to follow him out to the three-point line), but you'd like to think talent would out at some point.
I thought that the Jazz would make a better showing in last year's Western Conference end-game, but they didn't, and they didn't have much luck tonight. The Jazz against the Spurs might be a lost cause. Bugger.
I'm not happy about Grant Hill's groin strain, nobody's talking about it, and it looks to be the kind that could keep him out of the entire postseason run, even if it stretches into June. Let's just ignore it, for now. No room for drags.
Portland competed but couldn't keep the concentration once the Phoenix reserves hit the floor for good. Sean Marks will do that to a man. Nate McMillan's team is looking forward to 2008-09, and I can't blame them.
In 42 minutes over a SuperSonic win, Kevin Durant had the game we've been waiting for: 42 points on 25 shots, 13 rebounds, six assists, five turnovers, a steal, two blocks, stop writing out stats and take a walk around the block because I'm a little ticked - this game wasn't televised!
Couldn't tell you if Baron Davis was moping or mopping the floor with Luke Ridnour, couldn't tell you if Stephen Jackson had gone gunnin' for the man that stole his water, haven't a clue as to how rookie Jeff Green turned in 27 and ten boards.
But I don't have to worry about such things anymore. The playoffs, man, the playoffs are mere hours away.
I had a blast tending to these BtBs for the first time since the 2000-01 (!) season, and appreciated your views to no end. It gets better, I'll remind you, now that these things start to count, those heads get shaved, the sneakers run black, and the postseason commences.
Playoffs, man. Playoffs. It's a good time to be awake.
NBA TV Top 10: April 16
Watch the Top 10 plays from Wednesday night, including Ray Felton's tough, off-balance bank in the lane.
NBA TV Fantasy Hoops: Low Five
NBA TV's Mike Yam, in his final Low Five of the year, gives you his First-Team All-Fantasy.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
A former classmate of disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy has pleaded guilty in connection with a betting scandal. Thomas Martino entered his plea Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court to conspiracy to defraud the NBA, and faces 12 to 18 months in prison when he is sentenced on July 11. His co-defendant, professional gambler James Battista, is due in court Monday. Martino told a judge he paid Donaghy for "good picks" on NBA games.
Power Rankings: Celtics, Lakers go 1-2
The Celtics are No. 1. The Lakers are No. 2. If John Galinsky's Power Rankings hold up, we'll be in for a renewal of a great rivalry.
Paul, Hornets win Southwest, seize No. 2 seed
Alston out at least a week with hamstring injury
Houston Rockets point guard Rafer Alston will miss at least a week with a strained right hamstring. The 6-foot-2 Alston suffered the injury in the Rockets' 111-94 loss to Denver on Sunday. He sat out Monday's loss in Utah. Alston underwent an MRI exam on Tuesday that revealed a moderate to severe strain. The Rockets said he would miss at least a week of playing time. Alston has started 74 of the Rockets' 81 games this season, averaging 13 points and five assists per game.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The baby T-Wolves look to even the score against the Pistons' second unit. The mighty, mighty Bobcats travel north to face the intimidating Nets. The Magic meet the playoff-bound Hawks with absolutely nothing on the line!
How many days left in the regular season again?
Yes, as lame as tonight's NBA schedule looks, at least there's some playoff seeding to still be decided out West.
In Los Angeles, the Lakers can wrap up home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs with a win against the Kings.
Considering how kind the STAPLES Center celebrities and lighting has been to Lakers this season (29-11 at home), you can be sure Phil Jackson will look to play Kobe and the starters enough minutes to go after that slight advantage for the upcoming hellish playoffs.
Game time is a late one — 10:30 pm EST — so in the meantime make sure you swing by Forum Blue & Gold to read Kurt's excellent game preview. No one sets up a LAL game better than him.
Enjoy the action.
Sacramento Kings: 38-43, 93.2 possessions per game (8th in the NBA), 109.0 points scored per 100 possessions (13th in the NBA), 111.5 points allowed per 100 possessions (25th in the NBA).
Los Angeles Lakers: 56-25, 94.0 possessions per game (6th), 114.7 points scored per 100 possessions (3rd), 107.1 points allowed per 100 possessions (7th).
Create-a-caption: Nugget Man to the rescue!
"Faster than an Allen Iverson crossover, more powerful than a Kenyon Martin slam, and able to leap tall Marcus Cambys in a single bound ... it's ... it's ... Nugget Man!" But who or what is he coming to save? What powers does he possess? What's his kryptonite? So many questions, folks. Best answers win his tinfoil cape.
After the jump, Young Hov and Hakeem spit a few bars.
I'm wit my girl B and my boy Hakeem / We be watchin' these Nets, yeah, I own the team
We be conquerin the globe, from the Bay to Brussels, / Between these Nets and I, only one Carter hussles (not you Vince!)
Devin, he be aight, the rest are like a cursed itch / Yo Hakeem, unretire, and please replace Krstic
With some solid moves, like LeBron, we should win / So long as the second move, is these Nets to Brooklyn!
People call me Hakeem, and I got so much game / I had to add another letter to the front of my name
Why am I smilin'? Me and my boy Jay Z / After the game are going to go to Coldstone Creamery
Its ya boy, with Beyonce sitting next to me / And some dude I never met who calls himself The Dream
He's been bugging me all game, and just to keep him quiet / I said we'd go to Coldstone, he doesnt know that I'm lying.
Engrave it: Who is the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year?
We continue engraving names into the NBA's end of the season hardware. Up next: the Defensive Player of the Year. Cast your vote below, but first a quick look at the top defensive stalwarts.
Shane Battier, Rockets. Key stats: 5.1 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 1.0 spg. Battier often matches up against one of the opposition's top scorers (Kobe, Melo, Speed Racer) and has built a strong reputation as an elite perimeter defender. He's got The Dream Shake's vote.
Bruce Bowen, Spurs. Key stats: 2.9 rpg, 0.7 spg, 0.3 bpg. At 36, Bowen is still one of best perimeter defenders in the NBA, with seven consecutive nominations for the NBA All-Defensive First and Second Teams.
Marcus Camby, Nuggets. Key stats: 13.2 rpg, 3.6 bpg, 1.2 spg. The Camby Man once again leads the league in blocks, is second in defensive rebounds, and still swipes over a steal a game from the center position. Overall his numbers are better than last season's DPOY campaign.
Kevin Garnett, Celtics. Key stats: 9.3 rpg, 1.6 spg, 1.4 bpg. Boston leads the league in fewest points allowed, defensive efficiency, opposing field-goal percentage and creating turnovers. People want to give credit to Rondo and assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, but forget it: KG's the real reason for the C's 180. Look at this man!
Josh Smith, Hawks. Key stats: 8.3 rpg, 2.9 bpg, 1.5 spg. "The Human (Defensive) Highlight Film."
[Note: There is a poll within this post, RSS readers. Please visit BDL to cast your vote.]
The Internets are alive: Sonics soap opera
The 'Save Our Sonics' dream will not die. Former Sonics owner Howard Schultz, who sold the team to Clay Bennett and his Oklahoma City investors, has hired a lawyer and is preparing to file a lawsuit against Bennett to rescind the July '06 sale. Here's what they're saying out in the ether about this latest legal development ...
SonicsCentral: "What I think we are really starting to get a sense of is something I have been saying for a while. People ask how I can be involved in such a David VS Goliath type battle but they never realize that OUR TEAM IS GOLIATH! The combined business power, consumer base and government influence of this region should not be intimidated. We’re coming at the league from all angles now and it feels very good. [...] In this case I think we'll also be able to see that his efforts will be compared and contrasted to other ownership efforts to get an arena. When this starts to vet publicly Clay's efforts are going to look pathetic. I think there is a strong possibility that this results in a deferral of the vote. It is getting somewhat out of control and that is a good thing."
Peter Nussbaum, Supersonicsoul: "I wish the rest of the country would have some inclination as to how unlikely it is that the Sonics will leave. I think the prevailing opinion is that the Sonics are as good as gone, when in reality they are quite unlikely to leave, for a variety of reasons. It's wonderful to see people such as Stern and Bennett have to lose in public, since it doesn't happen nearly enough to blowhards such as them."
Prof. Joel Ngugi, Enjoy The Enjoyment: "... it seems important that Howard used very specific legal language namely 'best efforts.' If this language was actually included in the contract, it imposes a very high burden on Bennett & Co. It not only obligates them to act diligently and cooperatively to accomplish the purpose of the contract, but an express 'best efforts' clause would impose a higher burden that rises to near fiduciary level of obligation. This would make it easier to prove a breach of 'good faith' efforts clause."
Jerry Brewer, Seattle Times: "Schultz's dire attempt to right his wrong is the longest of all shots. And though he probably won't admit it, he's motivated in part by a desire to suppress fan anger. If Seattle becomes an NBA ghost town, he doesn't want to walk around fearing for his coffee beans. Since selling the team in July 2006, Schultz has been able to avoid his great mistake without penalty. He could've continued to skirt the issue and lived on, guilty but wealthy. So his decision to litigate the Raiders — and consequently, put his basketball failures back in the limelight — shows both contrition and an honest admission that he was bamboozled."
Shoals, The Sporting Blog: "Howard is reviled in this city, and has largely avoided the entire fray up until now. When, out of nowhere, he emerges as maybe the best shot this city has at salvation. Really, this just means more court hi-jinx, but this new wrinkle has soap operatic potential. I'm actually almost back to thinking "damn, we really missed out by not seeing Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, and Kevin Durant together," which hasn't occurred to me in months. Thanks, Howie."
Memphis' Rose to leave early, enter NBA draft
Memphis freshman Derrick Rose announced on Tuesday that he would forgo his last three years of eligibility and enter the NBA draft.
Cavs clinch No. 4 spot in controversial fashion
The 'Year of the NBA Clock' continued in Philadelphia last night. With the Sixers back in the locker room playing Madden and eating oranges slices — convinced they had just beat Cleveland 90-89 — the NBA officials convened at the monitors to take a second look at the game's final play. After much deliberation, they decided Samuel Dalembert had fouled Devin Brown with 0.2 seconds left, thus awarding him two free throws. Here's the drama, via Odenized:
Adding insult to injury, the loss means that the Sixers will be the seventh seed in the playoffs and face the Conference Finals machine Pistons in the first round. The boys over at Passion and Pride are not impressed.
But hey, props to Brown for calmly sinking both of his free throws after the extended break in action. He should consider becoming an NFL placekicker.
Gonzaga's Pargo to enter draft, won't hire agent
Gonzaga junior Jeremy Pargo will declare for the NBA draft but not retain an agent, the school announced Tuesday night.
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