Back to Work

Monday, 21 February 2011, 21:33 | Category : NBA
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Now that the All-Star weekend it’s back to work in the NBA.  But first, I want to take a quick look at the events this weekend.  You cant miss the best moment from the All-Star weekend.

I completely underestimated the rookie class this year.  Even with Blake getting limited minutes, the Rookie team won.  Not that they blew the Sophomores out of the water, but they were clicking.  I also thought it was funny just how much Cousins wanted the MVP like he had something to prove.  Do you think the NBA refused to give him the award?

Bill Simmons, I’m sorry I doubted your team.  I actually listened to the podcast with Jimmy Kimmel after I wrote the last post.  Maybe I would’ve made a better prediction if I had listened to it first.

Atlanta proved me wrong with a comeback in the finals to pull off a win over Texas.  In my defense, Texas had an unbeatable time in the first round.

The Skills Challenge is the one prediction I nailed.  Curry proved me right.  And for as much as Paul wanted it, I can’t believe he missed that first layup!  And I’m glad Westbrook was able to redeem himself from last year by making it to the finals.  By the way, D-Will’s record stands.

I was appalled by some of the shooting in the 3-Point Contest.  Congratulations to James Jones for pulling off an upset over the Celtic duo consisting of last year’s 3-Point Contest champ and the player with most 3s made ever.  Not bad.  Everyone else let me down.

I’m not sure what to make of the Dunk Contest.  I think it was predetermined that Blake would win.  While his final dunk was creative, it was not all that impressive.  I thought the level of difficulty and originality of McGee’s dunks should’ve earned him the trophy, even if his last dunk was anti-climactic.  And Ibaka’s dunk from the free-throw line was actually from the free-throw line, unlike the famous dunks by the likes of Dr. J and the Airman.  How did he not get a 50 for that?  I’m not saying he should’ve won, but let’s give him credit for what he did do right.  I know it’s getting harder and harder to come up with original dunks, but I’m not a fan of all the gimmicks.  Next year,  want substance too.  McGee is my Dunk Contest winner.

As for the actual All-Star Game, I enjoyed it.  It helped that I had it on DVR so  could skip through all of the commercials and boring filler crap.  While the defense still wasn’t amazing, it seemed to be better than past All-Star Games I’ve watched.  I still want to see them put home court advantage on the line.  I mean there was intensity, but coming from the wrong side of the court.  There was definitely tension between the Heat and Celtic players.  I also didn’t think about how Amare and Horford would coexist.  I didn’t notice any major problems, but I was waiting for the East to breakdown and start fighting each other; whereas everyone in the West was all buddy buddy.  While I downplayed the intensity from the rivalries, I overplayed the Celtics chemistry and defense stifling the West.  The Cs never seemed to get it going.

Something else I didn’t realize until I watched the game was the number of white players on the West.  At one point on the floor was Manu, Dirk, Pau, Blake (half-white, right?), and D-Will.  Okay, so Deron isn’t white, but he’s certainly fair skinned.  And Kevin Love was on the bench.  Very impressive.  There was not a single white guy playing for the East.  Interesting.

I was not a fan of listening to more Melo trade talk either.  Fortunately, the trade deadline is less than 3 days away and then we’ll all be able to move on with our lives.  I think he fits well with the Nuggets, but if he leaves it’ll likely clear a playoff spot in the West, giving the Jazz an easier road to the post-season.  I also want this Melo-drama to end so that the rest of the league can get on with their trades.  Maybe the Jazz and Pistons can still get something to happen.  I guess we’ll see in a few days.

NBA All-Star Predictions

Friday, 18 February 2011, 20:50 | Category : NBA
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As we get ready for the All-Star weekend to kick off tonight, I thought it only appropriate to make Unofficial predictions for the winners of the events.  First, I just want to say I’m disappointed the H.O.R.S.E contest was canceled this year.  I thought it was a great idea and was fun to watch.

Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, All-Star game

Who will win? Turns out it doesn't matter.

Rookie Challenge: For good reason the sophomores have won 8 of 11 games in the current format.  They have a an extra year of experience under their belts.  I’m going with the sophomores to win this one, especially since they were the first rookie team to win since 2002 (during the talent drought).  The rooks do have a core of Wall, Cousins, and Bledsoe who, on top of being really good, played together in college.  You throw Blake Griffin in that lineup and who knows what’ll happen.  But I’m still going with the sophomores.

Celebrity Game: I hate to go against Bill Simmons (who is a more qualified GM), but I think team Kimmel will win.  For a much better and in-depth analysis of the two teams visit Ball Don’t Lie.

Shooting Stars: Even before I realized team Texas won it last year it was my team to beat.  Dirk is easily one of the best shooting big men in the league, if not ever, so I can’t go against him.  Then you add Kenny Smith to that team.  I even did research on the WNBA players and found that Hodges (from Team Texas) is the worst shooter of the four, but I’m still picking them.  I think if any team dethrones Texas it’ll be team Chicago.

Paul Pierce, Chauncey Billups, Stephen Curry, NBA All-Star, 3-Point Contest

The real fun at the All-Star weekend happens Saturday.

Skills Challenge: Chris Paul really wants this win (all the other elite PGs have), but he’s hobbled so I think he’ll come up short.  Rose won it two years ago, but I’m putting my money on Stephen Curry.  On top of being a pure shooter and incredibly quick, Curry has surprisingly proven himself to be a very capable passer.  This is the part of the challenge that slows players down the most and enabled Steve Nash to easily win it twice.

3-Point Contest: It’s hard to go against Ray Allen, one of the best shooters ever, in this competition.  However, I’ve been impressed by Dorell Wright’s shooting this year.  And Durant makes it look so effortless and has proven himself in the H.O.R.S.E. contests.  I think I’m going to stick with Ray Ray, although Pierce won it last year and he was last on my list. So what do I know?

Slam Dunk: Blake Griffin.  Enough said.

All-Star Game: There is a lot of chemistry and experience playing together on both teams, despite the East’s apparent advantage from only drawing 9 of its 12 players from three teams.  The East’s starting five is one of the best and exciting I’ve ever seen, but its bench is boring.  If they played real team ball in the All-Star game they’d be good, but the West has way more exciting players all the way down the lineup.  Although, starting Tim Duncan could hurt them, but I don’t imagine Coach Popovich will give him many minutes in a meaningless game when he barley plays him when it counts.  This really could go either way, but I’m picking the West in this one.

Might I add, the NBA needs to put something on the line for the All-Star game.  I love watching exciting plays, but I don’t think that happens in a game that doesn’t matter.  I think we would see even more exciting plays in a game with something on the line.  Why not do what the MLB does and give the winning conference home-court advantage in the Finals.  This would get the players and fans engaged in the game.  This could translate into some of the best basketball of the year and an event people would go out of their way to watch.  Stern probably doesn’t like it because he’s afraid someone will get mad at someone else.  Well news to Stern, the fans love that kind of passion, and like you always say, the All-Star game is for the fans.

Not All Stars in All-Star Game

Friday, 4 February 2011, 17:16 | Category : NBA
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slam dunk, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, LA Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves

Every year as the All-Star selections are announced, someone is sure to get snubbed.  While there isn’t a whole lot of deserving competition in the East despite the exodus of talent during the summer, the West is stacked at every position.  Let’s break down who made the teams.

East: While they may not be my favorite players, I can’t complain about the starters.  I agree that Rondo is a great PG, but Rose deserves the start.  The Celtics’ “Big 4″ are all having great years.  Al Horford is a great player, but he benefited from Joakim Noah’s, his former Gator teammate, injury.  Chris Bosh’s numbers are down, as is to be expected, but I’m not really sure who else qualifies.  Carlos Boozer?  Nah.  Bosh deserves it, even if he is a fake tough guy.

The last spot was given to Joe Johnson and this is the pick I’m least convinced of. Just because he’s the best player on a good team does not mean he’s having an All-Star year.  Many thought Raymond Felton was going to get the spot, and I agree.  He’s having a breakout year, even if his numbers are inflated by the D’Antoni system.  Plus, who doesn’t want to watch Felton feed Stoudemire?

West: There are many that deserve the starting spot in the West, but the fans got it right except for Yoa.  I mean, the guy has barley played in two straight seasons!  (China, I know you love Yao, but it’s time to come to terms with reality.)  Both D-Will and Westbrook need to be on this team, even if it means Nash sits out.  I’m not sure how some middle-aged, balding Argentine is playing the way Ginobili is, but he’s probably been the MVP to the team with the best record in the league.  I don’t care for him, but I’ll give the flopping Argentine the nod.  Ellis is a great player that didn’t get in, but the game is for the fans, and I can’t think of anybody that cares about Ellis outside of the Bay Area.

Griffin has easily stolen the title of Most Exciting Player to Watch in the NBA this season, so I’m glad he got a spot on the team.  He even gets to play in front of his own fans.  What I don’t like is that Tim Duncan, who is posting the lowest numbers of his career, gets the nod over the likes of Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge.  But that’s the good things about Yao getting voted in, Commissioner Stern has the chance to remedy this.  He should move either Pau or Dirk to the starting lineup and have Love come in off the bench.  While Aldridge has been carrying a very thin and beat up team, Love has been putting up extraordinary numbers.  Comish, give some sunshine to Minnesota this winter.  Please don’t blow this.

Only the top 6 teams from the East are represented in their team.  Every other team in the East is below .500, so nobody else can complain (except for the Knicks and Bulls).  The West had a hard job getting this straightened out and got it almost all right.  It’s not that I don’t think Duncan is an All-Star player, but he doesn’t even get the spotlight on his own team.  He’s ready to let the next generation in, so the All-Star game should too.  Then we there’d be room for both Love and Aldridge.  I guess there’s always next year.

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