Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tweets of the Playoffs

How come the commish wasnt in milwaukee to hand over the exec of year award? - Andrew Bogut
I can see his gripe, that's kind of messed up. Maybe he and Josh Smith share the same sentiment regarding Milwaukee.

Thanks fans for all the positive feedback i've came back from 3 to 1 so like I said it's not over to the fat lady sings - Shawn Marion
It's true. Phoenix vs Lakers. I still have nightmares about it.

Congrats to Aaron Brooks for winning the Most Improved Player Award. You deserved it. Thanks for your effort this season. - Yao Ming
Well... more minutes, less TMAC, less Yao, points needed to come from somewhere, I think Brooks had it all along, but got stat boosted with his situation, but deserved nonetheless.

i guess BRoy said "i cant watch this anymore.. im suiting up!" lol - Stephen Curry
I'm pretty sure that's exactly what he said.

I wear no pants... I wearrrrrrrr no pants - Andrew Bogut
Referring to the Dockers commercial... I hope

Bonus: Craig S... Suit is terrible as usual... Needs some serious style advice... I need to take him under my wing and get him sum GQ help - Baron Davis
Craig's suits are simply a part of the NBA.

Man grant hill just keeps on going... Big play by the big homie marcus... Great way to finish the period... - Baron Davis
Cheering on his ex teammate.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekend wrap- First set of playoff games!

I was watching the two ABC games this weekend as well as did most of you and here are some quick thoughts:

Saturday - Cavaliers vs. Bulls

Straight up, the Bulls are not big or athletic enough to hang with the Cavaliers. Joakim Noah simply could not handle Shaq and bounced off him in the post, got spun moved on, had to hold Shaq down to prevent a dunk, and couldn't stop fouling after that. Luol Deng was also bounced around trying to guard LeBron. This game was literally like watching a college basketball team run all over a YMCA team. Just watch the highlights and you'll see what I mean - notice the bulldozing of LeBron.

Sunday - Lakers vs. Thunder

I have a couple things to say about this game, first being, one of the commentators said that Russell Westbrook's favorite player growing up was Magic Johnson. Fun Facts: Westbrook was born in 1988. Magic Johnson retired in 1991, played the olympics in 1992, COACHED the Lakers as a replacement coach in the 1993-94 season (not a successful season), and staged a failed comeback as power forward in the 95-96 season. So unless Westbrook has some crazy childhood memories from when he was 4 years old and younger, I do believe this is impossible.

Actual game notes - Ron Artest guarded Kevin Durant. Durant had a horrible game shooting 7-24 and 1-8 from 3 point land. But what I was looking at was how Artest was constantly plowing through screens by Nick Collison. If he goes under those screens, Durant gets open shots, if he doesn't plow through, Collison keeps setting them and gets hit by a big Artest trying to lock down Durant. Near the end of the game, there were far less screens by Collison on Artest. I love it.

I love when Mark Jackson exclaims, "You know the rule! Hand down, man down!"

Can't really call the refs biased in this series so far. Lakers had 27 fouls to Thunder's 21 including 5 on Kobe, 6 on Lamar, and 5 on Artest. And Nick Collison kept doing his thing by taking two charges. Durant got to the line 11 times... a legitimate 11 times.

And finally (and Jeff Van Gundy shared this sentiment sometime in the 4th), Durant takes some bad shots. He reminds me of Kobe Bryant circa 2004-2005 season, trying to go 1 on 3 forcing shot after shot after shot while Jeff Green, Thabo and Harden stand around the 3 point line, wide open after their man left to double team Durant, with their hands ready for a pass... only the pass never comes. And Durant goes 7-24. We'll see how he responds on Tuesday.

Kobe constantly passed out of double teams to Derek Fisher and Ron Artest for open three pointers. Problem is Ron hit only 1 of 8 from 3 point land. One more thing, Kobe did my favorite play in all of basketball: Kobe passes to Pau only it skips through his hands into the Durant's possession for a turnover, races downcourt (along with 4 other Lakers) to swat Durant's shot away and Pau grabs the rebound (1:30 mark of highlights video).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stern will discuss issue of players sitting out games at the end of the year

Stern taking away the MVP trophy from LeBron for not playing all 82 games! For shame!!
(Photo from Zimbio)
With the playoffs DAYS away, the league's top teams are sitting their stars to rest them up for the playoffs. In all the headlines, people are discussing how LeBron James is sitting the last few games as they've already clinched the best record in the NBA. Here's the link for the story regarding Stern "discussing" this "problem."

To which I have a couple replies:

1. What are you gonna do about it?

Hate it or love it, there's no reason for LeBron to risk any kind of injury when there's nothing left to play for until the playoffs start. If you force a fully healthy player to play, he, his coach, the GM, and the owner will tell him to fake some kind of injury forcing him not to play. You know what players come up with to not play in games? Ever see these box score DNPs: Flu-Like Symptoms, Strained hamstring/ankle/shoulder, PERSONAL REASONS. A guy just has to sniffle, call it a flu like symptom, and take the game off when all he's really doing is resting for the playoffs. Unless the NBA gets lie detectors at every arena, there is no way to regulate and enforce forcing players to play if they're able.

2. Why all the huff-n-puff now?

Players have been doing this since as far back as I can remember. Dirk Nowitzki did it in the 06/07 season when they ended 6 games ahead of 2nd place Phoenix. I remember it vividly: the game after the Clippers when Dallas clinched the top seed, Avery Johnson said he was resting his starters. Just did a quick find and found the recap of that game:
Avery Johnson announced right away that they wouldn’t be joining the club on a road trip to Minnesota. “I told them if I see them on the plane, I’ll fine them,” Johnson said.
Well there you go. So why is the NBA taking things so serious NOW? Because as MVP as Dirk was that season, he's no super duper star like LeBron or Kobe. With LeBron taking the last 4 games off including an Eastern Conference Finals rematch against Orlando... ON NATIONAL TV -ABC, people don't care, people don't watch, league doesn't get that much more money. I don't know if you watched that game but Jeff Van Gundy went on rant about how stars should play if they're able and it's not fair to the fans. He came up with an anecdote about a kid coming to his first NBA game and doesn't see Kobe or LeBron, which brings me to my next question...

3. Not fair to the fans? Give me a break.

Look. LeBron played 76 games to get the best record. The Cavs proceeded to play @Chicago, home vs Indiana, home vs Orlando, @Atlanta. In this season, the Cavs played at Chicago twice, play half their games at home, and have played at Atlanta twice. You get your chances to see LeBron, and you know what? LeBron isn't the only NBA player you should go out and see in person. If you can afford tickets to a Cavs game, chances are you're gonna go to a few, maybe next year you won't wait until the very end of the season and you take advantage of the 76 other games he played in full in the previous 5 months. "But he might not be back next season!" Well you've had him for 7 seasons, you had your chance.

4. Why not have a conversation about players taking games off when they're team ISN'T in the playoffs.

Yes, I'm talking about tanking. Many teams are doing it right now. Clippers are starting Steve Blake, DeAndre Jordan, and Travis Outlaw over their usual "stars"/starters Baron Davis, Drew Gooden, and Eric Gordon. Excuses? Baron - sprained wrist, Gordon - viral infection, Gooden - unknown, but he's not playing these last few games for some reason. Sidenote: Congrats to Steve Blake for FIRST CAREER TRIPLE DOUBLE!

Other teams? How about New York not playing Wilson Chandler (groin), TMac (?), Al Harrington (shoulder)? New Orleans - CP3 (finger), Peja (Abdominal strain), Detroit - Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey (???), Warriors - Corey Maggette (hand).

If these guys are in the playoff hunt, no doubt at least some of them would overcome whatever was "ailing" them and give 100% in a game. But no, they're headed to the lottery and more losses = more chances to get a top 3 pick. It's as simple as that. Of course the catch is that the team with worst record only has a 25% chance of getting the top pick (75% chance of not getting it) but hey, it can't hurt to have more ping pong balls in the ping pong ball machine. Maybe if there was a lottery for the top four teams in the NBA for whoever gets homecourt advantage... nahhh.

And finally

5. Why do you care how teams manage themselves?

Resting their top guys does not always work. With rest comes rust. Going back to the Dirk Nowitzki resting in the 06/07 season. THEY LOST IN THE FIRST ROUND TO 8TH SEED GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS. Dirk averaged 20 points on 38% (21% 3pt). Compare that to that season's stats: 24.6 points on 50% (41.6% 3pt). Hey, take it for what it's worth.

Just read between those baselines and make up your own mind. All in all, I feel teams can do whatever they want.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Revenge Games - Marcus Camby vs Clippers, Steve Blake vs Blazers

(Photo from Yahoo)
First off, I love revenge games. There are a couple different kinds of revenge games - There's the Championship Finals Rematch the following season (Lakers vs Boston- Christmas Day 2008), A team that knocked off another team out of the playoffs (Washington vs Cleveland 06-07 first round of the playoffs, 07-08 first round of the playoffs after the 05-06 first round of the playoffs - this of course lost its steam when it was concluded that the Cavs had the Wizards' number, and forever would). But my personal favorite is the "Take a look at what you traded away" revenge game, one game of which I saw personally at tonight's Clipper game when Marcus Camby took on his old team, the Clippers and Steve Blake went up against his old team, the Blazers.

As far as revenge games go however, this wasn't as noteworthy as others, given the fact that (1) the Clippers are playing for nothing, (2) the Blazers are obviously the superior team, (3) Steve Blake and Marcus Camby don't dominate the ball/ball hog to really exact revenge on their former teams, and (4) Blake can Camby aren't killer instinct players. But let's go through a brief rundown of the game:

Marcus Camby: Pre game introductions, when Marcus Camby is announced, the crowd gave him a well deserved applause and cheer. Before tipoff, Camby exchanged high fives with the starting lineup of players he'd played with on the Clippers (Butler, Davis, Kaman, Gordon). During the opening minutes, he fouls Kaman who falls to the floor and Camby lends a hand to help him up. Later on during the game, coming out of a timeout, he shares a laugh with DeAndre Jordan. And that's pretty much it! He got 2 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and 2 blocks in 26 minutes, which is pretty much, give or take, his Portland averages.

(Photo from Yahoo)
Steve Blake: I have a totally rational fascination and admiration of Blake's play with the Clippers, and he was looking for his shot a little more than usual tonight while bodying up Andre Miller's fat ass on defense when he tried to post up (I counted 3 post ups by Miller, one resulted in a Blake foul, one in a 3 second violation on Miller, and one missed jump shot by Miller. Steve Blake is going to make whatever team he signs with very happy this summer). Blake ended with 14 points on 6-10 shooting, 2 three pointers, 1 rebound, 6 assists, a steal and a block in 28 minutes. His Clipper season averages are: 6 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, less than a steal, less than a block in 24 minutes.

Fun Fact - Andre Miller, Steve Blake and Marcus Camby have all played for the Clippers, Blazers and Nuggets!

And the Clippers made a little run at the end to make things interesting but the Blazers pulled away. It's been a long season for Clipper fans. But it was nice to see Baron Davis hustle back on defense not once but TWICE: one time he forced a missed layup, and later on in the game, he drew a charge on Andre Miller! I was stunned!

Here's a bonus video of more reason why I love Steve Blake:

Homie don't play dat!

Chris Bosh - Right in the kisser

Antawn Jamison hits Bosh in the face with an elbow. Speculated he'll miss the rest of the season leaving the 8th seed in the East open for the Chicago Bulls to take.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Weekend Wrap

Some interesting things happened this weekend, here are the highlights:


(Photo from Yahoo)
  • History was made, my friends. And of course it comes against the Warriors. David Lee (free agent this summer) had a 30/20/10 night when he filled the box score with 37 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists in 46 minutes. According to the AP: "He became the first player to have at least 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in a game since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 35, 20 and 12 against the Warriors on March 5, 1976" (hehe). What's crazy: Lee hit 14 shots out of 24, 9 free throws of 10, and still somehow dished out 10 assists (with only 3 turnovers). Talk about an offense running through someone. Sidenote - the Warriors also gave up a record game earlier in the season when Brandon Jennings scored 55 in a win over the Warriors (3rd most by a rookie in NBA history behind Wilt-58 and Earl Monroe-56).
  • The Lakers ended a two game losing streak to a formidable opponent, the Utah Jazz. Kobe was off hitting 5 shots of 23, but got to the line a lot: 15-18, good for 25 total points. Lamar Odom though, scored 26 points on 14 shots and grabbed 10 boards. The Lakers bench is struggling to say the least, but if and when Andrew Bynum returns, Lamar will return to the bench and Josh Powell's terribleness, one dimensional-ness will go back to getting 3 minutes a game if the Lakers are up/down by 20, instead of the 18 minutes he's capable of getting being one of the two bigs on the bench when Bynum is out, the other being DJ Mbenga.

(Photo from Yahoo)
  • The Raptors Chris Bosh & Associates squeaked out an OT win against Philadelphia. The Raptors are clinging onto that 8th seed in the East. Chicago is one game out. If the Raptors don't make the playoffs, or get swept by the Cavs... Chris Bosh may peace out and the Raptors will be left with Bargnani, Turkoglu, and Calderon. Oh how the free agents will be lured.
  • New Jersey wins their 11th! 115-87 against the lottery bound Hornets. Thank GOD. I don't think I could deal with a whole off season of the Nets constantly being referred to as the worst team in the history of the NBA (although I'll have to settle for "one of the worst teams in NBA history).
  • Andrew Bogut mangled his arm. This sucks. The Bucks are going to the playoffs this year and Bogut was huge part of that. Playing in his 69th game this season compared to 36 all of last season, and scoring 16 points compared to 12 last season while averaging over 10 boards. Now his season is done and the Bucks, who will probably play the Hawks in the first round had a not so inconceivable chance of upsetting, now won't have a chance. Sad face, :(, sad face, indeed.

(Photo from Yahoo)
  • During the Cavs game I saw that LeBron, Mo Williams and Jamario Moon were wearing green headbands... AT the Boston Celtics. Thinking this was a sign of disrespect, I did a little google research and found out that it is in fact NBA GREEN WEEK and the headbands were worn to raise awareness. Should LeBron have called a timeout when he grabbed that rebound?
  • The Warriors beat the Raptors-Don Nelson ties the Franchise record for coaching wins held by Lenny Wilkens, 1 more to pass. Warriors remaining sched: @Washington, @Minnesota, @Clippers, home vs Thunder, home vs Jazz, @Portland. Those first 3 games will be the time to do it, but if the Jazz and Portland are set on their playoff position and can't advance or fall down the standings, they could rest their starters giving Don Nelson the chance to pass Lenny... and then get fired this summer.
  • Sasha Vujacic is apparently out of the dog house. He got into the game against the Spurs, and not when they were down 20! In total he was given 6:30 and shot 0-3. Luke Walton also returned to game action after missing about a month and half due to a pinched nerve in the back: 2 assists, 2 fouls. Their bench leader, Lamar Odom, is starting due to Andrew Bynum's injured ankle. When Bynum comes back, Lamar will return to the bench, and the bench production will spike. I'm sure of it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sasha Vujacic: OOHHHHHHH!!! Now I get it!

Hey remember when the Lakers were about to play the Boston Celtics in the 2008 Celtics? Of course you do. Laker haters always bring it up, and Laker fans always say that Andrew Bynum and Ariza were hurt. Well... whatever. Would you believe that Sasha had a vital role in getting the Lakers to the Finals that year? He did. Take a look -

He averaged 9 pts on 45% shooting (44% from 3 hitting 1.6 3s a game) all in 18 minutes a game in the 07-08 season. During the playoffs, he did about the same averaging 8 points in 21 minutes on about 40% shooting (He even earned himself an above average nickname: The Machine). Highlighted by his 20 point game in LA's first win against Boston in game 3 where he was the only Laker not named Kobe to score in double figures. Lowlighted by his horrid, atrocious defense against Ray Allen in game 4 (Lakers down 3, after giving up a crazy lead... ugh, just watch).

Side note - do not place the blame on Pau Gasol at all. Anyone who plays high school, college, semi pro, pro, YMCA, and/or playground basketball can tell that Sasha gave up on the play, let Ray go to his right, tried to take a wimpy swipe at the ball and got the best seat in the house for the game clinching layup. Even Paul Pierce looks like "Whoa! Yeah, Alright! That was easy!" at the :34 second mark.

Despite this terrible defensive stance, Vujacic cashed in on his numbers (a great indication of skill, right?) and signed a 3 year/$15 million deal that summer.

Still haven't worked on those defensive slides, eh?!
(Photo from Yahoo)

Fast forward to now:

"All season I haven't been getting much playing time," Vujacic said. "It's OK. Coach has his rotation. At least now I know what my role is. He said the reason we had the talk, he told me what my role is and now I understand what my role is. I was trying to find out all season long. But now I know."

What is that role?

"Well, I'm out of the rotation," Vujacic said. "If they are winning, I'm not playing. If they are losing and the team is down by 20 points, then I get few minutes."

Translation: Oooohhh!!! Now I get it! If I (1) keep playing hyperactive defense where it looks like I'm working hard to try and make up for my Finals embarrassment act in 08 (but instead I pick up cheap fouls and put my hands over my mouth so it looks like it's a missed call by the ref - 4.7 fouls per 36 minutes this season, wow!), (2) keep taking terrible shots that don't come within the offense when I'm trying to shoot my way back into playing time (41% FG, 33% 3PT, you have to watch the games though to see his bad decision shots), and (3) keep talking back to coaches who are trying to help me and the Lakers beat teams like the Thunder (when the incident occurred) and not atoning for it (hasn't played the last 3 games!), then I'll never get into the rotation and only play when we're down 20 points!

Sasha has turned into a disgruntled employee, except it's not like you and me where his boss can just fire him. He's getting $5 million this year and a little more than $5 million next year! Sasha needs to ask himself if he should swallow his pride and apologize to get his... 8 minutes a game back? That's up to him.

But maybe, Sasha's career has peaked. Started off hitting some rookie and sophomore walls, had his breakout season during a contract year, cashed in, leveled off and is on the tail end of his career? Maybe... All I know is that his defense has always been suspect. Too hyperactive, too swipe-y, too easily beaten by average and above average players (but if he's guarding Steve Novak, forget about it!). I find it ironic and amusing that his biggest flaw was on full display during game 4 of the finals in crunch time, and he still cashed in.

Slowly but surely, Sasha is turning into Smush Parker circa Summer of 2007 when the Lakers said to Smush, you are not in our future plans. I predict the same thing will happen in the summer of 2011, if the Lakers don't try to unload his expiring contract before the trade deadline during the 2010-11 season. As for this year, it's pretty evident the Laker bench is non existent and Sasha's not helping himself, or the team. He needs to hit up Smush on Twitter or something before it's too late!

(Stats from BasketballReference)