Saturday, May 15, 2010

Playoffs baby, playoffs (part 2)

(Photo from Yahoo)
The second round of the playoffs is over as THE CAVALIERS (as a team) were beaten by the Boston Celtics in 6 games. LeBron James didn't lose the series, the Cavaliers did. Boston was the better team. You know what's crazy though? Somewhere in Boston, some hardcore Celtic fan who was probably screaming "NEW YORK KNICKS!" as LeBron was shooting free throws has possibly the last headband LeBron will ever wear as a Cavalier when he flinged it into the crowd as he was leaving the Boston Garden. EBAY!?!?! How much would that go for? I say thousands.

By the way, doesn't this series kind of prove that the NBA isn't fixed?
Playoff Performance of the Ages: Rondo in game 4. 29 points, 18 rebounds, 13 assists. Game changing plays. Twice he was on a fast break for a layup with LeBron trailing him to do one of his patented volleyball spike blocks against the backboard. Rondo goes up for the layup, LeBron follows, Rondo passes behind his back to a trailing Tony Allen for a dunk.

I'm pretty sure this happened twice but this was the only clip I could find. Either way, it was amazing. He was also hitting his open jump shots for the most part.

But hey, at least LeBron clapped hands with the Celtics. All I know is LeBron is going to enter the world of Kobe. Not the championship world, but the summer of constant questions, media and drama that Kobe faced when he was taken out of the playoffs by the Suns in 2007. Not a happy time for Laker fans, will not be a happy time for Cleveland fans... unless he re-signs.
But here's the thing. LeBron, if he re-signs with the Cavs, will the Cavs be that much better? Look at this: LeBron was $15 million this year. He's going to command 28-30$ million dollars with his new contract he will sign. Shaq's $20 million comes off the books this summer. Everyone else except some third stringers barely making any money at all is on contract for next year. Therefore, if he signs with the Cavs, they'll use Shaq's money to get LeBron that gigantic 30$ million dollar contract.... AND THE TEAM WILL REMAIN THE SAME (except for possibilities of a trade) (no picks in the draft this summer).

So the Cavs will be what we saw this year minus Shaq. They'll have Antawn Jamison for two more years (who should be getting a lot more grief than LeBron right now- DIDN'T SHOW UP), Mo Williams two, maybe 3 more years (player option 3rd year), Anderson Varejao until 2014, Daniel Gibson for 3 more years, Delonte West for another year... you get the picture.

But hey, I'm not going to speculate where he goes. Your guess is as good as mine. But I do know that the places with the most cap space to sign him to that 30ish$ million dollar contract are: New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards, Sacaramento Kings, and the Chicago Bulls. Any other team he wants to go to would have to be done through a sign-and-trade so teams wouldn't kill their profits with luxury taxes. So I'm not going to speculate, your guess is as good as mine, and as good as ESPN's... think about that.

In other series that have been over for awhile -

(Photo from Yahoo)
Lakers vs Utah - Well I expected a little more out of Kirilenko's return in game 3, but he played 17 minutes, and then 12 minutes in game 4.

Carlos Boozer put up some decent numbers but he also had some critical turnovers right underneath the basket in crunch time of both games 3 and 4. Either way, he'll get a nice pay day from a team desperate for a change. My guess is the Golden State Warriors.

Ego alert - I was correct in my prediction for the series:
The Lakers will now take on Utah who will be a much easier opponent than the Thunder for the simple question of, who's going to guard Kobe? Rookie, Wesley Matthews? Ronnie Price? Andrei Kirilenko says he hopes to be back by game 3, and he can play defense on Kobe but we'll see what kind of defensive stopper shows up after that calf injury.
And Kobe did have a much better shooting performance than in the first series. Wesley Matthews had some nice plays on Kobe, but ultimately couldn't stop him. In the 6 games against the Thunder, Kobe shot respectively: 31%, 43%, 34%, 50%, 44%, 48%. In four games against the Suns, he shot respectively: 63%, 45%, 54%, 48% all while topping 30 points every game.

Oh and they had no post offensive or defensive game. Pau Gasol dominated as he should have. What's funny is that he won't face a decent post defender for the third straight series against the Suns-- I'm looking for him to put up great numbers again. The Jazz will get Okur back next season, and hopefully they start Millsap in place of Boozer. Oh, they could also win the NBA draft lottery as they have the Knicks' pick, no matter where that pick falls. That would be interesting. By the way, the lottery is on May 18th. Good luck to your team.

Ron Artest's twitter account got into it with Phil Jackson. Phil Jackson, picking his fights wisely brushed it off and didn't start any drama. Ron Artest shot 4-7 from 3 point range the next night. Moving on...

Game 3 Funny Moment, Derek Fisher steals the ball and is on his way to a fast break layup, only CJ Miles swats it out of bounds to make the crowd go crazy. That's not the funny part, listen to Marv Albert:


Of course he's referring to Tayshaun Prince's block on...

Reggie Miller! Marv Albert's commentating partner! Oh way to remind Reggie Miller of a game saving block in the second round of the 2004 playoffs! Quick history: the Pistons were up by 2 points and with 15 seconds left, Reggie could have tied it, but Tayshaun blocked it away, taking a 2-0 lead to Detroit. Ahhh, Marv.

Regarding Fisher being a traitor to the Utah Jazz - Uhh Jazz fans, do you really think Fisher coming off the bench is going to make you a championship team? At the time, the Jazz were better than the Lakers. This is the summer when the Jazz made the Western Conference Finals, and the Lakers were beat in 5 games to the Suns. Bynum sucked. Kwame Brown was the 3rd option behind Lamar Odom, Fisher was but a light upgrade from Smush Parker. He didn't do it to be on a better team. Fisher cut $8 million dollars to sign with the Lakers. He didn't do it for money. If Fisher was on the Jazz. Jazz fans would complain about Fisher the way LA fans complain about Fisher. The Jazz fans just needed someone to boo.

(Photo from Yahoo)
Phoenix Suns vs San Antonio Spurs - I expected MUCH more from the Spurs. I even expected them to beat the Suns! Instead the complete opposite happened and they were swept. Game 4 featured a one eyed Nash still dismantling the Spurs defense... I'm pretty sure the better team won.

Here's something to take note of, the scores for each of the four games: All Suns wins- 111-102, 110-102, 110-96, 107-101. The Suns were consistent. They say they've worked on their defense, but the Spurs averaged 101 points this entire season.

Some questions the Spurs have, what to do with Tony Parker and George Hill? What to do with Richard Jefferson? Both Parker and Jefferson have one more season on contract at $15 and $13.5 million respectively. Those are expiring contracts they could trade away to a team looking for cap space for... 2011? Oh yeah, it was this summer that was the big off season sweepstakes. George Hill was starting quality in the first round against the Mavs. But so is Tony Parker, if he didn't get injured.

One issue they don't have to worry about anymore is Manu Ginobili- he was extended through the 2013 season. But the Spurs know how to draft so I'm sure they'll get some talent next month with the 20th and 49th pick (Tony Parker 28th pick, George Hill 26th pick, Manu 2nd round 28th pick, DeJuan Blair 2nd round 7th pick).

How will the Suns-Lakers series go? I predict a Lakers victory in 6 games. I see the Suns as a better version of the Thunder but with still no post presence. Amare and Nash do pick and rolls for days but I think Gasol, Kobe, Ron and Lamar can move and rotate well enough to at least slow it down a little bit. And again, who will guard Kobe? Jason Richardson and Grant Hill? They'll be better than Wesley Matthews but not better than Durant. I predict another efficient scoring games by both Kobe and Pau Gasol. Let's see if Ron Artest worked on his 3 point shooting during his week off.

(Photo from Yahoo)
Orlando Magic vs Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta was coming off a 7 game series with the Bucks and the Magic had swept the Bobcats a week earlier. Bibby couldn't hang with Jameer Nelson. The Hawks fans booed their team. Atlanta was swept out of the playoffs.

So what's next for the Hawks? Big FA name alert: Joe Johnson. Straight up Free Agent. Not a player option or anything. He decides where he wants to go and for how much. The Hawks have the money to sign him to a max deal and the core group of guys that can get him to the playoffs again, but is it a championship contending team? I think this is a bunch of freakishly athletic guys like Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, and Al Horford who can put up good numbers and play good defense. But in the playoffs, Horford was a bit undersized to handle Dwight Howard. Mike Bibby made 7 field goals for the entire series. The team has no bench besides Jamal Crawford and his behind the back cross over. And they fired their coach!

Atlanta has gone a long way from their terrible years in the early part of 2000s. They have some decisions to make this off season. Unfortunately, their core group of guys aren't as talented as championship contending teams' cores.

Which brings me to the Orlando Magic. 8-0 in the playoffs so far getting a lot of rest. Yes they played playoff teams, but they swept who they were supposed to sweep. Their test is here. The Boston Celtics, who they beat last year (Celtics were without KG). We'll see if Jameer Nelson can keep up with Rondo. I know for sure Rondo can keep up with Jameer. This Orlando team is weird though. They shoot a lot of 3 pointers. Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, Matt Barnes, Mikael Pietrus, JJ Redick can all hit from deep and they can all get hot. But I predict that the Celtics will be able to defend. I also think Perkins, Rasheed and Glen Davis can body up Dwight Howard a little better than Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia.

I honestly don't know who'll win this series but if I had to, I'd go with Orlando, by a hair. They get hot from 3 point line and just put take teams out. Dwight Howard protects the paint and limits any 2nd chance points with his rebounding. Vince Carter seems to be playing high quality basketball right now. But like I said, Boston could just as easily return to the Finals with Rondo playing out of his mind, Ray and Pierce hitting from outside and KG hitting those crazy fade aways. It will be a good series. That's all my thoughts on the second round and predictions for the third round, thanks for reading.

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