Monday, June 6, 2011

Eulogy: 2011 Celtics

Dear friends, family and opponents,

we are gathered here to mourn the dead end of a few NBA careers.

Shaquille O'Neal called it quits as the oldest player in the NBA and (not) playing like it with a serious ache that would not go away.

Jermaine O'Neal and Kevin Garnett are shells of their former All-Star selves, like cars with 140k on them that one day perform like a new Rolls Royce and the next day have to be taken into the shop because the check engine light is on. These guys are either going to get traded by the deadline or hurt the Celtics for years because of the opportunity cost that their contracts could get from a true contender.

Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are in that special part of their careers where they are good enough for management to stick with for awhile, and bad enough that this loyalty will prolong any rebuilding and championship mode. We are more likely to see Paul Pierce wheeled around a nursing home in a wheelchair than ever see him have a dramatic comeback in a finals game.

And, though the Celtics have only Pierce and Rondo signed for 2012, and have an eminently friendly contract for Rondo, we may see them mess this up by signing Dwight Howard and therefore getting two players who cannot handle the ball in the last 2 minutes of a close game because of poor free throw shooting.

Anyways, great idea to trade Perk! Bye-bye title hopes for next season and hello over-paying Jeff Green to be a future because if they don't the trade will look like a total waste.

Eulogy: 2011 Grizzlies

Dear friends, family and opponents

we are gathered here to witness that having great 1 through 9 depth and an athletic team will only get you so far if you do not have a true superstar.

The Grizzlies have an Atlanta Hawks-style roster right now, one which looks promising, athletic, young and with a couple quasi-superstars (Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay) that will get you to the playoffs year-in and year-out, but will never get you to the Conference Finals.

This is the type of team that slowly drains the life out of a mid-market city's fans. Yes, they will get to see some good basketball for years, Yes, they will see a couple great players develop into second-tier All-Stars, And yes, they will see an exciting upset or two.

But every year they get their hopes up for the playoffs, every year that it seems they can make one or two upsets to make it to the Finals and every year that they realize they are a great player short of accomplishing anything special, will suck the life out of these fans.

Welcome to the over-achieving mid-market world!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Eulogy: 2011 Nuggets

Dear friends, family and opponents,

when you trade two superstars away and your defense automatically gets 10 points better, usually that is a point to celebrate. If you cannot get past the first round because you have no one who can score on offense, it stops becoming a point to celebrate.

Yes, Denver made out better in the Melo trade than any could have expected. No, it won't matter to their future success.

Every year, one team is a winner and the rest are losers. The only successful team in the NBA each year is the championship team.

And with the guns Denver has now (and an increasingly disappointing Danilo Gallinari), they are going to have to make some great trades and signings to be anywhere near competing. Yes, they are going to be way under the cap the next two season, but one of those seasons may have a lockout and the cap is likely to decrease, meaning just about all the superstars are already signed to long-term deals.

And when your teams two big moves the last few years was to trade for Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups way past their primes, you cannot have much faith that they are going to do the right thing with all the room they have to maneuver.

Eulogy: 2011 Hornets

Dear friends, family and opponents,

we are here to celebrate the Hornets before the NBA decides it has no choice and ships out Chris Paul and relocates the team to another city.

Hornets' fans most likely will be able to celebrate Chris Paul forming a trio of superstars in New York to compete with the Heat. Yes, that first half season after the trade deadline will give the Knicks some kinks, but don't worry, you will get to see your former superstar go deep in the playoffs with another team!

Meanwhile, you'll get to see David West as he increasingly stops passing out of double and triple teams, and Emeka Okafor stop giving a defensive effort because the team sucks.

Then you will get to see your team getting a couple lottery picks before moving to another city, then killing it because they have some blue chips a la the Seattle, errr, I mean Oklahoma City Thunder.

Welcome to the beginning of the end for the New Orleans Hornets!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

NBA Finals Predictions

Am I hoping picking against the Mavs will give them some reverse mojo like it has for the first 3 rounds of the playoffs? Yes.

Do I think the Mavs will actually win the NBA Finals? No.

Unfortunately, the Miami Heat, who this year officially took the title of sports villains in so resounding a way only the Hitler's 1938 Olympic Team, Soviet Union Hockey team, the late 80s and early 90s Pistons and the 2007 Patriots were bigger villains.

Though I, too, have a venomous hate for the Miami Heat, I hope the last round put to rest who deserved the NBA MVP this year. Lebron James is by far and away the best player in the league, and if he adds a title to his resume this year, he will be a long ways down the road to being a Top 10 NBA Player of All-Time.

James does not only do everything on the court well (except shoot 3s, as him, Dwayne Wade and Derrick Rose, all MVP candidates this season, seem to have a disease that because they can shoot inside well that they can shoot the 3 well, too.... and they can't,) everything he does on the court well, he does better than anyone else.

If he wanted to be a better passer than Rondo, he could.

If he wanted to score about 30 a game like Durant, he could.

If he wanted to rebound the ball the whole game and have offenses plan around him like Howard, he could.

And if he wanted to shut down your best player offensively, 1 through 5, he could.

He is the Magic Johnson if this generation, a player who was once inserted as a rookie into a Finals game to play center instead of his natural position at point guard. Lebron is the same type of player.

Add to the mix that Wade has been his incredibly efficient self, and that Bosh has done enough to win 2 or 3 games for the Heat this postseason by himself and Miami looks close to unbeatable.

Miami also made the upgrade of starting Joel Anthony over Zydrunas Ilguaskas, and, if they are smart, they will start Chalmers over a struggling Bibby (though it seems unlikely they will actually do this.) Having Udonis Haslim back will be a small bolster to their bench as well.

The Mavericks, meanwhile, are old. So old. And I swear, even though I have been saying this the whole postseason, it will catch up with them.

Nowitzki will be his regular self this series, but Bosh should be able to prevent him from going completely off, and the ability of both Wade and Lebron dig down against Nowitzki and recover against their own man quickly should play a big role in frustrating the big German.

Wade and Lebron's defense also should be frustrating to one of the other main reasons the Mavericks are winning: the incredible shooting of Peja Stojokovic and Jason Terry off the bench.

The one place I see an advantage for Dallas is the point guard position in the matchup between Jason Kidd and Mike Bibby. Bibby cannot shoot the ball. He cannot play defense. And he cannot rebound. Kidd is going to kill him this series, and hopefully that will finally put to bed for Spoelstra who his starting point guard should be next season.

I do not see this series as being close. If the Bulls and Celtics could not win 2 games against the Heat, I cannot imagine the Mavs winning two.

Prediction: Heat in 5

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Eulogy: 2011 Magic

Dears friends, family and opponents,

we are here to gather for what is probably the Magic's last playoff run with Dwight Howard.

Yes, next season we are probably going to see a Melodrama focusing on whether Howard is going to stay or leave, and with the deals the Magic made this season it will likely end in a sign and trade to the Lakers or the Celtics.

Howard single-handedly made the Magic a top-tier NBA team, winning his third Defensive Player of the Year in a row and torching the Hawks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Hawks let Howard get his down-low in a single coverage and left everyone else open to take ill-advised 3s that would never work.

And on the offensive end, they penetrating at will and with guards killed the team with the largest defensive presence inside, outside and from mid-range.

You have a couple more years of Gilbert Arenas looking like he is trying to come back from injuries, but not really giving that much effort. And, once Howard is shipped away, bye-bye playoffs for years to come.

Eulogy: 2011 Trail Blazers

Dear friends, family and opponents,

we are gathered here to mourn the loss of the 2011 Trail Blazers.

Yes, they still had some players who were alive during the playoffs, even one that came back alive in Brandon Roy.

Yes, we can probably expect more injuries to happen during the next season. When are they going to change their training staff? Probably never, their ownership might as well be that woman from the "Major League" movie franchise, except for some reason they like spending more money than any other team on players they know are going to get injured.

The training staff admitted halfway through the season that, because of all the injuries the last few years, they have considered changing up their tactics. Really, it took you that long to figure out 2 or 3 major injuries a year was out-of-the-ordinary?

Anyways, we can expect the Trail Blazers to re-build through the draft on a team that is becoming increasingly injury-prone (because Sam Bowie and Greg Oden worked out so well for them.)

Another couple years of great coaching and terribly injury-prone players? Yeah, that is the formula for getting a team who's surprisingly good means surprisingly mediocre.

Western Conference Finals Prediction

I have predicted the Mavs were going to lost every single round up until now, and I see no reason to change that because it has been working out so well for me.

The Thunder are more athletic, faster, stronger and, now with Perkins, are much tougher than the Mavs.

They have the best scorer in the game in Kevin Durant, who is also quickly becoming the best shooter. They have the athleticism in Sege Ibaka to challenge Nowitzki from deep, and they have the toughness inside with Kendrick Perkins that has always been Nowitzki's weakness.

The Mavericks' success in the playoffs has been predicated on three things: Jason Kidd's phenomonal play in the first round, Peja Sojokavic and Jason Terry being on fire from the bench in the second round and Dirk being Dirk.

Even with Ibaka and Perkins, the Thunder are likely only to dampen the Dirk effect rather than stop it. They, however, should be able to single cover Dirk and limit the Mavericks other options with their athleticism, something that the Trail Blazers and Lakers were not able to do.

On the offensive side, Russell Westbrook should be able to kill Jason Kidd. Kidd had a tough enough time guarding Andre Miller in the first round, especially when he posted up. Russell Westbrook will present new challenged because of his youth, speed and athleticism, but you are more likely to see him kick the ball out when he gets down low, rather than score like Miller was (Westbrook is one of the worst players in the league scoring in the basket area.)

And the person he will be kicking out to? Kevin Durant.

Prediction: Thunder in 6 (with some Thunder blow-outs)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Eastern Conference Finals Prediction

The Miami Heat proved they could do in the playoffs what they could not do in during the season: close out games.

Lebron James has been one, if not the, best players in the league un the last couple minutes during a close game these last few seasons. He got that magic back in the first two rounds in the playoffs.

Dwayne Wade is still looking to get to the same level at the end of games, but Lebron looks like he can carry the load for the last few minutes while Wade has been on fire for the rest of games.

Bosh still has not had a great playoff run, but he has certainly done enough to keep this team afloat during difficult minutes with key rebounding, averaging almost 10 a game throughout the Heat's playoff run. He is not shooting the ball particularly well at 45%, but he only needs to shoot the ball well enough to draw out the opponent's defense on a team that does not have any other good shooters from 15 to 20 other than Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who has not played well at all.

As for the supporting cast, Erik Spoelstra finally made the move to put Joel Anthony as a starter instead of the struggling Ilgauskas. He will have to start playing Mario Chalmers more minutes and cutting back Bibby's minutes, especially playing D Rose, if they want a shot at this series.

As for the Bulls, they are strong defensively (at the 2, 3 and 4) where Miami is strong offensively and strong offensively (at the 1 and 5) where the Miami is weak.

D Rose shoudl have a field day against Mike Bibby and Chalmers should have difficulty scoring against Rose on the offensive end. The point guard match-up in this series is a huge advantage for Chicago, and should contribute to Chicago winning this series.

The bigger thing, however, that will contribute to a series win is a home court advantage in a series that should be really close, as you can expect each team to take one on the other opponent's floor, but no more.
Home court will leave the Bulls in the driver's seat.

Prediction: Bulls in 7

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Eulogy: 2011 Spurs

Dear friends, family and opponents,

we are here to mark the end of the 2011 Spurs, but also the end of their title hopes.

Duncan is hopping around like is going to be the next Kurt Thomas, yes, impressive because of his "experience" and able to make "veteran" plays, completely unable to be anything but a role player who is not going to take too much off the table but is not going to put anything on it, either.

This year was the last chance for a title, don't worry Spurs fans, it looks like Celtics' and Lakers' fan are going to be in the same place soon, and I imagine Mavericks' fan will be there soon.

Yes, this season has proved that Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili cannot carry the load themselves, and another year for Ginobili and Richard Jefferson is not going to do them any good.

The last couple years have proven this dynasty was all Duncan's. Tim Duncan will have the honor as going down as the most "fundamental" (aka boring) player in the modern game. And people will talk of him as a top 20 player with the enthusiasm that they talk about George Mikan.

For now, it seems the Spurs spent their last title hopes.

Don't worry, you can watch some white guys and George Hill launch contested 3s for the next 2 years.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Second Round Predictions

Eastern Conference

1. Chicago versus 5. Atlanta

Atlanta won their series with the Magic for 3 reasons: the ability of the Hawks to dribble penetrate against the Magic, their ability to get open to knick down 3 point shots and the ability to single cover Dwight Howard with Zaza Pachulia or Jason Collins.

The first two had to do with the Magic's lack of perimeter speed and the second one had to do with Howards inability to score from the mid-range and lack of refined post moves.

The Hawks are going to have a much tougher time with the Bulls.

With Ronnie Brewer, Derrick Rose and Keith Bogans, the Bulls can stop the dribble penetration that made the Hawks a difficult match-up for the Magic and the Bulls will not give up such open looks from distance.
Jamal Crawford really killed the Magic, shooting 43.5% from the field, 45.9% from the 3 point line and scoring 20.5 points per game. Those numbers are more likely to look like 40%, 35% and 10 to 15 points per game this series, which will really hurt the Hawks because he was such a big reason they beat the Magic.

On the defensive end, the Hawks are going to have their hands full with Kirk Hinrich (who has a hamstring injury and may miss game 1) or Jamal Crawford trying to guard Derrick Rose. Hinrich is not quick enough to cover rose, though he is a good defender, and Crawford is not a sound enough defender, though he is closer to Rose's quickness. Crawford also prefers to use his energy at the offensive end, and covering Rose will take Crawford out of his offense.

Boozer should also destroy this defense. Pachulia and Collins were good against Howard (though Howard did have a monster series anyways) because they were tough around the basket. Boozer is not as one-dimensional offensively as Howard, and can face up from the elbows, put his back to the basket in the post, score from the mid-range and has great footwork and a number of low post moves.

I suspect Boozer will play in game 1, he is not a baseball player and a toe stub is not going to keep him out of a playoff game.

This series is going to be a tough one for the Hawks.

Prediction: Bulls in 5

2. Miami versus 3. Boston

This series features 7 All Stars, the most in a playoff series since 1983.

Boston will win if one of two things happen: Shaq is able to play the whole series or Mario Chalmers plays under 25 minutes a game.

Shaq completely changes this teams' offense. With Shaq in, Rondo is the most dangerous person on the court: he can penetrate at will because defenders cannot come off Shaq, he has two players to set great screens (Shaq and KG or Shaq and Davis), he does not have to shoot from mid-range as much because with Shaq (and not Jermaine O'Neal) downlow KG and Davis can play their natural games at 18 feet.

He is also a big upgrade on Nenad Kristic (who has not gotten much playing time in the postseason, with the Celtics going small with Jeff Green) on the defensive end: he will not let people get easy dunks around the basket like Kristic does.

Chalmers, meanwhile, got more playing time (25 to 20) than Bibby at the point guard spot during the first round. The Sixers' point guard, Jrue Holiday, gave Bibby fits at times and the Heat originally went with Chalmers for more time in the beginning of the series, then reverse course later in the series.

They are going to have to go with Chalmers for 25 plus minutes a game (in every game) if they want to slow down Rondo and win this series. They should have been playing Chalmers more minutes (though still off the bench because he is hesitant to shoot from the outside, and works perfectly playing with Mike Miller, James Jones and Eddie House) than both Arroyo and Bibby the whole season.

The Heat on the offensive end will rely on big games from Wade and/or Lebron. KG should have the advantage in his match-up with Bosh, especially if he is able to force Bosh to his right.

Meanwhile, Lebron and Wade each should be able to carry their team to victory once in this series, but the Celtics will limit the weapons around them enough so that is all the Heat will get.

The Heat are going to be stubborn with Chalmers' playing time, even after Rondo starts to scorch them, and it is going to cost the Heat this series.

Prediction: Celtics in 6

Western Conference

2. Los Angeles versus 3. Dallas

Los Angeles had more trouble and Dallas had less trouble than I expected in the first round.

Both these teams, because of their age, are probably happy they are facing each other instead of facing the Grizzlies or the Thunder.

Age still favors the Lakers, as they have enough experience and enough players in their prime to deal with Dallas and their aging core in Nowitzki, Kidd, Shawn Marion and Terry.

The Lakers also have such an advantage with skilled big men, and as long as Andrew Bynum can stay healthy Lamar Odom is going to kill the Mavericks off the bench.

The Mavericks' Caron Butler may return for this series to give the Mavericks added depth, but with so much time off and such a serious injury even if he does return he is not going to be a factor.

The only place where Dallas has an advantage is at the point.

Jason Kidd really killed the Trail Blazers and he should be effective again on the offensive end against the Lakers, but Fisher is not going to let him do what he did against the Trail Blazers in the first round.
That one advantage will not be enough, and the Lakers are going to dominate the Mavericks inside.

Prediction: Lakers in 6

4. Oklahoma City versus 8. Memphis

The Grizzlies and the Thunder are the future of the Western Conference. Both teams are young and have their core intact for a long time.

The Grizzlies were lucky in who they drew as an 8th seed. The Spurs are the best team in NBA playoff history ( a number 1) who drew a terrible match-up for them in the first round. The Grizzlies were everything the Spurs were not: young, athletic and fast.

The Thunder are going to be much tougher for them.

Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka are going to frustrate Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol down low.
Westbrook should be able to protect the ball better than Tony Parker did and will not let Mike Conley get inside on the defensive end.

And Kevin Durant is the best scorer in the NBA.

This series is not even going to be close.

Prediction: Thunder in 5

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Eulogy: 2011 76ers

Dear friends, families and opponents,

we are gathered here to honor the Doug Collins' first year job with the 76ers.

Doug Collins has done it again, taken an underperforming group of basketball players, turned the franchise around in his first year, and like he did with the Bulls, the Pistons and the Wizards, he will work them into champion form.

What, those teams did not win championships? The players ran Doug Collins out of town by his third year every time because he worked them into the ground? You say he is the coach most able to take the goodwill he builds up in the first year and somehow have it all come crashing down against him?

Eulogy: 2011 Pacers

Eulogy: 2011 Pacers

Dear friends, families and opponents,

we are gathered here today to celebrate the 2011 Pacers.

Yes, celebrate a team that got knocked out of the first round of the playoffs.

In the heart of basketball fandom, a state that boasts Indiana State, Butler and one plunky Hickory High team coached by Gene Hackman, apparently just making the playoffs is something to be celebrated.
Long-gone are the hopes of an NBA title in the house that Reggie built. This mid-market team has been haunted by the ghost of

Monday, April 25, 2011

Eulogy: 2011 Knicks

Eulogy: 2011 Knicks

Dear friends, family and opponents,

we are gathered here today to say goodbye to the 2011 Knicks, the first team eliminated from the playoffs.
The Knicks have not made the playoffs for 6 years, and boy did it show. They fell apart at the end of the first 2 games in Boston and got blown out on their home court twice.

But, hope shines eternal (or at least until Amar'e gets seriously injured) in Knickerbockeland. They have two superstars, one old man who resembles someone who used to be a basketball player and 12 spare tires that can be traded in for upgrades.

Yes, in two years they might actually make it to the second round. For next year they hope to win at least one playoff game.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

First Round Playoff Predictions

Eastern Conference
1.Chicago Versus 8.Indiana
The Pacers have been brilliant at times this season, as evident by their 144 point annihilation of the Nuggets' defense early in the season.

They have all the pieces of what should be a great offense for years. Danny Granger would probably have been a perennial All Star if he was not playing in the second most (to the late 80s and early 90s) stacked time in league history talent-wise. Roy Hibbert is the perfect person to pair with the rebound-challenged Granger. Darren Collison is having another solid year and looks poised to make some strides forward as his game develops. And Tyler Hansbrough has become more comfortable and has had some wonderful performances since seeing an increase in minutes.

Even for the future, these players look at best like a strong 2 through 5 and the Pacers will need a big-time player and a couple pieces for their bench before they are ready to compete.

Chicago has got it done the Coach Thibodeau way in his first season, with a monstrous defense effort (only comparable to Thibodeau's old team the Boston Celtics) and a middling offense that relies pretty exclusively on Derrick Rose, Luol Deng when he plays stretches when Rose is on the bench and Carlos Boozer.
Instead, Thibodeau has gone with Keith Bogans and Kurt Thomas (when Boozer and/or Noah was injured) as starters, irking the Bulls' fans in the beginning of the season. The emphasis of the defensive contributions these players have made cannot be lost and Chicago's winning ways have given Thibodeau some leeway when it comes to the fans.

The playoffs is a different animal, and Chicago will find itself missing the contributions Dwayne Wade or Lebron James (or even Chris Bosh) could have made to their playoff run as their bench shortens up.
In the first round, however, it should only cost them a game.

Prediction: Bulls in 5

2.Miami versus 7. Philadelphia

The 76ers' are a team full of semi-disappointments: players who put in the work to improve their game, but cannot, through no fault of their own, get over the stygma of being drafter too early.

Evan Turner, last year's 2nd overall pick, joins Elton Brand (1st), Andre Iguodala (9th), Thaddeus Young (12th) and Spencer Hawes (10th) in this group.

The 76ers have surprisingly re-branded themselves as a defensive team and have scored on the fast break, but are horrendous in halfcourt ball and rely far too much on either Brand or Iguodala to come up with something.

Iguodala was on the trading block for much of the season, which would make sense if Turner was becoming the player the 76ers had hoped (and everyone else knew he wouldn't) become. He is not, and trading Iguodala, unless they were getting something of unfair value in return, would not have made sense since the 76ers are finally doing some things right since A.I's initial departure more than 4 years ago.

The Heat have cooled down considerably since a 22 and 1 run after they started the season 9 and 8.
Bosh, Wade and James are all under career averages in turns of minutes and should benefit in that they are no longer completely carrying their teams alone come playoff time.

Despite the addition of Mike Bibby (which I thought made no sense, since Chalmers is a B level defender who could at least slow down Rondo and Rose, and now Bibby has stepped in with his Jason Kidd-like slow lateral movement and taken what could have been quality meshing time away from Chalmers and Miami's Big Three) this should be a cake-walk for the Heat.

Prediction: Heat in 4

3.Boston versus 6. New York

The Knicks and the Celtics are two teams stumbling into the playoffs.

Adjusting after major trades is difficult: the Knicks have gone 14 and 15 since the trade that brought in Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups (despite a recent 7 game win streak in which they played mostly non-playoff teams) and the Celtics started out the Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic era on a 5 game win streak but have gone 10 and 11 since.

For both teams, defense has been the problem.

How well the Nuggets have played defense (they are holding opponents to almost 10 points less a game since Melo left) has exposed how poor a defensive player Melo (and possibly even Chauncy Billups) is.
Meanwhile, after a honeymoon period that saw Nenad Kristic play some inspired offense, teams have found that they can destroy the Celtics in the paint. With Garnett's tendency to overplay the man he is guarding, and without Perkins there to back him up, plan on seeing Amar'e Stoudemire getting dunk after dunk.
The Celtics are also notorious for drawn-out series and not putting opponents away.

All this spells out a first round series that is going to wear out the old team enough to make the second round difficult at best, impossible at worst.

Prediction: Celtics in 6

4. Orlando versus 5. Atlanta

The Magic did the right thing in terms of timing with their trades. If you are going for a championship this season, pulling the trigger earlier than the trade deadline helps a lot.

Unfortunately, the trades they made hurt them instead of helped them.

Gilbert Arenas is not the player who once was and the Magic would have been better off letting Rashad Lewis play through his slump instead of trading him. He was the perfect combo to Dwight Howard in stretching the floor on the offensive end and helping somewhat on the defensive end.

When they signed Vince Carter a couple years ago, they hoped they had someone who could take on the crunch-time scoring role. What they got was a player who fell into too many jump shots and shied away from contact.

VC for Jason Richardson was the main part of the first trade they made, and essentially they got the same bombs-away from outside player they had in VC.

Still, the first trade made sense if they thought Richardson had some physical and mental toughness VC did not (and he does), but the second trade probably cost them a serious run in the playoffs.

The Magic are essentially the same take 3 point shots and let Howard get all the rebounds and put-backs they were before the trade, yet now they are down Rashard Lewis and a future first round draft pick.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks, the team the Magic swept out of the playoffs a year ago, added Kirk Hinrich this season yet have not made any major roster overhaul nor strategic change in the last 4 years.

With Josh Smith, Zaza Pachulia and Al Horford, the Hawks do not have enough forward fire power to take advantage of the hole left defensively by Lewis leaving with Howard on the bench.

They are, however, a very good fast break team with penetrating guards like Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague and Joe Johnson, with both Johnson and Hinrich able to hit the outside shots. Plan to see more of Jeff Teague in this series as the Hawks look to take advantage of the age and lack of lateral quickness at the Magic's guard positions.

The Magic entered the playoffs hot last year and benefited in the first rouund against an unprepared Hawks' team. That is not going to happen again.

Prediction: Hawks in 6

Western Conference

1. San Antonio versus Memphis

Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay have really come along this season, and both seemed poised to make the jump to franchise players the next couple years.

The Grizzlies also have a good, young point guard in Mike Conley (even if they overpaid him to extend his contract.)

The Grizzlies put an emphasis on defense in playing new pick-up Tony Allen and Sean Young over O.J. Mayo, but Mayo still gives the Grizzlies a lot of flexibility if Zach Randolph or Rudy Gay do not have it going offensively.

And they have Shane Battier to bring in for defense.

This is not a team with one killer offensive player, but they are strong 1 to 8 like no other team in the NBA, which should benefit them hugely as playoff rotations are cut down to 8 or 9 people.

They should also benefit in playing a San Antonio team that has a few key players (Ginobili, Jefferson and Duncan) over 30.

The Spurs still have a couple good young pieces in George Hill and Matt Bonner, and Tony Parker has not reached the wrong side of 30 yet.

The Spurs were very fortunate in terms of injuries during the season and keeping up their health is unlikely because of the law of averages, the long season and the age of their key players.

The Spurs are unfortunate that they drew such an athletic and young team that has given them fits during the regular season.

Still, their 3 point shooting will be the difference in this series.

Prediction: Spurs in 7

2. L.A. versus 7. New Orleans

Chris Paul has played out of his mind this season despite injuries keeping him from using his athleticism. He has quietly become more efficient while keeping up his steal and assist numbers. He does not deserve to be the MVP, but does deserve to be in the conversation (which he is not because New Orleans is a small market team.)

The Hornets are missing their other key player in David West, which will hurt them a ton.

They also have Emeka Okafor for some much-needed rebounding and defense.

And Carl Landry is a solid player.

Other than that, the Hornets have nothing.

The Lakers, despite their recent troubles, are the cream of the crop in the NBA, and are the two-time defending champs for a reason.

With Bynum healthy and Odom coming off the bench, this team is near unstoppable.

And believe Kobe wants to prove he can 3-peat without Shaq.

Do not take the Lakers' recent struggles as evidence for how this team is going to play during the playoffs.

Prediction: Lakers in 4.

3. Dallas versus 6. Portland

Portland again manages to make something out of nothing, having another run in the playoffs despite tons of injuries.

Andre Miller may be the most underrated in a league suddenly dominated by point guards. He has been getting it done for over a decade with little fanfare.

Brandon Roy is still working back from injury and probably will not add much to the Trail Blazers' playoff run.

LaMarcus Aldridge is the key here, and with a match-up against Dirk Nowitzki he should be able to push the big German around.

The Mavericks are the only team comparable to the Celtics in being on their last legs.

They failed to make a deadline deal that could of yielded a key piece or built them for the future, instead going with the horses they have.

In a league full of great point guards, Jason Kidd is not going to get it done defensively. Miller may not be the best point in the league and may not have the speed to make things hard like other point guards might, but this is not going to be a match-up that favors the Mavs.

Jason Terry and Shawn Marion are not the players they used to be.

The Mavericks are going to rely on Tyson Chandler to be the difference in stopping Aldridge at the rim when he beats Dirk, and that is not something that is going to go the Mavs' way.

Prediction: Trail Blazers in 7

4. Oklahoma City versus Denver

Denver has made great strides defensively since their trade deadline deal, and they have been the only team to make a major deal and click right away.

Arron Afflalo has been missing in the action a lot recently, and getting him back into the lineup and adjusted playing with his new teammates may be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

With the trade, this team is full of players without playoff experience, and they do not have a go-to player nor even a legitimate number 2 option.

The Nuggets did the best they could giving Carmelo's imminent departure, but they are still two players away from being anything more than a whisper during the playoffs, their success since the trade deadline notwithstanding.

The Thunder, meanwhile, have some playoff experience under their belts and even more importantly Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook saw some real pressure to perform with the whole world watching during their time playing for team USA.

Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins are a lethal tandem defending around the rim and should only get better as the years go by.

Despite this being a number 4 seed against a number 5, it is more like a number 2 seed going against a number 7.

Prediction: Thunder in 5

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top 10 Basketball Pet Peeves

1.  kicking the basketball
2. people who cannot handle losing
3. people who cannot handle winning
4. people who play offense and no d
5. people who do not run the floor
6. people who do not box out
7. people who say your fouling when you are not fouling
8. fancy moves from players who have no business trying them
9. fancy moves that do not get the team closer to scoring a basket
10. losing because of a lack of effort or winning despite a lack of effort (then shoving it in the other team's face)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

5 Star Players' Games if They Were Rap Song

1.Kobe Byrant- "Hit'em Up" Tupac

Kobe Bryant plays a relentless game that seeks revenge on all those who doubted he could do it without Shaq. His statement "I got more rings than Shaq" is comparable to Tupac's "little homey's" line "Get out the way yo, get out the way yo, Biggie Smalls just got dropped."

Now that Shaq has teamed up with the Celtics, and other Kobe mortal enemies Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, he has the chance to hate on Shaq's buddies like Tupac hated on "Lil' Kim yah coked up or doped up, get your little junior mafia whopper click smoked up."

And just like with Tupac, the Celtics, the Knicks, the Bulls and the Heat don't want to see "the West Side ride the night" and for the East Coast Kobe is still "the Thug that you love to hate."

2. Steve Nash - "Young Forever" Jay Z

Steve Nash and his 11+ assists has us believing, just like Jay Z, that he has a long time to stay relevant and that he is going to be "forever young."

Nash lives where "the sun's always out and you never get cold."

Like this song, Nash's game is so smooth that you do not realize his "flow" is going at a decent pace.

And the "champagne's always cold," because Nash is never going to win a title and that shit is going to stay on ice.

3. The Miami Heat Big 3- "Fight for Your Right to Party" Beastie Boys

"Coach [Spoelstra] wants us to work, and we just wanna chill" said Chris Bosh early in the season.

Miami is still fighting for the right to party, with a 2 and 10 record against the major contenders this season and trying to take their talents and their dancing skills to South Beach.

Spoelstra is the uncool parents and the Big 3 are the Beastie Boys, trashing the place, partying.

Their game fits this song, as it is fast-paced and often messy.

4. Ray Allen - "Dear Mama" Tupac

Every Celtics' home game is like an ode from Ray Allen to his mother.

She is just about always there supporting him and shouting praise from the stands.

And for Ray Allen, there is "no way [he] could pay [her] back" and through the NBA "drama there is no way [Ray] can always depend on [his] mama."

5. Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony - "Rapper's Delight" Sugar Hill Gang

The New York Knicks play a care-free run and gun game that is as light as the first song to take rap commercial.

Like this song, the Knicks have no depth and do not worry about defense of their home.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why the Slow Down in Posting and When Are the Basketball Bloggers' Awards?

I am in the middle of looking at new options for web design and hosting to improve the quality of this site.

I want to keep the feature you see in the right column on the new site hosted on my own domain.

As such, I will be unable to post for the next couple weeks.
This, along with some personal commitments both Neil Paine and New York Vinnie (2 of my 3 judges for the awards), will delay the bloggers' awards. Luke Ewalt has already voted so we have 1 down of 3! And I have 4 or 5 descriptions of nominations to finish.

I will update you on the progress of these thing as soon as possible.

Also, my friend Patrick Antoine has designed a sick logo for the awards. I will release it within the next week and give you my contact information if you are interested in Pat designing a logo for your own blog or website. He is inexpensive and very good.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mellow Out On Melo

In Bill Simmons' recent mailbag, he agreed with a reader that called Carmelo Anthony a "13 year-old, manipulative girl."

You Have a Job and You Want to Go Somewhere Else

So, you have a job and you want to go somewhere else. You have told your boss's about this 9 months in advance. You have told them money is not an issue, the issue is both location and being on a cutting-edge team in order to do your best work. You have told them your wife does not like the location. You have told them you want to be closer to home. And you have told them all this without spreading it around the office that the people you work for just simply are not making the cut anymore.

Are You Being Manipulative?

What have you done that has manipulated the situation for your benefit? You did not negotiate with your bosses in order to artificially raise the price on your services. You are still giving your all at work everyday. You have given them 9 MONTHS instead of the two-week notice in order for them to prepare for your departure. You have made clear the reasons that they cannot retain your services.

Why Do We Hold Athletes to a Different Standard?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Back to BAasics

I may be the only one
on the court to wear
beat up running shoes recommended
by my doctor for my weary knees.

The rest of the guys
wear younger shoes
in more colorful hues
like white and yellow
or black and red

and attached to their shoes
are names like Melo
or Jordan or Lebron or Kobe,
while my name is basic,
my shoes simply a pair of Aasics.

And they make pretty plays
in their pretty shoes-
for they do not fear to lose
because they forgot to box out
or they are too busy on the offensive end, a pout
preventing them from transition d.

But who needs defense,
when you look so pretty?
Just need shoes, the right color, the rights hues
and a name to fit thee.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pickup Speak

There are many things
one hears
between the bouncing of the basketball,
some are light, little notes
the player gives himself,
like "follow-through,"
or "box-out,"

most often,
these notes are during a bad day-
and quickly become "C'mon Billy!"
or they begin to blame their opponents,
"What the fuck, Collins!
Ease off me," they say,
calling a foul.

Then there are the point guards,
always the encouragers on offense,
saying "nice shot!" or "good re!"
to their teammates,
and also calling for a
"pick and roll," or "pick and pop."

And on defense it is the bigs,
warning "pick left,"
or "give him help,"
or "box out!"
to the guards who allow their man
to get into the paint and steal the rebound.

Then there are the Ray Allens of the court,
who run around endlessly,
whose defender the bigs on defense have to warn
of picks, whose point guard can no longer tell him
"nice shot!" because of the sheer energy it takes
to shout that so many times,
and Jesus Shuttlesworth
running around the court with those soft footsteps,
the only talking he does
when the ball kisses the net.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why Do I Want the Mavericks to Swap Kidd for Nash?

Nash is a great player, as evidenced by his two M.V.P.s (even thought I do not think he deserved these.) At 36, he is still playing near or at the level of these seasons. He does everything you want from your point guard on the offensive end: he penetrates at will, he does not overdribble, he keeps the ball moving and, most importantly, he makes the right decisions. He also has the added benefit of shooting like an elite shooting guard.

Kidd was a great player, he is no longer the type that can dribble penetrate, he still makes good decisions but he has been ravaged by declining skills and his offensive role has basically been relegated to spot-up specialist.

Why, then, would I love to see a swap of Kidd for Nash so that if my Celtics meet the Mavericks in the Finals they would have a much better chance at winning?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

KD: What Other Famous People Were Doing at the Age Durant Is Going to Win His Second Scoring Title

Obama: graduating from Columbia University

Eminem: cooking and dishwashing at Gilbert's Lodge

Edgar Allen Poe: raising $170 from his fellow cadets to pay for his 3rd volume of poetry

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Who Is the Most Important Player on the Miami Heat?

The most important of the Heat 3 is Chris Bosh. He is not near as effective a player as Wade or Lebron. The reason he fulfills the title as "Heat's Most Important Player" is his strategic importance.

As I discuss in "Top 10 Isolation Players," Wade and Lebron fill very similar roles for the Heat. Bosh fulfills a unique role that the Heat cannot do without.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Are Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen Successful Way into Their 30s and Antoine Walker and Allen Iverson Not?

On ABC's broadcast of the Lakers-Celtics game yesterday, an analyst mentioned how Kobe Bryant actually made it to the arena before Ray Allen. Ray Ray is known for being the NBA player most likely to make it to the arena before anyone else.

These two are head and shoulders above the rest of the league when it comes to effort. This not only means making it to the arena before anyone else, it also means taking care of their bodies in the weight room.

Antoine Walker was known as the first player on the court and the last player off. Allen Iverson was notorious for his rant on "practice" and for his effort on the court.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top 10 Isolation Players

At the end of the game, if the other team is one or two points ahead, a team goes to its best isolation player. Often, they will clear one side of the floor and let the clock run to 5 seconds. Having a good isolation player is crucial to being a good team. Here's who you want in isolation plays in general and, especially, at the end of games.

10. Lebron James

Surprised to see him so far down this list? If you saw him try to catch the Heat up with an untimely 3 point shot that hit off the very top of the backboard, or any other unsightly jump shots, you would understand. Isolation players do not need to be able to nail 3s, there is usually some other player on the team for this role (in Miami's case, Mike Miller.)

They do need to do 4 things well: get to the rim, get fouled, hit free throws once they are fouled and hit midrange jumps shots. Lebron scores an A+ on the first two, a B on hitting free throws and an unfortunate C - when it comes to hitting jump shots. This is not going to put you at the top of this list.

Friday, January 21, 2011

First Impressions: Blake Griffin

Let me preface this article by saying, unfortunately, I got tired last night and was not able to watch the whole Clippers-Blazers game. Therefore, there are aspects of Griffin's game (especially his ability to finish with a jam) that I was not able to observe.

The first thing I noticed is Griffin does not leap for rebounds. You might think this is a weakness for someone with Griffin's leaping ability. It is actually a strength.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Top 10 Throwback Jerseys

 The following jerseys are judged on design and not on value or players' abilities. The jerseys that do have numbers related to famous players are in no way meant to reflect the ability of these players.

10. Phoenix Suns Throwback

NBA Throwback Suns Jersey

This one snuck onto the list because I could not find a proper throwback to fill the number 10 spot. The design is not nearly as cool as the following designs, but earns extra points because it features a basketball and because the color scheme is done so well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What to Wear and How to Act like What You Wear

I, like many die-hard fans, GO CRAZY when I go to a Celtics game or any sporting event, for that matter, and people at the event are wearing button down shirts that are not even the same color as the team they are cheering for. WHERE'S YOUR SPIRIT?!!?!? At the very least, if you are going to a game for your hometown team, wear something that is the same color of the team. If you have their gear on hand, wear that. And if you can afford to dress and act like a maniac, that is the most preferable solution of all. Your team will get a psychological and tactical edge the louder and crazier you get.

If you are coming to cheer on a road team YOU HAVE TO at the very least have a jersey of that team, or if you cannot afford a jersey a t shirt with their logo or even a white t with the name of one of their players on it. Do not come to my hometown team's game and be a lukewarm fan for the other team. At the very least, I want to respect you and hate you for coming to the game.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Top 10 X Factor Players

Many great teams have that one guy you cannot overlook but somehow seems to sneak up on you anyways. These players are crucial when it comes to winning championships and playoff series because they can often swing one game in their team's favor. They usually have one or two special abilities which can cause matchup nightmares or cover up matchup nightmares with the other team. Over the past three years, we have seen players like Trevor Ariza, Tony Allen and Goran Dragic absolutely alter series in just minutes of their total playing time. The best 10 of these players are the following:

Terry comes in at number 10 because he has been slowly moving from X factor to consistent player you know how to plan for every game. He can score from anywhere on the court and is great at creating shots as well, a lethal combination. A former Sixth Man of the Year Award recipient, Terry is aging but can still be relied on to score and dish the ball.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Greatness Equation (Guest Article by Luke Ewalt)

The Greatness Equation

For the last few years, as I've watched the great players that I grew up idolizing (basically the original Dream Team) retire and give way to a new generation of superstars (basically the Redeem Team, with maybe a dozen other guys who didn't make the cut), I really began to wonder how these players stacked up against each other. And I don't mean just the biggest iconic names of their generations like LeBron vs. Kobe vs. Jordan. I'm talking even Barkley vs. Garnett. Or Nowitzki vs. Pippen. Or Reggie Miller vs. Ray Allen. How do those guys stack up against one another? Sure you can look at stats and see how many points or rebounds or assists someone averaged and compare them, but what about across different positions, who, by definition, are going to have wildly different averages in different categories? How could I compare Jordan or Magic to Shaq or Duncan? Hell, how could I really even compare any of them to Wilt or Russell or Kareem who played in completely different eras?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Calling All 2012 Free Agents to Boston

No, we do not have a nightlife that bumps until 5 in the morning. Nor will we leave you alone when walking the streets like you were in New York or LA. No, we do not have pretty women and great beaches you can visit almost all year round like Miami. No, we do not have a billionaire owner that will pay you buckets of money like the future Brooklyn Nets. And no, we do not have a major market team, the backing of the President and Oprah down the street to kick it with like Chicago.

Our last call is 1:30 (1:45 if you are lucky) and when we see you in the bars you won't even make it through the throng of fans to order a drink anyways. Our girls are red-headed and full of freckles and the beaches are lucky to be filled 2 months a year. Our owners are committed but are not a charity, they won't hand you $9 mill a year and expect you to coast. And "The Hub" is not really a hub, but a small, cozy town where everyone knows your name like the Cheers bar.

But, although we are all those things, we are also a people who bleed green, as you will, too, once you become a Celtic.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What Makes Teams Title Contenders Year-In and Year-Out? Exploration of the L.A. Lakers, Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs

The Lakers, Celtics and Spurs all look poised to be title contenders for the 4th straight year. This has to be because these teams must be doing something to stay strong year after year. The formula has been consistency in their starting lineups, smart free agent pick ups to tune their lineup, finding pieces that work together, sticking with the same system and staying with the same coaches.

How Much Has Their Starting Lineups Changed Over The Years?

2007-2008 Lakers Starting Lineup (after Gasol Trade): Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum (with Vladimir Radmanovic and Ronny Turiaf filling in with Bynum injured)

2010-2011 Lakers Starting Lineup: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum (with Gasol filling in at center and Odom filling in it power forward with Bynum injured)

2007-2008 Celtics Starting Lineup: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins

2007-2008 Celtics Starting Lineup: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins (with Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal filling in with Perk injured)

2007-2008 Spurs Starting Lineup: Tony Parker, Michael Finley, (with Manu Ginobili filling in for bother Parker and Finley when they were injured), Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan, Fabricio Oberto

2010-2011 Spurs Starting Lineup: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Dejuan Blair, Tim Duncan

The Lakers starting lineup is only one person different (with the person who was replaced playing the 6th man role.)  The Celtics lineup has not changed at all in the past 4 years (with the exception of Perk's injury forcing them to plug in someone different into the lineup.) The Spurs' hand was more forced, with the retirements of Michael Finley and Bruce Bowen, and Oberto really being plugged into the lineup because they could not find anyone better. But they still have retained their core 3 players (Parker, Duncan and Ginobili.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How Can Rondo (and you!) Improve His Free Throw Shooting?

Rondo is only shooting 41% on free throws this season and 62.1% for his career. You might think he is just a poor natural free throw shooter, but a closer look at his career splits reveals something:

October: 15 made, 29 attempted = 51.7%
November: 73 made, 145 attempted = 50.3%
December: 105 made, 156 attempted = 67.3%
January: 111 made, 176 attempted = 62.5%
February: 101 made, 170 attempted = 59.4%
March: 110 made, 156 attempted= 70.5%
April: 74 made, 116 attempted= 63.7%

This trend to warm up by mid December holds steady in every one of his seasons. While he still is not a great free throw shooter, if he was putting more effort into free throws during the off-season, he probably would be around 64.7% for his career (the average of free throws not in October or November, not a huge difference, but a pretty modest bump.) And it is likely that the extra work he put in would compound over the years.

Now let's take a look at his shot:

Basketball Drills

I was going to do a video of some basketball drills that have helped me improve, especially dribbling drills, over the last 2 months, but I was looking online and there are just some people WAY more qualified with better drills than I have (I hope to start adding these drills this week, I will let you know how good they are.)

The ones I liked the most and ones you will find most practical at any level of your game are those by Expert Village. Just type in "expert village basketball" (apparantly they have a bunch of other videos online) on youtube.

If you are ready for some advanced moves (if you have any doubt that you are, then you are not) look at Mike Lee videos. You should only do these (guestimation) after you have been practicing dribbling about 5 hours a week for one or two years.

Monday, January 3, 2011

First Impressions: Kevin Love

Tonight, I am in the middle of seeing Kevin Love play a full basketball game for the first time (people might actually watch the T Wolves play by choice now!) My overall assessment is, despite having advanced skills when it comes to rebounding, touch around the basket area and shooting 3s and free throws, Love remains a middling NBA starting power forward because of an inability to make mid-range shots, happy feet, lack of toughness around the basket and poor defensive play when it comes to challenging fall-aways.

I suspect it will take him 2 years to become average in these areas, which will make him a top 10 NBA player.

Of course, it will come as no surprise to any NBA fan that Love impressed me with his rebounding (even more than I expected!) because his fundamentals were so solid. Boxing out has become a lost art among NBA players, but Love always puts a body on someone if they are around the basket area. If there is not an opponent within 12-15 feet of the basket, Love is a master at staying in the middle of a zone that does not interfere with a teammate's rebounding zone. (A very underrated skill which is just as important as boxing-out, and the reason that rebounds just seem to "find" Love.)

On the offensive end, his fight for positioning actually comes at the cost of his and his team's shooting chances. This is because he goes for positioning in areas where it is impossible to get a post pass. He makes up for this disruption in his team's offensive sets with offensive rebounds and putbacks. However, when he becomes more comfortable playing in half-court sets in places other than the 3 point line, I expect he will sacrifice some offensive rebounding to become more a part of the regular offensive flow.

His touch around the basket is impressive, but again it is in use basically only when he gets a rebound, as he is hardly ever in position to receive passes in the post. This also makes it doubtful that he has a good back-to-the-basket game or a good hook shot.

He is great and part of the offensive sets when he is shooting 3s. And he gets to the line and makes his shots there (I assume, but I have not seen enough of him, that he gets to the free throw line because of people fouling him when he gets an offensive rebound.)

He is not a good midrange shooter, which is why he is shooting .454 from the field despite shooting .437 from beyond the arc and having great touch around the basket. I expect this to improve GREATLY for 2 reasons:

1. young players tend to be bad midrange shooters (according to Hollinger) when they are starting out, and tend to think they are much better shooting there than they are.

2. He took a BANK shot in the 2nd quarter. Love is a true student of the game, and anyone who knows NBA history well knows that, for midrange shots, the bank shot is BY FAR AND AWAY the most efficient way to score, and NBA players seemed only to abandon it because it lost them style points. If you don't believe me about the effectiveness of bank shots, try to check out Tim Duncan play a few games.

The bigger problem with his shooting inside the arc is that when he gets the ball 10-18 feet from the basket he gets "happy feet" and travels. This is likely because he has not worked a ton on footwork and because he is nervous getting the ball in this area.

This problem should not be as self-correcting as the midrange shots, and it will be up to the coaching staff to find ways to incorporate drills for him within team play.

Love's biggest problem seems to be banging around the basket and contesting fall-aways. This is not a surprise for someone who has just entered the league two years ago and is 22 years old. He should physically mature up to a peak in his late 20s, even if he foregoes a ton of lifting weights and physical training (he seems like the type of player to do more basketball drills and less physical training. This tends to help players as they develop into their late 20s, but hurt them once they reach the wrong side of 30. Antoine Walker and Allen Iverson are prime examples of this.)

He needs to get more aggressive when contesting mid-range shots and in general on the defensive end. Big baby got a TON of uncontested looks (granted, he was not hitting them, but usually these are shots that he does make.) Love left Davis WIDE OPEN the whole game. When Davis decided to take Love to the hole, you could see this was because Love did not want to expose his poor post defense.

This is a problem of attitude and not a problem of skill. He has 2-3 inches on Davis, and Davis is not a threat around the basket area, so he can always rely on Darko (a great shot-blocker) to help out should Davis go by him.

Love is such a student of the game (watching him play for 2 minutes or even listening to him talk for 2 minutes will reveal this) that I doubt any of these weaknesses will exist for long. Barring injury, he is a sure-fire Hall of Fame player. But, if you do not believe me about him being a middling starting NBA power forward as of now, consider this list (in no particular order):

1. Chris Bosh
2. Kevin Garnet
3. Pau Gasol
4. Tim Duncan
5. Dirk Nowitzki
6. Amar'e Stoudemire
7. Carlos Boozer
8. Josh Smith
9. David West
10. Blake Griffin
11. Zach Randolph
12. Paul Millsap
13. Louis Scola

Love is still behind all these players, mostly because of his shortcomings on the defensive end. By the end of NEXT year, however, I suspect he will pass all these players except Gasol (and, possibly, Amar'e.)

One Last Shot

All I will ask god
before I go
is for one last shot,
one last dribble
and one last foe.

Think not it selfish
but think it whole,
this person I have become
in one last go.

Think not it fair,
but think it even,
this hardwood we travel on-
on our last road.

And think not it life,
but think it a game
and give us a foe
we cannot, we would not,
we will not blame.

You can see my other poetry selections at

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