Denver – Gonna Make It

29 03 2008

Denver Nuggets - playoff boundI’d say that Denver are going to make the playoffs.

And it’s really amazing that they’re not firmly in there yet. I mean, c’mon: a team with Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby and former all-star Kenyon Martin – not making the playoffs?
Almost unheard of.

Even more amazing is that with perennial defensive monster Camby on the team, they are so awful at ‘D’. Defense comes at a premium, and never more so than in the playoffs.
Thus far this year, all bar 2 losses have come with opponents scoring 100 or more points (more often than not, even in wins their opponents score 100+), most times over 110… and a whopping 10 times since the beginning of 2008 they have opponents scoring 115 or more.
Compare that to the San Antonio Spurs – 5 losses where the opponent scored 100 or more points, and the Lakers – 9.

Gettin’ mellow…But, I think they get there (the playoffs). They are playing better basketball at the moment, and this coincides with what will probably be a down period for both Dallas and Houston. Houston are probably a little too far ahead of Denver (5 games ahead), but the Mavericks hold only a 1 game advantage over the Nugs, and with Nowitzki out indefinitely… well, I’d say that the guy on the Mavs staff who suggested that the 2008 draft pick in the Kidd deal should be lottery protected – he deserves a nice lil’ bonus this year.

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Salvation or Damnation… what’s the off-season hold for YOU?

27 06 2007

Going up… up… up…

 

Hope. It springs eternal (apparently)… And just prior to the NBA Draft, it’s something that oh-so-many basketball fans cling to like a piece of drift-wood in an ocean of mediocrity. It’s just prior to the NBA draft where the deals will get done… where the movers ‘n’ shakers of the upper echelons of NBA-dom will consign their fans to realising their hopes, or squash ’em like bugs.Going down… down… down…

At the same time, I both love and hate this time of year. I love it, because maybe, just maybe we get the deal done that will make us a force to be reckoned with this year. I hate it, because there’s every chance that no trades will happen… or worse… we trade for crap & we get worse! I speak about this for all fans… for just prior to the draft, and the next season beginning, we are all in the same frame of mind… just to different degrees. This season, pretty much only fans of San Antonio can sit back and be relaxed, for the rest of us… uncertainty retains a grip on us. Certainly all Eastern Conference teams’ fans have to be wondering “is the divide that great?” after San Antonio’s demolition of Cleveland… supposedly the best the East had to offer. Once-proud franchise Boston are getting rebutted by star-after-star-after-star… In the West, 67 win team Dallas have to be pondering their future. What’s it going to take to improve? For despite the win/loss ratio, Dallas were sorely out-played, out-coached & out-thought by the Golden State Warriors in the first round. Phoenix too… everything seems to be conspiring against them even getting to the Finals. And whilst they were one injudicious decision away from probably making the Finals, when the trade-talk’s flying (like it is now), they have to be wondering. Then the Lakers… man… not quite in the Boston situation, but still a case of ‘how-the-mighty-have-fallen’. Mis-managed and drama-ridden… Even as I type, the Lakers are trying to get Kevin Garnett (a player who matches Kobe for work ethic) – and yet the word we get from Rick Bucher (my, does he seem more and more like a chattel of Kobe’s at the moment?) is that even that may not satiate Kobe. What does he want? The Second Coming? At the end of the 2002 finals, a three-peat complete, who would’ve foreseen where they find themselves now? Perhaps the only two fan-groups out there not beside themselves with mixes of trepidation/longing/hope are those of Portland & Seattle. The twin pillars of salvation, Greg Oden & Kevin Durant beckon… most folks I know who support those two teams are salivating at the prospect of who-goes-where. Even so, once they’re there – the pressure will mount, expectations will be raised, and in a year, they’ll probably be back with the rest of us… oscillating between joyful anticipation, and agitation. The pendulum swings…
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Blog-sifting… This week in blogs…

7 06 2007

“… Gimme 7 o’ the best… “

Well, it’s Friday here in Japan – damn hot ‘n’ humid too.

Some of the stuff floating in the blogosphere that caught my eye…

  1. Bah… I didn’t make it… but make sure your vote counts! Hottest Blogger @ Ladies…
  2. Who said sports & romance doesn’t work? Pyle of List
  3. Yet another blog finding the NFL Commish erratic… Signal to Noise
  4. Don Cherry rescues Hockey… Digital Headbutt
  5. Exploration of NBA Finals Game 1… Ballhype
  6. A look at baseball’s worst players… Beyond The Boxscore
  7. Looking at sports & music – with an edgeRumors & Rants

All worth a look. Click that link!





Finals? Bah… Bring on the Off-season!!!

6 06 2007

sheed.jpg

Ok… I know the NBA finals are going to be exciting now. I get that. Lebron “Luke-the-force-is-with-you” James vs the San Antonio “Deathstar” Spurs (who really thinks the good guys are going to win this time?) – great viewing.

But the off-season this year is looking so… interesting! First, the draft. How karmic was it that Boston & Memphis did not get a top 3 choice after two of the most obvious tanking performances I’ve seen by a professional sports team?!! I heard that in the morning on my way to work, and could not stop smiling all day!

We got Portland getting the first pick – and are almost certain to take Greg Oden & take a big step in the turn-around of the franchise once known as the ‘Jail Blazers’. The only alumni left from that group is Zach Randolph, and trade rumours surround him galore. Sure, the rebuilding of Rip City started before now – and the addition of Brandon Roy/LaMarcus Aldridge last year was a coup – but with Greg Oden in the mix, the sights will be set much, much higher. And deservedly so. Exciting times ahead for Portland.

With the losses (all surprisedly so?) of Dallas, Detroit and Phoenix, we can expect at least some retooling to occur within those rosters.

With Flip Saunders expecting to stay with the Pistons , that will probably ensure that fairly significant changes will occur to the roster. Rasheed Wallace has probably received his last technical in a Detroit uniform, Chris Webber’s probably due to retire, and the changes that occur might mean that Chauncey Billups departs too – via free agency.

Even with Mark Cuban declaring unconditional support for Dirk, I’d expect changes in Dallas. Dirk’ll stay, but Jason Terry is destined for somewhere else, Devin Harris deserves to have the ball. The Warriors exposed the deficiencies the Mavericks have at close to the basket – Dirk is simply more touch than brawn, and Eric Dampier’s ever-growing-contract is an elephant for the team to carry. Jerry Stackhouse is a free agent, and it will depend on the offers he gets. But bottom line: Dallas need a big guy, who can provide muscle… and not just talk about it like Dampier.

Phoenix are interesting. But for a hit by Robert Horry…

then maybe the Spurs aren’t in the finals.

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Detroit too cavalier…

3 06 2007

boobie.jpg

Who woulda thought it? After Lebron James single-handedly demolishes Detroit, Cleveland return home to the place formerly known as the Gund Arena (c’mon… I mean the “Quicken Loans Arena”??? That’s right up with with having “Chico’s Bail Bonds” as a sponsor!), to beat the Detroit Pistons and take their place in the NBA Finals. And who would be the main man, the hero-of-the-hour? LEBRON JAMES! Ummm… Daniel ‘Boobie’ Gibson? With a statline of 31 points & 6 rebounds, Daniel Gibson stepped up when the Pistons Posse ambushed the leader of the James Gang. The first year guard out of Texas was ready to play Frank to Lebron’s Jesse, and the rest is history.

Still, James did his bit. 20 points, 14 rebounds & 8 assists is no shabby day at the office, and it was the pressure that Detroit put on Lebron that allowed Gibson to star. You cannot fault Detroit’s game-plan: no way in hell were they letting Lebron beat them – he’d done so the last game, with very little help from his team. If they were going to lose, someone else had to step up.

Today, Daniel Gibson did.

So now the Spurs… and the NBA have to be happy about this match-up. I can almost hear David Stern’s face cracking a smile. The next-big-thing, the ‘Air Apparent’… versus the Spurs. The San Antonio Spurs, who have recently lived up to the Black & Silver they share with the Oakland Raiders by getting downright dirty. The Golden Child, and his team versus the big, bad Spurs.

The finals just got interesting.





All hail the king…

1 06 2007

Well… given the events of the day, this topic kinda got put on the back-burner. But it does deserve attention, so…

lebron.jpg

Coming of age, Lebron led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a fantastic victory in The Palace of Auburn Hills. Scoring the last 25 points for the Cavs, Lebron was unstoppable on a night that may well become his signature game for some time to come. And Cleveland was lucky that he was such a force of nature, because other than some middling support from Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the rest of the Cavs were woeful.

Fortunately, the Cavs with Lebron were just a little bit better than the Detroit Pistons, who now find themselves on the brink of elimination against a team that they really, really should be capable of beating.

Chauncey Billups said post game, “We’ve been here before a lot of times…” Well, we keep hearing that, but one more game like this – and the next is back home for the Cleveland Lebrons – and the Fat Lady’s singin’. Detroit have to pull one out of the fire here, and if there’s an Eastern Conference team that can do it, then it’s the Pistons. It will have to be a massive turn-around tho’.

The criticism (and god knows I was critical) of Lebron’s efforts in games 1 & 2 may have been the inspiration for what we’re seeing now. Hell, games 3, 4 & now 5 have been certainly been inspirational. “Lebron doesn’t have it. He’s not a cold-blooded assassin who can take that final shot, and own a game.” All three games post that, Lebron took charge in the final minutes, and won them, almost single-handedly. Well… not strictly true: game 5, he took over way before the final minutes… it seemed he scored at will… and nothing the Pistons threw at him could stop him. Inevitably, we’ll see the Jordan-like comparisons… and on this performance, not entirely inappropriately.

Game 6’s on Saturday promises to be one that should stir some interest away from the train-wreck that the Lakers are giving us… if only for a few hours.





The Days of Our Lakers…

1 06 2007

kobe-diva.jpg

Anyone feeling that the sports world was kinda thankful for the Kobe Bryant drama? The finals are a bust: the Spurs march on with a growing feeling of inevitability & doom (they remind me of Darth Vader, oh-so-much!), the best team in the East looks like it’s about to be elimated by the Cleveland LeBrons… and if they do, who really thinks they’re capable of creating a series versus the San Antonio Spurs, much less BEAT them?

Well, thank god for the Los Angeles Lakers…

Has there ever been a more drama-laden franchise in the NBA? Maybe, just maybe the Celtics approach it, but the events of May 30th (May 31st here in Japan) outstrip anything that’s going on in Boston. We have a diva performance worthy of any aspiring starlet, an incompetent GM who is doomed no matter WHICH direction the franchise takes, an owner who whilst all this is occuring is arrested, a supporting cast who have just been told in no uncertain terms by their best player “You guys SUCK”, and an un-named villain hiding in the midst, somewhere… lurking. If it were a TV show we’d ignore it all as being far too improbable.

Kobe – I’ve never seen anything like this in the NBA. It’s either the biggest tantrum by the sport’s premier diva, or a conniving performance that is truly machiavellian in it’s scope. Either Kobe is simply spoilt, and truly has no idea as far as what it takes to run an NBA franchise… or he has set his sights on eliminating those he doesn’t want around. Kobe can’t come out & say “Fire Kupcake”, so he does this… and the desired outcome is achieved. It’s a scenario that David Aldridge at the Philadelphia Inquirer believes, and one I’m beginning to myself. If Kobe can achieve this, he’s one step closer to getting Jerry West back.

If so, beware the Ides of March, Jim Buss (well, ok – it’s not March… but you get my drift!).

On Mitch Kupchak, can anyone believe what a total shambles he’s made of this post inheriting the sports premier franchise from West? I think he’s doomed now anyway… if Kobe gets his way, Mitch is gone. If Kobe is traded, then Kupcake is the guy who traded both Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant away. Put that on your resume & try get a job.

So today we have Jerry Buss stepping in, and massaging Kobe’s ego – telling him that they’re just as desperate and keen to win as he (Kobe) is (gotta ask the question tho’ – where was this comment 3 years ago?),and that they’re gonna make the moves that will put LA LA land back in contention… Well, Buss has done it before, he has pulled off deals that have amazed NBA fans & rival management alike. But this is the same front office that obtained Kwame Brown & Smush Parker. Excuse me if I’m skeptical.

My absolute favourite response to this has been that on Pyle of List. (Click the link, do it… you won’t regret it!) Treated with the humourous disdain that is appropriate for a performance of operatic proportions. And some of the suggested casting… sheer brilliance.

Oh well… I’m sure there’ll be more drama tomorrow, to steal the limelight from Lebron’s brilliant win over Detroit.