Tough luck Toronto

1 12 2008

November 30th – Toronto Raptors (8-7) at Los Angeles Lakers (12-1)

The man who would be MVP (at least… he says he could be) playing against the man who is (reigning) MVP.
Yup, that’s right: Chris Bosh is in town to play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Bosh’ll get every chance to show exactly what he’s made up, going up against the Lakers, who haven’t lost to the Rap-pack at home in 7 years.

Toronto have really yet to impress, regardless of the start to the season that Bosh has had. Sitting a game over .500, the Raptors looked at the start of the season to be one of the teams to beat out East, with the addition of Jermaine O’Neal, and the expected emergence of Jose Calderon. O’Neal does look the goods, if somewhat frail still… and Calderon has impressive – all in addition to CB4’s near-MVP-like play… yet the Raptors still manage to lose games that you’d think they’d win. Losses to Boston are explicable, but losing 83010497AB023_Mavs_Lakersto teams like Philadelphia (perhaps the biggest under-performing unit in the NBA thus far) and New Jersey – both at home – beggars explaining.

They have their work cut out for them against a Laker unit that hasn’t enjoyed a start like this for several years. Gasol, Bynum and Odom make life very, very difficult for opposition big men – there’s simply no respite. Trevor Ariza has been phenomenal off the bench, with his play he should be in 6th Man conversations (as a ‘true’ sixth). And Kobe is still Kobe, despite playing the fewest minutes many a year.

LA will win this one.
By 9.


No Cigars for Dallas today

29 11 2008

Dallas Mavericks (7-7) at Los Angeles Lakers (11-1)

The last time the Mavs played the Lakers, LA managed to only just eke out a win.  Dallas come to town with high hopes and a fully-loaded Dirk Nowitzki.  Dirk’s been firing of late, averaging a handy 28.8 points and 11.6 boards over the last five games.  Even tho’ the Lakers boast one of the best teams in the NBA at both ends of the court, Dallas would have to rate themselves for this game.

Phil being phunny...LA.  Quite simply they are the cream of the crop at the moment.  Used to be that if you shut down Kobe, then you shut down LA.  Not any more.  Even when Kobe’s not hot now, LA are winning… and by a league-best average of 14+ points per.  You can’t just stop #24, you have to stop the entire team. No-one’s playing big minutes yet, largely because they haven’t needed to. It’s a well-balanced team that comes at you from all angles. Phil’s got them playing very, very well.

Dallas have found recent form that might come close to doing that. Having won 5 on the trot, not only is Nowitzki playing well, but you can also look to wily ol’ veterans Jason Terry and J-Kidd as well. Funny that. You have to wonder if it’s the lesser impact of a somewhat distracting owner.

The Lakers will be looking to extend their own 5 game winning streak, and move to an impressive 12-1 thus far this season.
I see that happening. LA by 17.


27 11 2008

There comes a point in most undertakings in life where it’s time to walk away.  When two (or more) parties are involved, it becomes a little tougher, but the theory remains the same.  Sometimes it’s best to just get the hell outta Dodge.No hearts here...
Kenny Rogers was right smack on the money with his song The Gambler.

“You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”

There aren’t many better images than this for where the New York Knicks and Stephon Marbury now find themselves. It’s the classic stare-down. New York doesn’t want to just tell Marbury to get out, and there’s too much money on the table for him to walk away.

At the beginning of the season, the New York Knicks embodied by Donnie Walsh and miscreant...Mike D’Antoni made it abundantly clear to Stephon Marbury that he was in no way, shape or form part of their plans for the future. Fast-forward to now: two massive trades involving guards Jamaal Crawford and Mardy Collins (and forward Zach Randolph) occurred. Then an injury to Nate Robinson… and health concerns for new-Knick Cuttino Mobley – this left the Knicks with only two healthy guards: Chris Duhon and Anthony Roberson. Marbury was told prior to at least two games (against the Bucks, and the Pistons) that if he wanted court-time, it was his for the taking.

Marbury’s response?
No thanks.

Whilst his refusal to have anything to do with the Knicks (other than cash paychecks from them) must be infuriating for the Knicks hierarchy, the implications for Marbury himself are even greater.

It’s easy to understand Marbury’s continued refusal to play. The Knicks made their opinion of him clear, but now that they need him, they turn up on his doorstep cap-in-hand and expect it of him. Most people would have the same reaction: thumb their nose at the arrogance displayed by these people.
But they’d be wrong too.
The powers that be...Aside from the fact that it’s a reasonable request made by the people who give him a very sizable amount of money, it could have repercussions on his career post-Knicks.
There was every possibility that a team would pick up Marbury for a deal once he finished with the Knicks (which could be any day now). But his “no thanks” and refusal to be a part of the team are indicative of an attitude that might end up making him as big a pariah in basketball as Barry Bonds is in baseball.

What should the Knicks do?
Cut their losses and run – they’ll be paying him the money any way. Marbury’s very presence is a cancer. He’s clashed with pretty much every authority figure within the New York office – Larry Brown, Isiah Thomas, and now Mike D’Antoni/Donnie Walsh. This is a man that was once called “the most reviled athlete in New York” (New York Daily News).
It’s well past time for New York to bid Stephon Marbury adieu.
Know when to walk away and know when to run.

2010… a basketball Odyssey

27 11 2008

Enough said...

Thanks Frank (of eTrueSports)…

No love for NJ in LA

26 11 2008

November 25th – New Jersey Nets (6-6) at LA Lakers (11-1)

The Nets of New Jersey.
The NBA’s blandest franchise? Have to come close. Cleveland were bland, until they got to play luggage to LeBron (and you can probably count on two fingers how much longer that will go on). Milwaukee? No, they have good beer. Nope, it’s NJ.

Cap'n Jack and some bum...Who does this team belong to? Devon Harris? Or Vince Carter?
Hard to say, but they bring their team into a pretty tough version today against the 11-1 Lakers.
Not that the venue itself is particularly daunting… well, ok – the lighting’s awesome (at least, it is for Lakers’ games), but the crowd itself are pussy cats. ‘Cept for Cap’n Jack – but he’s so over the top he’s almost like a caricature at any rate.
No, it’s not the venue, but who resides there that make this a tough trip.
The Lakers have opened this season on a mission. There’s a surprise. And they are playing the best defense I’ve seen a Laker team play in many, many years.
That’s not to say they can’t lose. Sooner or later, they’re going to – I have Christmas Day penciled in as a big game… ok, probably before that – but just LOOK at their schedule! Post this game, 2 days rest, then Dallas, 2 days rest, then Toronto. Then look at December: first 3 weeks they barely see a team with a better-than-.500 record!
One’d almost think David Stern loves LA or something.
Oh, wait a sec…

Anyway… Yes, LA will lose – and probably soon, but it won’t be today.  LA by 14 here.

Blogger Power Rankings

25 11 2008

In line with my rankings published yesterday, Bright Side of the Sun has the Blogger Power Rankings up – well worth heading over to Bright Side of the Sun to check ’em out (Lakers #1 again!)…

Power Rankings With Malice

24 11 2008

Here’s my second installment of power rankings. A bit of movement, some sliding up, some spiraling down. At least we’re starting to recognise who these teams are going to be this season, and I gotta say, there’s some surprises out there.

With Malice’s Pawa-rannkingu

1. LA Lakers – at 10-1, Kobe Bryant is averaging fewer minutes than any but his first two seasons in the NBA. And now Shaq wants back in on it…

2. Boston – Beastly. Of course, what would you expect from a team with the world’s best player. Just ask Paul Pierce – he’ll tell you.

LeBron leading the Samsonites3. Cleveland – the Samsonites are doing a pretty good job of riding LeBron James coattails. And damn, can he carry a team or what? There’s a bit of a gap between 3 (Cleveland) and 4 (Houston) at the moment within the NBA.

4. Houston – really tight here. There’s not a helluva lot between Houston and Phoenix at the moment, but with Ming, McGrady & Artest this team can beat anyone on any given day. Problem is – health. This unit is just waiting to be the NBA’s answer to M.A.S.H.

5. Phoenix – pretty much the only reason I rank them behind Houston is because at times, they look really, really lost out there. Terry Porter’s a good fit for Shaq, and the Big Cactus is performing at levels he hasn’t seen since leaving LA. Problem is, the half court offense’s not such a good fit for Nash.

6. Detroit – at times they can look really, really good… but at times they look just average. Losses to Boston (twice now – once at home, once away) and Phoenix (in PHX) are understandable… but the Nets? Detroit have to sort out their entire “we-play-when-we-want-to” routine. Didn’t work last year, and won’t this year.

7. Orlando – The Magic live and die with Dwight Howard, and when he is absolutely in dire straits, they look average. Yao Ming virtually put a dress on Dwight, and had the rouge out for him as well. Still have a way to go before the Magic can be included on any “best-in-NBA” conversations.

8. Utah – Same ol’, same ol’. More Jerry Sloan’s legion of the undead. Boozer, and Williams out, and they still have the will to win. Need garlic and a cross to put this one down.

9. Atlanta – A string of recent losses, including a loss to Indiana and two to New Jersey are really worrying. The loss in Cleveland? Meh, so what – a lot of teams will get beaten by LeBron this season. Horford not looking good and the unit doesn’t look any where near as good as it did at the start of the season. Still hoping they’re Hawks, and not pigeons.

10. Denver – The middling 10 of the Power Rankings are tough at the moment… could go anywhere. But 10th spot’s for the Nuggets, who looked really good with the Billups trade. Until they hit a buzz-saw in LA. Thinking of running out the ol’ “Enver” nick-name for them again.

11. Portland – Still have a way to go to be one of the elite, but it was truly gratifying to discover that Greg Oden probably isn’t Sam Bowie.

12. Toronto – Several near misses have this good team sitting at a precarious .500. Already hamstrung with Jose Calderon not being 100%, look for this team to pluTIMMY!!!mmet further if Jermaine O’Neal’s injury equates a fair amount of games missed. Bargnani isn’t anyone’s version of a savior.

13. San Antonio – hard to place them above NOLA – who have a better record… just – but the Spurs are playing some decent ball again after a truly dismal start. Timmy. Enough said.

14. New Orleans – You know those Discovery channel documentaries when they pull up a statue from deep see covered in grime, they wipe away the grime and it’s actually made of gold? Well, the Hornets are kinda like that. In reverse. Wipe away the glittery stuff and they are looking average. The next two weeks will really tell us who this unit are this season.

15. Philadelphia – Definitely surprised at how mediocre this team has managed to look thus far this season. Sitting at .500, but so? They’re in one of the tougher divisions in the East, and wins have come over Pacers, Thunder and Clippers. So that’s not so hot… have to improve, and fast.

16. Dallas – sheesh… this might be too high for them, but after a horrific start to November, Dallas are looking good over the last week.

17. Milwaukee – up a bit from last rankings, and looking half-decent. Their losses have come at the hands of those that are clearly better, and the Bucks are winning the games they’re meant to win. That’s something that can’t be said for a lot of other teams around this mark. Look for this team to climb the rankings somewhat: Jefferson and Sessions are playing well, and Bogut’s becoming bit of a minor beast – averaging a double/double (11/11).

18. Miami – Dwayne Wade, the Amazing Teflon Boy, is back and playing some damn good basketball. That’s enough to see Miami climb somewhat, but I still find myself tentative on Wade, and thus Miami. I’m not convinced that he’s *not* fragile.

19. New Jersey Nets – Sheesh… Devin Harris is a start in the making, and they’re doing ok, but expect them to sink into the Atlantic post a tough road trip next week.

20. Chicago – 2 and a half weeks on the road is not going to treat this team kindly. Some nice work at times, but you can only fall back on the “baby Bulls” tag for so long before it becomes a mere apology for a poorly performed team.

21. New York – Big trades make for an interesting line-up. Still a lot of work to do… and NYK fans have a long 2 years to wait until all this pain and suffering (and with the roster they currently have, there will be pain and suffering!) maybe – MAYBE – pays off.

22. Golden State – Something’s just not working here. Nellie had better figure out what that is and then some. Some of their players are doing very well – Stephen Jackson, Andris Biendrins… but it’s just not equating ‘wins’.
The waxing of the LA Lakers coincides with the waning of Golden State.

23. Indiana – This team’s ability to blow double digit leads borders on the uncanny. Fold worse than a cheap suit.

24. Sacramento – Kevin Martin’s good. So’s John Salmons. The rest of this team are simply off-cuts, junk and throw-aways mixed with some over-the-hills.

Thunder Knicks Basketball25. Memphis – even tho’ there’s cause for a little optimism with the roster they’re building, they’re in for a rough time of it. The South West has more guns than an Arnie movie.

26. LA Clippers – climb a lil’ purely on having signed Zach Randolph who should make a difference. Not a helluva lot, but they won’t be the Washington Generals any more.

27. Charlotte – Note to Bob: to win games, you have to score. Sell the team to Michael and be done with it.

28. Minnesota – Traded KG to get younger and better. A season on, what do we have? A year older, and no better. Still somewhere down near the bottom of the pile. Sure, some of these losses have been by narrow margins, but a loss is a loss.

29. Washington – Flip a coin, who’s worse? OKC or the Wiz…

30. Oklahoma City – Kevin Durant’s a nice player… but OKC Thunder? Ewwwww…