Saturday, April 26, 2008

No Breaks Allowed, Part One

Normally, I try to think of one topic, and write about that, but sometimes it’s nice to let it all out. So many things came to mind during this first week of playoff games, I need to talk about it. I can’t comprehend it into one fine post, no, so that why I called this Part One. Until June, there will be more blogs like this, because these are the most exciting times for a basketball fan. Unless you’re a Suns fan. Damn. Anyway, let’s get it on like Marvin:

-One week ago I think Lakers fans got to see they shouldn’t worry too much about Bynum coming back. Pau Gasol had one hell of a game. In fact, that whole Lakers team is playing so well together, sharing the ball so well it must make Tex Winter proud. I like how Bynum has improved this season, but it’s like what Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said in his blog: they should be cautious. I can imagine it’s frustrating to watch your own team play like that and not be part of the success they have been enjoying so far, but I hope Mountain Drew also understands he needs to think long-term. His career lying ahead of him is more important than the next couple of weeks. You don’t want to jeopardize a 15-year career for a couple of playoff games, do you? One final thing about the Lakers: when did Kobe decide that dressing like Craig Sager is cool?

-Talking about Sager, the guys at Inside the NBA are once again doing a marvellous job. It’s hilarious, but interesting at the same time. Kenny impersonating Kobe in a remake of Bryant’s commercial where he jumps “over” a car, was so funny. What Kenny didn’t know was that the Inside-crew didn’t want to let him jump over it, but the car ran over him. That why it was even more funny, because The Jet saw that for the first time while being on air. Barkley must be glad it finally wasn’t him being the bud of the joke. Great chemistry between those three is what makes this show work so well. The insightfulness but also not taking everything too seriously is what makes me watch it as much as possible (when it’s on Lately, not every new episode is online, very frustrating!). David Stern, if you’re reading this (insert laughter at Mr. G. Himself here): I really hope that TNT can get its hands on the NBA Finals someday.

-I’m glad I’m not Steve Kerr. That must really suck. Facing the Spurs they only have one guard on their roster who can actually defend a bit in Raja Bell, but the Spurs have two offensive juggernauts in Manu and Parker. Pick your poison. Yeah, that’s right, 0-3.

-There’s no doubt in my mind the Magic won’t win the series against the Raptors. I only saw the most part of Game 1, but the Raptors looked so lost they should be on ABC every week. Yes, I know the Raptors won Game 3, and played pretty good in Game 4 before losing it in the fourth quarter (the game just finished as I am posting this), but it’s not enough. The team is lacking an identity, and could use some toughness. The Magic however, for all the good players that they have on their roster, do have one problem: consistent play from the point guard position. Jameer Nelson has games where he looks like he could be a very good floor leader, most notably in Games 1 and 2, which were won by the Magic. Nelson played bad in Game 3, and the Magic lost. Of course that doesn’t all have to do with him, but he has to be another thread out there for Orlando. Nelson had a good fourth quarter in Game 4, and the Magic won again. I’m seeing a pattern here.

-Message to Caron Butler: stay healthy man. I don’t know if Gilbert Arenas can log anymore minutes, and although Butler isn’t 100% himself, the Wizards need him. And some sense too.

-Message to Rasheed Wallace: play better. Much better. In fact, the rest of his teammates should do a lot better too. To Flip Saunders: how is it possible your team is getting killed by the well-overpaid center Samuel Dalembert? He scored 22 points on the Pistons? What?

-Since we’re on the topic, besides the fact that the Pistons aren’t playing well, I am impressed by the Sixers, and who isn’t? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Mo Cheeks deserves consideration for Coach of the Year. And although Iguodala isn’t playing well, the other Andre is proving to be the MVP of the Sixers, and outplaying Chauncey Billups at the moment. Hey, who knows, the Pistons might win the next 3. But if Philly wins this round, it will be an historic upset equivalent to last year with the Warriors over the Mavs. But I’m getting ahead of myself. It won’t happen that the Pistons will lose in an embarrassing fashion two years in a row, will it?

That’s about it for today. I’m back to watching some more games, and some more words on this blog might appear sooner than later. Your thoughts of the first week would surely be appreciated, so post ‘em in the comments section. If not, that’s fine too, but tune into the games, keep checking boxscores, highlights, whatever. Because before you know it’s summer, those long months after the Finals, and then what? Go outside? Getting a tan? Go to the beach? Nah. Until that time, it’s the NBA baby. No Breaks Allowed.

Friday, April 18, 2008

First Round Preview

It’s Friday night. Some people go out with their friends. I’m a bit tired, so the only thing I’m going to do is think about the playoffs. Sure, I can act all Nellie and have a few drinks, wondering where the hell it all went wrong, but nope, I’m just sitting on my couch, knowing beforehand that my bed won’t see me all that much until mid-June. But before that, 14 teams will be on vacation, because one team in the East, and one in West will decide who will be the next NBA Champion. And to all of you fools who want to change the playoff-format: you can all suck my little Dutch windmill. It’s East vs West, it’s NBA history, do not challenge this, please. And yes, everybody writes previews, so why would I write ‘em? Because I don’t know what else I should do on a Friday night. My passion for the NBA is controlling my life, and that won’t change for the next two months.


Boston Celtics (1) vs Atlanta Hawks (8)

The Celtics against the Hawks? If somebody would’ve made that prediction one year ago, that person must have been a genius. Or just one lucky fellow. And when it comes to being lucky, I think Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge may consider themselves lucky for having the team that they have. I’m not disrespecting them, but the Celtics were awful for the last couple of years. And now? Now they are one of the few legitimate contenders of the East. And so they have to battle the Atlanta Hawks, who have made the playoffs for the first time this millennium. Sure, it’s good to be confident, you’re in the NBA, you should be confident. But I have to laugh when I read that Dominique Wilkins thinks there might be an upset. He’s the Human Highlight Film, but in this case, leave out the Human, Light and Film.

Detroit Pistons (2) vs Philadelphia 76’ers (7)

Mo Cheeks should be at least be second or third when it comes to getting votes for Coach of the Year. The organization hasn’t managed to add some quality players to the formidable backcourt, the tale of the two Andres. Is it a reach that I think Miller is the best point guard in the East right now? Yes, I am serious. And no, I’m not forgetting about Chauncey Billups, which will form an interesting match-up, other than that the Sixers are no match for the Pistons, who come into these series well-rested, and deeper than ever.

Orlando Magic (3) vs Toronto Raptors (6)

What a wonderful timing these Raptors have: they’re struggling! I hope Sam Mitchell can turn these guys around, because the Magic are not an easy opponent. Although they lack a quality point guard (and another big guy next to play next to Howard), Turk can do basically a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor, and you can always expect 20 points and a couple of 3’s by Rashard Lewis to compliment Dwight Howard, when he decides it’s Hammer Time. The Raptors have enough assets to make this a seven game series, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if it doesn’t last that long, and the Magic will go onto the next round.

Cleveland Cavaliers (4) vs Washington Wizards (5)

The most interesting series of the East. Third year in a row these two teams meet in the playoffs, with Cleveland winning the last two years. But something has changed. As a basketball fan, we must understand that the Cavs without LeBron wouldn’t win 25 games. The Wizards however, had to deal with injuries to their most important player(s) throughout the season. Arenas went down late November, only returning just in time to get some rhythm back, and one of the team bearers alongside Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler also missed some games. Arenas and Butler missed the first round last year and the Wizards got swept. Although Deshawn Stevenson is a moron for dissing LeBron, and the Wizards being a bit too excited to play the Cavs, I think they’ll edge them in seven. Yeah I said it. Sorry Bron.


Los Angeles Lakers (1) vs Denver Nuggets (8)

Kobe-AI, is this June 2001? Nope, first round baby, and I like this one. If Bynum would be healthy right now, the Lakers would be the frontrunners to win the Championship. But even without Mountain Drew, they are still going to beat the Nuggets. I must state that the Nuggets have been playing exceptionally well during the last couple of weeks, with even JR Smith making the right plays at the right moment. Okay, so Melo had a drink and got caught, shit happens. I’m not gonna focus on all that crap anymore, I’m just anxious to see him go up against Kool (Kobe) & The Gang.

New Orleans Hornets (2) vs Dallas Mavericks (7)

Wait, the Hornets are one of the best teams in the West? Damn right they are, with Chris Paul leading them. David West, Stojakovic, Chandler; is it enough to beat Dirk and co.? Kidd just got his 100th (!) triple-double, and seems to understand his role within the team a little bit better. Nowitzki’s leg might still be bothering him, but he still had some very good games since the injury. If the Mavs will beat the Hornets, besides Kidd and Dirk they need Jason Terry and Josh Howard to perform at a high level. The Hornets, inexperienced maybe, are capable of beating the Mavs, so it’s hard to predict this one. Every time when I think New Orleans has reached the top, they go even higher. Byron Scott elevates this team to a new level, but it would be too embarrassing for Dallas to lose again in the first round, so I think they will win in seven.

San Antonio Spurs (3) vs Phoenix Suns (6)

Is this really only the first round? Wow. And who doesn’t remember the famous Horry bump from last year? The Spurs seemed to play a bit sloppy the last few weeks, so they have to pick it up. Duncan has to either guard Shaq, or Amare Stoudemire. Oberto / Thomas will deal with the other. The other way around will also be interesting, because who can stop Parker and Ginobili? Raja Bell can only haunt one of these guys for 48 minutes, so pick your poison. With the Suns having two big men under the basket will give the Spurs some serious problems, but I think one thing will remain the same: the Spurs will beat them in seven.

Utah Jazz (4) vs Houston Rockets (5)

For me personally, the least interesting series in the West. I know the Rockets won 22 in a row, which is amazing. But for some reason I don’t believe in these guys. I have no doubt T-Mac will once again not advance to the second round. Although they have been playing very well without Yao Ming, I think the Jazz have more to win this round. The Rockets also miss Rafer Alston (hope he returns soon), and will find some difficulties in guarding Deron Williams who can score from every position, and of course Carlos Boozer. Who will they put on him? His old buddy Shane Battier? Luis Scola? I don’t this that’s enough, and I expect some huge games from Boozer.

To quote Lonnie Lynn jr.: “Now let’s start the show show”, because the search for finding forever starts Saturday night.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Another48Minutes Award Show

“It’s time for this godforsaken season to be over with” – Pat Riley.
One of the most exciting seasons is nearing its end, the awards are discussed about by everyone and their momma’s. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and the one I am pondering about the most is the MVP. Two months ago, it would be either Kobe, LeBron, or maybe KG. Now it’s Kobe or Chris Paul, no doubt about it. But of course there are many more awards to hand out, and many of them are causing some serious headaches. Bring out the aspirin, because if I had to say anything about it, these guys would’ve been my picks:

Most Valuable Player: I have to vote for Kobe. I just have to. I can’t give a logical, reasonable explanation so that some of you would agree with me by picking him over Chris Paul. I am fully aware of what CP3 has done with the Hornets. If you would ask me in the beginning of the season to list the top three point guards, I would’ve ranked them as Nash, Kidd, and Paul as the third-best. Paul is now the number one in my opinion, and leaves Nash and Kidd behind him. Yes, I am a Nets fan, and no, I’m not bitter about the Kidd trade. That is not the reason why I think Paul is the best. I’m just being honest, and a huge fan of his game. However, some can say that Kobe has more talent around him, that Bynum really improved a lot this year, Derek Fisher came back to help out at the point guard position, Pau Gasol brought his 20ppg to Los Angeles, may I also remind you about the following: Kobe is playing better D than ever, Bynum improved a lot, but got injured, Pau arrived and got injured, and while all of that happened Kobe is still putting up his usual numbers. He carries the offensively when he needs to by making the important shot or making the perfect pass. He has become a far better leader than he ever was, and he won’t stop doing all that he does until the final game of the season, whenever that may be. Sure, you can say a lot of these things about Paul too, but as of right now Kobe has a slight edge over the young point guard. If Paul would win it, I won’t lose any sleep over it either. They deserve it both, but there can only be one winner.

Coach of the Year: Byron Scott. Call me nuts, because a lot of people would like to see Doc Rivers win it, but Scott absolutely gets the most out of this roster, more than anyone could. They are not a whole lot different than they were last year. Only now they are one of the top teams out West, and given the day, they are in first place. I read about him that he understands that it is a players’ League. He lets Chris Paul lead on the floor, and Paul, along with West and Chandler, all have their best seasons so far. Pardon the cliché, but the sky is the limit for this team. I disagree with Charles Barkley, who said last Thursday that the Denver Nuggets would beat New Orleans if the two would meet in the first round of the playoffs. The Hornets finally have some productivity coming off the bench, with Pargo, Wells and rookie Julian Wright all producing. And let’s not forget about Peja Stojakovic, who seems healthy with the playoffs around the corner, and his deadly 3-point shooting gives this team another asset which opponents must deal with. The Hornets play on both ends off the court, and although Scott seems always calm on the sidelines, he is the mastermind that has this team performing at a top-level. I also would like to mention Mo Cheeks and Eddie Jordan. What they are doing is unbelievable. Much respect.

Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Camby. Yes, Camby again. What? Did I forget about Bruce Bowen? No he’s great. Shane Battier? Hey, good player too. But you can’t deny the fact that no single player is more important on the defensive end than Marcus Camby. First of all, I’m happy to see him healthy this season (knock on wood), and he probably is too, because he got a huge bonus because of that. Aside from that, he grabs 13.3 rebounds per game, blocks 3.7 shots, and grabs a steal every game. If any player was snubbed during All-Star Weekend, it was Camby. His shot-blocking presence is one of the reasons the Nuggets are contending for that playoff spot. He’s fast, still quite athletic and and makes life for Melo and AI a lot more easy.

Most Improved Player: Hedo Turkoglu of course. When a man averages a career high in about everything that is possible, when he is one of the most important players of his team, when he can do everything on the court, from D to O, shooting from every range, he must win this award. Dwight Howard wouldn’t have the season he is having if it wasn’t for Turk. Even with Rashard Lewis next to him, Turkoglu still finds ways to score, and forms a dangerous inside-out combination with Howard. He can also handle rock very well, and his team , although overlooked, is in third place in the East. Honorable mention goes out to LaMarcus Aldridge, just want to name him here.

Sixth Man: Manu Ginobili. Easiest choice. Second most important player on the Spurs, one of the most dangerous players in the League. A joy to watch and to me a superstar in this League. Few agree.

All-NBA First Team:

PG: Chris Paul
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: LeBron James
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Dwight Howard

I’m only naming the First Team because there are too many possibilities to name for Second and Third. The two positions you might want to debate are the 4 and the 5. Amare Stoudemire is probably offensively the most gifted big man in the NBA. The things he does around the basket are mind-blowing. And he can shoot a jumper too. But KG is a better defender, and a true leader for the Celtics. I chose Howard over Yao because to me, Dwight is more impressive, more dominating than Yao is. But it’s a toss-up between the two of them, really.

Rookie of the Year: Al Horford. Yes, Kevin Durant scores a lot. But his team sucks, there are hardly any scorers on the Sonics anyway, and his shot selection isn’t always smart, which is completely understandable. Horford will be one of the most important Hawks within two years. A career filled with double-doubles lies ahead of him.

Additional Awards:

Best nickname: The Big Cactus, Shaquille O’Neal.

Feel-good story of the season: Mmmmm…. The Blazers early streak? The Celtics in general? The Rockets historic run? Grant Hill having a good season? Or Nene returning after battling cancer? I’m going with Nene. He returned sooner than I expected, and to have something like that happen to you as a young man, is more scary than I could ever imagine. You’re young, you don’t expect this to happen to you. But it did, and he didn’t have to return this season, everybody would understood his decision if he didn’t. But he did, and who knows, the Nuggets may have plenty of season left to get him some more minutes.

Trade of the Year: Pau Gasol to the Lakers. I understood that if Bynum hadn’t got injured, the Lakers might not have done this trade. Weird to think about that one, huh? The Grizzlies absolutely got nothing in return, but hey, who cares? The Lakers are competitive again. In all honesty, if we are talking about the most important trade of the season, it’s of course the Celtics adding KG and Ray Allen.

Most Disappointing Team: Quite a long list. Bulls, Nets, Bucks, of course the Knicks (certainly most embarrassing), but no team has been more disappointing than the Heat. Sure, injuries are a bitch, but there are so many things wrong with them right now, I don’t know where to start. So I won’t. yes, I find them more disappointing than the Knicks, for the simple fact I never believed in the Knicks to win anything this season to begin with. The Heat? I already thought they would be bad, because they didn’t do anything to make the team better, and they clearly needed help. This will be a long summer for Riley to think about all that went wrong. And he has to think about himself in that category too.

Scariest Moment of the Season: Dirk! He landed so awkwardly on that leg of his, I thought he would pull a Wyclef Jean: gone ‘til November. Yet he came back quick, trying to help the Mavs avoiding an early summer vacation.

Dumbass Marketing Campaign: Adding “Los” to team names is a joke. Sure, the NBA also has a latino fanbase, but this looked so stupid. Los Spurs? Come on. Next season the Raptors will play a game as “Le Raptors”, because of the French-speaking Canadians!

Coolest Cat in the League: Baron Davis! Who else? The dude is still rocking the beard with pride, and dares to make fun of himself too. Check out his roller-skating video on Youtube if you haven’t seen it already.

Funniest Moment: The Shaq-Dive. Actually, he made two dives, both with the Suns. First, he jumped over two rows of fans, the next game, when he went after another ball, he ran towards his own teammates and the entire bench cleared because of that. Hilarious, but I can only agree with the Suns by moving out of the way.

In-Game Dunker: Every day when I check the “Top 10 Plays” on, LeBron is always in them, and rightfully so. A joy to watch, what can I say more?

Best TV show on Earth: Inside the NBA (had to mention Ernie, Chuck and Kenny!)

That’s about it. I understand you might not agree with some of my picks, but that’s okay. I want to hear from you, let me now in the comments section who you would vote as MVP, Coolest Cat, or anything else. I can’t believe the season is almost over, time goes by fast, although you might think differently about that if you actually read this whole blog. I you did, I applaud you, and if I had any to hand out, you would win an award for that.