Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Larry Brown announced as new Bobcats coach!

MJ put his stamp on the Bobcats by bringing hall of fame coach Larry Brown in to run the show. I think this move is a good one, but they still aren't a contender (for a title at least). Despite Larry Brown's incredible coaching skills, they are a young expansion squad that can't win a title for at least a couple years. Jordan seems to be ready to make big things happen, but will he sacrifice developing young talent to make this team good now? We saw a little bit of that at last year's draft with the Jason Richardson trade.

I'd like him to keep most of the young talent and let them grow. Maybe you trade a player or two, but don't really shake things up. Keep this year's draft pick and try to get a nice low post scorer. Charlotte won 32 games this year and if the East stays terrible they can make it. Brown could give them a 5+ game improvement and that's with the squad they have now. That would tie them with the Hawks for the eighth spot in the East. You add a nice draft pick and a few veterans and maybe you'll see another 10 games added to Brown's five. That would result in a 47 win season, putting them two games over the Cavs for the fourth seed in the East. How much do you think they can improve?

Monday, April 28, 2008

MAGIC FINISH RAPTORS IN FIVE GAMES!

The Magic beat the Raptors 102-92 and will now move onto the second round. Toronto had a chance to make it a game, but the Magic got their first double digit lead with about three minutes to go. Orlando shot some three's and got a few stops to seal the deal. Dwight Howard had another 20-20 game (20 points and 20 boards). He has been a beast in this series, but to win in round two, he'll need to mutate into Godzilla. They will next face the Pistons or the Sixers. Each team has some powerful front court players (who will likely defend Howard) in Dalembert (Sixers) and Wallace (Pistons).

I don't know how far the Magic can go. They are a great team with lots of talent and potential, but they rely heavily on three point shots. In the next round they are going to face teams that guard the three point line like hawks; who will score the ball then? I know Howard is their post threat, but he's not great at putting up lots of points. Hedo is the only other post threat, also not his forte. They can beat the Sixers, but I think a Pistons series would be a seven game toss up. It's too early to look at the second round--the Pistons and Sixers have at least two more game to play!

Looking back at the Raptors season, Calderon made some real progress. He is now known across the league as a solid point guard, a master of the fundamentals. I think they need to make a move to improve the front court. Bosh is nice, Bargnani is not really a post guy and Rasho is decent but not good enough. Someone who can score with his back to the basket could make the Raptors a top team in the East. Summer is not welcomed in Canada!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

PISTONS BEAT SIXERS!

The Pistons beat the Sixers 93-84 to tie the series 2-2. They responded in the second half and took the lead throughout the fourth. The question was would they respond and after trailing by 10 at halftime, they came out ready to take over. This series will go back to Detroit for game five.

The Sixers have to be disappointed about giving up their halftime advantage. Winning in Detroit is possible, but it will be tough. Just like the Spurs, they have to force the tempo. They averaged 92.5 points in their two victories; tonight they couldn't even touch 90. They need to make it a game where Detroit has to put 100 on the board to beat them. Take the ball out of the basket and continue to run like mad. Fast break opportunities don't occur only off a steal or turnover.

Detroit, you now have to put the clamp down in game five.
You have to realize you are not unbeatable. Come out and act like there was no time between game four and game five. The only thing that changed is where you're playing and the color of your jersey. Once this happens, this series will be back in your hands.
Photo by:
Tom Mihalek/AP
SUNS BEAT THE SPURS!

The Suns beat the Spurs 105-86, but still trail the series 3-1. They put forth some defensive effort and they blew them out. They started out hot on offense and it had a clear effect on how they played defense. Mike D'Antoni got thrown out of the game late, maybe this will help the Suns more. There was some call he didn't like and he was on fire. They know they've got to bring the heat in game five, a little heat from their coach wouldn't hurt.

The Spurs just have to not get into a hole early. If they can contain the Suns early, they'll be able to stay in the game. Maybe a reminder that they're a grind the game out team wouldn't hurt. Force the tempo and make the Suns play long and hard on the defensive end. Scoring under 100 points is not bad if you're San Antonio, it's welcomed.

Phoenix should win game five. It will be much closer, but they will extend the series at least one more game.
CAVS BEAT WIZARDS!

The Cavs beat the Wizards 100-97 to take a 3-1 series lead. Delonte West hit a clutch three late to ice the game. The only reason any of this was possible is LJ's unselfishness. He was doubled and needed to hit someone for an open shot. West was open and he delivered. This should enable them to take this series in five games.

The Wiz have to try not to anger LeBron to win game five. All they do is give him that steam and all it does is hurt them. Eddie Jordan needs to make a point to his team: just play. Don't worry about all of these public comments and what not, just trash talk with your game. They have the talent to do that, it's what they did in game three.

LJ has to attempt to keep the same full head of steam to close this team out and start getting ready for round two. Also, the supporting cast has to show up again. Gibson and West hit some big three's late and they will need that again.
Photo by:
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Saturday, April 26, 2008

HAWKS BEAT CELTICS!

The Atlanta Hawks beat the Boston Celtics 102-93, but trail in the series 2-1. This game wasn't really close in the fourth, the Hawks lead by double digits for most of it. Something to look at in game four will be Paul Pierce and Al Horford. Horford had some words for him after he gambled on a steal unsuccessfully. You know they're going to come out with heat in the next game, but Pierce may be overcooked. He has got to keep his head in the game and not do anything stupid.

If you're the Hawks, you can take a deep breathe. The hometown crowd stuck behind you and you didn't disappoint. They have to play even better if they want to win game four. Doc Rivers will give the Celts a mouthful and they are apt to respond. If the Hawks are able to work the inside out game the same way they did in this game they should be fine.

Boston will come out in game four with a winning mentality. Doc wants them to blow them out so they can just worry about taking care of business back in Boston.
LAKERS BEAT NUGGETS!

The LA Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 102-84 to take a 3-0 series lead. I have now come to the conclusion that the Nuggets are too soft to win (I knew that winning this series was out of the question). They didn't even play a decent defensive possession until the third quarter. They needed to play Celtic defense the entire game. They also didn't care about how bad they were playing. Miss a shot, no big deal, we're here to lose anyway. They really need some people who are hungry to win. Melo and AI are eating very well in this series.

Kobe really didn't have to score much to help them win. 19 points isn't much when you're talking Kobe. He was able to fill up the stat sheet with boards and dimes instead of scoring. This is key to keeping KB24 full of energy. If they want to go deep in the playoffs, they'll need much more than 19 points from him.

The Pistons have two guys that would be a perfect fit for Denver. Lindsey Hunter and Jason Maxiell, two guys who have tons of passion. They play terrific defense and they are a tremendous spark off the bench. If only the Nuggets actually had something to entice Joe Dumars (Pistons top dog).
MAGIC BEAT THE RAPTORS!

The Magic beat the Raptors 106-94 to take a 3-1 series lead. This was really a game of runs, and the Magic were due for one late. Bosh put it all on the line today, but it wasn't enough. He had a career game, Toronto needed some contributions from other players. Only two Raptors players were in double digits. Howard had eight blocks from the first two games, none in game three (only Raptors win) and six in this one. The key seems to be Howard's swats. More use of a reverse layup could curtail Howard's numbers.

The series will now shift back to Orlando, they have a chance to take out the Raptors. Toronto can win if Howard has one or two blocks, otherwise I like the Magic. Toronto doesn't want to go down terribly easily, hopefully they can live up to that.

Friday, April 25, 2008

PHILLY WINS AGAIN!

Detroit is still asleep in Michigan tied with the Sixers 1-1. NO! Wake up from that daze Detroit, you just lost game three badly. They really didn't put their heads into the game. Way too many turnovers, and an overabundance of jump shots (a little giving up) are the perfect formula for an upset. I don't know how many science courses the Sixers squad has taken as a whole, but this is defying the laws of science (true words of a basketballogist).

I have lost my respect for the Pistons. I gave them the obvious edge, hey it's very apparent that they have the skill set to sweep them. No, they just want to wait until they hit Boston to really play. If they don't win game four decisively, this series is still up in the air. Before the playoffs started, Billy King (former Sixers GM) predicted the Sixers would win this series in seven game. First, I thought, "do you know anything about basketball?" Now, I no longer question his audacity, this team is very serious. Can they beat them, I'm now undecided. King put this team together, he knew what he was doing.

What's the cause of this Piston inconsistency? The big reason is Flip Saunders. I know he's got an influence on their psyche, and I don't know if it's a good one. If they don't go very far in the playoffs this year, Joe Dumars should consider a change. The other obvious aspect is the Pistons don't respect this young spry team. They think every game should just be given to them because they are the Pistons and the Sixers are that team that used to have Allen Iverson. Philly hasn't given them anything, they play each game with great intensity.

Come on Pistons, put your head in the game!
Photo by: H. Rumph Jr./AP

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

HORNETS BEAT THE MAVS!

Somewhere Mark Cuban is scowling. His team is now down 2-0, itching to get back to Dallas. The Hornets had complete control, final score 127-103. Chris Paul isn't the MVP of this season (Kobe), but he is going to have it in his back pocket for years to come. The great thing is double teams didn't throw off his game. If they doubled him, he got to a shooter (Peja for three, West mid-range jumper) and they always played very relaxed. He's got complete control over his game, the shot clock hitting five really doesn't faze him. Face it, I'm riding the Chris Paul bandwagon right now.

The commentators who called the game brought up Chris Paul's playoff experience. They referred to what early skeptics thought would hurt Paul and the Hornets in this series: experience. Doesn't that sound like our current Democratic race? I remember when Hillary criticized Obama for not have the necessary experience. I'm no political jockey, but Obama has continued to prove himself and the skeptics backed off a little. With these two wins, Paul shined and made a mockery of his skeptics, too.

Dallas just has to be consistent on both ends. They might get a steal on defense, but fumble it on the fast break and vice versa. They need to win game three, or I don't think they can come back. Breathe easy Mark, Dallas is only about an hour and a half away.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

SIXERS STUN THE PISTONS!

So far the biggest upset I have ever seen, the Sixers beat the Pistons 90-86. All I can say is, "are you kidding me?" This was such a great victory if you're Philly, a crushing defeat for the Pistons. the reason they won is the Pistons were unable to score late in the game. Mo Cheeks has got to be really happy with his squad. The one thing that concerns me is how much confidence they gain from this win. My fear is that will think they're all that and get blown out in game two. You know the Pistons are going to be quite intimidated by the first loss, look for the tenacity they should have brought in game one to resurface in game two.

Reggie Evans was the key for the Sixers. He got some lose balls and was able to score a little here and there.

Billups is a big factor in the loss. He missed three free throws in crunch time. This is no excuse for the loss, but Billups must get back to his usual consistency from the free throw line.

The NBA, where UPSETS happen!
Photo
by: D. Lippitt/Einstein
LAKERS BEAT NUGGETS!

The Lakers beat the Nuggets 128-114 to take a 1-0 series lead. Denver played a nice first half, but broke down in the second. LA made a run late in the third quarter that enabled them to relax a little. Denver fired back and cut the lead to nine; a couple of LA three's later they were ahead by about 15. The key was they made runs without
Kobe. Foul trouble plagued him and he sat out. Odom was great all around and Pau supplied great offense and nice D.

AI was stressed and got thrown out of the game late. I hope the Nuggets got the message. They need to try on both ends for 48 minutes (47 and a half won't even do). Continually switching what kind of defense they play would rattle the Lakers offense and enable them to run on their end. Also, don't just play for one half. They can't turn it on and off, but they only turned it on when they got down late in the third.

LA will take game two, home court makes it easy for them. TNT has got the day's next two games.
Photo
By: Noah Graham
MAGIC BEAT THE RAPTORS!

The Magic beat the Raptors at home 114-100. The Magic were very hot in the first quarter, 43 points. They had a simple game plan: drive and kick for open three point shots. They got a little cooler as the game progressed and at one point in the second half, the lead was just five. Orlando responded to the run with a 10-0 of their own. I like how the Magic played, but they need a plan B when the three's aren't falling. They will make the necessary defensive adjustments and the Magic need to counter with some nice offensive tactics. Howard could get some more touches, fill the stat sheet even more.

Toronto needs to start game two a lot stronger. If they are down by even 10 after the first, that would make a come back a lot easier. The inside out game was not great for Toronto. If they can eliminate their love affair with jumpers, they will see vast improvement. Also, if they want to play zone, they've got to get out to the shooters, or just throw that out of the defensive handbook. This will be a closer series when these changes occur.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

HORNETS BEAT MAVS!

The Hornets beat the Mavericks 104-92 to take a 1-0 series lead. CP3 and the bumping Hornets crowd carried them in this game. The Mavs tried to stage late game comeback, but it was much too late. I like the Hornets; they will win at least one at home, that's a given. Dallas will fight back and win a close one in game two.

Jazz and Rockets playing right now. Stay tuned for more playoff coverage.
Photo
By: Layne Murdoch
SPURS WIN IN DOUBLE OVERTIME!

The Spurs beat the Suns in double overtime 117-115. This is the best first round game I have ever seen. Duncan forced a second overtime, Finely did it in the fourth and Manu hits the game winner. You have to give kudos to each team for giving the fans a show. I thought the Suns would end up winning, but you have to defend. Shaq sat out because the Spurs didn't call a timeout. Just another ingenious thought from Gregg Popovich. The Duncan three worked only because you wouldn't expect it all. It was his first three of the year; most likely not mentioned in the scouting report. He caught the ball in tremendous rhythm and used his streaky shot to tie it up.

Nash was clutch as usual. He came out with an offensive agenda of his own in OT and hit a three to tie it late. Coaching is a variable when considering what team is better than another and no hit to Mike D'Antoni, but Gregg proved himself tonight. I predict this series will only get better, you still have to keep in mind this was the first game.

The third game of the day will be the Hornets hosting the Mavs. Tune back into ESPN for the game. It may not be a classic like this one, but it sure should be entertaining.
Photo
by: Joe Murphy
CAVS BEAT THE WIZ!

The Cleveland Cavs beat the Wizards in game one at home. It came down to the finish; LeBron and crew proved they can win at home. This was a very emotional game, thanks to the public comments made be Stevenson, Arenas and LJ. Haywood played a very solid game. He was most effective in the first quarter, but you take it where you can get it. He was the third leading scorer for the Wiz, he's still got some developing to do. Lots of dicey calls were made near the end of the game, they could've gone either way. There were a couple of jump balls late, they all went to the Cavs. That's what it came to: getting the tip and taking care of business at the free throw line.

I like the Wizards to win game two, this is a series that will sway back and forth. Wizards medical staff need to re-evaluate Agent Zero and let him play the kind of minutes he played last season. This will really benefit them in the long run, especially if they want to go far in the playoffs.

Delonte West made some inroads today. He played very well late and that will help the Cavs as a team and West's confidence. Look for another close game two of this series on Monday at 7:00 PM Eastern on TNT.
Photo
by: Jesse D. Garrabrant

Friday, April 18, 2008

IT'S PLAYOFF TIME!

Another regular season of NBA basketball is over, now the real season begins. I am going to preview each match up, but first I'll start with the Eastern conference first.

In the East, only about half of the series will be somewhat close. The Celtics (1st seed) will take on the Hawks (8th seed). This shouldn't be much of a challenge for the Celts. They have already gone through this season with ease and they have the home court advantage. Sorry Hawks fans; like I said about the Sixers, this is more of a playoff experiment for the Hawks. One win would be an incredible feat. I wish the Hawks luck, but don't expect any one of these games to be an ESPN classic.

The Cavs (4th seed) will once again face the Wizards (5th seed). This match up has more fire than it has every year. If you didn't know, Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson called LeBron overrated. This is going to anger a superstar and you don't do that to someone like LJ. Stevenson does get hot at times, but his consistency is not near as high as LeBron's. I want to see Bron Bron switch onto Stevenson and do something like Kobe would do. Take on someone and play them really tough. Force him to take bad shots, run down the shot clock and force some turnovers. LeBron will get his message across soon enough. This series should go six or seven games, the Cavs will come out on top. Not really because they are the better team, but because LeBron will want to prove that they are the better team.

Orlando (3rd seed) will face the Raptors (6th seed). Two big men standout: Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh. Five or six games sounds right for this, the Magic will win. They each have microscopic amounts of playoff experience, but the Magic have a much better squad. They are deep and the Raptors haven't been as good this season. Home court is big in this series; that's where the Raptors will win some games. I want to see Howard be a monster on each end and send the message that the Magic are going to be great for years to come.

Lastly, the Pistons (2nd seed) will take on the Sixers (7th seed). They are serious as a team, but sadly this should be done in five or six games. They don't have a chance beating them in Detroit, but they can make some noise at home. I like this Sixer teams and this will be a true showcase for them.

We got through the semi-minor league, now it's time for the Western boys.

LA (1st seed) will host the Nuggets (8th seed). High scoring match up, the Nuggets have been hot of late. They should be able to get one game in Denver, two if they're lucky. LA is going to be willed by the play of Kobe Bryant. Bynum probably won't be back, but the Lakers can get through this series without him.

The Jazz (4th seed) hope to send the Rockets (5th seed) home packing. I love this series. The reason the Jazz will be victorious is first they are a deeper team and second they've got home court. It seems like they can't lose there and I don't care how good any team is, Utah's crowd is rockin. Six or seven games and the Jazz probably win it in a close fight.

San Antonio (3rd seed) will face the Suns (6th seed). This is one the most dramatic rivalries in either conference. I have to pick the Spurs, regretfully. I like the new look Suns, but the Spurs will move on because of Manu's movement to top scorer on the team. Seven game series for sure, might go down as one of the best first round series ever.

The Hornets (2nd seed) compete against the Mavs (7th seed). Six game series, Mavs win. I really like the Hornets, but experience will prove better in this series. JKidd will finally really show up. This should be a nice coming out party for Paul as well.
Today was the last day of a terrific Sports Journalism Summit I attended at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. Poynter (http://www.poynter.org) is a place rich with work from many great writers. I met some professional writers and learned a lot. Roy Peter Clark ran the Summit and did a magnificent job. He is a great all around writer and anyone looking to learn should check him out (here are some of his writing tools).

I also met Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated. Check
out some of his work.
He is a very intelligent writer who has written many riveting stories and I can't wait to read more.

Dave Scheiber (senior feature writer of the St. Petersburg Times) is the co-author of Bob Delaney's fascinating book Covert and he talked about what went into the making of this amazing story. I got a copy of the book and I suggest you check it out as well (here's the official website). Once I have read the entire story, I will review it here on Basketball Notes by Alex.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Poynter and can't wait to attend the Sports Journalism Summit again next year.

Keep it tuned to Basketball Notes by Alex for all of your playoff coverage. I will predict who will win each series and in how many games very soon.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

LAKERS STAND TALL AGAINST THE SPURS!

LA probably secured their position atop the west. If they can beat the Kings (they've been tough of late) they will clinch the top seed in the toughest conference. That would mean home court advantage all the way through the western conference teams and if they have a somewhat healthy Bynum, they should go all the way to the finals. This wasn't the Spurs 100%, no Manu is a huge change to this team. He is the most important player on this team, like Gregg Popovich said, they can't win a playoff series without him. That said, this is a nice confidence booster for the Lakers. If they don't beat the Kings, that would be devastating. They are playing some okay ball, but I think LA will win.

Just like the Wiz beating Philly, the Spurs just couldn't score late. They played okay, but they packed it in early. The Spurs know that once Manu comes back, everything will be fine and dandy. Until that point, they might not play Duncan and Parker as much.

LA needs to face Denver to ensure a win in the first round. I really don't like the Warriors match up if I'm LA. Their defense is decent, but not good enough to stop them from getting lots of points. Denver would be a tiny bit easier, but it's still a western team.
Photo by:
Kevork Djansezian

Saturday, April 12, 2008

WIZARDS DOMINATE FOURTH QUARTER AND BEAT SIXERS!

Gilbert Arenas is really playing well. I don't care about the first three quarters, he showed up big time in the fourth (finial score 109-93, Wiz win). His three point range is better than you would get in a video game. He thinks he will make it every time and that's what makes his shot so tough to guard. His willingness to come off the bench is very unselfish of him; I really admire that. The coaching staff even let him play over the 20 minuets they want him to play. That's a sign of how healthy he is and how much this game mattered to both teams (Eastern conference playoff seeding at stake).

What hurt Phili was simply not scoring in crunch time. The Wizards had a 22 point advantage in the period and held the Sixers to just nine points in the fourth. I know the new AI (Andre Iguodala) is supposed to be their go to guy, but he didn't show up when it mattered. He had some nice moves off the dribble, but his shot was way off. It was a classic example of a million dollar move, but a 10 cent finish. As a bottom seed in the East, they have to know how to play at all times, but especially in the money quarter. You can dig yourself into a hole in the first quarter, but you've still got three more quarters. Tonight the Sixers got cold in reverse order (in the last quarter).

I like the Wiz, they are improving and Agent Zero can provide a constant scoring spark. If they play Cleavland in the first round, the series could go all seven games. I do like the Cavs a bit more, especially because they should have home court.
Photo by:
Nick Wass

Thursday, April 10, 2008

LISTEN TO WHAT SIR CHARLES SAID ABOUT ESPN!

I love what Charles Barkley said on the Dan Patrick show today (here's his website). Especially his comments about ESPN. He said he thinks they have been, "jack asses," about the MVP race and it pisses him off. The point was that ESPN reporters think KB24 (Kobe Bryant) should get the award just because he hasn't gotten one yet (or as he said, a lifetime achievement award). He thinks it's between Kobe and Chris Paul. He doesn't put KG up there because they are in the East (it's very funny to hear what he's got to say about the East). Sir Charles also comments on some other things, but I wanted to let you know about this, you need to hear it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

SIXERS BEAT THE PISTONS!

In a game which Detroit never lead, the Sixers beat the Pistons 101-94. These two teams have a good chance of meeting in the playoffs, but this wasn't a full blown preview. Rip Hamilton didn't play and the bench rotation was much too generous, every player got at least six minutes of action. I expect Flip Saunders to really tighten up on that, maybe not near as much in the first round. Phili did play a very solid game. They won because of a big advantage in fast break points. This will be an important thing the Pistons need to work on. In the playoffs, the defense will get even better; it was already decent tonight. The shot clock almost expired multiple times down the stretch. You've got to respect the run the Pistons bench made late in the game. They are much deeper this year and it should really benefit them come playoff time.

Louis Williams has to be contained. If he is able to penetrate at will, this would actually be a tight series. I don't mean to burst the bubble of any Sixer fans, but this year's post-season is more of a test run. They aren't a real contender to win a title this year or next year really. This has been a speedy recovery from what seemed like a fatal blow to this franchise's success (trading Allen Iverson and rebuilding). If they can win a game or two in a series, I would call that some adequate progress. That said, I do like this team. They are fun to watch and have a long future ahead of them.
Photo by:
H. Rumph, Jr.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

MAVS BEAT THE SUNS!

The Mavs should have a bounce in their step after beating the Suns 105-98. Another win against a 500. team, they must feel good. They finished the game really strong, holding the Suns to just nine fourth quarter points. If Dallas can sustain the same level of energy they had in the fourth quarter, then they could challenge to move up in the West. The Suns played well, but the tenacity of the Dallas defense hurt their offensive attack. I like how they fed Amare, but he would've done better had he gotten more high percentage shots. A guy his size should shoot close to 60%, but he was at 50%.

I think Dallas is in the clearing to get into the playoffs, as long as they stay healthy. I saw in this game how the JKidd deal has really hurt their depth. Bass is a solid young player, but I question what he can do in the playoffs. I'm sure he'll show up at home, but can he go into a top team's house and command respect. After he gets his feet wet in the playoffs, you'll see the Brandon Bass you're used to.
Photo by:
Paul Connors
HORNETS BEAT THE WARRIORS!

The Warriors played a terrible fourth quarter and lost to the Hornets 108-96. This was an up and down game for both teams. New Orleans would go on a run and Golden State would come on strong again. The difference was defense. David West got off his jump shot with ease, something that Warrior defense needs to focus on if they meet in the playoffs. The pressure is now really on in Oakland. There is still time, but they have to hope the Nuggets go cold and the bring back the heat at home. When these two teams meet on Thursday, it should be an all out dog fight.

CP3 (Chris Paul) really increased his MVP stock. He had his fourth career triple double and played terrific when it mattered. He also did this on the national level, what I loved was his passion. After the third quarter, he begged coach Byron Scott to start the fourth quarter. To me, it's an MVP sign when you really want to play and a coach of Byron's caliber lets you. Despite all of this MVP talk, the team played great on both ends. The bench picked up their effectiveness, finishing with 26 points off the bench. This is critical to any playoff success for the Hornets. Look at teams like LA and the Spurs, they are very deep and sometimes rely on their bench in crunch time.

On the Golden State side, they have got to shoot better and come out with more energy. They have to play like Kansas did in the first half against UNC. Force the run and gun style and the game should win itself.

Speaking of those games, I like Memphis. Kansas can get an advantage against them if they play a terrific team game, but individuals have helped Memphis win 38 games this season. Rose is a magnificent player and you'll probably hear his name called in this summers NBA draft.
Photo by:
Ann Heisenfelt

Friday, April 04, 2008

UTAH BEATS UP ON THE SPURS!

The Jazz held the Spurs to just 26 second half points and won be 26, 90-64. This is a big feat because they beat the Spurs by so much. I expected them to win (they have the best home record), but not blow them out. For about three quarters of this game, it was a grind it out physical affair. I really liked how the refs set a standard from the beginning of the game. They know that these are physical teams, so they should be allowed reach in a little bit here and there.

What stands out to me is that the Spurs settled for the loss early. I think Popovich knew it's very tough to win in Utah and the season is almost over. He also knows that his team will be in the playoffs. I agree with all of his assumptions, but I wish they would've put forth some more effort.

Utah's shooting was the biggest problem early on for the Jazz, but soon enough it turned around. I like that Boozer pounded it into the paint continuously, no matter how much Duncan hounded him.

I am concerned about how Utah will close the season. They are facing some tough teams on the road, yes Utah that means out of the Energy Solutions Arena. They have to at least go 500. on this road stretch, a terrible performance would really hurt their confidence. Home games against the Rockets and Nuggets are must wins if the road trip doesn't end well.
Photo by:
Douglas C. Pizac

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I just added a Paypal DONATE button to the top left side of my blog. I have many projects in the works and your financial help could really enable me to pursue my goals. Stay tuned for new exciting features to come!

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WALSH TO NEW YORK AND MY OPINION ON THE MVP RACE!

New York finally wants to get serious. They brought in Donnie Walsh as president for four years. If you didn't hear what he had to say, there was a great interview on ESPN radio (Listen to it here). This is a smart choice and I think the future in NY is not near as bleak. Artest will probably cause a stir this summer about coming to the Big Apple, but whatever happens, this team is going to improve. I trust Walsh, but it will take time. The cap situation couldn't be worse; he doesn't want to complicate the issue. Let the team somewhat under perform for three years, and PLEASE don't resign the huge cap players and let time takes its toll.

The possibility for a major acquisition in 2010 is growing. It would be great to see LJ, or Wade in a Knicks uniform. I also have NO doubt the coaching catastrophe that is Isiah Thomas will be dealt with. He will leave on a bad note, but I don't really care about his image. Thomas really hurt NY and I hope he never runs a team again.

Now, someone asked me about the MVP race. They wanted to know if Chris Paul can win it. My answer: Yes, but there are some prerequisites. I think they have to finish strong and they have to win the west. My other candidates are KG because you cannot underestimate a team that has dominated throughout this season. Lastly, KB24 (Kobe Bryant) they also have got to finish strong, although I don't think they have to win the west. He is terrific individually and the NBA seems to always reward that. It's a toss up, but Paul is not my number one.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

HORNETS PREVAIL IN A TIGHT GAME!

This game went back and forth, but the Hornets came into Orlando and won 98-97. Both teams played some decent ball, even though Paul and Peja weren't very effective.

What really surprised me was Chris Paul's shooting under pressure. He missed two consecutive free throws that could have given them a three point lead. The Magic assumed they would commit a foul, but it didn't happen. They penetrated in a bit and threw the ball out to Keyon Dolling. He put the ball onto the floor and shot a tough jumper. It then backfired off of the front rim and the Hornets got the rebound and held the ball. I didn't like the shot the Magic got. First, I don't consider Dolling someone who can shoot off the dribble. If they drew up a play similar to what the Lakers did against the Wizards, they could've gotten a higher percentage shot. Here's a mock play: Hedo could penetrate in and Rashard Lewis would be waiting in the corner for a pass. If Hedo get near the basket, he should draw a double and the shot would open up for Lewis.

There were some great ideas behind the Magic's strategy. When they were down three with about nine seconds left, they decided to let Hedo dunk it instead of going for a desperation three. I'm sure most coaches would've done the same, but I thought it was smart. It's common knowledge that a team in this situation will give up a two and give the ball to a solid foul shooter after the other team scores. I also thought the Magic didn't get the best calls from the refs. When the Hornets were inbounding the ball, Maurice Evans and Morris Peterson collided. They decided to call a foul on the Magic, even though the opposing player pushed off. This resulted in a point swing. Instead of having a chance to get a two of three, Peja got a free throw and it then became a possible three or four point possession. He did hit a three and it became four points. I hope the officials review that and learn from this experience.
Photo by:
John Raoux