Friday, May 30, 2008

The Finals Are Set!

The Celtics beat the Pistons 89-81 to advance to the finals after winning in six games. I have to admit that I didn't expect Boston to win tonight. Despite all the talk about injuries for Hamilton and others, they should have come out with a lot more desperation. The end of the game was what hurt them; each three pointer they took was way off.

Points in the last two minutes of quarters were actually tied in this game. Boston won the most important quarters (the first and fourth quarters). If you are the Pistons, you are looking at the window with the Spurs. It is shutting and I don't think it's going to be easy to slip through the cracks (especially for the Spurs).

Now, it Boston and LA (hooray for the NBA's marketing)! This is going to be a great series that starts next Thursday. I don't want to predict the winner yet, but each team has impressed me in their closeout games. LA is a lot fresher so that's a big factor. I will continue to look at this match up and give you my thoughts on who will take home the NBA hardware. Stay with Basketball Notes by Alex for great finals coverage, I've got some cool things planned!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Spurs Pain The Lakers!

The Spurs got back on track and beat the Lakers 103-84 to make it a 2-1 series lead for the Lakers. The Spurs had it going tonight; Manu was back and he made lots of jumpers. I thought that the Spurs would come out with lots of energy, but it took a bit of time for them to get going. I think once they were able to run and get Manu open jumpers, everyone was very confident.

I saw a couple of things the Lakers can do to get a road win on Tuesday: make free throws, get the bench rolling and don't run a modified version of the triangle, otherwise known as the Kobe-triangle. Back to the free throws: in the first two games, LA only averaged 2.5 misses from the free throw line. Before the first half was over, LA more than doubled that average (missing six). Manu Ginobili beat the Lakers bench by himself. I don't need to say anything more about the Lakers bench woes. Kobe had to do too much by himself: he was the only one really active in the Lakers comeback attempt.

Also, the Lakers have to finish quarters well. Looking back at game two, they had a 21 point advantage in points in the last two minutes of quarters. In this game they were -4. Momentum going into the later parts of game will help the Lakers get a game on the road. Checkout a quarter-to-quarter breakdown of this stat at NBAtipoff.googlepages.com.

Home court advantage has reigned king in these playoffs and I think that will continue. Kobe will still have to do a little too much; the supporting cast will help a little more. This will be a little closer, but a double digit victory wouldn't surprise me.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Celtics Break The Playoff Road Curse!

The Celtics beat the Pistons 94-80 (it was a road game for Boston!) to take a 2-1 series lead. Let me emphasize those word in the parentheses: IT WAS A ROAD GAME! This is a great burden that is now off their shoulders. They knew they had to win a game in Detroit if they wanted to win the series. They came out with tons of intensity.

The bench was off the charts. Perk (Kendrick Perkins) knew that he had to come out confident on both ends. You saw him take charge on offense and post up down low. On the defensive end, he was tough and energized. Posey did some great defensive work; Doc Rivers has to give a round of applause to his entire squad. Of course he has to remind them that there are more wins to be had in Detroit. They have got to come out and attempt to win two straight road games.

If you are the Pistons, you feel pretty bad. You played a horrible first half. The offense was horrific and the Celts were able to execute their offense effectively. The great find was that 1-2-2 defense that rendered the Celtics offense quizzical. I would like the Pistons to play small ball more as well. Stuckey had a tremendous game and his scoring was a big plus.

The Celtics had a 16 point advantage in points in the last two minutes of quarters. There has been an increasing amount of talk about the NBA being a first quarter league and the Celts had the biggest advantage in this quarter (in terms of points in the last two minutes of quarters). Checkout the quarter-to-quarter breakdown of this stat on NBAtipoff.googlepages.com.

I like the Pistons to respond in game four. The Celts aren't going to win two straight on the road; they haven't been consistent enough during the playoffs. Detroit will come out with a lot more energy, expect them to win the all important first quarter.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Lakers Trample Spurs!

In what ended up being a blowout game, the Lakers beat the Spurs 101-71. The Lakers got the rust of their first quarter game and executed terrifically throughout the game. The root of the Spurs problem is the health of Manu Ginobili. He didn't look great in the first half, but he showed some signs in the second.

The Spurs need to put all the time and resources they can into making sure Manu is 100% Manu. Kobe had around the clock treatment for his back; I know it's not the same for an ankle, but something similar to that will have a positive effect.

Once again I recorded the points in the last two minutes of quarters. The results from this were staggering. The Spurs had no points in the last two minutes in the first, second and third quarters. The fourth quarter didn't matter, that was straight garbage (said the Marv Albert way) time. Overall, the Lakers had a 21 point advantage in this aspect.

I like the Spurs to come out strong in game three. They are looking old, but hopefully the Texas air will be botox for the Spurs game. Kobe has to score more than 22 points if LA wants to win on the road. This game won't be won by 30, but home court could change the Spurs.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Pistons Cannot Win Without The Real Mr. Big Shot!

Watching the Celts beat the Pistons last night, I was surprised to see Billups not play like Billups. Now, I know he just came off of that bad injury, but in an interview with the crew at TNT, he said he was 100%. I know it's now good to rush an injury, but he wasn't 100%. Going into this series, I thought the Pistons could win. Now, I can't be so sure. Here my ruling: if Mr. Big Shot is not playing like he did in the second round, the Pistons have no chance of winning.

Let's look at the stats from the first game in Boston. Nine points and two steals (he also missed two free throws!), that doesn't sound like the Billups from the first two games against Orlando. In that series he averaged 23.5 points, shot 18-19 from the line and dished out 5.5 assists per game. I don't want to harp on the free throws, but he has to be effective in every element of his game. I think Rodney Stuckey could start and produce number close (if not better) to those.

Billups may not be 100%, but the Pistons have to find a way to look beyond that. I would like to see even more of Hunter and maybe Flip shouldn't be scared away by the other young guards sitting on his bench. Saunders (Pistons head coach, if you didn't know) has to send a message to Billups that if you're not ready to play like you did in the last games you played in Detroit, you might as well not play at all. What the Pistons lose is some experience, but I think the level of play from the guys that are on the bench should make up for what they would lose.

Boston needs to find more ways to work Billups on defense. Rip Hamilton-esque screens would test him each game, giving the Celtics coaching staff a good basis to work on.

I like Boston to take game two, but then we will see a different Pistons team once they head back to the Palace. Billups doesn't have to be 100% at home, but if Pistons fans don't want to see a sad look on Joe Dumars' face, he better be.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Spurs finish off the Hornets!

In a surprisingly close game, the Spurs beat the Hornets 91-82 to win the series 4-3. The Spurs played great throughout almost the entire game. Near the end of the game, the Hornets were fueled by a hot streak from Pargo. The problem was Chris Paul didn't have any heroics in the bag. He is a good offensive player, but doesn't have enough individual game to propel them past the Spurs.

Again, I recorded the points in the last two minutes of quarters. The Spurs had a six point advantage over the Hornets. They won the all important third quarter, by only two. They played like an experienced team does in a game seven: poised and the old guys were able to hit jump shots.

It's late, so I will probably have more on this game tomorrow.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Celtics Finish The Cavs!

The Celtics beat the Cavs 97-92 to advance to the Eastern conference finals. We saw two special players really ball today: Paul Pierce and LeBron James. The reason the Celts are better is they have a tremendous supporting cast. Despite Allen's poor performance, Rondo has been great, Brown was ballin and House provided a spark. All you see from the Cavs is some nice play from Delonte West.

Boston took 14 games just to get to these conference finals. You have to think some of the gas will be out of the tank once they face the Pistons. I am not going to make any predictions yet, but Detroit is a lot fresher. Detroit's starting point guard says he is 100% now as well.

Bron Bron put it all on the line and it wasn't enough. 45 points, almost half of the Cleveland's 92. That says it all. The only other player that had double figures was Delonte West. Danny Ferry has to put a strong supporting cast around him. If he doesn't do it soon, he could hit the high road in 2010.


Again I recorded some of my own stats. Points in the last two minutes of quarters. These stats are taken from quarters two through four. Boston had a 5-2 advantage over the Cavs. Compared to game six, these number were a lot closer. I don't think there was one quarter in game six that had a one point difference in the last two minutes. Want to see a quarter to quarter breakdown of these stats? Check out http://nbatipoff.googlepages.com for a document you can download.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cavs Force Game Seven!

LeBron James willed the Cavs to win over the Celtics. The series is now tied 3-3 and game seven will be played in Boston on Sunday. It seemed just like another typical game in the second round- the home team had the upper hand. They started the second half on fire and I thought they might run away with the game. Then, after a 13-0 Celts run it appeared that Boston could steal this game.

I took down some of the stats that I think are very important. I recorded points scored in the last two minutes of each quarter. Here's a rundown: the Cavs had a 15 point advantage over the Celts. The only quarter in which the Celtics had more points was the fourth. Also, period two and three were a no show in the last two minutes. You can't get it done this way.

Looking forward, I think Boston is able to win a trip to the Eastern conference finals. The Cavs have LeBron, but not the same supporting cast on the road. I don't know what has caused this league wide roadaphobia, but it's not stopping any time soon. I would call this an NBA pandemic.

If you want to see a quarter to quarter breakdown of the stats I took, checkout nbatipoff.googlepages.com. I will be using this site to host this and other files that have my recorded stats.

Check out my guest post on The Sports Dollar!

I wrote a nice guest post about sports blogging on a site called The Sports Dollar. It is written by a friend of mine named Kellex and he is a great writer (he also writes le basketbawl).

Here's a sneak peak at my post titled: Don't Recap, Rethink: A Sports Blog Primer:
Blogging is thought to be hard and tedious by the average person. Trust me, it's not astrophysics. You don't have to know everything about SEO, web design or how to work complex programs. The quintessential aspect is time.
Check out the rest of my guest post.

Check out my post and learn how I and other sports bloggers make money. This is a relatively new site and it is getting better and better. Great blogger that has never heard of Digg or Ballhype? Head over to his site and you will learn how to use everything to your advantage.

Tonight in the NBA there is a terrific double header on ESPN. Starting at 8 PM Eastern the Cavs will play the Celtics. I like the Celtics, but I give the Cavs a 50-50 chance. They can win because the Celtics are not the Celtics on the road (so far) and LeBron can will them to victory. Then at 10:30 PM Eastern, the Lakers take their 3-2 lead to Utah. I like Utah to win this one. It will be close, but Utah won't go down easy. Kobe is not 100%, but he's okay. If Jerry Sloan can get his players to post him up early, he might show some fatigue and pain.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Knicks pull the trigger on D'Antoni!

The Knicks will hire Mike D'Antoni as head coach. His contact will go four years and he will payed-too much for a rebuilding team. Everyone knows that Mike can coach and be successful, but a great coach has to have great players. It's almost as bad as the Larry Brown debacle. I think six mill a year is too high if you are in rebuilding mode.

Quick question: does Walsh think this team can become a title contender in four years? It's possible, but the worlds dumbest GM's would have to be involved. A lot of people think the Grizz GM would be a good candidate (Pau deal not good in this example). Maybe the Knicks can put all that money they like to spend into getting a team to hire a terrible GM. Then trade them for everything they've got.

This is not a quick fix. New York needs to slow down and realize the players they have on the floor are human. A coaching change won't change the lack of leadership in the lock room and not much on the floor. Donnie Walsh (Knicks president) didn't seem to be in a position to wheel and deal. Bringing a high caliber coach like Mike makes me think he might have a couple deals on his mind.

Pistons beat Magic!

The Pistons beat the Magic 90-89 to take a 3-1 series lead. I think that the Magic went too quick on the last play of the game. Hedo held the ball for a few seconds and didn't leave the Magic enough time to extend the game. I would have liked to see a quick shot, maybe a lob to Howard. He could have dunked it quickly and left time for the Magic to D them up.

Defensive rebounding needs to be consistent for 48 minutes if you're Orlando. They let the Pistons get second opportunities that led to Pistons points. Orlando was already told by coach Van Gundy, but obviously that wasn't enough. Dwight Howard needs to take a leadership role and tell his guys to box out on defense.

Detroit will win this series, but I think it will take two more games. Orlando has a real chance to win the whole series, they have the drive. Piston fans need to get really fired up if Detroit wants a chance to close them out. This game will be close and Detroit will have a shot at winning.

Friday, May 09, 2008

I have a new E-Mail!

For all of you that have sent me an email, I now have a new address (NBAtipoff@gmail.com). If you still want to send me a message on my old AOL account you can. That one still works as well.

Thanks and send me some feedback about the site!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Vandeweghe promoted to Nets GM!

The New Jersey Nets promoted Kiki Vandeweghe to the general manager position. I think he is one of the best GM's available. He was already working for the Nets, so he should be familiar with the situation and already have some ideas in his head. His last experience running the show was with Denver and he made some great moves.

Looking at the Nets roster, they are young and have some potential. My idea would be trade VC and get younger. Allow this squad to rebuild. They need it. I mean, I'm not saying they couldn't be a playoff team in two to three years, but they need to make moves to be a contender. Carter is a player who most likely wants to lead a team to a title. He won't be able to win a title in NJ in his prime. There is not another Pau Gasol-like deal brewing.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Lakers beat Jazz!

The LA Lakers beat the Utah Jazz 109-98 to take a 1-0 series lead. Utah was ready to get blown out in the first half, but played a nice second half. The reason this game got away from them was Kobe getting to the line. He made 21 free throws, something that gets his shot going and provides almost automatic offense. Utah let them run in the first half, they need a half court game.

Kobe only made seven shots and had 30 points. That's a recipe for disaster. You wouldn't really mind the 30 if he had to put up 20 shots. Foul trouble was an issue and if they stop hacking Kobe, Boozer won't foul out.

I like Utah to start game two hot, but finish down 2-0. LA doesn't want to look venerable at Staples, it's already tough enough to win in Utah. The game will be a bit closer, Kobe needs to be contained. If they force him to take tons of shots (hopefully tough jumpers), they put themselves in position to steal the game late.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Pistons beat up on the Magic!

The Pistons beat the Magic 91-72 to take a 1-0 series lead. This game was close for two and a half quarters. Then, with about five minutes to go in the third, Detroit played some "DETROIT BASKETBALL!" Orlando could've have stayed in the game if they made free throws and were actually aware of the out of bounds line. They have to take care of the ball and capitalize on free points from the line. Some three point shots wouldn't hurt either.

I loved how Detroit played Howard. He wasn't able to get into a good rhythm; the Pistons kept putting different guys on him. Wallace and Maxiell will be the two that normally guard Howard. Orlando will make offensive adjustments and I'm sure there are a few things they can change defensively.

Howard seems to have a bad hand. This is a huge concern because he is the reason the Magic are even in the playoffs. His hands didn't look good from the free throw line either. His stroke is ugly (okay, not Shaq ugly, but not too great). Orlando really needs a shooting coach for Howard, if not the whole team. They shot just 50% compared to the Pistons 88.9%. Orlando shot 10-20 from the line, 10 points that could've cut into the Pistons lead. This would have kept them in the game and not just make it a blowout.

I like the Pistons to take game two. Howard may not be 100% and I think that will play a factor in how aggressive he is. If they don't have to pay a lot of attention to him, they can stop the three point shot. Orlando shot badly in the first game, but don't expect them to stay cold. The Magic will be a totally different team once they head back to Orlando; until then Detroit's got the upper hand.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Hawks beat Celts again!

The Hawks beat the Celtics 103-100 to tie the series 3-3 and force a game seven. I really didn't think they had it in them, but they most certainly do. They played big in the money quarter and Boston couldn't buy a basket for a large part of the fourth. Johnson was mostly contained on offense, but used his experience to benefit his squad.

Mike Woodson is now pondering about how his team can get a win in Boston. It seems impossible, but they've got to come out and stun the crowd. Force the tempo and don't get intimidated by the Boston intensity. Atlanta has proved themselves to be more than just a band of kids with just two guys with playoff experience; they play really hard. Woodson deserves credit for getting them out of the shell shock they appeared to be in after the first two games.

I hate to doubt the underdog, but I don't think they can win in Boston. There would be a riot in Boston and I don't think KG will play half-heartedly. Johnson has to continue to pass the ball effectively and get his teammates in a good rhythm. Boston has got to be disappointed in themselves. They couldn't get one win on the road this series. That's insulting if you're KG, Doc, or Scalabrine (a player who's been in street clothes this series) doesn't matter who it is. To win a title, road wins are required. I look to see more poise when they play on the road in the second round.