Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bynum Sprains Knee!

Quick update: Andrew Bynum sprained his right knee (pretty sure on right, but not 100%). He is going to miss the rest of the game against the Grizz, but x-rays were negative. I saw it and he bumped Kobe and went down. He was in pain, but we'll now more as more becomes available.

Update: Here is an update on the Bynum injury:

He didn't hear any pops on the knee and will have to wait until he gets an MRI in New York. If you want to hear Bynum talk about the injury, head over to the Lakers blog for a postgame interview.

Here is the video of what happened:

Get well Bynum!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Scoop With Ben's Suns Blog!

This week on the Scoop, we're talking Suns and we've got one of the best to answer all my Suns related questions. The man behind Ben's Suns Blog, a blog that seems to be gaining lots of momentum. If you haven't checked it yet, here is where to get your Suns fix. Our thanks to Ben for taking the time!

NBAtipoff: How would you assess the Suns recent play, they've gone 5-5 in the last 10 games.

Ben: In a word - mediocre; and we're lucky that we went .500 in that stretch.
It'd be easy for me to place the blame on the road trip and playing in 6 different cities in 9 days, but our problem really has been intensity and turnovers. Our defense is based on effort and energy - both of which the Suns didn't have in the past several games. However, to be in 7th place after our showing's against Boston, New York, and Charlotte is something to be thankful for.
It seems that every time we take a step forward, we take two steps back. By that, I mean that we seemingly begin to find that balance between running and dumping it into Shaq then all of a sudden a) go into Shaq every time or, b) stop running all together.
There has been a distinct difference when the Suns play with hustle and energy - something our team is predicated on.

You recently made an argument for the Suns to switch to the triangle offense. I feel their defense needs work. What can they do to be more consistent defensively?

Ben: Well, our defense has been better the past couple games in Atlanta and Washington, but it's all about knowing which gaps to fill and anticipating rather than reacting. The Suns have largely been a reactive team on defense the past few years and that was something Porter wanted to change this year.
Ultimately, much of the difference in our defense has to do with the change in our pace of play. Thus, teams are getting fewer shot attempts against the Suns. The Suns have also made a conscious effort to help in their weak side gaps/help, especially Grant Hill. I'd say he's been our best defensive player this year, and he was sorely missed in our series vs. the Spurs last year guarding Parker.
In short, it's all about desire and heart.

NBAtipoff: What's the best piece or skill on the Suns team that is not used? Why is it not used?

Ben: Great question. I think at the beginning of the season, our best piece/skill was certainly not being used, and that was allowing Nash the freedom to create.
At the start of the season, we virtually stopped running. Anyone could've played Nash's position which was bringing the ball up the court and dumping it into Amare or Shaq. The Suns are just not built to play that way - there has to be a balance.
When we started running more, we started winning. After getting J-Rich, we won 9 of 12 and two of those losses were on a last second shot. It seemed that we turned the corner and were finally discovering that it's possible to blend the slow/fast styles.
However, that's not been consistent the past 8 games, and it's shown in our record. Hopefully, we can continue to limit turnovers and find a happy medium between our running and low-post sets.

NBAtipoff: Exactly what style are the Suns playing? I think it's a mix or running and half-court execution, but is there more to it?

Ben: That's pretty much it. However, the reason I called for the triangle (even though it will never happen) is because our offense becomes so stale after a while of just running set plays. I see hints of a set motion offense but we get caught up in where the ball "should" go rather than just looking for the open man.
The triangle would allow Nash to create, but also allow for mismatches on Shaq/Amare while keeping the offense free flowing. As it stands now, we try and run more with Shaq out of the game but he's playing close to 35 minutes a night - leaving only 10-15 minutes of running.
It's vitally important for the Suns to create the up-tempo pace to keep the defense off balance. Then, when we need to slow it down, they'll have to adjust quickly for our dumps into the low-post.

NBAtipoff: 52% of the Suns shots come within 11-20 seconds of shot clock use, how do you think this fits into the style the Suns want to play?

Ben: I think in order for us to be most effective, that number should be closer to 40%, and the rest should come between 7-10 seconds of shot clock use. Meaning, we are built to be a running team and it's worked! Thus, we have to establish that style of play early, then we can work Shaq into the game as needed. In our key wins this season (Orlando, Atlanta, Dallas) that is what we've done.
Having said that, I do believe that Shaq needs touches - and he's justified that with his stellar play. However, we can still work Shaq into the more up-tempo version of the offense as we did last year, but also giving him time to work in the post.
My gripe is that there really hasn't been much consistency or adjustments regarding this balanced style. I'd like to see the Suns continue to run, but with discipline.

NBAtipoff: Amare has been a little inconsistent when I've seen him, what's going to put him over the hump and get him playing well about 95% of the time?

Ben: I've been a huge critic of Amare this year.
What's surprised Suns fans, and NBA fans for that matter, has been the underproductiveness (is that a word?) of Amare Stoudemire. Based on the way he finished last year, Suns fans pegged him to have an MVP type year this season. He certainly started that way, scoring 49 in the Pacers game and having one of the best games I've ever seen a NBA player play. However, I think his decline correlates with Shaq's production. The more Shaq produces, the less need the Suns have for Amare to be dominant.
Amare has, at times, turned into a complimentary player to Shaq and Nash this year - much different than I expected. However, I don't think we'd be having this discussion if Amare made more of an effort on the defensive end and rebounding. Plenty of players have had to sacrifice their play for the betterment of the team (see Grant Hill) - but I'm not sure Amare is ready to do that based on his comments to the media etc. I do give him credit that he is putting more of an emphasis on rebounding and defending than recent years.

All in all, I think it will just take time for Amare to find his niche in the offense. It's clear that he isn't the focal point we thought he'd be, but we do need his energy and determination to go anywhere in the playoffs.

NBAtipoff: You are liveblogging the Suns game with Suns and Spurs bloggers! Is there going to be a virtual flagrant foul tally someone will have to keep track of?
Ben: I'll be tallying and tracking all blog-flopping, blog-tripping, and blog-complaining from Spurs fans. If there are any Suns fans out there, make sure to come to the site and comment your ass off! ;)

NBAtipoff: How will the Suns play this season translate to the second half of the season?

Ben: It's my hope that we've already played our worst basketball this year; really though, it can't get much worse than losing by 30 points to the Celtics and Bobcats in the same week. I'm hoping that the adversity we've faced so far will make us a grittier team come playoff time.
I wrote a post a while ago, that the Suns have a chance to gain ground in the West with a favorable schedule through February. We actually have a good chance to win about 20-25 of our 29 games in January/February even with our recent skid. If we can find the tempo and gain confidence, there is no reason why we couldn't move up to the 3-6 seed.

NBAtipoff: How far can they get into the playoffs? What piece could they add to help them?

Ben: I think it's all about momentum. We certainly are better built, regardless of what anyone says, for a deeper run in the playoffs.
In the NBA, aside from the Lakers (who do have flaws by the way) teams #2 - #9 in the West are fairly even. To win a series (or multiple series), the team that is playing better at the time is going to win. Rather, you have to get hot at the right time (and be playing your best ball together) heading into the playoffs.
The Suns formula this year is much more balanced than the last four years - stating the obvious. However, the balanced approach taken by the Suns has been proven to be effective in the post season. The Suns previous approach has been proven time and time again, to not be effective in the playoffs.

Yes, the Lakers have established themselves as a clear favorite in the West. But do you really think that the Jazz couldn't knock them off if they played well? The Rockets? The Spurs? Any one of those teams could start playing well at the right time and take the series.

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The Knicks Are One of the Most Entertaining Teams!

Mike D'Antoni's face turns bright red after a blown call in the post, Nate Robinson parades down the bench after every made basket; this encompasses the sheer entertainment value of the Knicks. They are truly one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA.

High and Lows
It's fun to watch this team go from happy to sad and back again. When they get on a run, you can feel the energy just watching it. Nate Robinson pumps his fist, QRich bounces up and down and they get up and bump each other once the other team calls a timeout. They typically will let a team back into the game at some time, then frustration insues. Robinson wears his emotions on his sleeve, D'Antoni yells and begs for more out of his squad.

Robinson's Antics
Nate Robinson has to be one of my favorite Knicks. It's not even because of his play, it's because of his pure enthusiasm. He lets it all hang out on the court, it's fun to watch.

Duhon's Control of the team
Duhon is not the most talented point guard, but he leads the Knicks well. He has good control of the team; he knows when to pull the ball back and get into halfcourt offense, he also knows when to run the ball.

So, watch the Knicks and see if you see what I see. The crisp highs, the crisp lows (taken from a Bose commercial from NBA TV, btw) of the team, Nate Rob's crazieness, Duhon's complete control. The game they've got against the Lakers Monday will be fun to watch.

Got a pick for most entertaining NBA team? Let's hear it in the comments!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lakers Loose to Bobcats?

I didn't see this game, but the final made me curious. Kobe fouled out in the first overtime, easy excuse for the Lakers to come up with. The Lakers need to make a plan to win without Kobe in those times.

It all depends on the defecit. If they're down by three or more, Lamar Odom should be the primary weapon. He can create his own three point shot, or drive and kick out to another shooter. If they're down by one or two, Gasol and Bynum are the go to guys. Gasol is more sound on the block, although Bynum has developed solid footwork.

Phil Jackson needs to have at least five set plays for this. I'm going to think about some, more on that later. The Lakers are the best offensive team, but down the stretch it's really just a Kobe team. They have offensive weapons, but they just need more set plays down the stretch.

Photo by: Chris Carlson

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Josh Smith vs. Suns Dunks!

Josh Smith made his case for why he should have been in the dunk contest tonight.

Look at these great, in game dunks:

If you don't like that, you don't like basketball!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Feed Issues

Due to some technical problems, the feed had to be moved to a different address. I apologize for the issue, hopefully it won't come up again. If you hit the big red button in the first column, that will get you to the new feed.


The Scoop With Kellex!

Every week we're going to talk to someone who looks at a certain field that relates to basketball. This week, Kellex Barr from Blaze of Love and The Sports Dollar was kind enough to be the first victim!

NBAtipoff: Thanks for joining us on the first edition of Scoop feature. Could you talk to us about the Blazers recent play, tell us things you've liked and didn't like.

Kellex: Their play has definitely been sporadic and not in a good way. Inconsistent play on the offensive end from Roy and Aldridge have led to some disappointing losses to subpar teams. On a positive note though, Greg Oden had his first monster game as a professional and gave everyone a glimpse at what the future could hold. Let's just hope he can stay loose and build on it.

The Blazers offense hasn't looked as fluid recently without starting point guard Steve Blake. Since the team doesn't have a pure point without him, what's the best way Nate McMillan can keep the ball moving?

Kellex: Well, when you lose your starting point guard, things are going to look different for any team. Luckily for the Blazers, they have a solid, although sometimes inconsistent, backup in Sergio Rodriguez. Plus the rookie Bayless has also come off the bench as a spark without Blake. In the few games Stevie has been gone, one of those two that I just mentioned has stepped up to help the team win.

On a softer, non-Blazers note, was Blaze of Love the biggest snub from the big, new Truehoop Blog Network?

Kellex: Haha, funny you ask. I'm not sure Heny would really allow a Blazers blog in seeing as he is such a Blazers fan himself. Although I would have been honored to be a part of the network, I'm still satisfied with my independent work. It'll be interesting to see how those blogs grow now that they are a part of the mothership.

If you could pick any five (or six?) Blazer combination to be on the floor (not old school, just active Blazers today), what would be the dream offensive and defensive sequence?

Kellex: Well...Roy, Aldridge, Oden, Fernandez and Batum. Spread the floor for Brandon and let him work his magic.
Defensively, the team has experimente with both Przybilla and Oden in at the same time with varying results. It's still always fun to see the two towers out there.

NBAtipoff: So Rudy Fernandez was voted into the dunk contest. He's definetley not the favorite, but as a Blazers fan, will you show love even if he's not the best?

Kellex: I'll always root for a Blazer especially when it is helping get the team some positive press after the Miles debacle. I think any intelligent basketball fan knows that Rudy doesn't stand a chance in hell, but you never know, he could pull some secrets out of that Spanish hat.

NBAtipoff: So how far do you think Portland can go this year?

Kellex: With the way they are playing right now, I wouldn't say they'll make it anywhere. They have been far too inconsistent to make any sort of run. But after the All-Star break, it's a new ballgame and if they can put together a special run like they did last out!

How far can they get in the playoffs?

Well it depends on where they end up in the first round. if they end up 8th, they'll probably get swept by the Lakers. If they can climb up to 7th, 6th, or 5th, then you may see them sneak out of the first round. The Rose Garden gives them such an advantage, plus their road play is far superior to last year's.

NBAtipoff: Where do you see them three years from now?

I'd love to say "championship" but you just never know. These days, it's hard to keep a team together and actually watch them grow. I think teams are more into the buying-a-championship method like the Celtics did. And a lot of it also depends on the growth of Oden. If he can become a force down under, they could be scary good.

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Weak Schedule Tonight, What to Look For!

Tonight is a pretty weak four game night in the NBA. The one game that interests me? The Pacers are heading to San Antonio should be the best game tonight. I want to see how the Spurs defend Pacers stud Danny Granger and how the Spurs will pace their game.

The Pacers are one of the quickest teams in the league. They push all the time, put up lots of three's, the whole run and gun deal. The Spurs might try to force a slow, half court execution kind of style. If they do that, the Pacers will have to try keep the game at their pace. If you didn't see the Celts make trash of the Suns, you know running against a fast team works. The Celtics fast brand of ball was great, the ball was in the post and up six or eight seconds into the shot clock. It caught Shaq and the others off guard. So, I would like to see the Spurs take a running approach to this game. Running off of Pacers makes will be key. It will give them many more easy opportunities.

So, who ya got?
Well, I've got the Spurs tonight. Considering both teams played last night, I think the Pacers will come out strong, look for them to take the first quarter, then the Spurs will wake up. The line is Spurs -7.5, they should win by a range of 5-10.

Nate Robinson's Free Throw Routine

So, if you didn't watch the video, this is what Nate Robinson does at the free throw line. First, he touches his ears. He does this because he is a fan of the movie Bad Boys II and Martin Lawrence touched his ears in order to get comfortable. I kind of like the idea, it's unique, just like his overall game. Then he does a couple of circles with the ball. This seems to be a guard trend, I've seen Mo Williams doing it, Gilbert Arenas (when healthy) and Nate doing it.

Keep touching those ears and doing those ball circles Nate! It's the key factor in why you've raised your free throw percentage by six percent this year!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Change Has Arrived!

Ahhh, change. Change is coming, whether it's todays inaguration, or here on the new NBAtipoff.

Change is in the air, we've got a new name, new look, it's a new era. What does it all mean? It means we're going to be bringing all kinds of new coverage, new features, everything you could want!

Today is the official launch day! Take a look around, get comfortable! We plan to keep you here for a long time!

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Write for NBAtipoff!

NBAtipoff is a reputable NBA blog looking for writers/contributers. NBAtipoff has been around since 2003 and is still expanding! Covering mainly NBA basketball, this is a place for a writer to get in front of a bigger audience

We’d like someone who writes about the NBA. Either the NBA in general, or about a specific team. Blogging experience preferred. Please reply with the subject Write For NBAtipoff and include where you’ve written and examples of your writing. Add what you’d like to write about, what got you into basketball and any background relevant.

If you’re looking to begin writing about basketball, reply! I’ve got friends and connections and my own platform that can help you!

About NBAtipoff

NBAtipoff delivers exclusive coverage of everything basketball! In-depth analysis of games, pointing out funny tendencies and trends, or scowling at the latest NBA knucklehead, I’ve got you covered!

Owner: Alex Curtis-Slep
At 23 years old, I'm already a blogging vet. Blogging since I was nine, I'm a complete NBA-junkie. My eyes are glued to league pass 24/7, I'm either watching, playing, or writing about basketball!

I look forward to making this a top site. As the NBA constantly evolves, so will this site. Who’s ready for the ride?

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dwight Howard as Arnold Schwarzenegger!

This is a funny video of D12 being the funny guy he is:

Thanks to Kellex for getting that up for me to post.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Celtics Spank Nets!

The Celtics beat up on the Nets, 105-85. No real surprise here, the Celts were in control. The thing that was really surprising about it was the lack of effort from New Jersey. They are no where near the talent level of Boston, but they could have put more effort into their play. Even though this was an odd start time for a Saturday game, there are no excuses.

Lawerence Frank benched Devin Harris and Vince Carter for the second half. I'm sure you'll see this headline around most news sites. It was the right thing to do though. If someone's not playing well, whether it be a star, or not, he has the right to sit them. I would have done the same thing, except maybe half way through the third quarter.

While the Nets game was an overall negative, I got a good look at Brook Lopez. He had one of his better games and he showed he has a wide skill set. His jump shot went in consistently, his range goes out to the circle ahead of the three point line. If he can keep improving the mid-range game and his footwork in the post, he can be a nice offensive player. On defense, he just needs to learn to be tough all the time, no lapses.

This should help get the Celtics back on track. They got a nice win without getting the big three a lot of run. If they don't watch their backs, the Magic may creep up on them (they've now swept the Lakers and Spurs in the season series).

Friday, January 16, 2009

My First Article Premieres on ProBasketballNews!

Today, my first article went up on ProBasketballNews. I hope you go check out my thoughts on the Lakers. While you're there, take a look around the site, they've got lots of great content.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sixers Getting Their Edge Back!

The Sixers looked good in their win over Atalanta, 109-94. I have been very disappointed with the way they came out of the gates, but now they seem to be playing hard again. Guards are running to get on the offensive glass, their defense is swarming, they look like they will get back into the playoff discussion (they're a game behind Milwaukee). Atlanta didn't look to be in top form, they lacked the effort and determination the Sixers came out with.

Marreese Speight
s really impressed me with his play tonight. He hit the glass, made some jumpers, showed his whole game. He just had an overall efficient game, his +/- was a team-high 16. 10 of his 12 points came in the fourth, he played big when it mattered.

Atlanta has got to pick up their intensity. They've lost four of their last five, and the losses are by an average of 11.6 per game. The problem is not their team, although Horford being out for the next three games hurts (bruised knee), the problem is fire and intensity. If they can come out, win the first quarter by five or more points, I think that will keep them at their best for 48 minutes. Tonight, both teams started packing it in with two minutes left. The shots the Sixers got were good looks, that's a no-no. No matter what the score, players have to get up into their man and make each and every shot as difficult as they can.

The next stretch of games for Atlanta is a perfect time to catch fire. After Tuesday's game against the Suns, they've got teams like the Clippers, Warriors, Bucks, Bulls and Raptors. If they can have a good stretch there, they can get back to playing the elite teams tough.

Photo by: Scott Cunningham

Friday, January 02, 2009

Heat Lose FL Battle!

The Miami Heat lost what was a close game, 86-76. The game was close for three quarters, but DWade and the Heat didn't have enough gas in the tank. I noticed a lot of problems for this Heat team, funny to think how they're in the playoffs in the East.

While Wade was Wade, the Heat were cold offensively. Wade did finish with 33 points, but he took 29 shots to get there. In the third he did hit tough shot after tough shot, but he can't lead this team to victory by himself. When I saw them thump one of the leagues best in Cleveland, they had good help from role players. Daequan Cook and Mario Chalmers combined for 11 made three point field goals in their last win against Cleveland. They combined for all of the Heat's three three's tonight. The good news is that this is a young team and as they develop management will put more vets in place to pick up the slack.

I also saw a lot of frustration from Shawn Marion. He had only four points and clearly disagreed with the ref's about 90% of the time. I have a hunch he'll bolt away from Miami after this season. He needs a more Suns-like team, maybe NY would consider? It would be a good fit, although he'll want a lot of money.

Orlando has been great. They've beaten LA, they've beaten who they're supposed to beat. This team is a serious contender, although their journey will probably end at the Eastern conference finals. They are a really solid team, but they can't beat the Cavs or Celts in a best of seven series, yet.

Photo by: John Raoux