Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Curse Of The Magic

By: Isaac Zhang

As the buzzer rang on the 88-85 loss of the Magic to the Hawks, Dwight Howard could be satisfied with his night. 29 points, 17 rebounds, 64% shooting and a +6 efficiency. And yet, it still wasn’t enough, once again. While Dwight was excellent in the game, the rest of the team managed to shoot an ungodly 35% from the field, and shoot a ridiculous 9% from the three point line.

Thats not even pathetic, its just extremely depressing now. Not only is the rest of the team failing to mount anything close to an effort against the Hawks, but they’re getting pummeled. The margins of the game are so close (3.5 over the last 2 losses) that if Hedo, Gilbert, J-Rich and Bass even tried a little bit harder, the Magic would have won the last 2 and instead by the owners of the commanding 3-1 series lead.

Instead, we’re seeing history repeating itself again. You want to know why teams with exceptional players like Dominique Wilkins, Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki failed to win titles? They got far too comfortable with a player who guaranteed 40-45 wins a year as long as their supporting cast was decent, but beyond that, they never gave those guys a solid All-Star who supported them year after year after year. You really want to know why Jordan, Kobe and Duncan are the most successful stars of the past 20 years? Because they had solid supporting casts that knew their place. Jordan had Pippen, Kukoc and Rodman, Kobe had Shaq, Gasol and Fisher, while Timmy D had the Admiral, Manu, TP and Bowen. Those guys had a front office that knew the advantages and disadvantages of their stars, and built around that.

And now we have our most recent test case here in Orlando. Dwight certainly is a superstar, a guaranteed 4o wins every year, as well as the fact that he’s the best center in the league as of today. He certainly has advantages (constant commander of double teams, voracious rebounder on both glasses, uber-elite defensive presence) and disadvantages (vulnerable to Hack-A-Shaq strategy, turnover prone, foul prone) and Otis Smith should know to surround Dwight with players that can complement his playing style, and that cast that he has assembled is good in its own standard, but Smith rolled the dice on Gilbert Arenas, a proven loser who can’t make shots without rhythm flowing for him, and dumped all his youngsters (Courtney Lee, Gortat) for old vets that are running on last wheels (Carter, Turk, Arenas). This can’t work. Either rebuild and start tanking for picks to rebuild around Dwight with, or make something happen with the pieces you already have.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How Can The Lakers Win Game 2?

The Lakers were outplayed at Staples by the Hornets in game one, 109-100. Chris Paul punked whoever took him, whether it Derek Fisher, or Pau Gasol (who shouldn't switch to him on P&R's to being with). His jumper was silky and when that's going there's little you can do. The Laker intensity was porous and Pau Gasol didn't bring enough to the plate on either end. It ended being another game where Kobe attempts to will the team back, but that's not the way the Lakers need to play if they want to go deep in the playoffs. Continuity, intensity and Hornets shooting cooling off are what they ought to look for.

Let's break down what the Lakers should strive for in game two:

  • Intensity on both ends. The Lakers have to play like they want it. They are the most talented, deep squad when all five guys on the court are committed. Getting back on defense should not be something you do at your own pace. They have to run, force the Hornets to slow it down and face the size of their defense. Guys need to run even when a fastbreak looks like a sure thing, what if the guy chokes and the Hornets run it back in your face? Offensive boards should happen repeatedly and oddly enough LAL was +8 on the boards in game one. They need to continue that trend, win the 50-50 balls, show grit and never give up on plays.
  • Pick and Roll defense. Before I try and go in depth about what the Lakers did wrong, I strongly suggest you check out NBA Playbook's work on this. A key stat from the article, "the Hornets scored 29 points on 20 possessions with Paul as the ball handler in the pick and roll, good for a PPP (points per possession) 1.45." To keep it simple, the Hornets were lights out on pick and rolls, which mostly featured CP3 at the top of the key. The Lakers need to hope Paul is less accurate from mid-range and the rest of the Hornets aren't buzzing from three point land. Also, active defense on the P&R's will make a big difference. When Gasol was switched out on Paul, Paul was basically left to dance alone, because Gasol didn't want to let him drive. The Lakers need to play active defense, be disciplined in however they guard Paul off screens and hope fewer shots go down. The Hornets hit 67% of their corner three's and 71% on shots in the paint (according to NBA StatsCube). The Lakers must give the Hornets less opportunities in their sweet spots.
  • Efficient offense. The Lakers had moments where the offense was good, but the offense got worse as the game went on. The majority of their shots came from mid-range and they tied paint shots for their worst percentages at 39% (again from NBA StatsCube). Kobe can't be the only one trying to score either! When the Lakers play a subpar game and are within striking distance at crunch time, Kobe tries to take over and do everything. While he's one of the few guys who can be effective at being the offense, that doesn't work everytime. Rather than relying on offensive heroics from Kobe, the Lakers should look for balance, execution and consistency to propel them a win tonight.
If the Lakers do those things, I see them winning tonight. Besides, will the Hornets bench light it up again and will Pau Gasol give ya nothing?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Video: Amar'e Lays It Up and Throws It Down

Amar'e Stoudemire is pretty athletic, isn't he? HELL YEAH HE IS! He carried the Knicks throw most of the fourth, until Boston took the advantage.

But, you MUST watch his incredible 360° layup and massive throw down!

Thanks to @bubbaprog for the video and @misterjpmanahan for the referral!

Video: Crazy End To The 1st Half of Lakers-Hornets

Kobe hits a tough J, falls down. CP3 brings the ball up, recognizes the advantage and splashes a triple from the top of the key. Then, as only Ron Artest would do, a three point heave goes in as the buzzer sounded. Gotta love the playoffs!

Check out what happened (action stops around :20, rest of vid is just showing Kobe down):

Video from @dailythunder

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Video: Dwayne Wade's Hoop Plus The Harm

Dwayne Wade makes those plays were you just light up. How did he make that one? He uses his leg here to complete this great play:

Pacers Lose, But It Wasn't All Wrong

The Pacers lost a heartbreaking game 1 to the Bulls and Derrick Rose. While it wasn't the result they wanted, Indiana has a ton of things to look at positively and continue in game 2.

So what did they do right?
  • Composure (three and a half quarters). This team did not look scared. Until late in the fourth, these guys simply played smart basketball. Ball movement, defensive switching and alertness were spectacular. The key to that is sustaining it for 48 minutes. If Indiana can do that, they can win.
  • 24 second D (also lost at crunch time). The Pacers played solid defense for most of this one. Sure, the Bulls missed a few they should make, but the sheer commitment from the guys was awesome. I love how most of the team hits the glass hard. That will be key in keeping them in games. The Pacers must not allow easy putbacks on airballs and also keep the interior wall clogged as much as possible.
  • Defense on off the ball screens. The Bulls like to get shooters like Korver going on movement off the ball. The Pacers looked prepared for it, they switched when necessary and stayed air tight most of the time. The three ball is really a momentum builder for the Bulls, and if they can't stop the easy looks, that will go a long way in stopping the Bulls momentum.
  • Tyler Hansbrough. Can I say enough about this guy? Defense, jumpers, rebounds, toughness, teamwork, need I go on? I know Jon Berry was all lovey dovey about D. Rose, but I gotta say I love Hansbrough! He does what you need on both ends to win. Sure Boozer played Swiss cheese defense, but buckets are buckets. Tyler had a tremendous first showing in the playoffs and now he needs to build on what he's started.
  • Getting Boozer in foul trouble. Carlos Boozer is usually a second option for the Bulls offense. Today, the Pacers took him out of the contest practically. He picked up his third foul early in the second quarter and it was mostly downhill from there. He finished with 12 points on 11 shots, but box score doesn't indicate the torching Hansbrough put on him! He was lit up. If Indiana can stop one important player (Deng, Rose, Noah or Boozer) per game, they can compete in each contest.
  • Hitting tough shots (AJ Price, Hansbrough, Hibbert early). The Pacers have to make shots they shouldn't to win this series. They did that today, Price hit tough jumpers (even had a four point play opportunity, missed the FT though), Hansbrough hit contested J's also and Hibbert made nice post moves in the first quarter mostly. If Hibbert can be a factor on offense for a larger part of the game, that would be huge for the Pacers. They have to knock some tough shots down, that's for sure!
  • Confident, strong coaching. Interim coach Frank Vogel sounds great. I love his demeanor (excluding that technical late in the first half), the confidence he instills in his huddles (when he said the Pacers are a better rebounding team than CHI) and how he's got his team together for game 1. Kudos to him and hopefully he can get his club to continue on.
  • Bench Enthusiasm. The bench was into this game. After big plays they were up, they also stood when a big call went their way and they had positive energy. A teams bench is crucial to keeping a team's head up, so this has to be the norm for the Pacers.

Photo: Joakim Noah Has His Guns A' Blazin'

Late in the game, the Bulls woke up and decided to beat the Pacers. Joakim Noah must credit his guns that he had a' blazin' late in this one.
Photo from Yahoo! Sports, found via @outsidethenba

Video: Tyler Hansbrough Steals and Slams

What a great game 1 between the Bulls and Pacers. Tyler Hansbrough was incredible, he embarrassed Carlos Boozer!

Check it out and go psycho for Psycho T!

Video: D. Rose Blocks It, Then Finishes In Style

In case you're not sure if the playoffs have started, check out this video! Derrick Rose is a beast on both ends and he goes all in here:

Video found thanks to @BlazersEdge!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Photo: Disgusted D'Antoni!

You playing defense like that, Amar'e? A transition brick, Chauncey? Oh, the playoffs are coming and I hope Mike can at least keep the grey's!

Looks like they'll be playing the be playing Boston or Miami in the first round. Should be fun, especially if it's Miami! Can't see much more than two wins for the dishing and swishing Knickerbockers, though.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Rumors Fly Regarding Calipari To The Knicks

Sponsored Post

It seems like New York Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni has patiently waited for the team
to clean up the mess that Isiah Thomas left them. Now that he appears to have a foundation to
actually work with, he might be on the outs.

Rumors are flying that Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari is quietly angling for
another shot at the NBA. Experts who follow the NBA point spread know that Calipari had a
rough time in his first stint in the NBA, being fired rather prematurely, and as is typically the
case when that happens, the hunger to return is even stronger.

Calipari may not have as many college basketball championships as he would like but he has
pretty much proven all he needs to prove at that level. Also, everyone knows that college coaches
don’t make as much money as the pros; the NBA is where the big payday is at.

The first time Calipari coached an NBA team, he headed a short handed New Jersey
Nets squad. They weren’t the greatest team and he finished just 72-112 through just over two years. In his third season, as the team started 3-17, he was ousted. With the Knicks, he’d have Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire to work with – at least to start.

Back on the college scene, he has revived the Kentucky program and they are once again a
powerhouse on the college landscape. For the most part, he could stay at Kentucky for as long
as he wanted and part of the problem is that he knows that. Calipari knows that if he goes to
the NBA and fails again – even if it is an epic failure – he will always be able to come back to
college and find himself a job.

Do the Knicks really want to hire him as their coach and general manager? It’s always tough to
gauge what they want to do but this is a rumor that’s flying nowadays.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

This May Be The Best Photo Ever

Yeah, Blake is so good you have to get in face, VDN. That's why it didn't work out in Chicago! You needed to be in D. Rose's face, get your nose into him!

Hilarious and weird! You can have fun everyday when you check out Yahoo!'s game photos!

Thanks to BDL.