Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Isaiah Thomas: Last, but Not Least


By Rob Small

If you're drafted with the 60th pick, it's seems inevitable that you're destined to jump from training camp to training camp, ending up in the D-League or overseas. That's not the case for point guard Isaiah Thomas, who the Sacramento Kings used the last pick on in the 2011 draft.

Instead of never living the NBA dream, the Seattle native from the University of Washington made his presence felt as a consistent contributor for the Kings at the point. At 5-foot-9-inches and 185 pounds, Thomas brings speed, creates his own shot, finds open teammates and brings a no-quit energy that no other player has brought to the floor as often as he has.

The first glimpse of Thomas' play came on the road in Toronto, where he notched 20 points and six assists off the bench in a win over the Raptors. Eventually, head coach Keith Smart replaced underperforming small forward John Salmons with Thomas in the starting line up. Thomas has relished the opportunity ever since.

"I just felt that Isaiah had been playing great," coach Keith Smart said after last night's practice. "Via coming off the bench, via limited time — Everything he had been doing had a positive effect on our team."

In his second start pitted against rookie of the year candidate Kyrie Irving, Thomas dropped 23 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists on the first pick of the 2011 draft as the Cavs edged the Kings. He finished two rebounds shy of becoming the shortest player to record a triple double.

Two days later in South Beach, he scored 20 of his career-high of 24 points in the third quarter, draining five three-pointers, another career-high, in a loss to the Miami Heat. In his game before All-Star Weekend, Thomas scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to help lead the Kings to victory.

In Thomas' four starts, the early results have been great, averaging 19.2 points, 3.8 boards and 6.8 assists with a 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. He's no Jeremy Lin, but Thomas sure is worth taking notice of going into the second half of the season.

"I'm just playing my heart out," Thomas said after the win over the Wizards. "The guys believe in me, my coaches trust me. I'm just going out there trying to do whatever I can to win."

Haven't seen any Isaiah Thomas highlights? Get an idea of what Isaiah Thomas brings to the floor from this video:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NBA Games to Watch, Week 10

The NBA All-Star break is over and it's time to get back to work. Back on the grind. Back to the treacherous shortened season schedule! It's time to really get things crisp and ready for the playoffs. You ready for this? Let's look at what's worth watching this week, all times are eastern.

Tuesday at 7:00 PM, the Cavs battle the Celtics. The feisty, surprising Cavs should make this entertaining. Look for them to catch Boston by surprise early. The Celtics will take a quarter or so to realize it's time to get back to work. Once they turn on their game faces, the Celtics will have the upper hand. Boston wins, but Cleveland will compete and keep it respectable.

Wednesday at 9:00 PM, the Bulls and Spurs square off. Two teams with hot records. The Bulls are the team just coming into their prime, while the Spurs are coming closer and closer to the end of an era. Due to the Bulls talent and youth, they'll take this game. Derrick Rose and crew are too young, skilled and bouncy for the Spurs.

Thursday at 10:30 PM, the Clippers seek to ice the Heat. Do the Clippers look like contenders? Can they get through despite having a sucky coach? Is Chris Paul worth a bunch of young talent? This matchup will begin to answer those questions. The Clippers have started to mesh and perform and this second half of the season is time to put it into overdrive. They'll start proving more now and will win this game in close fashion.

Friday at 8:00 PM, the Nuggets look to stop the launching Rockets. These teams are a hoot. Young, team oriented, well coached squads. Expect this to be close and entertaining. Nuggets are the more stacked team and they'll come out on top.

Saturday at 7:00 PM, the Hawks attempt to fly over the Thunder. Atlanta is hurting without Al Horford. They've held down the fort, staying over .500 and playing decent. Hopefully Horford can return and they can surprise people in the playoffs. The Thunder is coming down more intensely each game. This team is tremendous and poised to have a huge postseason. While the Hawks can match them at a few positions, the Thunder are deeper. KD and the Thunder will win a game that will be somewhat competitive.

Sunday at 3:30 PM, the Heat look to fire up the Lakers. High profile game. Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Gasol, Bynum. Hopefully it'll be close. The Lakers bench is the constant key. The inconsistency from them makes it difficult for the Lakers stars to get rest. The Lakers will come out with a solid showing  and stay close. Miami wins though.

What's your eye going to be focused on this week?

Monday, February 27, 2012

NBA All-Star 2012: Thrilling, Relaxing Break

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NBA All-Star 2012 was awesome. Players, fans, media and all had a grand old time. The All-Star game was the culmination of everything last night. While the game is not always the most amazing part of the weekend, this wasn't half bad down the stretch.  The West ended up winning 152-149. They had command of the game throughout and lead by as much as 21.

LeBron James fueled an East comeback and made it entertaining late. He hit a bunch of triples, got hot and repeated that pattern no matter where he was on the floor or who was in his face. LeBron James made a compelling run for the MVP, but the East didn't execute late. Turnovers, a late miss from Deron Williams and a lousy first half derailed them.

Who took home the NBA All-Star MVP then? None other than Kevin Durant! This was his third All-Star game, but his first time being a center of attention and going after the MVP. Kevin Durant finished with 36 points and 7 boards in 37 minutes (great scoring efficiency). Really happy for KD. This will further popularize him and he's a great kid, not to mention a legend in the making. If you don't feel great for KD, you must be a Thunder hater. Even if you are, how can't you love KD? This guy puts in the work, cares about those around him and is money on offense. He's improved every year and his team is stellar. Congrats and more greatness to come I'm sure, KD!

The All-Star experience was indescribable. So many great sights, sounds and people surrounded it. Truly a dream come true. This is something I hope to make an annual event. You, my readers, will get inside looks each year at All-Star. Houston is where this amazing weekend takes place next year (see you there)!

Hats off to first time All-Stars Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert, Andre Iguodala, Russell Westbrook, and Luol Deng. You guys are legit, awesome, youthful and have more heights you can reach. Keep climbing and never look down!

NBA All-Star 2012 was a success. All-Star Saturday Night could've been better, the first half of the All-Star game could've been more competitive and events should be free! While those complaints are likely widely held, I wouldn't have wanted this weekend to turn out any other way! Thanks again to my readers for donating to get me there! Everything happens for a reason and if you're conscious, you'll see this happens more than you may imagine. NBA All-Star 2012, it was thrilling! Can't wait to do it again!

What were your impressions of NBA All-Star weekend 2012?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

NBA All-Star Weekend Slideshow

Here are some shots taken by yours truly! Enjoy them:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Documenting The Journey to Orlando

An exciting, impromptu and fulfilling journey this is!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Going to All-Star Weekend Thanks to YOU

Thanks SO much! I'm going this afternoon! Keep it locked to NBAtipoff.com for more coverage!

Pearl Jam Sings Jeremy Lin Tune

Pearl Jam is quite cool for doing a song about Jeremy Lin. As music students at accredited online colleges know, inspiration can come from anywhere. Check out the vid, listen to the lyrics and dig it:



Nice song that describes that hype! Jeremy Lin, it's a wonder how you sleep at night with all the chatter and utterances of your name!

Heat Make Statement, Beat Knicks

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The Miami Heat made a statement and beat the Knicks last night 102-88. The Heat defense, talent and depth pushed them past Linsanity. The Heat came out in this game and wanted to succeed. They turned the Knicks over a bunch early and that set the tone. The offense would be quick hitting and fueled from defensive prowess.

In the early parts of this game there were many turnovers from both teams. The ball seemed to go this way and that, with the Heat starting out the strongest. The Knicks were the first team taking timeouts to regroup and attempt to stop the opponents momentum. That's a part of how the Heat won. Doug Collins, former player and broadcaster and current Sixers coach, stresses the importance of starting games well (and finishing quarters strong). The Heat did just that, especially opening the game.

At times the Heat had their blips where they turned the ball over or allowed open three's. This happens at times, though the inconsistency of the Heat is always a problem. While you never want let downs, there are a part of being human. This is something the Heat must continue working on, but must realize will be occasional. This wasn't a huge issue in this game. The Miami Heat knew about the hype around Jeremy Lin and this team and wanted to quiet it.

The all around bench play from the Heat beat out the Knicks. While the Knicks bench scored more than the Heat's (30-27), the overall play and intangibles the Heat bench provide supersed offense. The Knick bench is comprised largely of guys who just score the ball (yes they're missing a few guys and Jared Jeffries is the lone exception of those who played last night, he does a bit of everything). The Heat bench has guys like Shane Battier, Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem. While Miller and Battier have specialties on offense (hitting three's), they are not only capable defensively, they are well rounded, veteran players.

Having a bench with veteran players who are dynamic on both ends puts your team ahead. The Heat bench didn't score more than the Knicks and they may not score more consistently. What matters is the nine rebounds Udonis Haslem grabs (one more than the whole Knick bench). Overall contributions always trounce the greatness of scoring.

Kudos to the Heat for winning this decisively. How would the Heat fare if matched against the Knicks in the playoffs?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Iman Shumpert's Tendinitis Spoils Dunk Contest

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Iman Shumpert was set to dunk Saturday night in Orlando. Unfortunately, that's no longer the case as he has left knee tendinitis. Jeremy Evans, a great athlete from the Utah Jazz, will dunk in his place. While Iman Shumpert heads to the Canada drug pharmacy, how does this help and hurt the Knicks?

It helps Baron Davis and J.R. Smith get chemistry with the team. Baron Davis is just starting his season. Baron Davis has to get his game right and understand his teammates. While he's been watching on the bench and been around the team, it's different when you're out there in a game. Baron Davis needs to make the mistakes that come with starting the season and being on a new team. Turn the ball over a bunch, talk with the guys you'll be dishing the ball to and get an idea for how he can make his mark.

J.R. Smith needs to learn the plays the Knicks run. While he came in without a shoot-around or practice, he started off strong with this team. J.R. Smith is a scorer who can play with any team and be effective. Once he gets more of an idea for the plays and the places they want him on the floor, he'll be that much better. J.R. Smith has another chance to play tonight in the game against Miami. That will be key to both he and Baron Davis's careers as Knicks. This time will give them more minutes and burn out there.

While this time without Iman Shumpert may be short, as the All-Star break is coming, it's vital to the Knicks development. Hopefully the Knicks can get on track with a normal rotation once Iman Shumpert returns. Get better, Iman Shumpert!

Avery Bradley Posterizes KD

Avery Bradley has played well for the Celtics this year. He's filling in for Rajon Rondo, who's just served a two game suspension. Now Avery Bradley show his athleticism with a slam right on KD's head:



Impressive! Avery Bradley has incredible potential and has shown great defensive prowess. Hopefully more offense will come soon. Avery Bradley, I'm a fan!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Paul George Previews the Dunk Contest

Paul George is my pick to win the dunk contest this Saturday. He's athletic, talented and loves to put on a show. At the end of this game against the Hornets, he previews what he can do here:



Saturday will be fun! Thanks to The Hoop Scene!

Help Get me to NBA All-Star Weekend!

NBA All-Star weekend is going on in Orlando this weekend. I live in St. Petersburg, Florida (an hour and half away), so this is right in my backyard. Every since the ripe age of five years old, basketball has been my game and my dream to get closer to it. I wanna bring YOU awesome coverage of the events! Can you help me?
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If you can donate $20, $10 or $5, that'd get me closer to Orlando. The money is for a car rental and travel expenses. Anything will help and is greatly appreciated!

How can you donate? Send money to my Paypal (NBAtipoff@gmail.com). There's also a donate button at the bottom of this post! If you have questions, call 727 895-2198 and ask for Alex. Thank you!







Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dirk Nowitzki Rounding Into Form

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Dirk Nowitzki is beginning to find a rhythm. After starting the season slowly, he's taken time off and looks to be performing better as a result. Dirk Nowitzki is averaging 30 PPG in his last two contests (though he was inefficient last night vs. Boston) and the Mavs are going to him with regularity. What does Dirk Nowitzki need to do to continue performing better?

Dirk Nowitzki needs to be less predictable and understand when to pass out of double teams better. Dirk Nowitzki is predictable at times. He will get the ball inside the three point line and, as a defense can understand, he'll commence posting and take a crazy fadeaway jumper. Dirk Nowitzki has the ability to make these shots no doubt. A key reason is when he fades, he eludes the defender. When Dirk Nowitzki faces taller, more adept defenders and teams (the Celtics are dealing with injuries right now), his slow and simple decision making won't be as effective. Dirk Nowitzki would be better suited getting into his moves more quickly.

Simply decide which array of options is best, get into that move and execute. Watching Dirk Nowitzki operate, it feels more like he decides what he'd like to do, waits five seconds just to get into the move and then puts up his shot. Against a short handed, non elite team, that's fine. What Dirk Nowitzki must fool himself into thinking is each game is a finals game and each team is elite. Someone needs to hypnotize Dirk Nowitzki and he will be even more of a talent. Sounds simple enough, right?

Seriously, Dirk Nowitzki surely knows he's still not where he needs to be. Every player saves a gear or two for the primetime. He's no different. This is just a friendly critique of his play. Hard to believe this is a finals MVP and All-Star can do better, right? No. Each and every player has places where improvement is necessary.

Dirk Nowitzki's passing out of double teams is solid. Certainly better than Andrew Bynum's passing. There are times when Dirk Nowitzki needs to give the ball up. Things get clogged up in the lane, guys are open for J's and the ball doesn't get out to them. While this will happen every game, it needs to be minimized. Rick Carlisle, Mavs coach, will echo this message. Dirk Nowitzki does a darn good job at this. Consider his size and skill and then you will be surprised he can even shoot as well as he can.

Just want Dirk Nowitzki to have an increased awareness of his need to pass. That way, the shooters have more ideas of when and where to expect the ball. All of this is for the better of the Mavericks.

Can Dirk Nowitzki show even more greatness than he has in past seasons? Yeah, he's still got more he can prove. He needs to speed up his offense and pass out of doubles a bit better. No major improvements or adjustments are necessary. Dirk Nowitzki has come around a bunch this season, but there's places where work is still needed. Dirk Nowitzki will be ready. He's got the second half of the season to fully round into form. Expect to see more amazing games from Dirk Nowitzki if the Mavs need it!

Monday, February 20, 2012

NBA Games to Watch, Week 9

This crazy NBA season is about to take a chill pill. After Thursday, it's the All-Star break. Much needed for the players and teams. Four days of games, then a weekend of excitement, relaxation and collaboration in Orlando. Sounds thrilling! This is what's worth watching this week, all times are eastern.

Monday at 8:00 PM, the Mavs battle the Celtics. Dallas lost yesterday to New York, but look to be coming together. Dirk looks much better and this is another shot to prove they're poised to defend their title. Boston wants to prove that they can snatch that title away. In today's game, Boston will show they have the ability and experience to do so. Boston wins.

Tuesday at 8:00 PM, the Sixers look to ring the Liberty Bell and deafen the Grizzlies. Fun matchup. Young, talented and able, these squads get it done on the floor despite how old they are. Jrue Holiday vs. Mike Conley will be a barometer. The PG matchup commonly is, but these two guys are tone setters (X-factors, if you will). Mike Conley will get the better of Jrue Holiday and the Grizzlies will win.

Wednesday at 9:30 PM, the Lakers and Mavs square off. The Lakers took the last game against Dallas in close fashion (73-70 back on 1/16/12). Los Angeles isn't performing up to par consistently and the load on Kobe is increasing by the ton. Bench play is as consistent grocery store fruit, you never know what to expect. After losing to Boston on Monday, Dallas will bounce back and win.

Thursday at 7:00 PM, the Linsane Knicks hope to rain ice over the Heat. How great are the 16-16 Knicks? Aren't they just the most fabulous team and Jeremy Lin and yes?!? Haha, yeah, they're on a little run, but this will be a game where we'll see they don't have enough talent. Miami will come in and make a statement. The Knicks aren't even on their level, that's what will be on their minds. Miami shows they can handle the NYK and win easily.

Friday at 9:00 PM, the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge gets things started in Orlando. This will be nice. They changed this game up from previous years. Formerly Rookies vs. Sophomores, a draft between Shaq and Charles was the format this time. There's a nice mix of players on each side as a result (here are the rosters). There won't be much defense, but there will be some highlights, so tune in!

Saturday at 8:30 PM, All-Star Saturday Night features four events; the 2012 Haier Shooting Stars2012 Taco Bell Skills Challenge2012 Foot Locker Three-Point Contest and 2012 Sprite Slam Dunk (in that order). Gonna predict some winners, but check out as much of this as you can. In the Three-Point shootout, Anthony Morrow is my guy. He's lights out and similar to James Jones (who will be hoping to defend his title) as a shooter.

The dunk contest will be way different with the pool they've assembled. These guys are real young and not big names. Must be an attempt to get these guys out into a bigger audience. While Iman Shumpert may make his dunks look incredible due to his size, I'm going with Paul George. Paul George is a crowd pleaser and he'll bring them more delight in this contest. He'll be creative and hopefully show better than his team has of late.

Sunday at 7:30 (game tips at 7:37) PM, the All-Star game will commence. The culmination of a jam packed weekend of awesomeness! Hopefully these guys bring the heat and make this fun. Of course the first half will be devoid of defense and attempt to be a show. In the second half, let's hope things start to buckle down and this gets a little competitive. Either way, it's awesome that this happens and basketball is celebrated in this fashion.

For more detailed programming info related to the All-Star festivities, check this out. What are you looking forward to this week?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Linsanity Comes to SNL

Linsanity is reaching new heights daily. Last night, Saturday Night Live opened their show with some Linsane things to say. Check it out:



Can you dig this opening from SNL? Was it Linsane enough?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Isaiah Rider's Documentary Trailer

Isaiah Rider has gotten himself in a fare share of trouble. He's gone from showing his talents on the basketball floor, to getting in trouble with the law. His new documentary My Testimony: Raw And Uncut. is coming soon. Will be a great look into what Isaiah Rider's life was and is today.

Can't wait to see it! Here's the trailer:



Thanks, Dime!

Linfographic

Jeremy Lin is everywhere. We talked about him yesterday and today, an awesome graphic describing the journey of Jeremy Lin was sent my way. This is awesome! Find more things like it on Infographic World!

Click image to enlarge
The Journey of Jeremy Lin
Source: Infographic World

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jeremy Lin: Overrated or Over Hyped?

Jeremy Lin is rolling right now. He's led the Knicks on a seven game winning streak and he's being talked about everywhere. Jeremy Lin is a great story. He's defeated the odds and instilled a new energy in the Knicks. Things are going swimmingly so far, but is Jeremy Lin overrated? Or is all the talk around Jeremy Lin just too much hype for the young guard?

Jeremy Lin isn't overrated (yet). Jeremy Lin is just everywhere right now and if you don't watch him play, you can't gauge him as a player. Jeremy Lin has captivated me since his stint with the Mavericks in the summer league. Since that time, I've always cheered for him wherever he's gone and never understood why he never got much playing time. While predicting regular scoring over 20 didn't cross my mind, it was evident that not only would Jeremy Lin work hard, but he also had talent.

Jeremy Lin is a gutsy, tough noised player. He's willing to do whatever's necessary to succeed. Diving for loose balls, giving up shots for teammates to score, whatever, he just wants to win each night. Right now Jeremy Lin is a little over confident. He's hot stuff for sure, the team is winning and he's the catalyst. What many people aren't noting is that sooner rather than later Jeremy Lin and the Knicks will be set back into reality. Whether it's a loss, lower numbers from Jeremy Lin, or the Knicks ride back to mediocrity when Melo returns, something along those lines is brewing.

Jeremy Lin is a stud. Yes he's from Harvard, yes he's undrafted, yep he's all anyone wants to talk about right now. As over blabbered as it is, Jeremy Lin is awesome. He CAN play. It's more than just some short lived story. This guy definitely contributes on the floor. Just don't get too lovey dovey about him or this team.

We haven't even seen them at full health. Amar'e (who's returned now) and Melo change the complexion of this team. Something should be done about the ball stopping money makers. All Knicks fans can do is have solace that now a passing point guard runs the show. Eager to see how they all mesh, for sure.

Jeremy Lin, keep making it special on the court. New York fans, don't get too wrapped into this. Soon this team and Jeremy Lin will show that they're human. It sure is fun to believe in Jeremy Lin-inspired immortality, but even that will be short lived. Just keeping it real!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jose Calderon: Swishing and Dishing

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Jose Calderon's play is worthy of a Clyde Fraizer type reference (note the title). He's been balling these last two games. Averaging about 28 points in the contests, Jose Calderon still can play. After facing warranted criticism in years past, he's stepped up when needed. Without Andrea Bargnani and Jerryd Bayless, scoring is missing in Toronto. Jose Calderon is hitting big shots and playing an all around solid game right now.

Jose Calderon and his heroics are going under the radar. Why? Biggest factor right now is he ran up against Jeremy Lin last night. Case you missed it, Lin burned the Raps for the game winner. Impressive for sure. Jeremy Lin is another post in itself. My point is that Jose Calderon is still more than capable at age 30.

Jose Calderon can step up, make contested shots, drive and dish and make winning plays. When the Raptors full team is active, his role isn't as expansive. He doesn't need to score as much in order to keep the ship afloat. Jose Calderon only needs to get the team into their offense and score here and there when Andrea Bargnani is commanding his touches.

Jose Calderon's average of 11 PPG is deceiving. While that's what he gets on a regular basis, he's capable of doubling that each night. Best thing about his scoring prowess is that doesn't means he forgets to pass the ball. His assists are consistent and that's a monumental plus.

Word to the wise: while everyone goes nuts over Jeremy Lin, don't forget Jose Calderon is still effective. Jeremy Lin is hot right now because he's the new car on the lot. Jose Calderon is the Volvo in the room. Jose Calderon is mostly solid, he may have his breakdowns here and there, but he consistently performs well. While Jose Calderon is no star, he is definitely rock solid!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Clinical Linsanity Cartoon

Linsanity is still happening. It's crazy how it's happened. Jeremy Lin has been a story since he starred in summer league years back. Now he's truly making a name for himself. Gary Finkler's cartoon encapsulates this story:

Haha, great! See more at 7th Inning Sketch. Have you gone Linsane?

Vince Carter's Still Slamming

Vince Carter wants the Mavs to repeat as champions. He's been solid this season. Vince Carter still has a dunk or two left in him and here's his most recent one:



Keep churning, Vince Carter! Maybe the Mavs can repeat if Vince Carter really steps up consistently!?

Monday, February 13, 2012

NBA Games to Watch, Week 8

Linsanity ran through the league last week. What will be the talk of the town this week? Which NBA games are worth watching? All time are eastern:

Monday at 8:30 PM, the Clippers face the Mavericks. Two squads rounding into shape. Chris Paul has been showing his amazing talent, winning the Clippers games. Dirk Nowitzki still needs to round into shape. Luckily the Mavs are getting healthy and they can mesh more that way. Clippers will take this game, in close fashion.

Tuesday at 7:00 PM, the Pacers try and cool the Heat. What's great about the Pacers is that they play elite teams tough. That's why this game will be entertaining. If the Pacers win, Darren Collison will have a big game. He's more skilled than the Miami PG's and the Pacers need to get him going. That can force the Heat to change their coverage on him. That could open up the Pacer wing players for great shots. Heat are on the end of a three games in three nights stretch, Pacers win.

Wednesday at 8:30 PM, Denver battles Dallas. Should be exciting! These are two teams that really play together. While Dirk is a star for sure, it's not like he is a ball hog. Everyone plays a role and that's the beauty of how they play. Dallas gets this win. Denver will keep it close, but Dirk, who's still coming into this season, will finish the game for Dallas.

Thursday at 8:00 PM, the Bulls play the Celtics. Hoping Derrick Rose will be back for this game. Assuming he is, Chicago will be poised to get this win. Losing to the Celtics Sunday, the Bulls need to redeem themselves. Having Derrick Rose will be crucial to do that. he'll make Rondo work more and be the catalyst and leader the Bulls lacked. Bulls win under Rose's leadership.

Friday at 8:00 PM, the Sixers look to slow down the Mavericks. High energy game this should be! Sixers have been a joy this season. They still need to beat better teams though. Here's another chance for them to do so. Jrue Holiday vs. Jason Kidd will be key. Holiday has a chance to show his astuteness against the future HOF'er Kidd. There's few other experiences that could mold a young guard better. Holiday and the Sixers will celebrate this Friday with a win.

Saturday at 10:00 PM, the Hawks attempt to soar over the Blazers. Atlanta's effort on Sunday night against Miami was atrocious. Hopefully they'll be back to actually playing ball almost a week removed from that. Portland is a tough match, they'll have to bring it. Can the Blazers contain Lamarcus Aldridge? Without Al Horford, they probably can't. That's a huge problem. If Lamarcus goes off but the rest of the Blazers are contained, there's still a chance Atlanta can win. If LMA isn't the only guy scoring consistently, Atlanta will lose. Blazers outsize Atlanta and win.

Sunday at 8:00 PM, the Nuggets look to dispel the Thunder. Wouldn't this be an awesome playoff matchup? Two athletic, young, deep teams that are hungry. Can't wait to see this game. Danilo Gallinari vs. Kevin Durant will be an indicator of who wins. This matchup is the deciding factor in a win or loss. Danilo Gallinari will have a solid game and Denver will win.

What do you have your eye on in the NBA this week?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

James Johnson Goes Coast to Coast

James Johnson is a young swingman still finding himself. He's got some potential, but shows much room for improvement. Nevertheless, this sequence from James Johnson is sure exciting:



Wasn't enough to help Toronto win, but hey, a highlight never hurt anybody! Keep making more of them, James Johnson.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rick Adelman Can't Hear You!

Rick Adelman needed to attend to his ears. David Kahn must have been talking about the direction he's leading the Timberwolves in! This is awesome:

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Hope you hear better things soon Rick Adelman! Have a great rest of your weekend, people!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Channing Frye Can Dunk?

Channing Frye is a shooter. While he can do other things on the floor, shooting is certainly his MO. Channing Frye shows he's got more up his sleeve. Watch him dunk on Samuel Dalembert:



Nice one from Channing Frye! Gracias, The Hoop Scene!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Vinny Del Negro Limits Clippers

Vinny Del Negro and his Clippers lost to the Cavaliers last night. Losing 99-92, the Clippers had a definite shot at stealing this game. Why couldn't they? Vinny Del Negro didn't put his players in optimal position to score.


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Vinny Del Negro isn't the only reason the Clippers lost. The Cavalier offense adjusted well and played up on the Clippers. Mo Williams missed a three he makes about eight times out of ten. The Cavs crashed the boards. Despite the other factors, the bottom line is Vinny Del Negro isn't savvy enough to draw up plays that give guys open shots in crunch time.


Vinny Del Negro doesn't have the play calling brilliance of Doc Rivers. Rivers gets guys like Ray Allen great looks and Doc inspired Tom Thibodeau to do the same in Chicago. Vinny Del Negro must realize he needs to learn how to get guys open late in games. Guys can drive and kick for a shot, but if great stagger screens are set, a guy can get a phenomenal look.

It's done so much, it's a wonder how Vinny Del Negro doesn't understand how to recreate what's been shown to work! Take a shooter, run him off of stagger screens, make sure big bodies are setting the picks to ward off the D and hope the guy drains it.

The problem is not the Clippers team, the problem is how they utilize their talent down the stretch. The plays look messed up. They're unorganized, and the players don't seem confident in the looks they're getting. The reason for their lack of confidence is because these shots aren't open. They're highly contested. They need open, sound opportunities to score.

While getting guys open looks is nothing easy in the NBA, it's not impossible. If Vinny Del Negro can realize this and add to the Clippers playbook, it'd make a world of difference!

Antawn Jamison and the Foul

Antawn Jamison is know for his out of ordinary style. He throws up different shots and is mighty effective at doing so. This shot's no different. Antawn Jamison gets hacked and then throws it up:



Thanks, NBA!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Andrew Bynum's Passing Needs Improvement

Andrew Bynum has had an awesome season thus far. He's an All-Star, a major contributor for the Lakers and still only 24. What's missing from this young centers game? The ability to pass crisply, especially out of double teams. Why might Andrew Bynum be missing such a key skill?

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Andrew Bynum probably hasn't needed to be an adept passer until now. Since he came directly to the NBA from high school, he could score through puny high school defenses. No high level passing really necessary at that level. Bynum has been in the league since 2005, hasn't he learned to pass better in that time?

Surely Andrew Bynum has gotten a bit better at everything since 05. He hasn't had enough to time get acclimated into a season like he has this year. In past seasons, he'd play his butt off for a while, get the acclaim and then get injured and sit out for most, if not all, of the season. This season has (and will hopefully be) different. After serving a four game suspension to start the season, Andrew Bynum has come out guns blazing this year. He's established himself, teams are aware he'll get touches and that he's a vocal point in the Laker offense. Thusly, teams are preparing to double, even triple, team him at times.

Unlike his teammate Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum doesn't have the vision to intelligently pass out of double teams. Is that because Andrew Bynum doesn't have the ability, or simply that he hasn't been forced to develop that skill? It's in between the two. Andrew Bynum hasn't had enough consistent play to face well scouted defenses. Teams have certainly mentioned him in the past, but he hasn't played a long enough stretch to warrant triple teams.

Now Andrew Bynum has reached a point where teams are going to really come at him. Especially if Andrew Bynum is playing with the Lakers second unit. Coach Mike Brown likes to leave Bynum out there with the bench at times. When that happens, teams know he'll be the main offensive option. They'll come and swarm Andrew Bynum.

What can Andrew Bynum do to better handle these situations? First, recognize that this is the new norm. Andrew Bynum is integral to the Laker attack and he'll be fed often. Second, work with Pau Gasol and practice passing when double and triple teamed. Practice definitely makes perfect and there's few better big man to practice passing with than Pau Gasol. Third, ensure Mike Brown has the rest of team spaced well. Spacing is huge when going inside and out and the Lakers need to be in a place Andrew Bynum can find them in.

If the Lakers are in tough passing angles, that'll further complicate the problem. Andrew Bynum should be able to easily see a guy's open and toss him the rock. The Lakers really just need to think logically and get in the right position. It's seemingly instinctual basketball, but it's important for Mike Brown to prep these guys for everything.

Andrew Bynum deserves accolades for his play. Still wanna see a full season from him, but it's great to see what we've seen so far. Just improve the passing! Cultivate an unselfishness that comes out when it needs to. Due to Andrew Bynum's prolific performance, the defense will come. Hopefully Andrew Bynum can hit the open man in forum blue and gold next time!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Linsanity Hits MSG

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By Rob Small

After two career nights at Madison Square Garden and electrifying the crowd, the New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin has set the NBA world on fire. After brief stints with the his hometown Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets and limited action with the Knicks, the Harvard grad has led his team to back-to-back wins during a disappointing season for the team.

Lin's attention grabber came last Saturday when he dropped 25 points and 7 assists in 36 minutes (all career highs) against the New Jersey Nets. His explosion at The Mecca earned him national attention.

Playing without Amar'e Stoudemire (his brother died) and losing Carmelo Anthony to a groin strain during the game, Lin followed up his spectacular play with 28 points and eight assists against the Utah Jazz in the first start of his career.

Although it's only been two games, it's safe to say that "Linsanity" has been a surprise in this lockout-shortened season.

"It's not like I'm mad at anyone," Lin said about his recent play after last night's win. "It's just an opportunity and I don't think anyone, including myself, saw this coming."

Coach Mike D'Antoni didn't see it coming either. When asked about Lin, he said,  "I'm riding him like friggin' Secretariat."

Point guard has been a problem for the Knicks this season. Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby haven't been the answer at the one and Baron Davis cut his elbow and it later became infected, pushing back his Knicks debut.

For now, Lin is filling in and center Tyson Chandler praises Lin for what he's done in the past couple of games. "What Jeremy is doing is incredible," Chandler said. "Everybody is playing their natural position. The ball is moving much better, we're having a nice flow, a nice tempo."

Lin will try to keep the pace going on the road tomorrow against John Wall and the Washington Wizards, but as short as the ride has been it'll be fun to see how long the Linsanity roller coaster will last.

Haven't seen what Lin's been doing? Watch this:

Lou Williams: Philly's Most Important Player?

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Lou Williams was huge for the Sixers last night. He held down the scoring late and the Sixers beat the Lakers 95-90. Despite Kobe Bryant having a big night, it was Lou Williams scoring prowess which got the W. Lou Williams is an integral part of the Sixer attack. Is Lou Williams the most important player in Philadelphia?

No, but when it comes to finishing games, Lou Williams is critical to how the Sixers finish close games. If Lou Williams doesn't have his shot going, the Sixers may feel best to go to Andre Iguodala. Let's face it, while Iguodala has shown some ability to hit game winners, he's not as money a scorer as Lou Williams. Lou Williams is basically a pure scorer. He's not a complete player. There's not a ton Lou Williams specializes in besides putting the ball in the basket.

While that's a problem as much as it is a blessing, that's Lou Williams role. He's great at scoring when called upon. Surely Lou Williams could expand his game. That's not the point. The point is Lou Williams is a streaky scorer and he's great when he's got it going.

The Sixers undoubtedly recognize Lou Williams is an option late in games. Doug Collins is a fabulous coach who not only knows how to communicate, he knows what's up with the game too. Lou Williams should be the Sixers main option in crunch time.

Lou Williams can be trusted. While he's going to take a terrible shot here and there, he will create a decent shot more than not. The Sixers need to ensure there are multiple plays and counters in the playbook to get Lou Williams open. This will allow him to operate despite defensive adjustments to thwart him.

How do you feel about Lou Williams abilities down the stretch?

Monday, February 06, 2012

NBA Games to Watch, Week 7

Another week, another boat load of excitement! Teams are getting tired, feeling the pressure of this tightened schedule. Nevertheless, they're still going out and competing hard. Which games are worth watching this week? All times are eastern!

Monday at 7:00 PM, the Lakers play the Sixers. Philly has been in a tough part of their schedule and handling it OK. They beat Chicago handily and then got beaten by Miami handily. Inconsistency can be expected from a young team. They'll come out strong in this game and revive themselves. Sixers win.

Tuesday at 10:30 PM, OKC meets Golden State. OKC should have the upper hand, but this is the most promising game of the night. Golden State could come out with solid effort and make it a game. Let's hope Monta Ellis and crew can set an offensive tone. This will allow them to get back on D and stay in this game. OKC still wins, they have too much talent.

Wednesday at 7:00 PM, the Cavaliers battle the Clippers. This should be a battle. The Cavaliers are a fighting team (their persistence is amazing) and they'll claw throughout this game. Kyrie Irving vs. Chris Paul will be awesome. Cavs may have trouble containing Blake Griffin. Hopefully Anderson Varejo can bring all of his tricks and his best game. Cavs will keep the game close and steal it in crunch time!

Thursday at 8:00 PM, Boston looks to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers. Boston is almost where they need to be. They've had time to get their chemistry and legs. They need a few more tests before they have a clearer idea of where they are. This will be an important examination. The Lakers bench will be the key to a win or loss for LAL. Their inability to execute offensively has hurt the Lakers. If the Laker bench scores a bit, the Lakers stand to win. If the bench provides nothing, they'll lose. This game will be close, but the Lakers win.

Friday at 8:00 PM, the Pacers hope to better the Grizzlies. Two teams on the outside of the upper echelon. These teams show signs of greatness, but don't have the talent and/or consistency to be up there with the Bulls, Thunder and Heat of this world. This is a game where one team can prove they should be in the upper echelon. The Pacers are a more stacked team (due to the Grizzlies injuries), so they'll take this game.

Saturday at 7:00 PM, Indiana looks to lower the altitude of Denver. Denver is legit. They're tough, deep and spirited. Love their team and attitude. The Pacers are on the end of a back-to-back and they'll feel it in this game. Denver runs them out of the building.

Sunday at 3:30 PM, Chicago will face Boston. Huge game for Boston. This is a game where they'll face a playoff opponent (probably). Rose vs. Rondo is the deciding factor. Who wins this battle? Rose will this time and the Bulls will come away victorious.

What NBA games/moments are you looking forward to this week?

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Jumpshot Cartoon

Jumpshots aren't a synch for Rasual Butler. As the cartoon shows, they're actually going all kinds of different directions. Love it!


iancartoons and heelsonhardwood.com present: Jumpshot from iancartoons on Vimeo.


For the sake of the Raptors, hopefully Rasual Butler can improve his jumpshots! If not, they may begin to look even worse. Merci, Heels on Hardwood!

Super Bowl's Today, but Basketball's Everyday

Super Bowl Sunday gets tons of hype, especially in the United States. Everyone wants to sit down, eat highly concentrated foods and watch the game. It's enjoyable. There's a bunch of stimulation and information to take in. For me, Super Bowl Sunday is just another reminder to get excited more and more everyday about basketball.

Why would a football game give way to more excitement about basketball? Despite the big hoopla about football, basketball is always #1 for me. Basketball never stops. Whether playing, watching, thinking, writing, or dreaming about the game, it's a constant. There's no need to stop putting intense energy into this art.

For basketball fanatics who love football, enjoy the big game. For people who never savor for other sports, beyond basketball, keep cultivating thoughts and ideas about the game. Go out and work on your own game. Argue with friends about who's the better player, what generation was more skilled and on and on.

Remember basketball never needs to stop. Keep bouncing the ball! Basketball opens doors to constant inspiration, information and transformation. Never allow basketball to stop!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Tony Allen Slams Over Josh Smith

Tony Allen isn't the most well rounded player. He can't shoot, doesn't do anything amazingly really. Good news is Tony Allen will work harder than most players. He's athletic too. Tony Allen shows what he can do in this dunk over Josh Smith.



This dunk was awesome live and that's how best to enjoy it. Either way, still awesome! Merci, The Hoop Scene!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Cavs Persistence Paying Off

Cavs basketball is respectable this year. After going 19-63 last season, an 8-12 start this year is an improvement. More important than their record, the culture around this team shows a world of difference. Guys care more, fight more and there's more talent and experience on the team. Rookie Kyrie Erving has definitely been part of this change. What may go under the radar is the job coach Byron Scott's doing and the health (and performance) of role players like Anderson Varejo (fear Andy's hair!).

The Cavs don't have the mentality they had last year. Last season, the Cavs looked as if they were ready to leave the arena as soon as the game started. They knew they were going to take a beating, and the got a win once in a while. The effort wasn't there. The season looked to be over soon after it began. How do the Cavs look this year and how did they get away from such mediocrity?

The Cavs are hungry this season. They want to win and have confidence. Despite their youth, inexperience and talent deficits, the sheer belief that they can beat anyone is evident. Say what you want about the Cavs, but that mental approach is vital. Whatever it takes to win is on the table. Whether that's hustling for a loose ball, saving a ball to a teammate before going out of bounds, or going up for a second or third attempt at the basket, the Cavs do what's necessary.

This didn't happen overnight. The Cavs can thank their new young players, who not only brought new energy and talent, but reenergized veterans and role players. Kyrie Erving isn't the only young gun brining the heat. Omri Casspi, Alanzo Gee and heck, even Semih Erden has shown flashes. Casspi is in his first season with the Cavs. He's an energy guy. Casspi can shoot, defend and run the floor. Casspi fits perfectly into a more energized Cavs squad.

Alanzo Gee is an athletic guy who's beginning to expand his game. While Alanzo is known for his dunks, Gee is showing he can do more the jam. His defense is better, he can steal the ball decently and his outside shooting is improving (his mid-range game is polished). Gee is still young at 24; he'll continue to become more well rounded.

Semih Erden doesn't play a whole lot, but his game has potential. He has some nice moves in the post and his touch is great for a big man. While he's got to show more consistency, when he's on, it looks solid. Erden will need more playing time to develop a rhythm, but he certainly could be a serviceable backup big.

Kyrie Erving's contributions can almost go unacknowledged. He's the rock for this team. Erving runs the show, has the poise of an older player and has the talent to boot. Erving must continue to play through the struggles of his rookie season to propel his team. How far they go is really dependent on how much Erving brings it.

Anderson Varejo and Antawn Jamison look revitalized. Varejo is healthy now and he and Jamison must be fueled by winning more. They have a more positive vibe in life and on the floor. Kyrie Erving dishing them the ball can't hurt either. Having everyone positive and energized makes a huge difference in performance. Varejo and Jamison are integral to the Cavs playing well.

Can the Cavs do much this season? No. The probably won't even make the playoffs. Not every team is in a position to expect to make the playoffs. The great thing for the organization and the city is that this team is moving in right direction. If you understand the Cavs energy night in and night out, you know the culture is changing. Cavs basketball is in the right hands. Cavs fans must now give it time to pass down. Wish the Cavs luck on their journey back to contention!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Derrick Rose's Drives: Creative or Forced?

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Derrick Rose has a world of talent. He's an elite point guard destined to win, his overall game is coming to new heights. Where does Derrick Rose deceive fans with his ability to adjust his body and get into the lane? Derrick Rose drives into the lane, maneuvers his body in a way that looks amazing and flips up shots most of the time. While that's usually highlight worthy and fine and dandy, Derrick Rose forces some of these shots.

Shouldn't Derrick Rose force shots? Sure, occasionally, Derrick Rose is the guy who should be shooting for Chicago. Every star has a time in the game when they should be leading the attack. The problem is Derrick Rose is beginning to settle for these shots. While most fans view these shots as aggressive attempts to score, they're clearly a mix of that and Derrick Rose thinking he must get a shot up.

Derrick Rose has a great awareness of when his team needs him to score. He sees his team is struggling, giving up defensive superiority due to lack of offense. That awareness should remain. What needs to change is how Derrick Rose attacks.

Rather than simply driving in, dancing around and putting up a runner, Derrick Rose needs more fluidity in his offense. He has mid-range jumpers, three's and other elements to his game. Derrick Rose needs to balance these some more, maybe the Bulls should consider posting him up on smaller guards too. This will allow Derrick Rose to be less predictable and forceful with his offense.

Derrick Rose, being the smart player that he is, probably knows he's forcing up shots in the lane. It's not the worst thing in the world, it's just something that more people will begin to recognize and plan for. In order to keep opponents on edge, Derrick Rose needs to shake it up some more, try some different shots.

When Derrick Rose understands his shots can have more natural flow to them, that'll be extra scary. It may take time for him to see that some of the shots he's putting up look cool, but really aren't functioning within the offense. That's fine. Great people take time to come together. Derrick Rose will continually get better, but must realize he's forcing too many shots in the lane. When he does that, power to Derrick Rose and the Bulls!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Paul George Reverse Slams

Paul George is amazing. He can defend, shoot the three and he's athletic. Paul George shows it here with a lovely reverse dunk:



How do ya like that? Kind regards to The Hoop Scene for that!