Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dwayne Wade Lays It Up And One

Dwayne Wade is one of the best finishers with contact in the league. Time and time again Dwayne Wade puts in shots that make you shake your head. How did he do that, I often find myself saying when he nails impossible shots. Checkout Dwayne Wade's shot:

Way to play through the contact Dwayne Wade!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Refs Taking Heat, but is it Justified?

Doc Rivers yells at Ed Malloy after picking up a T. (via ESPN)
The refs where a hot topic throughout game one of the Eastern conference finals between Miami and Boston. Quick technical fouls piled up on the Celtics, in addition to some questionable foul calls. Some frustration from the Celtics and their fans is justified (the Celtics ended up losing the game). For a conference final, the refs weren't exactly letting flow dictate the game. Does that mean all the heat, frustration and bashing the refs are getting is right?

Being an NBA referee, while it's a glamorous gig, has to be one of the toughest jobs out there (note that I'm not trying to diminish what teachers, policemen, and others do.). NBA refs are told to go out each night and try to correctly call what we have instant replay for. Even if you've heard that before, try to imagine achieving that task (it's tough to!). See LeBron James running a million miles an hour down the floor? You've got to keep pace with the play AND judge whether there was any foul when he barreled into Ray Allen.

If you make the right call, the home crowd might get mad at you. If you make the wrong call, the second after that happens, before you can even correct yourself, everyone will be screaming and yelling at you to change the call. Coaches will breathe down your neck for whatever reason. No matter what decision you make, you get barked at.

Just thinking about that - not even actually experiencing it - turns me off! Refs don't have it easy and they do a tremendous job despite all that they put up with. What happens when a handful or two of calls are questionable is insane these days. Twitter, Facebook and every which way people can complain happens left and right. Luckily refs are probably tuned out from those mediums.

The players, coaches and fans are enough anyway! More complaining would be like adding three pounds of cheese to an extra cheese pizza! The refs surely have plenty on their minds. They have lives, families and their own controversies outside of work.

What's the solution to helping more people realize the refs point of view? Take a few minutes, try and imagine yourself in a refs uniform, running down the floor, blowing the whistle and then taking more flack than you probably take in a whole year from your family. Then tell me the refs suck, are against your team, or whatever excuse you want to make as to what your team didn't do for 48 minutes.

NBA basketball is undoubtedly affected by the calls referees make. To say anything else is to say that dribbling the ball down the court has no impact on the game. Of course calls can change games, series and even seasons. That's part of the game. Let's just remember a simple concept though: refs work hard, try their best and ARE human. Before we say all the refs are awful, let's keep in mind everything the refs deal with each night!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dwayne Wade Burns Pacers in Game 6

Heat Closeout, Move on East Finals (via ESPN)

By: Quentin Shank

The first quarter was a roller-coaster, setting this game up to be everything it was expected to be. David West started out hot as needed to be and physical as ever. The refs were making sure this game wouldn’t get out of hand by dumping yet another technical foul on George hill for having words with Dwayne wade. LeBron James started slow, but LBJ and Dwayne Wade connected on multiple plays to get them both in rhythm.

Wade dominated the second quarter with an assortment of amazing moves and shots, finally living up to the Flash nickname. With three big three-point shots by Mike Miller and just James being James, Wade carried the Heat in the first half going 11 out of 16 with 26 points in the first half. Granger was having an above average night but what was really interesting is that he shot 35% when James is on the court and an insane 67% when he was off. Now the big question is who is getting in whose head because after your two T's on Granger, James has had 42 and 30. I like Granger's tenacity but you’re not that good yet. The Pacers are like the Nuggets to me, GREAT team play but no prolific scorers or game changers. That might be arguable for Roy Hibbert right now because that man is doing the damn thing. The big men were attacking amazingly tonight for the short handed Heat. Hibbert and West have combined for 22 first half points. It will be interesting to see how the Heat deal with a big man deficiency.

Dwayne Wade continued rolling and the big men for the Pacers did too going shot for shot early on in the third quarter. Isolation plays for Wade and James have killed the Pacers and it seems they are happy with those one on ones. I don’t know if it is a pride or trust thing but that is just plain stupid to think that that will ever work out for them. Fun fact from the mid third quarter; only four players have scored for the Heat and out of 63 points Wade and James have 45, too good or absolutely necessary? A key fourth foul for Granger happened with 5 minutes left in the third quarter, he tried to jump a pass to James on the right wing and I understand the effort but you're too valuable to the team to be sitting on the bench for the duration of the quarter; play smart youngin’. The Heat ended the third quarter on a nine to zero run and David West was T'ed up for an idiotic slap/mush on Shane Battier’s head (the Pacers had 17 turnovers in the game at this point too).

The fourth started back and forth again, James made an amazing shot then Hibbert answered right back. Wade hit a jumper then Granger went right back at him and the crowd was impeccable. Pacers coach Frank Vogel started trapping Wade at half court and it worked for a few turnovers and brought the Pacers within five.

With eight minutes left in the fourth Granger again committed a stupid foul on Joel Anthony giving him his fifth and Coach Vogel needed their leading scorer to stay on the floor. With 6:30 to go the Heat had their biggest lead of the game with 11. Dwayne Wade continued to excel with banking floaters and swishing jumpers. He had 34 points with 4 minutes left in fourth; Heat up by 10. Every time it looked like the Heat were going to run away with it George Hill would hit a three or Hibbert would tip in a shot to keep them within striking distance. The Pacers showing had more than just a little fight in them left.

James closed the fourth quarter with six straight points to put the nail in the coffin. The Pacers are a great team and I think they have a lot to learn. Problem was the Heat’s dynamic duo were just too much and too good for this budding team to handle. Dwayne Wade had 40 and he isn’t even the best player on the team???

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lamar Odom: New York Bound?

Lamar Odom lines up a shot. (via Zap2it)
Lamar Odom is looking to rejuvenate himself after a hectic year. Lamar Odom was traded to the Mavericks as a salary dump by the Lakers and everything went downhill from there. Long story short, the Mavericks sent him home and now Lamar Odom wants to figure out where he wants to end his career. According to ESPN New York, Lamar Odom would be comfortable in New York.

Lamar Odom grew up in Queens, so playing in New York would be like going back home to play. His reasoning makes sense. Additionally, he and his wife Khloe Kardashian can do whatever business and late night partying they want in New York. It's the best of both worlds for Lamar Odom as a player and person.

Two questions arise from this: would the Knicks want him and would Lamar Odom have any interest in playing for the Brooklyn Nets?

The Knicks could really use an engaged Lamar Odom. Lamar Odom can do a bit of everything on the floor, but his biggest asset for the Knicks would be being a stretch four. Lamar Odom can come in, help space the floor for Carmelo and Jeremy Lin, and when he's given the ball he can and will knock down jumpers. Assuming Mike Woodson is brought back as coach, he'd have to buy into the defensive focus, but given Lamar Odom's versatility, I can't see why he wouldn't.

Another problem for the Knicks is what will Lamar Odom want to be paid. If the Mavs don't trade him before June 29th, he'll get the money he's guaranteed from Dallas and be a free agent. Will the Knicks try to put assets together for him, or wait and see if they can get a discount on his services? Those are the questions the Knicks are pondering if they've got interest in Lamar Odom.

If the Knicks didn't work out for whatever reason, what about being close and playing for the Brooklyn Nets? While they're further from contention than the Knicks (who still aren't super contenders to begin with), they've got a new arena and they're sort of in the same neck of the woods as the Knicks. Lamar Odom is getting close to the end of his career, so he may not want to help a rebuilding team.

The upside to helping a team like the Nets out is Lamar Odom could have a big role. If he goes there, signs a one year deal, plays a great season and then gets the situation and salary he really wants, it could be worth it. We'll have to see the way Lamar Odom and the teams I mentioned think this summer.

Wherever Lamar Odom goes, hopefully he shows he can still play. Last year was tough to watch a guy so great perform so poorly. You can redeem yourself Lamar Odom, I believe in you!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kobe Bryant Nails a Reverse Layup

Kobe Bryant is a shot maker. Give Kobe Bryant a jumper, a shot inside, or anything in between. He'll find a way to put the ball in the basket. Foul or not, injured or somewhat healthy, face guarded, whatever, Kobe Bryant has fought through a myriad of obstacles (to succeed and fail). Kobe Bryant did the same last night in the Lakers game 5 loss to OKC. Kobe Bryant performed acrobatics and rolled in a reverse layup:

Way to avoid the shot block Kobe Bryant!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pau Gasol Wins Citzenship Award

Pau Gasol enjoying some time with a young kid. (via OC Register)
Pau Gasol has won the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award. Pau Gasol is a great guy both on and off the court and this is another meaningful accomplishment for his resume. Maybe getting this award will get Pau Gasol more motivated on the floor. That will give the Lakers a much needed lift and help Laker fans who are into sports betting!

What work in the community did Pau Gasol do to get the award? Pau Gasol's been a UNICEF ambassador for seven years, and regularly makes trips to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (when Pau Gasol played in Memphis, he regularly visited a local hospital too).

It's great to see NBA stars like Pau Gasol take time to make a difference. Whether he got the award or not, Pau Gasol's track record says he'd probably continue giving his time. The people who want to serve and help, without asking or having anything else given to them are the people who can help spur change on this planet. Pau Gasol is a cool dude who fits this bill.

We need more guys like Pau Gasol out in the community! Come on NBA players, fans, and everyone else out there! Be active in service in areas you care about. Don't worry about awards, additional compensation or any of that, worry about helping others!

Pau Gasol's community service is an inspiration. The demeanor Pau Gasol has got on and off the court is amazing. Two thumbs up, a pat on the back and a hat tip go out to the Spanish center! Keep it up Pau Gasol!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Paul Pierce Slams And One

Paul Pierce and the Celtics came out in game three against the Sixers and dominated. They played a complete game and Paul Pierce had one of his classic performances, getting to the foul line 14 times. Paul Pierce had a nice dunk plus the harm and here it is:

Great finish there, Paul Pierce! Keep exposing the "Truth" and scaring defenders when you go inside, Paul Pierce!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lakers Must Set Tone in Game 2

Kobe doesn't like that foul call! (via ESPN)
The Lakers didn't play for 48 minutes in game one against the Thunder. After the first quarter, the Lakers got further and further from striking distance. Early in the second half the Thunder came out throwing their knockout punch. How can the Lakers compete throughout the entirety of game two?

The Lakers must force OKC to miss more jumpers, use those misses to get into their sets and consistently provide an offensive response. The problem in game one was not really the Lakers defense. The Thunder came out firing on all cylinders and it's highly unlikely they'll hit the same shots with as much accuracy.

If the Thunder do come out and shoot the way they did in game one, this series is over. There's no way the Lakers can compete with a Thunder team where everyone's on fire from the outside. The Lakers have less firepower and are an older team.

The focus for the Lakers in game two is to attempt to copy the Thunder's game one offensive performance. Get everyone going, from the starters to the bench, and hit shots from inside and out. The advantage the Lakers have over the Thunder is the Lakers have guys who can make their own offense in the post. The only difference the Lakers want from a great game out of themselves is consistent interior scoring.

Once the inside game is rolling for the Lakers, it'll be that much easier for the Lakers shooters to get open. While the Lakers weren't too far off the Thunder's red hot shooting in game one, they've got to be better and hope for worse from the Thunder.

Defensively, the Lakers don't have much to fine-tune. Putting Kobe Bryant on Russell Westbrook from the outset could work. The issue of course then is will Kobe have enough energy on offense. Knowing Kobe, he'll step up to the challenge and perform despite the increased work load. The Lakers coaching staff and fans can't be happy that their star player will need to bring even more to the table. It comes with being the type of competitor Kobe is, but Mike Brown must be extra aware of the stress Kobe puts on his body. Kobe played about 32 minutes in game one (less than usual as it was a blowout), it may be smart to keep his minutes around there if Kobe's taking Westbrook.

The only other defensive adjustment that seems logical is how the Lakers defend the pick and roll. Mike Brown and his staff may want to increase the amount of pressure jump shooters see as they come off of picks. Increased defensive intensity on the Thunder's jumpers will make it that much harder for them to drain shot after shot.

The Lakers lost game one by 29, but it wasn't because the Lakers came out super flat. The Thunder wanted to show they're a powerhouse and still ready to strike despite a long rest. In game two, the Lakers will come out engaged and the Thunder won't hit near as many jumpers. A split for the Lakers in OKC would be huge. The stakes are high, this will be a closer contest, expect the Lakers to understand what's at stake.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dwayne Wade Blocks Paul George

Dwayne Wade and the Heat got a win in game one over the Indiana Pacers. Dwayne Wade played his usual spectacular (though inefficient) game. Checkout Dwayne Wade's amazing chase down block:

Tremendous play from Dwayne Wade!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day, NBA Style

Pam McGee enjoys a play in Denver. (via ESPN)
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there! Today is a day to sit back and enjoy life. Hopefully you'll be doing that today. If NBA basketball is of interest, Clippers-Grizzlies is tipping off right now at 1:00 pm eastern on ABC and that's followed by game one of Pacers-Heat.

Make the most of this day and everyday mom's! Kids, adults and everyone else, make sure this day and each day are filled with love and kindness. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Memphis Grizzlies: Can They Win The Series?

Marc Gasol celebrates after scoring (via ESPN)
The Memphis Grizzlies proved they weren't backing down easily last night. They came out and performed great, especially in the first half and they won game five, 92-80. The Clippers fought back in the second half, but injuries to Blake Griffin (sprained left knee) and Chris Paul (right hip) slowed them down. Though the game was in the Grizzlies hands, it was still an intriguing, physical game. This begs the question, can the Memphis Grizzlies steal two games and win the series?

While it looks bleak, if the Memphis Grizzlies play how they played in the first half of game five, they can give themselves their best shot at winning the series. Of course game five was played in Memphis, which gave them an edge, but the balanced inside-out attack makes the Memphis Grizzlies superior. What did the Memphis Grizzlies do in the first half of game five that they haven't done consistently throughout this series? The Memphis Grizzlies went inside-out on offense, established Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, which, in turn, created opportunities for the perimeter players. Going inside-out on offense means the ball goes inside to a post player as the first plan of attack, THEN the ball might go outside for a jumper.

That's exactly how the Memphis Grizzlies were playing and it's the only way they can succeed. Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo are players who can occasionally hit outside shots. They benefit massively from the open looks created by the Clipper defense focusing on the Memphis Grizzlies bigs. The Memphis Grizzlies plan of attack is this simple: maintain an interior presence offensively and go from there.

In what ways do the Memphis Grizzlies get away from this strategy? Rudy Gay plays isolation ball, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are out of the game and the 2-3 zone from the Clippers confuses them. Rudy Gay truly must stay within the offense! Rudy Gay loves to try and get his, but the problem is he's inefficient (shot 6-14 in game five) and stagnates the Memphis Grizzlies offense. Rudy Gay's offensive responsibilities are to take outside shots when they're open, post up on occasion and keep the ball moving.

Put me in Lionel Hollins shoes and I'd probably never sit both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph at the same time. Marreese Speights is solid, and so is Dante Cunningham, but they don't have the imposing qualities Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have. When the Memphis Grizzlies go to a lineup that doesn't feature their starting bigs (which isn't for long, they're minutes are consistently in the upper to mid 30's), the Clippers eyes light up. Clipper slashers like Chris Paul and Caron Butler are less afraid to battle with the likes of Speights and Cunningham than they are Gasol and Randolph.

What does this mean for the Grizzlies? Gasol and Randolph need to play a bunch of minutes to maintain the paint. That will allow them to be at there best on both ends of the floor. When guys like Speights and Cunningham come in, they've got to keep the ship afloat. Nothing huge should be expected from either of them (they're both solid players though!), but the contributions they can give will be huge.

The Memphis Grizzlies can win this series. They just need to stick to what they know! Establish their inside game and feed from that. Attempt to shot the ball decently from the perimeter and get some bench scoring, that wouldn't hurt either. If the Memphis Grizzlies are to win this series, which they have the talent to do, they will make a clear and consistent message with how much inside play they run!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

JaVale McGee Dunks in LA

JaVale McGee had the game of his life last night in LA. It's hard not to feel happy for JaVale McGee. Not only is he growing up as a person, his play on the floor is evolving. The one constant throughout JaVale McGee's young career is freaky athleticism and it's no different here:

That's how it's done JaVale McGee!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Blake Griffin Dunks on Haddadi

Blake Griffin is a high flying big man who knows how to finish. It's no different for Blake Griffin in the playoffs! Watch as Blake Griffin dunks, hoop plus the harm, over Hamed Haddadi:

Great finish from Blake Griffin and response from Clipper Nation! After you watch this video once, play it back again and focus on the roar from the crowd. Sense that energy and hype! Always a joy to see Blake Griffin dunking it home.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Photo: Amar'e Stoudemire's Stitches

Amar'e Stoudemire hit a fire extinguisher after the Knicks lost game two against the Heat. Amar'e Stoudemire's anger has since been widely talked about and criticized. As unfortunate as it is for the Knicks, Amar'e Stoudemire probably won't even be able to help the Knicks in their first round battle. Amar'e Stoudemire posted a picture of his stitches here:
These look intense! I had a somewhat similar cut to Amar'e Stoudemire's and it's a pain! Hopefully Amar'e Stoudemire can heal up as quick as possible and get ready for next season. The Knicks sure need a fully functional Amar'e Stoudemire if they want to do anything meaningful next season!

J.R. Smith's Reverse Slam

J.R. Smith is a true showman. J.R. Smith nails ridiculous shots from anywhere on the floor, dunks on people and usually has an overblown celebration after doing so. Basically, he's a highlight machine and a time consuming, but worthwhile search on YouTube. Last night in the Knicks game three loss to the Heat, J.R. Smith throw down this sick reverse dunk:

Amazing in game dunk from J.R. Smith there! Is J.R. Smith one of the best, if not the best in game dunker in the league right now?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Jordan Hill Key To The Lakers Recent Success

Jordan Hill has been balling for the Lakers off the bench. In the video below, I break down his performance and possible future with the Lakers.

What do you think of Jordan Hill's play in LA?

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Celtics Showed Heart & Potenial In Game 2

The Boston Celtics had something to prove in game two against the Hawks. After losing game one 83-74, it was time for the Celtics to show they had gas left in the tank in game two. That wouldn't come free of challenges, putting aside their opponent the Hawks. The Celtics were without Rajon Rondo due to suspension and Ray Allen sat out another game due to his right ankle injury.

The Celtics needed to come out with a win last night in Atlanta and they came out swishing, not missing. Paul Pierce made it clear from the get go that he was going to carry the scoring load. Pierce created his own offense, and forced the Hawks to pay closer attention to him which opened up other scoring chances.

Paul Pierce even pulled downed 14 rebounds! This really was his game. He put his stamp on the game as if he was the postal service and his poise rubbed off on the rest of the team. Kevin Garnett showed flashes of offensive and Avery Bradley played an efficient game. Sasha Pavlovic even came in and while he didn't do much to fill the stat sheet, he made some integral plays on the defensive end to get the Celtics over the hump.

If the Celtics can consistently bring the kind of effort seen in game two throughout this series, there's no reason they shouldn't beat the Hawks. A key difference from game one and game two was the Celtics free throw attempts. The Celtics had 18 more free throw attempts in game two (in game one they had 13 FT's attempted, while in game two they had 31). Getting to the foul line with regularity is major for the Celtics. It slows the pace down, allows them to setup their defense and forces the Hawks to play halfcourt offense.

Free throw attempts by the Celtics will be a barometer for how this series unfolds. Why? When you look at the Celtics free throw attempts, you can start to understand how fast or slow the game was played. If the Celtics get into the mid 20's and higher from the foul line, they'll force a large portion of the next Hawk possessions to be halfcourt offense (depending upon how well they shoot from the line. In game two they shot about 84%.) As stated earlier, the Celtics want to play a slower game, it allows their legs to rev up and benefits their offensive system.

Are the Hawks a force to be reckoned with? Sure, they're quick, athletic and get hot from the outside a bunch at home. Problem is the Celtics are more seasoned, hungry and capable of stealing road games.

Throw Rajon Rondo back into the mix with this Celtics squad and you have a strong team. Assuming they bring it every night, keep the games pace largely in their favor and get multiple offensive contributors, they're the better team. While loving the Hawks bounciness and stupidity is easy, it's hard to bet against old reliable. The Celtics know what they need to do and come Friday they'll got out and get it done, just like mom's Volvo got you to soccer practice.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Carmelo Anthony Facial Slam

Carmelo Anthony has gotten his offense flowing in the month of April. Carmelo Anthony seems to work well with current Knick head coach Mike Woodson. Here, Carmelo Anthony gives Joel Anthony a sneak peek into his offensive attack:

Take that Joel! Great finish and recent scoring performance from Carmelo Anthony. The question now is can the rest of the Knicks help Carmelo Anthony put points on the board??